[00:01:35] Podcast Sponsors
[00:05:18] Guest Introduction
[00:07:19] Why water isn't always the ideal way to hydrate?
[00:11:11] “Gel” Water versus “Regular” Water
[00:14:28] The Best Foods to Eat That Contain Gel Water
[00:16:07] How hydration (and dehydration) is measured via food intake
[00:21:56] How people who dwell in deserts hydrate
[00:25:48] Why chia is such a potent source of hydration
[00:27:29] Podcast Sponsors
[00:29:42] cont. Why chia is such a potent source of hydration
[00:32:40] Ancestral hydration tactics from history
[00:39:16] The link between fascia and hydration
[00:48:44] Recipe For “Beauty Water”
[00:52:19] Closing the Podcast
[00:53:17] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Dana: You have to go see your doctor, get blood tests, and then they prescribe hormones. I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. Anybody who's taken fiber and mixed it with water, you let it sit there for too long, it's undrinkable because it's so thick. There's no research that shows by eating a green smoothie are you being more hydrated than by just drinking more water.
Ben: And I think a lot of people these days are aware of the importance of organic produce, but what about this whole new–
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Check, check, mic check. Check, mic check, one, two. This probably sounds somewhat different than the way that you're used to hearing me, probably because I'm in California right now in an Airbnb recording today's podcast introduction for you. I actually had a very interesting, if I can talk, very interesting discussion with Dr. Cohen about her new book, and it's all about hydration, but more than what you'd think. We'd take a deep dive in hydration, and I realized that was a pun. Probably I'm very good at that because I've spent the past seven hours at Universal Studios and Harry Potter's Wizarding World with my family, which is why I'm at an Airbnb in California recording this introduction for you.
And do you know what else? My brand-new book, “Boundless,” is out. Check out boundlessbook.com. Thousands of dollars' worth of sweepstakes were given out over there. Food supplements, gear, and of course the book, the most comprehensive research-based thing I've ever penned, bar none. It's out now. You can go to boundlessbook.com to preorder it and to get all the crazy bonuses that we're throwing in for you as well. I also need to give you guys an addendum, and the reason I need to give you an addendum is during the Luke Storey podcast, I was talking about the intranasal use of something called Cerebrolysin as like a nootropic type of compound.
The thing is it's often incorrectly, including by me, and I'm sorry for this, associated with the compound Semax, S-E-M-A-X. Semax is safe to take intranasally. And the problem is a lot of people confuse Cerebrolysin with Semax. It's not uncommon, but Cerebrolysin is a cocktail of peptides that's derived from pig's brains. Two people have been known to die from intranasal Cerebrolysin snorting, so to speak. And it's usually only done via like intramuscular or IV, and I wanted to mention that to you because I said during the Luke Storey podcast that Semax was pretty much synonymous to lysine or Cerebrolysin. Not the case. There are many of you who might right now be going, “What are you talking about?” But I need to say that so that I don't send a bunch of people out rushing to snort Cerebrolysin. Don't do that. It's not a good idea.
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Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and as promised, I wanted to give you an episode on the new science of hydration because I recently read this new book called “Quench.” This book debunks a lot of myths about water, like more than just like the drink eight glasses of water a day stuff. It gets into stuff like gel water, the type of water that you get from plants. It gets into some of Dr. Gerald Pollack‘s research from University of Washington, which I've talked about before regarding structured water, regarding how photons of light interact with water. It was just a fascinating read for me.
The author is Dr. Dana Cohen, and she's actually a medical practitioner out of New York City. She's board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and she got her MD from St. George's University School of Medicine, did a three-year internal medicine residency at Albany Medical Center. And now, she's a real voice in integrative medicine for not just MDs, but DOs, NDs, all sorts of healthcare providers. And she has a real body of knowledge in this field of hydration and electrolytes and how it interacts not only with your body, but also with fascia, some of the ancestral tactics to be able to hydrate the body a little bit better. So, it's a really, really fascinating read. So, the book again is called “Quench,” and I'm going to link to it in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quench. That's where you can get the shownotes for everything that Dr. Cohen and I talked about today.
So, Dana, welcome to the show.
Dana: Thank you so much for having me. How exciting.
Ben: Yeah. It's just a fa–the whole premise of the book is very intriguing, like the idea that just drinking water might not be the ideal way to hydrate. So, I would love for you to just get into why you wrote this book in the first place. We have time, so you can get into this as deep as you want. But why is it that water might not be the ideal way to hydrate?
Dana: So, I actually have been practicing integrative medicine for over 20 years. I started crazy field working with Dr. Atkins, literally 20 years ago, right out of residency. I started to work for him. And the truth is I've always known I have to write a book. You need a platform in this industry, and could never quite figure out what I want my book to be on. I didn't want to write another book on hormones or thyroid, which I do a lot of in my practice. Meaning, you have to go see your doctor, get blood tests, and then they prescribe hormones.
So, I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. And going on now almost five years ago, my co-author, Gina Bria, asked to come talk to me about the work that she's doing with the Hydration Foundation. And she sat down, brought me a smoothie, and she sat down and started to talk to me about the work of Dr. Pollack, and tells me that he's discovered a new phase of water. And I looked at her. I'm like, “What are you talking about a new phase of water, H2O? We know that water exists as liquid ice and vapor, and now there's this new phase of water.” And then she told me that she did her dissertation on how desert plans hydrate, and they hydrate via gels.
And then she also told me about her mother who was in a nursing home, who would be rushed to the hospital because she would be severely dehydrated. And she decided to ask the nurse to put some chia seeds in her morning orange juice, and never again did she have to be rushed to the hospital. So, putting all of those things together, she talked to me, she's like, “Do you think that we could hydrate via food?” And I just looked at her and she blew me away. And I said, “Gina, I have been searching for my book. I've always known that hydration is a huge issue. I ask all of my patients all the time, ‘Do you think you drink enough water?' And even my healthy yogis are like, ‘No.'” And I said, “Do you want to write this book?” And so we spent the next couple of years really digging into the research. I have to tell you, I never realized how complicated it was. And at times, I'm like, “Oh my god, what did I get myself into? I'm a clinician. I'm not a researcher.” But we ended up putting together quench and really pulling from a lot of different modalities, and I'm really proud of it, and I think it really helps. It's going to help a lot of people.
And so, the idea that drinking–you asked about drinking more water, is not the answer and it's not–so let's start with eight glasses a day. You know this, and everybody knows this. How can you say that eight glasses a day is right for everyone? So, first of all, we're all different shapes, we're all different sizes, we all do different exercise. Some sweat more than others. And it turns out that that comes from nowhere, much like the food pyramid, it comes from nowhere. There's a bunch of people sitting around saying, “Oh, eight glasses of water a day is what you need to drink.” And in my clinical research, I have found that I have people that come and say, “I drink hardly any water yet I'm really healthy, but I eat a really good smoothie a day and I do all this stuff. And so that's what we really come to find out. It's more about other things that you do to get best. The way that it's incredibly individualized, meaning, only you know what's your optimal set point for hydration.
Ben: Okay. So, I want to interrupt you real quick because you said gel water, and a lot of people may not understand what gel water is and how that would be different than regular water. So, can you explain that?
Dana: We call it gel water. You mentioned structured water. There's EZ water, which is what Dr. Pollack calls it. There is another phase of water. So, once again, water exists–we know that water exists as liquid, ice, and vapor. Gel water is another phase. It's a little thicker. It probably has a different chemical equation than water. Water is H2O. Dr. Pollack describes it as H3O2. Not everybody agrees on this, but I have to tell you when you look at his research, it is the one that makes the most sense to me.
So, think about how desert plants hydrate. You open a cactus or you open aloe and there's literally gel that flows out of it. That's a really good example. That's gel thickened water. There's also gel water in waterfalls. So, it has to do with the way–it's a little bit thicker, it's a little different than regular water, and it turns out that that gel water is what's mostly found in nature. So, think things like even lettuce, iceberg lettuce, that there's gel–it's loaded with gel water. And it also happens to be the type of water that's found in our cells. Does that make sense?
Ben: It does make sense. And I actually interviewed a couple of months ago Dr. Thomas Cowan, who talked about the cytosol itself and how the cytosol actually has a large number of H3O2 molecules. So, you basically got an extra hydrogen with the oxygen atom, and that's water not in the liquid phase, or in the vapor phase, or in the solid phase, but in the gel phase. A lot of people who grew up just thinking water is H2O have yet to really wrap their heads around this concept, but it's exactly how water forms an electrical gradient that allows it to move through plant walls, through blood vessels.
It's one of the ways that our cells actually store water as well, and it's also, when you're looking at the cytosol on the cells, the intracellular components of the cell, actually are able to maintain a proper electrical charge because of, not the sodium-potassium pump, but a notion that was basically disproven by Gilbert Ling, the fact that it's not a sodium-potassium pump that's responsible for maintaining the normal electrical gradient within the cell. It's the actual cytosol, and that cytosol is composed of gel water.
But I think it's one thing to know that the cell has the gel water in it. And another thing to understand how to actually consume that water in H3O2 format above and beyond what I think maybe some people might know about, which would be just like using a structured water generator or drinking structured water. And you get into way more than that in your book. So, let's start with produce. You're a big fan of fruits and vegetables for staying hydrated, and I'm curious why, and if there's certain fruits and vegetables that have a higher amount of this gel water in them. And I'm guessing it goes beyond just eating cactus.
Dana: Yes. Let's just talk about chia because chia is the star of the show in our book really. And anybody who's made chia pudding or thrown chia in water, you leave it there for a few minutes, you literally see the gel forming. That is just a really great example. Think about cucumber and the seeds on the cucumber, you see the gel. Most of the time you don't see it, so iceberg lettuce, if you look close and you look in the veins of the iceberg lettuce, that's gel water. But then there's things like cauliflower. Who would think that that has a high water content? It actually does.
And then fruits. Fruits are really high in gel water. It's clinically our belief that by blending vegetables–oh, you know, I have actually another great idea. Think about fiber. Anybody who's taken fiber and mixed it with water, you let it sit there for too long, it's undrinkable because it's so thick with gel water. So, the idea of blending vegetables and fruit using that fiber as opposed to juicing it because you're getting rid of the fiber, which there's a place for juicing, but we're talking about blending vegetables, is just a great, incredible way to get gel water into your cells, into your body.
Ben: Okay. So, one thing to say that, and I'm sure many people right now are wondering, “Okay. So, is there actual research that shows that, for example, a fruit or vegetable packed with gel water or some other form of gel water is actually more hydrating than simple H2O?” So, A, is there research? And B, if there is, how is hydration actually measured?
Dana: Yeah. That's a really good question. Throughout the book, I have to be, as a physician and not a researcher, incredibly careful about what I write. I was meticulous in my writing. The truth is there's not even research to tell whether or not you're sub-clinically dehydrated. There's research we know when you're overtly dehydrated and your blood pressure fails and you need to be hospitalized. There's a difference, but there's no research that shows how I can measure day in and day out this sub–what we call subclinical dehydration. And no, there's no research that shows by eating a green smoothie are you being more hydrated than by just drinking more water.
But when I started off this conversation, I said, “We are all individuals and you have to know what it feels like to be properly hydrated. Do you suffer from afternoon fatigue?” Instead of reaching for sugar, most likely it starts to become better hydrated. I think you're going to notice a difference between brain fog and energy, and those are some earlier signs. So, unfortunately, there's not. And whoever tells you that there is, it's just not right now. The research is not caught up yet.
Ben: I mean, I know there's a lot of hydration assessment techniques just because when I was studying exercise physiology, we could measure isotope dilution with bioelectrical impedance. We could measure plasma markers in the urine, like osmolality and sodium or hematocrit or hemoglobin. We could measure specific gravity of the urine. There's even some variables like salivary flow that were used. So, are you saying that none of these have ever been used to assess fruit and vegetable intake versus water intake on hydration status?
Dana: Not that I know of. I'm also an exercise physiology. That was my undergrad major, and I worked for the U.S. Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine. We used to do the testing on these poor soldiers. But yeah, I know. Unfortunately, there's no research to measure that subclinical–I wish there was, it's just not there yet. And I don't know why.
Ben: Yeah. Somebody should actually analyze that some time and do a comparison of fruit and vegetable volume intake versus hydration status to see if that's actually the case. I mean, intuitively, I was even telling my children last night about the importance of water. And also, when they asked me how much water they should drink per day, I mentioned that you do get water from–everything from lemons and oranges to cucumbers, and even dark leafy greens to a certain extent as you mentioned with lettuce, for example, as a water carrier.
Granted there are some issues, like for example, if somebody's just getting lettuce, one of the reasons lettuce carries water so well is the bioremedian. It's actually used as almost like a filter for the soil. So, if you're consuming big salads of lettuce and not getting organic produce grown in proper soil, you could actually be eating a giant salad full of toxins of whatever that lettuce happened to seep up from the water in the soil. And I think a lot of people these days are aware of the importance of organic produce and being careful with pesticides and herbicides and soil quality. But what about this whole new carnivore idea about the potential for excess fiber to contribute to things like diverticulosis, like would you be concerned if someone were getting a huge amount of fiber along with all this gel water that they were getting from fruits and vegetables?
Dana: I think the research shows something different. Fiber prevents diverticulosis. I think that's what the research is showing. A lot of fiber really helps prevent diverticulosis. I don't have a lot of experience with the carnivore diet. I do have to say though it does make me a little nervous. The carnivore diet is not a paleo diet, it's not the diet of our ancestors, I don't think. Most anthropologists will agree that the diet of our ancestors ate a ton of fruits and vegetables and a little bit of meat. They were not eating meat all day long. Honestly, I know one person on a carnivore diet, so I can't speak intelligently about it. By the way, he did fantastically, but I'm definitely no expert on it.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Well, first of all, just for the record, I do disagree with you. I don't think there's a lot of data that shows that a high-fiber diet protects against diverticulosis, and I think a little bit of the research goes back and forth, but I think there's a case to be made that you can get away without a lot of fiber in your diet if your goal for eating that fiber is to prevent diverticulosis. However, that being said, we can also look at anthropological data or even just the whole what did our ancestors do to have a perspective. And that's what really fascinated me about your book is how all these different desert populations, nomadic cowboys and some of our ancestors actually figured out how to hydrate, even folks who would be considered largely carnivorous, or at least are painted that way often like the Hadza, for example. So, I'd love to delve into that a little bit, starting with people in the desert. Can you talk about how people in the desert traditionally hydrate? Can you get into that?
Dana: Sure, yeah. Interesting. We'll start with the Bedouins, which are Arabian desert nomads. By the way, Gina Bria is an anthropologist. She's my co-author. This is a lot of her research based on that. And I think you're going to be talking with her for the Hydration Foundation. I believe that you guys are getting together on that. She is really the expert in this. First of all, I think one of the things and we talked about this in our book in my clinical, now in the past three or four years, and I'm really prescribing eating this way, I find that people who front-load their water or drink most of their hydration first thing in the morning. So, we recommend a big glass of water, throw little electrolytes in there in the form of sea salt or salt and lemon. And that's what they would do. So, they would gulp their water first thing in the morning. They certainly weren't walking around with bottles of water in the desert.
The other interesting thing about them that I thought was fascinating is those robes that they would wear, those big heavy black robes, hooded robes. There are literally humidified tents that they would create. So, they're re–what's the word? Recycling their own hydration by creating these humidity tents, tents, T-E-N-T-S. And then they would drink camel milk and goat's butter slathered on bread, which were loaded with electrolyte. I have a whole chapter on fats.
Ben: Well, yeah. Actually, I want to rabbit hole a little bit there because I think it's more than just the salt in the electrolytes and things like butter and ghee. It's my understanding from reading the book that it's more than just about the salt and the electrolytes in the butter and the ghee, that there's a little bit more to it than that.
Dana: Yeah. So, according to the research of Dr. Pollack, who actually I think even–I don't have that information, but I think he recently published something about ghee that it is actually loaded with gel water. And then there's more to it. Our cell membranes are made of fat, we all know that, phospholipids. And the way that water gets into ourselves, it's lined these [00:24:25] _______ or these water channels, which are lined with that. And I think that plays one of the most important roles at a cellular health standpoint.
In the past, not so much your group of people, I hope, and I know, but in the past, we've all subscribed to a low-fat diet and it's been the wrong thing to do. And finally, that tide is turning. But yeah, there's more to it. So, I think the fat has to do with, yes, the electrolytes, also the cellular health and how that hydration literally gets into the cell.
Ben: Yeah. Dr. Gerald Pollack did indeed look at ghee, and I'll try and find that study and put it for folks in the shownotes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quench. But he did find that ghee is very high in this H3O, structured gel-like water. And so, when we see people in desert-like the Bedouin tribe that you were talking about earlier consuming large amounts of ghee and butter, it does seem reasonable that that's a good hydration strategy. And perhaps they got clues if they were doing autopsies on dead camels or something because we know that the hump of the camels is a rich source of this gel-like water blended with the same type of fats that you'd find in ghee and in butter. So, I thought that was really interesting. I guess it could be considered a form of fat to a certain extent, but talk to me about chia, and maybe this Tarahumara Indian tribe. You mentioned chia a little bit earlier and about how you mix different fibers with water, you get almost like this really intense gel. And that seems to be another strategy that could work for hydration. So, can you unpack chia for me?
Dana: Yes. So, chia, we also know, is an incredibly rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, which is our parent omega-3. So, not only that, it has the water and the fat mixed. It's sort of the perfect superfood. It has your omega-3s along with gel water. We also talked about–what do you call it? Grinding your chia seeds. And I think a reasoning behind that is you're getting more surface area, you're creating more gel water when you add water to it. So, it's a form of fiber. It has your omega-3s. It has tons of gel water. It's the perfect thing to add to smoothies.
I had one pushback, I think it was from Dr. Mercola actually, about the lectins and chia seeds, and I just want to sort of address that. I think you need to play around with it and see. I do think if you're not soaking it overnight in a pudding, it's possible it could be a problem with you. I have to tell you though, I have hundreds and hundreds of patients on chia seeds every day and they do great on it, they do fine on it.
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Yeah. I think if you can soak them, and also if you have a fine sieve and can discard the water after a few rinses prior to soaking them, then you give them an overnight soak, which further degrades some of those lectins. I think some of the issues can be overcome. What drives me crazy is when I see people just like throwing chia seeds into their smoothie or consuming chia seeds in some kind of like a homemade trail mix or something like that. That is the wrong way. Put them on a goat cheese beet salad, like anything like that. Chia seeds, just like quinoa or any other similar small, round, hard seed or grain, those have a pretty intense protective layer on the outside.
But you're right, when you soak them, they store all this water and you create this fantastic gel. As a matter of fact, I didn't plan on this being a commercial for one of my products, but we have chia seeds in the Kion Bar, and I have experimented with just cutting that bar into chunks, putting it into a small little bit of water overnight and it makes this wonderful gel liquid that you can use as a smoothie base. And I haven't talked about that much before in a podcast, but you can actually cut up the bar, soak it in water overnight, and then use that as your smoothie base, and it works really well. I believe you have a recipe in your book for another chia thing. It's like it's taken from the Tarahumara Indian tribe. Can you remind me what that recipe is?
Dana: Yeah, yeah. So, it's called the Tara Fix, and it's basically 12 ounces of water, a teaspoon of ground chia seeds. I like the idea of–I never even thought about that, soaking them the way you would soak beans, and then just getting rid of that. I don't know why I would think of that, but that's brilliant.
Ben: You need a good sieve to be able to do it, like a good filter.
Dana: And then four ounces of kombucha, either homemade or your favorite kombucha. Tarahumara people would mix theirs with like a homemade fermented corn, like a corn beer or a mead, and then a pinch of rock salt. Easy, really easy. Most of the recipes in the book are super–try to be super simple. Some are a little esoteric. We tried to get some interesting ingredients, and there are things you wouldn't see normally, but most of them are pretty simple. It's really simple, easy. And just to remind people what the Tarahumara tribe were, those are the Mexican desert people who would run marathons using chia seeds as their source of hydration and this kind of chia fresca, you could call them, basically, which is like chia. Yeah.
Ben: Yeah. Fantastic book by Chris–I forget his last name, but he wrote also a book called “Natural Born Heroes,” which is also–it's more of a book about free-running and combat and World War II, but both of his books are absolutely fantastic, and I'll hunt those down.
Dana: “Born to Run.”
Ben: Yeah. “Born to Run” and “Natural Born Heroes” are the two books. And another set of people that you talked about are these nomadic cowboys, the Gauchos, I think you call them on the Uruguayan Pampas Plains, and some of the things that they would use to actually get this gel water. Can you talk about what the desert cowboys did?
Dana: Yes. So, they would drink yerba mate, which is becoming very hip now. And yerba mate is an herbal drink made from a type of a holly tree. And they've done studies I think from the 1960s that this yerba mate has practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life, and it has the perfect balance of electrolytes. So, the Gauchos, the cowboys of Uruguay would drink a lot of this yerba mate. And it fits right in line with basically one of the principles in our book, “Quench” is that dissolving plants in the water, which delivers the best nutrients from the plants and allowing the water to be more hydrating than just water alone. So, that's a basic principle.
Ben: There are a few other kind of ancient type of populations that you talked about in the book, kind of from an anthropological standpoint in terms of archaeological analyses, like in the Andes, for example, and also some, I guess research done on what was done with grains to actually break down the crystalline layers of grains and kind of gelatinize the starches to form water. What has been found in terms of archaeological or forensic analyses when it comes to the way that folks would hydrate? I believe some of the examples you gave in the book are from the Himalayas and the Peruvian islands.
Dana: Yeah. So, if I can remember correctly, there was–actually, I think it was one of Gina's family members who's also an anthropologist did research on some of the pottery from these people in high altitudes, and they found that the pottery showed a lot of gelatin from grains. I don't know how they did that, but somehow they did. And so I think what it really relates to is that these people eat a lot of stews, and these stews were cooked for hours and stews made from a lot of grains, some meat, but mostly grains and vegetables. You think about the grains–or even think about bone broth right now. You're letting bone broth cook down and it's creating the gelatin, but the same with fiber, the fiber from grains.
Like I said, when you put fiber in a glass of water and let it sit there for a little while, it becomes undrinkable because it gets so thick with gel that it's almost too thick. Even Metamucil does that, which I'm not recommending. So, yeah. These people would do a lot of stews that would break down into very gelatinous kind of material. And I can't tell you exactly how they knew that, but they did. There's something in that research from her. And the way that they looked at the pottery, they found the very high gelatinous materials from grains.
Ben: Yeah. Over and over again, it seems that when you talk about the chia seeds and the Tarahumara tribe, and then you talked about some of these stews and grains that were steeped for long periods of time very similar to bone broth, which we also see as an ancestral staple to gelatinize this water and form what now modern researchers like Dr. Pollack are researching and finding to be incredibly hydrating forms of water. It's really fascinating that our ancestors kind of crack the code on this a long time ago despite–really, I think someone like the Gatorade Sports Science Institute or someone needs to do an actual, either bioelectrical impedance or other good hydration scientific study on some of these compounds to see how much better they actually could hydrate, right, because let's face it, we're kind of sort of hypothesizing right now and just looking at anthropological data.
But the interesting thing is also about the Hadza. You talked about the Hadza as well and they are often considered to be either carnivorous or like a paleo-ish type of population, but they actually, if I'm not mistaken, not only do a lot of plants, but you talked about how they–I think they use, what's it called, the baobab fruit?
Dana: Yes. If that's how you say it, B-A-O-B-A-B fruit, yeah, which I've never tried. And there's also a berry that they use, a [00:37:24] ______ berry. I would love to get my hands on and taste some of these things, but the baobab fruit is it has this hard outer shell with this chalky flesh inside that surrounds a seed, and what they would do is they would blend this flesh from the baobab fruit with water that was loaded with fiber, fat, and vitamins until it formed a thick milky consistency. So, they would basically eat that for breakfast, basically a smoothie. They've had although all the ingredients that we needed. And then these [00:37:57] _____ berries, which are very high in fiber and polyphenols is something that they would eat for lunch or snack upon. Really interesting, these Hadza people and those of the people in Northern Africa, Tanzania, I think.
Ben: Well, what I'm seeing here over and over again is that whether it's ghee or butter, or whether it's chia seed slurries, or whether it's bone broth, or whether it's these stews where you're steeping some of these grains and legumes and things that we might consider, if you're going with the plant paradox approach, for example, to be things that are big no, nos in the diet. But when treated properly, not only they deactivate a lot of the built-in plant defense mechanisms, but they might also be very good hydration strategies.
And whether you're a plant-based person or whether you're a carnivore type person, elements of those could fit into both diets. I mean, just about everybody I know who's in a largely nose-to-tail meat-based diet, they're getting lots of gelatin from really deep, nourishing, rich bone broths. And then you have a lot of vegans or people who are more of a plant-based persuasion doing lots of chia seed slurries and smoothies. I really do think that people using an approach like this are going to find that they're better hydrated than just drinking water. So, it's really interesting.
You mentioned earlier, Dana, how you're an exercise physiologist, have a training in exercise physiology, and that's what I appreciate about the book because you also get into fascia and muscle quality, and I would love to hear a little bit more about the link between fascia and hydration and why you think that's so important.
Dana: This is one of the really big ideas in the book, and I do think it's really interesting. So, fascia is becoming very trendy. People are talking about fascia, and most people know that that is the network of collagen that surrounds every single cell and organ in our body. It basically holds up everything in our body. We liken it to a–when you open a grapefruit and there's all the white pith on the outside of the grapefruit, and then every single grapefruit cell has a little surrounding around it. That's like what fascia is in our body.
And a few years back, there was this very brilliant French–I believe it was a plastic surgeon, Guimberteau. That's definitely something you should link because if you haven't seen that video, it's incredibly beautiful to look at. But basically, he's the first person who ever decided to look under the skin of somebody living fascia. I think it's called something living fascia. I can't remember it. But Guimberteau is his name. And before that, we've only ever studied fascia on dried desiccated cadavers, and I've never seen what fascia looks like or what it does in the body. And when you look at it, you see that first of all, there's water that's moving through it. You see liquid. So, it basically acts as a hydraulic pump, which is really interesting because a lot of it is instinctual. We know that you have to move your joints to lubricate them. Now, we really understand why because you're literally squeezing fluid, moving fluid, which is also really interesting because we've only ever really thought that hydration gets moved via blood and lymph only. I'd never really thought about that. So, the whole fascia story is–and now we're finding that it not only moves water, it's an electrical system as well.
Ben: Yeah. That's really interesting, this idea. And of course, we know that the cell cytosols are of course acting in an electrical conductivity sense, but fascia, a lot of people don't think of that as an electrical network, but it is, it's a specific form of electricity called–I believe it's piezoelectricity, right?
Dana: Yeah, piezoelectricity, you should say it. Piezoelectricity is basically motion that stretches tissue and generates electricity. And I'm no expert in this, but I think the way that our touch screens work, like by touching the screen, you're generating crystal energy, and that was how I really sort of understood it. When I heard that, I was like, “Oh, I get it.” But piezoelectricity is this motion stretching. So, the idea of movement creates motion, and it could be very little movement.
We've actually laid out a couple of studies. I think one of the more interesting ones was this British study that studied over 12,000 women who sat for greater than seven hours a day. And it was basically a fidgeting study. Women who did not fidget, who fidgeted less and sat for more than seven hours a day had a 43% increase in all-cause mortality compared to women who fell into the middle or high levels of fidgeting. Even the women who had the high levels of fidgeting who sat for seven hours or more a day, they still had a less risk of dying.
Ben: It's so interesting. And if I could get up on my soapbox for a second, because when I was in anatomy and physiology classism, as I'm sure you did plenty of, Dana, and was doing dissections on cadavers, a lot of times fascia just seemed to be like this Saran wrap, like a protective wrapping around the organs and the muscles, and you dissect it and get it and toss it away and get it out of the way. And then it was in the early 2000s that they started to do a lot of research on fascia and there's fantastic videos. I think that one of the more popular ones that you can find online for fascia–do you remember the video that's really, really interesting like the YouTube video on fascia and hydration?
Dana: Something living fascia, it's Guimberteau, G-U-I-M-B-E-R-T-E-A-U, is the guy who really looked at it under the skin. He took the electron microscope. I mean, it's so beautiful to look at and it's just so interesting. And yeah, I would totally remember, like you couldn't wait to get down to the muscle of the organ, like you would just open up the cadaver and throw everything aside and get rid of all, whatever came in your way. So, yeah, it was never looked at and never really understood. It's just now becoming interesting to learn about fascia, and it is really a big deal.
Ben: Yeah. And if you watched the video, like the fiber optic camera that they use in that, it shows the fascia like pulsing and moving and transporting water droplets, like literally transporting water through the body, like you described it, Dana, almost like a hydraulic pump. And so not only is drinking water or eating a lot of those gel-like compounds that we talked about earlier going to assist with the gel-like water necessary for that, but then once you begin moving, and there I say doing things like deep tissue work, foam rolling, getting massages, things like that, you're actually going to massively improve the ability of your body to not only hydrate. But because water conducts electricity, fascia is just like a giant electrical network. So, we're talking about almost very similar to like a paracrine-base cell-to-cell signaling type of effect.
When you're looking at fascia, it's actually a communicative network within the body. And so you're sending neurotransmitters, you're sending electrical signals, you're improving proprioception. And as you talked about, there's even the piezoelectric type of component where, you are correct, if you were to squeeze a quartz crystal in your fingertips, it's going to create a little bit of electricity. And that's the same type of electricity that you get when you, for example, pressurize the gel water or move, and specifically move your fascia.
I mean, really, one of the best things folks can do especially when they get up in the morning, and this has been a practice of mine for years, is a little bit of deep tissue work, just like self-inflicted foam roller. I do full-body foam roller in the morning and this takes me about 15 minutes. I just roll everything and I interspersed that with swinging some limbs, doing almost like some Tai Chi type side-to-side twists slapping the body, and it's a night and day difference. I mean, my wife, she knows that that's my happy place. I've told her, “Babe, I just need that little bit of 15 minutes in my routine before I get with the boys and make coffee and lead the family in devotions. Just give me that chance to wake up the body.” And man, it's not just limp, it's fascia, it's water, it's electricity, it's hydration.
And when I'm combining that with the two to three cups of bone broth I'm drinking per day and getting a lot of this structured water that I drink now, I mean, it's a night and day difference. And I still do, start every day with a big old 32-ounce glass mason jar of water with typically salts or electrolytes or minerals added to it. But when I combine it with those strategies, man oh man, the title of your book is Quench and I would say I'm definitely not needing to be quenched when I'm doing that type of stuff.
Dana: So, fantastic. We really wrote the book for the masses. I mean, I love how what you're doing, but the truth is this is for everybody, even the really sick people if you can't get up and slap yourself and foam roll because you're hurting everywhere. I see a lot of really chronically ill patients. So, it could be as much as just like doing–touch your chin to your chest, getting movement in any kind of micro movement. The book is really basic stuff. And yes, by all means, you want to work towards what you're saying, but yeah, we need to move our extremities. And even small movements have huge positive consequences.
Ben: Oh, yeah. I mean, even like dry skin brushing, for example. I mean, anybody can do that. I keep one in the floor of my sauna. Whenever I'm in there, I'll do a few different moves or I'm just brushing from my feet all the way up to the top of my body, and from the arms down towards the heart. And that's fantastic, drawing the fluid towards the lymph nodes, and the groin, and the armpits. And when you brush upwards towards your heart, it helps out even more, when you're coming across from your lower body and from your torso. And that's another fantastic thing that–again, anybody can do that.
Dana: Yeah. Love it, love it.
Ben: Okay. So, you also have a recipe in your book for what you call beauty water. You have a lot of recipes in your book and a lot of little systems for doing the micro-movements throughout the day and different diagrams or the stretches that you can do. But one recipe in addition to the chia seed recipe that you mentioned earlier, the Tara Fix recipe is your beauty water. So, get into this beauty water and what it is and how it works.
Dana: Okay. So, we call it beauty water. We made that up. Basically, once again, the book is written for the masses. I want people to take a step forward. I can't stress enough. I don't know what your listeners–I think your listeners are probably way more advanced than this, but beauty waters are basically single recipe water mixed with blueberries or just water and raspberries or pomegranate seeds, or even lemon slices. It's just a single recipe, easy thing as opposed to just plain water in your water bottle all day long. I think it adds a little more, some electrolytes. It may help in structuring the water. That's all it is. It's a very simple idea of just doing something a little bit different.
The one thing we didn't talk about is these people walking around with water bottles and drinking so much water that they're actually overhydrating. And honestly, I see at least once a week somebody whose electrolytes are off because they're overhydrating, and it's not as uncommon as you would think. Meaning that you are just drinking way too much water and peeing out all your electrolytes. I see it often. By maybe adding a little electrolytes or some fruit to your water, it can help prevent that.
Ben: Yeah. One thing that I think you underplayed there is the idea that anything you're adding, like a pomegranate, or a blueberry, or perhaps a cucumber, anything that you're infusing into the water, kind of putting into these water bottles that you're carrying with you throughout the day, even if you're concerned about calories, you don't have to eat all the blueberries at the bottom of the bottle or the pomegranate even though it's going to get kind of expensive for your water if you're just throwing all the calories in there, not doing anything with them. Maybe save them for later for a smoothie later on.
But you're getting some of the gel water from the vegetables or the fruits that you're putting into the water that's seeping into your water. So, essentially, it's almost like a natural way to structure your water. And, of course, I've talked in the past about how there are other things that can really assist with that structuring even more, like exposure of the water to light photons, whether via under the sunlight or under an infrared light panel, for example. So, that might be an upgrade to your beauty water, Dana, is you make your beauty water then put it on the sunlight for a few minutes and then you drink it.
But, yeah, it's just so fascinating that a lot of people just drink regular old–even if you're past the whole drinking out of plastic bottles and you got a good water filter, you still need to structure your water preferably with a structured water filter. You need to preferably be consuming these viscous gel-like substances throughout the day. And like I mentioned earlier, even if you're carnivore, you can do this with bone broth. If you're concerned about plant anti-nutrients, you don't have to do blueberries and lettuce and cucumbers if you don't want to, but the idea persists that you need these viscous gel-like forms of liquid for your fascia, for your hydration status, for the electrical status of your body, for your skin. It's so important. And Dana, this book was just a really, really good practical read on how to do that. So, thank you for writing this.
Dana: Oh, thank you. It was really, really fun for me and I'm super proud of it. Thank you.
Ben: Awesome. Well, folks, like I mentioned, I'll link to the book and also link to the fascia video and Dr. Gerald Pollack's research and some of these books that we talked about all in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quench. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quench. We can grab the book, try some of the recipes. Well worth a read, quick easy reads, simple to wrap your head around with a lot of good information in there for staying hydrated. So, Dana, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this with us.
Dana: Thank you, Ben. Have a great day.
Ben: Alright, you, too. Alright, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Dana Cohen signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Based on breakthrough new science in the field of hydration, the new book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration debunks many popular myths about “getting enough water” and offers a revolutionary five-day jump start plan that shows how better hydration can reduce or eliminate ailments like chronic headaches, weight gain, gut pain, and even autoimmune conditions.
Chronic headaches…brain fog…fatigue…weight gain…insomnia…gut pain…autoimmune conditions. We may think these and other all-too-common modern maladies are due to gluten intake or too much sugar or too little exercise, but there is another missing piece to the health puzzle: Proper hydration.
Yes, even in this era of Poland Spring many of us are dehydrated due to moisture lacking diets, artificial environments, medications, and over-dependence on water as our only source of hydration. For this reason, your new diet or exercise plan may fail because your body doesn't have enough moisture to support it.
Quench presents a wellness routine that can reverse all of that, based on breakthrough new science in the field of hydration. You will be surprised to learn that drinking too much water can flush out vital nutrients and electrolytes. Here is where “gel water” comes in: the water from plants (like cucumber, berries, aloe), which our bodies are designed to truly absorb right down to the cellular level. In fact, Ms. Bria's work as an anthropologist led her to the realization that desert people stay hydrated almost exclusively from what they eat, including gel plants like cactus.
Based on groundbreaking science from the University of Washington's Pollack Water Lab and other research, Quench offers a five-day jump start plan using hydrating meal plans and the heart of the program, smoothies and elixirs that use the most hydrating and nutrient-packed plants. Another unique feature of their approach is micro-movements, which are small, simple movements you can make a few times a day that will move water through your fascia, the connective tissue responsible for hydrating our bodies. You will experience more energy, focus, and better digestion within five days…then move onto the lifetime plan for continued improvements, even elimination of symptoms.
My guest on today's podcast and the author of Quench, Dr. Dana Cohen, has been successfully practicing medicine here in New York City for 20 years utilizing a distinctive medical approach. Dr. Cohen has helped thousands of patients find relief after repeated unsuccessful attempts with other practitioners. Dr. Cohen was board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1998. She is an advisor to the Board of Directors of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM), the leading voice of Integrative Medicine for more than 1,500 MD, DO, ND, and master-level health-care providers. She has been the program director for their conferences and gathered the leaders of functional and integrative medicine to give world-class symposiums. She received her MD from St. George’s University School of Medicine and completed a three-year internal medicine residency at Albany Medical Center.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-Why water isn't always the ideal way to hydrate…7:32
- Searched for innovative topic on which to devote substantial research
- Co-author approached regarding hydration techniques at the Hydration Foundation
- “New phase” of water
- Is it possible to hydrate via food?
- The 8 glasses a day myth
- Comes from nowhere, similar to the food pyramid
- Some say they drink little water and remain hydrated
-What “gel” water is and how it differs from “regular” water…11:26
- “Structured” water
- Slightly thicker, different chemical equation (H3O2)
- Desert plants have gel inside (thickened water)
- Gel water is found in waterfalls, and in nature in general
- It's the type of water found in our cells
-The best foods to eat that contain gel water…14:41
- Chia seeds gel when exposed to water
- Cucumber seeds are gelatinous
- Fiber mixed w/ water becomes undrinkable when left; becomes gel water
-How hydration (and dehydration) is measured via food intake…16:35
- There's no research on determining clinical dehydration (although we know when someone is truly dehydrated)
- The means of determining hydration levels via water consumption have not been applied to food as of yet
-How people who dwell in deserts hydrate…22:08
- Bedouins “front load” water consumption (first thing in the morning w/ electrolytes)
- Robes they wear are quasi humidifying tents
- Drink camel's milk, goat's bread
- Low-fat diet is counterproductive
- Ghee is very high in gel water
-Why chia is such a potent source of hydration…26:08
- Rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid
- Grinding chia seeds; creates more gel water when add water to it
- Perfect thing to add to smoothies
- Lectins in chia seeds: proceed w/ caution
- Tara Fix recipe:
- Books by Christopher McDougall:
-Ancestral hydration tactics from history…32:54
- Nomadic cowboys in Uruguay consumed Yerba Mate
- Has all vitamins and electrolytes necessary to sustain life
- Dissolving plants in water delivers nutrients and hydration from the plants better than water alone
- Ancient pottery shows signs of gelatin from grains; evidence of eating lots of stews containing grains and vegetables
- Hasda people consumed Baobab fruit:
- Blended flesh w/ water; full of fat, fiber, and vitamins (an ancient smoothie)
-The link between fascia and hydration and why it's so important…39:30
- Fascia is the network of collagen that surrounds every cell and organ in our body (like the outer walls of the grapefruit holding in the fruit)
- “Living Fascia” video mentioned by Dr. Cohen
- Piezoelectricity: Motion that stretches tissue and generates electricity
- Study found that women who fidgeted less than other women had a 43% increase in all-cause mortality
- Small movements are better than nothing
- Dry skin brushing
-A recipe for “beauty water”…48:56
- Water mixed w/ simple ingredients: blueberries, pomegranates, lemon, etc.
- Adds electrolytes, structure to the water
- It's very possible to over hydrate; dispose of electrolytes before their efficacy can be applied to the body
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– BGF podcasts with Dr. Gerald Pollack:
– Video: Fascia
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