[Transcript] – The Best Way To Know How Stress, Supplements, Sleep, Sex & More Affects Your Nervous System: The Latest News About Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/self-quantification-podcasts/the-latest-news-about-heart-rate-variability-hrv-training/

[00:00] Four Sigmatic Foods/Kimera Koffee

[05:14] About Jo Beth Dow

[06:47] Ben’s HRV and Exercise

[11:37] HRV Algorithm

[21:06] NatureBeat’s Four Options for Monitoring Stress

[29:15] Things to Know About LF and HF and How to Know if You are Depressed

[31:49] Human Charger/Thorne Products

[38:12] When a High HRV is a Bad Thing

[47:05] How the Food Test Works in Relation to HRV

[51:25] How a Correlation Screen is Used

[55:45] What Heart Rate Monitor Straps Work Best for Measuring HRV

[59:00] How to Measure HRV Without Using a Chest Strap

[1:02:20] How a Zoom HRV Monitor Works to Measure HRV

[1:08:20] End of Podcast

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In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

 “I can tell when someone’s depressed.  I can see it.  I can see it in their power levels.  If the power levels are very low, and they may be balanced.”  “We really don’t talk about this a lot just for simplicity.  But your parasympathetic actually does bleed over into the LF frequency range.  But for simplicity's sake, we say LF is sympathetic, HF is parasympathetic.” “PBC’s are normal too, I mean healthy people have PBC’s.  The question is how many do you have.”

Ben:  Hey folks.  It’s Ben Greenfield here, and measuring your heart rate variability, also known as HRV, is in my opinion one of the most valuable ways to begin your day when it comes to self-quantification, a simple three to five minute period of self-quantification that tells you exactly how stressed your nervous system is, and how prepared your body is to train, and how everything from stress, to supplements, to sleep, to sex, to a whole bunch more actually affects your body, and your brain, and your nervous system.  I’ve certainly produced tons of content on exactly how HRV works and how to measure it.  This podcast that you’re about to hear, therefore, is not an HRV 101 podcast.  However, if you go over to bengreenfieldfitness.com/hrv2, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/hrv2, I’m gonna put a link to all of the other podcasts and articles ‘cause there’s a whole bunch of ‘em that I’ve done on HRV.  So if you wanna go back and take the deep dive on everything from the different tools out there, to the myths and truths behind HRV, to how I found out about it in the first place, to what I use it for, to how to hack your vagus nerve, to a whole bunch more, you can go over to bengreenfieldfitness.com/hrv2 and do it there.

But anyways in this podcast episode, what I wanna give you is the latest news in the world of HRV and HRV measuring technology, how to measure HRV without necessarily having to put on the big bulky chest strap, and some of the cool new things that I and my in-house HRV expert on today’s show have been doing when it comes to utilizing HRV data to get better results for ourselves and better results for our clients.  So, who is my guest today? It is Jo Beth Dow.  She, I should say, is Jo Beth Dow.  Jo Beth is the co-founder of Sweet Water Health who I worked with to design what’s called the NatureBeat heart rate variability tool which is the exact app that I personally use to measure my own morning heart rate variability.  She has spent her entire career in high tech designing and producing a whole bunch of different state of the art networking technologies, high tech companies, and apps, including this Sweet Water Health company that really specializes in HRV.  They're a mobile health software technology company that have developed this patented algorithm that are actually continuously monitoring your stress levels and your nervous system.  And so, she’s one smart cookie when it comes to HRV.  We’re lucky to have her on the show today and as a resource.  So Jo Beth, thanks for coming on the show.

Jo Beth:  Well, thank you Ben.  It’s good to be here.  I appreciate it.

Ben:  Yeah.  And one of the first things that I wanted to mention to you was actually I measured my HRV this morning, as I do every day.  And just to kinda give people a little bit of a glimpse into how I use this data, it was low.  And frankly I kinda knew it was gonna be low.  I had a rough weekend of training, I had a very hard workout yesterday where I’m kind of starting to prepare for the Spartan World Championships event.  So, I’m doing a lot of carrying and a lot of climbing.  And so I have this incline treadmill out in the garage and I was doing 400 meters on the incline treadmill, then carrying a couple of sand bags up and down the driveway, and then 400 more meters and then carrying a keg, like a half empty keg up, and down the driveway, then 400 more meters and doing farmer’s walks with kettlebells around the house.  Then 400 meters and 20 pull-ups, and just doing rounds and rounds for that and just kind of collapsed at the end of that workout, and was not surprised when I log in this morning to my heart rate variability app and it said my HRV was something like 79.  Usually it’s in the early to mid-90s.  So, this morning when I get up and did a little bit of yoga in the sauna, a little bit of cold pool, a little bit of foam roller, and kind of a deep, restoring, relaxing morning.  And that’s exactly the kind of actionable data that I get from HRV.  So I thought I’d share that with you and I’m being a good boy and actually using my data.

Jo Beth:  You know Ben, the first time I ever saw your HRV numbers and analyzed them several years ago, I literally yelled out, nobody was in the room, and I saw your numbers and I just went, “Oh my God!” I had never seen numbers like that.  Because at that time very early in the beginning, we were starting to get athletes, but we really didn’t have elite athletes.  So you were the first elite athlete that I saw.  And when I looked at your numbers, your power levels were so incredible.  It was like nothing I had seen.  We mere mortals have power levels in the 800, 900, and there you were at 13,000.  And I thought at first maybe this was a mistake, then I realized it wasn’t.  And it was just your basic conditioning.

Ben:  Well, part of it I think is conditioning.  When you say power, I know you’re referring to the strength of the sympathetic nervous system, and the strength of the parasympathetic nervous system that the HRV measures.  I’m convinced though, because I work with so many athletes myself, and I look over their HRV numbers that it's not necessarily a sole matter of physical conditioning but it’s a matter of prioritizing, having other variables present in your life that improve the health of your nervous system.  Meaning, I place a great deal of emphasis myself on things like relationships, love, gratitude, rest, relaxation, detoxification, healthy eating, grounding, earthing, good air, good light, good water, not a lot of WiFi and Bluetooth exposure.  And I think a lot of those things add up because frankly I work with a lot of people who I would consider to be far more fit than myself, who do have, and I’m not trying to brag, but they do have lower HRV scores, and I think a big part of it is because they place too much emphasis on the buffeting of the body and not enough emphasis on caring for the body as like a human battery in a sense when it comes to things like grounding, and earthing, and electricity, but then also love, relationships, gratitude, things like that.

Jo Beth:  I fully agree.  I fully agree.  And I’ve been on so many panels where people talk about how to increase your HRV, what’s bad for your HRV, and no one ever mentions the love factor, the emotional part of it.  Every time I would Skype with my daughter when she was away at college, and of course I’m measuring myself all day ‘cause I’m working on this,I would see my HRV increase and my stress levels decrease.  Love, touching, physically touching, so take your partner and hold hands.  The more you physically touch, the higher your HRV is going to be.

Ben:  Yup.  Absolutely.  It’s crazy.

Jo Beth:  Oxytocin.  The emotional part between sleep, and happiness, and love, that’s what increases your HRV.  I’ve been measuring my HRV for so long.  In the morning, I know what my HRV is going to be before I measure it just by the way I feel, emotionally and physically.

Ben:  Yeah.  I don’t know if I told you this, I actually, for a short period of time, just to see what the body would actually feel like, I did injections with oxytocin before sex and before bed, and one thing that I did notice was my heart rate variability went up very high, which is what I like is you can use this almost like a self-quantification tool.  Anyways though, the first thing I wanted to ask you is this idea behind the actual HRV algorithm.  Because there are a rising amount of, a dizzying array of HRV tools that are out there.  We’ve got Elite HRV, Mylthlete, and Bioforce, all these different companies that I know do a really good job at developing tools that will measure one’s heart rate variability and the strength of one’s nervous system.  But I’m curious about the actual algorithm.  Can you explain, because I know that what your company does is you specialize in measuring your stress levels via an algorithm, what is the algorithm that you’re using? When I'm opening, and I’m literally holding my phone right now, I’ve got my NatureBeat app open, what is the algorithm that's used in here? Is it any different than any other app that’s out there?

Jo Beth:  Well, I can’t speak for the other apps because their algorithms will be their intellectual property.  So I’m not privy to see exactly how they’re implementing their algorithms.  But what I can say is NatureBeat is clinical grade HRV.  And that’s what we’re really fanatical about.  So when we started to build this product, we wanted to make sure we had the absolute, most precise, clinical grade HRV out there, and I believe that we’ve done that.  In 1996, the HRV standards were set by the taskforce of European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing Electrophysiology.  Quite a mouthful.  But they define the standards and they define the algorithms.  And where there’s a little confusion is people will see their HRV score.  And they’ll say, “And then I use this other product and they had a different number for the HRV score.”

Ben:  Yup.  I get that a lot.  People will be like, “Oh, I was a hundred on this one, and I was 120 on this one, and I was 60 on this one.  What do I do?”

Jo Beth:  That’s right.  So there’s about 32 different HRV metric, and they’re all HRV.  And you can define metrics in the time domain, you use algorithms for the time domain, in the frequency domain, there’s even non-linear algorithms that you can use.  So what every product does is they will take one of those HRV numbers, there’s about 32 of them, and what we do is we use the RMSSD and then we put it through a log algorithm.  So a log formula to get a nice number between 1 and 100 that the user can understand.  So every vendor out there is going to have their own special number.  And that’s why those numbers are so different.  And I don’t really know what root number they’re using.  They might be using RMSSD, they might be using SDNN, I do not know.  But everyone’s gonna have their own special HRV score.  But one of the things we do is on our geek screen, you can see a lot of the HRV numbers: RMSSD, LF, HF, the ratio in real time.

Ben:  Right.  And just a quick thing we should throw in there is that RMSSD, for those of you who are into statistics, you probably know this, but it’s the root mean square of the success of differences.  That’s what that refers to.

Jo Beth:  Correct.

Ben:  It’s use to assess heart rate variability and that number, basically in plain speak, you’re smoothing that number over to turn it into a readable value that’s between 1 and 100 so that someone can simply have that logical value of 1 to 100 versus having that RMSSD number, which is frankly…

Jo Beth:  Yes, 34.5 or something like that.  People won't understand that.  What's interesting is in the beginning when all the athletes started embracing our product, we actually had to change the algorithm because their HRV, their RMSSD was so high.  They were blowing way past 100.  And so we actually increased the log to try to keep everybody below 100.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jo Beth:  So yes, that is our special number.  SDNN is another value in the time domain, and that’s another statistical measurement.  So there’s lots of them, and you can see most of them on the geek screen.

Ben:  Yup.  The geek screen being after I take my HRV measurement on the NatureBeat app, the screen that I can then open to get more a detailed look into, well let me put it this way.  A lot of people know that I wear, for example, this self-quantification ring called the Oura, which I love because it will take my HRV all night long, while I am asleep.  But at the same time, I still get up in the morning and I do my NatureBeat measurement because that tells me on this geek screen things like, well it’s low, it high, but what’s going on.  Is it my sympathetic nervous system? Is it my parasympathetic nervous system? Do I need to give my aerobic system a break this day? Do I need to, or can I handle a hard anaerobic energy system workout? So I like that geek screen.  I actually use that pretty comprehensively every single morning once I take my actual measurement.

Jo Beth:  And while you’re taking your measurement during the session, if you look at the monitor page, there’s a little gray button, and it’ll say “Stats” right where the animated ECG is.  If you toggle that, touch that button, you will get the geek screen in real time.  So you’ll be able to see your LF and your HF changing, your RMSSD, your heart rate, signal quality, and your RRs.  Touch it again, tap that little gray button again and you’ll see the instantaneous RR screen.

Ben:  That’s the graph screen?

Jo Beth:  That’s the graph.  Yeah.  And that’s important, especially if you’re using the zoom, and I know we’re gonna get into that.  But you wanna check that screen because if ever you see red lines, normally it’s going to be white, that is instantaneous heart rate.  If you see that line go red, that means that there was bad signal quality and that I’ve thrown that RR out.  So we got some sort of electrical artifact.  And in fact, that’s also part of our clinical grade HRV.  I use some very complex filtering algorithms, which is very important.  So I need to filter out electrical artifacts.  So if you get bad signal, I can’t have that in the array of RRs.  And so those filtering algorithms are really critical.  And I notice with some of the other products, the other vendor’s products, some of them weren’t even using a filtering algorithm, some of them use interpolation, which is where you throw the signal out, that’s a bad RR, but then they sort of guesstimate where your heart rate would be, and that’s bad too because that’s gonna give you a false high reading.  And so, our filtering is critical.  And I work on that all the time.  And then what I’ll do is I will take our results and continually compare it against Kubios.  Now Kubios is the gold standard.  It’s a PC or Mac based app product…

Ben:  Kubios, like K-U-B-I-O-S?

Jo Beth:  I-O-S.  And it was developed by the University of Finland.  It was a free product.  I think they may be charging a little bit now, but it is the gold standard for HRV measurements.  But it’s not in real time.  So what I do is I’ll upload the RRs, and I will look at the Kubios results, and I will compare them to the NatureBeat results and make sure they’re identical both in the time domain, the frequency domain, and non-linear.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

Jo Beth:  I’m continually checking to make sure that we are still accurate.  Kubios is a wonderful advanced tool.  I use it when I analyze our clients and it’s really great.

Ben:  Okay.

Jo Beth:  It’s sophisticated, but it’s a good tool if you really wanna get down into your numbers and look at things.

Ben:  Yeah.  I downloaded it before, I think you sent me the link, and it was too much for me.  I just wanted to stick to the plain, easy stuff I could access within the app, which is actually what I wanted to ask you about.  Although I tell you guys what, for those of you listening in, I’ll link to the Kubios stuff in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/hrv2 if you wanna take a deep dive into it.

Jo Beth:  Ben, if you share your session with yourself, I send you your raw data and you can look at that.  I send you your HRV.

Ben:  You mean my Kubios data?

Jo Beth:  Ben, I’ll send you along with that is a Kubios ready text file, and that’s the file you can use to upload into Kubios.  So I have to message the data.  I take the labels off, and it’s expecting a certain text format, and that’s what I do.  So, the user, he's a Kubios ready file, he can go up in there, and he can look.

Ben:  Got it.  Okay, cool.  I wanna dive into a few of the options on NatureBeat.  So, when I open it up, I roll over, I put on my, right now I use this Bluetooth chest rate strap, but I wanna talk to you about this other thing that you can do now without using the chest rate strap, or the chest strap.  But first I wanna just delve into the screen.  So when I press start, I’ve got 4 options here.  And I’ve got my phone open right now while I’m talking to you to go over these options.  I can monitor stress, I can monitor heart rate recovery, I can monitor HRV for training, or I can do what’s called a 3-Minute HRV check up.  Can you walk me through the difference between each of these?

Jo Beth:  Sure.  So they’re all the same HRV sessions.  So the same algorithms apply, the same code is running, but the session types are different.  The Monitor Stress session is of variable durations.  So you start your session and then you can end anytime you want.  So if you wanna measure your HRV when you go into a business meeting, you just start or stop, or when you’re driving, or if you’re meditating.  It allows you the flexibility of creating a session whatever duration that you want.

Ben:  So I could for example, push “Monitor Stress” and then I could go into the weight room and I could do a whole weight training session and it would be monitoring my HRV during that entire weight training session?

Jo Beth:  That’s correct.  So the heart rate recovery is going to be an HRV session again, but most importantly when you stop the session, there’s a one-minute countdown timer.  And what we want you to do is when you do stop exercising, you hit the stop button, the timer stops, and you just sit or stand.  Don’t move around.  And it is gonna measure the difference between your heart rate when it started and how long it took your heart rate to recover after one minute.  And of course, that’s a sign of health and robustness also.  How quickly can your heart rate recover.

Ben:  That seems pretty straight forward.  I could do that with, if I wanted to, just my finger on my carotid artery or whatever.

Jo Beth: Yup.  You could do that.

Ben: That’s not looking at heart rate variability recovery, it’s looking at heart rate recovery.

Jo Beth:  Nope.  It’s looking strictly at heart rate, and for people who are interested in seeing what happens to their HRV when they exercise.

Ben:  Okay.

Jo Beth:  But of course your HRV is going to go down to zero when you exercise.  So it’s really not a good test, but some people are very interested.

Ben:  It is actually, and I tell you why I think it’s a good test.  Because for example, I’ve tried out different exercises in the weight room and I’ve found that the ones that dropped your heart rate variability the most, meaning that the ones that stress your body the most actually seem to be the most beneficial.  With the one that seems to drop my HRV the most when I test HRV while I’m weightlifting is the back squat.  Putting a heavy weight on your back and doing a squat plummets heart rate variability compared to just about any other exercise.  And I think it’s because it’s extremely stressful to the body, right? Like a giant lion has freakin’ jumped on your back.  But at the same time you recover and you compensate, or you recover and you recuperate from that and you get a compensatory fitness response.  So it actually can be used to get some pretty good data and find out, “Hey, concentration curls don’t do jacks squat for me, but back squats do.”

Jo Beth:  Well, that is really a good point and I actually never thought about that, but that does make a lot of sense.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jo Beth:  That makes a lot of sense.  So that’s heart rate recovery.  So if you’re interested in exercising and seeing your HRV while also getting your recovery score, you can do that.  And then the HRV for training is a 3-minute session.  It can also be a 5-minute session, that’s can configurable.  If you look at your monitor screen and you touch the little gear on the top right hand corner, you can change the duration from 3-minute to 5-minute for your HRV for training.  If you can sit for 5 minutes or lay down for 5 minutes, 5 minutes is even better.  The more data we get, the more precise it’s gonna be.  But 3 minutes is pretty darn good, especially for the time domain.  But things have a tendency in the frequency domain, your LF and HF really settle down at about 5 minutes.  It is a 5 minute moving window that’s used for the algorithm.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Do you think there’s a huge difference between measuring for 3 versus 5? Because I used to measure for 5 when I would wake up in the morning, and just because the app has changed and we have a new version out for NatureBeat, now it’s 3 minutes.  Have you found there to be a big difference?

Jo Beth:  No.  I use 3 minutes.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

Jo Beth:  There’s a little bit of a difference, but it’s not enough for me to sit for 5 minutes.  I think 3 minutes is definitely good enough.  One minute is way too short.  And I see some of the other products, they do it for a minute.  We've found that people could only really sit for 3 minutes.

Ben:  Okay.

Jo Beth:  Or lie down in 2 to 3 minutes.  And the most important thing about the HRV for training, it is a 3-minute session, we want you to do it first thing in the morning, preferably when you’re in bed before you get up.  I don’t do [26:00] ______ bed, I have coffee, I go to my desk, I sit down, and I make my session.  I create my session at that point.  But the most important thing is you wanna be comparing apples to apples.  So you wanna be doing it at the same time of the day, in the same position.  So if you’re sitting up or if you’re laying down, just be consistent because we’re gonna be comparing that from day to day.  And you wanna do it before all hell breaks loose in your day, right? You wanna do it while you’re still well-rested because we wanna see how well you have recovered from sleep because sleep is everything.  Right?

Ben:  Right.

Jo Beth:  So this is when your nervous system is gonna recover, this is when your body is gonna recover, and so that’s why we like that first morning measurement.  And then what we do is we will graph it and we will keep track of where your HRV is everyday.  We create a trend line, which is that yellow line, and if you fall below your trend line the first day, we’ll recommend an easy day.  If it falls two days in a row, then we do recommend a rest day until it comes back up.  So that’s the HRV for training.  And the special part of HRV for training is we keep track and create a trend line.

Ben:  Okay.  The other thing I noticed that is on here is the breath pacer.  Does that breath pacer automatically come up when it detects that I'm stressed or is that something that I’m supposed to select and do myself when I feel like I need a breath pacer?

Jo Beth:  Both.  So you can just use the breath pacer whenever you want to if you’re waiting for your dental appointment and you wanna relax, you can use the breath pacer.  Or you can set up the breath pacer so that it does trigger on a stress threshold.  So you might want it to trigger on high or you might want it to trigger at certain points.  And then what will happen is when we detect that you’re at that stress threshold, it will pop over to the breath pacer and you’ll see the breath pacer and the picture.  And the breath pacer is a 4 second inhale, 6 second exhale, but you can use other breath pacers.  There are other breath pacers on the market now, there’s all different combinations.

Ben:  You said this one on the NatureBeat app? And by the way, for those of you listening in, you can probably hear that electricity in the background.  It's because I'm actually, I rarely do this but I'm actually using my phone while Jo Beth and I are talking to open the NatureBeat app.  So I supposed I could probably put this in airplane mode and it’ll still work, wouldn’t it?

Jo Beth:  Yup.

Ben:  Okay.  So back into the airplane mode.  Here we go.  So the breath pacer, by the way, you said that’s a 4 count inhale, 6 count exhale that that's set for?

Jo Beth:  Yes.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  Alright.

Jo Beth:  But if you prefer a different one, there’s lots of breath pacers on the market.  If you just want to meditate with the breath pacer, there’s a lot of free ones out there with all the different breathing techniques.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  The next thing that I wanted to ask you about the app is after my reading, or during my reading, if I press my stats button, I can go in and I can look at the LF and the HF score.  The LF is a measurement of the strength or resilience of my sympathetic nervous system and the HF, the parasympathetic.  Correct?

Jo Beth:  Yes.

Ben:  Okay.  Is there any other things that I should know about LF and HF in terms of ratios, in terms of any other data, or any other information that I should be getting from those two values?

Jo Beth:  Well, the LF and HF come from the frequency domain and they’re units of power.  And so it represents the amplitude of the electrical impulses.  I personally, that's the first thing I look at are my power levels.  I'll look at my HRV, I look at the RMSSD, but really the power levels to me are significant.  And I’d been studying this now for years.  And with the multitude of people analyzing everybody, power levels are really important.  I can tell when someone’s depressed.  I can see it.  I can see it in their power levels.  If their power levels are…

Ben:  What do you see when someone is depressed?

Jo Beth:  They’re low.  The power levels are very low, and may be balanced.  That’s the thing.  The standard states that any ratio below two means you’re balanced, you have a healthy stress level.  I personally have found that I don’t get concerned about a client’s ratios until it’s like an 8:1 or a 10:1 ratio, and then you know, they’re pretty much red lining all the time.  But your sympathetic nervous system is your juice and you wanna use your juice.  You wanna make sure that that is strong also.  So my personal feelings are balanced, maybe slightly overrated, and as long as it’s not an outlier, like a 10:1 ratio, I think it’s okay.  It’s good to keep an eye on those.  And if you see a day where your LF is definitely way higher than it normally is, make note of that.  What did you do? What didn’t you do? Men have a tendency to be much more sympathetic dominant than women.  And in fact one of the things we do is you can set a stress sensitivity level when you’re running your sessions so the breath pacer doesn’t come up.  ‘Cause what we found was that there’s some people who were just red all the time.  They were always sympathetic dominant.  And the whole point is to see a change, to create an action and to see a change in results.  And if you’re red lining all the time, you‘re not gonna be able to see if anything is working.  So we can actually reduce sensitivity on those kind of people.  And it’s selectable by the user.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

[Music Plays]

Ben:  Alright.  So there’s this fundamental issue with modern life.  It’s a lack of daily natural sunlight.  And for those times of the year when availability of natural light is inaccessible, like during the winter months, or people who travel a lot, or people who have daily routines that just don’t permit access to daily light like shift workers, there is this awesome solution called the HumanCharger.  I use it whenever I travel.  It's this two cute little buds that go in your ear, blast your ear with this amazing light that improves your mental alertness, improves your mood, kicks the butt off of jet lag, and it’s just amazing.  It’s tiny, it’s portable, fits in your pocket.  Looks like you’re listening to an MP3 player, but in reality you’re hacking your head.  And it’s called, did I mention, the HumanCharger.  You, get a 20% discount on it with code Ben20 at, write this down, bengreenfieldfitness.com/humancharger.  That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/humancharger and use code Ben20.

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[Music Plays]

Ben:  Now, in terms of the morning measurement.  When I’m laying in bed in the morning, and I take my HRV, and my HRV is, let’s say, slightly lower than I want it to be, and I decide I’m gonna gain that number.  I decide I’m gonna close my eyes, I’m gonna meditate, I’m gonna breathe, I’m gonna do a quick coherence technique or something like that where I imagine something I love or something I’m grateful for, and put it on my heart and I do all these things, and I’m actually laying there on bed gaining the number, does that affect anything at all? Like can you actually do that? Get out of bed and then train, or do a hard workout when you woke up and your HRV was low but you did some kind of breathwork or something to make it high? Is that just like a temporary fix or does that fix it for the rest of the day?

Jo Beth:  Well, I think you would have to look at yourself and do that several days in a row and see if it actually is increasing your HRV throughout the day.  Because, oh yeah, you can gain this.  Your respiratory sinus arrhythmia, every time you inhale, your heart is going to increase, your heart rate is gonna increase.  And when you exhale, your heart rate is going to decrease.  So right there when you’re doing rhythmic breathing exercises, it is going to affect your HRV values.  And in fact sometimes if it’s very rhythmic, you’ll see that your LF increases.  When you’re in a state of coherence, which is 1, everything at that frequency.  And what people don’t know, we really don’t talk about this  but a lot just for simplicity, but your parasympathetic actually does bleed over into the LF frequency range.  But for simplicity's sake, we say, LF is sympathetic, HF is parasympathetic.  So I would see, if your morning meditations increases your HRV and if in the next morning your HRV is higher, keep doing it.  ‘Cause all those things are really good.  But yeah, definitely don’t fool yourself by doing things such as breathing in a certain pattern, saying, “Oh!  Hey, look! My numbers are great,” and going out.  The best thing to do is when you’re just breathing normally first thing in the morning before you get out of bed, then we’ll be able to see the true state of your autonomic nervous system.

Ben:  My own finding is that I can slightly raise that number when I’m doing meditation, gratitude, really focusing, if my HRV is low, on breathing and breath works patterns to get it high.  But I've found that if I wake up and it truly is low, and it’s not low because I woke up to a phone call or an alarm, or something crazy going on like a goat giving birth, then really the low heart rate variability is a true reflection of overtraining, or overreaching, or the need for it to be an easy day even if I can temporarily kind of game it up just a little bit higher in the morning.  I've found that if I personally push through that multiple days in a row, it does.  And this is why I first started measuring HRV in the very first place as a thing I do every day, it does result in me getting ill or getting injured within a few days.  So, I don’t push through, I pay attention to that number, unless I happen to be super stressed out that morning from something that happened acutely.  Like right when I woke up.  So that’s been my experience.  Now in terms of a high HRV, is there any time when you do a very high HRV, or when you get a very high HRV that that would be a bad thing?

Jo Beth:  Yeah! It could be indicative of a bad signal quality.  It can give you a false high HRV.  Arrhythmias also.  PVCs, PACs, AFIB, is going to skew those numbers, and PVCs will give you a false high also.  My husband has PVCs, he was an athlete too and he has about three per minute and I can see them actually happening.  If your HRV is suddenly very high one day and you don’t really understand why it’s high, definitely look and see the ECT label I have on the monitor screen.  So on the monitor screen, you’re going to see ECT, I started to show the users ectopic beats.

Ben:  Really?

Jo Beth:  And I’ve always looked at ectopic beats…

Ben:  I never saw that screen.  So as I'm scrolling through…

Jo Beth:  So you’re on your stress monitor page…

Ben:  Right.  That’s where I'm at right now.  Okay.

Jo Beth:  And you’ll see signal and you’ll see your four little dots, that’s your signal bar.

Ben:  Oh, I see.  ECT.

Jo Beth:  And then you'll see [0:39:26] ______ ECT.  So after a while I decided to let the users see how many ectopic beats they were having, and I think this is important.  Now everybody has ectopic beats.  It’s a very normal natural thing.  But if you see too many ectopic beats, there maybe an issue going on with your heart, there maybe an issue with the signal quality or your strap.  An ectopic beat, I filter ectopic beats out for the standard and what I look for is this beat under inspection, a percentage higher than the average of the high, or lower than the average of the low beats.  And if it is outside this range, I take that RR out of the array.  So the calculations are not performed on ectopic beats, because once again it would skew the results.  And this is defined by the standard.

Ben:  So if I look at that ECT, I can actually tell if I have like paraventricular contractions or something like that?

Jo Beth:  Yeah, maybe.  I can tell.  If I look at your RRs and I look at what happened with the filtering algorithms, ‘cause I can see if the RR was, the instantaneous rate would have been about 200 beats per second, or per minute, or below, let’s say 30, then we know that’s an electrical artifact.  But then in the middle when you have these ectopic beats, I can look closely and I can see people there who are suffering from PVCs, and I always recommend that they get a good ECG baseline.

Ben:  Okay.

Jo Beth:  And in fact there was one circumstance with an Olympic hopeful, she had contacted me for some reason and I look at her HRV, and I said, “Wow! This is high! She’s doing great!”  And then I actually looked at her RRs and I called her immediately because I could tell that her RRs, it just wasn’t right.  There was something going on, and I called her, and I said, “Have you had an ECG?”  And she said, “No”, and I said, “Well, I think you should get a baseline.  I don’t wanna alarm you, but I’m seeing some abnormalities.” And she said, “You know, it’s funny you say that, she said, “'Cause I passed out when I was in high school.  And I had a [0:41:44] ______ monitor on for 24 hours,” she said.  “But I gonna ask my mom what happened with that.”  And I was like, “Put your mom on the phone right now,” because I could see there was something going on.  And we do have certain instances where our young athletes are dropping dead on the field and it’s really important to know what’s going on and if there’s any…

Ben:  And this ECT screen can be use to elucidate little bit of that?

Jo Beth:  A little bit.

Ben:  Interesting.

Jo Beth:  It’s a little bit.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  But basically if you have electrical abnormalities or arrhythmias, should you even be taking HRV in the first place? One of the reasons I ask you about this is I interviewed Mark Sisson on my show last year and he mentioned how he doesn't really use HRV much because of cardiac arrhythmia issues.  Is it just something that can’t give you any good data at all if you have cardiac arrhythmias?

Jo Beth:  It can’t give you any good data.

Ben:  Okay.  Good to know.

Jo Beth:  If you do have a lot of PVCs or if you have PACs, now what’s really interesting ‘cause I have a lot of clients that have AFIB, and we use the product and I analyzed their data.  In that circumstance, I wanna look at raw data.  I don’t filter anything out.  And it's amazing to watch this person going in to AFIB and predicting about a minute or two before that they’re going to start into AFIB.  And then eventually what they can do is they can take some type of preventative measure to try to stop the AFIB from occurring.  So in that circumstance, yes, you can use it.  But it’s not like your typical, “What’s my HRV number? Am I in a good range?”

Ben:  Okay, got it.  Now what about with, for example, when the HRV is very high, there is some chatter out there about the fact that that could be an indication of aerobic overtraining.  Have you seen this? Like too much parasympathetic stimulation?

Jo Beth:  No.  I haven’t heard of it as too much parasympathetic stimulation.  But it could potentially be an enlarged heart.

Ben:  Oh, you mean like ventricular enlargement due to a lot of training?

Jo Beth:  Yes.  Due to overuse.  I mean…

Ben:  What they call athlete’s heart.

Jo Beth:  Athlete’s heart, yes.  Your heart is a muscle, and we see a lot of that where the heart actually enlarges.

Ben:  Interesting.  Okay.  And that’s something you can actually measure.  I’ve actually had that measured myself via what’s called a cardiac ultrasound.  That’s not the exact title, ventricular ultrasound, something like that.  There’s probably some cardiac physical therapist or nurse who wanting to jump through the podcast and put the words in my mouth right now, but ultimately it’s an ultrasound measurement that you can do.  And I went in to the clinic when I was writing my book “Beyond Training”, a big chapter on heart rate training and how to tell if you, as an athlete, has damaged your heart, and it was an ultrasound echocardiogram is what it was called.

Jo Beth:  Yes.

Ben:  And that was followed up with an EKG stress test, two things that I think you can do.  And I did that to find out A) did I have athlete’s heart? And B) did I have these paraventricular contractions or these electrical abnormalities in my heart like you asked about and…

Jo Beth:  PVCs, yeah.

Ben:  Yeah.  And I turned out to be fine.  I didn’t show any more enlargement than you would expect in an athlete, and I did have some PVCs but very, very high, like 120% VO2Max on a treadmill, which is, I think just about everybody has a PVC when they’re about to fall off the back of a treadmill.  Ultimately there is one article that is out there on the internet called “Interpreting HRV Trends in Athletes: High Isn’t Always Good and Low Isn’t Always Bad“.  And what it says is that a very high HRV could be reflective of excessive cardiac parasympathetic modulation, meaning aerobic overtraining.  And I’ve actually seen this before, Jo Beth, in some marathoners and triathletes who are using like this kind of Maffetone-style training and doing, we’re talking like three to five hours of aerobic work every day.  I’ve seen very high HRV values, and specifically extremely low, it would be HF, low HF power, low aerobic power, or low parasympathetic nervous system power from almost an overtrained parasympathetic nervous system.  And the HRV for some reason flags as very high on these individuals.   And so I have to step back and look at their training to determine whether that high HRV is because they really are healthy or because that high HRV is because they’ve been doing a lot of aerobic overtraining.  And I can send you a link to that article if you wanna look at it.

Jo Beth:  I would love to, yeah.

Ben:  I’ll put it in the show notes for those of you who wanna read it too, but that’s one thing to bear in mind.  And these are mostly pro-athletes.  We’re talking about people who are doing a ton of aerobic training.  But it does turn out to somehow influence that HRV.  And who knows? Maybe they have some PVCs, or some of this enlarged athlete’s heart form all the training as well and that might be going hand in hand along with that.

Jo Beth:  That’s why it’s good to see your cardiologist and just get a good baseline so you know where to start that these PVCs are normal too.  I mean, healthy people have PVCs.  The question is how many do you have? And does it cause any other issues?

Ben:  Exactly.  You’ve also got the food test on this app.

Jo Beth:  Yes.

Ben:  So when I push food, it can measure my morning pulse and then it has me measure my heart rate after a meal.  How is that working exactly?

Jo Beth:  So what we did was we implemented Dr. Coca’s Food Sensitivity Testing.  Dr. Coca was a famous endocrinologist back in the '50s.

Ben:  That’s C-O-C-A?

Jo Beth:  I believe it’s C-O-C-A, or potentially C-O-C-O-A.  I’m not sure about, but you can Google Dr. Coca.  So in the late '50s, he developed this very simple test to see if you were reacting to a food.  And so we implemented Dr. Coca’s test.  And what happens is you [0:47:53] ______ , it’ll measure your heart rate before you eat, you let the app know when you've finished eating, it’ll take another measurement, and then 30, 60 and 90 minutes later, it will take a heart rate measurement.  If your heart rate has increased over 16 points from your starting baseline heart rate, you’re reacting to something.

Ben:  That’s it.  So it’s not really using heart rate variability.  It’s just using heart rate.

Jo Beth:  Nope.  Not at all.  Just using heart rate.

Ben:  How come you wouldn't use heart rate variability? Just to play devil’s advocate, why wouldn’t you look at say, like a rise in sympathetic nervous system activation or a drop in heart rate variability? Is it because there’s no actual data?

Jo Beth:  No.  You could, but I think heart rate is just so simple.  Why make it more complex? I mean, what we do know, what's really interesting is after somebody eats, their sympathetic nervous system will increase significantly for a couple of minutes, sometimes it’s only three minutes.  In people who are obese, their sympathetic nervous system does not activate after eating.  So there’s lots of studies, we’re all pioneers in this area anyway, right? We’re learning things every day.  But I thought that was interesting.  The heart rate's a very simple way to measure if you’re reacting to something.  And it’s pretty intuitively obvious too.  If you eat something and you’re just relaxing, in 30, 60, 90 minutes later, your heart rate's up 22 points.  I mean, that’s what happened to me.  I’m wheat sensitive and I tested it.  And I’m just relaxing on the couch, and I believe after 60 minutes my heart rate went up 22 points.

Ben:  Wow.

Jo Beth:  So that’s significant.  I mean you say, “Hey, you eat something, your heart rate is up.  Something happened.  You’re reacting.”  And so, that’s Dr. Coca’s pulse test.

Ben:  Okay. Gotcha.  And that is something that, I can keep that data on the app, have a history of it, and I know that that particular food has rapidly increased my heart rate?

Jo Beth:  That’s right.  And then you can do more investigation.

Ben:  You know what I found out, which is really interesting? I used to do a whole bunch of fats and proteins with my afternoon lunch.  Like sardines, seeds, nuts, steaks, leftovers from the night before, et cetera, and I would always feel crappy after lunch.  And I started using this food sensitivity test and I noticed that my heart rate was rising after lunch and I would get really fatigued and I'd have to take this intense afternoon nap.  And I still love an afternoon nap and an afternoon siesta, but I’d rather take it because I wanna push the refresh button, not because I feel like crap after lunch.  So I instead started actually doing for lunch exactly what I do for breakfast, which is just giant green smoothie with a little bit of ice and a few little superfoods in there, and all of a sudden I feel great after lunch.  And my heart rate doesn’t go up like that.  It’s really interesting.  So, it appears that eating a copious amount of plant matter covered in oils and proteins for lunch doesn’t really do my body any favors.  And I used this Coca Pulse Test on this app to actually begin to delve into that and figure out.  So you can learn some interesting things even though it’s not using HRV per se, it’s a cool little feature of the app.  So I dig it.

Jo Beth:  That’s why we added it.

Ben:  That’s right.  Okay.  So in addition to the food test there’s another screen on here, and you’ve got your history screen which shows you all your sessions, all your charts, all your food intake, but then there is the correlation screen.  This one, is a little bit confusing in my opinion.  Can you walk me through this correlation screen and how that is used?

Jo Beth:  Sure.  So I designed and developed adapt the correlation screen because we wanted to see if there was actually a correlation between your other biometrics and HRV.   So this is a one to many correlation, and what you can do is you can download your Fitbit data, your Withings weight data, your Withings blood pressure, your MapMyFitness data, your steps, your calories in, your calories out, and then look and see, is there’s a correlation between my HRV, or my stress levels, or even my blood pressure, and all these other biometrics that were gathering using other vendors devices like the Fitbit.

Ben:  Can I use the Oura Ring on this?

Jo Beth:  No, they don’t have any interface yet that I can download.

Ben:  Okay.  We should talk to them about doing that.  ‘Cause that’s probably the one self-quantification tool that I use the most aside from NatureBeat app.

Jo Beth:  I had talked to, and because I used the Oura Ring also and it just can’t get the data.

Ben:  Okay.  After we record this, sorry for those of you listening in, the boring, opening the kimono of the discussion, let’s talk to them after we record this.  I’ll shoot an email over or something and we’ll see if we can make it work.  ‘Cause I didn’t realize that we could bring the Oura data into this theoretically.

Jo Beth:  We can bring any data into it.  It’s if they allow, it’s the API.  They would need to have an API that I can access and get their data.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Jo Beth:  The correlation is very powerful and it’s complex.  And it’s a little too complex.  I made a mistake.  It’s so powerful and let you do so many different things with it, but because of that, if you ever look at any of these screens and you see that little film clip icon, I created two instructional videos to walk you people how to use the correlation screen.  And so what you can do is you can go to your settings and you can select what metric you want to be your major metric, your one-to-many metric.  You can also then select your data and you can filter this out anyway you want, you want all your Fitbit, you just want certain things, and then you have the ability to select your date range.  You can even select a range that's maybe five days prior to a certain date.  And then you say “Go”, you go back, you refresh your screen, I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna ask Fitbit for all your data, Withings, MapMyFitness, whatever you’ve requested and then perform the correlation.  And you’ll see if there’s a positive correlation or a negative correlation.  The larger the bubble, the higher the correlation.  Also what’s really nice about this, what I really like is if you swipe the screen, you’re going to see all of the bubbles under available data.  And if you do a long press on any of those bubbles, it actually gives you a list of the values.

Ben:  Wow! I just tried pressing it long.  That’s pretty cool.

Jo Beth:  I love that.  And then you can just keep swiping and it'll go through all the tables.  I love that because I’ve been measuring my weight with Withings scale for years.   So here I have this one perfect list of my weight from the beginning of time.  And so it’s a nice place to collect data, and then you just tap back, and you can go back to the [0:54:54] ______ screen and it can show you what's activating.  So keep swiping.  So I agree, it’s complex.  It should have been simpler, but we wanted people to see, if you’ve got a race and you just great that day, you can go back and you [0:55:08] ______, “What was I doing? What were my other metrics? Is there a correlation here between my HRV and my calories in, or my meds, or even my blood pressure?”

Ben:  Right.  I like it.

Jo Beth:  That’s the correlation screen.  A lot more people don’t appreciate how powerful it is.  And it’s difficult to use.  I agree.

Ben:  Yeah.  No.  But makes sense now.  It make sense the way that you explain this.  So it’s basically just the way to loop in the data from other self-quantification devices and see how that correlates in that correlation screen to your actual HRV.  Or if it correlates it all.

Now, another question for you.  I’ve been using the chest strap called the Viiiva, V-I-I-I-V-A is how it spelled.  And actually if you go to the show notes, I’ll show you a list of all the different heart rate monitors that are compatible with this NatureBeat app.  But I think that was based on your recommendation.  And the way that I understand it is some Bluetooth heart rate monitors are more accurate than others.  Is that true?

Jo Beth:  Yes.  That is true.  All the Bluetooth heart rate monitors that we have on our supported products page, we have tested.  So those are all very accurate.  So Polar is accurate.

Ben:  What makes them more accurate?

Jo Beth:  I would say what makes the others less accurate.

Ben:  Okay.

Jo Beth:  And it’s just gonna be the design, it’s going to be their field screen.  Not all heart rate monitors are built and designed the same way.  We really need the accurate RRs.  That’s critical for an accurate…

Ben:  RRs being the amount of time in between each beat of your heart?

Jo Beth:  That’s right.  So what I get from the chest strap, it’ll get two things from a chest strap.  You can actually get more than that.  But if you put on, let say your Polar, or your Viiiva chest strap, it’s going to transmit your Bluetooth, your heart rate, your average heart rate, so I get that number, how many beats per minute, and if I set it up in the appropriate mode, it will transmit to me the intervals between your heart beats.  So that’s your RR interval from the QRST series.  If you've ever seen an ECG, that’s that bump up.  It goes down and up, and down and up, that’s the Rs.  So we measure from R to R.  And the Polar chest strap, or the Viiiva chest strap will give me this array filled with the time intervals.  It's n-n-1.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Now, in terms of that particular heart rate monitor that I use, it’s the Viiiva, and then what I do is I actually keep next to my bed the, I use to spit on the heart rate monitor, and now I actually have like a little squeeze bottle of this electro gel.  It sounds laborious, but honestly this takes me 10 seconds when I roll over and do it, then I use my gratitude journal, I do the HRV measurement, and I lay there.  And so I've found that when I combine the gel with that Viiiva heart rate monitor, and again I'll link to which one I use in the show notes that, it's incredibly accurate.  I never get that, “Oh, you lost your heart beat.  We can’t find your heart beat.  Lost the connection.”  Nothing like that happens.  So that’s the one that I like and it works well for if you’re gonna measure during exercise or during a day if you wanna see how your stress is during the day as well.

Jo Beth:  The contact with the pads is so important to get a good signal.  I have to use electro gel or I can’t get a signal at all.  Some people are okay, ironically spit is probably one of the best conductors because it’s coming from your own body.  But the electro gel is easy and it’s really…

Ben:  Yeah.  I use the Spectra electro gel.  It's like this stuff, if you go to Amazon, it’s the top one in Amazon.  That’s the one that I get.  Works better than spit.  And frankly doesn’t smell as bad as spit either.  So okay, there is this new thing that you had me using for a while that I still own that talks to the NatureBeat and it works without a chest strap.  This thing called a Zoom.  Can you fill me in on this?

Jo Beth:  Yes.  So just a little bit of history.  We’ve been looking for a non-chest strap solution.  So these chest straps use electrical signal to detect your heart, just like an ECG does.  It uses electrical signals.  Where the Zoom, in any other wrist worn devices or anything you clip on your ear or you put on your arm is gonna be using a technology called PPG, and that photoplethysmogram.  It’s really a tough word to say.  Photoplethysmogram.  What PPG is it's going to detect your cardiac cycle.  Every cardiac cycle is going to pump blood to your peripherals.  So it uses LEDs to illuminate the skin.  And then the light either reflects back or is transmitted through the skin, and it will detect, in essence, looking at changes in color.  So as your blood pumps out, the volume then comes back.  And that's how any PPG, it's like a pulse oximeter.  You've been to a hospital, they put that little thing on your finger, they can see your hemoglobin, they can see your pulse.  That's exactly what it's doing.  It's looking for changes in blood volume, and in essence color.

Ben:  And it's testing your actual change in blood volume based on color?

Jo Beth:  Yeah.

Ben:  And how is that related to heart rate variability?

Jo Beth:  Well what you can do, so what it's trying to detect is wonderful and historically has been wonderful for an average heart rate.  Because average heart rate doesn't really need to be all that precise.  When we're talking about heart rate variability, those RRs, I need precision down to the microsecond,  .000000, right?  So I need precision.  And you can imagine that if you're looking and looking for changes that it's going to be a lot more difficult to try to figure out exactly with that heart beat.  That's why the electrical has been so great.  It's very accurate 'cause we know exactly the second that it beats because it's giving out an electrical signal.  Where here they're sort of guesstimating.  And they have to use some really complex filtering formulas and algorithms.  And we knew that sooner or later these smart people would eventually figure it out.  We have worked with some of the best companies, worked with them on their algorithms to try to get this PPG more accurate, and it just hasn't really happened until now.  And LifeTrak contacted us, and they've been working on this for years, and their product is very accurate and the closest thing that we've seen that will come to electrical signal.

Ben:  So basically it's called a Zoom and you wear it on your wrist?

Jo Beth:  Yup.

Ben:  Okay.  Now the interesting thing about it, I think, aside from the fact that it also measures the amount of blue light exposure that you've been exposed to, which I just think is a very interesting aside, is from what I understand, 'cause it's the first thing that I asked you, it actually does not constantly transmit a Bluetooth signal when you wear it.  So it can measure HRV and can even measure HRV during the day without, unlike a Fitbit or a Jawbone, constantly transmitting a Bluetooth signal all day long?

Jo Beth:  Well, yes.  Yes and no.  It doesn't transmit a Bluetooth signal, it doesn't announce to the world like your chest strap is always going to be announcing, “Hey! I'm here! I'm a chest strap! Hey! I'm here! I'm a chest strap! Do you want to pair with me?”  Because of power constraints with the watch, they always try to conserve power.  Transmitting uses up a lot of power.  And so it will only transmit Bluetooth if you've set it in streaming mode.  So let's say you are exercising and you want to see what your steps are, you can actually stream that to your phone if you set it in that fashion.  Or if you double click on the face of the watch, you tap twice, quick succession, then it will transmit RRs, and that's when the NatureBeat will see it and it transmits RRs for three minutes.  And then it stops.

Ben:  And how's it measuring my actual amount of blue light exposure?

Jo Beth:  I don't know.

Ben:  ‘Cause I think that that's really interesting to be able, I noticed that, complete aside, and it doesn't really have much to do with heart rate variability aside from, I guess, the fact that excess artificial blue light, or a lack of sleep from excess artificial blue light is obviously going to affect your HRV.  But I thought it was just so interesting.  I've never seen a self-quantification device that will tell you that, “Oh, hey.  You're getting too much exposure to artificial blue light.”

Jo Beth:  And I'm pulling it into the app too because I can get that data from the Zoom.  And so I'm looking at it…

Ben:  Well that'd be interesting.  To see if too much time spent in the shopping mall can affect your HRV.

Jo Beth:  I don't know all that much about blue light.  I am getting the data from 'em.  It's relatively, it looks relatively [1:04:13] ______.  I just don't know how they're doing it.

Ben:  Interesting.  Okay.

Jo Beth:  But it's a really nice product.  And these are really smart guys, and we had enjoyed working with them.

Ben:  I like it.  I told you though, I haven't been using it that much.  And one of the reasons for that is because I journal when I'm taking my heart rate variability, and I've found that I can't turn the pages or write in my journal 'cause you got to keep your hands still.  So I still use the heart rate monitor.

Jo Beth:  Yeah.  One of the things is you have to sit still.  No talking, no turning your head, just sit perfectly still for three minutes to get an accurate measurement.  And if you are using the Zoom, one of the things you want to do is to go to the real time, instantaneous RR screen, and see if you're getting red spikes.  If you're getting red spikes, that means that it's not able to pick it up.  You're getting electrical artifacts.  So you want a really nice, clean signal.  Everybody's different too, and so it may work better on some, it may not work as well on others, depending.  I love it.  I love getting [1:05:23] ______ from the chest strap.  And it's very easy to use.

Ben:  Got it.  Okay, cool.  There's a lot here from the NatureBeat app to this LifeTrak Zoom HRV Monitor, which I think actually is pretty useful, I can use it at different times during the day, I just can't use it for that morning reading.  But it's better for doing the workout in the gym, that type of thing, this Zoom HRV Monitor.  But the correlation screen, the food screen, the four different options for monitoring stress, and by the way, for those of you wondering, I use the HRV for training one, and then how to actually read your data, it's just such a useful tool and I'm really glad I was able to get you back on, Jo Beth, to kind of dive into some of the specifics of this stuff and revisit some of the thing that I really wanted to make sure people were aware of when it comes to, again, one of the few things that I self-quantify every single day.

So for those of you who have been listening in, I'm going to put a link to everything we talked about in the show notes if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/hrv2.  If you want to take the deep dive and you want the equivalent of a university education in heart rate variability training, I've got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten different episodes and articles in addition to the one that you're listening to right now that talk about everything I've personally discovered when it comes to HRV.  So there's plenty in the show notes.  And again, those are at bengreenfieldfitness.com/hrv2.  Jo Beth, thanks so much for coming on and sharing with us all these different things that the NatureBeat app can do and all the latest in heart rate variability training.

Jo Beth:  Well, thank you.  It's been a pleasure, Ben.

Ben:  Awesome.  Alright, folks.  Well until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Jo Beth Dow from Sweet Water Health signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.  Have an amazing week.



Measuring your heart rate variability (also known as “HRV”) is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable ways to begin your day with a brief three to five minute period of simple self-quantification that tells you exactly how stressed your nervous system is, how prepared your body is to train, and how everything from stress to supplements to sleep to sex has affected your body.

I've certainly produced tons of content on exactly how HRV works and how to do it, including:

A Deep Dive Into HRV: The Myths & Truths of Heart Rate Variability Testing

Does A Vegetarian Diet Reduce Sperm Count, Cell Phones And Brain Cancer, What Is A Good “HRV” Number & More!

HRV: The Single, Next Big Trend In Biohacking And Self-Quantification And How To Use It

338: How To Lower High Cortisol, The Groundbreaking High-Fat Endurance Study, What Causes Low HRV & More!

Episode #222: What Is The Best Way To Track Your Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

322: The Truth About “Starvation Mode”, Does Ketosis Work For Crossfit, Measuring HRV During Exercise & More!

#313: Vegan Bulletproof Coffee & Vegan Bone Broth, Can HRV Be Too High, Are Tesla Cars Healthy & Much More!

#299: Does A Vegetarian Diet Reduce Sperm Count, Cell Phones And Brain Cancer, What Is A Good “HRV” Number & More!

The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Using Heart Rate Variability Testing to Track Your Stress and Nervous System Health

Everything You Need To Know About Heart Rate Variability Testing

But in this podcast episode, I address – along with HRV expert Jo Beth Dow – the latest news in the world of HRV, brand new technologies, and even ways to measure HRV without a chest strap.

So who is Jo Beth Dow?

Jo Beth Dow is a cofounder, CTO and COO of SweetWater Health, LLC, a pioneer in the use of heart rate variability as a platform for remote monitoring and diagnostics. Dow has spent her career in high tech designing and producing state-of- the-art networking technology and building high tech companies. Dow entered the networking industry at its inception and has been at the forefront of networking technology development, including Gigabit Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and FDDI while working for Ungermann-Bass, Telebit, Network Peripherals, Granite Systems, Cisco and Dominet Systems. She founded and grew several technology companies where she honed her financial and operations expertise, including Granite Systems (acquired by Cisco), Dominet Systems, RedMedic (acquired by Blue Shield, and SweetWater Health).

She also served as CFO for Content Rules, a content development firm specializing in high tech clients. During her five-years at Content Rules, Dow took the firm from $3M to $8.7M in revenue. Dow co-founded SweetWater Health LLC with CEO Ronda Collier in 2011. SweetWater Health is a mobile health software technology company with a platform that measures heart rate variability (a vital sign that reveals an individual’s state of health for a number of different conditions and applications) and facilitates continuous monitoring of stress levels via a patented algorithm. She is responsible for engineering development of the product, operations, finance and corporate strategy. Dow graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences at Florida Atlantic University.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What I personally do with my own HRV numbers and how I choose the exercise I'm going to do based on my HRV numbers…[6:45 & 9:10]

-Whether there is any kind of special difference between the algorithm used in NatureBeat and the other popular HRV tools out there, like EliteHRV, MyIthlete, Bioforce, etc…[11:35]

-The first screen on NatureBeat has four options for monitoring stress – monitor stress, heart rate recovery, HRV for training and 3 min HRV checkup – and Jo Beth walks us through each…[20:50] 

-How you can use your HRV measurement to tell whether or not you are depressed…[29:15]

-How much you can “game” that value with breathing, relaxation or meditation techniques while measuring your HRV…[35:15]

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I'm interested in…*

Fat Loss              Gaining Muscle              Having More Energy              Motivation & Willpower              Competition & Racing              Biohacking Mind & Body              Anti-Aging              Injuries/Pain              Just Help Getting Started!              Other/Anything Else


-When a high HRV is a bad thing…[38:15]

-How the food test works, and how Ben figured out he was eating “the wrong thing” for lunch…[47:05]

-How you can use the “correlation” screen to see how everything from body weight to stress to weight affects the HRV…[51:25]

What heart rate monitor straps work best for measuring HRV…[55:45]

-How you can measure your heart rate variability without using a chest strap…[59:00]

-How a Zoom HRV monitor works to measure your HRV, along with your blue light exposure…[62:20]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

NatureBeat app for iPhone and Android

LifeTrak Zoom HRV Monitor – use code ZOOMNB10 to get $10 off within the United States

LifeTrak Zoom HRV Monitor – use code ZOOMNB10 to get $10 off outside the United States

Other HR monitors compatible with NatureBeat


Interpreting HRV Trends in Athletes: High Isn’t Always Good and Low Isn’t Always Bad

The OURA ring Ben talks about

Spectra electrode conducting gel Ben uses

Show Sponsors:

-Four Sigmatic – Go to FourSigmatic.com/Greenfield and use code code BENGREENFIELD for 15% off.

-Kimera Koffee – Go to KimeraKoffee.com and use code BEN to get 10% off your order!

-Human Charger – Just go to humancharger.com/ben and use the code BFITNESS for 20% off.

-Thorne – Go to GreenfieldFitnessSystems.com/Thorne to check out pure, high quality supplements.




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