July 17, 2021
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/red-bull/
[00:01:59] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:53] Is There Such Thing as a “Perfect Life”?
[00:10:27] What is the Meaning of Life?
[00:16:45] Is your Personal Health the Best Expression of Seeking the Meaning of Life?
[00:20:40] How to Find the Balance Between Optimal Health and a Worthwhile Life
[00:26:46] Podcast Sponsors
[00:28:47] Ben's “Elevator Pitch” to Embrace Biohacking
[00:38:25] How to Approach Biohacks That Aren't Advocated by Mainstream Science
[00:42:18] How to Be a Human Guinea Pig Without Harming One's Self
[00:46:32] What Will It Look Like When Ben is an Old Man?
[00:50:24] What to do When You're Lacking the Motivation to Fill Your Life's Purpose
[00:55:45] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Love others as much as possible, making decisions not necessarily best outcome for ourselves, but rather the best outcome for others. So, for me, it's not a number, it's about impact. It's not about how long can I live, it's about how much of a difference can I make based on how I've cared for my body and how I've lived out my life's purpose during the time that I am here.
Andreas: Isn't it great to say that the fundament of all that care for your own health as much as you can?
Ben: That's completely the opposite.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, today's podcast is actually going to be different. So, there's this magazine. It's called the Red Bulletin Innovators published by Red Bull Media House. It's distributed in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, plus digitally in several other languages online. I'll link to it in the shownotes for today's show, which you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/redbull. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/redbull. But basically, they want to interview me. They're doing an eight-page opener for the magazine for a special section about biohacking. And the interview is something that is going to be like a written magazine interview, but the audio interview was really compelling. I think you'll really enjoy it, and I wanted to give it to you today. So, if you want to check out the magazine, I'll link to it in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/redbull. It's called the Red Bulletin Innovator, and we cover a ton on this show today. Everything from the meaning of life to nitty-gritty fringe biohacks that make your life better that don't take a bunch of time, minimal effective dose of exercise, just a ton. So, I think you'll really dig this one and enjoy.
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Andreas: That was the first field of topics we would like to address today is this idea of the perfect life, which is definitely part of this overall biohacking topic. Did you find a way for a perfect life yourself?
Ben: Well, that's a difficult question because a perfect life is a little bit difficult to exactly say what that would entail. Does it mean that you have perfect fitness? Does it mean you never get sick? Does it mean you're spiritually optimized? I mean, an ideal scenario, a perfect life would be defined by full mind, body, and spirit optimization. And I don't believe that's something that is attainable by any human being due to the fact that we simply live with broken bodies on a broken planet, and perhaps it won't be until our ultimate reincarnation at which time we will experience this so-called perfect life.
However, the other thing to bear in mind is that the fact that we all deal at times with mental, or physical, or spiritual difficulties is actually quite a beautiful thing because it keeps us humble when we experience injuries or we experience issues with our body and reminds us that we are indeed mortal. Just imagine if everyone were perfect, how proud and haughty everyone would be because we wouldn't have any issues that keep us grounded and humble, so to speak. And then furthermore, if we all had a perfect life, then there'd be very little progress. There'd be very little health progress. There'd be very little medical progress, technological progress, progress in the realms of biohacking or health, or anything else because none of us would really be incentivized or motivated to find issues for problems that human beings face if we were all just perfect.
I mean, for me personally, I've struggled with, for example in the past, gut issues, and also sleep issues. And because of that, I've had to take deep dives into both of those areas. And I've learned a lot of things that not only have those type of issues kept me humble myself knowing that I'm not perfect, but because of everything I've learned trying to solve my own problems, I've been able to turn around and hopefully help a lot of people by applying what I've learned that I probably never otherwise would have been quite as heavily motivated to learn. The same thing when clients come to me and they all have problems. Every single time I'm solving a problem for someone who doesn't have a perfect life, I'm helping to make the world better and helping to spread knowledge about different conditions that people face.
So, that all being said, I do think that most people do walk around in a suboptimal state, a suboptimal state mentally, a suboptimal state physically, or suboptimal state spiritually. And so, I think that many people can get closer to this so-called perfect life than they actually are. And that can include harnessing not only ancestral wisdom that we find in everything from Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine and beyond that human beings have gathered for thousands of years about ways that we can treat the body, ways that we can align our chakras, ways that we can increase energy flow, ways that we can utilize all of God's good creation from herbs, and spices, and plants, and different products to enhance our physiology. But it also means that we can utilize a lot of these modern tools of so-called biohacking, infrared light therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and hyperthermia, and cold thermogenesis, and different forms of supplements, and nootropics, and smart drugs, different dietary factors. There's all sorts of things that we can borrow from both ancestral wisdom and modern science that I think could certainly get us very close to operating at the optimal level that they said the human body and brain were designed to operate at.
Andreas: I would say perfection is always a little bit of a risky kind of definition, but at least you're coming closer in terms of all the ingredients and identifying the ingredients than most of the people I know or I believe I know, so yeah. But let's put advice words on a term of coming close to perfection. Is this something you still are striving to have it even better or do you feel like being grounded in face, being grounded in family, and being surrounded with all those facts that make your life as perfect as it is that's [00:08:48] _____ good?
Ben: No, I am not perfect, and I wake up every day seeking ways that I can have more energy, seeking ways that I can grow spiritually and grow closer to God, seeking ways that I can enhance mental function, seeking ways that I can achieve an optimal combination of lifespan and health span while fighting the uphill battle against mortality that we all face. And that we all face it seems more intensively in this post-industrial era where we have lots of non-native forms of everything from electricity to pollution to even some forms of medical care such as, say, vaccinations that weren't supposed to dictate that. We're always going to need to wake up and be aware of these things and pursue ways that we can help to make ourselves more impactful on this planet with the life that we've been given.
And so, yeah, not only that, but I'm also just a voraciously curious man. I wake up every day just interested in all the articles, and the research, and the books, and the audiobooks, and podcasts that help me to learn more about the human body, mind, and spirit simply because that's what I love to study. And many of those things that I find wind up being things that I apply for myself, for my own health, for my family's health, for my client's health. So, yeah, I'm still definitely driven to get as close to that state of perfection as possible while acknowledging the fact that total perfection, as I've alluded to, is not necessarily something that is attainable or realistic.
Andreas: Wonderful. So, I know it's a very hard [00:10:29] _____ beginning of an interview, but you basically appointed to the question yourself already. So, what would be your definition of the meaning of life in this context? Is this the striving for perfection? Is this being interested in things going on, or how would you define the meaning of life for yourself and for your family?
Ben: The million-dollar question or the billion-dollar question, what is the meaning of life? Well, there are very few people who walk around confident that they do know the meaning for life because as you know, there are thousands of years of philosophy from Marxism to Buddhism, to Stoicism, to Michi and beyond, all that have attempted to define the meaning of life. But unfortunately, the meaning of life cannot really be ascertained unless at some point, in attempting to ascertain the meaning of life, you set aside scientism, and rationalism, and logical thoughts, and everything else that we seem to be married to these days when we're seeking the meaning of life. And we instead embrace the spiritual and the esoteric.
And so, the way that I look at it from that perspective is this way. If we're looking at things from a scientific standpoint or an evolutionary standpoint, the meaning of life is survival. We are all a bunch of checks of flesh and blood floating through a solar system on a giant rock, attempting to procreate and to have sex and to propagate ourselves to live on in future generations. We are attempting to fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of need through attainment of wealth, or cars, or homes, or food, or anything else that will allow us to survive, or to climb the social ladder so that we can be contributory members of our tribe, and also so that our tribe will not shun us or kick us out. And we fight, fight, fight and kick, kick, kick to be able to fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and also to survive and to propagate our species until we die. At which point, based on a purely scientific revolutionary definition of our existence, we are then gone.
And if you were to introduce some type of Buddhist philosophy to this, we're not gone and that our soul might live on to be reincarnated to live another life as an insect, or as a flower, as another human being, or whatever the case may be. I don't really believe that that's true, personally, because I have introduced an element of absolute truth into my life that is void in many of these philosophies. And also, I have acknowledged the fact that there is a higher power that cannot fully be understood or fully be studied. And that's because I'm a Judeo Christian. And basically, because of that, I believe that the purpose of life is to savor and enjoy God's creation with every single day that we wake up with a big smile on our face that we are on this magical planet that we simply get to live upon and enjoy.
Furthermore, we are called not only to enjoy that creation, but during the process of enjoying it, to love others, following the golden rule as much as possible, making decisions not necessarily that reflect as evolution would dictate the best outcome for ourselves, but rather the best outcome for others. I believe that the purpose of life is to savor God's creation while loving others. And in doing so, to identify our unique skill set in life are unique purpose of life and make as big an impact on this planet during the time that we are blessed to be here as possible by utilizing that skill set to, again, not fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but to instead love others using that purpose and skill set that we've been given.
And there is an author and a speaker whose work I follow, who I think sums this up quite nicely. His name is John Piper. And what he says is that we are designed to fully glorify God by being fully satisfied in him. And what that means is we enjoy creation, we sing, we eat wonderful food, we live an amazing life, we enjoy exercise, and the outdoors, and all the ancestral wisdom and the modern science that I was talking about. And then, basically from there, we enjoy all of that, but we enjoy all of that in a spirit of loving others, and that's how we actually love God. And that's actually why we were created, just that we were created so that God could look down upon this magical, colorful, amazing, wonderful planet that has been created and see all these humans absolutely loving it and loving each other, and that brings a smile to God's face. And that's why He made all of us. And I think that that's the meaning of life is to do that.
I think that one of the things that you should bear in mind is that this means that if there is a God, and if that God is fully omniscient, and all-knowing, and everything, and knows neither time nor space, and is planning to every last thing that's ever going to happen out, then the other cool thing is you're not hopelessly chunk of flesh and blood attached to a giant rock floating through the universe, but there's instead a special story that's written out for your life. And all you have to do is to wake up and do the very best job you can with your unique skill set with whatever God has put on your plate thinking about loving others the whole time. And if you're doing all of that, you're fulfilling the meaning of life and the reason why you were placed upon this planet in the first place.
Andreas: Is it correct to say that the fundament of all that is health, to care for your own health as much as you can?
Ben: That's completely the opposite. The fundamental behind that when it comes to health is to care as deeply as you can about the health of others, their own physical health, their mental health, and their spiritual health. And your role for your own health is to simply ensure that you're taking care of yourself to the extent to where you're actually able to do that, you're able to help others. And so, really when it comes to health, what you should be thinking about, and I realize this is an odd way to think about things, is to love others and equip yourself to love others because many people who pursue health, and biohacking, and fitness do it to look good, to feel better, to be more productive, to again fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and for what, at the end of the day, turned out to be purely selfish reasons, which I don't think is the best way to live. And at the end of the day, is ultimately unfulfilling.
So, rather, the fundamental is to care for other people's health, and to love other people, and to simply make sure that you're taking care of yourself enough so that you're able to do that. I mean, think about someone like Mother Teresa. She's not someone who you would say was like a Cindy Crawford or a supermodel, or like the fittest person on the face of the planet, but she cared so deeply for others and made such a difference in this world. And certainly, I don't think she smoked cigarettes, and did a whole bunch of drugs, and abused her body, but she wasn't doing that, so she would look really good on the cover of swimsuit illustrated. She likely to carve herself in that respect just so that she'd be able to get up from bed in the morning and be able to go help the orphans, and the homeless, and the widows, and the fatherlessness and the poor.
And so, I think that's the fundamental when it comes to health. And you would be surprised when you do that at how much satisfaction that you get from that. And also, how by changing that perspective, fitness and health and biohacking becomes a lot more satisfying because it's not for you, it's for other people. And it also puts a built-in limiter on how much time and energy, like selfish time and energy, that you might place upon those activities because you realize that you only have X amount of time to be able to sit in a hyperbaric chamber, and a cold pool, and a sauna because eventually, you get to the point where you realize that your role in life is not necessarily just like live as long as possible. Your role in life is to love other people, help other people.
And once you've equipped yourself to do that, that's where the minimal effective dose comes in. You don't have to go to the gym for two hours. You can go there for 20 to 30 minutes and do high-intensity interval training or super slow training. You don't have to spend three hours in the sunshine. You can use an infrared light panel for 20 minutes. Yeah, you don't have to do 30 minutes of cold exposure a day. You can get into 32 degrees of water for two or three minutes. And so, I'm always thinking whenever I'm working on my own body, or brain, or optimization, what's the least I can do using the most efficient means possible so I've got more time freed up for my kids, for my wife, for other people, for people who actually need me.
Andreas: Absolutely. So, if we take this idea of the oxygen mask in the airplane, it's really about getting enough oxygen to be able to help the others to get on the oxygen masks [00:20:16] _____ not selfishly trying to get as much out of just for yourself is out there trying to help the other.
Ben: Right. Put your own oxygen mask on first so that you're able to help other people. But don't sit there fumbling around with the oxygen masks for like 20 minutes optimizing the levels and testing your pulse oximetry rate, and making sure it's fitted just perfectly. Slap that thing on and then go help a bunch of people get their other masks on.
Andreas: And if it takes us as a, whatever, red line [00:20:47] _____, so this responsibility for your own health is still something that's quiet and focused because it enables you to do things that are necessary to help [00:20:58] _____. But how do we find the balance between being the guy [00:21:05] _____ and the guy who is really just doing what's necessary? Is this a point where spirituality comes in again or how do you put your compass on when it comes to how much time may I invest on myself still, or what's the point?
Ben: There are probably three things that really will help you to identify this. The first is more concrete, and that would be self-quantification. We live in an era where the type of blood testing and biome testing, hormone testing, saliva testing, urine testing, genetic testing that we would have paid tens of thousands of dollars for at some fancy longevity institute or medical institution are now available to us from the comfort of our own homes. I can test my heart rate variability, my sleep cycles, my blood markers, my hormones, my gut, everything, and I can determine with laser-like precision how effective the methods that I'm using to care for myself actually are. Because if you're flying blind, you do risk wasting a lot of time doing things that aren't necessarily necessary for your health, or spending too much time on the things that really don't need as much time as you're spending doing them.
And so, number one would be use the power of self-quantification. Get a wearable that's going to track your sleep cycles, and your heart rate variability, and your step count, and your resting heart rate, and your body temperature. And get a good genetic analysis so you know how you should be eating, and what your ancestors ate, and what risk factors you might have for disease that you can take care of early in the process so that again, you're around this planet long enough to be able to help a lot of people and fulfill your unique purpose in life. Get a stool test so that you can test what's going with your gut for yeast, parasites, fungus, inflammation. Get a urinary test and/or a saliva test to see what's going on with you hormonally and with your neurotransmitters. And get a food allergy test that you know what foods that you should or should not be eating. And get like a good blood panel and get a good micronutrient blood panel so you've got all your bases covered. And it's so accessible to so many people nowadays. There's no reason not to be testing so that you know what you should and should be doing because what gets measured gets managed.
Number two is that you must be aware of serving others and loving others as being a prime focus of your life. And if you disconnect from that, if you wake up and your day is all about, “What can I accomplish for myself today? What are my self-affirmations today? I'm good. I'm great. I'm wonderful. Gosh, darn it, people liked me. And so, what am I going to do to get better today?” Then that starts off the day in a very selfish kind of me facing type of format. But if you instead wake up during the day, and this is what I do every morning, you ask yourself not only, what am I grateful for, but who can I pray for, or help, or serve on this day. And then, at the end of the day, and I also do this, I use a journal that I published called the “Spiritual Disciplines Journal” for this. At the end of the day, I do a process of self-examination, asking myself, what good have I done today? What could I have done better today? And where was I most connected to my life's purpose today?
And by waking up with the spirit of serving others and the spirit of gratitude and going to bed by analyzing how well a job you did loving others and how purpose-filled you were with the purpose that God gave you for this planet, that's another way to stay connected to whether or not your activities might have been selfish. Because I could tell you what, if I have my eyes closed at the end of the day and I'm journaling at the end of that, and I'm going through that process of self-examination, and I'm thinking, well, what good did I do today and how did I satisfy my life's purpose today, and I see that I spent an hour and a half at the gym, and 45 minutes at hyperbaric chamber, and did like a sauna and a cold session, had like three hours working on myself yet didn't really help many people and didn't do anything that I felt was super purpose-filled, then that's a check. That's a check in on myself to say, “Oh, my goodness, this day was actually not a day that was done in the state of using my unique skill set to help and love others. This was instead a day spent on too much optimization, too much biohacking, too much me, me, me.”
So, that's number two. And then, number three, and a lot of people think that this is just too vague and too woo-woo, but for eons of time, for all of humankind, the seed of human emotions was not the brain. It was not the consciousness, it was not the mind, but it was the heart, also known as the gut. This idea of listen to your heart, follow your heart, listen to your gut, follow your heart, check in with your heart. If you're constantly doing that and making decisions, especially when it comes to how much time you're going to spend on yourself versus others, what you're going to do for other people, whether something might be a waste of time, or whether you're fritting away in activity just because it's become a habit or routine for you but something is not entirely necessary, that's going to be incredibly helpful.
So, yeah, you want to measure so that you can manage. You want to journal and engage in these spiritual disciplines like gratitude, and purpose, and self-examination, and service each day systematically, and you want to listen to your heart and ask yourself constantly, is this for me or is this for others? Is this the best use of my time or is this fritting away selfish time on self-optimization? It's not necessary. And I would say that those three things will really help you to stay on the right path.
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Andreas: The complete opposite to self-optimization.
Ben: Well, not the complete opposite, but it's self-optimization with the goal of others optimization.
Andreas: We already had a segue to biohacking now. I would like to ask you to do an elevator pitch. You meet somebody and you have one minute or two minutes' time to get somebody enthusiastic about biohacking.
Ben: Although the human body is not a set of hardware like a computer, the human body is still somewhat programmable. Technology and other things that we might consider to be tools, strategies, tactics, and so-called hacks can be used to optimize the human-machine in the same way that one might defrag a computer or use a software like clean my Mac, which I use every week to upgrade and to clean out my hard drive, or in the same way one might soup up their car with really cool speakers, or a better engine, or a more efficient fuel injector. You can actually do a lot of that to the human body. It's not something necessarily unnatural. It's simply taking the natural activities that the body would normally engage in, detoxification, production of hormones, production of muscle, loss of fat, burning of nutrients, et cetera. And you're optimizing those processes as efficiently as possible by using both modern science and ancestral wisdom so that you can, in a way, hack the human system for a better operation.
Andreas: So, if you met me in an elevator, you would recommend me to start with one hack, or would you recommend me to start with testing or reading a book? What do you recommend me as a first step into my journey to biohacking?
Ben: All of those are good ideas, and all of those are great recommendations, and it's difficult when you say one thing because everybody is different. Like if somebody said, “Well, I want to get into biohacking,” my first question would be, what are your main problems? What is it that you're trying to solve? What is it you're unhappy about, or what is it you feel isn't working as well or as efficiently as you would like? Because for one person who says sleep and they're doing everything right for sleep, and they go to bed at a decent time, and they keep their room dark, and they don't have a lot of noise in the room, and they're not working a lot in the bedroom, and they're like, “Well, how do I biohack?” Then I tell them, well, maybe you start by placing a chiliPAD underneath your top sheet that circulates 55-degree cold water underneath your body while you're sleeping. And then, wear a pair of wool socks, which warms the feet but causes the rest of the blood to the rest of the body to stay cool, and decrease the temperature of your home to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and then take a cold shower three hours before bedtime so that your body's core temperature decreases, and that would be the biohack for that person. Whereas if somebody says, “Well, it's my gut,” I would say, “Okay, let's get a stool analysis done first. And then, from there, a food allergy test and genetics test so that we can determine exactly what it is that you're wired up ancestrally to eat, and what type of food you produce an autoimmune reaction to, and then let's see what your activity levels are during the day, which help us to determine the number of calories that you should be eating. And let's use self-quantification and testing to biohack your diet so that it's customized to you.”
So, it's going to vary for everyone, but I can tell you that there are certain things that seem to, no matter who someone is, work really well, to allow someone to have a better body and brain. And let's say that someone already knows that they should be exercising and they have a decent amount of physical activity that they're already doing, and somebody already knows that they should eat healthy, and they're eating somewhat healthy. They're not eating a lot of processed or packaged foods, and they're avoiding vegetable oils, and not eating too much sugar or alcohol, not overconsuming caffeine, eating naturally, perhaps even fasting a little bit. Because a lot of popular magazines and books these days teach people how to do that, so most people are aware of that. But they're exercising and they're eating healthy. Okay. Well, how would you then biohack?
So, I would say there's a few things that then would take you from good to great. Number one would be harnessing the power of the photons of light because this giant star that we have right above us is a pure source of energy that most people neglect to harness. So, use biophotons of light by going outside in the sunshine for 20 to 60 minutes every day and perhaps even consider consuming compounds like methylene blue or chaga mushroom extract, which allow your body to more efficiently harness those photons of light to produce electrons and ATP. Use infrared light such as infrared light panels in your office, or if we're at light panels in a sauna, to get the near-infrared and the far-infrared and the red light in larger doses that keep you from excess amount of time getting radiated by UVA and UVB sunlight, but that still allow you to get all of those helpful spectrums of light. And expose yourself using a biohack like the blue light box, or a HumanCharger, or the Re-timer glasses to expose yourself to as much bright light as possible early in the day to optimize your circadian rhythms.
So, number one, if you're already exercising and eating healthy, would be to harness light. Number two would be to harness the same electrical potential of the planet that you're on right now by going outside barefoot, walking on the beach, walking on asphalt, or pavement, or grass, or anything with your feet connected, or even by wearing a pair of shoes such as earthing shoes or grounding shoes that allow you to maintain electrical contact with the surface of the planet. Swim outside in natural bodies of water, especially salty natural bodies of water because minerals help to conduct electricity. Go for a walk on the beach and then go swimming in the ocean, for example. Climb rocks, climb trees, lay on your back outside in your backyard with your shirt off. And basically, get in touch with the surface of this planet as much as you can because it's incredibly healing as an anti-inflammatory effect, and it's very good for ATP production and energy production, very similar to the biophotons of light from the sauna.
Number three and four would be to utilize heat and cold as much as possible. There are reams now of epidemiological research that show that both hyperthermia such as regular sauna sessions, regular sweating, regular mild discomforts of heat along with the same for cold, cold showers, cold soaks, cold bath, cryotherapy chambers, cold tubs, cold plunges, there's a remarkable longevity benefit and also a benefit to the cells that allow the cells to become more resilient to stress when you begin to incorporate discomforts of heat and cold on a regular basis and prioritize something like a sauna and a cold pool as much as you might prioritize an exercise session. And so, I would do those two things.
And then, finally, when we look at the body as a human battery, which I've alluded to a couple of times when talking about things like sunshine and the earth, there are books like “The Body Electric” by Robert Becker, or, “Healing is Voltage” by Jerry Tennant. They teach you how all of our cells operate with this electrochemical gradient across the membrane of each cell that should ideally have a negative charge on the inside and a positive charge on the outside. And all of the practices that I've just described will help that charge to be more regular and more natural. But then also, the things that carry that charge throughout the body would be water and minerals, preferably water that is as close to nature as possible because there's bonding that occurs in water, such as we would find in spring water, or it's now called structured water that allows for water to more efficiently fuel cells and carry electrons throughout the body with less stress in the heart.
So, drinking pure, clean filtered water that's preferably also structured, or vortices, or energized, is a very good way to maintain energy levels even if you're already eating healthy and exercising. And the interesting thing is that many of these things overlap and play upon each other because photons of light naturally help to structure the water within your body. So, even if you're not able to structure the water, if you drink good, clean, pure filtered water and get out in the sunlight, you're still getting many of the same benefits, or in the infrared light.
And then, finally, minerals, regular use of sea salt, and liquid electrolytes, and produce grown in mineral-rich soil, the use of salt in the right way, not isolated sodium chloride such as you would find in packaged foods or in table salt, but instead really good, high-quality salts, really good trace liquid minerals like Quinton, or Protekt, or Elements, or any of these companies like AquaTru that sell these liquid minerals that can be added to water. Man, by increasing the mineral content of the water that you consume and then consuming lots of pure, good, clean, filtered, preferably structured water when combined with sunlight and earthing/grounding, and heat, and cold, if you're already exercising and you're already eating healthy, those are the biohacks that I would start with because those are some of the most important that I found, in my opinion, to take someone from feeling pretty good, who's already healthy, to biohacking and feeling really, really, really good.
Andreas: Most of those hacks you mentioned now are already accepted by, let's say, common science. Some are not. For instance, earthing or something like that. But what's your position in this discussion between so-called common science and–well, how might we call it?
Ben: Well, first of all, grounding and earthing. If you were to watch a documentary such as “Earthing,” or read the book by Clint Ober and Dr. Sinatra on earthing and grounding, there actually is ample scientific evidence for the anti-inflammatory effects of skin conductivity to the planet of the Earth. And if you looked into the research on pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, or PEMF, these mats and medical tools now being used to deliver that same frequency via mats, and pads, and coils to the human body, also have tons of research behind it, originating with NASA in their attempts to increase stem cell production in astronauts who had returned from travel above Earth's atmosphere. And so, there actually is a lot of research on earthing and grounding and the concentrated biohack form of that pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.
However, let's just say that there is something for which less research exists. This is where self-quantification comes in using yourself as an n equals 1 case study comes in to see what works for you and what actually increases your heart rate variability, or your sleep cycles, or your exercise performance, or your body temperature, or your blood status, or anything else. And then, B, returning back to this concept of scientism, we now live in an era where it seems as though everything must have long-term, double-blinded human clinical research behind it. And my take on that is this. If something does carry inherent risks, and I'm unsure of those risks, let's say it's, for example, some type of meditative device that you must attach to your head that produces a certain amount of electricity, and I haven't seen research yet on whether or not there's any risk of brain cancer from that form of electricity, I will wait for the research to come out, or I will get like an electrical meter and test it myself and then go to PubMed and see whether those type of frequencies are harmful, or helpful, or neutral for the human body.
And so, you can do some testing yourself. And then, certain other things such as, not to get too controversial, but let's say like a vaccine–and I'm not anti-vaxxer, and I think that the effects of the vaccine on decreasing risk for certain diseases has been profound for human health and our presence on this planet. But yet if a vaccine is fast-tracked and there's not any long-term human clinical research behind it, and I have no way of finding out for myself, then I will wait until I've seen enough research before trying something. The nice thing is that a lot of biohacks, unless you're actually injecting something or using something that produces a lot of electricity or something like that, most of them are simply simulating what we find nature doing already. So, we can almost just use the existence of humans, for example, being out in sunlight for thousands of years and getting tons of benefit from it to back up the fact that near infrared and far infrared light is actually good for you.
And so, certain things that are just mimicking what nature does I'm actually quite comfortable with. Whereas certain things that are either mimicking what nature does but delivering at a much higher power or frequency, or not really been mimicking what nature does, but are some brand new form of stimulus for the human body like a peptide, or a hormone, or a SARM, or an injectable, or something like that, I am a little bit more careful with. And not only do I test the modality and test my response to that modality, but then for something for it that's even great at risk, I simply say no and I wait for the long-term human clinical research on it.
Andreas: On your website, you called yourself a relentless self-experimenter and guinea pig. I understand marketing of course, but it still sounds a bit weird. Can you tell us something about what you try not to harm yourself? You already mentioned it a bit with your experiments. And what was the weirdest thing you ever tried?
Ben: An example would be I wear a continuous blood glucose monitor to see what type of lifestyle activities, exercise activities, supplements, and foods will affect my blood sugar because I think that tracking your blood sugar and your levels of inflammation if you're going to test nothing else, those are the two best factors to track if you're concerned about your longevity and your long-term health. So, I wear continuous blood glucose monitor. And for example, when I talk about self-experimentation and how I constantly am experimenting, I'm constantly tracking my sleep cycles and trying different levels of melatonin, or inhibitory neurotransmitters, or different forms of sleep-enhancing sounds or soundscapes and seeing what actually works so that I can then go out to my audience and tell them, okay. Well, anecdotally, CBD seems to increase deep sleep cycles and allow for better sleep efficiency. But if the CBD is accompanied by trace amounts of THC, it seems to do the opposite effect and decrease sleep cycles. Or that 3 milligrams of melatonin seem to work quite effectively when combined with bright light in the morning, increasing amount of quality sleep that you get. But if you're jet-lagged, it turns out that anywhere from 100 to 300 milligrams of melatonin for just a few days works even better.
And so, those are just tiny examples of the type of self-experimentation that would do. And it's funny because people also ask me what you just asked me, which is what is the strangest or weirdest thing that I've done. And I don't think I do things that I guess subjectively to me, it seems super strange or super dangerous because if we look at the original biohackers, they called their bodies wetware. And then, what they would use to experiment on their bodies, they called the hardware. And so, they would do things like injects chlorophyll into their eyeballs for night vision, or install a tiny magnetic compass underneath the skin of the chest that would vibrate every time that they face true north, or they would install magnetic implants in their fingertips. They could interact with screens, kind of like that movie “Minority Report.”
And I don't really consider myself to be that type of person who does things that are that risky. For example, I guess one thing that comes to mind is I tried helminthic therapy once to modulate and strengthen my immune system, particularly because I was engaged in hefty periods of travel. And I'd seen some research behind the efficacy of the consumption of pig whipworms and rat tapeworms in small amounts from properly sourced labs to actually make the immune system stronger based on the same concept that because we've all been in a bubble during COVID, it seems to be making kids' immune systems weaker. Or based on the concept that kids and children who grow up on farms with lots of animals, playing in the dirt, tend to have stronger immune systems, that same type of concepts. So, I did tapeworms and whipworms for about six months and didn't get sick at all during an entire year of being on a plane two or three times a week.
Another example would be I attempted to build muscle using nothing but electrical muscle stimulation for eight weeks, and I put on almost 10 pounds of muscle by not lifting any weights at all, and simply using electricity to stimulate my muscle at very high intensities. And certainly, some people might think that swallowing whipworms and tapeworms and shocking yourself so you gain more muscle is something that might be strange or extreme. But honestly, for both of those, I looked pretty heavily into the research before engaging in either of them. And yes, it does turn out that there is ample evidence for this helminthic therapy, whipworms and tapeworms to enhance the immune system. And there's also ample evidence from Russia going all the way back to the '50s for electrical muscle stimulation to safely enhance muscle gain. And so, I'm not just flying blind, so to speak, if that makes sense.
Andreas: Yeah. You mentioned lifespan and health span in the beginning of our interview. So, this leads me to the question, what will it look like when Ben Greenfield is old?
Ben: Well, based on most of the available evidence that we have, the maximum human lifespan is not increased appreciably for quite some time I think since about the early '90s. And it falls somewhere, depending on the research that you looked at, between about 115 and 121 years old. It's quite humorous that I believe it was Jeanne Calment, the French woman who currently holds the verified record who would smoke cigarette a day and have a glass or a shot of Scotch every day. But her trick was she had really good relationships and love in her life with people a lot and was very happy because she had connection and love and relationships in people.
And so, that's just a little bit of a rabbit hole. It's funny, although it is also funny that we know that things that poison us or hurt us in small amounts like plants, and herbs, and spices, and sunlight, and heat, and cold, all of those things. If I stayed for three hours in a sauna or an hour in 32 degrees, or I ate a whole half gallon of cinnamon, or I spent 10 hours in the sunlight, all those things would really damage me, but in small amounts they're really helpful for me. And there's even some hypothesis that the small cigarette she smoked every day actually made herself stronger by subjecting them to a mild toxin or poison, thus enabling them to grow stronger and produce more endogenous antioxidants. And I don't know if that's true, but it's just an interesting concept for people to think about. Now, for me, I don't care how long I live.
Andreas: Sorry, Ben, I have to ask you. Will you start smoking when you have your 101st birthday?
Ben: No, but I will continue to engage in things that subject my body to mild amounts of stress, such as heat, and cold, and fasting, and a wide intake of plants, and herbs, and spices, and natural plant defense mechanisms, and exercise. And all those things that induce a similar response, but don't carry along with them some of the risks that I've seen in the epidemiological data that I've seen on cigarettes. I just think that the pros outweigh the cons at this point. That's one of those situations in which I would wait for human clinical research on what happens in someone over their lifespan if they smoke one cigarette a day starting when they're, say, 70 versus not. And I don't see that research happening anytime soon. For ethical reasons, it probably won't. And I don't see rodents necessarily being able to smoke a cigarette a day. But I don't know. I suppose they could do that study in rodents or something.
But anyways, the thing is I don't really care how long I live. All I care is that I'm taking care of my body just enough based on that discussion that we had earlier, not in a selfish way, but in a realistic and data informed way so that I can live with maximum impacts during however many number of years I've been genetically programmed to live. And so, if that means that I die when I'm 80, I'm perfectly fine with that, so long as I've been able to care for myself until that point where I'm able to help a lot of people. So, for me, it's not a number, it's about impact. It's not about how long can I live, it's about how much of a difference can I make based on how I've cared for my body and how I've lived out my life's purpose during the time that I am here. And that's one caution I'd give to people in the biohacking industry or people who are interested in it. If you live 'til you're 150, but you're cold and hungry, and libidoless, and spending half of that time in a cryotherapy chamber, or a sauna, or hyperbaric oxygen chamber, or all three, then what really is that except like mental masturbation that you lived a little bit longer than other people did, and it turns into an inherently selfish activity?
Andreas: I would absolutely like to know what do you do when you're not motivated to do anything good for yourself. What do you do in moments like that when you just, I don't know, want to hang around, sit on the couch, maybe turn on the TV, do the things that an average American does 10 hours per day?
Ben: First of all, if you have identified your unique purpose in life–and in my last book “Fit Soul,” and also in my book “Boundless,” I teach people how to identify their unique purpose in life by identifying, for example, the type of things they enjoyed to do when they were a child, the type of things that put them into the zone and make things go by quickly now, the type of things that they're naturally good at that they shouldn't be ashamed of. It feels easy because they are naturally good at those activities. Those are things they should be doing.
So, if you've identified your purpose statement in life and turned that into one single succinct statement such as my purpose in life is to, like my son, is to create a funny art that inspires people to laugh and have a light heart. Or my wife's purpose statement, which is to open up my home to minister and be hospitable to others. And so, you can live your day through that lens. And it's a lot more difficult to not be motivated if you have a purpose statement that you've written down for your life that preferably using something like the journaling tactic that I talked about, you're revisiting each day and questioning whether or not you're actually living out that life purpose. Even though it may change as you age, it may change as you develop new skills, you should have that unique single succinct purpose statement in life. That's probably the most important.
Also, when I'm demotivated, and I learned this when I did the civilian version of Navy SEAL Hell Week down in Encinitas, California, I realized that when you're feeling down and you're feeling demotivated, and you're feeling beat up, the best thing that you can do, return to our discussion earlier, is to give energy to other people and as many people as possible because that energy comes back to you. So, just go help somebody do something or offer to help someone do something. And it sounds odd, but it actually isn't energy-draining for you to do that. It gives you energy.
Third, have certain activities that you've identified that you're able to do when you're mentally fatigued or you have decision-making fatigue. This is why doing some of the hardest things, or the more creative things, or the more mentally demanding things earlier in the day is good for most people because by the time the afternoon rolls around, you're able to simply take that slightly fatigued mind and apply it to things that don't require as much creativity or mental energy. So, I do all of my writing, and my podcasting, and my interviews, and my recordings, and everything early in the day between about 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. And then, I save all of the emails, and the extra phone calls, and the little busy tasks for later in the day so that I know I have those things that I'm able to do when I'm not quite as motivated.
But if I wake up and for some reason, perhaps I've stayed up late the night before or because I had a date with my wife, or there's been some kind of a big party like New Year's or something like that, then I'll take those same activities that I've identified as being the things that don't take as much mental firepower, and I'll just spend a day doing those things. And then, the next day, I'll do all the creative work. And so, I'll just turn to those tasks that I know I can still do. And since I know what those tasks are, I don't wind up wasting a day. I just end up spending a day doing a bunch of busy work that frees up time for me when I am feeling more motivated to have time to do the creative work because there won't be any busy work to do because I did the busy work when I was a little less motivated. And then, finally, I guess on a little bit more of a practical level, I have found nothing to be as powerful as jumping into a cold body of water, or taking an icy cold shower, or an icy cold face dunk, or subjecting yourself to some type of cold intensity for getting motivation and mental energy back very quickly without the use of any stimulants, or drugs, or supplements.
Andreas: I must admit I'm just super happy. I think 55 minutes have been spent in a perfect way. So, from my side, Ben, thank you so much for making the time. I think our readers will benefit a lot from what you have to share. Yeah, one practical question, will your cookbook be available as eBook at some point? I was a little bit curious about ordering it, and then I found out shipping to Europe is more expensive since the actual book. Do you plan something like eBooking this looking forward?
Ben: Yes. If it's not out yet, it will be very soon, both the eBook and the Amazon version.
Andreas: I think “Boundless” is probably still a little bit too thick to get translated in German because we need double amount of words.
Ben: Yeah, sorry about that.
Andreas: No worries. It's just an issue with our language, so yeah. An avid biohacker has straight English anyway. So, thank you so much, Ben, from my side. I wish you a wonderful Monday. And yeah, hopefully, connect–
Ben: Thank you so much.
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.
Occasionally, I'm interviewed by magazines, other podcasts, authors, radio networks, etc., and occasionally, I also publicly release those interviews with the journalist.
After all, whatever you say in an interview can and will be used against you, right?
Just kidding. This interview actually went quite well and was recorded to be published in The Red Bulletin Innovator, by the Red Bull Media House, distributed in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland plus digitally in several other languages online (including English). The interview with me is an 8-page opener for a special section about biohacking and the issue will be out in September. The interview was conducted by Andreas Breitfeld, a German biohacker and founder of the first biohacking lab in Germany, along with author Stefan Wagner.
In this episode, you'll discover:
-Is there such thing as a “perfect life”?…03:55
- In an ideal scenario, a perfect life would be defined by full mind, body, and spirit optimization
- Not fully attainable due to human nature not being perfect and living in an imperfect world
- Our fallibility can be a beautiful thing; keeps us humble and grounded and reminds us that we are mortal
- Problems spur progress
- Most people exist in a suboptimal state
- Many obstacles to living an optimal life today are things we weren't exposed to before
- Always learning new things and biohacks to optimize mind, body, spirit
-What is the meaning of life?…10:35
- Looking at things from a scientific standpoint, the meaning of life is “survival”
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Ben subscribes to absolute truth, a higher power that cannot be fully studied and understood
- “Savor, enjoy God's creation while loving others; identify our calling and make a positive impact”
- John Piper: “We are designed to fully glorify God by being fully satisfied in Him.”
-Is your personal health the best expression of seeking the meaning of life?…16:35
- Focusing on your own health is the opposite of seeking true meaning in life
- Focusing on others makes your own health more gratifying
- Take care of your health in order to serve others
- Use biohacks in order to best serve those who depend on you
- Put on your own oxygen mask first; but don't dwell on all the technical details, help people!
-How to find the balance between optimal health and a worthwhile life…20:40
- Self-quantification (genetics, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep cycles); what can be measured can be managed
- Oura Ring
- Ben's Recommended Lab Tests
- Micronutrient blood panel
- Microbiome and metabolic test
- Urine and saliva test to see what is happening hormonally
- Stool test to see what is wrong with your gut for yeast, parasites, fungus, inflammation
- Food allergy test to see what food you should or should not eat
- Hair analysis mineral test
- Genetic testing
- Make serving others your prime focus in life
- Don't ignore the heart, the seat of human emotions/gut impulses
- Engage in The Spiritual Disciplines
- Self-optimization with the goal of “others optimization,” meaning of life
-Ben's “elevator pitch” to embrace biohacking…29:00
- Understand what problem you want to fix before identifying which biohacks to use
- Certain biohacks that work really well no matter who that someone is:
- Harnessing light
- Harnessing the electrical potential of the earth
- Walking barefoot or using Earthing sandals
- Swim in the ocean; minerals help conduct electricity
- Climb rocks, climb trees
- Saunafor heat
- Ice bathfor cold bath
- The Body Electricby Robert Becker
- Healing is Voltageby Jerry Tennant
- Structured water
- Use saltand liquid minerals like Quinton and AquaTru liquid minerals the right way
-How to approach biohacks that aren't advocated by mainstream science…38:25
- Earthing documentary
- Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!by Clint Ober and Dr. Stephen Sinatra
- My New #1 Hack For Zapping Inflammation, Increasing Deep Sleep & Recovering Faster—Earthing (The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?), with Clint Ober.
- PEMF mats and pads
- Use self-quantification to identify what is and isn't working for you
- Many biohacks simulate what nature is already doing
-How to be a human guinea pig without harming one's self…42:20
- Blood glucose monitor
- Track sleep cyclesand melatonin levels (use code BEN to save 5%)
- Sleep enhancing sounds
- CBD for sleep
- Weirdest biohacks Ben has tried:
- Ensure there's ample evidence of the efficacy of biohacks before using
- Don't try any biohacks you don't feel comfortable doing
-What will it look like when Ben is an old man?…46:40
-What to do when you're lacking the motivation to fill your life's purpose…50:20
-And much more…
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Red Bull:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- My New #1 Hack For Zapping Inflammation, Increasing Deep Sleep & Recovering Faster—Earthing (The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?), with Clint Ober.
- Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.
- Why I Eat Tapeworms & Whipworms Every Two Weeks: The Fascinating World Of Helminthic Therapy.
- Sabbath Ramblings: The 4 Spiritual Disciplines I Practice Every Day (& Why).
– Gear And Supplements:
- Oura Ring
- Joovv Light Panels
- Human Charger(use code BEN20 to save 20%)
- Re-Timer Glasses
- Clearlight Infrared Sauna
- Earth Runners Earthing Sandals
- Morozko Forge Ice Bath
- Structured Water Filter
- Blood Glucose Monitor
- BioBalance PEMF Mats And Pads
- Neubie Electrical Muscle Stimulator
- Sandman High Dose Melatonin
- Methylene Blue
- Four Sigmatic Chaga
- Sea Salt
- AquaTru Liquid Minerals
– Other Resources:
- Ben will be speaking at the Ancestral Health Symposium in L.A. on August 12-14, 2021
- Las Vegas Keto Expo (October 15-16, 2021). Ben will be speaking at the Las Vegas Keto Expo along with 13 other keto experts. The first 300 guests to register herewill get a free drink chip for the poolside party and a free t-shirt.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following com/calendar
–Organifi Green Juice: Now you can get all your healthy superfoods in one glass…with No Shopping, No Blending, No Juicing, and No Cleanup. Get a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.
–Kion Refer a Friend: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, save 10% off your first order with code BEN10, and we'll pay you to send your friends to us!
–Thrive Market: Organic brands you love, for less. Your favorite organic food and products. Fast and free shipping to your doorstep. Receive a gift card worth up to $20 when you begin a new membership.