December 14, 2019
[00:00:00] While Working on this Solosode
[00:02:24] About This Podcast
[00:07:20] Why Take Supplements In The First Place
[00:13:16] What About Our Ancestors
[00:16:45] Quick Review
[00:17:19] “What supplements do you take, Ben?”
[00:49:47] My Sleep
[00:20:40] Using Nature’s Multivitamin
[00:23:02] Using Glutathione
[00:24:52] What Do I Take For Energy?
[00:31:15] Blood Sugar Management
[00:39:42] My Gut
[00:54:08] Other Supplements: Peptides and C60
[00:58:14] Closing the Podcast
[01:00:58] End of Podcast
Check, check, mic, check, one, two. That's very important that I do a microphone check for today's episode because I am recording it–actually I'm in my home, but the power has gone out. Zero power. We are zero power. We've been doing everything by candle lights since about 5:00 a.m. this morning.
And, fortunately, here's a cool little thing for you, we have solar panels on the top of the roof of our house. And so, those feed backup storage power to a set of batteries in our garage. And those batteries are basically when the municipal power fails programmed to switch over to providing us power. But, because we don't want to exhaust those battery sources for, say, watching Netflix or sitting in the sauna, they only power very limited number of things in our home, like the Maslow's hierarchy stuff: the freezer, the refrigerator, the heat, stuff like that. So, I've got no power in my office. But, I do have my little laptop. God bless the MacBook with its huge phenomenal long-term power output. And I've got my little backup microphone here. And I have an episode for you.
So, I'm like the mailman, come hell or high water, or power outages, I come at you every time.
Here's one little tip for you. The solar panel is notorious. Solar panels are generally notorious for creating a bunch of dirty electricity because it has to convert DC to AC power. I actually have an interview about that with Brian Hoyer. I'll link to him in his biology podcast with me in the shownotes of this episode.
But, anyways, the thing you can do is you can get what's called an inverter, or an inverter protector, which basically takes that solar inverter that converts DC to AC and limits the amount of dirty electricity that that thing puts off. So, it's kind of little cool hack if you have a solar panel to be able to protect yourself from getting a lot of the dirty electricity that thing throws off.
Anyways, I'm rather holding big time. Today's episode is related to Facebook video/Instagram story I put out last week in which I talked about how I seemed to be consulting with an increasing number of clients who, when they hire me for a consult, it's often they go over blood and biomarkers and lifestyle, exercise, sleep, the whole host of factors.
But, one of the things that, of course, gets inevitably talked about are supplements. And, specifically, is as though people have–it's kind of like when you go to a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor, a lot of times, they'll have you bring a big plastic bag of all the supplements that you're taking so they can look through them. Well, a lot of times, people are doing the same thing with me over the phone or Skype, and I talked to people and they're just like they have no clue why they're taking, what they're taking. They don't know how to time it properly in many cases. Somebody I talked to last week was just taking all their supplements. Probably, a good $500 worth of a monthly investment in supplements and just putting them all in their mouth with breakfast and swallowing them all with breakfast. And there was a great deal of competition issues going on in terms of different nutrients being taken that should have been taken on an empty stomach. Some nutrients interacting with others in a deleterious way. Everything from tannins to vitamin C to iron. And some of these factors that should be separated.
And even redundancy in dosages that could have led to toxicity of certain fat-soluble vitamins, such as taking a vitamin D and vitamin K planned and then, also, a multivitamin and also an organ complex and you're getting multiple sources of fat-soluble vitamins that are, as the name implies, fat-solubles. So, these vitamins get kind of built up in the tissue and can cause a certain amount of vitamin toxicity.
And so, that story in that video that I put out on Facebook and Instagram highlighting the fact that you do need to be careful what supplements you're taking, why you're taking what you're taking, and know how to time said supplements, led to a host of comments and questions and inspired me to decide to actually record an episode for you, a solosode, if you will, explaining to you a few things.
First of all, the supplement regimen that I'm currently on, because I get asked that a lot. “What supplements do you take, Ben? You have all these podcasts you do and you have all the stories you put out. What exactly do you personally use?” And, I thought that me, going through that with you and explaining how I time these supplements and why I take them would hopefully help you do a better job navigating your own wide world of supplements knowing what to take and when.
So, that all being said, what I'm going to do today before I fill you in on my personal current supplement regimen is give you an explanation of why the heck you'd want to pull out your wallet and spend your precious coins on things like supplements anyways when we have access to real food. And many people do have access to plenty of real nutrient-dense food.
And then, we'll get into each of the different supplements I take for the different areas I'm trying to target, like fat loss or recovery, or energy, or sleep, etc. And then, I'll all finish up with clearing the air on this whole realm of experimentation and which things I might experiment with and, perhaps, not have as a staple in my routine, but things that I try as an immersive journalist, if you will.
So, everything that is discussed on today's show you can access at the shownotes page. And you will be able to find that at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast.
James, you may find that I pause a few times during this episode. That would just be to step away and do my jumping jacks or to make sure I've got any shownotes pull up in front of me.
And Jeff, as I know, you are listening into this episode. That introduction that I just gave can, of course, be condensed just a bit. But, this will take a little bit of creativeness because, essentially, you're just trying to kind of sort of write what I'm saying but, obviously, my vocal style might be slightly different than my writing style. So, just stick as close to what I say as possible as per the easiest way to go about doing things.
So, my kids just come home. All right. So, here we go. We're going to start with why take supplements in the first place.
All right. So, let's start here with why you would want to take supplements in the first place. Let's begin with this. Our modern, post-industrial, polluted, toxin-laden lifestyle demands more nutrients than food can often provide. So, the chronic stressors of modern life, whether it's the iPhone screen interfering with your circadian rhythms and chronic biology or the never ending work deadlines, these all can increase your nutrient needs. And that, of course, will increase even more dramatically if you're an athlete or a hard charger or frequent exerciser, etc.
So, every day you face hundreds of toxins, pollutants in the air, degraded plastic byproducts in drinking water, chemicals in cleaning products, and pesticides in food. And all these further increases your body's need for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These kind of nutrients are necessary to help shuttle toxins through natural detox pathways and prevent the formation of DNA damaging free radicals.
And, furthermore, to make matters worse, when you're eating food you're likely not getting the full array of nutrients from the food that our prior generations enjoyed. So, due to modern farming techniques and fertilizers, most soil is depleted of nutrients more than it was in the past. And that decreases the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants when you're eating from these largely conventionally grown crops.
Well, some would say that, perhaps, eating organic is the solution to that. While some studies suggest that organically grown foods contain more nutrients than non-organic foods, other studies have concluded there's no significant differences.
And, furthermore, for most of human history, our ancestors ate now nearly extinct and hard to find dense cell-rich carbohydrates in the form of foods, such as wild-tubers, and cellular grains like quinoa, amaranth, and millet. That's in contrast to the refined A-cellular grains and white rice that primarily comprise our modern carbohydrate intake. And I'll put links in the shownotes if you want to dig more deeply into the difference between a cellular and an A-cellular carbohydrate. But, the general idea is that cellular carbohydrates are starches that are bound up in plant cell walls; whereas, an A-cellular carbohydrate is something in which the cell wall has been broken down, right? So, a cellular carbohydrate would be, another example in addition to those already given would be a carrot, right? Whereas, an A-cellular carbohydrate would be wheat flour or refined sugar. And largely, the type of carbohydrates that we tend to eat are these A-cellular carbohydrates which are less nutrient-dense.
Now, the other advantage of A-cellular carbohydrate is those provide the essential prebiotics that help our probiotic bacteria flourish.
Now, along the same lines, the abundance of refined carbohydrates in processed foods can create significant blood sugar swings and glycemic variability that our ancestors probably also didn't deal with to as great extent. And a glance at a coffee shop display case or hotel breakfast bar that features bagels and muffins and sugary cereals explains why many people need a snack a couple hours later just to make it through the inevitable mid-morning blood sugar crash. And these blood sugar imbalances lead to chronic inflammation and are responsible for a host of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's, obesity, depression, and cancer.
So, in addition to the carbohydrate issue, the meat, eggs, and dairy products that we commonly find in grocery stores deliver far fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that we would find in wild or pastured animals. Speaking of omega-3 fatty acids, most Western diet munchers consume an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids that includes the paleo diet, which can often create an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1 up to 30:1. A westernized ratio can be up to 40:1. And the ratio you should be looking for is about a 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio.
And to make it even more complicated, modern harvesting, shipping processing, and storage techniques, they degrade the nutrient content of food. Plants grown with modern fertilizer can contain only 25% of the micronutrients of those grown using more traditional farming methods with good soil turnover practices.
And nutrients further degrade as they're shipped and as they sit on store shelves. So, a fresh-picked apple is more nutritious than an apple you buy at the supermarket in the winter. And that apple at the supermarket in the winter is also likely treated with something like methylcyclepropane and can be up to 10 months old, according to the FDA.
And the very preservatives used to maintain the freshness of these foods can impede the bioavailability of the foods' nutrients and increase your body's need for nutrients to process the synthetic additives. It's a 1-2 combo.
Similarly, any common medication, it's like an acid reflux drug or a hypertension drug, those also have been shown to inhibit nutrient absorption.
And then, there are precious fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D. The recommendations for sufficient vitamin D levels are controversial. It's safe to say that most people, based on blood and biomarker data, are not getting enough of many of these important fat-soluble vitamins. And many people are even genetically predisposed to not get as much vitamin D from sunlight as others.
And our ability to absorb nutrients from food, also, is not only increased with our level of physical activity but it also decreases as we age.
So, you've got a lot going on there that sets up a scenario where nutrient or micronutrient deficiencies could arise.
But, of course, a lot of people will say, “Well, so what? Our ancestors, they roamed with the plains and they were highly active and many of them were old. And, perhaps, they didn't have access to extremely nutrient-dense super foods all the time.” But, the assumption that our previous generations didn't take supplements is not true. I mean, we have multiple examples of supplementation in ancient cultures. Ancient supplements could include root, stem, and leaf teas that were used for specific medicinal symptoms, medicinal powders grown by mortar and pestle, highly concentrated oil extracts. And just because they didn't have encapsulation technology or Miron glass jars to package this stuff with back in the day, that doesn't mean that these weren't considered supplements. They were just concentrated sources of nutrients extracted from plants and trees and herbs to allow them to have a medicinal effect or a highly concentrated nutrient profile compared to, say, just eating food.
We also know our ancestors do things like eat dirt which has a wide range of beneficial probiotics. And we see a ton of different animals, ranging from insects to chimps self-medicating and supplementing by consuming specific plants.
And, furthermore, the methods that we use, like I alluded to earlier, to gather to cook and consume foods are drastically different than that of our ancestors, meaning that we probably are also just getting fewer nutrients from the food that we eat. Another example would be animals, right? We generally only eat animal mussel. We discard the collagen-rich connective tissue. Whereas, previous generations, they simmered animal carcasses for hours, liberating collagen and gelatin and fat-soluble vitamins from connective tissue. And this would be similar to us using like a collagen peptide supplement or an amino acid supplement, or a packaged bone broth.
And so, it's not that both our ancestors as well as the animal kingdom don't supplement or self-medicate. We even see examples in the animal kingdom of the use of psychedelic compounds. For example, bees will get stoned on orchid nectar or goats will gobble magic mushrooms. Birds will chomp marijuana seeds. Rats will consume opium as well as mice, lizards, flies, and spiders, and cockroaches. Elephants will get drunk on anything they can find, usually, fermented fruit in a bog hole. And they've also been known to raid breweries in India. And cows will consume loco grass, moths will consume the incredibly hallucinogenic [00:16:07] ______ flower. Mandrills will consume Ebogo roots. And so, we see this often in the animal kingdom as well. We are surrounded by all these different things from pharmaceuticals to medications, to supplements, to essential oils in the animal kingdom.
And so, it's certainly something that is not a foreign concept to take something from nature and concentrate it for a medicinal effect or a micronutrient effect or a concentrated nutrient effect or even a psychedelic effect. And so, I am completely not opposed to the idea of dressing up the diet with a certain amount of supplementation.
All right. So, quick review before we get into my own personal supplementation protocol. The reason you'd want a supplement is, one, nutrient-depleted soil; two, the age-related declines that occur in nutrient absorption; three, poor food-handling practices; four, pesticides, herbicides, and pollutants; and, five, changing needs in terms of exercise levels, especially for like Crossfitters, Ironman triathletes, obstacle course racers, people who do in heavy weight lifting, etc.
Okay. So, like I mentioned, the question that I'm often asked is “What supplements do you take, Ben? What is your own personal protocol look like these days? What are you on?” So, I'm going to walk you through this stuff step by step. And, again, everything that I talk about as far as the research studies for the stuff I just mentioned as well as the links to everything that you're about to hear as far as my own personal protocol, you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast.
Okay. So, the first thing that I target is just my basic daily nutrient and micronutrient repletion protocol. You have heard me, probably, in the past recommend that, for most people, I think that a good multivitamin and mineral complex is a good idea. And, in the past, the one that I've recommended the most has been the Thorne. It's called the Thorne Multivitamin Elite. That's an AM formula. It's a PM formula.
And what I like about it is it has a few key characteristics that I look for in a multivitamin. Now, I do not think you have to take Thorne. There are other good brands out there. I recently interviewed Mira and Jayson Calton, for example. And I'll linked to that podcast in the shownotes because we actually get into micronutrient and competition of certain components of different vitamins and why it's important to make sure your timing and the way you mix your supplements is important.
But, the things I look for, the key characteristics I look for in a multivitamin are, A, that if it has vitamin D, it also has vitamin K in it. And, preferably, has vitamin K1 and K2. Most multivitamins will use only K1. But, K2 is crucial for proper calcium metabolism.
The other thing that I look for is a natural form of folate, instead of folic acid, because most of the population, or a large part of the population, based on their MTHFR genetic status, can't really properly convert folic acid to folate. So, what you want to look for on the label of your multivitamin is natural folate. And that's usually marked as 5-MTHF or methyltetrahydrofolate, instead of folic acid.
When I look at the vitamin B12, I look for not cyanocobalamin but what's called methylcobalamin. That is a far better absorption rate.
The other thing I look for are any type of add-ins that might make that multivitamin more effective. So, for example, one of the reasons that I have recommended the Thorne multivitamin in the past is it has things in it for the morning dose that help with wakefulness, like green tea phytosomes, and then things in the evening that help with relaxation, like plant extracts from magnolia and philodendron, which help to decrease nighttime levels of cortisol and also balance DHEA levels. All right.
So, those are the main things. Is it is a good form of vitamin K, natural form of folate, and then, also other things that can help in terms of the way that the A.M. dose in the P.M. dose is structured. And based on your body's circadian rhythm and your nutrient needs, it's pretty common to need. If you're taking a multivitamin to choose a multivitamin that has a double daily dose, 1 A.M., 1 p.m. And for your multivitamin, I recommend you take that with food.
That all being said, I'm not currently using the Thorne multivitamin because I am using, instead, an organ complex. So, I'm experimenting right now and have been feeling very good with this for the past eight weeks using nature's multivitamin which is organ meats.
So, when I'm at home, I eat a largely nose-to-tail based diet that includes a lot of liver and heart. And I actually have kidney upstairs marinating right now that I'm going to dredge in some egg yolk and put some almond flour on and sauté it up for my family tonight and some butter.
But, what I've been using are the organ complexes. There's two different companies that make a good organ complex. So, I'm a fan of the company, Paleovalley, and also the company, Ancestral Supplements (use code BEN10 to save 10%).
So, the one I'm using right now is from Ancestral Supplements. It's a blend of grass-fed liver, grass-fed heart, grass-fed kidney, grass-fed pancreas, and grass-fed spleen, all from freeze-dried New Zealand grass-fed beef.
Now, a good organ complex is giving you pretty much everything you're going to get in a multivitamin: bioavailable heme iron, selenium, enzymes, coenzyme-Q10, vitamin B12 complex, good spectrum of fat-soluble vitamins. So, for your basic daily needs, that is what I recommend, would be an organ complex or a multivitamin complex. And those would be taken with food. And very similar to how I do if I'm doing a multivitamin, my dose with breakfast and my dose with dinner. The same thing I'm doing with the organ meats is a dose with breakfast and a dose with dinner. When I'm doing the organ meats, I skip that if I'm actually eating organ meats, like liver, heart, or kidney. Specially, when I travel, though, I'm not doing that.
So, that would be the first part of just your basic daily needs, would be a multivitamin or an organ complex. Again, for the multivitamin, I like Thorne. I also like the stuff that Mira and Jayson Calton make at Calton Nutrition.
And, there are others out there. Like Onnit has a good multivitamin. Let me think about another company. Standard Process is a good company to look for. Designs for Health, they also have a fantastic multi. So, those are the basics as far as the multivitamin. Or, you do the organ complex instead from Ancestral Supplements or from Paleovalley.
Now, the other thing that I use for my basic nutrient repletion for me, and this comes down to personalization, is based on genetics. And that's glutathione. I use glutathione on a daily basis because if you go back and listen to any of my podcasts on DNA analysis, I have a low level of the genetic factors necessary for my own endogenous glutathione production. And many other people can benefit from glutathione because of its potency as an antioxidant. People who travel a lot, especially on airplanes, people who are exposed to a lot of industrial pollutants, people exposed to a lot of even like dirty electricity, Wi-Fi, etc. I think glutathione is a good idea. Even if you haven't been genetically tested and found for your levels to be low.
What I use for glutathione is a liposomal form of glutathione because oral glutathione supplementation is notoriously poorly absorbed. So, what I use is one called, it's made by a company called Alms Bio. I'll put a link in the shownotes. But, that glutathione also has two really good forms of support for the mitochondria in it, CoQ10 and PQQ. It's a sublingual bland. It tastes like an orange cream sickle. It's really good.
So, when I wake up in the morning, or not when I wake up in the morning, when I'm having my breakfast which, because I do intermittent fasting, is typically around 9:30 or 10:00 A.M., I make my breakfast and with my breakfast, which is often a smoothie because it's easy for me to have a smoothie while I'm going through my morning emails, I do the organ complex and I do the Alms Bio glutathione.
So, those are the two main things I would classify as my basic nutrient repletion. It would be organ meats or multivitamin and then liposomal glutathione. So, those are the two that I currently take and that's how I time them.
Now, next I get into the realm, or I want to get into the realm of energy, like what do I take for energy, as far as nootropics, smart drugs, or just general overall energy. The two basic things I use for that, number one, is something that I think everybody, especially vegetarians and vegans, but I think everybody would benefit from this due to its ability to not only promote lean body mass but also support cognitive function, support power output, and increase work capacity, support physical endurance, assist with maintaining hydration within the cells, a lot of benefits of this one, that would be creatine.
I take creatine very simple. I don't go with any fancy form, just basic creatine monohydrate. I currently use this stuff by Thorne. But, basically, I use a creatine monohydrate. The form is called Creapure.
So, a lot of supplement manufacturers, they will use a specific form of creatine. And if you're looking at your supplement label of creatine, I think Creapure is the best. It's an easy to mix highly-researched form of creatine found to be very bioavailable and just micronized creatine monohydrate.
Now, the thing to remember is that even though the dosage for creatine for just about everybody is five grams a day, you can only absorb a maximum of about two and a half grams at a time. So, this means that if you're using creatine, you can take similar to your multivitamin or organ complex, a half dose in the morning and a half dose in the evening. If you take it all at once, you're only going to absorb at maximum half of it, okay?
And I just add that to my morning smoothie. That's how I get my creatine in.
So, that's the first thing that I do for energy. And then, I also tend to use some kind of a pick-me-up. A lot of times, I'll take this in the morning and sometimes I'll use something like this in the mid-afternoon. I'm a fast caffeine oxidizer. I'm a fast oxidizer, in general. That's based on a certain enzyme pathway called the P450 pathway. I just have higher than normal levels, meaning I can take a nootropic or a caffeine complex even in the afternoon and it doesn't disrupt my sleep at all. Some people are a little different. For example, slow coffee oxidizer which would even show up on a 23andMe genetic analysis. They are not going to process this stuff quite as quickly and want to avoid anything like a smart drug or a nootropic or even a cup of coffee in the afternoon.
But, the two smart drug-ish type of compounds are really you'd call them nootropic natural cognitive enhancer compounds that I currently take and have in my pantry, one would be something called Tianchi. This one is more of a Chinese approach. It's a traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese adaptogenic blend approach. It is a blend of a whole host of different nutrients from vinpocetine to gingko biloba, astragalus. It's got 30 different wild crafted Chinese herbs in it.
Now, as you may have heard on my recent podcast, there's a big issue in the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal supplement industry right now with contamination and with iron, or with liver toxicity. And so, you do want to be careful that you get stuff that is vouched for, or that is organic or wild crafted. This TianChi, I will vouch for. It's been a staple in my supplement pantry for seven years. I've interviewed the guy who formulates it twice. He's a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. He's an herbalogist. His name's Roger Drummer and I'll link to my podcast episode with him about TianChi. We do a deep dive on in the shownotes.
But, that's one of the compounds that I will take. And that one, for these energy compounds is either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. And these type of things are best on an empty stomach.
So, TianChi is one. And, interestingly, I was just reading a book by Dr. Daniel Amen. Dr. Daniel Amen has a fantastic new book about the brain. Ironically, I don't have it on me right now and I don't remember the title. It's Dr. Daniel Amen's new book. And most of the ingredients in TianChi are in that book, as things recommended for TBI, for concussion, for maintaining cognition with aging, for shutting down brain inflammation, etc. So, it's a very good blend.
The other one that I'll use, and I'll kind of like go back and forth between these two, is made by the company, Neurohacker Collective. And it's called Qualia, Qualia Mind. I use the caffeine-free version of Qualia Mind. And, again, we're talking about redundancy in supplements. This is a perfect example of that because I have a nice popping hot cup of coffee every morning. So, why would I want caffeine in my nootropic when I'm already getting it in my cup of coffee? Instead, Qualia Mind, and the caffeine-free version, again, is the one that I use, it's just a blend of everything from bacopa to rhodiola, to artichoke leaf extract.
Basically, anything you'd find in most of the popular nootropic supplements out there are in this. But, it's well-formulated in that it has things like minerals in it, choline 00:30:04 in it. The things that would naturally get turned over at higher rates when your brain is working faster, this has in it. So, you don't get that notorious post-nootropic crash that a lot of these more poorly formulated supplements give to you.
So, the two in my pantry are Qualia Mind, caffeine-free, and then TianChi. Now, the only other thing that I will occasionally use is psychedelics, meaning I will use a microdose of psilocybin or a micro dose of LSD. And this would just be once every three to four days or so, because any compound like that can really turn over your 5HDP levels quite heavily. It can result in some neurotransmitter depletion if you use that kind of stuff on a daily basis. But, I do use, on occasion, microdoses as well. And on days where I use microdoses, I don't use Tianchi or Qualia Mind. That's just too much. And let's face it, everything from a psychedelic to Qualia Mind or Tianchi, these are pretty expensive supplements. So, I don't take them unless I have to take them. But, I do use the Qualia Mind or the Tianchi and those I would classify as the energy component of my supplementation program, in addition to, like I mentioned earlier, creatine.
Okay. So, next we get into blood sugar management which, I think, is kind of synonymous with fat loss just because, I think, a healthier approach to fat loss rather than ephedra and cayenne and green tea extract and all these things that kind of give you a sweat and make you a little uncomfortable. I think those are pretty good for a pre-workout, especially if you're really wanting to amp up fat loss rates. But, the only fat loss supplement I take is, basically, blood sugar management tool, meaning that if I can't control my blood glucose, it's that much more likely that I'm going to get less sugar converted into triglycerides stored away in adipose tissue.
I'm a big fan of using blood sugar management type of supplement either, A, before my most carbohydrate-rich meal of the day, which is always for me going to be dinner, because I don't have any carbs the entire day until dinnertime. It just keeps my body in fat burning mode the entire day. And then, at dinner time, I can have my carbs and those get sucked away as muscle and liver glycogen to be used for the next day's work out.
But, what I also use fat loss supplement for is prior to cold thermogenesis, like before a cold bath or a cold soak or cold water swim, because it can amplify the conversion of white adipose tissue to brown fat, metabolically active brown fat. So, the one that I use is made by my own company, Kion. And, it is Kion Lean which is a blend of wild bitter melon extract and rock lotus extract. So, both of those can support really good blood sugar management and glucose metabolism and a healthy response to insulin.
The other cool thing about wild bitter melon extract is an AMPK activator. So, it activates some of the same cellular machinery pathways the same way fasting or exercise does.
So, that is my preferred fat loss management tool. But, again, timing is important. So, again, I like to use any type of blood sugar management control formula prior to cold thermogenesis or prior to my most carbohydrate-rich meal of the day which, for me, is dinner.
Okay. Next, we get into recovery. There are three things that I take to enhance recovery. But, I do not take these right after an exercise session because anything that accelerates recovery, often, is acting as an antioxidant. And you actually don't want to shut down inflammation in the immediate post workout scenario, meaning any type of antioxidant-rich formula you should save for, at least, two hours after your exercise session has finished. So, because of that, I don't time any of these couple of compounds I'm going to tell you that I use for recovery right after my exercise session. Instead, I will take them at a separate time of day.
So, number one is fish oil. As I alluded to earlier, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, even in healthy eaters such as paleo diet eaters who are having bacon and avocado and eggs and meat and seeds and nuts, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is way out of whack. Furthermore, based on a recent massive meta-analysis on the benefits of marine oils for cardiovascular function, I'm a huge fan of this also, just for general heart health, but I take an omega-3 fatty acids supplement. I take fish oil. I take a pretty decent amount of fish oil. I take about eight grams a day which is nowhere near what the omega dose of 20 to 40 grams that a guy like Charles Poliquin, may he rest in peace, would have recommended. But, it is a little bit higher than the one to two grams that most people take. And I test my blood and biomarkers on a quarterly basis. And my omega-3 fatty acid index is stellar in terms of my omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio and my overall amount of omega-3s.
So, the one that I use right now for a fish oil is called SuperEssentials. It's not the only good fish oil. Nordic Naturals has a great fish oil. Carlson's is a very good fish oil. Thorne has a great fish oil. But, the reason that I like the SuperEssentials and use about eight capsules of that with breakfast, and, again, this is a timing thing ideally of a fat-based supplement like that should be taken with a meal, is because the EPA to DHA ratio is really good. It's a 1:1 EPA to DHA ratio, meaning they add extra DHA to it. And then, they add some of these plant essential oils that are also very important. Particularly, they have borage oil in there, mixed tocopherol of vitamin E from a plant-based source. And then, some plant phytosterols, as well as astaxanthin to keep the fish oil from being oxidized.
Now, I still, as everyone should, keep my fish oil in the refrigerator so that it can't be oxidized by heat. But, I like the idea of a fish oil having added antioxidant to keep the fish oil from getting rancid, such as tocotrienols, tocopherols, from vitamin E, astaxanthin, etc. And the marine-based oil, or the plant-based oil, that they add to this as well makes it more of a full-spectrum fatty acid profile.
The other recovery supplement that I use that I would put into the category of managing and natural inflammatory response is Flex, the Kion Flex. So, that one you may have heard me to a recent podcast on where I take a deep dive into the ingredients of it. So, I believe it's Episode 406. If you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/406, it's a whole recovery podcast special that we did. But, it's a blend of turmerosaccharides. So, not curcumin, but turmerosaccharides which, I think, are better absorbed than curcumin and act far more quickly. And then, it's also got an Ayurvedic component in it, called Haritaki which has some really unique joint health benefits for joint function. And then, the final component that are proteolytic enzymes. And proteolytic enzymes help to break down some of the proteins in your bloodstream after you've exercised. The other cool thing about that is it can double up in a pinch as a digestive enzyme. Kion Flex can, because if you take it when you consume a protein-rich meal, it can help out with some of the breakdowns of those proteins. And so, it can be something that you consume before a steak as well, if you'd like.
And so, Kion Flex is the other component of my recovery protocol. And then, the final part of me for recovery that would also fall into the performance bandwagon is I take essential amino acids. Many people use collagen. Many people use collagen peptides. I think essential amino acids, when it comes to maintaining muscle, building muscle, or assisting with recovery, are far superior and way superior than branched amino acids which are, essentially, just a boatload of leucine and isoleucine that can create some insulin disregulation and spike blood sugar.
I'm a bigger fan of getting all nine essential amino acids: tryptophan, lysine, methionine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, threonine, and phenylalanine because you've got a lot of neurotransmitter precursor, so you can sleep better. You can take these even if you're in a fasted state without an insulin spike so you can have enough to maintain muscle for a fasted workout.
How do I time them? I like to take 10 to 20 grams pre or post workout because the research on amino acid showed that when you work out with high blood levels of amino acids, it is superior. And the reason that I take them post workout is if I haven't had a meal prior to my big hard work out of the day, I know my blood amino acids are not going to be that high. So, I'll use something like Kion Aminos to get my blood levels of amino acids high before I actually go and do my work out. But, again, the amino acids are something I will time pre or post workout, 10 to 20 grams. And the main things that I use those for, not only muscle recovery, but muscle maintenance. They can also be used to reduce appetite cravings. They can be used to support cognition because of the neurotransmitter effect. They're also very good for the immune fiction and the immune system and for guts. Probably, why it's one of our top selling supplements at Kion because it's like a shotgun for just about everything.
So, essential amino acids are kind of like the third spoke of my recovery wheel in addition to the fish oil and the Flex, okay?
So, next we turn to the last two sections that I supplement for: my gut and my sleep.
So, for the gut, again, this is where customization to your unique scenario is important because I, personally, if there's one area of my body that I tended to have issues with due to everything from parasite and yeast and fungus infections for me going all over the globe, swimming in dirty water and races in Thailand and India and Vietnam for over a decade. I was doing Ironman triathlons in all these dirty bodies of water to just, general travel airplane toilets, airplane, bathrooms, or airport bathrooms. There's just basically a host of issues I get exposed to that really do a number on my gut. And me being raised on a traditional Western diet probably didn't help much either. So, what do I do for my gut?
The first thing I do is I take colostrum every morning. Colostrum is best on an empty stomach. When you take it, you should break open the capsules or, two, open the capsules and let them sit in your mouth for a little while because the enzymes in your mouth will help to make the colostrum more bioavailable and activate a lot of the growth factors in the colostrum that can then go forward and help out your immune system. So, colostrum is, basically, going to supply you with cytokines which are the messengers that help your immune cells communicate, provide you with lactoferrin which assists with iron absorption which is really crucial for athletes and is also a very big part of your immune defense system and the healing process for your gut. It's got every immunoglobulin in it: IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, IgM. These are amazing for, not only supporting the immune system, but also helping the gut; especially, if you've had things like leaky gut, mold, microtoxin, and anything like that. Immunoglobulins are fantastic for that.
And then, the final thing you'll find in colostrum are polypeptides which are immune system regulators that encourage the growth of white blood cells. So, if you have a low white blood cell count, this can be helpful. And they also help to defend against oxidative stress and support brain health. Colostrum has also been shown for athletes, before they do a workout in the hot weather, to reduce gut permeability that's caused by heavy exercise. And it can also improve functions of gut permeability in terms of keeping you from having a leaky gut in anybody.
Okay. So, I take colostrum for my gut. The way I do it is I'll take a dose in the morning. And if I'm traveling where I know my immune system is exposed to even more [00:42:12] _____, I take a dose in the morning and in the evening. And colostrum is going to be best, again, on an empty stomach. Return to the scenario of don't just pop all your pills with your morning smoothie. Time them so you're getting the most bang for your buck out of what you do take.
Now, the next thing that I do is I take digestive enzymes. I take digestive enzymes with my meals, not only, A, because as an athlete, as an exercise enthusiast, I'm eating, in many cases, 4,000 plus calories a day. So, I need that digestive enzyme support. But, and this returns to the aging component, as you age, your ability to be able to digest proteins and fats tends to decrease. And so, having that support is helpful.
I just feel better as far as my energy levels, fatigue, my poops, my digestive function, overall, if I'm using digestive enzymes. So, what I use is a stock from the company, BiOptimizers. I've had these guys on my podcast before. And it's very simple. They have one digestive enzyme formula called MassZymes. That's five different kinds of protease.
I take MassZymes anytime I'm consuming protein. So, anytime I've got a protein-rich meal, whether I'm traveling or whether I'm at home, I pop four of these MassZymes to help me digest my proteins.
Now, if it's a fat-rich meal such as my morning smoothie or my lunch with all the sardines and avocados or anchovies or mackerel or herring or some seeds and nuts, all these different things that are fat-based, I also take a different supplement from BiOptimizers that was designed to break down fat. And that one's called kApex, K-A-P-E-X. I also have an interview on that one I'll linked to in the shownotes a BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast. But, the kApex, again, that's with fat. So, again, when you have these supplements, it's not like you're taking these supplements every single meal but I'll take the MassZymes with the protein-rich meal, and then, I'll take the kApex with the fat-rich meal. And if it's something like dinner, which a lot of times, for me, is a lot of proteins and fats, I'll just pop four MassZymes. And then, for me, it's two of the kApex. That's my dosage. So, it's four MassZymes and two of the kApex.
The other supplement from BiOptimizers that I have is called Gluten Guardian which is, basically, just an enzyme called peptidase. Peptidase breaks down gluten. I don't eat a lot of gluten. I don't do a lot of wheat. But, when I do, even if it's my wife's slow fermented sour dough bread which, admittedly, has a lot of the gluten deactivated because that's what the fermentation process does, it breaks down a lot of gluten and digestive issues such as phytic acids and trypsin. Those tend to go away if you're fermenting a grain. However, I go out to eat. I go to steakhouses. I got business meetings. And a lot of times, that bread basket comes out, and I'm a human being, I want to grab that salted butter that they bring out with the sour dough bread or the pretzel sticks at the steak house and punish a little bit of that. I, sometimes, want to have a wrap if I'm traveling filled with all sorts of goodness but another wrap has gluten in it. Very simple. I pop four of the Gluten Guardian anytime that I am consuming gluten. And that helps out with the gluten component, okay? And then, again, that's not something I use all the time. That's something I pull out one or two times a week which would be the time, the amount of time, that I'd actually have gluten, okay?
And then, the last few things I do for my gut is the other thing that I take at least once per day was designed to help to heal the gut from the ravages of glyphosate. Now, even though I eat organic, there's a lot of glyphosate contamination in many foods. Not only organic produce can be contaminated with glyphosate. When I'm out at a restaurant, a lot of times I don't know. And so, there is this supplement called Ion Biome. It used to be called “Restore.” And they changed their name recently to Ion, I-O-N.
It was developed by my friend, Dr. Zach Bush. A ton of different research exists on this supplement. It's basically lignite and lignite acts kind of like colostrum to strengthen the tight junctions in your gut lining. But, it specifically was designed to help to protect your gut against glyphosate. Especially if you're in the U.S. and concerned about the amount of glyphosate used on the crops over here, there's one my kids use also, I take a shot of this at least once a day. And it's best timed before a meal, especially before a meal for which you're concerned about glyphosate exposure. They have little travel versions. It's a liquid. And they also have big, old, at-home bottles that you can keep in your fridge. Okay. So, I use that as well for the gut.
The last couple of things I do for the gut would be, A, I take a probiotic if I am traveling because I don't eat a lot of fermented foods or, at least, not as many fermented foods when I travel as I do at home. At home, I have miso and tempeh and natto and kimchi and sauerkraut and some homemade yogurt and wonderful forms of probiotics. But, when I'm traveling, I don't have as many.
Probiotics are great for the immune system. The specific probiotic that I use has pomegranate extract in it which is wonderful for helping your gut microbes to produce something called Urolithin A, which is a longevity enhancing compound. And it also has the L. reuteri, R-E-U-T-E-R-I, form of bacteria in it which, in and of itself, is wonderful for oxytocin, for general wellness, for hair health, for skin health. A ton of different benefits to that one. You may have heard me talk in the past about Dr. William Davis's homemade coconut yogurt recipe where you take L. reuteri capsules from Amazon, for example. You blend it in with coconut milk and you dehydrate it for about 100 degrees or put in the oven for about a hundred degrees and create your own homemade yogurt to get that concentrated L. reuteri. Well, if you don't want to go through all those steps, this seed probiotic, in my opinion, is the best formulated probiotic out there. And that's the one that I use for my probiotic. I take three of those. And those can be on an empty stomach or they can be on a full stomach. It doesn't matter. I take mine when I take my colostrum because I like to get the probiotics and the colostrum in my system simultaneously. It's like giving my gut some love right when I wake up and/or at the end of the day. Okay.
And the last thing that I do for my immune system would be an anti-parasitic blend. And it also has an antifungal and antibacterial activity. And that's oregano. Oregano contains something called carvacrol which really helps to support a healthy immune response. But it's fantastic as an herbal remedy for parasites, yeast, fungus, etc.
I used to only take that when I'd just be on airplanes or in areas where I needed assisted immune support. Now, I just take it as a daily tonic. The way that I do it is when I wake up I have this big glass mason jar of water. And in that water, I add a couple of dropper folds of the oil of oregano. And it just kind of cleans out my system at the beginning of the day. So, it's the oregano for that.
I'll put a link to all the brands and stuff that I use in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast.
Okay. So, we've covered what I do for my basic nutrient repletion, my multivitamin or my organ meats, and my glutathione. My energy would be the creatine and then some kind of nootropic, like TianChi or Qualia. For my fat loss and blood sugar management, I use the Kion Lean. For recovery, I use the SuperEssentials fish oil, the Kion Aminos and the Kion Flex. For my gut, I got my colostrum, my enzymes, my Ion Biome, my probiotic, and my oregano.
And then, finally, there's sleep. So, for sleep, basically, there's just a few things I do. It's essentially kind of three staples that I take before sleep. Number one is CBD. I absolutely love CBD for sleep.
Now, you need a pretty hefty dosage. Most of the time, starting dosage for sleep is between about 40 to 100 milligrams. Smaller doses of CBD such as five to ten milligrams are great for controlling stress or even improving awakeness and alertness during the day. But larger doses are wonderful for sleep.
There's a lot of brands of CBD out there I know. The wide world of CBD can be dizzying. These aren't the only brands that are good but the three I have around are Thorne. Thorne has a really good one called Hemp. And then, there's a company called Element Health that has a really powerful full spectrum CBD liquid that you want to put in your mouth and hold for about one to two minutes, kind of like that glutathione I was telling you about. And you get better absorption when you're bypassing digestion and just absorbing it straight through the mucosal membrane in the mouth. And then, the other one is BioCBD which kind of blends CBD with some other Ayurvedic formulas that help you to relax.
So, those are my three forms of CBD. I'm not particular on any. I just happen to have all three around. But, Thorne's Hemp, Element Health‘s CBD, and BioCBD are the three that I tend to use the most. And, again, only before sleep, usually in a dose of about 50 to 100 milligrams, okay?
The other thing that I use for sleep is magnesium. And magnesium is wonderful as relaxant. A lot of people, due to the mineral and soil depletion issues I was talking about earlier or the activity levels, they're deficient in magnesium. I recently interviewed Dr. Mercola. And, although this podcast, I think, will come out before my podcast with him, we actually had a big discussion about how magnesium can also protect yourselves from the calcium influx that occurs in response to exposure to things like 5G and Wi-Fi, and dirty electricity, which affects the calcium channels on your cells to cause an influx of calcium. Well, magnesium can balance that out.
So, it also, of course, helps you to relax before bed. If you take it before bed, your bowel movements are easier the next day. I use a brand by Jigsaw Health. It's called MagSRT. It's what's called magnesium mallet which is very well absorbed, magnesium mallet. And so, I take four of those before I get to bed at night of that MagSRT. If I'm traveling, I tend to get a little bit more constipated when I travel. When I travel, I double that. I take eight tablets of magnesium because I'm also usually a lot more stressed out when I travel. And just, really, that along with the CBD, really help me to relax before bed.
Now, the other thing that I have that–I found this to be useful for a lot of people is I'll wake up some times, like around 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. And I like to have something on my bedside that helps me get back to sleep and specifically has some kind of inhibitory neurotransmitter in it to help me get back to sleep when I wake up.
There's two that I like for that. One is made by a company called Quicksilver Scientific. It's called Lipocalm. It's this tasty little spray. You squirt it in your mouth when you wake up. I do about four or five squirts. And then, I hold my mouth. And I just kind of lower myself back to sleep within about five to ten minutes after I use that one. It's called Lipocalm.
I fluctuate between that and this other one called Sleep Remedy. This was one made by Dr. Kirk Parsley. I've interviewed him on my show about the formula. He designed it for hard charging Navy SEALs to get to sleep faster at night. I find it works pretty well. If I'm using the CBD and the magnesium, I can fall asleep pretty well. But if I wake up, I will use this Sleep Remedy or this Lipocalm to help myself get back to sleep.
Now, when I'm traveling, because, again, I'm more amped up when I'm traveling, there's more Wi-Fi in the hotel room, I'm getting exposed to more blue light at night, I'm just not in my element, I actually will take that stuff before I go to sleep. And then, I also have an extra on my bedside should I wake up in the middle of the night or later on.
Okay. And those are really the biggies. Those are staples of my supplementation program. That might seem like a lot. But, let's count it. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. It was about sixteen different things that I use.
And that might seem like a lot. Some people, a lot of these longevity enthusiasts that I've interviewed, you read their books, they're taking like 100 different supplements. I think what I've just described works pretty well for me. That's not to say there's not some other things that I have experimented with. And this is also what I want to fill you in on because I get questions like, “But, Ben, what about that one thing? You did a podcast on that one time. Are you still taking that?” And, I put all that stuff in the category of things I experiment with that may or may not have stuck. Everything I just talked to you about, these are things that have stuck for me, that I've just found to be a “hell, yes” for me. But, then, there are other things that I'm currently in experimentation phase with, admittedly.
One example of that would be peptides. You've heard me talk about peptides a lot, like BPC-157 or Tesamorelin for fat loss and muscle gain, BPC-157 for inflammation. I have begun to use peptides over the past year. A year might seem a long time but I can't say that they're one of those things that, like the stuff that I just went through, it's just like a cover all recommendation, “Yeah, everybody should be using these.” I've successfully used them.
And I think the best way to go about putting together a peptide protocol, if you're interested in peptides, is you go to the website for the International Peptide Society which, I think, is peptidesociety.org, I believe. And you find a physician near you, in your geographic area, preferably, or someone you can phone or Skype consult with, who can look at your blood, your biomarkers, your genetic data, etc., and put together a peptide protocol that is customized to you. Don't go to some random Chinese website and grab a bunch of peptides. I don't think that's a good way to go.
But, peptides I'm not opposed to. I just think that those should be almost considered closer to medication or like something you do with the supervision of a physician because they're extremely targeted very powerful, work extremely well by targeting specific cell receptors in a laser like fashion. But, proceed with the help of a physician on those.
Another one I would say I'm experimenting right now is C60. I did a podcast with Ian Mitchell about C60. And, I mean, it's an antioxidant that's like almost 300 times stronger than vitamin C as anticancer effects, according to Ian Mitchell when I interviewed him. It helps to counteract the effect of damaging free radicals on the body. It can have a little bit of an anti-aging effect for wrinkles. It can have a little bit of support for the detoxification pathways in the liver. It's impressive, the research that I've seen on it. It reduces all cause of mortality in rodent models. And so, I've been having, again, because that's more of a fat-based supplement, I've been having a shot of that with my smoothie in the morning.
And I haven't done a lot of self-quantification. I haven't done a lot of blood testing yet on that one. But, that's another perfect example in addition to peptides of something I'm currently experimenting with. But, again, it might not be perfect for everybody. And it's not what I can say is like a staple of my routine yet. But, that's another example of something that I have around that I'm using right now.
And then, sometimes people will send me stuff in the mail. Different supplement manufacturers want me to try something out. And sure, there's always something my pantry I'm kind of experimenting with. But, what I just laid out for you is my current protocol, what I'm currently taking, how I time it, how I go about doing it, why I treat it scientifically, rather than just popping everything willy-nilly with breakfast. And that's what it looks like. So, hopefully, this kind of gives you a little bit of a glimpse into the question I'm asked quite often, “What supplements do you take, etc., etc.?” And that is exactly how I do it right now.
So, I may have opened the Pandora's Box in terms of generating a lot of questions about this stuff. And so, I'll review any questions or comments that you'll have. If you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast, I'll link to everything I've talked about as far as the research on why to take supplements and some interesting articles, as well as some of the podcasts that I just talked about, Dr. Daniel Amen's new book. I'll put links to all that stuff in the shownotes for you to review.
In my new book, “Boundless,” which is at boundlessbook.com, I also have some really, really big sections on testing your blood and biomarkers to figure out what's right for you, how to interpret your genetics to know what type of diet or supplementation program is right for you. I kind of wrote Boundless to be a book that rather than give you a fish, it just kind of teaches you how to fish. So, if you get that book, it'll be a really good resource for you as well as far as answering “What diet should I be on? What supplementation program should I be on? What does this supplement do? What does that peptide do?” I've got a lot of good info in there as far as self-quantification and more of a precision approach to supplementation and foods as well.
Okay. Well, those are the biggies. I got through everything that I wanted to get for with you guys. And you know what? 10 minutes ago, my power came back on, hooray. So, now, I can go, sit on my sauna.
Thank you so much for listening in. I hope this has been helpful for you. I know, yes, there'll be a few people who will comment, “Oh, Ben, you just made a podcast to be a supplement shill for Kion,” or something like that. That's not the case. I literally get so many questions about this stuff. What I really wanted to do was just give you guys a glimpse into what I'm doing, what my own routine is. And I hope it's helpful. I really do. I do believe that supplements are beneficial and, if used properly, are great. I think, if used improperly, timed improperly, sourced improperly, they can be a total waste of money and create expensive urine or, worse yet, create neurotransmitter issues, gut issues, fat-soluble vitamin toxicity issues, etc.
So, just be careful. Know what you're doing. If you go to BenGreenfieldCoaching.com, you can always hire me to do a little supplement consult with you. I do 20-minute calls, 60-minute calls. I write out training plans. I write out nutrition plans. All that's at BenGreenfieldCoaching.com. And I'll link to all these stuff, if you go to the shownotes. Again, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SupplementsPodcast, where you can also leave your questions that I will look over.
So, thanks for listening in and until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Ian: Or, anyone who's really kind of working it has high uronic acid and it's geared for it.
Ben: So, high uronic acid?
Ian: Yes. [01:01:05] ______ skin.
Ben: Okay, cool. And then, you got the one for pets and then the hair growth.
Ian: Yeah, exactly.
Ben: And this neuro-plastic juice that you're working on.
Ian: Yeah, we're probably going to build it as energy serum because it really does–
Ben: Project diarrhea.
Ian: Yeah. I don't know that that's a great trade name. Just saying.
Ben: You can use me as a guinea pig.
So, if you were listening in right now. I'm going to link to all this stuff if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/C60Podcast, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/C60Podcast. And if you go there, I would imagine there's some people that are going to have some questions, comments, feedback. Leave them all there and I'll jump in and try and point you guys in the right direction.
Ian, dude, Ben. It's a pleasure man.
Ian: Yes, very much so.
Ben: It's fascinating.
Ian: Starts using it.
Ben: [01:10:53] ______ three. Or, you could go to the BioReset Medical Website, bioresetmedical.com. Matt's clinic is in San Jose and, potentially, also up in Seattle soon as well. Correct?
Matt: Yeah, exactly. And then, go to bioresetnetwork.com because we train physicians to do everything that I told you about today.
Ben: Wow. So, if we have docs listening in and they're just drooling mouth a lot of the stuff, you could teach them?
Matt: Yeah, I teach them everything.
Ben: So, it's bioresetnetwork.com?
Ben: Okay. We'll put that in the shownotes as well. Matt, thank you once again for putting up with me for the third time in a row.
Matt: That's awesome. Thank you so much.
Ben: All right, folks. Thanks for listening in.
I am often asked what supplements I take, why I take them, and if we really need supplements in the first place. After all, if you, like me, follow a healthy lifestyle, I'll wager you probably eat plenty of plants, prioritize sleep, hydrate with filtered water, and expose yourself to the sun as much as possible.
So why even consider supplementation?
Let's begin with this: our modern, post-industrial, polluted, toxin-laden lifestyle demands more nutrients than food can provide.
The chronic stressors of modern life—ranging from heavy metal and synthetic chemical exposure to sensory overload—have been proven to increase your body’s need for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to shuttle toxins through detox pathways and prevent the formation of DNA-damaging free radical. This means that even if you are eating clean, relatively nutrient-dense food, you are likely not getting the full array of nutrients from food that prior generations enjoyed.
There are five factors that contribute to poor nutrient availability in most modern food.
- Nutritionally Depleted Soil
Due to modern farming techniques and fertilizers, most soil is depleted of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in conventionally grown crops. You may think that eating organic is the ultimate solution. While some research suggests that organically grown food contains more nutrients than non-organic food, other research has concluded that there is no significant difference in nutritional content between the two. In addition, for most of human history (and prehistory), our ancestors ate now-nearly-extinct, dense-cell-rich carbohydrates in the form of foods like wild tubers, which provided essential prebiotics so that probiotic bacteria could flourish (in contrast to the refined acellular grains and white rice that comprise modern carbohydrates). In addition, the modern high intake of refined carbohydrates and processed foods creates significant blood sugar swings and glycemic variability that our ancestors did not encounter to as great an extent. A glance at a coffee shop display case or hotel breakfast bar that features bagels, muffins and sugary cereals explains why many people need a snack a couple hours after breakfast to make it through the inevitable mid-morning blood sugar crash. Blood sugar imbalances lead to chronic inflammation and may be responsible for up to 80% of modern diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. This is a rollercoaster you definitely want to hop off.
Similarly, the meat, eggs and dairy products commonly found in grocery stores deliver fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, than those from wild or pastured animals. Most Western diet munchers also consume an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, further exacerbating chronic inflammation.
- Age-Related Declines In Nutrient Absorption
Your ability to absorb nutrients from food decreases as you age. While growing children should absolutely be taking a multivitamin to support healthy tissue and bone formation, supplementation becomes equally important for older generations. Many medications used to treat age-related diseases, such as acid reflux and hypertension, also interfere with proper nutrient absorption, further increasing the need to take supplements.
Then there are precious fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D. While the recommendations for sufficient vitamin D levels are controversial, it is safe to say that many Americans, especially aging Americans who spend more and more time indoors, do not get enough vitamin D. Even if we do our best to get sun exposure – whether it’s a morning walk or going outside for lunch – it is rare to get as much sunlight and vitamin D as our outdoor-dwelling ancestors did.
- Poor Food Handling Practices
Modern harvesting, shipping, processing and storage techniques degrade the nutrient content of food. Plants grown with modern fertilizer can contain only 25% of the micronutrients of plants grown using more traditional farming methods, and nutrient content declines as they are shipped and sit on store shelves. It makes sense that a fresh-picked apple is more nutritious than the apples you buy at the supermarket in winter, which were likely treated with 1-methylcyclopropene and could be up to 10 months old (according to an FDA spokesperson). And the preservatives used to maintain freshness could impede the bioavailability of the food’s nutrients and even increase your body’s need for more nutrients to process these synthetic additives.
- Pesticides, Herbicides & Pollutants
Pesticides, herbicides and chemicals found in the modern food supply are combined with low-quality water, environmental contaminants from elements like degraded plastic and airborne pollutants like carbon monoxide, lead and mercury. These synergistic factors vastly increase your need for extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients to combat the formation of free radicals and the attack on your metabolism and immune system.
Are you an athlete or frequent exerciser? The amount of extra oxygen and energy used by active individuals requires far more than the nutritional RDA of the average population. Indeed, consuming only the stated RDA can actually limit your athletic performance. So if you engage in Crossfit WODs, Ironman triathlons, obstacle races or heavy weight-lifting, your nutritional requirements mean you need to take supplements.
In addition to these five factors, there are scientifically demonstrated longevity benefits of caloric restriction. Given these benefits, it seems silly to argue that you could ignore calories and simply eat more food to obtain nutrients. This is another crucial area where supplements come in – they are a helpful boost for those of us wanting to consume enough nutrients to function well but also wanting to live longer using strategies such as intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting and caloric restriction.
The assumption that previous generations didn’t take supplements is also not true. Ancient supplements include root, stem and leaf teas, medicinal powders ground by mortar and pestle and highly concentrated oil extracts. Just because these dietary supplements didn’t look like capsules and ridiculously-oversized tubs of powders doesn’t mean they weren’t supplements. In addition, our ancestors certainly consumed dirt, which we now know contains a wide range of beneficial probiotics. Perhaps even more compelling is the fact that animals, ranging from insects to chimps, self-medicate and supplement by consuming specific compounds. For example, when some caterpillars get infected by parasitic flies, they’ll eat poisonous plants to kill the invasive larvae. Ants fight off microbes and bacteria by adding spruce resin to their nests. Several animal species consume mud to counteract stomach upset, and animals of all kinds use plant medicine as their own rough approximation of “supplements.”
Ultimately, supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and even nootropics and psychedelics is a natural, time-honored way to enhance the body and brain. In our modern era, while many would argue that your brain should work fine on its own, operating with flawless precision in the presence of clean food, pure water, sunshine, and fresh air, I beg to differ and have benefited highly from a bit of ancestral wisdom combined with better living through science.
During this podcast, you'll discover:
-Why you would want to take supplements in the first place…9:48
- The post-industrial age creates a greater need for nutrition than previous generations
- Cell phones, air, water create toxicity for our systems
- Food that is farmed and produced does not contain the same level of nutrients as before
- Soil is depleted of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants
- No significant differences in organic produce in nutrient levels
- Ancestors ate nearly extinct foods: quinoa, tubers, cellular grains
- Modern food is acellular grains and white rice
- Abundance of refined carb and processed foods creates high blood sugar swings
- Meat, eggs and dairy products contain fewer Omega-3s and other anti-inflammatory nutrients
- Imbalanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (as high as 40:1)
- Modern fertilizers deplete food of nutrients
- Preservatives have deleterious effects (the age of “fresh” produce is a bit shocking)
- Decreases bioavailability of nutrients and increases the body's need for nutrients
- Fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin D) are deficient in most people
- Multiple examples of supplementation occurring in ancient generations
- Root, stem, leaf teas
- Powders extracted and compounded to aid the body's nutrient absorption
- Ate dirt, which contains high amounts of probiotics
- Chimps and monkeys self-medicate by consuming specific plants (sometimes psychedelic compounds)
-Supplements Ben uses for basic daily nutrient and micronutrient repletion…20:16
- Key characteristics of a good multivitamin.
- Take with food
- Ancestral Supplements (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
- PaleoValley organ meats complex
- Thorne AM/PM Multi
- Almsbio Glutathione
- Calton Nutrition
- Qualia Mind
- Roger Drummer on TianChi
- Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most by Dr. Daniel Amen
- Psychedelics: LSC, psilocybin (microdose every few days, not used with TianChi or Qualia Mind)
-Supplements for fat loss and blood sugar management…36:21
- Not to be taken immediately after exercising (wait at least 2 hours)
- Kion Flex
- BGF podcast 406 (on recovery)
- Kion Aminos
- Essential amino acids, not branched-chain aminos
- 10-20 g pre- or post-workout
- Muscle maintenance and recovery
- Appetite suppression
- Superessentials Fish oil (other good brands are Nordic Naturals, Carlson's and Thorne)
-Supplements to keep your gut in tip-top shape…44:48
- Kion Colostrum
- Masszymes for protein digestion
- kApex for fat digestion
- Gluten Guardian for gluten digestion
- SEED Probiotic
- Kion Oregano
-Supplements to help with deep, restful sleep…54:51
- Quicksilver Scientific Lipocalm
- Doc Parsley's Sleep Remedy
-Supplements Ben is currently experimenting with…59:47
–Kion Colostrum: Nature’s “first food” that supports immunity, GI function, athletic recovery, and more. BGF listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order at Kion when you use discount code: BGF10
–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
–Clearlight Saunas: You can be sure that I researched all the saunas before I bought mine and Clearlight was the one that stood out from all the rest because of their EMF and ELF Shielding and their Lifetime Warranty. Use discount code: BENGREENFIELD to get $500 off your sauna and a free bonus gift!
So that's it! I trust this guide gave you ideas on how to enhance your health, performance, and recovery without needing to pop a dizzying array of pills.
I get lots of inquiries about other supplements like greens powders, l-carnitine, high-dose Vitamin B, beta-alanine, sleep supplements and so on. I highly recommend specifically tailoring your supplement protocol to meet your specific goals, and also to use the comments section below to ask me your other specific questions. Ideally, you should choose supplements that address your own genetic results or blood biomarkers, and to learn more about personalizing nutrition and supplements to your genetics, listen to my recent podcast with Dr. Ben Lynch, author of “Dirty Genes,” or read my article about customizing your diet to you.