Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness show: Does Marijuana Shrink Your Brain, Building Muscle With Vitamin D, Why You Should Cry More, Curcumin Vs. Turmeric, The Best Way To Track Fat Loss, and much more!
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield… “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that for natural movement, get out there! When you’re working all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest effort to see…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Ben: Rachel, I feel like we might need sad trombone music for today’s show.
Rachel: Oh really? Why? What’s going on?
Ben: Because I have not had caffeine this morning nor did I have a glass of red wine last night as, as my usual habit.
Rachel: But definitely deserves some sad music.
Ben: Sad trombone. Cue sad trombone here, Charlie Brown style. (trombone sound) I’m actually going on doing it – a no alcohol, no caffeine experiment, so.
Rachel: And you haven’t tried this before?
Ben: I haven’t tried this before, no. I mean, like I’ve had times where there’s like you know, whatever, weekends where I don’t drink or you know, I’ll go like a week. I’ve talked about this before in the show where probably 4 weeks that I drink caffeinated coffee, I switched in 1 week of decaf to reset the receptors in the brain that can become…
Ben: desensitized to caffeine.
Ben: And I decided to see if it would influence anything from my gut health to my weight, to my overall feelings of energy, not anything’s broken but I’m always wanted to try out these things. And alcohol and caffeine are two staples in my diet, so…
Rachel: Mmm-hmm. And how are you feeling, so far?
Ben: Well, in the evenings, I’ve been using CBD to you know, that token glass of wine at the end of the day can helps you relax.
Rachel: Helps you relax, right.
Ben: Yeah. So I’ve been doing CBD, occasionally a little bit of THC here and there, but for the most part you know, I’ve been doing fine. Frankly, I’ve been sleeping extremely well.
Ben: Extremely well. I tend to wake at about 2 or 3 o’clock briefly and then go back to sleep and I don’t – you know, and since I’m not doing alcohol in the evening right now, I don’t wake…
Ben: …at that time. But I gotta tell you, I’d rather have my glass of red wine and wake at 2 or 3 am than not have it.
Rachel: Not have at all?
Ben: But I’m just experimenting in. The caffeine thing interestingly, there’s a lot of evidence that caffeine, if you have food intolerances to things like gluten or corn, or soy, caffeine particularly coffee can cause a lot of cross reactivity with those compounds and aggravate even trace amounts of those type of things in your diet. So for me, I wanted to see if my gut would feel better you know, not that I’m walking around with explosive diarrhea…
Ben: But I basically just wanted to see how my gut feels if I cut out coffee and also if it affects things like sleep, energy levels in the afternoon, etc. So I’m still kinda feeling things out, I’ll write a more comprehensive blog post hopefully soon, but it’s been a week and I’ve not yet spontaneously combusted…so.
Rachel: (laughs) Well, interesting. I can’t wait to hear all about it.
Ben: Yeah, so stay tuned for that, all you podcast listeners who are obsessed with coffee and booze.
Ben: Rachel, do you or have you ever had a goal of getting swole?
Rachel: Uhh, no? Should I learn? (laughs)
Ben: Some of this big, ripped?
Rachel: Should I? I mean, I’m open.
Ben: Do you own a Welcome to the Gun Show t-shirt?
Rachel: I don’t own a Welcome to the Gun How t-shirt.
Ben: Uh, you’re dead to me.
Rachel: Just lost all respect.
Ben: Everybody needs a Welcome to the Gun Show t-shirt in their closet. Well, the reason is that one of the things that I talked about this week was the fact that winter is quickly approaching. Father winter ‘cause…
Rachel: Mmm. Mmm-hmm.
Ben: It’s called ‘father winter’ or ‘mother winter’?
Rachel: Not sure.
Ben: I guess it’s ‘father Christmas’, huh?
Rachel: Father Christmas, yeah.
Ben: Yeah, okay. Close enough.
Rachel: (laughs) This is – those are very different things, but we’ll keep going.
Ben: Father Christmas approaches.
And there is a recent study that came out this week in the American Journal of Physiology that investigated Vitamin D and skeletal muscle repair and regeneration. And as we all know, we get less levels of Vitamin D in the winter, I actually live on a north facing slope which means that it’s a treed north facing slope, meaning that if I don’t get out before about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, my body doesn’t see sunshine.
Ben: So, I’ve got this little tiny patch of time, it’s actually between about noon and 1:30 out of my front porch when there’s some serious rays of sun floating through the tamaracks and I will just go outside.
Rachel: Go out there and shove it off and soak it up.
Ben: Soak it in, yeah.
Ben: Exactly. So anyways though, what this study looked into was supplementing with 4,000 international units of Vitamin D a day which for those who want to quantify that. That’s about 10 times as much as vitamin D as most multivitamins use. So, you really can’t achieve this with a multivitamin without risking toxicity from all the other things in the multivitamins. So generally, you need to use supplemental vitamin D for something like this. But they did 4,000 international units of vitamin D a day, and that control group got a placebo which was just basically like a capsule but it didn’t have anything in it. Usually they’ll use like cellulous or some other kind of fiber in the placebo capsule. And then they measured a strength muscle repair, muscle regeneration, and hypertrophy which is just basically muscle building. And what they found was a significant role for vitamin D in skeletal muscle regeneration and repair, and also in hypertrophy or getting swole. So, in turns out and especially for those of us living in northern climates who don’t get a lot of sun exposure, and for doing things like lifting weights for example, or running which tears down muscles or you know whatever, obstacle training or triathlon or marathoning or whatever else that vitamin D supplementation is probably prudent with the caveat that as we’ve talked about on the show before. Vitamin D can have toxicity.
Ben: Usually it’s 10,000 IU or more that typically causes bigger toxicity issues and you generally want your Vitamin D blood ranges to be between about 40 and 80…40 and 80. So if you are to go and get a blood test and find out that your Vitamin D is at 90, you probably don’t need to take a Vitamin D supplement…
Ben: And if you did, you risk arterial calcification. Vitamin D can pull calcium into the bloodstream, and you can even risk that at lower levels of Vitamin D unless you have adequate Vitamin K and adequate magnesium. So, if you are going to do something like using a strategy such as the one in this research study and I don’t think they used Vitamin K or magnesium, they should’ve if they’re looking over our health, right? Not just muscle repair.
Ben: If you’re gonna use Vitamin D and you wanna take the results from the study and run with them and you know, go bench press and impress all your friends and take boat loads of Vitamin D, use Vitamin K and use magnesium as well, so.
Rachel: Hmmm. Alright, good to know!
Ben: And by the way, Rachel, before I keep going, so I got some interesting stuff on marijuana today.
Ben: Can you remind people where they can find all these and oh so much more?
Rachel: So all of these info post more over at the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/337.
Rachel: We have an awesome Facebook giveaway, the Sleep Master sleep mask. We’ve got one going on Instagram, one going on Facebook, one going on Twitter so you got 3 chances to win. So all you need to do is go to the post and comment ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether you wear a sleep mask, simple stuff.
Ben: Yeah. Follow any of the links over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/337 for Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, but yeah, the Sleep Master sleep mask, that’s one I use every night. It covers your ears, covers your eyes – it’s the best sleep mask, I can sleep anywhere like in an airport, put that sleep mask on.
Rachel: Mmm. Yeah, it looks awesome.
Ben: Yeah. Anyways though, we digress, because I want to talk about weed. I want to talk about what it can do and what it can’t do. And there is a study that came out that shows that marijuana can – we may have to use the sad trombone again (sad trombone sound) shrink your brain…
Ben: …particularly the area in the brain called the orbital frontal cortex which is involved in decision making, emotion and controlling reward and punishment related behavior, can shrink slightly with frequent marijuana use. In this case, toking up about 3 times a day.
Ben: Which is more you know, it’s more than the most people use, but I do know you know, as marijuana becomes legalized, there’s a lot of people using a lot of THC, using a lot of edibles…
Rachel: Mmm-hmm, right.
Ben: …and e-cigs and all that stuff.
Ben: And that effect is even more pronounced in terms of shrinking of the gray matter in that region of the brain, and they used MRIs to study this and this was at the University of Texas that they did this study. And it’s even more pronounced in younger individuals, people whose gray matter may not have completely formed, people who are still growing from a neural standpoint…
Rachel: Mmm-hmm. Yup.
Ben: …this is why you should rip that bag of weed out of your teenager’s hands, right away.
Ben: But ultimately, marijuana can cause damage to the brain and particularly it’s the interaction with the CB1 and the CB2 receptors that can cause these issues. And…
Rachel: So when you say ‘use it a lot’, so that’s 3 times a day for how long? What kind of period of time?
Ben: Hmm. Yeah, the study says chronic marijuana use is about 6 to 8 years it would appear.
Ben: That 6 to 8 years of chronic use of marijuana which you know, a lot of people like ‘heh’ and you know, don’t use marijuana 6 to 8 times a year but ultimately, whenever I see studies like this, I’m careful, right? Because it’s like ‘what if they would’ve studied people who use it for a year, once a day? right?
Rachel: Right. Hmmm.
Ben: So, this study gives me pause – and this is why you know, like I mentioned earlier in the show notes, talking about relaxing at night, this is why I’m trying to progress even more towards using CBD than THC just because CBD which is cannabidiol, that’s the legal form…
Ben: …it’s derived from organic hemp, it’s legal in almost every country, all 50 states. And it interacts with your endocannabinoid system which is the same system that THC from marijuana interacts with, but it doesn’t interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors which can in long term it appears, cause some damage to the gray matter in the brain. But it can do everything from like decreased symptoms of colitis and irritable bowel syndrome to causing a release of Adenosine, very similar to what you want of you were to like go to sleep if you take in higher amounts; it acts like a smart drug in lower amounts and even counteracts a lot of the effects of THC. It somehow blocks the ability of THC to cause some of the psychoactive effects that indicate interaction with some of these receptors in the brain. And so if you use CBD even at the same time as you use THC, you might be able to reverse some of this…
Ben: …some of this damage. Yeah, and the interesting thing I think about this, is that there is a post on the Huffington Post and this appeared several weeks ago. But the Director for the National Institute on Drug Abuse wrote an article in the Huffington Post called “The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes”, cannabidiol is CBD, and I thought that this article is interesting. I don’t know if you know this, but the government holds a patent on the use of CBD to manage medical conditions.
Rachel: Interesting. Did not know that.
Ben: The U.S. government holds a patent on it and what this study goes into and what I think you know, I’m being a little conspiracy theorist now…
Ben: …but the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse is someone who’s basically you know, on favor for the government pens a big article on Huffington Post about the beneficial effects of CBD on a variety of different medical conditions particularly neural conditions like seizure and epilepsy, and also for kids who have untreatable conditions. And the article itself which I’ll link to in the show notes, it goes over how GW Pharmaceuticals is now developing a pharmaceutical drug that is basically CBD, they’re gonna patent it and they’re gonna sell it on ungodly prices which is dumb ‘cause you can get it from just like organic hemp of plants for not as much as you were or insurance is gonna pay for the CBD from this pharmaceutical company.
Ben: But I think it’s quite interesting that this stuff seems to be taken the world by storm in terms of people recognizing its effects and it’s ability not just combat some of the issues with THC but it’s ability to recreate some of the effects that marijuana has without destroying the gray matter in your brain.
Ben: Like thumb sucking, stupid, short-term memory loss stricken individual. (chuckles)
Rachel: Uh-huh. Yeah.
Ben: But and I know you’ll like this Rachel, because this is the last thing that I wanted to get into.
Rachel: But wait, there’s more (chuckles).
Ben: There’s something else that can rebuild the gray matter in your brain within 8 weeks.
Rachel: Meditation. Bam!
Ben: Meditation, you got it.
Ben: Mindfulness meditation. So the Harvard University did a study in which they investigated using MRIs, this very same MRIs that they used to study the effects of marijuana shrinking gray matter in the brain, they investigated meditation and the effects of meditation, 8 weeks of meditation on gray matter in the brain.
In this case, participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day doing mindfulness based meditation. They experienced a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that is associated with self-awareness and compassion and introspection. And interestingly, they also saw a slight decrease in gray matter in the amygdala which is the area of the brain responsible for creating anxiety and stress. Yeah. So although they could’ve changed this headline, they could’ve said, ‘8 weeks of Meditation shrinks your brain, because technically they lost gray matter in their amygdala and they gained gray matter in the hippocampus’.
Rachel: (laughs) And the meditation is free. It does the same similar things as CBD and it’s free.
Ben: Yes, yes. Although I like to combine the two, personally, ‘cause CBD has other effects in like your gut…
Ben: …in gut inflammation, stuff like that. But ultimately, what you’ve learned so far in today’s podcast and we aren’t even into the Q & A yet, is don’t drink alcohol, don’t drink caffeine, oh, all the Mormons listening are gonna be really happy – Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, etc., we’re gonna gain a lot of listeners. Don’t do drugs, take CBD…
Ben/Rachel: and meditate.
Rachel: That was a really good ‘Uhmm’, Ben (chuckles).
Ben: Thank you. Appreciate that.
Ben: So Rachel, a few months ago you told me I had to look at this person named Kim Anami who lifts…
Rachel: That’s right.
Ben: …coconuts and kettle bells with her vagina and…
Rachel: Well, it was after you did that penis gym one, I was like ‘come on, the ladies need something, too, right?’
Ben: Yeah, ‘cause I was using this penis gym – this device that you attach to your penis, like a small – it’s a round, I think it’s less than a pound, that you attach and you do like weight lifting exercises with…
Ben: …to increase the strength of you know, things like erections and decreasing continence and all these cool stuff. Anyways though, so all the ladies were upset including Rachel…
Ben: …that they do not have a penis magnet, so I got Kim on the show and it – if you didn’t tune in to the weekend episode with Kim, I think it’s a must listen if you are someone who has sex or plans on having sex.
Rachel: Right. And it’s not just for ladies, either, she talks a lot about men.
Ben: Exactly, I got a ton out of it. I’ve been practicing that breathing exercise (inhales) when I’m engaged in intimacy…
Rachel: (makes sounds)
Ben: and it’s – why do you make a sound like that?
Rachel: ‘Cause you’re making me blush (laughs). You can’t see me – making me blush (laughs).
Ben: It sound like a ‘U’ sound…
Rachel: It is.
Ben: Like a dirty old man talking about sex. Anyways though, the stuff that she talks about works, so if you didn’t get the chance to go to iTunes or the website or whatever to listen in, go listen to the episode with Kim. It’s not one for the office, it’s not one for the minivan with the kids, but it’s a good episode, so. Few other things, the Fat Loss Summit is just about to begin, I just published a really cool info graphic called “7 Fat Loss Lies” on bengreenfieldfitness.com, and it is all in preparation for this big new summit. So a lot of the summits suck and there’s just full of bunch of information that you could get for free at other places but this one is actually pretty cool. It’s got a bunch of talks like ‘how to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling’, ‘a Russian and mixed martial art training principles to speed fat loss’, ‘how to gamify your workouts to burn more fat in less time’, ‘a gut plan to go from being a sugar burner to a fat burner’, ‘how to tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster’ and I’m even in the summit. I did a big thing on like different strategies for using the cold to lose weight.
Ben: Anyways, you can get it now. It’s one of those things, it’s one of those summit, so it’s like free to watch live and then you pay for it to access the downloads. What I do is I typically will pay, I’ll get the downloads, and then I’ll use like a YouTube converter to convert the video into audio and then I’ll just listen to the whole summit while I’m riding my bike or doing my training or whatever.
Ben: It’s with 2 m’s and 1 t – s-u-m-m-i-t, Fat Loss Summit, so check that out, and I got a few sponsor shout outs as well. So first of all, this podcast is brought to you by Audible.
Do you listen to audio books well, Rachel?
Rachel: I do, yeah. Uhmm, I love Audible.
Ben: What was your favorite recent audio book that you listen to aside from my book, “Beyond Training”.
Rachel: “Beyond Training”, I actually do listen to “Beyond Training” on it. It’s great. I have the hard copy as well but I find listening a lot easier, and you can listen everywhere, driving, on that kind of stuff, so. “Beyond Training”. My fave.
Ben: Okay, “Beyond Training”, so you’re gonna recommend my book. Thanks for…
Rachel: Oh yeah. It’s a good book.
Ben: So, here’s my book that I recommend: One that I just read that was fantastic. It’s about the neuro-biology of water and why we as humans have such a draw to water, and why particular people have an even greater draw to water like me, like I have to be near water. Water makes me happy. I have to get in every week. And if I’m not near river or lake or a pool, it’s not – I don’t feel complete. So this book is called “Blue Mind”, this surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.
Rachel: Yeah. I am actually come from a surf town, and there are so many people who would not leave ever just because they can’t not be near the ocean.
Ben: Yeah. That is why I actually – when I moved out into the forest from being beside the river, I actually paid out the wazoo to have a crane drop at 19 foot endless pool into a giant concrete pit behind my house so that I will have access to water.
Rachel: Ohh! Gosh.
Ben: We also want to get bees and eventually make a man-made you know, like pond for the animals but anyways, I have to be near water. This book was amazing, so check it out. If you go to audiblepodcast.com/ben, that’s audiblepodcast.com/ben, you can get that or any other book you want for free. You get your first book free when you join Audible following that link, so check it out, we’ll put the link to that in the show notes as well if you can’t remember all these linkages. Another thing is Texas Superfood, so these are capsules, I actually had some this morning – you can check them out at texassuperfood.com. What they are is they’re like one of these super food capsules and you can also get it in a powder or what they call a stick pack which is like this little travel pack that you can take with you on the go. The cool thing is it doesn’t just have 55 different raw, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables extracts in it, but it also got a.) probiotics and b.) digestive enzymes, so you kinda kill a lot of birds with one stone when you take it. This is one of those things that you should take with food, because it’ll be better absorbed if you take it with food. But 6 capsules allows you to pretty much mega dose on nutrients without having the pounds and pounds of whatever, spinach or…
Rachel: Super handy!
Ben: …broccoli or liver pate or whatever your nutrient dense food of choice is, instead you can just take Texas Superfood. So check it out, texassuperfood.com, I think it’s called that ‘cause it’s made in Texas and you use promo code ‘ben’, use promo code ‘ben’ at check out, you get 10% off your first order from Texas Superfood, people and then finally, Onnit. So, onnit.com is where you can – actually, it’s onnit.com/bengreenfield, onnit.com/bengreenfield is the actual URL. When you go to onnit.com/bengreenfield that automatically does something magical to your computer…
Ben: It allows you to save 10% off of pretty much anything on their website, either kettle bells, their club bells. So I am going to race and we’ll talk about this in a second, I’m gonna race World’s Toughest Mudder on November 14th. I’m gonna use a combination of liquids – so I’m using a combination of liquids and solids. The solids that I’m using are these bar that you can get from Onnit called the oat mega bar, and they have this chocolate mint crisp oat mega bar that I’m addicted to. And I’m just gonna eat one of those after every 5 mile loop of the World’s Toughest Mudder course.
Ben: So basically, if I’m doing – you know my goal is to at least get 75 miles plus, so I’ll be taking about 25 or so of those bars down, oh not 25, 15…
Rachel: Click now click (laughs).
Ben: …15, 20 or so. Exactly, podcast Math in the fly, obviously I’m good at that. So anyways, visit onnit.com/bengreenfield and those bars are called the oat mega bars, chocolate mint – just try, like even just order like one – they’re really good.
Rachel: Sounds yummy.
Ben: Those are, yeah. And the other thing that I wanted to give a little bit more insight ‘cause people always ask me what I use during these 24-hour events.
Rachel: Yeah, yeah. Right.
Ben: The liquid that I’m using is – I’m using this thing called the Natty Stack. It’s made by this company called NaturalForce and its 3 different things: it is a chia seed blend called iskiate, it is a raw tea blend that’s got a bunch of different wakefulness-based compounds in it and along with beet juice for basal dilation.
And then it’s got aminos and electrolytes in it from coconut, so 3 different things come in this Natty Stack: this Recovery Nectar which is the coconut stuff, Iskiate Endurance which is the chia seed stuff, and then Raw Tea which is the beet juice stuff. So, in addition to the bars for each leap of the course, I’m gonna drink 1 bottle of this Natty Stack. So I told them I was gonna use it for World’s Toughest Mudder, they shoves off over discounts, so discount code ‘ben10’. If you want to try the Natty Stack, you could just go to the URL that we have there in the show notes…
Ben: And use code ‘ben10’, get yourself the Natty Stack.
Rachel: Hookin’ em up!
Ben: Yeah, we got a bunch of hook ups: we got Onnit discounts, Audible discounts, Texas Superfood discounts; we’ll put links to all these stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/337, so enjoy all that goodness.
Listener Q & A:
Matthew: Hey Ben, my name is Matthew. After a good cry, I will feel really good. Are there any physiological benefits to crying?
Rachel: So, that is a really fascinating question, Ben, because I must admit, after a good cry, I feel a lot more resilient. I’m like ready to go and I wonder what have you got to say about this?
Ben: Do you cry a lot?
Rachel: I love crying, for sure.
Rachel: It’s weird. It’s a weird relationship I have with it, but it always makes me feel better.
Ben: Do you know how much people cry? ‘Cause I looked into this.
Rachel: Oooh, how much?
Ben: 10 ounces of tears per day. Like a lot of times we didn’t even know, like they it didn’t have to be crying like you can just produce tears – they’re called like reflex tears and basal tears and while you…
Ben: produces them, you keep your eyes…
Rachel: Eyes wet.
Ben: …wet and moist but we produce about 30 gallons a year of tears.
Rachel: That’s crazy!
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Is that crazy?
Rachel: Yes! So what’s the deal?
Ben: So crying does a lot of cool things that you probably would not expect. So when you produce tears, they help the body to get rid of specific adrenal compounds called – once called a prolactin, another one is the adrenalcorticotropic hormones, like adrenaline for example and then also, another endorphins called lucin and tefillin.
Ben: When you cry, you find all those substances in your tears…
Rachel: Oh my gosh.
Ben: And when that happens, you actually get a decrease in cortisol and opioid like pain-killing effect. So crying actually helps to kill pain and in addition to that, you can actually in the similar way that you lose some toxins, right? Some metals, some phytoestrogens and stuff like that through your skin, and then through your urine and then a big part of those through your stool, you actually lose some of these same toxins through your tears.
Ben: We should write a book called ‘The Tear Detox’.
Rachel: Oh my gosh, can we? Please?
Ben: ‘The Crying Diet’.
Rachel: I’ll do the case study ‘cause I cry so much.
Ben: Yeah and even the not only when you cry, just like watch a sad movie or plucks a nose hair or something…
Ben: Oh okay, this is our next idea, stay tuned.
Rachel: Well, another question would be – do you get the same benefits from crying that’s like not an emotional crying versus crying from like plucking your nose hair, is it the same thing?
Ben: I doubt it, because I would imagine that if you’re crying when you’re stressed, you’re going to release those chemicals more readily than if you’re crying just to whatever, to keep your eyes moist.
Rachel: Right, right, right.
Ben: So, yeah, that’s a great question but I’m honestly not sure. There was a study – a study was done, forget where this one was done – but basically it was a psychiatry study. It was at the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center, and this is the one that found that you could detox through the tears and you could also get rid of these chemicals that raise cortisol when you cry.
Ben: So there’s that. That’s one thing. Crying can also kill bacteria, tears contain lysozyme, lysozyme – you’ll also find lysozyme in breast milk, you find it in semen, you find it in mucus, you find it in saliva and it can kill 90 to 95% of any bacterial strain in about 5 to 10 minutes. They did a study on this in the journal Food Microbiology in which they studies tears and they found that tears actually have enough anti-microbial effect that they can even protect against contamination from Anthrax.
Rachel: Oh my god, that’s insane!
Ben: Tears can kill Anthrax, so the way that lysozyme work is they destroy bacterial cell walls, so – and I guess what this would mean like, if you were to drink tears, maybe you would like kill off some of the good bacteria in your gut. So I would recommend, I would recommend the hardest thing and drinking your tears or maybe like licking your tears off of someone’s face as they cry. So you try to condole them.
Rachel: Uh-huh (chuckles).
Ben: Just ‘cause I know some of our listeners are face-lickers.
Ben: But basically, the idea behind tears, I don’t know why, I don’t know why they will come in useful – I could see why having anti-bacterial properties in like milk, or even for reasons I don’t get into the show, semen…
Ben: ..would be beneficial to some extent, but I’m not quite sure why tears would have anti-bacterial powers. It’s kinda interesting. But if you’re concern about food poisoning, you could for example, cry on your food…
Ben: …before you eat it. So there’s that.
Rachel: Oh god.
Ben: Okay, so like we mentioned, tears can moisten the eyes but tears are produced by something called the lacrimal gland among other glands. And what made by that gland, it can clear up your vision by lubricating your eyeballs and your eyelids and when your membranes in your eyes get dehydrated, that can make eyesight a little bit blurry. But when you cry, it’s almost like a – it’s like a detox for your eyes, right? It keeps them moist but then it washes away dusts, it washes away debris you know, that’s why sometimes you get a little teary eyed if you, you know if I like went out for a bike ride…
Ben: and I’m not wearing glasses and went flying down the hill, I’ll have to cry afterwards. But crying prevents the dehydration of those surfaces but then it also prevents dehydration of some of the mucus membranes in the eyes. So basically, if you finish up a hard day of working on the computer or riding a bike without sunglasses on, just have a good cry.
Ben: It makes all those stuff go away. I would suspect that that effect of tears is part of the effect made by those natural-like subconscious tears that we just released during the day…
Ben: You know, those 10 ounces or so that everybody releases during the day.
Ben: I’m guessing, so.
Rachel: And so… is that all you have on tears?
Rachel: Oh gosh. There’s more!
Ben: But wait, there’s more!
Ben: So tears can actually – they’ve done a study on anti-depressants and tears and this was the study of the University of South Florida. They found that crying elevates mood better than any anti-depressant that they tested.
Ben: And what they found was that 90% of criers actually felt better than any anti-depressant that they’ve ever been on after a cry. I’m not totally sure how they conducted this study if it was actually questionnaires or like profile of mood sticks…
Rachel: Right. Right, right, right.
Ben: …scores or something but there’s some effects of crying against depression. So, there’s that as well. And there’s a couple of other things, crying is actually a way that we show emotions and that we communicate so we can you know – now we’re gonna get totally woo-woo, right?
Rachel: It’s alright.
Ben: But when you are communicating with someone and you show emotion, like anger or tears you know, punching the wall…
Rachel: Right, yeah.
Ben: …or sitting quietly with your hands folded – all of these things send messages and crying send a very powerful – it was like an evolution or ancestral based message when you’re communicating with someone else. If you are emotionally distressed, it acknowledges that you’re in touch with your emotions but it’s a very, very good way – some extremely clear signal to someone that they need to pay attention to you.
Ben: And humans are hard-wired to pay attention to people who are legitimately crying.
Ben: So there’s that, too. It’s just it’s a way to get what you want.
Rachel: That’s horrible (laughs)
Ben: So yes, that’s the deal with crying. What were you gonna say?
Rachel: I was gonna say, did you find a lot of research on it?
Ben: A lot of research on crying, I did. I found that study in the Food Microbiology journal and then the National Eye Institute who had the study on the moistness and how much we actually cry. And there was a study from the University of South Florida that looked into the anti-depressant effects and finally for the detoxification study by the Psychiatry Research Laboratories, the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center that who looks into the detoxification effects, so yeah.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s interesting ‘cause you don’t hear too much about it but I guess the takeaway is: you should cry more!
Ben: That’s right. Matthew, start crying.
Rachel: Mmm-hmm. Good.
Ben: Pluck some nose hairs, watch a sad movie.
Ben: What is the – before we move on to the next question, what would you say like if you were to cry right away, what movie will make you cry?
Rachel: Oooh, I hate to be this person ‘cause I’m not a super lovey-dovey person, but ‘The Notebook’. Yeah, brings real tears for sure.
Ben: ‘The Notebook’. Is that with Ryan Gosling?
Rachel: And it’s a love story. (chuckles) I hate myself a little bit for it, but.
Ben: I think I’ve seen that one.
Rachel: Yup, what about you?
Ben: I can’t tell you the last movie I cried, darling.
Rachel: Oh, come on!
Ben: I really can’t even remember a single movie that I cried during.
Rachel: So you’re not moved by movies?
Ben: Probably like back when I was a little kid, and I was a little more moved by movies or will watch more movies. I watch like one movie every couple of months now, like I’m not just a movie guy. Maybe like ‘Hoosiers’ where they win the basketball game?
Rachel: Again, before my time (laughs)?
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Rachel: Oh your jokes are lost on me, I’m sorry! (laughs)
Ben: That made me feel old, the laugh went by making disgusting noises when I talk about sex, offending my old school basketball and when was the last one?
Rachel: What are your boys cry about? Tell me that. Do they crybabies?
Ben: My boys?
Ben: Actually, one of my boys is crying the other day, and then I promised to our listeners will stop joining on.
Ben: He was crying because I’m having my kids do – oh gosh, might get nasty letters, comments from listeners now – I’m having my kids get really cold – that was a few times a week now. And it’s like winter – almost winter here and it’s getting colder, so I’m having them go out to the cold pool before school and jump in the cold pool and stay in there, and I refilled the cold pool and they didn’t know it, so it was really cold.
Ben: Like from the deep in the well, like just barely above freezing like low 40s probably, and they were used to like upper 50s and one of them just like jumps in there and his head pops up from the pool and he’s just like (gasping sound), he had some tears for a while. But I taught him how to do like the Wim Hoff’s style breathing…
Rachel: Breathing. Mmm-hmm.
Ben: I got him to do the inhale (inhales) and then don’t exhales as quite as much (exhales) and inhale and exhale as quite as much and I calm – I wouldn’t let him get out and I got in with him you know.
Ben: And I would not get out until I like calmed them down…
Ben: it was pretty cold though, but…
Ben: there was some shrinkage going on.
Seth: Hi Ben, loved the show. Just have a quick question on gallstones. I recently got diagnosed with them; looks like the natural remedies don’t really work. I wanted to get your input, see if there’s anything that I should do other than surgery or if that’s my only option? Thanks!
Rachel: I have never had gallstones but I hear that pretty painful.
Ben: Yeah, a lot of people do have to get a surgery for them. So they’re like this tiny little – they’re literally like stones – they’re mineral deposits. And you can get one really big one, or you can get a hundred small ones, or you can get some big ones, and some small ones but they just like hardened pebble like deposits in your gallbladder. And there’s certain things that put you a higher risk for them. Like if you’re female, you’re a higher risk, if you’re overweight, you’re a higher risk, family history, or being over 50, being on birth control pills can increase your risk of them. Being on hormone replacement therapy, a lot of those things can increase your risk for gall stones. There’s some dietary factors as well, and I’ll talk about those in a second, but basically they’re just from cholesterol and then something called bilirubin. And bilirubin is just a waste product that which are found in bile. Bile is a liquid that helps your body to digest fats. So bile is made in your liver and it get stored in your gallbladder and what happens is that when you get excess cholesterol and excess bilirubin, you get hardening into this gall stones. It’s just basically hardened cholesterol with a little bit of bilirubin and then it will eventually block the duct that carries bile from your liver to your small intestine. And when that happens it gets really painful. It just having a blockage in a tube inside your body. When you get a blockage in a tube of your body, usually doesn’t like that. And so, it gets painful, it gets inflamed, you can get your pancreas inflamed, sometimes stone fragments will just pass through the bile duct of the gallbladder but that’s pretty rare. And so, the good news is, you don’t necessarily have to get surgery when you have gallbladder issues. So, when we talk about just basic, big picture preventive issues, when it comes to gallbladder, a lot of people will say that a high fat diet because of all the cholesterol causes gall stones. That is a false perception.
Ben: Let’s bust that myth.
Rachel: Alright. Let’s do it.
Ben: So, that’s actually not true. So, the idea here is fats are not soluble in water, and so before you can digest digestary fat, you have to do what’s called a mulsification – you have to emulsify the fat. And that’s what bile does. Bile emulsifies fat so you can actually digest it. So, the liver makes the bile like I mentioned, it will store in the gallbladder until that bile is needed. But if you don’t eat much fat, your liver is still going to create bile but that bile will remain in the gallbladder, and gall stones can get formed when you aren’t emptying bile from your gallbladder on a regular basis. So if you’re eating a very, very low fat diet or you have a family history of gall stones, you decide you’re gonna switch to a low fat diet, that such not a good idea. They did a trial at a few different American university hospitals and they found that the lower the fat intake, and in this case it was after about eight weeks of low fat dieting,
what they found was that subjects who had gallbladder disease, a quarter of them developed gall stones after 8 weeks of this low-fat dieting. And when they were fed with a high fat diet, they did not develop that. So yeah, the idea is you need to somehow stimulate bio-release of cutting in out fat completely from your diet is not a good idea when it comes to pre-existing gallbladder disease or when it comes to getting rid of gall stones. So switching to a low fat diet – I heard a lot of people say that – that’s not necessarily the best thing. The other interesting thing from a lifestyle standpoint is skipping breakfast. Skipping breakfast may also increase your risk of gallstones. This was a study in France and they found that French women and particularly French women with gallstones, if they fasted on average for two hours longer overnight, they want of having increase risk of gallstones vs. people who didn’t skip breakfast and instead ate when they got up in the morning. There’s something about the bio-release that happens when you have like a well-time morning meal, that helps with gallstone prevention. So…
Rachel: Interesting. And so, what you’re talking about the natural remedies don’t work?
Ben: Okay. So, the idea here is that there are some things that may help a little bit with reducing gallstone formation, but a lot of them are particularly efficacious. So, for example, curcumin is one. Curcumin actually is something that is good to take with a meal whether sprinkling a bunch of turmeric on your salad, or even using like a curcumin capsule, and what they found is that about 300 mg or so of curcumin increases what’s called the solubility of your bile. We’ll talk later on on this podcast about forms of curcumin and how most curcumin really doesn’t get absorb at all, and so kinda depends on the source of that 300 mg, but curcumin may help out in this case.
Ben: Another study that they did was with vitamin C. Not high, high dose vitamin C but about 200 mg a day. So nothing super out of the ordinary, and they found that in women who took vitamin C, they found that they were half as likely to develop gallstones as those with lower intake of vitamin C. So, that’s another one is vitamin C in addition to curcumin. There’s also something called bile extract. You can actually take a bile supplement and a bile supplement may actually jumpstart the production of your own bile formation and a lot of these bile acid pills are typically something that comes along with a digestive enzyme. So for example, Thorne makes a digestive enzyme that has, and this is the one that I use. It’s got ox bile extract in it. It sounds just nasty.
Rachel: Hmm, great. Bile out!
Ben: You know how many baby oxen died to make ox bile extract.
Rachel: Oh! So, you make me cry.
Ben: I don’t think they actually killed…
Rachel: I’ll detox this.
Ben: I don’t think they killed baby oxen. I’m not pretty sure. It’s – It’s…
Rachel: They’re adults for sure.
Ben: …it’s not safe. Yeah. Anyways though, taking bile acids may not only help to prevent the onset of gallstones but it may help to dissolve and breakdown gallstones. So, bile acid supplementation maybe an alternative to surgery.
Rachel: So when you say they don’t work that well, what kind of like percentage are you talking here. Like is it worth looking into, worth trying?
Ben: Curcumin and vitamin C are more preventive measures that are just good overall lifestyle practices whether it’s using turmeric, and eating lots of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits. You know, I never like to say fruits and vegetables because I’m a fan of eating about 10 times as many vegetables as fruits. But getting good natural sources of vitamin C or there’s like – there’s a 1 cup in a mix of very absorbable form of vitamin C that doesn’t cause stomach distress even in high doses. The company is called American Nutriceuticals. You should be able to find it on Amazon, we’ll put a link in the show notes but that one you can take vitamin C even in higher amounts without creating a lot of digestive distress. But those are more preventive but with bile treatments, what they found is that about two-thirds of people who take bile acid pills and that’s found in form called ursodeoxycholic acid or ursodiol – this would be very similar like ox bile extract that you can be symptom-free within 2-3 months, but they found that even in those studies it may take several years for these stones to completely disappear.
Rachel: That symptom-free in 2-3 months is still pretty good, right?
Ben: Symptom-free but that means you may still have some of the gallstones like it may come back or whatever or take a matter of…
Rachel: Okay, yup.
Ben: Now, cholecystectomy is what you normally do. That’s a surgery that removes the gallbladder. It’s one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the US. I’m not a fan of removing the gall bladder ‘cause once you remove it and you don’t produce bile, you can get loose stools, gas exploding, fat malabsorption, really, really rough day if you have a big steak or something like that.
You know, or too much nut butter. So, I’m not a fan of that type of surgery.
Rachel: So what do you recommend?
Ben: Well, there’s another treatment called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.
Rachel: That sounds interesting!
Ben: ESWL, so there’s not that many places that offer this but it use a shock wave to break gallstones into smaller fragments with and then get dissolved if you take an oral bile acid pill. So you combine this ESWL therapy with the use of bile acid supplementation. And apparently, yeah, I’ve haven’t personally gotten it but from what I’ve read up on ESWL, it’s uncomfortable, it’s a somewhat painful procedure. It usually take a sedative to remove some of the discomfort, and you make it some biliary pain as those broken stones fragments pass through the bile duct. Biliary pain meaning up around like that right upper quadrant where your liver is like you can be make it some pain in there as you pass the stones. But they’ve done some studies on it. They’ve shown everything from successful treatment with 90-100% of people in one stone and with multiple stones, up to 67% of people. And so, I mean like if it were me, I would do that before taking on organ of my body.
Rachel: Definitely right.
Ben: Like that’s what I would look in to do. So, yeah it’s called ESWL. So that’s one that I would look into. You’re gonna have to probably, I mean, the way that I would start with the procedure like that is I would google ESWL plus the name of your city, start to look into who’s doing it particularly with procedures like that who’s doing a lot of them.
Rachel: Right, yup.
Ben: But that’s where I would start. You can use curcumin, you could use vitamin C, you can use like a good digestive enzyme with bile acids, if that’s not working you try this ESWL. Last ditch would be getting your gallbladder removed or even don’t skip breakfast and don’t eat a little fat diet.
Rachel: Is it performed by a doctor, the ESWL?
Ben: Yes, yes, you would get those at like a health center or I would guess that it be like a gastric disease type of facility, so, or gastroenterologist. So, you just have to find someone who could do it. If you’re a listener and you’re listening in, and you have a friend who does ESWL out of their basement or preferably a hospital, please leave a comment and direct our dear listeners Seth to someone who can do ESWL in such area, I don’t know where Set lives but either way leave a comment if you have experienced with ESWL, and we’ll help Seth out.
Zach: Hey Ben, it’s Zach here. I heard about turmeric and curcumin from you and the community. I would like a definitive low down on it. I’m an ultra-endurance runner and general health minded guy who wants to recover faster and upregulate my fat conversion. Should I buy bulk turmeric powder or turmeric extract supplements or curcumin extract supplements, and of those with or without piperine or black pepper? Is the 95% curcuminoid label also play a large factor in that decision? Further, what should the dosage be for me as a hard-charging athlete and when should it be taken as I usually subscribed to a fast and morning workout? Thanks a lot for all you do. Bye.
Rachel: I would like a definitive low down from this as well.
Ben: Yeah, ‘cause curcumin – I use curcumin almost every… I also use turmeric almost everyday. Like…
Rachel: Hmm, and this is a question we get all the time.
Ben: From salad, I use turmeric and black pepper, I take curcumin in supplement form, I take turmeric too in supplement form. I mean, I’m a huge fan, I’m a turmeric junky. So, here’s the idea – turmeric, so turmeric is well-known as a culinary spice and it’s been used traditionally like ayurvedic medicine, and in India as a disinfectant, as a treatment for things like bronchitis, laryngitis, and it comes from the underground stems are called rhizomes of a plant called “curcuma longa” which is actually a member of the ginger family. So, it’s interest—ginger is very anti-inflammatory. It has a lot of really good anti-oxidant properties, and of course, so does turmeric. So it gives like the yellow color to Indian curry, and you know mustard, and anything that’s yellow, a lot of times it’s been flavored with turmeric. Don’t spill it on the couch. My wife probably (curse word) one night when I hit curry on the couch and we never did get those turmeric stains removed.
Ben: So, careful with it. It does stain. Now, in terms of turmeric and curcumin, both have quite a bit of really good research behind them. So, turmeric has been shown to work just as well as a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen for knee arthritis and knee pain.
There was a study that they did back in 2009, they’ve shown that curcumin acts to have experts similar to like a weak phyto estrogen, and what that means – it can have some very good cancer productive effects. It can induce program cell death of colon cancer cells which is very interesting because we talked about last week about how red meat can cause cancer in colonic inflammation potentially especially processed red meat, but – you know, and we talked about marinades and spices, and curcumin it turns out – if you are eating a lot of bacon maybe something that you should include as a staple in your diet. Curcumin has also been shown to suppress micro-inflammation in the GI tract that’s associated with inflammatory bowel disease and there are a host of other studies that have been done on curcumin, but it’s most promising research looks like decrease in triglycerides, decrease in inflammation, decrease in pain related to like joint pain and arthritis, it’s got very strong antioxidant activity, can decrease HSCRP which is an inflammatory compound, can increase HDL, decreasing triglycerides, and those are the biggies. Then there’s some less, less well conducted studies or studies that show minor facts in terms of for example, a staving off cognitive decline, decreasing damage to DNA, increasing insulin sensitivity, increasing intestinal motility which is your ability to kinda move things in the digestive tract, decreasing blood glucose, and increasing vascular function. There’s a lot of really interesting studies on curcumin.
Rachel: So why is it not like a super food?
Ben: You mean, why isn’t it in Time Magazine listed as (crosstalk)
Rachel: Why hasn’t it been marketed as a stupid fruit, Ben?
Ben: Honestly? ‘Cause of knowing Western palate, it doesn’t taste as good as blueberries.
Ben: Might it be piggeries and isn’t taste as good as blueberries and kale smoothies. So anyways, the idea behind turmeric or the difference between turmeric and curcumin is pretty significant. So, I’ll get into some of the differences here. The idea is that turmeric is relatively well absorbed if you take it in food form but only in very, very small amounts. You have to take a lot of turmeric to get all of the curcuminoids that you’ll get in the isolated curcumin that they extract from turmeric.
Rachel: How much is a lot?
Ben: You’d have to take about 400-600 mg of turmeric, about 3 times a day to get adequate absorption. That’s a lot of turmeric and even then it’s not very well absorbed unless you mix it with something called bioperine or black pepper extract. Now granted I put turmeric and black pepper on my lunch-time salad but I’m well aware that’ll dump nearly the entire spice bottle of turmeric on my salad to get what I’d get from far less levels of curcumin. So curcumin is like a very. very concentrated form of turmeric. When it comes to curcumin though, curcumin is also not very well absorbed at all unless it’s pared again with black pepper or piperine. When I say black pepper, I don’t mean you’re gonna like swallow a bunch of curcumin capsules and then like grinded pepper grinder into your mouth. They sell bioperine supplements, okay? Go to like Amazon and you can buy bioperine or black pepper and some curcumin supplements. Ah, there’s one for example, I know there’s one called (what’s it called) Extreme Endurance, I think they make like a recovery capsule that’s got some curcumin, some black pepper in it, I believe.
Rachel: Is it like 50-50 unit of each?
Ben: I don’t know what the ratios are. I could look into it. I don’t know the ratios though, it’s at the top of my head in terms of how much curcumin, how much black pepper.
Ben: I would imagine, there’s really good website called Examine at examine.com. I’ve talked about how I subscribed to various research journals and examine is one of the ones that I subscribed to and they probably have a little bit of information on that website. If you go to examine.com, you could probably find out about how much black pepper you need to take to make curcumin or turmeric absorbable but generally this black peppers capsules coming like a capsule form that you take. So you don’t like chew on on black pepper.
Rachel: Uhmm, I hate taking tablets. So, I go to try do the black pepper thing.
Ben: But there’s another work around here, and this is what I do… phytosomes. So, phytosomes are plant extracts like turmeric that are bound to what’s called phosphatidylcholine. Now, your bodies can make phosphatidylcholine and you can also get it from food, or you can get it from supplements, and phosphatidylcholine is extremely well absorbed. Very well absorbed.
And so, what they’ve figured out how to do, and this actually made in India, I believe. This form of curcumin called Meriva – m-e-r-i-v-a. When you attach a curcumin to phosphatidylcholine. what happens is you get almost instant absorption and bioaviability vs. most curcumin that you’d take without it being attach to this unless you accompany it with black pepper, that curcumin is not going to be absorbed at all. Now, what they’ve demonstrated in human studies is 29-30 times greater bioavailability when you combine curcumin, when you attach it to one of these phosphatidylcholine molecules. And the resulting compound is called the curcumin phytosome, curcumin phytosome. Now what this company Meriva does is – this is the type of company that sells it’s curcumin to other like vitamin and supplement companies. So, if your vitamin, or your multi or your supplement or anything that you’re taking for curcumin, if you look at the label and it says Meriva on it, or you look at the label and it says curcumin phytosome on it, that means that it’s that absorbable form of curcumin, and you don’t have to take anything else along with it to get all of the benefits of curcumin. So, the one that I take is made by Thorne, and then it’s just curcumin phytosome. It’s about 1,000 mg and a serving of that and I’ll take 1-2 servings on any day were I’ve had like hard and heavy exercise. I’ve also taken those capsules and broken them into morning tea or morning coffee because of the neuro protective effect that you can get from curcumin as well. So, I’m a much bigger fan of curcumin than I am of turmeric although the one exception to this is that turmeric in most studies has shown greater efficacy for arthritis than curcumin. I’m not quite sure why but apparently there are some pain-fighting components of turmeric that aren’t in curcumin. So, if you have something like let’s say knee-osteoarthritis or elbow arthritis, you may benefit more from using turmeric and the source of turmeric that I use when I’m injured is this stuff called Nature Flex which is turmeric mixed with tart cherry, ginger, bunch of other anti-inflammatory compounds – glucosamine, chondroitin. It’s like a joint-support formula. I only take it if I’m injured but it’s because turmeric may have greater efficacy for arthritis or like injury like issues whereas curcumin is probably better as like a daily tonic if that make sense.
Rachel: And Zach says, “Is the 95% curcuminoid label – does that play a factor in making a decision? Does it?
Ben: Nah. Something could have a 100% curcumin and in less black pepper is present or unless it’s bound to phosphatidylcholine, it’s going to be almost completely non-absorbable. So, you really wouldn’t wanna take it unless you actually have it in that form. So, the percentages don’t matter, what matters is the actual form that it comes in, so.
Ben: Yes. We’ll put some links in the show notes with some other resources but the last thing I should mention is that when you’re using curcumin, it appears to go quite well not only with black pepper and/or phosphatidylcholine but also you can get a little bit of a synergistic effect if you also use ginger, and fish oil. So if like joint soreness, pain, stuff like that is an issue for you, that’s a really good stack to use a curcumin or a good absorbable turmeric along with black pepper, along with fish oil, along with ginger, great stack for like joint pain for example.
Rachel: So, there you have it – a definitive low down on turmeric vs. curcumin.
Ben: Yes, now you can go get your curry on!
Jamal: Hi Ben, this is Jamal from Texas, and I own my own group personal training facility where we’ve mostly focused on fat loss and I wanted to know or start incorporating some tracking measurement during or before and after, and wanted to know what you would recommend. I know a lot of people are doing the heart rate thing like ohm's theory, and a couple other people, about what would you personally do if you own around personal training facility and you’re looking to maximize fat loss and using analytics for your clients to track their performance and maybe also use it to – use as a leaderboard measure? Thank you. I always enjoy the podcast.
Ben: Rachel, do you track your own body fat?
Rachel: I don’t but we’ve talked about it in the last podcast and I – by looking at those photos kinda determine what percentage body fat I am.
Ben: Exactly, yeah. We geeked out on body fat in episode 336. So if you get a chance to listen to that, listen in. But we didn’t talk much about like how to measure it, like a little bit about it but as far as like tracking fat loss and measuring fat loss sustainably, I believe what we talked about was skin calipers.
Rachel: We did, yup.
Ben: In the last episode…Yeah, and how I use to do a lot of skin caliper measures. That’s called the pinch method. Real pinch the body fat in 3-7 different areas of the body to approximate the body density which you then feed into a calculation and you get body fat. And there’s a lot of other things in addition to skin calipers that folks will use to calculate body fat like underwater wing. This is one that we use to do a lot, back in the exercise physiology lab when I went to University of Idaho. You’d strip out as much of your clothing as possible, in a giant pool of water, you let out all the air of your lungs – and so it was really uncomfortable test and then you get dunk underwater and you’re body density is calculated from your underwater weight. And then that’s use to calculate your actual body fat percentage.
Ben: It’s like medieval torture combine with body fat measurement.
Rachel: And that sounds kinda intense to do for like a normal person?
Ben: Yeah, it’s called hydrodensitometry, and you can find it in a lot of exercise phys lab and like research phonics, they’ll still use this as a method of measuring body fat, but yeah, it doesn’t work that well for the average person. Most people’s bathtubs aren’t deep enough now.
Rachel: (laughs) Yeah, you’re right!
Ben: There’s also Dexa – the full body scan and these are pretty cool. I got this done when I did – I was part of a study at University of Connecticut where they brought us in and they had me follow a high fat diet for a year, and then run on a treadmill for 3 hours and they measured fat utilization, everything else but they also did body composition and they use a Dexa scan for this. That’s a full body scan that it’s stands for Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry, and it’s a more costly form of measurement, and it’s probably an option if you like to avoid x-ray radiation. However, it will show you your body fat at any different area on your body which is kinda cool. So, you’ll get to see you have – you know, I got fat thighs but I got skinny chest, or whatever.
Rachel: (Chuckles) And are they kinda equally as reliable?
Ben: Nah. Dexa’s pretty – Dexa’s really reliable, underwater wang is very reliable, skin calipers has the person doing them has done a lot of them, that’s also very reliable. There’s also near infrared interactance, that’s called NIR – that’s where they use a fibro optic probe, they hold against your skin and you can get one of this for yourself at home but there’s another thing that is better than that, that I’ll talk about in a second. But that just use as light that gets reflected off your tissues and off your bones back into the detector, and it approximates your body fat based off of how fast the light comes back in. So…
Ben: Yeah, they usually do that on like your biceps. Uhm, bod pod is another one. That’s very similar to like the underwater wang, except you sit inside a small chamber rather than going underwater, and a lot of like gyms and health clubs have that. It’s relatively accurate. And then they have bioelectrical impedance – that’s the cheesy device that you see at health expos, and at the gym like the handles that they have you hold, and it’s not super accurate. However, if you measure at the same state of hydration, at the same time of day, each time that you measure, even though the body fat percentage that it gives you maybe off by 1-5%, it will still give you a consistent reading, so if you’re just using it for tracking purposes and you’re using it consistently at the same time of day, in the same state of hydration, it can be pretty accurate at least for your own personal tracking methods. So…
Rachel: So, what do you recommend for Jamal?
Ben: Here’s what I recommend – here’s I recommend for Jamal and anybody else that’s listening in. There’s two different things that I like – one, and I’ve use both – I own both. One is the withings smart body analyzer. So, this is a scale that you stand on. It’s similar to what I just talked about. It uses impedance to measure your body fat percentage but the cool things is that when you step on the scale, it measures your heart rate, it measures your body fat and it even measures the quality of the indoor air, like it does like see to analysis and measures like at the quality of the air that you’re breathing. And so, it’s kinda cool because you cannot just know what your body fat percentages but also some other things in your environment, so.
Ben: It does continuous checks of carbon dioxide levels in your environment, it calculates your resting heart rate. Let’s say you get on every morning, and you can see where your heart rate is every morning, syncs to your phone so you can keep track of your percentages, and the phone app that comes along with that has a lot of like little like weight loss goal tools, and little like coaching tips…
Rachel: Very cool.
Ben: …and stuff like that. So, that’s the one that I like. It’s called the withings smart body analyzer.
Rachel: Do you use that at home?
Ben: I don’t use it anymore, it’s in my closet somewhere because I quit tracking my body fat just because I found that – but for people – ‘cause my goal, Rachel right now is not fat loss, so I have no reason to be tracking my body fat that intensively.
Ben: The other one though is called the body metrix. This one is pretty cool too. It uses ultrasound and what you do is you get this little handheld body metrix device. I’ll put links to both of these in the show notes.
The withing scale is not super expensive, it’s 100-150 depending where you get it, so it’s expensive for a scale but it’s not that expensive for a body fat measuring device. This other one is close to 500 bucks but what it is is it’s an ultrasound device that you hold up against different areas of your body according to the instructions that come with it and again it’s called the body metrix, and it gives your body composition across your entire body, very similar like this, you know, multi, multi-thousand dollar Dexa scan units except it measures hydration, it measures body fat, measures a bunch of different things, it’s some – it’s the same one, I think Tim Ferriss talks about it in the Four Hour Body Book for example, it’s like a kinda cool little cutting edge method that a lot of biohackers like to use to find out the true fat thickness that every single measurement point. So, if you’re trying to reduce body fat, you could even see which areas of the body would be best to really spot target, and a lot of people think body fat spot reduction doesn’t work. But I’ve written articles before particularly over at quickanddirtytips.com. I’ve got an article about research showing that when you hit a certain part of your body over and over and over again with targeted training to muscle fatigue, you actually experience lipolysis and decrease fat deposition in that area of the body. So, if you find out that your weakness is like fat thighs, you can really step up for example, how many squats and lunges that you’re doing, and decrease body fat in that specific area. So you could combine something like body metrix ultrasound, body composition measurements with targeted body fat reduction, spot reduction. So…
Ben: Yes. Withings or the body metrix are the two ways that I would go, Jamal, and best of luck man, have fun geekin’ out with those.
Billy: Hey guys, I had a question regarding a pre/new area of science and research, it’s going on out there but it seems to be growing pretty quickly in the last few years called NRF2. I know that a lot of the research there is coming out right now is really look at preventative health approaches but also I wanted your feedback on this as a strategy for recovery. I’m a fireman and a father of three, I’m always looking for an edge so any feedback on this, t’will be great. Thanks!
Ben: Strap on your propeller hat, baby.
Rachel: Yeah. I know. I’ll do it. He’s talking about it already.
Ben: Alright, and you have to. My Alludium Q46 explosive space modulator!
Ben: Have you ever watched – you’re gonna make me feel old again. Have you ever watched “Marvin the Martian”?
Rachel: Oh! I did! I did watch “Marvin The Martian”.
Ben: Marvin The Martian, he was pretty cool. He was a villain. He was a cool villain – he was the villain you could laugh at ‘cause he’s always, always hurting himself like Wyly Coyote.
Rachel: Do you feel way less old now?
Ben: I feel – I feel young again, thank you. Appreciate that.
Rachel: Alright. NRF2, let’s do it!
Ben: Redemption. NRF2, so NRF2 – it stands for Nuclear Factor-like 2 and that’s – it’s what’s called the transcription factor. It gets encoded by a certain gene in your body, and basically what it does is it regulates the expression of certain proteins that protect you against antioxidants or against oxidative damage, inflammation, things like that. Oxidative stress whether it’s from the environment or whether it’s from radiation or you know, not eaten enough turmeric whatever. Like NRF2 can prevent some of these inflammation, and activating NRF2 has been shown in some studies to even potentially promote the development of cancerous tumors as well as the development of atherosclerosis. So it’s very interesting how this particular gene interacts with different regions in the body and basically what you would want to do is activate it but not activate it too much because it appears that by constantly activating it, you can get cancer, you can get atherosclerosis but you still wanna activate it to a certain extent and the reason that I say that is for example, you look at ketosis let’s say. Ketosis activates the NRF pathway and it decreases oxidation, it decreases inflammation, and the way that it does that though is it initially – this is gonna sound kinda confusing, it initially increases oxidative stress. And when you increase your oxidative stress, what happens is your body starts to churn out more of its own endogenous antioxidants, and its own natural anti-inflammatories and pain killers.
Ben: This is what’s called the hermetic effect. It’s the same reason that mild dosage of radiation and adequate amounts of exercise, and some cold exposure, and some heat exposure, and some fasting, and even some exposure to things that are slightly aggravating to your gut, like wild-plant extracts for example.
All of these things have a hormetic effect whether a little bit stressful on your body, but only a little bit and for the most part what they do is they cause your body to turn up its ability to withstand higher levels of stress.
Ben: So, NRF2 is one of those things that’s activated via this hormetic response and once you begin to overdo radiation, you begin to overdo heat exposure, you begin to overdo cold, overdo the intake of toxins from plants for example, or pesticides, you know, overdo exposure to sunlight and sun damage, etc. That’s when you get so much expression of NRF2 that you can potentially increase your risk of cancer, and increase your risk of atherosclerosis, and that’s why you may for example see people who are overdoing exercise, out in the sun, flying in airplanes all the time and beating their bodies out, and start to lose out a lot of these health effects instead in addition of hormone depletion and thyroid depletion whatever, they get over activation of NRF2. So it’s one of those balance things kinda like activation of mTOR, your muscle building protein, alright, like when you activate that pathway you can activate it so much that it becomes carcinogenic. So the trick is to eat enough food to keep yourself somewhat anabolic, lift weights enough to where you’re strong and you got tight, powerful muscle, but not to get to the point where you’re eating 6,000 calories a day and walking around with a barbell attached to your shoulders all the time because that eventually can become too pro-growth, too much m-TOR activation, and potentially pro-carcinogenic. So it’s one of those things where it’s always a balancing act.
Rachel: And so, what do you think of it as a strategy for recovery?
Ben: Well, I’m not aware of like supplements and stuff like that that increase NRF production although I would imagine that you know, you could take like wild plant extracts and probably get some of that effect. So when it comes to recovery, I would say that if you use something like mild amounts of cold, mild amounts of heat, a little bit of intermittent fasting. By the way, turmeric and curcumin have been shown to increase NRF2 as well, interestingly enough.
Ben: Then what happens is if you’re getting a little bit of that systemic oxidative stress, you’re going to increase your body’s own ability to activate NRF2 and to recover more quickly. The even more interesting thing is that if you get genetic testing done like a salivary genetic test, you can find and there’s one company called DNAFit that will spit out these results for you. I’ll put a link to that by the way in the show notes but basically what you can find out is how much of your own endogenous antioxidants you naturally produced based off of your genes. Some people produce more, some people produce less, so some people need to take less of a substance to activate their NRF2 genes and some people need more, and you can actually get that test via genetic test and find out whether or not you are actually needs more cold, heat, wild plants, curcumin, vitamin C, like a lot of these natural things that would increase the production of NRF2 vs. you maybe somebody who just recovers really well with minimal amounts of these type of things. So not everyone is created equal when it comes to this stuff.
Rachel: And considering that it’s about striking balance, you probably wanna stop it to make sure you don’t overdo it.
Ben: With genetic testing?
Ben: Genetic testing is so cheap now, yeah. I mean, it’s like – what? 97 bucks, something like to get your 23 immune done. I recommend it and then I recommend in getting the results and exporting them to a company like this DNAFit, which will tell you like your salt, and your alcohol, and your caffeine sensitivity, and whether you have pre-disposition or celiac disease, whether you have the genes for lactose intolerance, what your fast twitch, slow twitch muscle fiber capacity is, whether you respond better to power training vs. endurance training, I mean, there’s so many cool things that you can derive from DNA base data. So, yeah, check out the show notes. We’ll put links to all the goodies that we talked about. Not just that but also body fat analyzer, forms of curcumin, and all the studies we talked about with marijuana making you stupid. All that stuff, so.
Rachel: Meditation making you smart.
Ben: Meditation killing off your amygdala, which is a good thing. So, bengreenfieldfitness.com/337, check it out. And speaking of the show notes, if you leave a review and you hear your review read on the show, the way that you leave your review is just go to iTunes, leave some stars, you say something nice, then we will send you a gift pack. And we actually have a review to read…
Ben: …and if you hear your review read on the show, email [email protected], that’s [email protected], and we’ll send you a sweet tech t-shirt, bpa-free water bottle, get it free. You won’t get water bottle cancer or water bottle man boobs, and then a – (what’s the other thing?) a toque, a beanie to keep your head warm.
So, check that all out. and Rachel, what do you think? You want to take it away with this week’s review?
Rachel: Yes. It’s called “It’s not all about Ben”. Ohh, 5 stars! By DAA021.
Ben: I’ll warn – I’ll warn those of you listening in. It’s kinda long but it’s actually kinda entertaining. So, yeah.
Rachel: Good. “I have listen to the show for over a year now. My wife started listening to it about 6 months ago. The information we’ve taken from this podcast has changed our lives. We eat and live differently than we did a year ago. No, we don’t do everything Ben recommends, but we do what we can and take the information and incorporate what works best for us. It’s not all about Ben because he has also introduced us to some other great podcasters like Jordan at the Art of Charm”.
Ben: Good guy.
Rachel: “Tai Lopez, Tawni, Lucho at Endurance Planet”.
Ben: Also both good people.
Rachel: “…at Endurance Planet as well as others. I disagree with some of the recent reviews about dishonesty… Ben is very open and forthcoming when he produces, when what he produces or sponsored by a specific supplement and if you think otherwise, you must not be paying attention”.
Ben: What else do people say on their iTunes review? That I am dishonest because when I recommend, I don’t know what like digestive enzymes or curcumin, or something like that, that I make money off of them. Yes, if you click on links in the show notes, you help to support the show. That’s not dishonesty.
Rachel: Yeah Ben, you’re a very honest person.
Ben: That’s capitalism!
Ben: Okay, go ahead.
Rachel: “Yes, Ben does talk about a lot of tests and equipment that is not cheap but he does offer alternatives of cheaper options when they exist… but that is not what the show is about. It’s about pushing the boundaries of our bodies and learning about our bodies at a finite scale with micro-nutrients, etc. that cannot be accurately tracked and tested over the counter. Overall it is a very informative show and Ben does his best to research everything he brings to us and explains when articles are based on bad science and why”.
Ben: Pseudo-science, woo-woo!
Rachel: “Last, but not least, I really enjoy the new co-host Rachel…” Oh, that’s very sweet. Thank you.
Ben: Except they spells your name Ro-che-el.
Rachel: That’s okay! Thank you.
Rachel: “Ben – thank you for not picking a doctor or someone as technical as yourself. I think Rachel and formerly Brock, do a great job asking questions and bringing some of the topics out of the clouds for us less technical folks”. Right. “Keep up the good work”. Thank you! That’s lovely.
Ben: You know, this whole thing comes out to though?
Rachel: What does it come down to?
Ben: So, during this podcast, you made me feel really old.
Rachel: Old… (laughs)
Ben: And our reviewer made you look really stupid.
Rachel: (laughs) So, we’re even?
Ben: Is that drinking glass half empty? Actually, that was a great review. I love it, and I’m start calling you Ro-chel now.
Rachel: Nah! …Whatever.
Ben: And he spell Brock’s name Broch.
Rachel: Broch. Uhmm.
Ben: Broch. Which is also a cool name.
Rachel: They’re obviously great people so we don’t care.
Ben: Yeah. Well, anyways, if you’re listening in you can go leave a review in iTunes and we can read your fantastic, highly entertaining review on the show. So again, head over to bengreenfieldfitness.com/337, to check out everything from the link to our interview with a vaginal weight lifting coach to weed, to fat loss devices and fat tracking devices, curcumin, turmeric, DNA tracking, NRF2, you name it and…
Rachel: So much stuff.
Ben: Yeah! Thanks for listening in, and stay tuned this weekend for a very cool episode. I’m gonna keep it as surprise but you’ll gonna love it. In the meantime, Rachel, chow.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
November 4, 2015 Podcast: Does Marijuana Shrink Your Brain, Building Muscle With Vitamin D, Best Ways To Track Fat Loss & More!
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.
- Winter is coming. If you live in a Northern climate and don’t want to lose muscle, read this.
- Yes, marijuana can shrink your brain if you A) are young; B) use it a lot. This is why I recommend CBD instead.
- Interesting that the US government is now jumping on CBD bandwagon.
- Meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s gray matter in 8 weeks.
The Fat Loss Summit just began and goes November 15-29. This is a FREE online event you can attend from home or on any mobile device, and includes talks like: How to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling strategies, secret Russian and mixed martial art training principles that speed fat loss, how to gamify your workouts to burn more fat in less time, a gut healing plan to go from sugar burner to fat burner, how to tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster…and much more (including a cold thermogenesis episode from yours truly). Sign up NOW here: BenGreenfieldFitness.com/fatlosssummit
Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Kim Anami? It was a must-listen – titled “A Vaginal Weightlifting Coach Reveals Her Secrets On How To Train Your Body For Soul-Stretching, Bed-Shaking, Neighbor Complaining Sex.” Click here to listen now or download for later!
This podcast is brought to you by Audible. Ben Greenfield’s New York Times Bestselling book Beyond Training is now available on Audible! After spending over 43 hours in front of a microphone, Ben has finished recording a 100% (fully updated) audio recording of this quintessential guide to performance, recovery, fat loss, digestion, brain, sleep, hormones and more. If you’re new to Audible, you can get it now for free by clicking here.
This podcast is brought to you by Texas Superfood, which has 55 fruits and vegetables in one serving (a capsule, powder or stick-pak). It is the only product on the planet with 55 fresh, raw, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. Beat food cravings, get better sleep, and get convenient mega-dosing of nutrients without having to eat pounds and pounds of food. Go to TexasSuperFood.com and use promo code “BEN” at checkout to get 10% off your first order.
This podcast is brought to you by Onnit. Visit Onnit.com to instantly save 10% on any of their tasty superfoods like nut butter or their Warrior bar, made with real prairie-fed buffalo, cranberries, and a spicy pepper blend. You can also awaken your primal nature and produce a savage workout. Made from high-quality, extremely rust and chip-resistant coated iron, the Primal Bells have been 3D scanned to ensure perfect balance for a professional quality workout.
Now Available – Ben Greenfield’s “REV Yourself Conference” – 25 Packaged Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts In Physical & Mental Performance Enhancement Strategies. In this package, you’ll get to watch and listen as Ben Greenfield sits down with the world’s leading experts in biohacking, physical performance, mental performance, cognitive enhancement, personal productivity, muscle gain, fat loss and more. In a frank, easy-to-understand, fireside chat format, these experts reveal all their most cutting-edge secrets, and your access to the videos and audios also includes helpful notes, summaries and more. From Dr. Mercola to Mark Sisson to Nora Gedgaudas, you can check out the lineup and get access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever (no expiration!) once you click here to get lifetime access for $47.
Dec 4-6, 2015: Ben is speaking at the Unbeatable Mind Retreat in Carlsbad, California. This is where SEALFit and Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine will be assembling the best of the best in everything from performance to cutting-edge mental training to advanced sleep tactics and more. Includes amazing ancestral meals, morning WOD’s at SEALFit HQ (the site of the world famous Kokoro camp), Warrior Yoga instruction and workouts, and speakers such as Robb Wolf, Dr. Kirk Parsley, Dominic D’Agostino, and more.
Nov 14, 2015: Ben will be competing at the World’s Toughest Mudder. If you live near Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada, be sure to come watch the action! Ben will be using the “NattyStack” from NaturalForce products to fuel this event “BEN10” will get you 10% off all supplements from NaturalForce and “BEN5” will get you 5% off all protein.
Nov 17-18, 2016: Ben is speaking at the Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.
Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.
And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!
As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the NEW Podcast Sidekick.
Why Surgery Isn’t The Only Option For Gallstones
Seth says: He just got diagnosed with Gall Stones and it seems the natural remedies don’t work. What’s your opinion on them and is surgery his only option?
Why You Should Cry More
Matthew says: He feels really good after crying and is wondering if there’s any physiological benefits to it?
Curcumin vs. Turmeric
Zach says: He’s wants a definite low down on turmeric and curcumin. He’s an ultra endurance runner who wants to recover faster and upregulate his fat conversion. Should he buy bulk turmeric powder, or turmeric extract supplements or curcumin extract supplements and of those, with or without piperine or black pepper? Is the 95% curcuminoid label play a factor in that decision? What should the dosage be as a hard-charging athlete and when should it be taken?
The Best Way To Track Fat Loss
Jamal says: He owns his own group personal training facility focused on fat loss and he wants to incorporate a tracking measurement. What do you recommend? What’s the best way to track fat loss performance?
What You Need To Know About NRF2
Billy says: What do you think of the new area of research on NRF2? Most of the research is looking at preventative health approaches but what do you think of it as a strategy for recovery?