[0:00:52] About this Podcast
[0:02:51] Guest Introduction: Dr. Darshan Shah
[0:03:44] Kion Fasting Challenge
[0:07:11] Start of Podcast: NextHealth Forefront Podcast
[0:08:05] Telomere Analysis and Longevity Markers
[0:11:09] Humans’ Crave for Self-Improvement; Start to Get Creative
[0:19:35] High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
[0:26:24] My Diet
[0:33:46] Podcast Sponsors
[0:37:53] Testing the Microbiome
[0:43:22] Sleeping Habits
[0:59:19] Fasting and Circadian Rhythm
[1:07:50] Pros and Cons of Drugs Such as Rapamycin and Metformin
[1:11:30] Brain Health Outside of Nootropics
[1:20:06] Strategies for Optimizing Cardiovascular Performance
[1:29:04] NextHealth Services
[1:35:29] Find Ben Greenfield
[1:37:04] Closing the Podcast
[1:37:40] End of Podcast
Ben: 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, gut 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.
Alright, the podcast that you’re about to hear actually wasn’t recorded by me. It was recorded by a supervillain in a health clinic, a rogue podcasting recorder who actually caught me on mic for an hour while I was getting an IV actually at this wonderful cutting edge anti-aging longevity and health management clinic in L.A. called NextHealth. They’re like this full-on next-generation health and wellness destination. You walk in there; it looks like something off the freaking deck of like a Star Trek ship, not that I’m a Trekkie. But not only do they have like cryotherapy and infrared lights and saunas and these full-on laydown beds but they do–I mean, the stuff you’re going to hear about in today’s show is mind-blowing.
They work with a longevity institute to do these full-on executive panels, full-body scans, MRIs. They do stem cells, they do PRP, they do vitamin cocktails, they do facial treatments. They’re like one of these, almost like a big biohacking facility but the way that they do things, like they cover everything. They can do micronutrient testing, telomere testing, heavy-metal testing, cardiac panels, metabolic profiles, and then they also do of course like their vitamin shots, their IV therapy, their hormone therapy. They have something called hair transplant and also Next Beauty if you want to change your face or your hair.
Anyways, it’s pretty cool. So, if you go to the shownotes for today’s show at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/nexthealthpodcast, that’s BenGreenfieldFitness.com/nexthealthpodcast, I’ve put together some really comprehensive shownotes for you, some links over to some special goodies from NextHealth that they’re giving to all my listeners. Plenty over there. Just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/nexthealthpodcast.
And the guy who you’re going to hear interview me is a really great dude. His name is Dr. Darshan Shah. He has a history like his original upbringing was an Ayurvedic medicine. And then he’s done like trauma surgery, general surgery, plastic reconstructive surgery, and eventually, created what is essentially like the Apple Store of health and wellness this NextHealth facility.
He’s a very smart guy. He started training as an MD when he was 15 years old and he was a doctor by the time he’s 21. He’s one of the youngest doctors in the U.S. and he’s really great guy, super smart, and he lives with his family, his two kids and his wife in Malibu. He’s a good dude. So, you’re going to enjoy this episode, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/nexthealthpodcast.
If you didn’t hear already, and especially if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard of fasting and you may have in the past few days heard about this new fasting challenge that I’m leading. It begins January 7th. So, at the time this podcast comes out, freaking get on the ball because it starts in two days.
What I’m doing is I’ve put together a full fasting guide that answers all these questions like does coffee break a fast? What about supplements? What kind of fasting is best? How do you do fasting if you’re working out a lot? What fasting is good for longevity? What fasting is good for fat loss? So, I’ve put together multiple kind of like choose-your-own adventure variations of like alternate day fasting, intermittent fasting, fasting mimicking diet, liquid fast, non-liquid fast, and anyone can join me in this fasting challenge.
So, I’m going to fast from January 7th through the 11th. And no matter what kind of fast you want to do. There are no special supplements you have to buy, nothing like that. Totally free fasting challenge supported by me with live Facebook Q&As for me to be able to answer your questions. You get to download this free guide. I’ve got called, “Fasting Decoded” and you get to join the entire community of listeners that’s going to be doing this fast along with me. So, the big part of this is accountability, and it’s just going to be fun to reinvent our bodies and start off the new year on the right foot.
So, here’s how to get in. You go to getkion.com/fast. That’s getK-I-O-N.com/fast. That’ll automatically get you in on the fast, on the book that I wrote. Everything is over there. So, getkion, getK-I-O-N.com/fast.
I also wanted to mention before we jump into this show today, because we talked all about biohacking and stuff, is this idea of hydrogen-infused water, which I’ve been drinking a lot of lately. It has selective antioxidant behavior. Meaning, it can act as an antioxidant without blunting the hormetic response to say exercise. So, you can drink this stuff as an anti-inflammatory agent, post-exercise to shut down bad inflammation. And it still allows for things like satellite cell proliferation and mitochondrial density. It’s anti-inflammatory. It assists with mitochondrial function. There are over 1,100 peer-reviewed studies now showing the therapeutic potential for over 170 different disease models using hydrogen-rich water. This stuff is pretty much like the–it’s the next evolution of the way that humans, smart humans who want to get the best for their body should be drinking water. So, what I have is I’ve got a generator, a hydrogen-water generator in my basement that I drink from. And then I also travel with these things called hydrogen-water tabs.
So, here’s how you can get the generator that I use or the tabs. So, you go to trusii. [00:06:21] _______ called trusii, T-R-U-S-I-I. Just like that. Weird spelling, I know. So, you go to trusii H2, H2 is hydrogen, T-R-U-S-I-Ih2.com/ben. That gets you 30% off any of their tablets. You just enter code BEN at checkout. It gives you 10% off of any of their subscription orders. You can also get in on one of those water systems where they’re going to like compensate you. And they want to use people as a case study and you give feedback and testimonials, and then they help to cover the cost of these water systems. So, everything to get in on that, you go to trusiih2.com/ben. I’ll also put a link in the shownotes for today’s show, which again are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/nexthealthpodcast. Alright, let’s do this.
Darshan: Hello, everyone. This is Dr. Darshan Shah with the NextHealth forefront podcast, and we are so lucky today to have Mr. Ben Greenfield here, who’s definitely on the forefront of everything health, wellness, biohacking. I’ve been trying to get Ben out here for a while now, so it’s a real honor and pleasure.
Ben: I made it.
Darshan: It’s the second time here.
Ben: Well, I mean I’ve already had donuts across the hallway here at Century City. I don’t know what was in them but they were from SunLife Organics.
Darshan: A good friend Khalil put some good stuff in them.
Ben: It said gluten-free and they tasted like they probably had unicorn tears and some kind of rare superfood in them. So, I feel amazing.
Darshan: I’m sure.
Ben: I’ve had those dipped in a little coffee. And I’m on an NAD drip IV right now. So, between donuts and an IV, I feel pretty damn good.
Darshan: Fantastic. We got all revved up for this podcast.
Darshan: So, it’s also an incredible honor that you’re here on the day before your birthday. And you were just telling me your telomere age is actually 20. So, we’ll go with that.
Ben: It’s 20. Yeah. We’re actually–I know that’s one test you guys do here and we’re going to see if I’ve gone down even more in the past year since the last time that I’ve tested but yeah, I mean that’s one of my passions is how can one, using both kind of a little bit of ancestor wisdom and a little bit of modern technology and science or biohacking or whatever you want to call it, optimize longevity. Of course, as you know, telomere analysis is not like necessarily an ironclad way to tell exactly how you’re doing, but when you put that in with a cluster of other things that can tell you how fast you’re aging such as grip strength and walking speed.
And there’s one interesting study on the ability to be able to sit down and stand up from the floor. And then, of course, you pay attention to your face and your inflammatory markers and your glycemic variability. You can kind of put together a cluster of things that you can test to track how well you’re doing trying to be on this planet a longer time so that you can better achieve your life’s purpose.
Darshan: Yeah, exactly. I love it. You said it perfectly. That’s what NextHealth is all about, improving your–not just your chronological age but how well and how healthy you are during that time.
Ben: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Darshan: And longevity markers are a huge topic that we test for here. I like telomeres because like you said, it’s not the only end-all be-all but it’s kind of like a scorecard for me. I love seeing where I am year to year, you know.
Ben: Exactly. That’s what I like too. I’ve been testing about every six months and the first time I did it, I was older biologically than chronologically. I think it was 34 years old and I tested out of 37. I’m turning 37 tomorrow and the last time that I tested telomeres, I was 20. And so, it’s been decreasing significantly as I go down the road of speak of the devil, NAD. And I’ve been implementing more fasting protocols in a more structured way and have been paying a lot more attention to inflammatory markers, particularly with relevancy to exercise and paying more attention to not just exercising for the sake of exercise but using a minimal effective dose and then scratching that itch to either move or improve one’s body and brain with other things, sauna, walks in the sunshine, cold, playing the guitar, painting. I mean, there are a lot of things and there are a lot of people who are just like, they feel like if they don’t go out and do their CrossFit WOD every day.
And a big part of that is that we as humans, we crave improvement, we crave variety, we crave improvement, we crave something we can do to make it feel as though we’ve somehow moved the dial on our lives each day or made ourselves better. And the problem is that in our era, we have been led to believe that the top of the totem pole for that is the workout, when in fact, there are so many other things that you can do.
And the reason I’m talking about this in the context of longevity is data shows once you exceed 60 minutes of intense exercise per day, you get increased risk of mortality. So, anything with aerobic exercise, not like gardening and hiking but pounding the pavement for your lunchtime run or swimming laps in the pool or charging your bike down the highway, something like that. Once you exceed 90 minutes of that, you get increased risk of mortality. And coming from a guy who–former Ironman triathlete did that for 10 years and bodybuilding before that. Bodybuilding, that’s two hours a day of inflammation, eccentric muscle tissue damage.
Ironman triathlon is I mean sometimes three or four hours a day on the weekends, just chronic cardio. And so, that stuff absolutely adds up. And I think that one of the most profound discoveries that exercise enthusiasts can make is to open themselves up to the possibility that there are ways to scratch that dopamine itch and that urge for self-improvement with things that go beyond just dumbbell curls and treadmills.
Darshan: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, the paradigm shifts that occur in the thinking of Americans. It’s the population in general. When we started to get fat 50 years ago, the problem was that we had too many calories and we had to burn as many calories as possible. Therefore, you run marathons. Therefore, you work out all day. And what’s incredible to me is that we always seem to have this all or none mentality, either there’s sedentary or you’re doing a marathon. But really, human beings are meant to live in homeostasis, right? Like you said, the minimum effective dose is what we should be trying to figure out with all of those.
Ben: Well, minimum effective dose of exercise. Really, I would say maximum effective dose of physical activity, hacking your environment to be on a walking treadmill or a standing workstation and taking Pomodoro breaks to move and getting out in the sunshine and defying that societal expectation to freaking sit whenever you’re not doing it. Like you go to the airport and everyone’s sitting there, waiting to sit some more on the airplane. When I go to the airport, I’m walking around, I do freaking jumping jacks or whatever gate I can find that’s empty. I completely avoid sitting there.
This is the worst one. You go to the chiropractic. And you’re there at the chiropractic and everybody just launched over on their phones waiting to get their back treated because of their shortened hip flexors that they got from sitting. When I go to the chiropractic, I’m stretching my hip flexors on my so ass and lunging and doing halfway warrior yoga moves while I’m waiting to see the chiro. So, the idea is you figure out ways to inject low-level physical activity in your life all day long so that you can have the minimum dose of exercise because there was a time when the gym, the box, the hard work out, whatever you want to call it, was relegated to the realm of athletes and gymnasts and warriors and gladiators. And the average person was farming and gardening and fencing and lifting rocks and hunting, and it would have been absolutely insane to finish a day.
When I was painting in college, I was a painter, I didn’t finish a day of painting and have this intense urge to go to the gym for catharsis or to move. I was exhausted. I was ready to sit around with my friends and have a glass of wine and a nice salad, some steak at the end of the day, and I realized that sounds unfair to somebody who’s sitting in a cubicle or maybe even like a–physician probably isn’t a good analogy because I know a lot of doctors and they’re just like up and down all day at their jobs, but someone who’s basically relegated to a cubicle.
This might sound unfair but I mean, freaking hey, you can have a kettlebell underneath your desk and stop every 25 minutes to do 30 kettlebell swings and you can take the stairs and you can walk as much as possible and skip the hour lunch break to have a quick 15 minute salad and go for a 45-minute walk in the sunshine. I mean, there are all sorts of things that you can do that go beyond just frankly increasing your risk of mortality by sitting all day, then creating rampant inflammation by beating yourself up at the beginning or the end of that day of sitting.
Darshan: Right, right, absolutely. I think the best purchase I ever made in my life, I still say this, is my walking desk. That thing has changed my life literally. I went from creating inflammation and creating basically–decrease my longevity to flipping it, and I actually love doing this. It’s a lot more fun. So, inserting little things like that in your life, it’s kind of simple but you just got to get the motivation to do it and understand it really works, right?
Ben: Exactly. I was going to say the best investment I ever made was probably a cannabis company up in Canada. But if we’re talking about the other things that made more money on the treadmill workstation, but as far as from a health standpoint, yeah, I would agree with you. Probably, that would be up there, the pull-up bar and the door of the office, my little collection of kettlebells, and another one that I think is a very good investment for just about everybody, and this might even sound gimmicky but it’s a hex bar. A hex bar is a special kind of bar that allows you to do a deadlift, but it protects the back, it allows you to really utilize your glutes, it trains grip strength, it works just about every muscle in your body.
So, what I have is a hex bar loaded up with enough weight to where there’s no way I could do more than five repetitions with it, and that’s in the room next to my office. So, when I finish a podcast or a consult call or an hour block of emails or whatever, I can walk in the room next to my office and just do a few reps of lifting heavy stuff, and your body has this really good anabolic response. And again, it’s far different than me going to the gym and spending an hour at the gym doing whatever, a 5×5 deadlift protocol, and so they’re playing Candy Crush in between each one or standing slack-jawed and watching the gym TV.
A hex bar is actually a very good investment as well and there’s some really interesting data on its ability to increase grip strength, and also glute activation, which is one of the things that when you lose your glutes, your hip flexors are shortened at the same time. You begin to see increased risk of frailty, decreased exercise performance. So, yeah, the hex bar pull-up kettlebell combo, I think if you’re going to have anything. And then we’d probably throw the walking treadmill, some kind of a treadmill so you can move inside. Yeah, you get those things and you’re well onto your way of being able to engage in that whole idea of lift heavy stuff occasionally, sprint occasionally, move all day long as an alternative to exercise.
Darshan: Absolutely. I can’t tell you how many patients I see that have low back pain. And it’s because their glutes are short and they don’t even know it. Once I put them on their stretching protocol, it changes their life.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not their glutes, their other hip flexors.
Darshan: I mean, their hip flexors, sorry–
Ben: Hip flexors, yeah. Psoas, iliacus, yeah.
Ben: All of that, which for people listening just from a pure biomechanical standpoint, as soon as you shorten one muscle, you can deactivate the ability of the co-contracting or the opposing muscle to be able to generate force. So, if you sit all day, you essentially turn off your glutes, and that’s why if you go to the average mall, and this might sound like total creep factor, but maybe wear your sunglasses or blue light blocking glasses and start to just look at people’s asses. We live in a culture where a lot of people, they just don’t have asses, right? And honestly, if there’s one muscle that you could train, it would be your ass; squats, deadlifts, lunges, taking the stairs, avoiding long periods of time spent sitting.
The cool thing is that a lot of those leg muscles have a high proportion of androgen receptors as well. So, when you train them and you move them, you up-regulate your ability to be able to respond to some of the things that people come to a clinic like this to optimize, just like testosterone and growth hormone. So, yeah, working the legs and paying attention to glutes is super important, which is why you’ll see me shifting constantly during this podcast. You’ll notice like I’m always just in a different position.
Darshan: [00:19:24] ______.
Ben: I know. I’ve already kicked you twice.
Darshan: That’s okay. Remind me every time you kick me to move too.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Darshan: I love it. So, [00:19:34] ______ the topic of exercise, and for those of you who are clients of NextHealth and members, you know that we talk about 12 different aspects of health and we call that our Wellness Wheel. And I kind of showed you a graphic of that that we have over here as well. And exercise is one of those 12 different aspects that we coach people on. I want to get your opinion on high-intensity intermittent training hit exercises. What’s your opinion on them and do you use it? What are your thoughts?
Ben: So, HIIT training, H-I-I-T, high-intensity interval training, when you look at the data on it, essentially, there are two different ways to increase your mitochondrial density. Both ways work. One is via long and slow relatively aerobic training where you’re well below what would be considered to be your lactic acid threshold, where your muscles began to produce lactic acid faster than it can be removed. So, we’re talking about exercising close to–if you were to go to an exercise physiology lab and wear a mask during exercise, it would be like the point at which you’re burning the most amount of fat.
That’s the approximation of your aerobic intensity, and that pathway can stimulate mitochondrial density but it takes long periods of time spent exercising. We see that a lot of the world’s best endurance athletes use that type of protocol with very brief periods of time spent doing intense training. It’s called the polarized training approach, but it only seems to work to really move the dial on improving mitochondrial density and aerobic fitness as a whole when you have a lot of time to do it. You got to exercise a lot. It’s got to be like your job and you’re going on a two-hour hike, an hour-long bike ride every day, and a pretty low-level physical intensity but it works.
And then the other way is via different pathway that increases mitochondrial density and fitness and capitalization in response to higher intensity brief spurts of exercise. Examples of that would be we know that you can significantly increase mitochondrial density with just one to two times a week for 30-second extremely hard efforts with four minutes of recovery in between each. So, it’s a 1:8 work to rest ratio, but that actually is something that’s been studied and been shown to be a very good protocol for increasing mitochondrial density. So, you get on a bike, 30 seconds, just freaking balls out and then four minutes off or active recovery or like easy pedaling and you just do that four times. Boom, done.
Another example would be–and if you were like, “Well, I don’t want to do the whole formal exercise thing. I really, really want to go out natural.” You could say, “Well, go play soccer a couple of times a week.” You got brief sprints with little bits of jogging and walking in between each. Good example; or tennis. We also know, for example, that when it comes to lactic acid tolerance or building up a lot of lactic acid in the muscle, which does induce a testosterone and growth hormone response, that a very simple–and this would be another example of high-intensity interval training, four-minute what’s called a Tabata set, named after the Japanese researcher that did this Tabata. That’s 20 seconds very hard, 10 seconds easy. But that’s just four minutes, like eight times through; 4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off.
Darshan: Four minutes total for the workout?
Ben: Four minutes total. But by the time you warm up and cool down, it’s probably closer like 10 minutes by the time that you’re done. But yeah, that’s another example in addition to the 30 seconds on, 4 minutes off. So, that’s an example of how to increase mitochondrial density. And then that second example I gave was how you could increase your lactic acid tolerance for the hormonal response. And then finally, when we talk about longevity markers, maximum oxygen utilization, or VO2 max is another thing that’s correlated with longevity performance, et cetera, and that responds very well to longer intense interval sessions. But again, not a super long session when you put it all into context, and that would be four minutes at your maximum sustainable pace followed by a one-to-one work to rest ratios, like four minutes of recovery.
So, what I’ll have some of the people I train do is once a week, they’ll do you four minutes as hard as they can go, four minutes easy, four times through. So, you’re still exercising for less than a half hour, and that’s probably the more painful of the three examples that I gave in terms of discomfort. But those would be ways that you could use high-intensity interval training as a way to increase mitochondrial density, lactic acid tolerance, and VO2 max. And lest people be asking now the question, “Well, I thought you said that exercise is bad or that intense exercise is unnecessary.”
What I’m saying is that you are still unless you are that construction worker, farmer, hunter-gatherer, gardener, whatever, even if you kind of hacked your environment to have that standing workstation, treadmill workstation, stopping for Pomodoro breaks every once in a while. In a post-industrial era, we are still largely sedentary. We’re sitting in cars, trains, subways, et cetera. So, I think that occasionally, less than most people think is necessary, what I just named would be maybe an hour and a half to two hours of your entire week. So, that would be an example of a scenario that would be more conducive to longevity with that minimal effective dose of exercise. You’re still missing out on strength but then once you throw in, and this is another thing I have a lot of my clients do, just like two single set to failure sessions, like there’s a book by Doug McGuff called, “Body by Science” where he says, “Okay. So, chest press, pull down, shoulder press, seated row, leg press, one single set to failure for each of those, and your body responds very well to that.” From a strength training standpoint, it takes 12 to 18 minutes and you can do that on like a Monday and a Friday.
And sure, if you’re training for Spartan or triathlon or the CrossFit Games and that’s your dragon to slay, that’s the Mount Everest you want to climb, don’t fool yourself that those type of activities will make you live longer, but they can be fun, right? They can make life fun. And so, if you’re doing those type of things, sure, you probably need to do more than like sitting there doing a chest press to fail. You probably got to do some push-ups and some bear crawls and some rock carries and all sorts of stuff. But ultimately, for the average person who’s not wanting to go out there and be a competitive athlete, those brief high-intensity interval training sessions with a couple of strength training sets where you’re just doing one single set to failure and low-level physical activity at your job during the day, and you’re covering all those bases from an exercise standpoint.
Darshan: That’s perfect. It’s such a fantastic advice, especially with people in today’s era where no one really has time and they’re trying to fit exercise into an already very busy schedule in a sedentary life. Putting in some high-intensity interval training, doing a little bit strength workouts and trying to work in as much as possible in your life, it’s a good moral to the story. Doing that is going to at least keep you at a place where you’re increasing your longevity not decreasing it by not doing anything.
Darshan: I love it. So, let’s move back. Let’s talk a little bit about what diet you’re on now. So, what’s the Ben Greenfield diet at this point in time?
Ben: My diet widely varies due to my extensive international travel where I happen to be in the world. I am a foodie. I love to eat whatever local good, whole food cuisine happens to be in the area that I’m in. If I’m in Japan, I’m eating rice and fish and seaweed and the herbs and spices they have over there or bitter melon extract or miso or anything like that. When I am in Iceland or Finland, I’m doing tons of fish, cold water fish, reindeer bilberries, lingonberries, sea buckthorn, and what they eat over there.
When I’m at home, the closest approximation to what I eat would be something like the Weston A. Price diet. Unlike the Paleo diet, I don’t feel that we need to eliminate dairy and grains. I feel that if they’re fermented and soaked and sprouted and a lot of the anti-nutrients are deactivated and they’re made digestible and you’re eating things like slow-fermented sourdough bread and raw milk and yogurt and accompanying that with good fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, grass-fed meat, cold water fish, butter, olive oil, a high intake of wild plants that you cover a lot of your bases.
Now, I don’t think that there is one perfect human diet but what I think is that for the average person who’s trying to eat healthy, sometimes eating healthy occurs in phases. Meaning, many people have leaky guts or damaged guts. They might need to follow a relatively restrictive diet that does eliminate some plaque and plant lectins, or they have joint pain and they need to eliminate nightshades until they’ve fixed any type of chronic inflammatory response syndrome or immune system issue that they have. They may need to follow a gut and psychology syndrome, GAPS diet, or a specific carbohydrate diet, if they have SIBO or FODMAP sensitivities, bloating and gas, or they may need to follow like a Paleo-autoimmune diet.
But the idea is that any restrictive diet including even a carnivore diet, which is, in my opinion, a food and elimination diet that people feel good on because they’ve gotten rid of a lot of things that could present an inflammatory response in the gut. So, wheat, dairy, a lot of fast food, et cetera, even plants to a certain extent with people who have gut issues, your body just has difficulty with the natural defense mechanisms present in plants. However, once you’ve followed a more restrictive diet or a food elimination diet or gotten rid of the aggravating foods for you for a certain period of time, a lot of times that’s two to six months, you can begin to engage in more dietary variety. You can try some good raw yogurt or goat’s milk. And even if you haven’t been having dairy for a while, once you’ve healed your gut and your intestinal villi that produced some of that lactase for you to digest the lactose sugars, everything is restored and you’re able to handle a little bit better.
The same thing could be said for–for example, let’s say that you aren’t eating bread or gluten at all, you’ve completely eliminated them but then you’ve used things like bone broth and glutamine and colostrum and a really nourishing diet for the gut. You no longer have any type of IBD or IBS. Well, maybe you can start having quinoa and amaranth and millet and overnight oats and a fermented sourdough bread and some of these less dense sources of gluten. So, in my opinion, and what I eat, it’s a whole foods diet consisting of every good thing that grows in the planet.
But then there’s a variety I eat and I eat seasonally. And we see these things no matter what diet. When you look at all these blue zones or longevity hotspots, there were specific characteristics we see. You eat seasonally. You eat locally. You eat real food. There’s a lot of plant intake. You have certain periods of time where you’re caloric restricting or fasting, whether for religious reasons or otherwise, and that could be an intermittent fast, it could be an alternate day fast, it could be a fasting mimicking diet, it could be you’ve got–like my dad, after Thanksgiving meal, he was just like, “I’m not eating meat ’til Christmas,” because he’s an Eastern Orthodox. And so, that’s his religion, no meat ’til Christmas.
So, that’s a period of time where he’s engaging in cellular autophagy and inhibiting the mTOR pathway. It’s more for religious reasons than for biochemical reasons, but the biochemical reasons are kind of the favorable side effect of that. So, that’s the way that I eat, and I think that it varies for everyone but if I could give one solid piece of advice to folks, it would be to a–if you’ve done like genetic testing or blood testing or salivary or urine or stool testing, that you eat as whole foods diet as you can eat, and then use all of your self-quantification data to tweak it to you.
So, what I mean by that is–well, let’s give one really quick example. You’re a Northern European and you know that your ancestors had a lot of like cold water fish and omega-3 fatty acids and minerals from salting and fermenting and curing and pickling in their diets. You’re going to eat a lot of really good mineral rich foods. You’re going to use like a Celtic sea salt. You’re going to eat a lot of cold water fish and some grass-fed beef. You’re probably not going to do a lot of fruit because your ancestors wouldn’t have access to that much. And you are going to include a lot of wild plants, particularly ferments like sauerkraut and kimchi. And then, based on your blood results, that might show whatever, low vitamin D, low magnesium and high inflammation. So, you’re going to take vitamin D, you’re going to take magnesium, and you’re going to throw some kind of curcumin complex in there, right? And so that’s an example of just taking your ancestral data, your blood data, whole foods approach, and tweaking everything to you.
Darshan: I love it. Yeah. And that’s what we talk about here all the time. I like to use a protocol where we personalize every single diet because we all know there’s no one diet that’s right for everybody. And we measure hemoglobin A1c and glucose response as part of that. So, if there’s a glucose response issue, we treat that with a low carb, obviously sugar elimination diet, maybe some metformin. We do food sensitivity testing. I feel like that’s kind of a way to shortcut and know what fruits eliminate first, and like an elimination diet, and then genetic testing because I believe that epigenetically, our genes change constantly and we’ve had hundreds of thousands of years of evolution that have modified our genes based on what our ancestry is basically. So, we kind of put that together for people. It sounds like that’s kind of like what you’re doing basically, right?
Ben: Yeah. One question that I have for you based on that, are you implying that you are testing genetics throughout the year, like more than once?
Darshan: No, just once.
Ben: Okay. So, you’re testing. You’re not saying that people —
Darshan: Just once.
Ben: I doubt you guys are doing CRISPR technology and changing people’s genes.
Darshan: No, not yet. No, not yet.
Ben: What you’re saying is that it’s necessary for people to do a genetic test once. Like in a lifetime, you just have all their snips, yeah.
Well, hey there, I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you about my friend Drew Canole. Seven years ago, Drew was working a job he hated. He ate fast food every day. He drank coffee and energy drinks just to stay awake at work. And then one of his buddies introduced him to green superfoods and he started doing wheatgrass shots and moringa and spirulina and all these different dense green things to boost his immunity and to burn fat and to detox and to not have to spend like $20 at the juice bar every day. He just decided to start making his own blends.
And his Green Juice blend that he’s come up with, which is coconut and ashwagandha-infused, tastes amazing and it allows you to make a green juice for pennies on the dollar that–and his sourcing is just incredible. The dude is extremely anal when it comes to making sure nothing is like pesticide, herbicide, it’s all USDA organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, soy free, everything. So, you get 20% off of his green juices. You just go to Organifi.com. That’s spelled with an I, organifi.com, and the discount code you can use for 20% is GREENFIELD. So, that’s organifi.com and use code GREENFIELD.
Darshan: And the reason for that, the reason I mentioned epigenetics is because our genes change as we evolve because of epigenetics. So, like you said, whatever ancestry area of the world you are raised in, what happened was those, your ancestors basically, you had access to certain types of food. And because of evolution, those foods affected their genes and then they evolved into the survival of the fittest basically, and that’s what’s the fittest for your ancestry.
Ben: Yes. And some of those food practices wound up being implemented because certain tribes or populations discover that those foods reduce their susceptibility to dying early because of genetic risk, which is why folks in Cameroon, Africa really need a higher fiber diet because they have a higher than normal genetic risk for colon cancer. And in that context of a fiber rich diet in Africa, they do not get colon cancer but then once you put someone like that in the deep south, eating, and I know this sounds stereotypical but I’m just going to roll with it anyways, eating fried chicken and fast food in the absence of high plant and fiber intake, all of a sudden that same population gets colon cancer.
Or you could say the same thing for a Hispanic population that has a higher than normal risk for type 2 diabetes, but that’s controlled with a low glycemic index legume and fiber-rich diet as you would find in the context of say the Tarahumara Indian tribe, right? And then you take that same Hispanic population and you put them into the context of Taco Bell and Taco Time and corn chips and refried beans and a lot of these bastardizations of traditional Mexican cuisine, and you have a Hispanic population in America getting a high rate of diabetes.
And so, yeah, if you’re lucky enough to not be a mutt like me and be like purebred and kind of really know that the majority of your ancestry, man, one of the smartest things you can do is look at what your ancestors were eating in their environmental context, 100 or 200 or 1,000 years ago because you know, based on what you’ve just explained, Dr. Shah, the epigenetics of this dictate that you’re probably going to respond pretty favorably to that diet.
Darshan: Right, absolutely. We have the science now and I think we’ve gone through like the century of all these diets, whether it’s a food pyramid that’s prescribed down to us or those Atkins, and everyone thought their diet was supposed to be Atkins and that’s how they’re going to lose weight. I think we know now that there’s not one diet that’s right for everybody and kind of taking a more global approach toward incorporating genetics, some testing, and really sticking to like you said, whole foods from your region, there’s local. There’s going to be what’s going to win all the time, and the most sustainable too, for sure.
Ben: Yeah, absolutely.
Darshan: Talk about on the subject of Get Health. Where have you kind of fallen with all this microbiome stuff? We’ve talked about that before, you know, retests microbiome on people. I just want to know what your feeling is about the science right now and if you incorporated that in your daily life.
Ben: Well, look, what we do know is that the biome of the large intestine, which is largely what you’re looking at when you do a stool analysis, is not necessarily reflective of the biome of the small intestine. Therefore, you cannot say since XYZ bacteria is deficient in your stool sample that you are therefore deficient in this particular bacteria and would benefit from taking XYZ probiotic. That’s kind of throwing darts in the dark. We’re not sure. Now, all of these companies that are now testing the biome, the American gut project and Viome and uBiome, and it seems like there’s a new one every day, they’re collecting data. And they could get to the point where they’re really able to say, “Well, we have 4,000 people who have tested with our company and we have established that all the people who appear to have a fermacide bacterial ratio that is imbalanced based on their large intestine testing benefit from let’s say this blend of saccharomyces boulardii and these eight lactobacillus compounds.
And if they’re able to say that based on the big data that they’ve collected, great, but we’re not at that point yet. What we do know is that probiotics–I’m not saying probiotics are useless. For some reason, even though recent studies have shown that probiotics do not seem to do a good job populating the gut, they pass pretty quickly through the body and many of them are damaged or destroyed in the process of the acidic environment of the stomach and the other digestive processes that they need to go through. For some reason, and people don’t know why still they have an impact on IBS and IBD, and depression is another one, like there are some mood disorders that respond favorably to probiotics, but we know so little about how they’re working at this point. We still can’t say your stool test says you don’t have these specific bacteria, therefore, you should take it. There’s just not enough data to say.
Now, I think it is valuable to test your gut and get a full analysis of your microbiome because at least once research has progressed to the point where we can take actionable steps based on that data and we know that we can look at your bacterial profile or plug it into an algorithm and say, “Okay, not only do you need to take probiotics but these are the eight foods that we’ve actually now shown from big data with your specific bacteria profile that you need to avoid or these are the vitamins that you need to take or these are the anti-histamines that you need to take based on your bacterial profile, great. But at this point, we’re just kind of sitting on a pile of interesting but relatively useless data.”
Darshan: Yeah, and I totally agree with you. But what’s really cool about it now is that it’s kind of like this convergence of where computer technology is and the data collection is and now, we have a ridiculous amount of data that–you know, I don’t care what researcher you are, trying to put all this in a spreadsheet and find of pattern. It’s going to take you years, if not, never happen. But we can plug this data into artificial intelligence systems now and use supercomputers to sort through all of it to give us an actionable insight.
And that’s where–like you said, you’re basically contributing your data to these companies that are testing right now, and it’s interesting stuff to look at. I think some people might find that they have maybe a pathogenic bacteria or some really bad imbalance but you’re not getting a lot of data yet. That’s specifically useful but it’s also good because it makes you aware that you have a microbiome and you need to treat it nicely and you did not kill it every few months with antibiotics because you have a little sniffle and you need to be eating kimchi and probiotics. It fosters that awareness at least, right?
Ben: It does and I can tell you that anyone who I’ve ever worked with who has brought me their gut test results, whether a full microbiome analysis or just a basic Genova or doctors diagnostic, three-day stool panel, which isn’t a full microbiome analysis but that is an analysis of some of the things going on in the gut. Almost 100% of the time, the people who have deficiencies in bacteria, particularly the people who cross the board just have low levels of bacteria as a whole, they experience GI issues, they experience digestive issues, and they all tend to be a population who’s not eating enough fiber and fermented foods, right? So, that’s a situation where I can confidently tell someone when I’m looking at that data, “Dude, you just are having a green smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch and some kimchi and sauerkraut with dinner and you’re probably going to feel better based on what I’ve seen the other people that I’ve worked with.” But again, I’m not big data, I’m not an artificial intelligence computer, it’s just me operating based on what I’ve seen.
Darshan: Oh, yeah. I’ll see like a c-reactive protein that’s a little bit high, and I’ll tell them, “Just start eating some fiber every day. It’ll come down.” It’s incredible like anecdotal correlation there sometimes.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, it is.
Darshan: It’s pretty amazing. So, let’s move on to the next topic on our wellness wheel. One of the things I really want to talk to you about is sleep. This is something that a lot of people–
Ben: I love sleep.
Darshan: Yeah. Me too, I’m a big fan of sleep, and I love tracking my sleep and I kind of play a game with myself on my sleep monitor every day to see how I’m doing and when I fall off the wagon on my sleep as well. Do you track your sleep?
Ben: I do.
Ben: I do track my sleep. I didn’t use to because I felt that when I tracked my sleep, I became so obsessive over it that it disrupted my sleep. And I found that almost very similar to entrainment, like binaural beats for sleep don’t work for the first few times you use them and then suddenly they start to work or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy mats or PMF mats. A lot of people are sleeping on like they don’t really work at first and they do work. Kind of in the opposite when I first started quantifying sleep for a while, it almost did the opposite and messed up my sleep and then I just got used to it and quit worrying and obsessing over the data. And now, actually, I get better sleep when I’m quantifying because I think I’m almost like competitive and I really want to make sure that I get a good night of sleep and I’ve got my readiness score when I wake up in the morning and I can see my deep sleep cycles and I can know the things to avoid.
I’m using the ring. Yeah, I’m using the Oura ring, this one that I’m wearing right now. Generally, what I look for is my sleep latency, how long it took me to fall asleep. I look at my deep sleep percentages and I look at my REM sleep or my light sleep percentages, number of times that I woke, body temperature and heart rate during the night, and then heart rate variability. These are all parameters of recovery and proper sleep rhythm. And I’ve found that there are certain low-hanging fruits that surprised me when it comes to enhancing sleep.
There are things that we know now definitely disrupt sleep that I think most people are aware of; playing on your phone at night in bed, especially if you aren’t wearing blue light blocking glasses or don’t have night mode enabled, just having the lights on, bright lights in your room in general, working out too close to bedtime so that you really have high body temperature or just sleeping in a room that’s too hot or a room that’s too noisy or a room that has the curtains open and so in 5:00 a.m. rolls around, in the summertime it’s late and you’re waking up an hour earlier than you wanted to.
We know a lot of this stuff. The stuff that surprised me, that move the dial the most if I could share a few things with you, number one was that my quality of sleep is directly correlated to the amount of bright sunshine I get before noon. And so, today, before I came over here–you know, I’m staying at the London West Hotel down the street and I had about an hour of work to do between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. So, I brought my computer and my breakfast and everything up to the pool deck, and I worked in the pool deck in the sunshine, and I always make it a point to get outside in the sunshine based on the sleep data that I’m getting now every day before noon. Bright sunlight exposure in the early day is just as important as artificial light and blue light mitigation later on in the day. I’ve found that that one really moves the dial.
If you can’t get out before noon, you still see some benefit by just like finishing up work at 4:00 or 5:00 and just like getting out before the sun goes down. I mean, that really helps. And the more skin you can get exposed because your skin has all sorts of opsins and photoreceptors and photoreceptor proteins in it, the better. Even your testicles guys have–your testicles are an eye. Your skin is an eye and so your balls. That’s why actually that’s one of the reasons that the testicles respond so well to this concept of photobiomodulation or red light therapy. It’s the thing guys are doing now for testosterone, kind of a rabbit hole but that actually works.
So, sunlight is one. Another one that particularly for deep sleep seems to make a really big difference would be anything that targets the endocannabinoid system. So, anything like a CBD, vape pen or a CBD edible or tincture or capsule, that I find particularly when combined with a gamma-Aminobutyric acid precursor-like passionflower or valerian or chamomile or even pH GABA, that one-two combo just knocks me out like a baby. Now, a lot of these CBDs, when you get them a serving size is, in many cases 10 to 30 milligrams, I find that most people including myself and a lot of the clients that I work with respond very well to 60 to 100.
So, that’s the problem is I think a lot of people use CBD but they don’t use enough, but when you do like some CBD and some chamomile tea or some CBD and some kind of like herb that’s got valerian root or passionflower, any of these GABA precursors in it, that one really moves the dial as well.
Darshan: That’s for getting more deep sleep. That’s for increasing the–
Ben: That would be for increasing particularly the deep sleep percentages.
Ben: And then the final one that I think is very important because we talked about some things that are exogenous supplementation or that involve–you and I were talking about this before the podcast episode, the modern medicines infatuation, particularly in functional medicine and the anti-aging industry with peptides and SARMs and supplements and red light for your balls and PEMF mats, and all this jazz–
Darshan: Anything they could sell you.
Ben: Right. And a lot of that stuff works but I think it’s important also to understand your body’s built-in endogenous capability, particularly in the realm of relaxation and distressing. And of course you, as a guy who has a history of Ayurvedic medicine, understand the concept of prana, of the breath being one of the best ways to control the body to either activate or deactivate the sympathetic nervous system. And I find that anything that involves a breath work protocol has helped me tremendously with that component that I named a sleep latency, or like how long it takes you to fall asleep.
So, once you put away the phone, and for me, it’s usually a paper book at night once I folded up the paper book, right now it’s Harry Potter, and put that aside. I’m going to race with my kids right now to finish the Harry Potter series. You have a breath work protocol that you do. Just lay there with your eyes closed. And yeah, maybe you have some special white noise playing or binaural beats. I know a lot of people are into these apps that can help to improve sleep. I use one called Sleepstream. There’s another one called Brain.fm that I use. A lot of times, I’ll put on those tracks and I’ll just lay there. And the two forms of breath work that I find really decrease my sleep latency, how long it takes me to fall asleep, are box breathing or 4-7-8 breathing. Box breathing is four count in, four count hold, four count out, four count hold. 4-7-8 is four count in, seven-count hold, eight count out. Either of those breath work protocols do a really good job with sleep latency.
So, there’s a ton of things you do for sleep. We could probably talk for hours on sleep, but get early day sunshine, try CBD if you haven’t yet, and then also have a breath work protocol that you use, and any of these things seem to kind of operate on that principle of entrainment, meaning the more you do it and more frequently you do it, the more it seems to help with sleep. And part of that is probably the same reason that an NBA player does better with their free throws when they really dial in their pre-free throw routine, three bounces the basketball, look to the left, wink at your wife, tap your chest twice, shoot. Same thing, early morning sunlight, CBD, breath work protocol, boom, lights out so that we can build things in a routine the better.
Darshan: Absolutely. Yeah. And for people that have insomnia especially, like if you can get into a really set routine, you can sometimes break through this insomnia barrier that a lot of people have. I have kind of used melatonin off and on with some people, just the small dosages, just for a limited amount of time. What are your feelings on melatonin there?
Ben: Yeah. I like melatonin when I travel. I’m grabbing my phone here so we could look at my sleep scores from last night. I like melatonin when I travel, especially west to east. Melatonin doesn’t work so well east to west. So, west to east melatonin is good. And then generally, if I’ve traveled extensively, especially to the west or to the east if I go to Japan, I take a lot of melatonin. I’ll take like 40 to 50 milligrams of melatonin as a way to just push the giant reboot button on the circadian rhythm. And your melatonin production decreases. Your pineal gland becomes a little less efficient as you age.
So, you kind of get to the point where at a certain stage in life, just like I feel like sometimes bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is actually a good thing later in life. If you really want to optimize health and vitality, you could say the same thing for sleep in melatonin. The same thing could be said also for digestive enzymes, like you just produce less of them as you age so your protein absorption decreases. There are certain things that are just smart to do as you age even though our ancestors might not have done those exact things per se. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a modern bastardization of ancestry. It’s just smart things we had access to that our ancestors didn’t.
But, ultimately with melatonin, I find that for me, about 0.3 up to about 3 milligrams as a pretty regular thing, and then a lot more than that when I travel west to east to help out the circadian rhythm. It works very, very well. I like some of those time release. I think it’s Natron, make some time release capsules. I’ll use like the sublingual stuff sometimes, like the sublingual melatonin spray. So, yeah, I’m a fan of melatonin. Of course, don’t take melatonin but be looking at your phone at night and not using blue light blockers and doing all these things that inhibit melatonin production because that’s kind of putting gasoline on the fire on one end and water on the other.
So, my sleep score from last night, I slept 8 hours and 44 minutes. My resting heart rate was 36. It looks like I had six wake ups but they’re very short. My sleep latency was actually 17 minutes. That’s actually a little bit longer than it normally takes me to fall asleep. And that’s pretty typical when I’m traveling. There are more thoughts racing through my head and it’s easier for me to fall asleep and my wife’s like snuggled up next to me. I just fall asleep faster. My deep sleep was 21%, which is good, like having that in 15% to 20% range is good. REM sleep was 25%. And my resting heart rate was 36. This is why it’s interesting to look at data. My average heart rate, especially between about, it looks like 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., was higher than normal, and I can tell you exactly why. It’s because I had a ribeye steak for dinner last night. I had that ribeye steak at about 8:00 p.m. So, I was digesting food and that jacked up the heart rate.
Ideally, you’d finish up a heavy meal three hours prior to bedtime. That doesn’t happen. Or ideally, I would have gone for a walk outside in the cold or even taken a cold shower or done something to decrease my body temperature. But if I didn’t, I was a lazy ass and I got in bed and read Harry Potter instead. That’s just an example of some of the things you can find out when you’re looking at your sleep data.
Darshan: Yeah. No. That’s amazing. I was just looking at my sleep score. I had a 90 sleep score. But your heart rate, I mean that 38 is incredible.
Ben: Yeah. I’m an endurance athlete so that’s a big part of it. I don’t have bradycardia. So, yeah, my score is 94. What’s your readiness?
Darshan: You know, I don’t use the ring, so I don’t get a readiness score. I use Beddit.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. Okay, you use Beddit, yeah.
Darshan: The Nokia monitor.
Ben: Yeah. My readiness is 87, which is good because I just got back from the Dominican Republic last week. And if you look at my first few scores after I got back from the Dominican Republic, like first three days I got back, I’m 69, 64, 57. That’s what like heavy travel does to your body. And I’m just now, it looks like the past six days, I’m finally back up and my app gives me a little crown, like a little reward to knock back up to 80.
Darshan: I love it.
Ben: I know it sounds–I’m going to use this word again, gimmicky but I–
Darshan: It’s fun stuff.
Ben: Yeah, I’m kind of motivated by that stuff.
Darshan: Yes. It’s so motivational.
Ben: I’m motivated by the step count too.
Darshan: Yeah. Oh, I love the step count.
Ben: Like when I’m wearing my ring or anything else that quantifies, I get 15,000 steps a day, and I will, like if I’m at 13,000, I finish up dinner and I’m tired and want to go to bed, I will often just like go outside and walk up and down the driveway and get my–which sounds just like total type A, anal-retentive, orthorexic. But I think the pros outweigh the cons of really having like a set goal and just nailing it every day.
Darshan: It’s so true. I mean, like having a number to look at on a day-to-day basis is–and having someone else you’re doing this with too helps. My wife and I wake up every morning. We’d compare the sleep scores. And I’m like bummed when she–she gets 100 a lot of times. She’s like a rock star with that.
Ben: Yeah. Anybody has got more yin. All the ladies, they’ve got more yin. In many cases, they sleep better. My wife doesn’t take supplements. She doesn’t quantify anything. She doesn’t use any sleep strategy. She’s complete opposite of me. Her job is she’s outside planting flowers and gardening and playing on the fruit orchard and pushing alfalfa down to the goats and getting eggs from the chickens, and so she just got a different life altogether. She probably needs less of the biohacks because she’s just living more naturally. And I know people are like, “Alright, Ben. Ben, I want you to start farming and sit at home and write your books in the farm and quit getting on airplanes.”
The reason for that is I’ve been placed in the position to where God has given me a platform where I’m actually able to get out there and help people out. And part of that platform does involve me having to be at the mercy of airplanes and computers and Wi-Fi routers and hotels with moldy carpets, just everything. And so, I’m fighting an uphill battle, but I’m okay with that because I do feel like I’m helping a lot of people out more than–actually like before I launched my company two and a half years ago, I was this close.
This is an audio podcast partially but I’m making a very small approximate. It was this close to just like being–I remember I was talking to–it was my friend Mark Manson who wrote the book. What is it like? It’s the book with how not to give a fuck. I think it’s the name of the book, something like that.
Darshan: Yes. That’s something like that.
Ben: Yeah. And he was like, “Yeah. I just sit at home and write and I’m pretty happy with that.” I’m like, “Oh, I can do that.” But then I did a lot of deep soul-searching and I thought, “Geez.” I feel like I would be shorting myself. For some reason, God gave me not that many skills but there’s a few that I can do well like I can research and disseminate information and speak it to people well. So, I can speak from stage and I’m not scared to be speaking from stage. And I can write and dialogue with people both online and offline pretty well in the realm of health and fitness. And I can write, but writings like kind of one-third of what I can do. And so, yeah, because I’ve chosen to embrace this post-industrial lifestyle, hop on airplanes and be on computers and get on stages and go to conferences and have to sleep in the hotel room for the conference, yeah, I have to do a lot of shit to keep my body feeling pretty good.
Darshan: Sure, sure, yeah. And like you said, you have a great platform and you’re spreading your wealth of knowledge that you’ve accumulated. And it involves some travel and you have to kind of mitigate the effects of them.
Ben: Some, yeah. A lot, yeah.
Darshan: I’m so thankful you came to L.A.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Darshan: Right. Another big part of the circadian rhythm, and there’s rhythms in biology and nature, is controlling when you eat your food and then tying in some fasting with that as well. Like you said, it’s incredible how religions have been having us fast for centuries and no one ever really knew that that increased your mitochondrial density or your longevity or telomere length. I come from the Hindu religion, and my parents, they fast one day a week and then one week every three or four months, and then like two weeks a year. It’s like just part of their religion, it’s part of the protocol that somehow was figured out for them. It’s pretty incredible.
Ben: It’s not even something they do for a year because they’re on a special diet. It’s like their whole life, that’s what they do.
Darshan: Right. Exactly, yeah. So, what’s your fasting routine now?
Ben: Well, I do agree with you that fasting is one of the lowest hanging fruits for cellular autophagy, for inhibition of that mTOR pathway, for healing the gut, and it’s so seldomly utilized, or at least utilized relatively less than a lot of the medications and supplements and bio hacks that people are doing, because if you look at it, it is a stoic route. It’s not a hedonistic route, it’s not a superfood smoothie you can drink, it’s not a medication you can inject and feel right away. It’s kind of hard, right?
And I think that’s why a lot of people don’t do it, right. Just like the spiritual disciplines. Fasting is a spiritual discipline. So is meditation. A lot of people know it’s good for you but not a lot of people do it. So is silence and solitude, prayer, study, devotions, a gratitude practice. These are all things that move the dial significantly for your health and for just your ability to be able to make the world a better place. But they’re stoic, right, and people are not big fans of this stoic route.
But even when you look at things like–take rapamycin, one of the darlings of the anti-aging mystery right now, this chemical that’s produced by soil, discovered on Easter Island. I think it’s called Rapa Nui is the name of the island. So, they call it rapamycin. And it does affect a lot of longevity pathways favorably. It also suppresses the immune system and creates–in some cases, increase risk for diabetes, cancer–
Darshan: [01:01:28] ______ right dose.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The dose is the poison. And the interesting thing is that the way that it interacts with the immune system is by partially suppressing that mTOR pathway. But when you look at this from a stoic standpoint, well maybe before you start spending money on rapamycin, you should engage in something else that activates those same pathways or inhibits those same pathways, activating cellular autophagy, inhibiting mTOR, and that’s just fasting. There are a lot of people paying a lot of money for rapamycin when they could fast.
And when it comes to fasting, what works for one person may not work for another. But what I do, I’m an example of someone who is very active. I’m still competing professionally in Spartan racing. And so, my exercise throughput is very high. For me, the fasting scenario that works very well is a daily 12 to 16-hour intermittent fast. Meaning, I might stop eating at 8:00 p.m. and then I won’t eat again until 10:00 a.m. the next day. I compress all of my food into about a 12-hour window during the day. And that’s because I’m active. I recommend the less active people an 8 to a 10-hour window of eating.
I eat more carbohydrates in the evening, particularly to top off my energy stores for the next day’s work out, and to get that serotonin sleep enhancing effect of the carbohydrate. I didn’t have carbohydrates all day yesterday, and then with that steak, I had some sweet potato, I had some broccoli mash that’s not high in starches, and then I had half a bar of the Hu Dark Chocolate and an organic glass of red wine. So, I probably had about 100 grams of carbohydrates last night.
Darshan: Do you bring your own wine with you when you travel?
Ben: No, no. So, what I do is I ask at restaurants for organic and biodynamic. And if I can’t find it, I’ll at least get usually like a Bordeaux or a burgundy or like a French or Italian. A lot of times, you have a pretty good chance of it being created using more old-world biodynamic methods. But at home, I’ll drink the Dry Farm or the FitVine Wine. The other thing that I do in addition to the 12 to 16-hour intermittent fast is–and I just started doing this recently in this past year, three to four times a year, I do a five-day fasting mimicking diet. Meaning, fewer calories than I normally would, typically during an easier recovery week.
ProLon is the packaged version that made popular by Dr. Valter Longo and his company L-Nutra. But what I like to use is probably more up your alley. It’s more of like an Ayurvedic approach. I do kitchari, which is like an Indian cleansing stew with split mung beans and a lot of really good herbs like coriander and cumin and, what’s it called? Hing, I believe it’s called, yeah, the hing herb, which is fantastic. And then, I just do a little bit of coconut yogurt. I do a lot of celery juice. I pair that with a high-mineral intake. I’ll even drink Epsom salts during that to help to move things through and get the gallbladder flow going. And then, I do a few coffee enemas during that protocol as well.
So, my purpose when I do a fasting mimicking diet is to really focus on the liver and the gallbladder. And part of that is due to the high number of calories I eat just as a hardcore athlete. So, I know my liver and gallbladder work harder than usual, and I feel very good when I use kind of like that modified, kind of like Ayurvedic cleansing version of a fasting mimicking diet. And then, finally, at least two times per month, I try to fast Saturday dinner to Sunday dinner, which is pretty easy to do. You just have dinner on Saturday and maybe, you know, depending how active Sunday is, if I have a big day of snowboarding or hiking with my kids, I’ll have like a cup of bone broth or some ketone esters or something to kind of keep the metabolism or the energy levels elevated a little bit. But that’s my protocol; 12 the 16-hour intermittent fast daily, the twice a month 24-hour fast, and then a few times a year, that five-day fasting mimicking diet, it’s more of a cleanse.
Darshan: Yeah. Like I know you’ve worked in an Ayurvedic type of diet into your fasting mimicking diet. I love Valter Longo’s diet as well. I’ve used that before. It’s pretty awesome.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. The ProLon kits.
Darshan: ProLon kits, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. I just feel like–yeah, those are done for you. And anytime you can lower the barrier to entrees, great. But I just have access to so many whole foods at home and I can get some nice organic celery and make myself celery juice and make that stew. I love the taste of it. I make my own coconut yogurt using an L. reuteri strain of probiotic and I ferment that for about 24 hours with some really good coconut milk. And I put some gelatin in there to thicken it, a little bit of stevia, and I put a dollop of that on top of the kitchari, and it just works. It works for me. And it’s something like I could do that breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days and still be sitting there eating it with a smile on my face. It’s relatively filling because of the lentils and so, yeah.
Darshan: Yeah, yeah. Very cool. Anything else do you like detox with besides a diet?
Ben: Well, the Epsom salts, the coffee enema. Four to five times a week when I’m at home, I do the infrared sauna for about 20 to 30 minutes. So, when I’m in there, I do dry skin brushing, which also helps out a little bit. I don’t take a lot of cleansing supplements per se. For me, it’s more whole foods and then the coffee enema. When I’m traveling, I use a suppository called Glytamins, and I’ll use that one or two times a week while I’m traveling. When I’m at home, I just do–
Darshan: What is Glytamins?
Ben: It’s kind of like a suppository version of a coffee enema. It’s caffeine. I believe there’s some glutamine in there. There are a few other compounds that will increase bile flow. They’re expensive. They’re like $80 for a packet of 10 or 12 or something like that. It was expensive compared to nickel coffee enema. But that’s what I do when I travel. And those are really the main things, infrared sauna and the coffee enema, and then just food. Yeah.
Darshan: So, sauna is great. If you have access to–I mean if you can get one in your house, that’s amazing. But there are a lot of sauna places popping up nowadays. And you’re on NAD right now.
Ben: I know. I was just glancing to put my NAD IV to see how I’m doing.
Darshan: Yeah. Are you still running there? Yeah, it looks like you’re still going.
Ben: Yeah. I’m still going. It still happens.
Darshan: Right. Awesome. Very good. Yeah. Speaking of NAD, second NAD over here at NextHealth that you’ve had. Well, let’s take it a step back before we’d talk about NAD. We talked about a few things about increasing your mitochondrial density, increasing longevity, getting on the topic of longevity, talked about rapamycin. I assume you haven’t taken any rapamycin yet.
Ben: No, I haven’t taken it. I do eat some things that would be considered–so have you heard of spermidine before?
Ben: Yeah. So, spermidine is found in a lot of fermented cheeses, some whole grains, some fermented soy products, some dark leafy greens, a few different seeds and nuts. And actually, it’s almost like a food version of rapamycin. I’ll do things like that sometimes. I do not drink my own sperm. No. I don’t drink anyone’s sperm for that matter nor do I have a whale that I milk. Well, you know, I do have a whale that I milk, just not what you’re thinking. That joke fell flat. Anyways though, the thing is that I do not use rapamycin. Like I mentioned, I feel like I get enough autophagy and mTOR through fasting, so yeah.
Darshan: Right, absolutely. Are you taking a metformin?
Ben: No, I do not take metformin. I like some of the data on metformin, particularly with its ability to be able to reduce a little bit of the activity of the electron transport chain. So, it kind of down-regulates some mitochondrial activity, which is good for longevity, not so good if you’re an athlete, honestly. I don’t think athletes benefit from metformin, so there’s kind of a paradox there. The other issues with metformin would be some of the data that I’ve seen on increased risk for diabetes. I believe it may have been, I don’t have the studies in front of me, Alzheimer’s or dementia or something like that in patients who were taken for a long time like 12 plus years regularly. There are some Japanese studies that just kind of make me question whether or not I should be using that versus some of the natural ways to increase insulin sensitivity or to control glycemic variability, particularly one that you’ve just named, berberine, bitter melon extract, Ceylon cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, curcumin, ginseng.
There are a lot of compounds that I just kind of work into my smoothies or my diet naturally. Probably the one I use the most is bitter melon extract. I take two capsules of that every night before dinner, before I eat those carbohydrates, so I get better partitioning in the muscle and liver tissue, and so that my blood sugar lowers pretty quickly. I’m kind of back into ketosis pretty quickly by the time I go to bed after that evening, carbohydrate refeed. So, I use things that are like metformin but not metformin.
Darshan: Right, absolutely. Yeah, I know that Japanese study that you’re talking about. There are a lot of studies showing kind of the opposite that metformin prevents dementia. All of this needs to be worked out. NIH has funded like $100 million to really study metformin in-depth.
Ben: Yeah. The other one they need to look at is B12. There are some studies on B12 deficiencies, which of course you can just take the B12, but yeah. It’s the same thing as rapamycin, like metformin and rapamycin, I know there’s a lot of kind of people in the anti-aging and longevity industry obsessing over those right now. Right now, I’m still for those two going more of like the herbs, spices and fasting route versus taking the medications.
Darshan: Yeah. Why not? You have the natural stuff available to you.
Darshan: Right. So, let’s talk a little about brain health. We touch on Alzheimer’s a little bit. What are some of your strategies to optimize–I mean, you’re like one of the quickest thinking, wittiest guys I’ve ever met, and your neurons are constantly firing.
Ben: You did like my joke about milking my whale.
Darshan: I did. I was actually the one person in the room that got it. All you need is one person, right?
Ben: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.
Darshan: There are only three of us in this room anyway right now.
Ben: I’m sure [01:11:51] ______ snickering.
Darshan: Absolutely. Right? But what have you kind of–barring nootropics right now. Let’s talk about other strategies besides nootropics. What are you using to kind of optimize your brain throughput?
Ben: Modafinil and cerebral L-lysine injections. That’s it, bro. That’s all one needs. No. So, for cognitive throughput, really, one of the best things that you can do, and this sounds simple and silly but it kind of sticks to the theme of choosing the low-hanging natural fruit, first would be music. And I’m a firm believer not only in the data behind music and its ability to enhance neurogenesis but also the joy that it brings emotionally in terms of the frequency of the music, almost having like a sound healing effect, which is an entire branch of energy medicine in of itself right now, the use of gongs and dulcimers and didgeridoos and all manner of–there are even sound healing tables that incorporate sound healing. But for me, I’d rather heal myself with the instrument that I’m playing and be able to just be bathed in those frequencies while I’m also spinning some dials in my brain and making some smoke come out my ears, trying to learn the ukulele or the guitar. I’m doing a lot of singing-songwriting right now. I finally hired a coach to help me produce my first album.
When I travel, usually I’ll do the harmonica. Sometimes I’ll bring my baritone ukulele on the plane. So, I’m a huge fan of music. That’s one option. And you can find at meetup.com or Facebook or any number of places like groups you can join. You can find instructors on Craigslist, et cetera, and there are really good websites that train you in music like Ultimate Guitar or Guitar Tricks. Those are a couple that I use. So, that’s one thing. I would be learning something new. It doesn’t have to be music. It can be a sport. It can be slacklining. It can be anything that kind of targets the nervous system and triggers the nervous system.
I’m not a fan of the games like Lumosity and Brainscape. They make you better at playing the game but they don’t necessarily have crossover into the real world nor do they bring you much joy like music does or give you the ability to be able to entertain or have other people enjoy what you’re learning. And then, it’s just one more reason to be on your device. Alright, so I’m not a huge fan of a lot of these things you do on the device or the computer to increase cognition.
So, music is one. I do a lot of reading but I try to read outside of my sector of health and fitness and nutrition, particularly fiction. I both read and write fiction, which I find to be very good for tapping into some of the more right-brained side of things. And so, I write fiction almost every day. I read fiction almost every day, play music or listen to music almost every day. And then, the last thing I would say–this is an interesting one for neurogenesis, like we know that fasting and sauna use, and a lot of these things can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF which is kind of like Miracle-Gro for the brain.
But I still do. I did this for a while and just started doing it again because I got my hands on a really good strain of psilocybin. I’ve seen a lot of really good data behind neurogenesis and the use of psilocybin or mushroom extracts. And so, about every three days, I do two packets of the Four Sigmatic lion’s mane extract and about 0.2 grams of psilocybin. And I find that not only do I have better cognitive performance during the day but like the next several days afterwards, I have a clear head, I can learn things more readily, works very well. So, that would be one thing from a nutrition standpoint that I like.
From a biohacking standpoint, the other thing–two things I’ve been using that seemed to really help out with having a clear head, even allowing you to achieve a deep meditative state or to be able to engage in skill acquisition or complex motor tasks more readily would be the halo tDCS device which is worn on the head for about 20 minutes prior to any skill acquisition activity like music or prior to a hard workout. And you could wear it on a bicycle for 20 minutes and then get off and do your weight training set, for example. And that’s using targeted tDCS to enhance motor neuron activity.
So, it looks just like a pair of Dr. Dre Beats that you wear, and just 20 minutes on, it’s called a transcranial direct stimulation. The other one is called a Vielight. And I talked about photobiomodulation as being like a wavelength of light you could use on the testicles to increase testosterone production or on the skin to increase collagen production. But it can also activate the cytochrome c oxidase activity in the mitochondria of neural tissue. And there is a head-worn light called the Vielight that actually uses targeted forms of light therapy at either a 10 Hertz range for alpha production or 40 Hertz for theta production. They’ve got some good research on Alzheimer’s and dementia. I feel like it just gives me a super clear head like anything, like any form of light or radiation you can overdo it and create excess radical oxygen species, not reactive oxygen species if you overdo it.
So, this is something I’d do about once every two days max, but that one that I use is made by a company called Vielight. The tDCS is made by a company called Halo. And then, trying to learn new activities, specifically for me, music is a biggie and fiction is a biggie. And then, occasionally, doing like a dose of psilocybin with lion’s mane. That’s occasional chomp of nicotine gum.
Darshan: I love it, I love it, yeah. And we were talking about–what do you use to test your cognitive speed? Do you have a testing device on your desk?
Ben: I mean, there’s like the CNS Tap Test app for the phone. I have it on my phone. I don’t use it that much. There’s the other one, the brain–it looks like a computer mouse. Ironically, I don’t remember the name of my brain training device. I don’t even use it that much but it’s got a button on the left and a button on the right and something will pop up on the screen. You got to press the button or you’ll feel the buttons vibrate and you have to press the one that vibrate. So, it’s like reaction time. I forget the name of it but that’s another one.
My brain performance or my central nervous system speed is not something I regularly quantify. For a while, I was doing it and now, I just like–if I can learn or sing a song better on the guitar, it’s like, “Okay, I’m learning. Something’s working.” So yeah. I mean, my rule is if I’m engaged in activity every day that leaves me just a little bit confused, even mildly irritable, smoke coming out the ears, outside my comfort zone, I know I’m triggering neurogenesis.
Darshan: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. It’s funny I do all these brain health talks about keeping your brain health optimized. So, like corporate lectures and everyone can’t wait to get to the nootropics section of the course and I’m like, “You guys, gratitude, hanging out with friends, learning something new.” That’s 99% of the formula. The nootropics, you have to get all that other stuff right first, meditate and have some quiet time.
Ben: Yeah. The two stacks well, but yeah, you need the lower hanging fruit first. There are things that can enhance white adipose to brown adipose, fat conversion in the presence of cold, like something I already named, bitter melon extract can assist with that, green tea polyphenols can help out with that, curcumin, but don’t necessarily start all the supplement stacks and get all those lined up and take–like first, just make sure you can get in the cold shower and take a cold shower and then gradually introduce kind of the icing on the cake.
Darshan: Exactly, exactly. But one of the topics that we haven’t hit on yet is–and you could kind of hit on a little bit here. Your heart rate is 38 when you’re sleeping. I mean, what are your strategies for optimizing your cardiovascular performance? This is something that as you age, it gets to be more kind of top of mind, you know. I see a lot of clients in their 50s that are just worried about not being able to be on the treadmill for more than 10 or 15 minutes without feeling short of breath and unable to keep up. Do you have any strategies around cardiovascular performance?
Ben: Yes. I would give you three different areas we could chunk this into. Nervous system, exercise, and diet. For the nervous system, I’m a big fan of the information put out by the HeartMath Institute and heart rate variability training, tracking your heart rate variability and actually using something like neurofeedback. There are apps like NatureBeat and SweetBeat that will allow you to wear a heart rate monitor and then train you via specific breath work and relaxation protocols to have a higher heart rate variability, which is the Delta, the amount of time spent in between heartbeats, and it’s directly reflective of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system balance.
And the more that people are able to control consciously their nervous system through that type of neurofeedback, the better they’re able to do things like get a lower resting heart rate or control the propensity for the heart rate to rise rapidly and for you to have an exaggerated sympathetic nervous response to stress or to exercise. So, that would be one. It would be heart rate variability training.
From a dietary standpoint, I think that it returns to a little bit of self-quantification, testing, are you APOE 34 or 44, which would dictate higher risk of cardiovascular disease in response to say a high saturated fat ketogenic diet, which a lot of people are doing these days. And you might need to eat more of like a Kitavan fiber and starch-rich diet, or you might need more of a Mediterranean diet rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats versus a lot of the saturated like butterfat, coconut oil type of approach.
I would also say that there are the things you should pay attention to from a cardiovascular standpoint on your blood markers, like we talked about inflammation, tract homocysteine, tract fibronectin, tract hsCRP. Make sure that you don’t have rampant inflammation, which especially if you’re eating a whole foods rich diet, you’re probably going to have slightly higher cholesterol anyways. I mean, if you have egg yolks and fatty fish and some organic red meat and olive oil, all of these things can increase cholesterol. You just don’t want that cholesterol to become atherosclerotic, and one of the ways that that can happen is if you do have a lot of inflammation. So, incorporate herbs and spices and things that can help to lower inflammation, and also pay attention to your genes and make sure you’re eating a diet that agrees with you from a cardiovascular risk standpoint.
The last piece exercise, of course, includes those things I named earlier. Twice a week, do a Tabata set. One to two times a week, do that 30 seconds on, 4 minutes off. Once a week, train the VO2 max. Engage in low-level physical activity all day long, particularly with some intermittent fast overnight. I even encourage people to do some of their low, low physical activity in a fasted state in the morning. Perfect time to go out and get that sunshine I was talking about.
But I also think that it’s beneficial just from a pure fat-loss standpoint but also a cardiovascular aerobic fitness and metabolic efficiency standpoint to have one time during the week. And I always do this when I’m traveling. It’s a walk through the city when I’m at home. It’s a hike or snowboarding or tennis or anything like that where you’re engaged in some type of movement for a longer period of time in a fasted state. So, this would be how you would train like metabolic or fat-burning efficiency. So, that would be like a nice hike outdoors in the sunshine on a Saturday when you wake up and instead of doing a big Saturday brunch, you’re going on a big Saturday hike facet after you’ve had maybe a cup of coffee. So, in addition to incorporating the high-intensity interval training, I think that every once in a while, you just need to go out and do something slightly longer to build up that aerobic efficiency.
The last thing is just pay attention to red blood cell health. And we do know that sauna can increase erythropoietin, which can be a really good–same thing that Tour de France writers will dope with. That’s something that you could increase by sitting in the sauna, or after a workout or a movement session, going and sitting in the sauna. When your body temperature is high, there are things that can increase your red blood cell production. Echinacea, for example, there are things that can increase your overall blood health, a lot of these red things, and we call this the doctrine of nature I believe, how carrots are good for your eyes and when you slice a carrot into little slices and you look at that slice, it looks like an eye. Eggs are good for your eye, the lutein and the zeaxanthin. We know that walnuts are good for the brain and they look like a little brain. We know that when you cut open a tomato, it kind of looks like the internal chambers of the heart. And we know that tomatoes and pomegranates similarly are good for the heart. We know a lot of these dark red or purple things like blueberries and grape skin and beets, pomegranate, a lot of these foods are good for the blood. So, those are a few of the things that I think can be helpful. There are fancier devices there like pulmonary compression devices and compression boots and all sorts of things that can assist with blood flow and circulation, but I would say those are some of the lower hanging fruits.
Darshan: I love it, I love it. That’s a great, great summary of everything you could do with that. Just make sure if you’re in your 40s or your 50s, you get tested. You go and get a full cardiac exam. I’m a big believer in fractionated cholesterol measurements, so looking for those tiny particles and if you have a high number of small particles.
Ben: Yeah. Looking at particle size and particle count is indeed important. The fractionated test, sometimes it can be confusing to people if they don’t have a physician to look over that data with them. What I tell people at least is look for trends. Look at your HDL to triglyceride ratio to be trending downwards. Higher HDL, lower triglycerides. Look for your total cholesterol to HDL to be usually trending downwards. Look at low inflammation the same time that you have higher cholesterol.
Those are just a few of the biggies. And of course, as with vitamin D, more is not better, the same with HDL. Very interesting data that’s come out in the past couple of years showing that high HDL can actually be associated with increased risk of mortality. And so, this would dictate–and if you test your HDL and it’s through the roof, go look at your inflammation because in many cases, high HDL is indicative of the HDL being used to mobilize cholesterol from areas of inflammation. And so, you actually need to pay attention to other risk factors if the HDL is high. But to a certain extent, painting with a broad brush, high HDL, low triglycerides and then, paying attention to particle count, low Lp(a) and some of those variables is a good idea.
Darshan: Yeah, absolutely. Calcium score, do you utilize that in any way?
Ben: I’ve never done a calcium score. I want to. I interviewed Dr. William Davis about it on my podcast and I love his book, “Undoctored.” He’s actually the guy who gave me that coconut yogurt recipe too. Yeah. That’s his coconut yogurt recipe that he uses with his clients. But I have yet to do a calcium scan score myself. I want to, though. I’ve done primarily for my racing and for some reality TV shows I’ve been on. They do cardiac screens. So, I’ve done the resting and the exercise EKG, like the VO2 max and the treadmill.
And as you see with many athletes who have kind of beat themselves up for years with exercise, I do have some PVC, some pair of ventricular contractions at a very high heart rate. I also have a little bit of an athlete’s heart. I have some of what is called cardiomegaly as shown by an ultrasound echocardiogram that I had done. Again, that’s not something that is uncommon in an athlete but those are two things that have shown me that more exercise is not better. Technically, I’ve probably increased the aging of my heart by engaging in Ironman triathlon and bodybuilding and Spartan racing and a lot of these more masochistic events. I am curious to see what my calcium scan score is. Just haven’t done it yet.
Darshan: Yeah. That’s one of the things that we actually do here at NextHealth. We do a full body MRI, calcium score. We look at every single blood vessel in your body with the MRI. I’m looking for aneurysms and blockages. We tie that to get the calcium score. In the full-body MRI, because you get a brain scan looking for masses, tumors but we also measure the size of your hippocampus. So, that’s really well-correlated with Alzheimer’s as well, something of volumetric measurements there. And we have this whole package that we do including a full genetic, full genome sequencing, not just snips, full genome sequencing so we can continue to learn more.
And we do this package in conjunction with Human Longevity Institute down in San Diego. It’s a Peter Diamandis’ company. We do that in Los Angeles because they’re in San Diego and most people can’t get to San Diego, in L.A. even though it’s only like an hour–a couple hours away but we do that here in NextHealth. And the amount of data you can get from that is just incredible. And the calcium score being one point of data, it’s super valuable information and it’s something that you can actually trend over time. So, I had a calcium score that was moderate heart risk and I got it down to zero now, which is in five years, for me, you just give me a sense of peace about potential coronary events. So, just something to check that along with the MRI where you’re doing the full body MRI and looking for small tumors before you have any symptoms is also should be useful. So, yeah, next time you got, maybe we’ll tie that into your whole routine here.
Ben: I would love to do those protocols. That sounds fantastic, yeah. Those are two I haven’t done, the full body MRI and the calcium scan. So, I’ve quantified a lot of shit but have not yet done either of those.
Darshan: Have you gotten full genome sequencing?
Ben: No, no. I’ve done relatively comprehensive genome sequencing with Youtrients up in–I believe they’re at Toronto Canada but I’ve never done the full genome.
Darshan: Got it. Right. Yeah. That’s one of our–I call it the physical exam for 2020. This is where we should be with the physical exam, not just whipping out a stethoscope which most doctors don’t even do anymore and feeling it on your abdomen a little bit. This is how the physical exam is going to be done in 2020 on everyone, I hope, but we’re doing it here in NextHealth now. About 10% of the time, we find something clinically significant in the data. So, it’s really interesting. The technologies there–
Ben: So, if people are listening, because I’ll be sending this podcast to some of my audience as well. They can do that at the Century City location here. And then, where else could they do that? Is there any other NextHealth facility?
Darshan: Yes. So, any of our locations in Los Angeles. So, we have one in West Hollywood, Century City. We’ll be having one in the Santa Monica area here pretty soon. And then, you can also do this because we’re doing this in partnership with Human Longevity Institute in San Diego. So, if you’re close to San Diego, you can do it there as well. And as you roll out into more cities, if you see NextHealth in your city, come by and we’ll do this whole package for you. What’s great about it is the MRI has been around for a long time now, and the technology is getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. And just like genome sequencing, it’s getting exponentially cheaper. We can sequence a whole human genome now for less than $1,000.
Darshan: Then it’s just like tying all the data in, right? And calcium score–you can get a calcium score pretty much anywhere. Just talk to your doctor. Call any radiology center. A lot of places are doing it for like $50 now, believe it or not.
Darshan: Yeah. This was like $5,000 when it first came out, and now it’s $50. So, just this exponential trend and how cheap the technology is getting, it’s incredible. And what I’m hoping to see is in the next five or ten years that everyone can do a full body MRI for like $10, $15, you know. But right now, it’s a little bit more than that. The whole package is somewhere around $5,000 to $8,000 depending on what options you choose. But I’d love to run you through that one of these days.
Ben: I like it. I don’t want to make this sound like a giant commercial but I like that folks can do that. Well, cryotherapy, photobiomodulation. The last time I was here, I did the full body composition scan. We’ve got the IVs, like I’m doing right now. I know you guys are like the peptides and some of the other anti-aging protocols as well. Are there any other machines you have here that I’m forgetting about?
Darshan: Yeah. We have the infrared bed.
Ben: That’s right, yeah, which we talked about. That’s the same as the photobiomodulation that we talked about.
Darshan: Exactly. We have a heat sauna as well.
Ben: Uh-huh. Oh, you do it like an infrared sauna?
Darshan: Yes, we do have an infrared sauna as well.
Ben: Very cool.
Darshan: We have a capsule. So, it’s a little bit cleaner, I think, than the one at home where you’re sweating all over the place. So, we usually have a capsule. And then, our next location is that you’re going to have a hyperbaric chamber as well.
Ben: Oh, I love it.
Darshan: Which I love hyperbaric.
Ben: Yeah. HBOT, it’s very good. I did some of that the last time I had a TBI and concussion. I did HBOT and then I actually injected myself with mannitol to increase my blood-brain barrier permeability and followed that up, chased it with stem cells to get the stem cells into the brain. Although you no longer need to do that, you can now get an intranasal stem cell delivery like via spray.
Darshan: Right, right. We do stem cells here as well. So, like if someone hits their head, we do all those things, then we also recommend to begin a keto diet for a while. That seems to be also helpful.
Ben: Yeah. Oh gosh, I mean anybody has had concussion. Good hydration, high mineral intake, very high DHA intake, ketogenic diet, HBOT, and then something like that photobiomodulation for the head particularly. Man, those are all just no-brainers, pun intended. If you are concussed, it baffles. People hit their heads and they’re like, “I’m just going to lay in bed for a day and sleep this off.”
Darshan: It’s the worst thing we do.
Darshan: It’s like immediate treatment. We see a lot of football players here and we just like get it into the protocol right away. But yeah, it’s all great stuff. I really believe that medicine really needs to hit the 20th century. It’s not even there yet. And it’s amazing all the things that you’re doing. You have such a tremendous wealth of knowledge in your head. I’m so glad that you do podcast and you’re out there. You have your own podcast. How do people find you if they haven’t heard of you before?
Ben: Well, I have a podcast. I write a lot too. I write an article every week. I’m working on a really big book right now on longevity and anti-aging and health in general. And that’s all over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. The company that I run is called Kion, K-I-O-N. And that’s where I develop supplement formulations, breaking at my books. I have a gratitude journal. I do a lot of training for personal trainers, nutritionists, physicians, folks who want to kind of learn some of this more fringe stuff or stuff that flies under the radar. And so, I’ve got about a 22-week curriculum called KionU that I bring people through there. So, just go at my company Kion at getkion.com. It’s getK-I-O-N.com and then BenGreenfieldFitness.com
Darshan: I love it. When can we see your new book?
Ben: It’s going to come out near summer of 2020.
Ben: I have never before dropped this URL on a podcast because I was literally just last night finishing up kind of like the landing page for the book website, but the name of the book is actually Ki, K-I.
Ben: And you can find it at discoverki.com.
Darshan: Well, thank you for making our podcast at NextHealth the announcement.
Ben: I know. I haven’t even said that on my podcast before, so yeah.
Darshan: I love it. I can’t wait to read the book. Well, this has been just tremendous. I’m so excited that you came.
Ben: That’s what happens when you put a needle into somebody’s arm and a microphone in their face.
Darshan: I know. It’s like we’re going to get him to stay here for at least an hour and a half for this podcast. That’s why we put you–we hooked you in with a needle you can’t go anywhere.
Ben: Yeah, exactly, to make me stay. I can’t even pee.
Darshan: I love it, I love it. You’re amazing and I have tremendous respect for you and I’m just so honored that you came and joined us at the NextHealth podcast. You’re here in our location and I look forward to the next time you’re here.
Ben: Thank you. I love it here.
Darshan: Yeah. Awesome. We’ll make you a member.
Darshan: Honorary member. Awesome. I love it. Well, thank you, Ben. I really appreciate you doing this.
Ben: Thanks, Dr. Shah.
Darshan: We’ll see you soon.
Want more? Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com or you can subscribe to my information-packed and entertaining newsletter and click the link up on the right-hand side of that web page that says, “Ben recommends,” where you’ll see a full list of everything I’ve ever recommended to enhance your body and your brain. Finally, to get your hands on all of the unique supplement formulations that I personally develop, you can visit the website of my company, Kion, at getK-I-O-N.com. That’s getK-I-O-N.com.
NextHealth is a brand new, cutting-edge, biohacking facility that is taking California by storm, and in this conversation between Dr. Shah of NextHealth Clinic and I, you’ll hear…
…a magnitude of information related to health and wellness, including: diets, exercise regimens, herbs, music, CBD, lab tests and much more, recorded straight from the NextHealth Clinic in LA, which is like the deck of a Star Trek spaceship and a complete playground for biohackers and health or longevity enthusiasts!
This particular episode will teach you how to become the best version of yourself by taking advantage of the information that’s out there in the health, science, wellness and fitness sectors. The barrier to entry to biohacking and self-optimization is becoming far more cost effective and there’s a plethora of information, supplements, tests and programs out there that are becoming more mainstream.
Finally, if you like what you hear, you can click here for $500 savings on a full body MRI and full genome sequencing package from NextHealth. Please also note that I will be speaking at NextHealth in Century City on January 30 at 7pm, and the event is completely free to the public to attend! More details in the resources section below.
In this conversation, you’ll discover:
-How to increase longevity using ancestral wisdom and biohacking through telomere analysis…8:05
- Telomere analysis is not an ironclad measurement but is efficacious in conjunction with other analyses.
- Longevity markers:
- Grip strength
- Walking speed
- Ability to sit and stand
- Inflammatory markers
- Track your chronological age, and your health while you’re on this earth
- Humans crave variety, improvement
- We’ve been led to believe the top of the totem pole is our workouts, strength, etc.
- Look for ways to “scratch the itch” for self-improvement other than your workout
- Find the “minimum effective dose” vs. an all or nothing approach
- Sitting around waiting to see the chiropractor; at airports
- Find ways to be active throughout your day to day activities; get creative!
- Walking Deskchanged Dr. Shah’s life
- Also check out the Hex Bar
- Lift occasionally, sprint occasionally, move all day long.
-My thoughts on High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)…19:35
- Two ways to increase your mitochondrial density. Both are effective
- Long, slow aerobic training
- Higher intensity, brief spurts of exercise
- 1-2x/week, do 4 extremely hard efforts for 30 seconds; rest (or low-intensity exercise) 4 minutes between.
- Tabata set: 4 Minutes; 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy.
- VO2 max
-What my diet looks like…26:25
- Varies widely due to extensive international travel schedule
- I love to eat whatever local food is available
- While at home, my diet most resembles the Weston A. Price diet
- There’s not a single “perfect” human diet
- Eating healthy goes in phases; maybe depending on a certain condition they have at a given time
- You can try more variety once you’ve been on a restrictive diet for a period of time (2-6 months)
- I eat a whole foods diet; seasonal
- Eat a whole foods diet as much as possible; use all self-quantification data available to you (ancestral, blood, etc.)
- Epigenetics: eating according to your ancestry
-My thoughts on testing the microbiome…37:50
- The biome of the large intestine isn’t necessarily reflective of the small intestine.
- As testing becomes more popular, data is collected; solutions to particular problems are possible.
- AI can be used to sort through the vast amount of data
- Probiotics not effective in populating the gut.
- People with bacteria deficiencies have GI, digestive issues; not enough fiber and fermented foods
-My sleep habits, and how I track my sleep…43:20
- Tracking can be a distraction at first as you’re so focused on the data
- Eventually, you just get used to it
- I use the Oura Ringto track my sleep (use code: GREENFIELDOURA to save $$$)
- What I track in my sleep
- sleep latency
- deep sleep percentages
- REM and light sleep percentages
- Number of times I woke
- Body temp
- Heart rate variability
- Low hanging fruits when it comes to tracking sleep:
- My quality of sleep is correlated to the amount of bright sunshine I get before noon
- Anything that targets the endocannabinoid system is helpful for deep sleep
- Breathwork helps with sleep latency
- Box breathing
- 4-7-8 breathing
- Melatonin is effective when traveling west to east
-Why I travel so extensively when I don’t really need to…57:05
-The relationship between fasting and circadian rhythm, overall health and longevity…59:18
- It’s difficult to see the benefits; stoic approach
- Daily 12-16 hour intermittent fast
- 3-4 times a year, do a 5-day fasting-mimicking diet
- Fast Saturday dinner to Sunday dinner, twice a month
-The pros and cons of drugs such as rapamycin and metformin…1:08:00
- I don’t use rapamycin; I get sufficient autophagy and mTOR through fasting
- I don’t take metformin either
- Good for longevity, not so much for athletes
- Increased risk for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc. after prolonged use
- Other studies have shown the opposite…
-Some of my strategies to optimize my brain (outside of nootropics)…1:11:30
- The power of music to enhance neurogenesis; the joy it brings emotionally
- Not a fan of device-based entertainment
- Reading, especially fiction (reading and writing)
- Halo TDCS device
- Vielight(use code: GREENFIELD)
- How I test my cognitive ability
- General rule: If I’m doing something outside my comfort zone, leaving me a bit irritated, I know I’m triggering neurogenesis.
- Focus on things like gratitude, socialization, meditation, etc. then complement it with nootropics.
-My strategies for optimizing my cardiovascular performance…1:20:05
- 3 areas to track:
- Nervous system
- Never done a calcium scan score (although I want to)
- More is not better (exercise, Vitamin D, etc.)
-An overview of the services provided at NextHealth…1:29:00
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–NextHealth FOREFRONT Talk with Ben Greenfield: Wednesday 1/30/19 at 7pm at NextHealth, Century City, CA Westfield Mall 10250 Santa Monica Blvd LA CA 90067 To RSVP and for more information, send an email to [email protected]
-The Weston A. Price diet
–Finally, if you like what you hear, you can click here for $500 savings on a full body MRI and full genome sequencing package from NextHealth.
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