[00:01:01] Ben's Travels and Extensive Travel Gear
[00:14:44] News Flashes: Top 12 keto myths debunked
[00:25:01] Nutrition Studies Rely on Self-Reported Data
[00:29:28] Dad Bods
[00:34:11] Tabata Sets
[00:41:40] Call-in Questions Concerns
[00:45:03] Upcoming Events
[00:48:46] Podcast Sponsors
[00:55:16] The Problem with Sunscreen (& What to Do About It)
[01:10:56] Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide Benefits
[01:21:04] Does Hydrogen Rich Water Feed SIBO Bacteria?
[01:28:36] Giveaways & Goodies
[01:31:21] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness show, the top 12 keto myths, the dark side of Tabata training, dad bod syndrome, healthy sunscreen alternatives and a whole lot more.
I have a master's degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I've spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet from SEALFit Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and the world's toughest mudder, the 13 Ironman triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world's top experts in performance, fat loss, recovery, hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
Jay: Ben, you're recovering from that nice, long international flight?
Ben: Mm-hmm. Hello, Jay. Yeah, just got back from the Swiss Alps, what, two nights ago. I actually caught a lot of flack on the gram for my somewhat elaborate jet-setting gear that I displayed. If folks want to see that, they could just go to my Instagram channel, which is Ben Greenfield Fitness. But, yeah, I had all my gear done up proper all the way down to the undies.
Jay: Really, Ben, have we come to grow to learn anything different about what you're going to do? This is you.
Ben: Yeah. Well, to put this in context for folks, I realized that I could fly to LA, hop on the plane, and do pretty good just wearing jogging pants and T-shirt and drinking some of that wonderful water they give you on the flight. But, if I'm traveling, in this case I flew Milan to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Seattle, Seattle to my hometown, Spokane. I could get by not doing anything but at the same time I want to feel good. I'm flying down to Colorado here, just turning around, in two days from now to go compete in the Nationals Competition for Train to Hunt. I like to pull out all the stops when I travel. Not only because of that, but also just because I travel so freaking much. I understand folks who are going to a family reunion once a year and maybe hop on a plane three or four additional times. I am literally on a plane these days nearly every single week. So, I have to pull out a lot of stops. In this case, what did I have? I had my EMF blocking suit, which is basically like an EMF blocking hat, an EMF blocking T-shirt, and EMF blocking pants made by this private organization in Germany, who's not even producing this for mass sale yet. Hopefully, they will soon. But right now, they literally just custom design this suit for me that looks a little bit different than the Faraday sleeping bag type of getup you could get from a website like lessemf.com. You literally look like a Jedi Master in a white bathrobe when you're wearing.
Jay: EMF birth control?
Ben: Yeah. It's like blue light blocking glasses or birth control for your head. This is birth control for your whole body and gives you lots of funny looks on the airplane. Whereas, this stuff I was wearing, it just looks like black pants, a black T-shirt, and a black hat so it doesn't look half bad. The only issue is if you go through, not the metal detector but, the actual full-body scanner, it literally blocks everything on that full-body scanner, so you have to get a full pat-down afterwards because your entire body just doesn't show up through the stuff. Fortunately, I fly TSA PreCheck and I fly with that clear membership, so I rarely have to go through those full-body scanners. There is that. That's the only issue I have with that gear. It's pretty dialed in. It even has little buttons on the bottom of the pants that allow you to connect this little metal alligator clip to anything that's metal when you land so that you can instantly ground yourself or earth yourself without having to necessarily seriously go for a hippie-dippie barefoot walk when you get in.
Jay: That's a pretty suit.
Ben: I was wearing that.
Jay: That's pretty sweet.
Ben: Yeah. I dig it. I feel better. I feel protected.
Jay: Is that stuff breathable?
Ben: Yeah, it's breathable.
Jay: It's breathable? Okay, because I just didn't know if it would be breathable or heavy. I've never owned any EMF-anti clothing or gear like that.
Ben: I just sweat the whole time on the airplane, just funk it out. No, it actually–
Jay: At least, your mitochondria aren't dying.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. It's like a combo sauna EMF suit. The other thing I was wearing was my EMF blocking undies, which I think are made by a company called Lambs, getlambs.com. I think it's that company. Those protected my man gear. Then, what else was I wearing?
Jay: And you need to have those on, even with the pants on? You think that's also a good thing to have?
Ben: I think so. I just like a little bit of extra protection for the balls. I was wearing those. What else do I show on that video?
Jay: Your glasses.
Ben: Yeah, I wear, primarily, just to normalize my circadian rhythm when you're walking through the airport with all the bright LED and fluorescent lighting. If it is morning where I happen to be traveling, I generally just don't wear any blue light blocking glasses at all, because I just want that huge dump of blue light, preferably from sunlight; but, if it's artificial lighting, as I'm walking through the airport, then great. The rest of the time, I wear some pretty intense red, blue light blocking glasses made by what I consider to be one of the better companies out there, as far as the technology in their lenses. That's Ra Optics, R-A Optics.
Jay: Hands down, man.
Ben: Yeah. Ended up like Ra Brown's–
Jay: Those guys have made some sick glasses.
Ben: Yeah. Matt Maruca owns that company. I've got the Ra Optics glasses on with the EMF blocking suit, the EMF blocking underwear. Then, I wear a fanny pack. Inside of my fanny pack is my passport and all my valuable items, my euro, my cash, my credit cards, all that jazz. A couple of things in that fanny pack. A, it's made by a company called Pac Safe. It's a Kevlar, so a pickpocketer can't walk by with a shiv and rip it open without breaking the blade. There's a lot of people walking around the airport with shivs, by the way. Then, the other thing it has is its RFID blocking enabled, so no hacker can hack into my fanny pack. Inside that fanny pack, I also have one of these blue shield devices that scrambles EMF signals. It's nice for scrambling, again, over the crotch, some of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and cell phone signals that bounce around in the airplane or bounce around in the airport. I don that fanny pack. Shout-out to my friend, Kyle Kingsbury from Onnit, who originally turned me on to the Pac Safe fanny packs and just the fanny pack fashion trend, in general.
Jay: That's coming back, man. That's coming back.
Ben: Yeah. Then, as far as supplementation goes, it's pretty straightforward. I drink Hydrogen-rich water using these tablets. I think, we have a question about that later on this show, so we can touch on that later on.
Jay: We do.
Ben: Normally, I would just have a little bit of Hydrogen water at the beginning and at the end of the day. But when I'm traveling on a long-haul flight, I'll drink a full bottle of water every hour, like one of those 12 to 16-ounce bottles of water that I can get on the airplane. I put two hydrogen tablets into each of those, which is a wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Then, I also, for the anti-inflammation component, take a pretty hefty dose of the Almsbio glutathione before I take off and then afterwards, because that also has some really good mitochondrial support built into it, like PQQ, Coenzyme Q10, and MitoQ, all of which are really, really fantastic for the mitochondria. I've got glutathione and hydrogen. The other thing that I take, just because of the gasses that tend to build up in the body when you're up there in the air, so I'm not crop-dusting the entire flight with all my methane-producing bacteria, I take activated charcoal multiple times during the flight, and then, also, before the flight as well. Another reason I do that is because I just love to eat all that wonderful tasting airplane food that they bring me.
Ben: So, I can block the toxins from the Japanese curry beef with the wonderful brownie and the bag of pretzels they bring me.
Jay: I read recently in this Vice article that you should check out that activated charcoal, that you're mentioning, doesn't work so BS. I just wanted to let you know that, Ben.
Ben: For those who aren't in on that joke, I spent the past couple of weeks on previous podcast, which you can get wherever this fine podcast is found, debunking that vice article. By the way, for those of you who are wondering, I'm joking, actually, the airplane food. I travel with my own. Generally, pretty ketogenic fair because glycemic variability when you're sitting for a long period of time can be an issue, the carbohydrates can contribute to the inflammatory process a little bit when you're flying, and the production of ketones have been shown to be pretty therapeutic for a lot of these inflammatory pathways. So, I stay fasted/keto when I travel, meaning I'm pretty much just like a handful of macadamia nuts, usually a little bit of spirulina or chlorella. Lately, I've been traveling with the Ample Keto powdered meal replacement plan, which is nice if I actually want to have a meal in the airport. I can drop some macadamia nuts and spirulina and chlorella, and that stir it all up in a giant Coke cup with water added in. That generally works pretty well, stop by whatever, Cinnabon or Starbucks and just ask for a paper cup. They give that to me. I dumped the Keto Ample stuff in there and just mix up the macadamia nuts into that, stir it up, eat that as my fuel.
We'll link to all these stuff in the shownotes, by the way, over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398, where everything else we talked about today is found. I think those are everything I went over in that little video, if I'm not mistaken. Did I forget anything?
Jay: I think so. No, I know you got everything. I was just wondering, because this is something I was curious about, that EMF blocking glows. Are you essentially just allowing your hands in your face to be exposed when you're on a plane other than your eyes obviously? Or those short-sleeved shirts?
Ben: No, I also wear a burka, so it was just my eyes.
Jay: Just your eyes?
Ben: I do have, I guess, my face is exposed, my hands are exposed but I can only go so far. I'm not going to dress up like a fricking Cobra, GI Joe ninja on the flight. It's a few things that I end up in there.
Jay: I feel like it's not the clothes that's going to give you looks. It's probably the red glasses. That's what I've gotten asked about most.
Ben: I don't really care because the glasses are so red, I can't see people's eyes anyways. How's that?
Jay: You can't see them, they don't exist?
Ben: Yeah. I should mention this new website that I found. I was going to bring this up during the news flashes, but, heck, I might as well just bring it up now before we jump in the News Flashes. That's EMF-portal.org. Have you seen this website?
Jay: Dude, what's funny about it is that I knew you were going to talk about this and I had not come across this until this past week. So, I'm glad you brought it up because it is loaded.
Ben: Yeah. Basically, what it is is it is every single clinical study, peer-reviewed research, PubMed article, journal article that has come out on the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation, EMF signals, 5G, Bluetooth, anything like that, it's pretty much all the scientific literature on anything regarding EMF. It is shocking. You can just go there and click the “New Publications” button. Right now, if you were to go there, there are publications as up-to-date as today. Like, today, it says “Statistical Approach for Human Electromagnetic Exposure Assessment in Wireless Cell Networks.” Anything you'd ever want to find regarding EMF exposure, for those of you who are still scoffing at the idea of me wearing EMF blocking gear, you can find there. It's pretty nuts. It's probably the most comprehensive website I've ever found that is all research-based on the effect of EMF on organs, tissues, what you do need to worry about, what you don't need to worry about. It's just basically like a feed that you can subscribe to. I think it's incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to keep their finger on the pulse, no pun intended of everything EMF and its effects on human health and lifespan. It's a great website. I'll link to it in the shownotes. It's EMF-portal.org if you just want to type it into your browser.
Jay: It's got almost 30,000 publications on there, which is absolutely incredible. For those individuals who have been doubting this whole EMF thing or see it as maybe woo-woo science, there's legit scientific studies on this site to show the effects that EMF's can have on our biology, on our circadian rhythm, on you name it. [00:14:28] ______ to check out.
Ben: Yeah. Fertility, cancer, hearing, the ears, everything. As a matter of fact, I think the best thing someone could do right now is to quit listening to the podcast, enable Wi-Fi on your phone, set your phone in your lap right over your gonads and pull up this website and surf through for a little while.
Ben: This is the part of the show where we cover a lot of the latest articles and studies that have come out. I'm usually tweeting a lot of this stuff. Twitter is where I primarily publish a lot of these articles that I discover. That's over at twitter.com/BenGreenfield. Whereas, we already established Instagram is where you can just look at funny photos of me wearing crazy suits on airplanes. This latest article that came out, the “Top 12 Keto Myths Debunked.” Did you happen to see this one, Jay?
Jay: I did see this, yeah.
Ben: This was published, this article, by Virta Health. It actually appeared on medium. Virta Health is an organization that's run by, among other people, Sami Inkinen, who is a former podcast guest of mine, fantastic triathlete, very talented individual who helps to run this company in the Bay Area, called Virta Health who cares for thousands of patients with type 2 diabetes and primarily uses a ketogenic low-carb approach and has harnessed a lot of data, a lot of big data, regarding therapeutic uses of ketosis and a low carbohydrate approach, particularly for diabetes. This article was inspired by literally 150,000 days of patient care that Virta Health now has under their belt. They went through a lot of things that people talked about regarding ketosis, a lot of the things people question regarding ketosis. We should mention, especially for new listeners, I am, although I was pretty bullish on a ketogenic diet for everybody at one point in my life when I was racing Ironman triathlons and ketosis and generally adopting a low-carbohydrate approach for myself to manage some of the pre-type 2 diabetes symptoms I was beginning to develop, the high genetic propensity I have for type 2 diabetes, and also some of the elements of ketosis that I found to be useful for endurance since it is a preferred fuel for the heart and the diaphragm and can provide for a pretty clean fuel source for the brain as well. These days, I am not necessarily convinced that keto is for everybody, and nor is there, as you'll discover in the podcast that's upcoming this weekend with Arthur Haines, much epidemiological evidence that our ancestors really spent a lot of time in a sustained state of ketosis. Nonetheless, there are some benefits to ketosis. This article went into a few interesting notes.
For example, a few of the myths that they talked about, for example, that keto will deprive the brain of required glucose. That's myth number four. What they described is that when dietary carbohydrates are reduced what occurs is that the liver begins to produce glucose via process called gluconeogenesis. In fact, even in the absence of a large amount of dietary carbs, the brain does not starve of glucose. Generally, our brain needs 20 to 40 grams, depending on how smart you are and how many books you're reading, I guess, of glucose per day. That doesn't mean you need to eat that glucose, per se, because your liver can produce a decent amount of that through gluconeogenesis. However, what I should note in all of these data put out by Virta Health in this article, remember that we're talking about patients with type 2 diabetes who are not necessarily CrossFit athletes or marathoners or hardcore exercise enthusiasts with a pretty large throughput of glycogen utilization. Things change once you're burning a lot of calories. I've said this before. I have many athletes who I work with who wants to adopt a ketogenic approach to fueling their bodies, but they're eating not a standard ketogenic diet or very low carb diet of anywhere from 20 to 70 grams of carbohydrate per day. They're consuming, as I do, about 100 to 200 grams of carbohydrates per day, still far less than what the Gatorade Sports Science Institute or governmental recommendations for carbohydrate intake would dictate. It's a drop in the bucket when it comes to causing the body to have a high amount of blood glucose or high amount of glycemic variability. Any of these myths should be couched in the context of these not being hard-charging athletes.
Jay: You're staying in ketosis with 100 to 120 grams. Is that what you're saying?
Ben: 100 to 200 grams. And, it's cyclic ketosis. My approach is I refuel at the end of the day. Generally, most of the day, I'm eating a very low amount of carbohydrates, occasionally, a few blueberries sprinkled with some fish at lunch or, perhaps, a little bit of a pumpkin puree next to a can of sardines at lunch. We're literally talking like I might have 30 grams total of carbohydrates by the time I've gotten to dinner. Then, dinner, yeah, I'll have some sweet potato or some yam or some raw honey or more berries or a little bit of red wine or dark chocolate. Based on my own ketone testing and also blood glucose data, there's a pretty brief foray for a couple of hours where I might be burning more carbohydrates than fats and producing fewer ketones. But literally, like by midnight, I'm back into ketosis and generally stay in a very constant state of fat-burning while still tapping into the benefits from that carbohydrate refeed of having adequate glycogen stores for the next day's work out. I think that's a very beautiful scenario for athletes who want to maximize metabolic efficiency but also not spike blood glucose repeatedly, cause excess carbohydrate fermentation in the gut, control potential for some of the metabolic dysregulation that could occur with large carbohydrate boluses spread throughout the day. Of course, I'm not saying that this is a performance-enhancing technique, although there is some data that shows that when you train low and then compete or do your hard workouts high, meaning low carbohydrate versus high carbohydrate, there's probably a pretty good effect. Instead, what I'm saying is that just for general longevity and health paired with elevated performance or, at least, performance that's equivalent to what you'd get on a higher carbohydrate intake, it works pretty dang well. Kind of a rabbit hole.
A few other things that they discussed in this article is, for example, this idea that–myth number eight, they say the myth that keto will cause hypothyroidism. What they found in all of their patients was that the mean thyroid hormone, T4, was unchanged and they actually saw a decrease in TSH. They cite no evidence that the thyroid requires dietary carbohydrates.
Now, I would say again for an inactive or largely sedentary or, at least, a non-gym rat type of person, this is the case. But because most of the consults and the blood and biomarker work I do are with active folks, athletes, exercise enthusiasts, et cetera, I have seen in many ketogenic active people, thyroid dysregulation and testosterone dysregulation that I heavily suspect is coming from carbohydrate deprivation. Again, I'm not swallowing all of these facts that they put out in this article hook, line and sinker. I think it's all contextual.
Jay: I think that's a good point.
Ben: Then, if we could go over one other myth, it's that keto will cause muscle loss. What they actually found in the folks that they were working with was that the primary amount of weight loss on a low-calorie ketogenic diet was fat mass and there was actually very little lean mass reduction. This is certainly something I've seen in both calorie deprivation and fasted states, and also in ketogenic states is that there is a large amount of protein muscle synthesis or muscle sparing that can occur. But, again, to contextualize this a little bit, that's usually paired with some type of loading protocol. There are studies going all the way back to, I think, about 2008 showing that you can build or maintain muscle with a low-calorie approach, as low as 800 calories a day, as long as you're loading the muscle with weight training. I'm not necessarily saying there's not going to be some endocrine dysregulation that might occur as response if you're doing that over and over and over again or heavy lifting in a fasted state or a low-carbohydrate state. There is, especially when it's paired with weight training and resistance training, evidence that you can restrict carbohydrates pretty intensively and not risk any type of muscle loss. Probably, the best example of this, as far as a host of different methods and research would be the folks over at Ketogains.com who work with a lot of athletes or seeking muscle mass or muscle optimization or lean body maintenance. They're generally able to successfully do that with a ketogenic approach paired with adequate amount of resistance training.
Jay: I was actually just going to say that. Just go over to their website and see those guys. You're not going to say that keto causes muscle loss when you see these guys.
Ben: Yeah, they're swole. Of course, I don't know how much it is genetics, but nonetheless, it's an interesting article. We will link to that one in the shownotes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398.
Now, speaking of these nutrition studies, I recently for, probably, about the third or fourth time, came across this research article from 1992. I stumbled across again this week during some literature reviews that I was doing. I thought it would be worth bringing up again, simply because based on those recent Vice articles that I was talking about, whenever you're reading dietary studies or nutrition studies, you need to understand that many of them are performed using self-reported data, self-reported data. People aren't necessarily locked away in a metabolic laboratory getting foods shoved underneath the door with every single calorie and macronutrient tracked in many nutrition studies. They are instead just filling out a dietary report. “Here's what I remember I think I ate. Here's how much exercise I think I got.”
Now, the biggest study on this, it wasn't that big. It was a few hundred people. It appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine way back in 1992. The title of the study was “Discrepancy Between Self-reported and Actual Calorie Intake and Exercise in Obese Subjects.” These were people with so-called dietary resistance, meaning that they were following a diet but they didn't seem to be responding to that diet successfully, specifically, when it comes to weight loss. What they did was they actually went in and investigated the self-reported data with the actual data. In this study, they used actual energy intake for a period of two weeks using what's called indirect calorimetry, which is where you're breathing into a mask that's measuring carbon dioxide produced and oxygen consumed, and then, they were also analyzing body composition. What they found was pretty significant in the folks who had diet resistance versus a control group who did not. The folks who seems to have an inability to be able to respond to diet were, brace yourself, over-reporting their physical activity by 50 to 75% and under-reporting their actual calorie intake by about 45 to 60%, meaning that folks could, in a nutrition study, say that they were eating about 1,000 calories a day and burning, say, 2,000 calories a day when in reality they're eating 2,000 calories a day and burning 1,000 calories a day. That is something that I think gets under-emphasized over and over and over again in this nutrition literature, the fact that people just have bad memories.
Jay: Yes. This is, to me, one of the things that stuck out, this concept in psychology, especially in social psychology research, called the overconfidence effect. This is basically like an overconfidence bias. People have their level of subjective confidence but we know that their level of subjective confidence is reliably greater than their actual objective accuracy of their judgments. For these individuals, and the research has been clear on this, is that if you ask someone, “Are you healthier than the normative population?,” or, “Do you eat healthier than the normative population?,” almost everybody, and about 80 to 90%, roughly, is going to say, “Yes.” So, we know that a ton of people are very wrong in their statements. When you look at this from an epidemiological study perspective, it just has such a confounding variable that leads to misresearch, misleading research, if you will.
Ben: I can say with a great deal of confidence, Jay, that I'm smarter and better-looking than most people.
Jay: You should do a research study.
Ben: I just know that to be true. I'm just smarter and better-looking. And, that's all there is to it. I also have better dietary control, eat fewer calories, and burn more calories on average. I'm extreme.
Jay: You're probably right on that one.
Ben: I'm saying that tongue-in-cheek, of course. It's an issue. Always beware when you're looking at these nutrition studies. Speaking, by the way, of confidence, let's talk dad bods. Shall we?
Jay: Let's talk dad bods.
Ben: In the New York Times, Parenting Section, they actually reported on how dude's bodies change when they become fathers. It goes pretty far beyond just dad bod syndrome because you don't have as much time to exercise with all the babies scattered around the house.
Jay: Excuses. Excuses.
Ben: Some of the endocrine and neural changes that occur when guys become fathers. Now, I think, most people are probably aware of some of the research that's occurred over the past few years on the significant drop in testosterone, about 35% drop in testosterone in guys when they–there's a slight drop when you get married, which makes sense because it would resist the drive to seek out another partner. But, then, there's even a bigger drop once you become a dad. Again, most likely keeping you around to take care of the kids and making you less likely to wander. It's pretty intense. The dip in testosterone. In addition to that, the brain seems to change, specifically the parts of the brain, and you'd probably think this is interesting, being in the field of psychology, Jay. Areas of the brain linked to attachment and nurturing, and empathy, and the ability to be able to interpret people's faces and reactions. All of those seem to elevate in men once they become fathers. They also produce more oxytocin, that feel-good chemical that makes you more trusting and less likely to be argumentative and more likely to get screwed if you go to buy a car from the used car salesman. All of this stuff changes as you become a dad. This was a really interesting article that just went into all the neuroscience and the endocrine occurrences in guys who, not just get married but, become fathers.
Jay: It was great. Especially from a neuropsychological perspective, I really liked reading the part about how as men become fathers their brain changes, especially on their cortex, the cortex being the outer part of our brain, I guess, the most recently developed part of our brain; whereas, women have changes in subcortical areas, which are more primal areas. It was super interesting to read this because, especially, I've only recently been a dad. My son's 18 months old. I was wondering from that perspective why I'm experiencing all this sensitivity and oxytocin. Now, I know.
Ben: I think the biggest take away from me is that if you're attempting to have children or you've just had a baby, probably the best thing you could do is get your hands on a needle that's chock full of tea and start to just get that right butt cheek chock full of scars and pox injecting testosterone a few times a week. I think that's what every new father should put at the top of the totem pole.
Jay: It's a must. It's a must. I'm going to start that protocol today.
Ben: Yes, paint the room blue and start injecting testosterone, guys. Now, I just, but at the same time, I've got previous podcasts I've done on natural ways to enhance testosterone, such as interval training and heavy weight lifting primarily using your legs where the highest number of androgen receptors are, paying attention to intake of things like zinc and creatine, and boron, and magnesium, and other nutrients that are pretty easy to get your hands on that are far more efficacious than a lot of these herbal remedies like horny goat weed extract from the far reaches of Pakistan. Then, also paying attention to, of course, phytoestrogens in the environment and books like “Estrogeneration” by Dr. Anthony Jay, and all these different things. Quit microwaving your food in Styrofoam, get your cell phone out of your pocket unless it's in airplane mode, get some good minerals, et cetera, do some heavy weight training and, perhaps, some intense interval training, especially with the legs. There's a lot of things you can do to battle that gradual drop in testosterone that occurs, anyway, but occurs even more so if you happen to decide you want to build a legacy or make a little tiny you. There you have it.
Jay: Indeed, yeah.
Ben: Now, speaking of the interval training, one other thing I wanted to cover in today's News Flashes was a very interesting article that appeared at BreakingMuscle.com by Craig Marker. Craig, in this article, went into the purported dark side of Tabata sets. You ever done a Tabata set, Jay?
Jay: Yeah, do it a couple times a week.
Ben: They're tough. They're these sharp maximum sets.
Jay: They are.
Ben: Four minutes or about eight sets of 20 seconds hard and 10 seconds easy, named after the Japanese researcher, Izumi Tabata, who originally developed this in the '90s and found that there was a pretty significant increase in endurance and also anaerobic performance compared, especially to steady-state cardio when doing these Tabata sets. It was like more bang for your buck in a shorter period of time. The issues that Craig gets into in this article is that that amount of stress may actually cause, essentially, a detrimental effect with long-term degradation of mitochondria because it can induce, based on the amount of short-term stress, what's called mitophagy, or a process in which similar to autophagy, the body gets rid of poorly functioning mitochondria and replaces them. Over long periods of time, that may result in a decrease in mitochondrial density. In addition to that, especially in people who are genetically predisposed to endothelial dysfunction or cardiovascular disease, some of the biggest damage from a heart attack comes after oxygen returns to the heart because the heart has used up all of its phosphate molecules by, essentially, burning through a lot of ATP. And, when that happens, the mitochondria start making free radicals because they don't have enough of what's called adenosine ribose to accept new phosphate molecules. And, you also start to make a whole bunch of ammonia, a potentially toxic by-product, as those adenosine monophosphate molecules are broken down.
Now, I realize I just shoved a lot of physiology into the past 30 seconds. Essentially, what this means is that there might be some long-term metabolic damage and, potentially, even some heart tissue damage that could occur with excessive amounts of traditional high-intensity interval training, especially in people who are predisposed to endothelial dysfunction. You can now determine this based on genetic tests from folks like the DNA company or Dr. Dhanani who I interviewed some time back. We went into some of these issues that some people have and even in myself. Dr. Dhanani made the recommendation that I'd be careful with excess high-intensity interval training. This was one of the reasons, was just the potential mitochondrial damage and potential heart tissue damage that could occur, especially when this is done in excess versus a different type of training. The different type of training is called high-intensity repeat training.
High-intensity repeat training is still incorporating very hard intervals similar to Tabata sets. But, the intervals never really exceed about 15 to 20 seconds. So, you're not building up a high amount of metabolic inflammation or metabolic by-products, or lactic acid, or ammonia. At the same time, those very intense work periods are followed by luxuriously long rest intervals. For about every 10 seconds of work, there's usually about 45 seconds of rest. If you do a 20-second interval, you're recovering for at least 90 seconds. You are able to not only go very hard when you're going intense, but you're also able to restore metabolic by-products such as your phosphate pool pretty efficiently during that recovery period. In addition to that, there's a cool dopamine response, epinephrine and adrenaline response, and this feel-good effect that occurs when you do this form. It's called HIRT, which I suppose you could pronounce “hurt,” which doesn't sound quite as sexy as “hit.” Essentially, it is exactly as I've just described, going for, let's say, a long walk and every four minutes throwing in a quick 20-second sprint, or going to the track and walking 400 meters and then running as hard as you can, or walking 390 meters and then running as hard as you can for 10 meters.
It's a very interesting idea. I think, for long-term health and a longevity approach to fitness that it is more sustainable and also, probably, more enjoyable. It makes you feel less beat up. Let's not fool anybody. If you're trying to compete in CrossFit or really get super fit for a triathlon or an obstacle course race or something like that, you need to just bite the bullet and accept the fact that you might actually create some metabolic damage, some mitophagy, and potentially, as I've done in myself, create some what's called cardiomegaly, some amount of left ventricular hypertrophy of the heart, some potential atrial fibrillation. I actually personally have a lot of little heart issues that have crept up, as a result of my intense exercise in competition. If I could go back and do anything different, would I? I don't know. I like to compete. I'm almost willing to accept the fact that I might live a fewer years because I'm out there on the field of battle having fun and going on adventures.
But, at the same time, I think that some people can overdo the high-intensity interval training. I certainly went through time in my life where I was doing HIIT just about every day. Now, I'm pretty careful. Now, I'll do a Tabata set two times a week, three times a week max. It's not like I'm going to the pain cave every single day, and the older I get the more I like this idea of super slow training, functional training, short intense bursts of exercise followed by long recovery periods, more walking and jogging or running, and just generally a more longevity-based approach to fitness.
Jay: I totally agree with you. Are you going to change to the HIRT training?
Ben: I have, since I read this article about three weeks ago, started to replace a little bit more of my HIITs training with HIRTs training. I can tell you it feels pretty good. I know there are other people I've had in the podcast, most notably, Mark Sisson and his mate Brad Kearns, who had adopted this approach as well. Brad even combines it. He'll do like cold thermogenesis. He has a whole article on my website. He wrote about this. Then, follow up that cold soak with some of these repeat sprints and get even more out of the repeat sprints with that approach. Ultimately, yeah, I liked it and I feel like I might start to do a little bit more of this as I age, especially for just overall heart health and decreased metabolic damage. I will link to this article and all the other ones that we've covered in today's News Flash over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398.
The first thing I should mention in this special announcement section is that Jay and I are actually going to be putting out several more Q&A's at a slightly increased density than we have been over the past few months. This means that, of course, questions are necessary. I have one thought about questions. I know Jay has a couple of thoughts as well. Regarding questions that you call in, which you can do it BenGreenfieldFitness.com, you can call in questions to this show, please know that I'm not a doctor, not a physician, calling in questions about the strange mole growth on your forearm or the 18 different medical conditions that your great grandmother has are really, I don't think, that interesting on the podcast nor that necessary. Please remember, when you call in questions, my degree is in exercise physiology and biomechanics. My specialty is actually fitness and exercise and human movement. It's not which medications to take and which pills to pop. Just bear that in mind. It seems like we have a disproportionate number of questions about supplements and medications and fringe medical conditions that get called in. I just want to encourage you, if you're listening in, that what I can speak, probably, most intelligently to is the whole exercise fitness component. I guess, I just don't want this podcast to turn into all the crazy fringe medical procedures that you can do to live a long time or what to do about the strange compounds you're seeing in the toilet after you take a poo. I think that stuff's interesting but it's not necessarily what I want this podcast to become. Jay, anything you want to add in?
Jay: Yeah. I was going to say though I am a doctor, I'm not that type of doctor, so I still don't want those questions. That's point one for me. Point two is that as we're reviewing questions, and I'm going to be a little bit of a bad cop here, is that I've gotten some really awesome questions that I've reviewed that we've really wanted to air on the podcast. But unfortunately, the quality is really bad. One of the things we really care about is quality. When I speak of quality, I'm really focused on not recording when the TV's blasting behind you. Yeah, I know. I know. Not, maybe, sitting 1,000 feet away from your computer, where I can not hear you. Maybe, also too, if you have a microphone, try to use that because we want good quality questions aired on here. That's my input there. Sorry, to be the bad cop, but I want your questions on here. I'm just giving you those tips.
Ben: Yeah, don't go out and stand on the private airstrip at the airport near your house and record your question as the planes and helicopters are flying overhead and someone's having a tailgate party in the background. Is that basically that, Jay?
Jay: Basically, that. And, wait until your baby has stopped crying. I love babies. Don't get me wrong. I'm a dad. But, wait until your baby has stopped crying. Then, you'll be good to go.
Ben: Don't go to a UFC fight in Vegas and record your podcast question while out in the crowd. That's not the time to do it. Do it in an Uber. Do it in the Uber on your way to the fight.
Jay: Exactly. Then, a couple other things for our special announcements.
Ben: And then a couple other things for our special announcements. For those of you who want to hang out, do meetups, check out where I'm at, and come and say hello, myself and the entire team at Kion, we'll be doing the Aspen Spartan Race in early August. I'll also be racing the Race the River Sprint Triathlon in Coeur d'Alene coming up here in late July. And then, of course, I'll be down in Mesa, Colorado at Train to Hunt Nationals this weekend. So, a few athletic competitions that I'll be at.
Not a lot of speeches that I'm giving in the near future that are open to the public. I'm doing some private events. And if you're interested in that type of stuff, you can just go to bengreenfieldspeaking.com. I will also be down at the Spartan World Championships competing in Lake Tahoe, California at the end of September. And they have down there like an entire kind of VIP event for CEOs and for executives who want to go out and race the CEO challenge. They've got a whole podcasting event called Podfest. You can go over to the Spartan website if you want more information on that. But I'll be ramping up my racing here as the weeks go on. I'll be racing again for the Spartan Pro Team, so doing a little bit more racing, a little less speaking over the next few months, but those are the few of the places you can join me, and you can go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/calendar to check out the full calendar of where I'll be at.
By the way, James, I noticed that also in the special announcements, Snapchat is still on there. I really don't do anything on snapchat anymore, so I'd put links to the other social media channels in there instead.
Jay: Dude, I signed up for it this morning. I'm so excited.
Ben: Yeah. Are you ready to meditate your ass off?
Jay: Man, I think it's a psychologist job to meditate. That's what I get paid to do. I mean, I'm just going to get paid extra to do this.
Ben: What, people come into your office and they lay back on the couch, and you sit there with your hands folded together, meditating?
Jay: Yeah. I'm a demonstration. They watch how to meditate for an hour, and then they leave, and then they're blessed.
Ben: Yeah. The people actually come into your office, and lay in a couch, and talk to you?
Jay: No, no. There's classical analysis that does that, but there's hardly any psychologist that do that anymore. It's a waste of time for the most part.
Ben: I'm never going to come see you because that's really the only the reason I ever want to go to a shrink is to go lay on the couch.
Jay: I'll give you a good back massage.
Ben: Alright. That's kind of creepy. Okay. So, the Kion–
Jay: I just lost my license.
Ben: The Kion Meditation Challenge, we're leading a five-day meditation challenge. We've got a fantastic eBook that's also accompanying that challenge called “Meditation Demystified.” “Meditation Demystified.” So, you get that book, and the challenge is basically me and thousands of other people who are meditating every day for five days, different flavors of meditation. We got live guided meditations every day led by me and other meditation experts like Paul Chek and Emily Fletcher. And it's very simple to get into. You just go to getkion.com/meditation. And at the time that this podcast comes out, it starts next week, on Monday, July 15. So, go to getkion, getK-I-O-N.com/meditation to get in on all the potent mental and physical benefits of sitting around doing nothing with your eyes closed. So, learn more over at getkion.com/meditation.
And in the meantime, this podcast is also brought to you by Thrive Market. Thrive Market, it's a very cool website. It's basically like Whole Foods and Costco, met at a bar, wound up having a few too many, hopped in a car, barely made it home with their clothes on, and wandered inside the Whole Foods department, and just started banging things out right there, wound up having a–
Jay: Really fun thought through this.
Ben: End up having a baby, and that was Thrive Market. Thrive Market is basically an online membership-based website with every organic hippie-dippie food known to man at prices that are like 25% to 50% below retail. I think it's something close to 70% of their products you cannot find on Amazon. So, don't even think about going to like saying, “Well, I've already gotten Amazon Prime membership or whatever, I'm just going to go with that.” Thrive Market is way, way different. Not only that, these all post-consumer recycled packaging. They're very like do good for the environment, do good for culture kind of company. I am extremely, extremely happy that they exist.
So, happy in fact that if you go to thrivemarket.com/ben, and you do a search there for Ben Greenfield, you can see all the stuff I order from Thrive Market, like the exact coconut oil I get, the sprouted pumpkin seeds, and their wonderful organic coconut flakes cereal. Everything is on there. And you just go to thrivemarket.com/ben. Not only do you get access to my entire personal pantry order, but you also get a free 30-day trial and 25% off your first order at Thrive Market. So, their prices are already 25% to 50% off. Now, they're giving you an extra 25% off, and there's no need for you to go to Costco, or go to Whole Foods, or go to Amazon Prime. Just go to Thrive Market, thrivemarket.com/ben. And definitely get some chocolate, too, because they got a lot of really good kinds of chocolate, so yeah.
Jay: Sounds good.
Ben: Good chocolate without gluten powder. This podcast is also brought to you by Joovv. Jay, would you like to say anything nice about Joovv? Because you use one, don't you?
Jay: I do. I use both of them. I have mine on right now as we speak, and that was not preemptive. I just had it on, but I've got my Go on right now because my Quad is in the other room, and it's too big to move. But, man, this stuff is amazing. If you want some good light in and over every part of your body, it's the place to be.
Ben: It's red, and near-infrared light, and it's been shown to do a lot of things. But one thing I should mention is my wife, when we were going through customs in Seattle a couple days ago, she–you know how there's the, what do they call them, the little nylon lines that connect the little poles together that keep everybody in the line in queue, but they pull apart in case someone would want to duck under the pole?
Ben: So, my wife did that. She pulled open the strap, pulled it off, and ducked under. But she somehow–
Jay: That's savage.
Ben: –let go of the strap, and the plastic piece on the end hit her in the face. And so she's standing in customs line with blood pouring down her face. My kids are freaking out because mom's bleeding. I'm trying to talk to the customs agent like everything is cool because I don't want our family to get pulled into the full-body rectal search zone. So, we finally make it home. And my wife, because she doesn't want a scar on her nose where there's a big gash, she's been using the Joovv Go right over that scar because it can, not only reduce things like stretch marks, but it can also help scars to heal faster or her wound to heal faster to reduce scar formation.
So, a lot of benefits of this near-infrared light and red light, and Joovv is giving everybody a nose wound. They're going to send you a free nose wound that you can practice your Joovv on. I'm kidding.
Jay: Definitely order from them now.
Ben: Yeah. Don't order. Joovv/ben, you don't get a nose wound, but you get to try all their different Joovv devices, create your own if you'd like, get your own little fancy panel setup that fits your home, your office, whatever you would like. If you use code BEN at checkout at joovv.com/ben, J-O-O-V-V.com/ben, they'll give you a nice little bonus gift, too. I don't know what it is. I think it's maybe a hat or one of those cheap-ass pairs of sunglasses, maybe a blanket. Joovv actually did something with blanket once.
Ben: Yeah. It's really a nice blanket.
Jay: Did they really?
Ben: Yeah. I really like it, actually.
Jay: Was it an EMF blocking blanket?
Ben: Oh, no. It's like one of those really soft blankets like I used to have when I was a baby. It's kind of therapeutic.
Ben: So, yeah, joovv.com/ben. Keep your fingers crossed, maybe they'll send you a blanket. And then finally, this podcast is brought to you by ZipRecruiter, which is what I should've used to hire my podcast sidekick, but I wind up getting stuck with Jay instead. However, if I had gone with ZipRecruiter, not only would I not have needed to go through all the resumes and the annoying videos and audio clips that people sent me because ZipRecruiter would've done all that for me. I wouldn't have had to print off any paper and have stacks of paper on my desk, reviewing people's qualifications. I would not have had to post the job to any of these different job board websites because ZipRecruiter posts to all of these sites hundreds of them for you. They scan thousands of resumes to use their technology to automatically, kind of like a dating website, pair you up with the exact correct person, who's not going to annoy you for the rest of your life. This isn't about you, Jay, anymore, just in case you're worried.
Jay: Sure, it isn't.
Ben: It's so effective that four out of five employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate, not within the first month, within the first week, but within the first freaking day. So, it's ZipRecruiter, and you get to try it for free. You go to ziprecruiter.com/green. That's ziprecruiter.com/green, and you're getting all the goodness over there. I think we made it through the special announcements, man.
Jay: We did. I mean, not without offending me, but yes, we made it.
Ben: I'll keep trying. Let's get into the listener Q&A.
Alex: Hey, Ben. Alex here from Western Colorado, a long-time listener, and just curious if you can help me out in this question I had about skincare, its relevance related to sunscreen, high SPF, low SPF. I know there's a lot of claims being made by that industry that it can reduce or remove your risk of skin cancer altogether. I just wanted to see if you thought those claims were substantiated in the research because I know, as far as I've seen, the rates of skin cancer have increased along with the usage of sunscreen. So, to me, it doesn't seem like it's doing a whole lot of good. And I was curious what you use. Do you just limit the sun exposure altogether, or do you really work the backend and try to help the rejuvenation after the sun exposure to limit the damaging effects, or do you try to use some blockage yourself? What are your strategies? I'd love to hear it. Thanks, man.
Ben: Well, well, well, sunscreen. Do you wear sunscreen, Jay?
Jay: I mean, I eat that stuff. Just Coppertone all over the body, three layers per hour. No. Actually, I don't wear any, not for the past three years or so, I have not worn any sunscreen.
Ben: I think sunscreen should be stuff that you can eat. I mean, there's–
Jay: Oh no, I absolutely agree, but not Coppertone.
Ben: Yeah. My wife and I have made sunscreen before. It's time-consuming, and I'd rather just buy something healthy. I'll tell you how to find the healthy stuff here in a minute. But you can take almond or olive oil, and you go half-and-half of that with coconut oil, you add a little beeswax, then you buy yourself some zinc oxide, and you throw some antioxidants in there like carrot seed oil or another good one is red raspberry seed oil, any other essential oils you want, some flavor, some scents, and then you just cook that up in a little saucepan, and you let it sit and get solid in the refrigerator, and then you smear it on your body. And there you have it. You can literally link the stuff off your skin if you need a snack at the beach.
Jay: That's how it should be.
Ben: There's a lady named Katie, the Wellness Mama. I'll link to her how to make your own natural sunscreen article because she's got some wonderful recipes on her website. And it is important for a lot of reasons. One is the environment. There's a lot of research now showing that a lot of compounds in sunscreen can harm ocean life like coral. And there are 5,000 metric tons of sunscreen that wash off swimmers every year, and they're actually finding this stuff in the ocean. It can even cause viruses to develop in the algae in the ocean. Well, that's very interesting. It literally awakened dormant viruses in algae. Some sunscreen ingredients are banned now in places where they want to protect coral reefs. So, if anything, if it's not for your body, do it for the algae, do it for the algae and the coral for crying out loud.
Jay: That's a good point.
Ben: There are other issues, too. I mean, oxybenzone, that's one of the most common endocrine disrupting chemicals in most sunscreens. That's one issue. Another issue is the vitamin D factor. Your body actually needs exposure to the sun to formulate vitamin D. There are a lot of other issues we could delve into when it comes to sunscreen. As a matter of fact, there are multiple ingredients listed on the wonderful website, Environmental Working Group, which I used to vet just about any personal care product I use. I mean, if anybody doesn't know about ewg.org, you need to add that, and that other website that we mentioned earlier, the emf-portal.org to your list of websites to pay attention to because they're both fantastic for knowing about things in the environment that could be harmful to you.
So, oxybenzone is probably the worst just because it's a very potent anti-androgen that can really, really throw off especially estrogen balance. But there are other issues as well that go beyond oxybenzone. There's one called homosalates and pretty much a lot of these other salates. Titanium dioxide seems to be a little bit more damaging than zinc oxide, which is why zinc oxide is the one that's recommended for a lot of natural sunscreens.
But you can get a whole list of chemicals that are linked with hazard data from the EWG website. As a matter of fact, Outside Magazine earlier this year had a wonderful article that I'll link to in the shownotes called “Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?” And they get into the issue with, of course, the importance of vitamin D, the increasingly common low levels of vitamin D that we see in people's blood, and the fact that sunscreen seems to be associated with a lot of those low vitamin D levels. But they also get into some of the very interesting research that shows, for example, people who work in the sun for long periods of time have lower rates of melanoma than the weekend sunbathers, who get out for a lot of time, burn a little bit, get their tan on, and then don't spend a lot of time outdoors the rest of the week.
Well, it turns out that consistent healthy exposure to the sun is actually protective against skin cancer, whereas of course, burning is not. And so being out in the sun every day is not necessarily bad. And as a matter of fact, one of the 2016 studies that they cite from the Journal of Internal Medicine, the research head of that study puts it like this. He says, “Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor of a similar magnitude as smoking in terms of life expectancy.”
I'm not saying that you shouldn't be careful with excess UVA and UVB exposure. But frequent daily doses of sunshine seem to be pretty prudent as long as you're covering your bases in terms of an ability for your body to be able to fight some of the potential radiative damage, which I'll get into in a second about how you could potentially protect yourself from UV radiation. You, of course, want to do things like protect yourself from excess UVA rays in the absence of UVB. This means avoiding tanning beds with the traditional UVA bulbs.
And if you are going to use a tanning bed, use Collatan Maxi Twist Bulb or a UVB bulb-based tanning bed, so you get a lot of vitamin D production without the issues of the UVA radiation. If you're on an airplane, close the actual shutter on the window because all that's going to come through the window of that or a car is going to be UVA radiation. If I'm on a long car trip in the sunshine in the middle of the summer, I will put on sunscreen even though I'm not outside in the sun, I'm inside in the car, just because of the amount of UVA rays, which are the ones that actually can cause skin cancer that come through the window while the UVB that balances that out is actually blocked.
Those are a few of best practices when it comes to sun protection as far as excess sun exposure goes. But then there are a few other things that you can do as well. For example, Arthur Haines, who I am releasing a podcast with, in a few days. He discusses in his book, “A New Path,” and also on an article that I'm going to publish from him next week about some of the plant protective compounds that can protect you from UV radiation. In that article, he gets into how UV radiation, like natural amounts of UVA and UVB, not only assists with vitamin D3 production, but also help you to produce what's called melanocytes stimulating hormone, and that's a polypeptide. It allows for skin pigmentation, but it also can contribute to sex drive and drive, which is why you often feel more like having sex in the summer or when you're on a trip to the Caribbean, or maybe that's just because your loved one is wearing a bikini more often. I don't know.
But either way, melanocytes stimulating hormone is one. Beta-endorphins, which are natural opiates and function to regulate pain. Those are also produced in response to sunlight. Substance P, which promotes blood flow and regulates immune function and mood disorders like a natural vasodilatory substance. And another vasodilatory substance that protects you against hypertension and inflammation called calcitonin gene-related peptide. Those are also produced in response to sun exposure. And then there's adrenocorticotropic hormone, which regulates your cortisol function, and helps to modulate immune function. So, there are a lot of things that go beyond vitamin D that you're getting shorted on if you're just slapping on sunscreen or avoiding the sun.
Now, the other thing, of course, is how you can actually protect yourself from some of the excess UVA damage or UVB rays that might occur if you are spending a lot of time out in the sun. And that comes down to what are called proanthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins. And these are chemicals that you find in berries, that you find in things like grape seeds, and rose hips, and pine bark, and some different types of fruits. And this even includes things like resveratrol, which you'd find in grapes, and cranberries, and wine, and different plants like sheep's sorrel, and knotweed. And the idea is that these things help to protect you from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.
Another one is rhodiola. Rhodiola cannot only protect you from things like chemical radiation or nuclear radiation, but also sunlight radiation. Another one is apigenin. That's a flavonoid. That's also found in things like chamomile and apples, and oranges, and celery, and onions, and endive. If you're eating a wide variety of especially wild plants which have upregulated amounts of apigenin and proanthocyanidins, or you're supplementing with some sort of supplement that includes the extracts of these, then you're going to really step up your ability to be able to protect yourself from radiation.
If you're a carnivore type of person, I even encourage you to do as I do, and do something like use some of these–what I use are Dr. Thomas Cowan's vegetable powders, which are extracts that have a lot of these compounds that allow me to get a lot of the plant protective compounds without a lot of the fiber, and a lot of the potential phytic acids, and lectins, and glutens that I'd get if I were just eating plants in their raw form. So, those are called Dr. Thomas Cowan's vegetable powders, and I'll link to those in the shownotes.
But ultimately, those are going to be really important when it comes to protecting yourself from sun damage. And then another one is astaxanthin. I first started using this stuff when I was racing Ironman Triathlons on Kona. I'd take about 20 grams. I think one year, I used up to 40 grams of astaxanthin, which basically, it acts very similar to some of these flavonoids and plant polyphenols that I mentioned. And it can actually upregulate specific antioxidant activity against sun exposure. It's almost like internal sunscreen. It comes from krill, is usually where this stuff is harvested from, bits like this dark red substance. The fish oil that we sell at Kion, for example, has a whole bunch of astaxanthin in it to keep the fish oil from rancidity because it acts as an antioxidant. But it's also wonderful if you're spending a lot of time out in the sun.
So, if you're doing all that stuff, then the need for hefty doses of high SPF sunscreen becomes a lot less important. Now, do I use sunscreen? I do. I primarily use it on my face because even though I really like the vitamin D exposure, and I'll take my shirt off in the sun, I'll get as much skin exposed to the sun as possible, I just don't want to accelerate facial aging. And no matter which way you look at it, you are going to wrinkle more even if you're spending lots of healthy time out in the sun. And so I use natural sunscreens on my face quite a bit, and rarely put sunscreen on the rest of my body unless I plan on being out in the sun for a long time, like a day of boating or even back in the day when I would do a long Ironman Triathlon and be out in the sun for 10 hours.
And even though I'm not brand loyal to any specific brand of sunscreen, I usually go to the Environmental Working Groups website and just get something off of their guide to sunscreens. And I'll link to their full sunscreen page, and you just scroll through their lists, find the one on their list that you can get the best deal on Amazon, or wherever you happen to buy stuff. And I think that's a pretty safe way to go whether it's like–I think Badger brand is one that I have right now. But there's a whole bunch of different organic sunscreens you can get.
Jay: Right. And in an effort to not get too long in the tooth here, but I do want to, and never not to get in a rant. But one of the things that I think has been unfortunately sold to us, and this is going to sound a little bit like Dr. Jack Kruse, is a half-truth when it comes to sunlight and sun exposure. And we see it all over the media, all over the news, where we're essentially getting this message that the sun is bad, don't go out in the sun without any sunscreen. And we have to think of where that comes from. And I don't think it comes from necessarily always a bad place. Sometimes there are financial concerns there. But I think that there are just half-truths missing.
And so for me, it's not that I don't wear sunscreen because I think it's going to necessarily be the worst thing for me. I just choose not to do it because if I want to block myself from the sun, I'll just simply either cover up my body or I'll go under shade for a while. And for me, I've just noticed substantial changes in my overall health by just getting full spectrum sun, especially in the morning and then in the evening without any clothes on except for pants. That's my go-to.
Ben: Yeah. That's pretty extreme for you to wear pants. Most of our listeners don't wear those too often unless they're on airplanes in their EMF blocking pants. But yeah, I have a whole article on my website that was based on a combination of both the research on circadian rhythm regulation, but then also the studies that came out last year on insulin management, and even a shrinking of some different forms of subcutaneous white adipose tissue in response to sun exposure. It turns out that sun might actually be a mild weight loss aid as well. And I'll link to that article that I wrote in the shownotes. It's called “Sunlight Makes You Skinny, Blue Light Makes You Fat.”
And I get into a whole bunch of different ways to not just optimize your sun exposure, but just your home lighting, and your office lighting, and just lighting in general. It's probably the most comprehensive articles I've written on sunlight. So, I'll link to that along with Arthur Haines' book, A New Path, where he talks about different plant compounds that protect you against sunlight. I'll link to Dr. Thomas Cowan's vegetable powders, all that stuff, if you just go to the shownotes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398.
Steve: Hey, Ben. I was curious about food grade hydrogen peroxide and the One Minute Miracle. It's something I do every day. I've been doing it for a few years, drinking water. It's basically oxygenated water. I read a lot of great stuff about it, and I know you didn't really touch on that at all through the water podcast. And I just want to know if it's something you think has any value or, yeah, what your take was on it. Thank you.
Ben: I went for a long time thinking that hydrogen peroxide was just the stuff my mom put on cuts and it bubbles and stings a little bit, put in your ears when you get ear infection.
Jay: I went until today thinking that.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. No, there's a lot more to it. A lot of people are into drinking hydrogen peroxide. Again, hydrogen peroxide IVs or infusions, and it's based on this idea that our bodies actually produce hydrogen peroxide, and a lot of people aren't aware of this. But what that means is that when you're engaging in mitochondrial production of ATP. One of the byproducts of that is a singlet oxygen radical and also the production of superoxide dismutase or superoxide radicals, and both of these are pretty dang damaging to tissue. They can act in very, very similarly to free radicals.
Now, hydrogen peroxide is not a free radical per se. It's different than a free radical. It is a little bit of a reactive oxygen species, but it's not as potent as say like superoxide or like a singlet oxygen molecule. And as a matter of fact, it turns out that one of the reasons that the cells produce hydrogen peroxide or convert superoxide into hydrogen peroxide is not only to keep superoxide from producing the high amount of reactivity and cell damage that it can cause, which is one of the reasons that some of these oxide molecules can be very effective at keeping wounds from getting infected and killing bacteria, et cetera.
But hydrogen peroxide actually acts as a cell signaling molecule. So, the best way I can explain this is that when normal cell metabolism occurs, you're always going to be generating a little bit of hydrogen peroxide in the electron transport chain. When you do that, what the hydrogen peroxide can do is act as a cell signaling molecule. For example, one of the things that it does is it shuts down incoming energy into the actual cell. So, it can keep glucose from entering the cell membrane and that would limit–it's almost like a feedback mechanism that says, “Okay. We're producing ATP. We don't need as much glucose coming into this cell.”
So, it can limit the amount of glucose that enters into the cell. It can also limit the amount of fatty acids that come into the cell as well. It essentially is just almost like a stopgap that says, “Hey, this cell has enough energy, so let's go ahead and block glucose and fatty acids from entering into this cell,” which actually, just based on that, it gives me pause especially for people who have a high amount of blood glucose, like a diabetic, from excess hydrogen peroxide intake, because you could theoretically by getting a hydrogen peroxide infusion actually create almost like an artificial signaling to your body to not uptake glucose and not uptake fatty acids, and could actually produce a scenario, theoretically, even though this hasn't been studied, of too much glucose hanging around in the bloodstream because you're almost like blocking some of that natural cell signaling that's occurring as your body is naturally producing hydrogen peroxide.
But it's used in other areas of the body as well. For example, hydrogen peroxide is also very, very important for proper thyroid function. It actually plays a role in the ability of the thyroid gland to be able to generate proper thyroid activity. And so one of the ways that that happens is that as you're making thyroid hormone, you actually make a ton of hydrogen peroxide. That's why thyroid gland or the thyroid gland has a very high amount of selenium in it, which is an antioxidant because as you're producing thyroid hormone, you're making a bunch of hydrogen peroxide. Too much of that can cause excess oxidation, so you actually need adequate amounts of selenium and to a lesser effect, glutathione, to be able to protect yourself from some of that potential excess oxidative damage that could occur if you have normal thyroid activity, and then the hydrogen peroxide that's produced as a part of that.
So, then you could also think, “Well, okay. If you're taking a whole bunch of hydrogen peroxide, or you're supplementing with hydrogen peroxide, or you're getting these trendy infusions or IVs with hydrogen peroxide, you would also might want to make sure that you have really adequate selenium status and glutathione status to be able to take care of some of the potential oxidation and cell damage that could occur from all of that additional hydrogen peroxide that you're dumping into your body on top of what your body already makes. There's also some evidence, by the way, that vitamin E may be another thing that really helps to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage related to hydrogen peroxide.
But as far as the good part of hydrogen peroxide, we know, for example, that lactobacilli, like some of our natural bacteria found in the colon and in the vagina can produce hydrogen peroxide, and that can destroy harmful bacteria and viruses, it can prevent bladder infections, and colon disease. And that's why a lot of people will do like enemas with hydrogen peroxide. And again, the way I think about this is, well, if you have a good gut flora, maybe you're producing enough anyways. I'm not necessarily convinced based on the research I've seen that you need extra hydrogen peroxide for an even greater effect unless you actually have like some kind of a full-blown infection or fungal or bacterial overload, in which case it might be beneficial. But I'd still be taking selenium and glutathione, and vitamin E, et cetera, if I were using that as a strategy.
There are other medical conditions that's been shown to be helpful for like emphysema and congestive lung problems seem to respond well to intravenous infusion of hydrogen peroxide because basically, what happens is the oxygen produced from the hydrogen peroxide can bubble up between the membrane lining and lung sacs, and the mucus, and so patients will start to cough and expel that extra mucus, and the peroxide clears the lung surface and can destroy some of these bacterial infections. So, there are some medical conditions that may also respond pretty well to hydrogen peroxide. And then, of course, it can be used in like many people will have these DIY cold tubs or cold soaks, like chest freezers that they'll use hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent in. It can be used to clean kitchen counter or stuff like that, or topical wounds.
But what's very important to realize is that this stuff can be really damn dangerous, and it's a very strong oxidizer. And if you don't dilute it, it can be fatal. It can cause a lot of neurological damage. It can cause damage to the upper GI tract, if you're taking it orally. So, in most cases, the recommendation is to use what's called food grade hydrogen peroxide, which doesn't have a lot of the additives and artificial compounds that non-food grade hydrogen peroxide would have in it, but then to actually dilute that food grade hydrogen peroxide. So, usually, folks will get like 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide and then dilute that. Usually, you'll mix certain number of drops of that to water, or some people like to use aloe vera juice or aloe vera gel, and then you use that dilution as something that you take orally like a few drops a day, or some people use that in an enema solution.
But again, for me, the issue is the potential for excess oxidation in the absence of adequate glutathione, selenium, and vitamin E, and the question of whether you might disrupt the natural cell signaling process that relies upon the natural hydrogen peroxide that you already produce. And I just have yet to see enough clinical data showing besides a few of those small samples that I mentioned like emphysema or lung issues, or a potential colonic infection, that this should be part of a regular practice that would be done daily on a consistent basis. I just think it's playing with fire when there's not a ton of data on long-term effects of long-term hydrogen peroxide usage.
Jay: Right. Good point. Just a follow-up to that, and I learned a lot there which is great, but I utilize hydrogen peroxide, just straight up full hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent. And since my skin is obviously essentially a large mouth, is that something that people should be worried about, cleaning with this stuff and skin exposure to hydrogen peroxide?
Ben: Well, inhaling it can cause some issues. Contact with the skin, if it's not diluted, can cause skin burns and actual skin damage just because of excess oxidation. So, yeah, I mean, you need to treat this stuff like bleach or chlorine. I mean, be careful with it. Use it in properly diluted amounts and understand that just because it's clear, and colorless, and odorless, that does not mean it's great to just shoot up your butt and throw willy-nilly all over your house and suck it down through a straw. So, I'd just say be careful and that's my take on hydrogen peroxide.
Kathy: Hey, Ben Greenfield. This is Kathy coming to you from Boise, Idaho. And I have a question for you today about hydrogen-rich water. I've heard you talking about it a bunch lately on the podcast. And my question is, if someone has SIBO or hydrogen dominant SIBO, is hydrogen-rich water or the tablets going to be contraindicated for that person because they're just adding more hydrogen to their situation? I'm really curious about this. I know a lot more people are suffering from SIBO than they realize. So, I would love your thoughts on that. Thank you so much for an awesome show.
Ben: I have indeed talked about hydrogen-rich water a lot lately on the podcast, not to be confused with hydrogen peroxide, right?
Jay: Right. Very big difference.
Ben: No oxygen. It's just hydrogen. Hydrogen water is basically water. It's got H2 molecule in it. I have a whole podcast on this. I'm not going to kick this horse to death because you can go listen to the whole podcast I did on all of the research, literally thousands of studies that have been done to date on hydrogen water. Go listen to my podcast with Tyler LeBaron. Go listen to my podcast at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/allthingswater with Robert Slovak. We get into the antioxidant effects, the brain protective effects, the adjustment of metabolic syndrome issues, the enhancement of energy metabolism, the anti-cancer potential, the skin health potential, the heart protection potential. All the different beneficial effects of hydrogen water, and why I mentioned that I travel with the tablets, use the tablets all the time especially when on the airplane, every single day for the past year.
Ever since interviewing Tyler, I got one of those hydrogen water generating machines, start off every day with a big glass mason jar of hydrogen water. So, I'm a huge fan of hydrogen-rich water. And there are a lot of different places that you can get hydrogen tablets. Right now, where I'm sending most people is actually Dr. Robert Slovak's website for hydrogen water. So, I'm starting to send more people to, they call it Active H2. That's Robert Slovak's website. I like his website because you can get like the Kington hyper mineral stuff, some of the different water filtration units that we talked about in my podcast with him. You can get like raspberry. They have a blue raspberry flavor hydrogen tablet, and then a regular hydrogen tablet, and just add one or two of these to a glass of water. Let it dissolve for two to four minutes, drink it down, and you're good to go. But as Kathy–
Jay: And let me say, too, they're running a huge sale right now. So, when people listen to this, you buy two bottles of that Active H2, you get one free. And I know you've got a coupon code, too, so go do it. I mean, I spent way too much money on that website and funded probably their next years' worth of needs after that podcast. So, go listen to it.
Ben: They should hire you. They should use ZipRecruiter and hire you.
Jay: That's right.
Ben: I'll link to their website and threw our coupon code in if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398.
Anyways though, so yes, there is such a thing as hydrogen-consuming bacteria in the gut. And in many cases, you're seeing upregulation of the type of bacteria that can essentially utilize hydrogen in its metabolic processes and it could theoretically cause an actual continued overgrowth of these type of bacteria, which is what Kathy is alluding to. And one of the common tests for SIBO is a hydrogen breath test in which you're actually consuming usually a lactulose or some type of sugar-based solution, and you're measuring how much gas, typically little hydrogen or the level of methane that your bacteria produce over time using one of these so-called breath tests for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which can, of course, produce constipation and bloating and gas and all sorts of issues if you have it.
When you look at any research that's been done on the consumption of hydrogen water, it's very interesting because I was able to dig into some of the studies, especially on the gut bacterial balance in response to administration of either inhaled hydrogen gas or consumption of hydrogen water. And in most cases, it seems to have a very beneficial effect on gut inflammation. And when it comes to hydrogen utilizing bacteria, appears to actually balance out the hydrogen utilizing bacteria. Meaning that almost like paradoxically, the consumption of hydrogen-rich water seems to actually downregulate activity of that bacteria while at the same time reducing occurrence of things like diarrhea and constipation in folks who have SIBO, and also shifting the digestive competition or the bacterial composition of the gut towards a more favorable profile.
Probably, one of the better examples of this was a study that was done last year. This was a rodent model on mice with irritable bowel syndrome. This is a pretty big study in which they found significant decrease in gut inflammation measured via protein in the blood called TNF alpha, a drop in a host of other oxidative stress parameters, and also a general improvement in overall gut flora and colonic health in the mice. I personally have had SIBO in the past and have never experienced any gas or bloating or digestive issues in response to hydrogen water consumption. And so even though the thought pattern seems to be logical in that could you just be feeding the hydrogen utilizing bacteria in your gut.
I also ran this by Tyler LeBaron, the head of the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation. He could not find any data showing that it does. The few studies I found actually showed a modulation of the hydrogen-producing bacteria. So, ultimately, it's not something that I would worry about much. I don't think hydrogen-rich water can feed SIBO bacteria in the gut. So, I will link to a few of these studies, if you want to review them, over in the shownotes. There are three of them in full that I found that actually investigated the conception of hydrogen-rich water on gut flora. So, I'll link to all those over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398, if any geeks out there want to actually don their white lab coats and their funny-looking glasses and dive into the research. But I'll put all that in there. And yeah, that's my take on hydrogen-rich water.
Jay: That's really good to know because it has so many, I guess, you could even say medicinal properties molecular hydrogen does. So, it's good to know that there's really no correlation of increasing the negative effects of SIBO with usage.
Ben: Yeah. No, I don't think it's something to worry about. That being said, I guess we've been going for a while. But of course, as we always do at the end of the show, we like to give shit away.
Jay: That's right.
Ben: Do we have someone who has left a review in iTunes who we can send a cool gift pack to?
Jay: We do. Mr. or Mrs. hkgreen25, you will be receiving some great stuff as long as you write in to us, but this is called the “Library of Human Performance.” And hkgreen25 says, “I refer to this podcast show as the “Library of Human Performance” because that is exactly what you get, a library full of incredible information, facts and resources from renowned and expert individuals in all things human health and performance. I have used this podcast and the contents included therein as a resource for my own human optimization journey and in my studies as a current Public Health major student. In fact, I use as much information from the show as I do the textbooks because the information is more up-to-date and has been field tested by doers, not just researchers.” Good review.
Ben: Wow. They even used the word, “therein.” That's pretty impressive.
Jay: I know. Actually, I was going to pause and say something smartass about that, but then I was like, “Yeah, let me just proceed.”
Ben: Therein, it's very Shakespearean. So, just based on that alone–
Jay: It is very Shakespearean.
Ben: –we should send them a gift pack. So, you'll get a sexy BGF T-shirt, BPA free water bottle, so you don't get man boobs if you're a guy. We don't even know. And what else do they get? A toque, a beanie, a really cool BGF beanie for all the snowboarding you're doing this summer. So, if you are listening in and you left this review, just email [email protected] with your T-shirt size. We'll get that out to you.
And then, if you would like to support this show, if you want to get your, how do you say, hat thrown in the ring for receiving a gift pack yourself, then go to Apple podcasts, or wherever you happen to listen the podcast, Castbox or Overcast or Spotify or Pandora, wherever, leave us a flipping great review and we'll get you in the running for a gift pack. Helps us support the show. Helps our ranking. So, feel free to go leave us as many stars as possible.
Also, all of the shownotes you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/398. And, Jay, I think we've been on the phone for long enough. I think we should hang up. Call this thing good.
Jay: I think we have. I need to finish my bottle of [01:31:17] _______.
Ben: That's right and go work on your dad bod.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Q&A Episode 398
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the button at the bottom of the page (or go to SpeakPipe), or use the Contact button in the free Ben Greenfield Fitness app. Click here for some tips on how to have the best chance of having your question featured on the show!
Ben's Travels And Extensive Travel Gear [00:01:42]
- Lambs radiation-proof underwear
- RA Optics
- Pac Safe Theft and RFID preventing bags
- Hydrogen-rich water (code: GREENFIELD to save 10%)
- Activated charcoal
- Ample Keto Meal Replacement Shake
- EMF Portal mentioned
News Flashes [00:15:00]
– Top 12 keto myths debunked (WARNING – these studies were performed in diabetic patients, NOT in active athletes)
– It’s pretty shocking how many nutrition studies rely on self-reported data when we KNOW people vastly underestimate the # of calories consumed: Click here to read up on it.
– This incredibly helpful portal summarizes all systematically scientific research data on the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) – with an inventory of 28,495 publications and 6,364 summaries of individual scientific studies on EMF, updated daily
– Interesting – how men’s bodies change when they become fathers
Special Announcements [00:41:40]
– Click here to follow Ben on Instagram, and get ready for some epic stories about his morning, day and evening routine!
- July 13 – 14, 2019: Train To Hunt Nationals, Mesa, CO. Nationals are right around the corner and I’m eager to take the podium! If you are a hunter, then you understand how fitness can impact your season. There’s no better way to prepare than through Train to Hunt challenges. Learn more here.
- July 15 – 19: Kion Meditation Challenge. Join me and Team Kion for a FREE 5-day meditation challenge starting Monday, July 15th. Whether you're new to meditation, want to learn more about it, or are a seasoned veteran looking to take part in a worldwide meditation challenge with thousands of other like-minded people from across the globe, you won't want to miss this. Sign up here for free to get in on all the meditation goodness, including a guided meditation led by yours truly.
- August 3-4, 2019: Colorado Rockies Ultra, Beast, and Sprint Weekend – Aspen, CO. The mountains are calling! High in the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, team members from my company, Kion and I will be experiencing the immense beauty of Colorado while conquering climbs, crawls, carries, and traverses. We hope to see you there! Sign up here!
- September 12 – 15, 2019: RUNGA Immersion, Napa Valley, California. I attend this total mind-body reboot retreat each year with my wife, Jessa, to connect with a handful of friends and YOU can one of them! I would love if you could join me at this retreat. Click here for details on this incredible event!
- September 27 – 29, 2019: Spartan World Championships, Squaw Valley, California. Right beside Lake Tahoe, this epic venue was once host to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Join me there for the greatest obstacle course race in North Tahoe Lake, Olympic Village, CA. Sign up here. Sign up here!
This podcast is brought to you by:
– Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.
– JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a nice bonus gift with your order!
The Problem With Sunscreen (& What To Do About It) [00.55:15]
Alex asks: There are a lot of claims from the sunscreen industry about its ability to reduce or remove the risk of skin cancer. From what I've seen, the rates of skin cancer have increased, as has the use of sunscreen. What are your thoughts on that, and what are some of your strategies in regards to using sunscreen?
In my response, I recommend:
– Article: Is Sunscreen The New Margarine?
– EWG.org guide to sunscreens
– Healthy sunscreen recipes
– Superessentials fish oil with astaxanthin
– Dr. Thomas Cowan's vegetable powders
– A New Path book by Arthur Haines
– Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide Benefits [01:10:56]
Steve asks: I've used the food-grade hydrogen peroxide in the One Minute Miracle every day for several years. I didn't hear you mention it on your recent water podcast, so I want to get your take on it.
In my response, I recommend:
– 35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Does Hydrogen Rich Water Feed SIBO Bacteria? [01:21:05]
Kathy asks: I've heard you talk a lot about hydrogen-rich water lately on the podcast. If someone has hydrogen-dominant SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), is hydrogen-rich water or the tablets going to be a good thing for them to ingest?
In my response, I recommend:
– Active H2 Molecular Hydrogen from Water & Wellness (Dr. Robert Slovak's website) code: GREENFIELD
– My podcast on hydrogen water with Tyler Lebaron
– Drinking hydrogen water and intermittent hydrogen gas exposure…
– Intestinal Microbiota Ecological Response to Oral Adminstrations of Hydrogen-Rich Water
– Effects of the long-term consumption of hydrogen-rich water on the antioxidant activity in female Chinese soccer players
Giveaways & Goodies
– 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!