[01:48] Kion Bar/Gosha's Organics
[07:00] Peter Spiegel
[11:09] Peter and The Ab Flex
[20:14] What Peter's Found to Be Helpful for Health and Fitness
[22:49] The Right Diet for People
[33:48] Indoor Air Pollution
[40:53] Quick Commercial Break/Omax/Zip Recruiter
[48:24] Robert Slovak and the Aquatru
[59:15] Pitcher Filters
[1:03:54] New Things Peter's Working On
[1:13:03] End of Podcast
Ben: Does the chewing of the gum bother you? If so, you're going to hate this podcast 'cause I'm going to keep my gum in the whole time. I’m just kidding. I'll spit it out. It's actually nicotine gum. I'm on this nicotine gum kick right now. There's not really any healthy nicotine gums out there, this is not a commercial, by the way. This is Ben Greenfield, just in case you're wondering what podcast you're listening to. Not any healthy nicotine gums, somebody should invent one that's like stevia or go look up there's this company Simply Gum, you can buy it on Amazon. Somebody should take that kind of approach and make a nicotine gum like that. I'm just saying. Low hanging fruit from a business opportunity for those of you in the nootropic game. But anyways, what I'm chewing on is called Habitrol. I had my assistant create a spreadsheet for me that showed all the chemicals in gum and Habitrol, of all the nicotine gums out there, has the lowest amount of chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Not perfect, but anyways, that and a nicotine toothpick are kind of my pick-me-up choices of late.
Anyways, let's get into what you're about to discover on today's show 'cause it's pretty cool. Today's interview is with a guy named Peter Spiegel. I'll intro him and everything, but he's this crazy inventor, businessman. Sometimes I get health experts on and sometimes I get folks who are kind of more in business, and he kind of has a foot in both camps and he's invented some cool things, some cool gadgets that actually are all over my house, like water filters and air filters. Turns out this dude has invented half the stuff that I own, and I didn't even know this 'til I started looking into him. I'm like, “Hey, I own a bunch of stuff this guy invented.” It's kind of cool. Now I get to pick his brain for a while. So, you get to join me in that brain-picking.
But first, let's talk about real food. Real food. So, I'm going to list for you some of my favorite superfoods that I think everybody should have in their pantry. Cocoa nibs for the fiber, and the potassium, the magnesium, the antioxidants, the huge dopamine rush you get from them, coconut flakes, almonds, especially really good almonds with high amounts of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants like vitamin E and tocopherols, organic honey, grass-fed gelatin for your gut, for your joints, organic white chia seeds, sesame seeds, baby quinoa. Not quinoa, but baby quinoa. It's even crunchier and more flavorful than regular quinoa. Cocoa butter, sea salt, even organic rice protein and organic pea protein. Well, you could go out and buy all this stuff or you could munch it all in one big mouth-watering punch of chocolatey, salty, coconutty goodness 'cause I've managed to pack everything that I just described to you, along with a few other fun little ingredients, into the brand new, gluten-free, dairy-free, completely clean, no artificial sweeteners, real food bar that I have created. It's now available over at Kion. These things are flying off the shelves like hot cakes 'cause they're freakin' like crack cocaine when you eat them. So, you go to getkion.com, getkion.com. I don't eat crack cocaine, by the way. Go to getkion.com and grab yourself a box of these, or three if you want to save money, or six if you have kids who do things like play soccer and tennis and you want to give them clean guilt-free energy. Check it out, the brand new Kion Bar. Go to getkion.com.
This podcast is also brought to you by Gosha, Gosha’s Organics. Paul Chek introduced me to these folks. They make this stuff called ODNOVA, ODNOVA. So, what they did was they combined ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine to make this super concentrated blend with seven different what they call adaptogenic botanicals. So, what you can do is put a little spoonful of this stuff into like the bottom of a mug of tea that you're going to make, or you can blend it up with pretty much anything that you want, whether that's coffee or all on its own, you can even just eat a quick spoonful. But basically, it is phytoplankton, a bunch of B products, medicinal mushrooms, and adaptogenic herbs, medicinal spices, superfoods, and even what they call monoatomic minerals, monoatomic minerals. This is one of those kind of like woo-woo blends that you wonder if you're going to feel it, and man, oh man, this stuff lights up your brain. It's almost like the nicotine I was talking about earlier, but way better for you. So, they have one called GLO, they have one called CLARITY, they have one called ENERGY. I recommend you just go toss a three-pack of these into your shopping cart over at Gosha's Organics. They're giving everybody who listens in a 10% discount on all of the ODNOVA formulas, and they really taste good. I'm a big believer in pretty much everything that my friend Paul Chek recommends, and he recommended this to me and I am pleasantly surprised. So, Gosha's Organics. Here's the URL, G-O-S-H-A-S, Gosha's Organics, goshasorganics.com. Your coupon code is Ben10%. That's Ben10%, that'll knock 10% off of your purchase from Gosha’s Organics. So, check 'em out, Gosha’s Organics, goshasorganics.com.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“This is a major form of air pollution that we unconsciously add in our home. In other words, if you have a gas stove and it's not properly vented, you're adding these volatile organic chemicals to the air.” “But I think many people would be shocked to know if you have lead in your water or hexavalent chromium, the bestselling pitcher filters actually won't remove any of that or make your water any safer.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and I remember back when I was 14 years old, I had just gotten interested in fitness so that I could swing my tennis racket better. And my father brought me to Gart Sports down in Lewiston, Idaho. He bought me a pair of 10-pound dumbbells. Not just any old 10-pound dumbbells, but the kind with the little Lycra coating on them, like the cement dumbbells with the soft Lycra coating because that was my first piece of fitness equipment that I would be able to use. And I learned how to do side raises, and front raises, and I didn't know how to use them that well, but my favorite exercise would be I'd lie down on my bed, on my stomach, and I would have the dumbbells kind of hanging off the edge of the bed, and I would do kind of like a bed version of a concentration curl. And I was hooked. Whenever we'd walk into Gart Sports, I'd want the new little balance ball, or some kind of little contraption, and my dad or my mom would always buy something for me that I wanted there. But one day I saw this made-for-TV exercise device. I actually had a little TV that I snuck into my bedroom, because we lived in kind of a strict household and watching TV ad libitum was frowned upon. But I actually snuck an old TV into my closet, and I would turn it on at night, and I'd watch shows that probably wasn't supposed to be watching. I remember like X-Files, I would always feel so sneaky watching X-Files when I knew that X-Files wasn't my parents' favorite TV show, but I watched it anyways.
And I saw this product one day on an infomercial called the AbFlex. The AbFlex. And it was basically like this rocket ship-shaped device that you'd kind of like put the pad against your stomach with and you pull it in towards you and tighten your stomach, and then you'd release it and it was like this spring-loaded release, then you'd pull it in again and you'd tighten up your stomach, and you just go, and go, and go until your stomach was exhausted and you couldn't hold that isometric contraction anymore. And it kind of worked your arms a little bit too, almost like a seated row. It was called the AbFlex. Well, I happen to have the actual inventor of that device, the very first fitness device I ever kind of purchased as one of these made-for-TV things or as-seen-on-TV things, and I have this inventor on the show. Oddly enough, it's not because he invented the AbFlex, it's because of his keen interest in water filtration and home detoxification that we're going to be talking about on today's show as well. But ultimately, what's most interesting to me is that he invented the very first fitness device that I ever purchased. His name is Peter Spiegel, and he's a serial entrepreneur. He's founded a ton of different companies, and his products are all over Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Home Depot, and Sears, and JC Penney's, and a whole lot more.
But in particular, and most interestingly to me, he invents and develops, and manufactures, and distributes some products that really enhance human health. He has the 30 Second Smile electric toothbrush, he has the WalkFit Orthotics, the Light Relief FDA-cleared pain relief device, as well as systems like the AquaTru, and the Ionic Pro, and things that can be used to actually clean up your household. So, he's got a lot of stuff going as far as his body of knowledge from fitness to health to detoxing and beyond, and it's pretty cool to have a mad, crazy inventor on the show. So Peter, welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, man.
Peter: Well, that is a great introduction, Ben. Thank you for those kind words and I'm very flattered and appreciative that in some small way, I interacted with you in your beginning stages of your fitness career.
Ben: You are responsible for my first six-pack.
Peter: In all candidness, I have to admit that I did not invent the Ab Flex product. I did create the advertising for it, I did market it in the United States and all over the world, but that product was actually invented by someone named Martin Van Der Hoeven. That stage in my career, which… I have a bad memory for dates, but I do remember when my various product children were born, and that particular product, we launched, I believe it was in 1995. And this inventor, Martin Van Der Hoeven had invested his entire life savings in developing this Ab Flex product. He was selling it on QVC, and it was one of the best-selling products on QVC and he really wanted to reach more people. And so, I agreed that I would create the advertisement and distribute the product. I licensed the product from him and we wound up selling just around 20 million Ab Flex exercise products.
Peter: Yeah. We sold…
Ben: That's a lot of stomach space ships.
Peter: Yes! 6 million in the US direct-to-consumer market on TV. We sold another 6 million at all the big retailers. And then through distributors, we sold another 6 million internationally. I had been involved in direct-to-consumer advertising since about 1989, and that was the first product I was involved with that did over $100 million in sales. In fact, by the time all was said and done, Ab Flex did about $300 million in sales around the world.
Ben: I've always wondered how much those as-seen-on-TV fitness devices sell for. Do they still make it? Can you still get it?
Peter: I have not seen an Ab Flex device. I mean, it'd be interesting to search E-bay and see if there are any around.
Ben: I'll hunt it down. Folks who are listening in, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/Peter, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/Peter, and I'll put a link to everything we talk about in today's show. I'd actually almost buy one if I could find one again just to have it hanging around the house. My wife will kill me if I have another fitness product though. So, you also had, what was the other ab one that you were involved with marketing?
Peter: Yeah. Sure. Just before we move ahead, I'll just clarify this. In the early parts of my career, I started out by licensing other people's inventions. And I had kind of a rule which is if the product isn't completely done including the tooling, which is a word that we use when we manufacture products to talk about the actual moulds that you need to make a product and, like in the case of an Ab Flex, I think we had 20 sets of these tools, and each set was probably 250 or 300,000 dollars. So, I always had this policy, the product has to be done with tooling. And then as I started finding less finished products like that, I would work with inventors that had patented ideas and prototypes. And then as time kind of evolved, I discovered there were a lack of great ideas out there. And then at some point in my career, I think it was around 2003 or '04 is when I started inventing and patenting my own products. So, I just wanted to clear that up. And in terms of fitness products, I often tell people that in terms of this direct-to-consumer advertising, I spent about the first, you could say, decade of my career doing spot-toning exercise products. The first one I did was Ab Flex. Then I did a product, a series of products that were all based on the same patent. I did Ab Roller, Ab Sculptor, and Ab Coach, and these were all little cages, kind of that you could say that you got into that supported your neck and had an arc that helped you do a crunch in the in the correct way.
Ben: Yeah. I know the one you're talking about. Those are littered across the floor of gyms worldwide, but with most people using them incorrectly, and kind of just like rocking around on the ground. But I know the one you're talking about.
Peter: Yeah. That product was invented by actually a trainer and there are all different expressions of that product, a lot of knockoffs, a lot with incorrect geometry, but all the ones that we sold were based on the original patent. That may have been, and to this day, it may be the best-selling spot-toning exercise product of all time. We, ourselves, again, sold over 20 million. And then in terms of competitors and people that we gave licenses to, I think that there was close to 100 million of that product sold worldwide. I thought after that product, after those Ab Rollers and Ab Sculptors, that was it for me and abdominal exercise products. But lo and behold, yet another inventor came to me with another product called AbSlide. And I was really done with spot-toning abdominal exercise products, but when I saw that product, I knew, “Okay. We'll sell another 20 million of those.”
Ben: That's like the ab, it's very similar to the ab wheel, right? That you roll out in front of you?
Peter: What it was was an ab wheel with a spring in it, so that as you rolled forward, you got some assist rolling back. And also, as you know, the thing that makes it difficult to use those ab wheels if you don't have really good core muscles, is as you roll forward, there's no resistance and you can just wind up flat on your face. So, we added what we called in marketing terms, bi-directional resistance, which really means it had a spring. And we also made that product at that time, those candy colored iMacs had just come out. So, we made it translucent, so you could see inside, we made them candy colored, and that was another great project for us.
Ben: Yeah. Sexy. I remember actually when I was, I think it was at Duke University doing my internship at the time and they were studying abdominal measurements and different ways that one could target the abs, and it turns out that these ab wheels actually elicited one of the greatest EMG contraction for trunk flexion compared to just about any other exercise device you could use on the abs. So, the things freakin' work. I remember I had another client who I was training for Ironman, he didn't have access to a lake or a pool much, but he would do a copious number of these AbSlides or these ab wheel-style exercises, which you could argue actually use a lot of the same muscles you use as you're pulling through as you're swimming. You tighten the core, and you pull the arm down, and then you're almost kind of doing that with both arms simultaneously. And he actually, he threw down a very respectable swim time at Ironman using the same approach. So, you probably hate this term, but as gimmicky as a lot of these things kind of look on TV, it's kind of interesting that a lot of them work. And obviously, I was an enormously ripped teenager. So, Ab Flex and my 10-pound Lycra dumbbells the thing for me. I always like to ask a guy like you though who has all these crazy inventions and products that you've been involved with what your own personal environment looks. Like if I walk through your house, do you have certain things that, for you, are your must-haves when it comes to optimizing either longevity, or health, or detoxification. Walk me through what your home would look like us far as like the low hanging fruit for you that you've found to be really helpful for just life in general when it comes to your health or your fitness.
Peter: Sure. I think the first thing is I've had a lifelong interest in health and wellness, personally. So, I have an undergraduate degree in human development, I studied anatomy and physiology, I studied alternative medicine in the early '70s before it was popular, I studied acupuncture in England back in 1974 before it was even legal to practice in the United States, I taught courses on alternative medicine at the State University of New York in the late '70s. So, I've had a great interest in health and wellness, and complementary medicine long before it was popular. And as a result of that, I'm very concerned about living a healthy lifestyle. So, long before I got involved in manufacturing, inventing, and marketing home environment products, air purifiers, and water purifiers, I was a passionate consumer of those products. If you talk about my home environment, I mean the first thing is you look inside of my refrigerator or in my kitchen cabinets and you'll see lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains. I've been a vegetarian my entire adult life since I've been 18 years old. I'm very concerned about, the first thing is what I put in my body, what I eat, am I eating a healthy whole foods diet. I think the second thing is I've always been concerned about the purity of the water I drink. I've had for many, many years, before they were popular, under-the-sink multi-stage reverse osmosis water purifiers that remove a whole range of chemicals from your water, and we'll be talking more about that later.
Ben: Yeah. I definitely want to hit on that. I was at a Health Mastermind recently and learned a ton about water, and the name of your product came up. So, I definitely have some questions to ask you about that. Go ahead though. By the way, you might catch some flak in the comment section for today's show for telling people that you've optimized health by being a vegetarian. That's a very polarizing topic these days, this whole idea of whether vegetarians get enough fatty acids, and meat, and stuff like that. So I would imagine you probably have supplements as well that you take?
Peter: Everybody has to find the diet that's right for them. And I'm certainly not advocating a particular diet for everyone. In my particular family history, my father had three heart attacks at 26, 36, he died at 52. His father had a heart attack, died at 52. On my mother's side of the family, my grandfather had quadruple bypass surgery. Everybody in my family had extremely high cholesterol, they were obese. And so, among cardiologists and people who deal with heart disease, there seems to be a fairly consistent point of view that started with Dr. Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic and other people around the country that the best thing you can do if you have a history of heart problems and you have blood lipid problems is to eat a plant-based diet. I'm 64 years old. I have the perfect blood profile. And so, what I'm doing is working for me and other people need to find, in terms of diet, what works for them and I respect people's choices in that regard.
Ben: Yeah. I get it. I actually have a lot of people I work with who are vegans or vegetarians. And the fact is I even believe that it's possible, even though I like me some meat 'cause it's a convenient way for me to get fatty acids, and amino acids, and creatine, and taurine, and vitamin B, and everything in one big friendly tasty dose. I could, if you were to put me in the middle of a forest with a garden, and no bow and arrow, and no gun, and have me survive on plants, you can do it. You've got to be more careful with fermenting, and soaking, and sprouting, and getting the right amount of nutrients in your diet. And I think that's the problem with a lot of these plant-based diet is people just freaking eat tofu and rice crackers. And I think that there's a good way and a bad way to do it.
Peter: I think if you eat unconsciously, whether you are a paleo person, or a plant-based person, or a carnivore, whatever it is, then you're going to wind up in an unhealthy place. So you have to eat, whatever diet you're eating, you need to do it with an educated point of view and in a conscious way. Getting back to my house, I'm also very concerned about the air I breathe. This has been a long term concern of mine. Pretty much everybody owns a home, has a central heating and air conditioning system in it. As a first line of defense, what I do and what I recommend everybody do is change out your flimsy, pathetic filters that go into your home HVAC for some very expensive, robust filters that don't impede the airflow very much, but will remove a large amount of the particulate matter from the air. If you go into any of the bedrooms or the common areas, I always have had also point-of-use air purifiers and…
Ben: Yeah. Actually, yeah. After you finish your house walkthrough, I have a couple questions for about air purifiers too.
Peter: My first line of defense in my home is what I breathe, what I drink, what I eat.
Ben: Breathe, drink, eat. Now those are all mitochondrial related obviously and mitochondria is a huge affector of longevity and health. Probably the only missing component when it comes to mitochondria, of the things that you've mentioned, aside from I guess just physical activity, would be lighting. Do you pay attention to this whole new era of biological lighting, or artificial light mitigation, or anything like that?
Peter: It's funny that you bring that up because I've also been very interested in full spectrum lighting. And all the offices that I've had, probably for 30 years, I've always gone out of my way to get the full spectrum light. We try to have as much natural light as possible in our environment.
Ben: Can you explain to people, when you say full spectrum lighting, what you mean?
Peter: If you look at sunlight, that's considered to be a benchmark against which other light is measured. And they usually use the sunlight at a particular time, like at noon, and look at what the color spectrum, what the mix of colors is in that light. So, a lot of, I don't want to call it artificial light, but light that comes from some kind of light bulb or light fixture doesn't have the full spectrum of light that simulates what's in sunlight.
Ben: Right. Like infrared all the way up to near ultraviolet.
Peter: Yes. You can get all kinds of bulbs, whether they're LED bulbs, or fluorescent bulbs, or even old fashioned incandescent bulbs that more accurately represent the full color spectrum, and there's a lot of evidence that that type of lighting is energizing, mood elevating, prevents seasonal affective disorders, which is the kind of mood disorders that people get during the winter, especially in places where there's not much sunlight. So, having good lighting is also important, and you'll see that throughout my office and my home.
Ben: Yeah. And by the way, when it comes to this whole concept of like dirty electricity and EMF, which I guess, that's one big consideration for me in my own home, a lot of these incandescent bulbs are the ones that are often named, it's just like the old school incandescent bulbs as some of the safest when it comes to EMF particularly. Most folks prefer those to LED who are focusing on like mitigating dirty electricity or high amount of electrical pollution. And from what I understand, a lot of these old-style incandescent bulbs, they actually do produce a decent amount in terms of the actual spectrum. For me, I fill in the gaps by getting out in the sunshine. And also, I've got some near infrared bulbs that I use in my office that I'll occasionally hang in my sauna to you to get both, 'cause I have a far infrared sauna, right? So, I get near and far infrared in my sauna, I get out in the sunshine, we have some of these old school incandescent bulbs, I have, even though they have some LED on them, a couple of these Joovv lights in my office that I use more for like collagen, and testosterone therapy, and some of things you can use this, combo, near-far infrared for. But ultimately, it sounds like you're kind of on the lighting bandwagon in addition to the air, and the water, and the nutrition, and the movement.
Peter: Yeah. I think I forget sometimes, because this has been part of my lifestyle for so long, I don't even think about it anymore. In other words, it's so important to me, it's the first thing I do, I fix it in my office, I fix it in my home. I think the one area where I can candidly say I'm not an expert on and which I haven't studied very much about is this EMF mitigation and dirty electricity. But I have a friend, a very close friend, who is very interested in that. And so, he of course, bought me all these little devices and a testing device to test the degree of dirty electricity in all my wall sockets, and then you put in these little boxes and keep measuring it 'til it goes below a certain level. So, I've got those in my entire house. I have a fairly large house, and so, I have those plugged into all the sockets and I've mitigated my EMF, dirty energy, although I can honestly say I don't really know what it is or what I did.
Ben: Yeah. I had a what's called a building biologist come to my house and do some very similar measurements. And probably, the biggest thing that I found that I needed to add to the house, the lowest hanging fruit was in fact, like those dirty electricity-style filters which literally just plug into the outlet in my home. So, all I did after he left was, the very first thing I did was I bought all whole bunch of these dirty electricity filters and I ensured that in every room of the house, anything that's plugged in is plugged into one of these filters. And for us, when it comes to investing $15,000 in painting an entire room with Faraday cage paint and Faraday curtains versus just like spending a minimal amount on the low hanging fruit, like the dirty electricity filters, the latter seemed like the best decision. And so, it sounds like that's something similar to what you did. I'll have to send you though, I actually wrote a book called “How to Biohack the Ultimate Healthy Home”. It's a little e-book. I'll send it over to you though because I actually in part of that book kind of followed around the building biologist with a camera, and took all the notes, and kind of wrote down everything he recommended, and there's a whole section on there on EMF mitigation. However, I do want to ask you about some of the things that I know you're a particular expert in. Let's start with air. So, I have a couple of questions for you about air filtration systems. Now you were behind or involved in the Air Doctor. Is that correct?
Peter: That is correct.
Ben: Okay. And I have an Air Doctor in my… I have one right here. It's two feet from me in my office. It has the negative ion generator. You would probably do a better job describing it than I. I also, in the central air filtration of my home, have a HEPA air filter called an AllerAir, which is not a standalone filter. And then finally, because I talk about air filtration sometimes and people send me things, I now have one of these newfangled Molekule devices, spelled with a “K”, the Molekule. And I'm curious, specifically when it comes to the Air Doctor, what the decision-making process was in designing that and what it is that goes into an air filtration mechanism like this. Why is the Air Doctor a filter that you would choose to put into your home or that you put the design into?
Peter: Yeah. Well first, I have to commend you on your choices. And the fact that you put an AllerAir into your central air conditioning and heating system is a very, very good choice. And it's been a long time since I looked at the AllerAirs, but I do remember them as being a good option. In terms of air purifiers in general and now we're talking about portable air purifiers, there are two main types of contaminants in our air, you could say indoor air pollution. So, the first kind is the kind that most people normally think about, which is particle air pollution. Now a particle could be dust. We have dust in the air, some people have dust allergies. If you have pets, you could have pet dander in the air. That's also a particle. There could be pollen in the air during the allergy season. Our indoor air isn't completely segregated from our outdoor air because we're constantly opening doors, we're opening windows, and also central HVAC systems, they recirculate usually 30% of outdoor air indoors. So you're constantly bringing things indoors. So you could have dust in the air, you could have pollen in the air. Hopefully people aren't smoking inside, whether it's cigarettes or other things. There could be smoke particles. You could be burning candles, burning food.
Ben: Off-gassing as well. Wood products or carpet.
Peter: Yeah. So now you're moving into the second category. So all the things I've been mentioning are particulate matter. The smaller the particle size, the more dangerous it is to your health. Those are the particles that penetrate deep into your lungs, and get into your cardiovascular system, and can cause heart disease and stroke. And there's a really terrible statistic out that if you live within a thousand feet of a major road or a freeway, which so many people in cities do, then you're getting much, much more of these fine particles from the exhaust of cars coming into your home. Then there's this second area which you just brought up, which is called volatile organic chemicals. These are gases. And these gases get into your home, like you mentioned, it could be from synthetic carpeting, it could be from your furniture, and it could be from a lot of people put laminate flooring in their homes.
So, all of those off-gases, get into the air, and the HEPA filter that you have in your AllerAir or if you have a filter-based air purifier in your home, a portable one, they do not remove these volatile organic compounds or chemicals which are in a gas form. And this is a major form of air pollution that we unconsciously add in our home. In other words, if you have a gas stove and it's not properly vented, you're adding these volatile organic chemicals to the air. If you use synthetic cleaning products which most of us use, you're adding these VOCs. If you use perfume, scented candles, deodorant, all of these things are adding these volatile organic chemicals in the air, and that's why the EPA, our own Environmental Protection Agency, says that indoor air pollution can often be up to a hundred times more polluted than outdoor air. And in order to remove those chemicals from the air, you need a different type of filter. You need an activated carbon filter.
Ben: Is that different than a HEPA?
Peter: Yeah. HEPA is a very, very dense strainer, you could say. So, it will remove particles down to very, very small sizes. But gases, like we've just been talking about, it goes right through it. So, what you need in addition to a HEPA filter is a significant carbon filter. And what I mean by significant is some air purifiers that you might buy at Wal-Mart claim that they have a carbon filter. But when you look at it, it's like a sheet of paper or a sponge, a little spongy material with some carbon impregnated in it. What you really need is something that's between a half an inch and an inch thick that has actual pellets of activated carbon, and that activated carbon will grab those volatile organic chemicals and remove them from the air. They'll remove pretty much everything except for one extremely dangerous chemical, and that's formaldehyde. And in order to remove formaldehyde, you need another natural mineral called potassium permanganate which will interact with the formaldehyde and deactivate it into safe chemicals.
Ben: Does this one, this Air Doctor have that potassium filter on it?
Peter: Yes. Air Doctor actually has what we call ultra HEPA filter, which goes beyond the HEPA standard to remove even the finest particles. It has a large carbon filter in it and then it also has this potassium permanganate impregnated in there to remove the full spectrum of potential chemicals that you can have in your air.
Ben: Now what about the negative ion button on it? What's that do?
Peter: The negative ion button, it does two things. One, it puts a negative charge on particles in your air which kind of turbo charges a HEPA filter and makes it even more effective. And also, negative ions have been shown in studies to be mood elevating.
Ben: Yeah. You get 'em when you're walking through the forest or along the beach and things like that, right?
Peter: That's right. Yes. It's just the negatively charged particles in the air that has a positive impact on your mood and also helps HEPA filters trap particles because of the physics of particle charging.
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Ben: Okay. So, basically for a standalone filter that you want to move around your house when the dog takes a crap on the carpet, or when there's been things in your home that have been off-gassing, or you're concerned about someone who's been smoking, or the house cleaner came over and damn it, she used the toxic cleaning chemicals that you requested her not to use, that's where something like this would come in. But what you're saying is that you have to have two layers of filters, along with ideally something like this negative ion generator to actually make it efficacious?
Peter: Yeah. The negative ion generator is just like a little bit of a turbo charge. So, you could say it's a bonus. But the main thing is is to have a true HEPA filter or an ultra HEPA filter, and to have a big activated carbon filter, and to have this potassium permanganate. If you have those three things, you're in great shape.
Ben: Even if you don't have like a central AllerAir filter like I have?
Peter: That's correct.
Ben: Okay. So, I know a long time ago when I first got this Air Doctor, you guys hooked us up with some kind of a discount code or something like that. So, I will hunt that down again 'cause I actually talked about this filter for a while, even though it's literally just been sitting in my office, filtering the air for-freaking-ever. So, I'll hunt that down. And if you guys go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/Peter, I'll put the Air Doctor link in there if you want to get one of these because I think, compared to, how much does one of these things cost? I don't even know.
Peter: Yeah. If you go to Amazon to buy an Air Doctor it's about just under $600. And I think that if you were one of the early people, we may have given you a 50% off link. And since you…
Ben: Oh, yeah. It was like 300 bucks or something like that with our link.
Peter: Since you've brought it up, we'll make sure to activate that link for you. If it's not active, I'll speak to our person who handles that, and the people listening to this podcast can get a super great deal on an Air Doctor. So they better take advantage of it if they're interested.
Ben: Amazing. Thank you. I actually hadn't planned on talking too much about air filters. I really wanted to focus on water, actually. And the reason for that is this, last week, I was in Utah at a Health Mastermind with a bunch of doctors, and really people way smarter than me in the room talking about, well really, a big portion of it was on detoxification, and particularly water. And there was this guy there named Robert Slovak, hopefully he's not going to be upset that I mentioned he was in the room, and he is, I think he's like 72 years old. The guy looks amazing. We went on a walk and he was, I mean, walking speed is actually one of the things along with grip strength and muscle quality that's most correlated with aging. Not muscle quantity, but muscle quality, like how much strength can your muscles produce per unit of fiber. And then grip strength and then walking speed. He took off like a shot. This dude walks like a freaking cheetah and he looks like he's 60 years old, and not 72. Incredibly lucid, incredibly intelligent. And he stood up in front of all of us folks, doctors and health experts, and he gave about a 30 minute lecture on water, really advanced water topics, and he dug deep into a lot of these water systems. And his final slide, he brought up a photo of this thing called the AquaTru. I don't even think he's financially affiliated with it or anything like that. He just started talking about it and he said that of all these fancy reverse osmosis, under-sink, whole house, any filtration system you could get, that this tiny little countertop thing that you set next to your sink, or on your kitchen counter, or on your office desk was the best water filtration system, hands down.
And so, I'm on the plane, on the ride back from Utah, looking over my notes for this week, and I see that I'm in, and this is complete coincidence, I'm interviewing you this week and I knew that I was going to be interviewing, an inventor, an influencer in the whole detoxification department, but didn't realize that you had any affiliation at all with this AquaTru system. So, now I have you on, I want to take a dive into this thing and how it works. Because if a guy like that says that it is the best water system that exists hands down, my ears perk up. So, first of all, I think most people are aware that tap water is pretty crappy and that we have a lot of chemicals added to the water supply intentionally, like chlorine and fluoride, for example. But there are a ton of different water filtration systems out there and I think people's heads start to spin when it comes to this stuff. So, first of all, walk me through this AquaTru system and exactly how it works. We've got time, so we can take a deep dive into the science of this. But I want to know what it is about this thing that makes it so special.
Peter: Well, thank you. First, I want to thank Robert. I've met Robert Slovak. He's kind of a pioneer and very, very respected in the water purification industry. He and his brother had a company, probably 25 or 30 years ago, and they were the first people to introduce highly effective under-the-sink water purifiers in the US market, and Robert's kind of a legend in the water purification industry.
Ben: Yeah. I got that impression based on the fact of, I won't mention anybody else in the room, but these were a lot influential folks who seem to heavily respect what this guy was saying.
Peter: Yeah. When I met with Robert, this is a guy, you can't out think out talk him about water purifier. Whatever the limits of knowledge are on water purification, he's really explored them all. And the fact that he's recommending AquaTru is a tremendous honor for us and I really appreciate him doing that. So, we can talk a little bit about AquaTru, and where it came from, and what the benefit is. I've always felt, as I mentioned earlier, that multi-stage reverse osmosis water purification is the best way to purify your water. A lot of…
Ben: What'd you call it? Multi-stage…?
Peter: Multi-stage reverse osmosis water purification. And a lot of big companies agree with me because if you buy bottled water, the best-selling bottled water in America is a product called Dasani. It's made by Coca-Cola. The number two water is Aquafina, which is made by Pepsi Cola. And the number three is called Pure Life, which is made by Nestle. And if you look at the labels of all those products, they all say, “Manufactured using multi-stage reverse osmosis water purification.” So when you buy commercial bottled water, what you're really buying is municipal tap water that has gone through a filtration process. So, we can talk a little bit about what that process is, there's always a pre-filter. The pre-filter is just taking any particulate matter out of the water and also removing simple chemicals like chlorine. Then you go through this filter called reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is a highly technical, complicated physics process that basically removes all inorganic contaminants from your water. And we can talk a little bit about what inorganic chemicals are, but I'll give you the big ones. Lead, for example, is an inorganic chemical. Chromium-6 is an inorganic chemical. Arsenic, radium, these are all inorganic chemicals which are commonly found in tap water.
And then a multi-stage unit will also have a carbon, activated carbon block filter, a very, very high-grade activated carbon block filter, and this is to remove, similar things to what we were talking about in air, all the volatile organic chemicals from our water. And you'd be surprised we have things in our water like perchlorate, which is a compound that is found in rocket fuel. We have products, petroleum products and other things like that. So you want to remove… and pesticides. All these types of chemicals, you need to remove with a very, very high grain activated carbon filter, and that's what you should look for in a water purification system. So, you can get that in a professionally-installed under-the-sink system. The problem is…
Ben: Yeah. That's what I recommended a lot in the past, is to get an under-the-counter reverse osmosis system and then figure out a way to add minerals back into the water. Because from what I understand, you can get some demineralization.
Peter: Many people prefer to add minerals back into the water. People can add some Celtic sea salt or some natural minerals, there's a lot of ways to do that if that's important to you. Generally speaking…
Ben: I'm glad you said Celtic, by the way. That's another thing Robert lectured on, was how much salt is laden with toxins, and pollutants, and metals, and very high levels of iron, and one of the brands he actually mentioned was Celtic. I guess I've always called it Celtic, but Celtic salt. Like add it back into the water for minerals.
Peter: We actually also market a product which we called “Perfect Minerals”, and it's…
Ben: Geez. You have everything, man.
Peter: It's a liquid mineral drop that comes from the Great Salt Lake and it has all these ionic minerals and trace minerals in it.
Ben: What's that one called?
Peter: It's called Perfect Minerals.
Ben: Perfect Minerals. I'll hunt it down and put in the show notes.
Peter: Yeah. An under-the-sink system is a good choice for people. Generally, unless you're really handy, most people aren't, I'm certainly not, they have to be professionally installed, they have to be professionally maintained. You don't always know when it's time to change the filters, the filters can be expensive. Another problem with under-the-sink systems that Robert is really passionate about, Robert Slovak, who we were just talking about, which is the under-the-sink systems have a pressurized holding tank that fills up, reverse osmosis is a slow process, so the water goes into this pressurized holding tank and that holding tank is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Ben: Yeah. I remember him saying this. That was a huge thing was like these systems are good in terms of their filtration, but you get a bunch of bacterial buildup over time in the actual holding tank, which I was not aware of until, literally, a few days ago.
Peter: Yeah. If you have an under-the-sink system, you have to have it professionally sanitized once a year. And if you don't, and Robert also talks about this, you can really cause dysbiosis, which just means imbalance in the microbiome in your gut as a result of drinking reverse osmosis water from a dirty water tank.
Ben: I think you can clean it yourself though. I think he said you can clean yourself if you have a SteriPen. So, you could buy a SteriPen and do your own maintenance on an under-the-counter system if you wanted to go that route.
Peter: Yeah. I'm not sure what he means by a Steripen. The way that…
Ben: I should have him on the show too. Maybe I will.
Peter: The way that you generally clean them is you have to basically take the tube that goes into that tank and disengage it and then understand how big your tank is, usually they're are two and a half or three gallons, and then you have to add bleach, chlorine bleach and a sufficient amount to that tank, you fill it up with bleach and water, and then you let it stand for…
Ben: Yeah. That sounds exhausting. I don't want to do that.
Peter: It's a big deal. And the other thing about under-the-sink water systems that most people don't realize is that they waste 90% of the water. So, if you live in a drought area, like I do in Los Angeles, and for every gallon of water you purify, you're wasting nine gallons of water, it's not very environmentally friendly. About seven years ago, now time is flying by, I set my mind out on creating a countertop version of a reverse osmosis water purifier that would work right out of the box without any installation or plumbing, just take it out of the box and start using it, that would tell you when it's time to change the filters, so you always have clean, good working filters, and also that you can change the filters yourself, and finally, that would waste much, much less water. And it took many years of research and development, we have many, many patents filed, and about three years ago, we introduced this AquaTru water purifier, which is a true multi-stage reverse osmosis water purifier that has all the features that we just talked about.
Ben: How does the actual tank stay clean from bacteria? How did you get rid of that issue?
Peter: Well the great thing is is that it has a tap water tank that is removable. You just go to your sink and fill up that tap water tank with about a gallon of water. And we recommend that once a week, you just wash out that tank which is completely, has an opening at the top with just soap and water, and it's just like washing your hands. You keep your hands clean during the day by washing your hands with soap and water and we recommend that you do the same thing with the tap water tank on AquaTru. And if from time…
Ben: Sorry to interrupt, but if you were going to add salt to it, would you add salt to that basin or would you add salt to the actual water that you're pouring out of it?
Peter: The AquaTru is very efficient at removing salt, so don't want to add salt to the tap water tank. If you want to, use a clean water receptacle that holds about a gallon of water and then you could add salt to that or you could just add it to the individual glasses of water that you're drinking.
Ben: Cool. By the way, you have a great video on your website of how this thing turns Diet Coke into pure clean water. I realize it's kind of commercially and gimmicky, but it's actually a pretty cool display of how well this thing actually works. And you know what's even funnier is I have one out my garage somewhere in a box, and I thought it was just some dumb little water filtration. You get those pitchers, well actually, talk about that for a second. What about these pitcher filters for the fridge?
Peter: Yeah. It's funny that you bring this up, Ben, which is if you have a water filter or an air purifier sitting in a box in a garage, it's going to be about as effective for you as most people's fitness equipment, whether it's a treadmill or an Ab Flex, an AbSlide, ab roller that's sitting in your garage. I used to tell people, they would ask me how are effective are these exercise devices, and I'd say, “Well, they're only as effective as how vigilantly and correctly you use them. So, if you've got a system and you're not using it, it's not going to do you much good.
Ben: I get it. I mean, I'm in a weird situation in which I have well water that then passes through a bacterial iron filter, manganese filter, and then also my dad is, frankly, he's one of the world's leading experts on structured water filtration systems and he hooked me up with kind of like this Cadillac of structured water filtration systems that's also in my home. And so, by the time it gets to my shower head and my sink, I think I'm pretty good. But at the same time, if I were ever to have an apartment, or a condo, or a rental, or a home that didn't have a system like that, this countertop AquaTru thing, now that I know that it's not just a gimmicky as-seen-on-TV device, it's actually pretty cool. But I interrupted you as you were talking about the water filters, the pitchers for the refrigerator.
Peter: Pitcher filters have a place in the world of commerce. They're designed to make water taste better, but not necessarily safer, and they only remove simple chemicals like chlorine. But I think many people would be shocked to know that if you have lead in your water or hexavalent chromium, these pitcher filters, the best-selling picture filters actually won't remove any of that or make your water any safer. So, they are very limited in their purpose and value.
Ben: What do you think about alkaline water?
Peter: I'm not an expert in alkaline water. Generally speaking, in the scientific community, there's a general understanding that water can have a range of mild acidity or mild alkalinity and it doesn't really have much of an impact on your health. Obviously, other people feel differently. I know that Robert Slovak, who's quite an expert in this, does not have much belief in these alkaline water machines and he explained to me that there's a difference between pH and alkalinity and the potency of that alkalinity.
Ben: Yeah. It is different. And from what I understand, they actually pass the water over metal plates as part of the alkalizing process, and so you actually risk having more metals in your water. I don't know if that's a fact, but that had been mentioned to me before by, I think, another water expert on this podcast. You know what the funny thing is though? I am aware of this. When you add minerals to water, that naturally alkalizes the water. So as long as you've got some way, you talked about Celtic salt, you talked about this Perfect Mineral stuff. If you go to Amazon, there's any number of different kind of like trace liquid mineral blends and good salts that you can get. That naturally alkalizes the water.
Peter: Yeah. If you take those Perfect Minerals, we've measured it, it will increase the pH by two. So, if the water is seven, it'll make it nine. If it's six, it'll make it eight. So, it's a natural way to create alkaline water by using these ionic minerals.
Ben: And you just slap this thing in your counter, this AquaTru. I'm sorry to sound like CVS. What's it called? Not CVS. QVC. I'm starting to sound like QVC. You just slap this thing on your counter next your sink and it's good to go? Just fill it up and it automatically does all that?
Peter: That's correct. And in fact, you'll be able to see Aquatru on QVC later this month, I think the third week of August.
Ben: You have it. For those of you who are still watching QVC. Awesome. Okay. So, you've got this Aquatru system, you have the Air Doctor system. What are you up to now? Is there like some new invention that you're working on?
Peter: Oh, thank you for asking me about that. Let me pause. I think, first of all, we're working on new models of Air Doctor. So, we're coming out with a smaller Air Doctor and a larger Air Doctor. So, we're working on that. In terms of Aquatru, we're coming out with a WiFi connected version of Aquatru. It will allow us to…
Ben: You better make sure that WiFi can be disabled 'cause I don't let WiFi devices in my home. I know you're probably disappointed to hear that, but…
Peter: It can absolutely be disabled or you can connect it intermittently. There's some advantages to the WiFi connection…
Ben: Yeah. I know there is. I have a Traeger grill and I connect it to my phone when I put my meat on, and it lets me automatically run my grill from my phone. So, I understand the convenience of WiFi devices. I don't own zero WiFi devices because I do understand the convenience, but I do not have anything in my house that doesn't have the ability to at least disable the WiFi.
Peter: I think that you must have one of the safest houses in America.
Ben: It's pretty clean. Actually. You know what? I lied. I've got an incline treadmill, which is amazing. It goes up to 40%, a Nordic Track incline treadmill, but I've got it out my garage. I also have a walking treadmill in my office, and the walking treadmill in my office, it's all manual. Treadmills are one of the biggest sources of dirty electricity and electrical pollution. When you get on that big lineup of treadmills at the gym, you're just blasting yourself with WiFi signal. So, I actually have the walking treadmill on my desk. But out in the garage, I do have a Nordic incline treadmill and the WiFi cannot be disabled on that admittedly. Anyways though, sorry. I interrupted you. So, you got this new Air Doctor?
Peter: Yeah. So, one of the reasons that I want to connect Aquatru is, the future generations of Aquatru, we're going to build in actual chemical sensors. And the reason I want to do that is I want to be the first, I want Aquatru to be part of a first line of defense for communities to protect themselves from horrific episodes like what happened in Flint, Michigan where entire communities are drinking water contaminated with lead and nobody knew about it for many, many months, and it created this huge health crisis. So, once we have these connected Aquatrus out there with the sensors in them, we'll know if a community has lead in their water. You might be shocked to learn that lead contamination has been found in 2,000 municipal water systems in all 50 states and that lead has only checked for in municipal water systems every four years.
Ben: No kidding?
Peter: Lead has been found in 19,000 locations supplying water to children, like schools and daycare centers. So, we want to be part of the solution. There's another chemical called chromium-6. This is the Erin Brockovich chemical that was featured in the movie about her life. It's now been found in 75% of American tap water. There's new emerging compounds called PFAs and PFOAs that are extremely hazardous cancer-causing agents. So, we want to be able to detect these in Aquatru, track it, and then report it to public health officials. So, that's a big, big project that I'm working on right now. These are the things that are kind of in my focus right now. Just since you asked, I will tell you that one of the inventions that I've been involved with in my career is an affordable orthotic. I've sold, I think, 20 million pairs of WalkFit shoe inserts in my career. And over the last four, five years, I've been working with podiatrists here in Los Angeles to develop the first truly customizable and affordable orthotic. Orthotics are interesting to me because I have some hereditary posture challenges that I have to deal with. I found that orthotics are very, very helpful to me, but they're expensive. So, we're working on a new product called Superthotics and we'll be introducing that in 2019. That's kind of…
Ben: Yeah. Orthotics are interesting. I go back and forth on orthotics because I have custom orthotics that have just melted away knee and hip pain during walking and during running, and I have custom orthotics in my bike shoes as well. I have a pair of bike shoes called Rocket 7's, and they're like a custom oven-moulded cycling shoe, but I try to strike a balance between that and when I'm not engaged in impact-based sports like running or tennis, I try to go barefoot. I was actually at a bodywork practitioner, I'm very proud of myself, this was actually just last week in Utah, he told me I had some of the strongest feet he'd ever seen. And my feet are ugly. They're dirty, they have like weird growths on the bottom of them from all the crazy places I walk around the world without wearing shoes, but ultimately I do have very strong feet. And I think you strike a balance between going barefoot and allowing your feet bones and ligaments to grow strong and springy, and then at the same time, when you're going to engage in something unnatural, like walking in shoes on concrete or going to a cocktail party or something like that, you eschew the cowboy boots and high heels and go for like a good shoe with a custom orthotic in it or with an orthotic in it, and I think that's kind of the best of both worlds.
Peter: I agree.
Ben: Well, we could probably talk about your inventions all day long. But I have to say, folks, if you were listening in, if I could choose two of Peter's inventions that I'm most impressed with that I've personally used, one in particular that I need to take out of its box in the garage now, it would be the Air Doctor, this is the multi-stage HEPA air filter. I guess multi-stage isn't the correct term, but it's like two different filters and then the negative ion generator, and you just push a button, and it starts. As a matter of fact, here. See how quiet it is. It's literally two feet away. Okay. It's on now and you can't even hear it. That's the Air Doctor. That was the best advertisement ever for the Air Doctor. So the Air Doctor, you can hear a little bit now it's on. And then the Aquatru water filtration device. Grab those.
I will put links for you to get 'em at, as Peter mentioned, I think pretty dang close to like a 50% discount, in the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/Peter. And if you care about your air, you care about your water, definitely grab those. I will link to everything else that we've talked about too from full spectrum incandescent bulbs, to my Biohacking The Healthy Home book, to pretty much everything mention. Even the good ol' Ab Flex, if I can hunt it down. Just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/Peter, and it'll all be there.
Peter, I want to thank you for coming on the show, for sharing all this stuff with us, man, and for being such a dang cool inventor who's making people living healthy a lot easier.
Peter: Well, Ben, thank you so much for your time. I think, as your listeners know, you're a very enlightened person. It sounds like you care deeply and passionately about your own health and wellness, and of course, the people who look to you for information and insights, and it's really been a great opportunity to talk to you and share our respective points of view on things.
Ben: Awesome. Thanks for coming, man. I appreciate it. And folks, until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Peter Spiegel signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Peter Spiegel is a serial entrepreneur who has founded numerous successful companies related to direct response advertising, marketing and consumer products. In the advertising space, Peter was the founding partner of Direct Partners, which was acquired by NYSE conglomerate Omnicom. Mr. Spiegel has also founded several vertically integrated consumer products companies which have sold a variety of products direct to customers via infomercials and to big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Depot, Sears, JC Penny's and others.
Mr. Spiegel is considered by his peers to be one of the definitive experts in the direct response television advertising (DRTV) and infomercials. A top marketing, financial, product development and operations strategist, he has been active in the industry for more than 25 years, developing a wealth of experience and success that spans all product categories and all channels of distribution including DRTV, retail, catalog, print and internet. Peter has been named one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People in the Direct Response Industry” – by Response TV Magazine.
Peter is an encyclopedia of television direct marketing knowledge, and he knows how to take an idea or an invention from concept to cash flow with speed and precision.
Peter Spiegel is the founder of Envion, LLC, a home environment company that manufactures and distributes the best-selling brands of air purifiers including Ionic Pro® and Therapure® at Walmart, Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond and other leading retailers.
He is also the founder of the Ideal Living group of companies, which sell products such as the Paint Zoom™ painting system, 30 Second Smile™ electric toothbrush, Prosvent® nutritional supplement for prostate health, Cebria™ nutritional supplement for age-related memory loss, Walkfit® Orthotics, and Light Relief®, a FDA-cleared pain relief device.
Mr. Spiegel also founded companies that sold the following products: AbSlide™, Ab Flex™, Ab Sculptor™, Miracle Blade® III, Ultimate Chopper™, Bun and Thigh Roller®, Sobakawa Pillow® and 4 in 1 Total Trolley®.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why Ben, as a fledgling young exercise enthusiast, at age 14, saved up for and purchased an AbFlex…9:00
-The most important things in Peter's personal home when it comes to optimizing his health?…20:00
-Why a HEPA filter is not enough to adequately filter your air…33:30
-How adding a negative ion system to the air you breathe can enhance your neurotransmitters…44:00
-Why under-the-counter reverse osmosis systems become bacteria-laden, and what you can do about it…49:45
-The problem with popular pitcher filters for water filtration…59:15
-Why Ben keeps his treadmill in the garage…1:05:00
-And much more!
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