Introduction: In this podcast, everything you need to know about colostrum, is birth control healthy, why can pro athletes eat bad food, what is a parasite zapper, how to train for a 5K without losing muscle, what happens when you hit the wall in a marathon, why it’s hard to sleep after a hard workout, how much Vitamin A is too much, and should teenagers be eating flax.
Hey, folks, this is Ben Greenfield, I just got back from California where I was racing in the Wildflower triathlon and I’m very happy to have perfect weather back up here at Spokane, Washington, and a really cool interview to bring to you today with Joe Stout, on of the chief scientist at Mt. Capra Nutrition. He’s going to talk to us about something called colostrum and what the benefits of it are. It’s something I’ve been using lately and I wanted to get the word out about colostrum to you. So we of course, have our Q and A as well and just a few special announcements so let’s go ahead and jump right in to this week’s podcast from BenGreenfieldFitness.com Podcast # 144.
So, for those of you who have the free Ben Greenfield Fitness iPhone app or Android app that allows you to get the podcast, the blog, news, training plans, etc… delivered right to your phone, we just had an update done to that app that actually makes it so some of the blank stories in the news section show up correctly, now it’s very important if you’re going to update your phone app, delete the app and then re-install it. You can just use the link that I have in the show notes or you can go to iTunes or the android store, just search for Ben Greenfield Fitness but totally delete from your phone and then re-install it and that will ensure that some of the older news stories are restored to your phone if you want to access any of the older stuff. If you don’t care about that just hit the update button and then your app will function very well. Now, another important thing that I needed to bring up was that, I just changed the donation button at Ben Greenfield Fitness, so many people were so generous in signing up for one dollar donations and then I heard from the person who processed or the company that processes those one dollar donations turns out that about thirty cents of that actually ends up going to the podcast and the rest gets taken by all the people that process one dollar transactions. So I shifted our donation to Paypal, so that donate button will now take you to a Paypal donation. We are still looking for donations to this show. If you give just that one dollar a month, it helps out tremendously and now we’re ensuring that seventy cents of that one dollar doesn’t go to pay for who knows what. Ok, so that is about it. One last thing, if you want in on creating the next Ben Greenfield Fitness t-shirt, you have about seven days left to get your design in. I’ve got a lot of cool designs coming in and I am going to show you all of the designs in a blog post and also feature the winning design. So if you still want to submit a Ben Greenfield Fitness t-shirt design, just e-mail me [email protected] and I will reply and give you all the graphics, everything that you need to work on the t-shirt. If you want some extra graphics on hand, do so. Alright, lets go ahead and have one special message and move in to this weeks Q and A.
Ben: So, if you have a question for the podcast, you can use the free android or iPhone app and just click the ask question button there on the app. You can also call toll free to 877 209 9439 and ask your question via audio which is always fun or finally you can use the Ask Ben form over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and yes that form does work properly; I’ve checked it a few times. Some questions, I get ten repeats of so I think some people press submit think it’s not going, but it does go. I’ve gone through it and it works ok so you can use that “Ask Ben” form over on the website and you’ll need to use it once, please.
Kalley asks: My question is in regard to birth control. I’m twenty-four years old, I’ve been on birth control pills since I was eighteen. In the last year I’ve taken a real interest in my health, changed my diet, started working out with a personal trainer, began training for a half marathon, that said, I’ve become increasingly aware of the lack of information available concerning birth control and the effect it may have on a woman’s hormone levels, weight loss and overall health. Estrogen seems to be linked to many health problems so the increased amount being introduced into my system through daily birth control makes me nervous. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Ben: Well, this is obviously a little bit controversial but my thoughts are basically that there’s not a huge difference between birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy which we all know turned out to be one of the big disasters of health care as they found out that the “safe” hormone replacement therapies that were being provided to women were actually increasing the risk for cancer and the scary thing is that birth control pills have about four times the levels of synthetic hormones in them than the amount found in this hormone replacement therapy. So it’s kind of scary, I mean basically, when you’re looking on the pill or birth control pill, you have estrogen and you have progestin in them. They’re similar but they’re not identical to the natural hormones that are made by your ovaries if you are a woman. And basically the way that these hormones work is they trick the body into thinking that it’s pregnant. They prevent the ovaries from releasing the egg, they can thicken some of the cervical mucus which can make it harder for a sperm to actually implant the egg and they affect the uterine lining which could prevent the actual implantation of an egg that actually is fertilized. So the reason that these synthetic hormones can be a little bit dangerous is that you’re looking at essentially altered estrogen and altered progestin which act very similar to the natural estrogen and progestin made in the body but the body does know the difference and it does recognize them as being chemically different or being foreign elements. So these synthetic estrogens, they have very strong estrogen like qualities but specifically the progestin can cause the ovaries to shut down the production of natural progesterone and when you shut down the production of natural progesterone, your estrogen to progesterone ratio significantly changes such that estrogen becomes the dominant hormone in the body and progesterone begins to disappear. This can lead to a lot of issues. In estrogen dominance, you tend to see things like weight gain and increased risk of cancer, that a lot of times you’ll see girls just balloon up after they start to take a birth control pill and a lot of times the reason is because there’s an estrogen-progesterone imbalance or a big increase or big decrease in the amount of natural progesterone that the body is making. Of course, estrogen dominance goes far beyond weight gain. Estrogen dominance could increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clotting or cardiovascular disease, a lot of times girls who get migraines when they’re on the pill and due to estrogen dominance, mood changes can get a lot more severe, blood pressure can go up, a lot of issues and when you metabolize birth control pills, it requires a ton of extra Vitamin B and Vitamin C and minerals by your liver and so a lot times you’re creating nutrient efficiencies when you’re on the pill, as well. And then another issue that could be caused by the estrogen dominance is a yeast or candida albacan infection in the digestive tract which can have a ton of issues from depression to chronic fatigue to digestive disorders to you know, chronic joint pain, infertility, so a lot of other issues there as well going on with estrogen dominance. So there are of course alternatives to a birth control pill and I know young people listen to this show so I won’t go into too much sex education detail. You know, I personally, or we personally use condoms and those are fairly safe and inexpensive way to do things. So lots of other options out there too, you know, cervical caps, diaphragm, female condoms, spermicides but birth control pill, you know, if it was my daughter or my wife or my mom or anybody else, definitely something that I would steer them far away from and again, even for something as weight loss, I see that not being an issue once you get off the pill and in some cases, replace some of that progesterone-estrogen imbalance or fix some of that progesterone-estrogen imbalance. Great question, good question.
Amy says: I was watching a video interview of Jen Shelton recently and have been impressed by her ultra marathoning. I’m hoping to run an ultra in the next year or so. Jen talks about her diet and basically says, it isn’t a good one, she loves taco bell and mountain dew. How can she run ultras as well as she does while fueling in a not so healthy manner?
Ben: I’ve talked about this before in the show about how pro-athletes can sometimes get away with eating really, you know, bad food and in most cases, a professional athlete is good despite their nutrition, not because of it. We’re talking about people who tend to have a huge genetic advantage or a huge training advantage specifically starting at an early age or playing sports that prepared them very well to be professional in the sport that they’re in and a lot of times they’re growing up eating what you’re typically going to get, given to you in high school in collegiate sports and thrown at you by most social eating structures these days specifically fast food and processed food and package food, etc… There are a lot of athletes more and more who are grasping the concept of eating real whole raw food in its unprocessed form that our great grandparents would’ve recognized. But many cultures and many athletes still get away with eating the super sweet processed packaged stuff. The issue is not necessarily that short term, it’s going to hold them back. Okay, so short term an athlete can really get away with eating a high amount of high sugar inflammatory type of foods, high starch, high carbohydrate, nutrient void foods. But the problem is that long term, there is a lot of joint inflammation from the advanced glycation end products or the carbohydrates altering the protein especially in the joints and the cartilage that can lead to a lot of joint pain. That tends to be an issue, the chronic inflammation ends up causing a lot of joint and soft tissue injuries in the long run, and there is a ton of insulin insensitivity issues or high blood sugar issues that can potentially cause like a diabetes Type II condition. You see many athletes especially in non-endurance based sport stop playing and balloon up, become fat, become unhealthy, sometimes do things like get cancer, you know, have to fight obesity, have to fight diabetes, because of very unhealthy diets that they were essentially controlling through heavy exercise and the fact that the body stays very insulin sensitive and kind of bullet proof to some of these processed foods or high sugar foods during periods of heavy exercise. But as soon as you stop it tend to kind of attack you. In endurance athletes, you got a tendency of premature aging, premature joint pain, inflammation, you know later on in life, insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar control problems, possible severe weight gain once the extreme endurance activity is stopped. If the extreme endurance activity is not stopped because, you know, it seems to be the only thing that’s keeping someone on a diet like this from gaining weight, then you’re going to end up eventually getting to a point where something breaks down, you know, over training syndrome results, something happens where all the training someone’s doing to fight off all the excess sugars that they’re eating ends up kind of catching up to them. So, the issue is that from a longevity health perspective, it is always better to err on the side of not eating these types of foods. The pro athletes who do eat them are getting away with it in the short term but it will eventually catch up to them and many of them would be much better at what they do and get away with being in the train, far less which is actually one of my secrets. I mean, I don’t train that much and I do very well in triathlon and one of the reasons for that is I eat nutrient dense foods that don’t require a lot of my body in terms of processing and fighting inflammation. So, this ultra marathoner or any triathlete marathoner, athlete in general, would do better with the nutrient dense foods and foods that support the body rather than cause the body to have one more thing to fight against during its heavy training. So, good question.
Steven says: A guy at work is telling me about Dr. Holda Clark and her parasite zapper. He swears by its effectiveness. Is this hocus-pocus or real medicine?
Ben: So, Holda Clark and the parasite zapper. Holda was basically somebody, she’s not alive anymore but she had a few different degrees, specifically in like Naturopathy, I think she had some type of a Ph.D in Physiology and she developed this parasite zapper based on the idea that almost all diseases are caused by parasites or toxins or pollutants and that things like cancer or other diseases could be cured by killing the parasites and basically getting rid of all these environmental chemicals in the body. And so, what the parasite zapper was, was it was something that she described as a synchrometer that could be held against the skin and measure the skin’s resistance to this low voltage current that pass from the device through a probe that was held by the patient. And this low voltage device was supposed to kill parasites and bacteria and viruses with electricity without actually harming human tissue and a huge amount of marketing behind this device and then following the huge amount of marketing that was done with it and this was all the way up into the kind of the mid-2000. Like up into 2005, there were a lot of legal issues and litigious claims made against this parasite zapper, specifically like practicing medicine without a license and claiming it as a cure for a disease when that’s technically not allowed by the FDC and just a ton of different issues and complaints against this zapper device which most of them were made against the one called the super zapper deluxe which doctor Clark claimed would make surgery and chemotherapy for cancer completely unnecessary. And don’t get me wrong, I am all for alternative cancer therapies but this particular parasite zapper specifically didn’t have much behind it in terms of actual pre-reviewed research. As a matter of fact, this Dr. Clark had done some research on patients who she claimed who were cured of cancer turned out later, they still had cancer, same thing with AIDS, she said she cured patients of AIDS and when they tested them they actually still had aids. So a lot of different issues going on with this parasite zapper. Not a ton of research behind this. I would definitely throw this one into the questionable medical science category. I am open to the idea that by playing with electrical and magnetic signals, we can definitely affect the physiology of the body but marketing a hand held device to cure cancer based on that idea is not something that has research any behind it and could possibly even be causing more harm than good. So, I would be careful with stuff like that, you know a lot of marketing hype between buying the parasite zapper.
Glenn says: Hi Ben, thanks for your earlier advice on maintaining optimal testosterone levels while I was preparing for my first body building show at a young age of fifty-three.
Ben: And then he goes on to talk about how he won the Ohio state over fifty masters body building championship but then he says, “I’m back to training but would like to add minimal 5k mileage to compete competitively in my age group this summer. Any suggestions on how to incorporate my mileage and pace training as not to burn up my lean mass? I’m lifting two days on, one day off, two days on each week and presently I’m doing treadmill work for two miles at a moderate pace three days a week.” You know, when you’re training for a 5k, first of all, the nice part about training for 5k is you don’t need to do a ton of endurance work, there’s no need especially if you’re trying to maintain lean muscle mass that you need to run any longer than two miles to give your body the endurance that it needs to be able to run three point two miles. So I would be altering these routines that you’re doing to do in just one two mile run per week and then do one sprint type of interval, like high intensity interval training session like a ten by thirty second uphill sprint on the treadmill once a week and then have one week where you’re doing some mid distance track repeats, like four hundred to eight hundred meter track repeats like a four by four hundred, four by eight hundred meter type of track work out. Now, don’t do any of those sessions in an unfed date, its very , very difficult for body builders and especially older body builders to be able to maintain the amount of lean muscle mass that they need to look good onstage so I would make sure that you are really doing all of your run sessions in a fed state, don’t do any fast at morning workouts nothing like that with the running and then understand that its going to be painful, muscle takes a lot of energy to carry and to cool and if you’re trying to run as a body builder a fast 5k, that can be really tough. If you have the ability, if you’re body building to jump down to like a lighter weight division so that you can shed some weight it’s definitely going to help you with your running. Because even if you’re a light runner, if you have a huge amount of muscle mass came out of a very low body fat percentage, that can really make running very painful. So what I would recommend is that you focus on high intensity interval training, very minimal amount of running and basically just go after quality over quantity and that ought to help you maintain some of that muscle mass that you’ve developed via your body building. So you probably will still lose a little bit from 5k training, it’s almost impossible to do aerobic training and not lose some bulk. If you’re trying to maintain bulk or be a body builder but sticking to high intensity training will help you control that to some extent.
Kyle says: If a person has full glycogen stores at the start of a marathon which is enough to run approximately sixteen to eighteen miles, why do so many articles about the marathon say that running out of glycogen is the cause of hitting the wall, especially when the runner gets about seventy percent of their fuel from glycogen or storage carbohydrate and the other thirty percent or so from fat? Also taking into account that they are likely fueling with some sort of carbohydrate supplementation during the event. So is there any physiological basis for fatigue occurring at mile twenty?
Ben: Well, the issue here is that your body uses several different energy systems but for anything that’s endurance based you’re using what’s called the oxidative energy system and there’s four different ways that you can produce energy via the oxidative energy system. One would be considered a slow glycolysis where you’re taking storage carbohydrate and breaking it down into energy through a process that’s called aerobic glycolysis. The second way that you could produce energy during endurance exercise would be the krebs cycle, where you’re taking certain intermediates in your body typically a protein derivative, fat derivatives, or carbohydrate derivatives and turning them into energy via something called a krebs cycle. The third way that you could make ATP is via an electron transport chain which is a really one of the primary ways that the mitochondria in your cells are producing energy to sustain endurance efforts. And then final way you could make energy would be beta oxidation, which should be the production of energy from fat. So, when we look at each of these at little bit greater detail, your slow glycolysis is basically taking your storage carbohydrate and it is converting that into two different ATP molecules. So, its making storage carbohydrate into glucose then its metabolizing glucose to form ATP and that actually forms a substance called acetyl co-enzyme A and when that substance called acetyl co-enzyme A is produced that can go through what’s called this krebs cycle and so you get a few more ATP’s when you put a acetyl co-enzyme A into the krebs cycle. Now, once acetyl co-enzyme A goes into this krebs cycle you get a couple other compounds that are produced and then are transported to your electron transport chain. And specifically these other compounds that are produced can carry hydrogen ions and through a series of chemical reactions, your body uses those hydrogen ions and oxygen to form water and produce a ton more energy so a bunch more energy comes to the electron transport chain compared to like glycolisis or the krebs cycle. And then, finally with beta oxidation through a process called lipolysis, your body breaks down fat into what’s called the glycerol molecule and then some free fatty acids and these can go back and go through the krebs cycle again producing acetyl co-enzyme A, and then going back into that carbohydrate metabolism. So, the reason I explained all that to you is that essentially all of these elements that are used to turn carbohydrate into energy are also used to turn fat into energy but the difference is that the complete combustion of the fat requires a lot more hydrogen ions and a lot more acetyl co-enzyme A and a lot more energy. So if your body wants to use fat as a fuel, it has to have a much bigger oxygen supply to meet the demands of exercise. In order to get a bigger oxygen supply into the cells to convert fatty acids into ATP, you have to slow down. You simply cannot provide enough oxygen to your body if you’re going at a very, very fast pace because you don’t have enough oxygen to go around. Too many muscles are using it. And the issue here is that your body is always using a combination of carbohydrate and fat so what happens when you hit the wall or when you bonk during a marathon, not only does your body run out of the part of carbohydrate that was contributing to the production of energy but it also has to vastly increase the amount of oxygen that’s available to begin turning just fat into energy and so that’s what happens. It’s not that your body is using 70% carbohydrate, 30% fat during the entire event. It uses 70% carbohydrate, 30% fat, up to the point where it runs out of carbohydrate and then it begins using almost primarily fat as a fuel. Now the other issue that happens when you hit the wall is central nervous system fatigue. And what happens with that is that as you begin using more and more fatty acids as a fuel, your levels of tryptophan in your blood, getting delivered to your brain begin to go up significantly. And when you’re delivering extra tryptophan to the brain, that brings up the levels of serotonin and any time you increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, what happens is that there’s what we call central nervous system fatigue, you get this feeling of tiredness, of sleepiness, of lethargy, and you begin to kind of just check out which happens to a lot of people at mile twenty of the run. And what also happens is your dopamine begins to drop as your serotonin levels go up and dopamine is responsible for making you excited, giving you these feelings of reward, of motivation, of pleasure, and so your dopamine levels drop off, your serotonin levels go up and that also leaves you feeling in the dump. That’s one of the reasons that taking amino acids during exercise is important and specifically branched chain amino acids because branched chain amino acids compete with tryptophan on the part of the brain receptors that are going to responsible for having this tryptophan uptake and the increase in serotonin. And so branched chain amino acids can kind of prevent some of these central nervous system fatigue. But ultimately you’re only going to have so much carbohydrate store on your body and so much carbohydrate that you’re going to be able to even digest and assimilate from external sources during the run that you’re almost guaranteed to get to the point where you are going to have to utilize a lot more fat as energy and you are going to slow down a little bit. The way that you can get your body to be more efficient with the carbohydrate that it does have on board is to throw in a few training sessions where you’re training in a slightly lower carbohydrate state, getting your body used to using these free fatty acids a little bit more efficiently. Using branched chain amino acids during the actual event itself, like using gels that have branched chain amino acids in them like I use one called gu roctane that has branched chain amino acids in it that will help out with my body not wind uptake so much serotonin into the brain. The other thing that you can do is of course make sure that you’re taking in as much carbohydrate as you can comfortably take in during the marathon. Typically for guys you can get to about 300 to 350 calories per hour. For girls, 200 up to about 300 calories per hour, making sure that you stay hydrated, you know, all that stuff is going to help. But ultimately hitting the wall is primarily that increase in oxygen delivery that’s necessary to form energy from fat and the subsequent drop in pace that’s necessary for you to be able to take in that much oxygen without having too much of it go to all of the muscles that are exercising at intense pace. So there’s your physiology 101. Hopefully that helps.
James says: Any suggestions on how to resolve why I can’t consistently sleep on my higher training volume days?
Ben: There are a few issues that happen when you’re wide awake at night after you’re training a bunch. Some of them are really logistical like a lot of times we’re eating gels and sugars and carbohydrates that have caffeine added to them during the long training session. And so for example, after an Ironman triathlon, I’ve consumed forty gels and each gel has, you know, thirty to forty milligrams of caffeine in it, that adds up really quickly and that is definitely part of the contributing factor to not being able to sleep. You’ve also got a ton of epinephrine and adrenaline circulating through your blood stream from the hard work out and those will also activate what’s called your sympathetic nervous system which is your fight or flight based nervous system and really keep you in more of an active and awake state. You’re still wanting to run from the lion when you’re in bed so to speak. It’s very difficult to sleep when your body temperature is elevated and a lot of times your body temperature and your metabolism will stay elevated for up to twenty-four hours after a hard training session. That’s another thing that can keep you awake at night. And then finally, you tend to really burn through a lot of proteins and a lot of amino acids and if you’re amino acid deficient you can also tend to have some difficulty sleeping. There can be some difficulty with proper brain wave activity if you’re amino acid deficient, so that’s another thing that can happen. So the question is, what do we do about it? First of all, really check the label of the sports supplements that you’re consuming during a hard exercise session and make sure there’s not like, a caffeine derivatives in them. The next thing that you can do is bring your body temperature down after an event like that by taking a cold shower or an ice bath or watch the recent video I did at BenGreenfieldFitness.com where I was showing off some compression gear that has these little ice pockets all over it so you can cool down your body without taking an ice bath if you want to do it that way then go to the slightly less painful route. Make sure that you supplement after your work out, not only with carbohydrates but also with proteins, preferably get a whole amino acid source into your system and don’t let yourself go hungry after that hard workout session either because hunger can really keep you awake as well. Magnesium can help out tremendously using something like a natural calm supplement that something I’m a huge fan of is this Natural Calm Magnesium Powder. You put about 250 milligrams or so of it in a glass of water. That can really help you get to sleep after a hard work out. Combining all those elements, cooling down the body with some ice or a cold shower or cold bath, taking in some minerals like magnesium to help you get to sleep, help relax you a little bit, avoiding caffeine during the actual training session itself and then making sure you get adequate protein in, those will all help you get a little bit better sleep after a had training session. So try those out.
Cathy says: I had a question about how much Vitamin A and beta carotene to take in. My husband and I are both into cycling and he’s gearing up for his second season of triathlons, he smoked heavily from age 16 to 28. And from what I have read, it seems that smokers or ex-smokers should avoid supplements with Vitamin A or Beta Carotene, what are your thoughts?
Ben: Well, there have been some studies on smokers and former smokers and the use of specifically beta carotene along with Vitamin E which is basically an antioxidant and these are the same studies that made people suggest that antioxidants might be unhealthy. They took this Vitamin E antioxidant combined it with the beta carotene, gave it to the smokers and found that in some of them actually increase risk of lung cancer and in other it did not decrease at all the risk for lung cancer compared to the group that wasn’t taking the Vitamin A and the Vitamin E. Now, the problem with this is that they used just a single Vitamin E source. They did not use a full spectrum antioxidants. Now there’s a ton of scientific evidence that shows that people who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables containing beta carotene are less likely to develop cancer and heart disease whether or not you smoke. So you should definitely not be avoiding any of these foods like peaches or melons or mangoes or sweet potatoes or squash, you know, pumpkins, dark leafy greens, all of these things that are highly pigmented that contain a ton of carotenoids and a lot of antioxidants. These are whole food sources and there’s a big difference in the body when you isolate a single nutrient and put it into the body in a very concentrated form versus when you get a full spectrum of nutrients and a full spectrum of antioxidants from whole food sources. So well, I do not recommend that your husband, as an ex-smoker, supplement with an isolated beta carotene or an isolated Vitamin E supplement. He should be definitely getting mixed caroteniod or a full spectrum antioxidant from preferably a combination of whole food sources and if you really get some of the hot and heavy training, a complete antioxidant source. I had a really good discussion about this in my interview series KC Craichy called the Super Health Diet. I’d recommend that you listen in to that because he has a really interesting section where he’s talking about the fact that all these studies that suggest antioxidants maybe unhealthy were done with this high dose level of a single antioxidant and not a full spectrum of antioxidants. So, it’s really something to think about and you’ll always have to look at these studies intelligently and make sure that what they’re putting into people’s body is not something unnatural that we’d never really encounter much in the real world
Craig says: In the Q and A section of Episode 139, you mentioned that flax could reduce the effect of estrogen. We secretly give our daughter who just started puberty ground flax for fiber. Should we be concerned with the effects of flax on her physical development?
Ben: Well, the idea behind flax possibly having an estrogen like effect on the body that could be unhealthy, comes from initially what we’ve been taught about soy. And the idea that soy has these phytoestrogens in it that can mimic the natural estrogens in the human body and bind to the estrogen receptors thus potentially increasing the risk for cancer. Specifically in men that excess estrogen could have a feminizing effect upon the body and could actually kind of counter act the effect of testosterone. Now the issue with these phytoestrogens is they can bind through the receptor sites on your cells that attach the DNA regions of genes and that can lead to protein transcription. The same way that if estrogen were on those sites, it would lead to protein transcription. But what happens is that when you’re introducing these phytochemicals or phytoestrogens from soy, there’s such a significant estrogenic effect that transcription is significantly elevated and tissue growth could be enhanced and when we think about enhanced tissue growth that is basically kind of the equivalent of increasing the risk of cancer. There’s a really good book about this called The Whole Soy Story but flax is a little bit different because flax has a different type of phytoestrogen called a lignan and lignan doesn’t really seem to activate transcription and the estrogen receptors to the same degree that the type of phytoestrogens in soy does. There may be a little bit of evidence that, especially in males, if they’re taking in high intake of flax seed oil that there could be a negative effect on prostate health, possibly an increased risk of prostate cancer. But the problem is that there are so many other benefits that come from soy that they really outweigh these mild estrogenic effects and specifically soy is of course a very good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for a lot of advantageous anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular health effects and flax seeds and specifically ground flax seed because they’re very well absorbed, you get a lot of fiber, considerable amounts of protein, get a lot of magnesium, and you know, they’re very, very nutrient dense. In moderation, I wouldn’t be worrying about the estrogenic effect of flax seeds especially compared to something like soy. I would make sure that your getting your flax seed from the good organic cold press flax seed source that hasn’t been exposed to a lot high temperatures or a lot of high pressures and f you’re getting the flax seed from a good source, there’s really not much of a risk that there will be some type of you know, estrogen dominance effect, you know, causing weight gain or some of those other issues that we talked about when I talked about birth control pills in your daughter. So, really good question and that actually wraps up our questions for today. So we’re going to go ahead and move on to this week’s interview with Joe Stout after a special message.
Ben: Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield and you may be familiar with Joe Stout, if you’ve been a long time listener of the podcast, because Joe, who is one of the chief scientists at Mt. Capra Nutritionals has joined us in the past to discuss things like the difference between goat protein and cow protein, antioxidant benefits and many other interesting topics. And today, Joe is here to talk about something that has been a topic of discussion a few times on the podcast here and there with questions and a big topic of discussion especially among people who are exercising and what that extra advantage from something called colostrum. So we’re going to be talking about colostrum today, so Joe, thank you for coming on the call.
Joe: Ben, thanks for having me, it’s always a pleasure to come on.
Ben: Cool! Well, colostrum is something that I think a lot of people might think of child birth and breast feeding and breast milk when they hear the word colostrum but can you kind of explain for the people who don’t know, for the people who need clarification, what exactly colostrum is?
Joe: Yeah, you know, you bring up a really interesting point. I remember back in college, I had roommate who was actually a medical student but he never actually heard of colostrum being used as a supplement and he thought I would suddenly pull on this like when I told them about the supplement because obviously most people like you said, associated with birthing and breast feeding and that kind of stuff. So, basically what colostrums is, is this kind of like milk. It’s not quite milk because it only is around about say twenty-four to forty-eight hours after a baby, whether it’s a baby goat or a baby cow or a baby human, has been born. And it’s produced by the mother of the baby and most animals and humans that will generate colostrums just prior to giving birth. And it contains antibodies, protecting newborns against disease, it’s kind of a just an easy food to digest for newly developing kidneys, it’s lower in fat and higher in protein than normal ordinary milk. So, like it’s a kind of like milk but it’s kind of a precursor to milk.
Ben: Gotcha, okay. So how do you get colostrums? How is it harvested and collected like you know, I know you guys have a farm out in Central Washington where some of the supplements, like we’ve talked about Mt Capra protein before, come from, but how is this colostrums actually made?
Joe: Yeah, well that’s a good question. I can’t speak for other producers and manufacturers of colostrums but I can tell you that at Mount Capra, how they do it and like you said we’re actually were looking on the west side of the mountain over at, near the coast. So during spring, actually kind of right around this time, the goats begin kidding and what kidding means is that they’re having more baby goats. And during this process, we’re watching her very closely and as soon as the mother goat kids or she has a baby goat, gives birth, we pull her out of the main herd and for the next twelve to twenty-four hours, you know, we make sure that the baby goat gets its mother’s colostrums as it needs so that it is getting its best shot at life as well. But any surplus colostrums that’s not used, we collect a separate from the general population and we do that process during the first twenty-four hours post partum or just right after the goat gives birth. So it’s of a, you really got to keep your eye on the herd make sure you grab those goats as soon as they’ve given birth and usually just to make sure everything is going well, we’re right there while they’re giving birth, you know, helping along anything we can but mostly staying out of the way and let nature take its course.
Ben: Okay, I got you. So basically, you’re not like, depleting baby goats of something when you harvest this stuff?
Joe: No, we’re doing yeah, we actually were kind of a self sustaining herd so we raise these baby goats that these mothers have so we want these baby goats to be healthy themselves so any surplus colostrums that they’re not using that would’ve naturally been reabsorbed by the mother, that’s the stuff that we harvest.
Ben: Gotcha. So let’s dive in to the benefits of colostrum. Why traditionally would someone want to take this stuff and ingest it?
Joe: Yeah, that’s a great question.
Ben: And by the way, I’d like to clarify, too, like, how it’s ingested like is it in liquid form or in capsule form or what not, as well?
Joe: Generally, it’s in a like a capsule or powder form. Mt Capra has both a powder and a capsule form, that’s the general way because unless you have your own goat and you’re right there to get the colostrum, it just makes a lot more sense to have those that the nutritional benefits of that captured in a gently dried product. But the benefits of consuming colostrum are like what I was saying was it’s been almost like a laundry list, I’ts like, everything is from like allergy release to arthritis, the heart health, you know, just antioxidants, anti-aging, all kinds of different things have been traditionally used for using colostrum. Some of them have been very well established, others probably not so much more at least the science is still out. Some of these we’re going to look at today, talk about today is, using colostrum to boost the immune system, using colostrum to increase lean muscle mass, to increase strength and endurance, burn body fat, short recovery time, accelerates healing of injuries, things like that. So we’ll get into those in more detail as we get along but those are kind of some of the traditional ways colostrum has been used.
Ben: I see, okay. So, in terms of like risks or dangers of taking colostrum, do you foresee or have you ever heard issues with people who ingest this stuff as a supplement?
Joe: Well the only thing and even this I think would be a fairly minimal risk. It is a you know, it does come from cows or from goats, so if you happened to be one of the very, very rare people who are allergic to goat milk, that would be something you want to watch out for. But really there’s no reported side effect or toxicity or anything like that released in medical research right now. So if you’re pregnant or if you’re nursing, or you’re on other medication, that might be something to talk with your doctor about really, there’s hardly any danger whatsoever. I think one of the things your listeners would probably like to know though is just using colostrum in probably in sports setting where there might be blood testing and just legality issues, am I right?
Ben: Well, yeah. I think that that is important as well and of course we’ll talk about the benefits for sports performance for here in a second but yeah, go ahead and me a little bit about that. I mean is this even legal to use, like if I was going to take some before I go out and do an Ironman triathlon?
Joe: Right, I think this is something where athletes need to know the information. They need to know both sides of things and kind of make the decision for themselves. Number one, there’s absolutely nothing illegal about using it and in fact, the IOC which is the International Olympic Committee, have approved colostrum for use but, there is a but here, what colostrums has in it, is it has what’s known as IGF1 which is a growth factor. And when you know, during the Olympics or different testing agencies will actually test the blood for HGH level. HGH levels are human growth hormone and that’s very illegal to use even if you’re not an athlete, it’s just illegal. And so, when you use HGH, it causes your IGF1 level to go up, colostrum does the same thing. Now, so this is where the answer is your listeners need kind of make their own decision, the International Olympic Committee has cleared colostrum to be used because they say it doesn’t change the idea that one level from the blood. However, that’s not always the case, so there have been reports of false positive contributed to nothing more than just colostrum. So its kind of one of those things where you need to know what the, you know, it’s the race you’re going to be in, the triathlon you’re going to be in, if they are going to test, how are they going to test, are they going to be testing HGH or they testing other things. If they’re testing other things, you’re just fine, but if they’re testing HGH then you might want to call them and see just how sensitive of the test they’re going to be because you don’t want to be disqualified for something that’s perfectly legal.
Ben: Right, right. And if you look at some of like the case of triathlon, you know, they are testing, even you know, not even pros like amateurs as well after events. I’m not sure if they actually have growth hormone panel on that test, that’d be something interesting to find out and what I will do for those of you listening in, is I’ll look into this and find out if that’s actually included on the profile. So, in terms of that link between colostrum and sports performance, what is the link between colostrum and sports performance?
Joe: I’m glad we’re getting on to this because this is where I think your listeners are going to be most excited. What we’ve got here, when you have your colostrum, you got all kinds of different immune and growth related constituents in this colostrum. You’ve got things like psydochines. Psydochines are part of the system like immune system, the hormones keep communication between the immune cells act, if you don’t have communication, then you don’t have immunity. You have things like immunoglobulins, IGA, IGE’s and IGG’s. They’re known as antibodies and they are used by the immune system to seek and destroy foreign indigents or invaders. You’ve got things like lactoferrin which is a small protein that is used as an antioxidants and in fact lactoferrin is incredible, get ready for this because there’s four of them, the incredible antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant. So it’s a huge part of colostrum and the growth factors we’re talking about as well as actual growth hormones. So when you have this cocktail of bio actives in within you know, capsule or powder, there are actually a lot of benefits that your listeners could really derive from colostrum. For one thing, there’s been some serious happenings that can increase strength and endurance; some of the studies that are coming out of colostrum in sports performance are really pretty exciting. I think your listeners might be interested to know that there was an Australian cycling study that found that after supplementing with colostrum for eight weeks, the athletes that have been supplementing but increase 427 percent more in their times and shortening up they’re times than those who was not supplementing with any colostrum. And so, that’s pretty huge, in long distance bike riding and things like that you need to have strength, you need to have endurance and colostrum definitely was successful in imparting that.
Ben: Gotcha. You know, I tend to have a gut issues. I’m one f those guys that kind of sensitive stomach, somewhat lactose intolerant and I got to be careful what I eat when I’m training or when I’m out racing and you know, I try to avoid large amounts of glutamine and things that I know will kind of make my stomach upset while I’m out training or working out or racing and I actually ordered some colostrum from Mt Capra a couple months ago because I read this study that was recently done on gut permeability or what’s called leaky gut syndrome which is basically something tends to be a big problem in athletes when you start exercising, your gut becomes more permeable and the food that’s in your stomach can end up passing like undigested food particles into your blood stream. And because this colostrum is such an important part of your gut health, what they did was they fed this to athletes who were exercising in hot conditions at a very high intensity. And they found that when they put them into this type of situation that when they didn’t have the colostrum in their system, that the gut leakiness increased by about 250 percent and what happened was they were able to almost completely reduce that at the same effort and the same temperature by giving these athletes colostrum before they exercised. So I thought, if I’m kind of having some gut issues, you know, some bloating, some gas, when I’m out exercising I should try this stuff and I have and it has actually worked. I don’t know if it has made me fast. I haven’t raced with it. I haven’t raced since I started to using colostrums, I’ve just used it in training but that’s what I noticed and I thought that was very interesting. I’ve never heard that being used to something like that before I saw the study.
Joe: Yeah, that’s some great evidence there just yourself that it’s been working and you know, we’ve talked about these studies and they’re all well and good but they’re just on paper. So once you get this and you’re using it and you’re finding success with the desk work, the rubber really hits the road because regardless of what the study says if it works for you then its working for you and that’s, its good to hear that you’re getting success with it.
Ben: Well, what I’m most interested to use it for is for the, these long like I do Half Ironman and Ironman triathlons and when I get towards the end of this thing, a lot of times you get, and I’m not trying to gross people out, but you get diarrhea because what happens is your body basically has the permeability the gut increases, your body starts to try to clear the gut contents and that can increase you know, the amount of stuff that passes into your colon. And I’m wondering how much kind of changing the structure of the actual gut barrier by taking colostrum will actually help with something like this so I’ll be your guinea pig on that.
Joe: Excellent, we’ve always been looking for guinea pigs.
Joe: Actually Ben, there’s several more benefits that your listening athletes could probably take home with them and kind of store away if they kind of decide to submit with colostrum. Another thing, and this is pretty huge, and it’s kind of a dual acting aspect of colostrum that it can build lean muscle mass, and that it can also burn body fat. And remember how we’ve been talking about these IGFs, the instant growth factors and it’s actually the only natural hormone that’s capable of promoting muscle growth by itself. So colostrum’s packed with this stuff and so it can significantly increase lean muscle mass and in some other studies that I’ve seen, it’s got a better job of increasing lean muscle mass than weight protein itself. So building lean muscle mass is something that a lot of people who obviously have been working to do, everybody’s probably looking to do and then the flip side of that is burning body fat and when it comes to fat metabolism, those growth factors that we’re talking about in colostrum kind of, they take our body generally utilizes calories which is they burn carbohydrates and store fat. And they kind of shift that; it shifts it from burning carbohydrate and storing fat to not burning carbohydrate as much as burning fat. Significantly after, you gain more fat but the idea is that the colostrums will cause your body to burn the fat that you stored which includes the fat that has been made and the carbohydrate to protein. So like I said, it’s a dual acting thing and in that regard is still leaning muscle as well as burning body fat which is obviously something that you don’t have to be an athlete to even be interested.
Ben: Yeah, I think that’s very interesting stuff.
Joe: I think another thing is and you were talking about your, you know, running the half or doing the half triathlon, the full triathlon and back in October I had the privilege of watching you compete at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and I mean, you’ve got athletes there who are competing for up to almost seventeen hours, you know, and some of the people coming to the end have going on for seventeen hours and I know your listeners probably know, and we just remind them if you’re training strenuously you are going to have an increased susceptibility to infectious disease. It’s the way the body works when your body is being strained for intense periods of exercise. I’m not talking about going out and jogging for twenty minutes. I’m talking about new intense exercises out there. When your body is being strained, your immune system is really no exception to that. Studies have shown that after three hours of running, your three hours of intense exercise, white blood cell count are down, natural killer cells are down. These are things that you need in your immune system to keep you healthy. If they are being suppressed then you’re going to have health issues and so in those kinds of situation, athletes really need to make sure that they’re doing a lot of different things. They need to make sure they’re eating right; they’re getting good, you know, nutrient dense foods and they need to be getting lots of sleep. And another thing that they can do, is they can supplement with colostrum because studies have shown that colostrum can help keep athletes healthy and especially I really common sickness to get if you’re an athlete is upper respiratory sickness and colostrum has been shown in several studies to help reduce upper respiratory disease so that’s definitely a huge take away that colostrum can have, can give to hardworking athletes.
Ben: You know the guy that won that race, he uses colostrum. He uses I think something called beef’s milk sponsored by Colostrum Company.
Joe: Well, there you go.
Ben: I was looking into colostrum a few weeks ago. Alright, cool, this sounds really compelling. What I want to do is basically, I’ll put a link in the show notes over to colostrum for people so that you listened and you want to basically grab a bottle of this, the Capra colostrums to check it out. The one really nice thing that Mt Capra is a very, it’s an ethical company, it’s somewhat local over here in Washington, I know the people associated with it, it’s not putting out shotty products so, you know, I will put a link to that in the show notes and I will vouch for the colostrum that they’re producing and you guys are also into being friendly to your animals, right, Joe?
Joe: Yeah, you know, we’ve got one of the largest goat dairies in Washington State but the goats are you know, there’s going to be no horror stories coming from our farm because they’re completely, I mean we’re not completely certified organic although we’re working towards that but we follow organic practices, no antibiotics, no pesticides or herbicides, they go to a free range, they can go and graze as they choose and so yeah, we love our goats, they’re good to us, we’re good to them.
Ben: Awesome. So in terms of additional benefits for sports performance how about like recovery, repairing muscle damage, that type of stuff, what’s colostrum look like from that front?
Joe: Yeah, you know, that’s a good question. Colostrums have been shown to shorten recovery time. There was a study where you know, the colostrum supplementation was used and the performance during the second bout of exercise would increase significantly and the most likely reason for that was because the colostrum was helping recover that muscle damage you know, when we workout, you guys all know this when we workout, we’re tearing down muscles which when it rebuilds, it rebuilds stronger. And so if you can assist the body in the natural process of rebuilding, anyways then not only, you’re going to get more bank from your bike when actually out there in the pavement. But there are also instances where you just get hurt. It’s not just the natural process of breaking your body down and building it back up into a stronger body, it’s just matter of you know, you’re just injured and the colostrum has been used. Studies have shown that colostrum is helpful in accelerating that process of healing injuries. So you know, if you look back between this connection between colostrums and sports performance, we’re seeing an increase of strength and endurance that alone makes colostrum basically worth its weight in gold. For you body builders out there, we can build lean muscle mass and burn fat, all conveniently with the same product. And then you long distance guys boost your immune function which is, what we’re going to get after strenuous exercise anyways, it’s an important thing. You’re not going to be ready for that big race if sick on the couch so colostrum can definitely help there and then get shorter recovery time and it can also accelerate the healing of those injuries so really we’re talking about basically a super food here. There’s a lot of good stuff in colostrum and really, I think what we’re talking about here Ben, you and I, I think this is the tip of the iceberg. I think colostrums is kind of at the jumping off point and as more interest picks up in it, more research is done, we’re going to see just how deep this whole food goes and just how many different benefits this whole foods has to offer.
Ben: So, I guess, you know, if we’re to kind of wrap everything up and describe the type of people who actually benefit from using colostrum, you know, it sounds like athletes would benefit. It sounds like people who are trying to lose fat and gain muscle would benefit but are there other populations that you think could benefit from colostrum?
Joe: Yeah, I think you know, if we’re trying to think who could benefit from colostrum, we can also think who can benefit from eating vegetables, pretty much everyone. It’s historically being used,it was actually interesting little tidbit, it was colostrum that was the precursor for the polio vaccines because before the polio vaccine came around people would treat and it didn’t work obviously as well as the polio vaccine but people would treat different sicknesses and diseases with colostrum and so there was actually a constituent of colostrum that was pulled out and they created it into the polio vaccine. So, pretty much everybody is going to find benefits using colostrum. I know there’s studies out there that show elderly, old people who have low IGF1 levels, and that can be associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and in fact those suffering from eating disorders and actually obesity also have low IGF1 levels and so colostrum can come in and help boost those levels up and if you carry, I know, the last time I was on, the time before we talked about probiotics.
Joe: And I know that there’s been volumes of studies done on probiotics but a recent one that just came out a couple of years ago, it’s a really interesting study because it found a natural synergy or kind of like a coalition between probiotics and colostrum. And so you’ve got probiotics and they offer all the benefits that your listeners are aware of and now you’ve got colostrums and your listeners are aware of all the benefits that that produce and taken by themselves they’re an excellent product. Now, put those two together and you have a synergy, you have a sum that is greater, you’ve got a sum that’s greater than the sum of its parts. You’ve got a product that’s greater than the sum of its parts and you’ll actually find better benefits on both probiotic levels and the colostrum benefits when taken together so if you’re looking to boost these levels, I would really recommend doing probiotics along side your colostrum supplementation as well.
Ben: Alright, well folks that is the skinny on colostrums, lots of benefits there that we mentioned both for sports performance and for fat loss, muscle gain and immunity. So Joe, thank you so much for coming on the call today.
Joe: Well, Ben thanks for having me and I would love to come back anytime.
Ben: Alright, so if you want to check the colostrum that we were talking about, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes of this episode, Episode #144 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Good news, we have all the shows transcribed up to 142 now so you can go do searches, you know, read up on stuff, I always encourage people before they asked a question, do a quick search for the topic of your question over there because we have a ton of information now at BenGreenfieldFitness.com in both audio and text format. Remember if you want to donate to the show, you can do so by clicking the donate one dollar button that’s right over there at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, incidentally above the free iPhone, free android app download links. So remember if you want to update your app then go ahead and do so especially if you’re having trouble reading it and new stories that have been coming out in the app in the past month or so, they might’ve been blank for you but that’s now been fixed so that and everything else I’ve talked about in today’s episode is available over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com so until next time, this is Ben Greenfield wishing you a healthy week.
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