[00:00:57] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:03] Guest Introduction
[00:07:20] Why Adding Salt Might Be a Good Thing
[00:10:09] Why Healthy People Might Be More Mineral Deficient
[00:13:14] Why Glycine May Help Mitigate Negative Effects of Damage
[00:13:43] Why Ben Puts a Teaspoon of Salt in His Coffee
[00:18:19] What Makes The 17 Essential Minerals Essential
[00:21:34] Mineral Replenishment For Adrenal Fatigue And Exercise Recovery
[00:24:04] The Importance Of Getting A Full Spectrum Of Essential Minerals And Sodium Intake
[00:26:05] The Best Way To Test For All 17 Essential Minerals
[00:30:42] Podcast Sponsors
[00:33:00] Why Drinking Soft Water Might Make You Mineral Deficient
[00:38:14] The Top Commercial Mineral Water Products
[00:44:44] James' Go-To Salt Brands
[00:50:13] Practical Ways to Fix Mineral Deficiencies
[00:55:33] Bicarbonates and Electrolyte Balance
[00:58:51] Final Comments
[01:01:47] Closing the Podcast
[01:02:23] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
James: If you're holding on to too much magnesium, you are highly likely deficient because the body is holding on to that dose. We never used to drink soft water. It's something that we just decided to do, not from a health perspective because we didn't like the scaling on pipes that would have them in mineral water.
Ben: Where are you at with this increasing trend of liquid packets of minerals added to water or other beverages?
James: I think it's a great way to top off your mineral status.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Welcome to my podcast with Dr. James DiNicolantonio, super smart dude.
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Well, unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know salt isn't bad for you, or at least it's been increasingly less vilified than perhaps it was in the past. I've talked about on podcasts before how. Sometimes there's an issue with isolated high amounts of sodium chloride like you might find in processed and packaged foods or in table salt. But ultimately, salt is not only not that bad for you, but it's something that I have used in copious amounts in terms of in mineral form and in good salts like Kona black Salt, and Celtic salt, and Colima salt. Ever since I was racing Ironman triathlon and I figured out that the pounding in my ears and difficulty I had getting to sleep at night after a day of training nearly vanished when I just, like through all the silly rules that I'd been indoctrinated with during my college nutrition studies out the window, embraced salt and just started salting all my food, and using minerals, and just working into my diet a lot more, banishing any potential thoughts of high blood pressure, which did not manifest. But the improvements in sleep were profound. And now, I'm totally on the salt bandwagon. I do like Quinton Minerals and salt everything. People have come over to my house and they're just shocked at how much salt I put on foods. And I even get weird looks at restaurants when a chef or a server will bring out the food and I salt it before I even taste it. So, I'm definitely on the salt bandwagon. I should probably invest in some kind of like a salt company.
Anyways though, my guest on today's podcast is actually pretty well-known as the guy who wrote one of the game changing books that changed a lot of people's minds about salt. He wrote a book called “The Salt Fix.” And I never interviewed him about that book, although many others did, and I think the book is wonderful. I read it. He also wrote books like “The Immunity Fix,” the book “The Longevity Solution,” and then a newer book that I just finished called “The Mineral Fix.” You might be seeing a theme here with the title of the books that this chap writes. But anyways, so I read “The Mineral Fix,” and it was really, really good. Like, it got into a lot of stuff about minerals that I didn't know. And this is a guy I've cited before on podcasts and mentioned before on podcasts, but I just really never had him on the show. So, it's high time that I did because he's smart and he puts out some amazing material.
His name is James DiNicolantonio. And James DiNicolantonio is a doctor of pharmacy. He's a cardiovascular research scientist, very well-known in the realm of health and nutrition. He serves as the associate editor of the British Medical Journal's Open Heart and is on the editorial advisory board of a bunch of different medical journals. He has co-authored a lot of publications in medical literature. And he's just really a prolific author with a lot of really good books. If you haven't read “The Salt Fix,” you should. And a great follow-up to that would be “The Mineral Fix.” And I want to dig into some of the deep, dark rabbit holes behind “The Mineral Fix” today. I would highly recommend that you also read the book though. So, I'll link to the book, I'll link to James' websites, and everything else that we discuss on today's show if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/mineralfix. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/mineralfix.
Hey, James, did I do a pretty good job pronouncing your name then?
James: You crushed it, Ben.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I practiced all morning. DiNicolantonio. I got it.
James: Practice makes perfect. You got it.
Ben: Yes. Fortunately, no one listening in needs to know how to spell that. You can just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/mineralfix. Are you like me? Do you salt your food a lot or go through a lot of minerals?
James: Well, you'll find that basically when most people switch over from a processed food intake to whole foods, you need to replace that salt. And so, most people that are eating a real whole food diet, they're going to need to add back the salt for numerous benefits, including exercise performance, which is obvious, but also just simply improving insulin sensitivity and how they feel per day. And yeah, I actively add real healthy salts to my food all the time.
Ben: Well, that actually begs the question, and this might be jumping a little bit ahead because I do want to get into these important minerals. But do people who eat healthy tend to have–well, people who eat I guess would be perceived to be healthy. Maybe they're not on the mineral bandwagon. They're not using a lot of trace liquid minerals, or really good salts, or salting their food heavily, or anything like that. Do they actually tend to have more mineral deficiencies than people who might be eating like a processed, packaged, standard American diet or simply eating out of packages and containers, which we all know have a lot of sodium in them? Do healthy people tend to be more deficient in minerals, or do you know?
James: Well, healthy people will absolutely be more deficient in salt compared to people who are eating processed foods. And that's the linchpin to a lot of people who started keto diet or they're starting to consume whole foods, and they don't even realize that. And after reading my book, they'll say, “James, I've started just eating like a normal amount of salt again and my AFib went away.” Or, “I no longer have ringing in my ears.” Or, “I feel so much better now.” It was such a simple change, but it was literally affecting their lives and they had no idea that it was salt deficiency.
Ben: Yeah. Well, that's an important point that you make about ketosis. I think a lot of people probably already know that one of the common recommendations if you lower carbohydrate is to actually increase minerals because the low energy and the lack of physical function, et cetera, that seems to be paired sometimes to a ketogenic diet isn't necessarily due to hypoglycemia or glycogen depletion, but mineral depletion, right?
James: Exactly. So, typically, what happens when you drop your carbohydrate intake and you've been consuming chronically a moderate to high amount of carbs, what will happen is the body will obviously lower insulin levels, and insulin helps the kidneys retain salt. But also, it will start producing negatively charged ketone bodies. And the kidneys have to maintain electroneutrality. And so, what ends up happening, at least for the first one or two weeks, is the kidneys use the positively charged sodium ion to eliminate the negatively charged ketone body. And then, chronically, you have a reduction in your ability to absorb sodium because glucose helps with the absorption of sodium. So, when you cut out the glucose–
Ben: So, it's like a double whammy.
James: You got it.
Ben: That's interesting, okay. So, the actual processing of ketones requires a greater amount of minerals, and then also the absence of glucose would also cause a depletion of minerals, or a depletion of glycogen would come with a concomitant depletion of minerals?
James: Yeah. The reduction in your exogenous intake of glucose is going to reduce your absorption of dietary sodium because glucose helps with the absorption of sodium. So, one sort of hack around that is glycine. Glycine can help to actually pitch it for glucose and help with sodium absorption.
Ben: No kidding. That's good to know that you could just take bone broth or drink more bone broth, or get more glycine into your diet to combat some of that mineral depletion. I've heard you talk about or read you discussed glycine before not in that context, but in two other contexts. And correct me if I'm wrong here, that glycine may help to mitigate some of the damaging oxidative effects of consuming vegetable oil like, say, canola oil, for example. If you hit the Whole Foods salad bar, you can have a little bit of glycine to undo the potential damage for something like the canola oil in that. And then, also, that glycine may also lower the body's core temperature prior to sleep and assist with deep sleep levels because of that drop in core temperature. Is that true on both those fronts?
James: That's all true. So, certain immune cells actually contain glycine receptors. They're called glycine-gated chloride channels. And essentially, that helps to reduce proinflammatory cytokine release. And that essential immune activation can damage things like the liver if your Kupffer cells, which are immune cells that are housed in the liver, they'll actually secrete inflammation and lead to liver cirrhosis and inflammation. So, it's essentially glycine is keeping the proinflammatory immune cell cytokine storm release at bay because of the glycine receptors that are on certain immune cells. And then, for reducing core body temperature, you're 100% correct, 3 grams of glycine prior to bedtime or prior to exercise, too, is going to help reduce core body temperature.
Ben: Three grams. What about for that mitigating damage of vegetable oils, how many grams would that be approximately?
James: I think 5 grams would be a good shot to use because that is what's been clinically tested, too, to help with inflammation in diabetics, as well as glucose levels, 5 grams three times a day. Ben: Interesting. And if I were to have a cup of bone broth, isn't that pushing like close to 10 grams of glycine?
James: It depends on what is actually used to making the bone broth. So, if you're actually simply utilizing bones, if you do this at home, if you use, let's say like chicken bones, you'll throw it in the refrigerator, the broth, and you'll see that only maybe 10% is actually jelled at the top. So, you actually don't form a ton of collagen or gelatin. But if using collagenous meats to make your “bone broth” to drumsticks, chicken necks, things that have a lot of collagenous tissue, you're going to see that 60%, 70% of that liquid, once you put it in the refrigerator for 8 hours, is going to solidify, and it has a tremendous amount of gelatin and collagen in it if you utilize [00:13:13] _____, yeah.
Ben: Awesome. Yeah. I like the Jell-Oey thick bone broth. Well, if I'm not making it, I'll drink out of the Belcampo or the Kettle and Fire. And I like the Kettle and Fire for cooking, but it's a little bit more thin, liquidy. But in the Belcampo, you dump that out of the package and it's like like dumping a Jell-O out. So, that's the one that I'll sometimes use during the day. Another question, and then I do want to get back to the foundational principles of what minerals to be looking for anyways. But another question, because we talked about people who are in ketosis and people who are eating a healthy diet as potentially needing more minerals, but of course another thing that a lot of so-called healthy people do, as well as unhealthy people I suppose, is they drink a lot of coffee. And the word on the street is that coffee is one of those compounds that can pretty significantly reduce both potassium and sodium due to its diuretic effect, and I think most notably depletes magnesium, especially if you're overdoing it. And so, because of that, and also because it's grown on me, I actually put really good salt, like a good teaspoon or so of salt in my coffee when I drink it. Do you think that's a decent strategy?
James: Well, certainly, from replacing a loss of sodium and chloride, that is a tremendous strategy. So, essentially, there's been numerous clinical studies that have tested coffee intake and caffeine intake in regards to excretion of sodium and chloride. And we used to think that coffee was just a diuretic and it just increased water loss. And the reason why it does that is because it's actually a naturally erratic, so it actually gets rid of sodium and chloride. And typically, if you consume four cups of coffee, you're going to lose around a half of a teaspoon of salt. Now, I think coffee is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world. And in America, it's probably getting even closer to number one compared to water.
Ben: What's the first, tea?
James: Well, water would be the first, and then coffee.
Ben: Oh, water is the first. You got to count water. That's boring. Okay.
James: Now, in the United States, I think coffee might even start surpassing water soon. We're all just junkies here. But it echoes the fact that most of us are on a salt-wasting diuretic, which is coffee or some type of caffeinated beverage. And the chloride loss is actually about twice as much as the sodium loss, which is interesting. So, you do get this dramatic loss of salt, sodium, and chloride from consuming coffee. And with that, you also most likely get a loss in taurine because taurine's reabsorption in the kidneys is directly dependent on sodium's reabsorption. So, if you start spilling sodium and you're not reabsorbing it in the kidneys, you're going to likely spill taurine as well. So, I typically try to supplement with taurine because I drink three cups of coffee per day.
Ben: Okay. So, the people who made Red Bull were definitely onto something when they took all that caffeine and vitamin B12 and added a bunch of taurine to it? Well, that's probably not where they're doing it.
James: They forgot the salt, right?
Ben: Yeah. That's interesting. Did you see the hamburger study on coffee? This was, I think, several years ago. I think it was like back in the '80s where they actually gave people coffee with a hamburger. They called it a hamburger meal. I don't know why it was a hamburger. And they saw a significant decrease in iron absorption with the coffee. And I don't recall if they studied other minerals in that particular study, but iron's another one that coffee might have an effect on, yeah?
James: Yeah. So, coffee inhibits non-heme iron. So, meat has both heme and non-heme iron, whereas plants are typically non-heme iron. And part of the benefits of consuming coffee with meat is that it inhibits the oxidation products that form when you consume meat because meat, I mean, it's certainly very healthy. But the fact remains that you do have heme iron combining with acid and combining with some polyunsaturated fats, but also arachidonic acid. The iron is combined with cholesterol. All of that leads to oxidation products, right, and especially in the combination of the acid of your stomach. So, coffee comes in and it inhibits a lot of those oxidation products, and can actually reduce the amount of free iron, ions in the body as well, which are extremely damaging. So, I think it's one of coffee secret benefits as if you consume it with meat, it can help reduce a lot of those oxidation products that are formed.
Ben: It's pretty rare that I have a hamburger and could have a cup of coffee, but I suppose you could do the whole scrambled eggs, bacon, cup of coffee for breakfast and limit some of the issues with heme iron there. I think that a lot of men, especially these days, do need to be aware of the issues with hemochromatosis and iron oxidation. Any of that, that's perhaps a bright side of coffee in terms of it being able to help out with that. Although we should note that it's the caffeine, and correct me if I'm wrong, James, the caffeine in the coffee that is responsible for preventing the absorption of minerals at the gut lining. And so, decaf could be an acceptable swap if you didn't want to lose as much of the mineral absorption. But then for the iron, from what I understand, that's more blocked by some of the antioxidants in the coffee. So, whether you drink caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, you would still get that iron-blocking effect.
James: That's a fair statement, yeah.
Ben: Okay. Let's step back now that we all know how to eat our vegetable oil, and drink our coffee, and go into a state of ketosis with zero issues whatsoever so long as we just use minerals. And we'll get into minerals later and which ones you like. But let's step back a second because people hear minerals and I think they probably think magnesium. Maybe they think sodium, maybe potassium, possibly calcium. But you in the book, which is super thick, by the way, dude. This is like a multi-hundred page. What's it like, 700 pages long?
James: Yeah, it's somewhere around there if you count the 5,000 or so references. Yeah.
Ben: Well, I know you can't count those, sorry. Alright. Well, either way, it's a big book. But the minerals go way beyond just some of those that I just listed and you list them all in the book. There's like 17 different essential minerals and you break them down into macro-minerals and trace minerals, and possibly essential trace minerals. What does it mean exactly when you say there are 17 essential minerals, that a mineral is essential? What makes a mineral essential?
James: Essentially, if you don't consume it in the diet, you will eventually die from that deficiency. In other words, it's required for life to exist. And part of the reason why is because–and this is really interesting if you look at how life was thought to be formed. It's essentially certain amino acids like lysine coming from comets and being formed from comet impacts on the earth, and then the minerals that actually catalyzed those amino acids to form life essentially. So you needed those minerals at the beginning, and that's for life to form on earth, minerals had to have existed. And so, that's why they are essential even for humans today.
Ben: Okay, got it. So, your body cannot make its own minerals. It could leach them from bones, for example, to allow you to keep up if you were, say, I don't know, like eating a highly acidic diet or excessively exercising and sweating without mineral replacement. Your body can take it, stores and replenish from the stores, but it's never going to combine two compounds to make something like, I don't know, cobalt, or fluoride, or manganese, or any of these other minerals in your body.
James: Exactly, right. And as an essential mineral, essentially, what they do is–well, most people just think they're just cofactors for enzymes. And in fact, they do a lot more than that. They're literally your first line of defense against oxidative stress. They were the first antioxidants in life. So, blue-green algae, how they combated oxidative stress from actually producing oxygen. And blue green algae of three billion years ago are the reason why we're here today because of basically their production of oxygen, but at that formed reactive oxygen species, and they had to protect themselves against that. And essentially, the iodine and selenium did that for them back three billion years ago.
So, they form our actual own antioxidant enzymes in the body. So, things like superoxide dismutase, which is in the blood, in the cytosol, and in the mitochondria, need certain minerals to actually function. So, we typically think of vitamins as antioxidants. But really, the first-line defense against oxidative stress is the mineral enzymes.
Ben: Now, does that mean, or does that link to this idea–like I mentioned, when I was racing Ironman, for example, and I started to do more mineral replenishment that I slept better or recovered faster, I didn't get as much pounding in my ears, probably because it regulates my blood pressure a little bit. But you'll hear often the recommendation in people who are exercising a whole lot like that, or in people who are adrenally stressed, or under a lot of stress, they say that you might be exhausting your minerals or that the adrenals as a storehouse of minerals may be getting exhausted. And therefore, if you're concerned about adrenal fatigue or about exercise recovery, particularly due to stress, that you should engage in a little bit better mineral repletion. Is that related to this idea that, as you've just noted, that life is dependent upon minerals to combat oxidative stress?
James: Absolutely. That is certainly one part of it. The other factor is, as you're mentioning, stress is cortisol pushes minerals out of the cell in order to be utilized for that stressful situation, to ramp up whatever enzymes and functions that needs to combat the stress. So, magnesium is a really good example. And once it's pushed out of the cell, you typically then, after you've utilized it, it can be lost in the urine. So, people who are stressed are typically more magnesium deficient because of that push out of the cell and then lost in the urine.
Ben: Is it true that the adrenal glands are actually a so-called storehouse of minerals?
James: I wouldn't say necessarily it's a storehouse of minerals. And I get this question all the time. Is there such thing as adrenal fatigue in a human? I would say, yes, there is, and there are certain cortisol tests to see if your adrenals are “fatigued.” And you experimentally can do this by putting animals on a low salt diet and force them to essentially produce 10 times as much aldosterone, and their adrenal glands will hypertrophy. And essentially, after that, they will end up burning out. And so, I would assume that this could happen in humans as well because the same hormonal changes occur in humans as animals where you get that tenfold increase in aldosterone and the kidneys are just–because they're constantly producing extra hormones and mineral corticoids, that they will hypertrophy. And typically, that's the first step before an organ burns out, just like the pancreas. There's this over massive option of the hormone. Take insulin, for example, in the pancreas. It secretes a lot of insulin, hypertrophies, and then burns out. Same thing would happen in the adrenal glands if you're not getting enough salt, for example, and you're pushing out too much aldosterone.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it. That makes sense. Okay. So, arguably, not only people who drink more coffee, but who are, for example, limiting carbohydrates. But also people who exercise a lot or under a lot of stress should also be concerned about not just topping off their salt levels, but getting a full spectrum of these essential minerals?
James: Right. This is where it really gets down to the nitty-gritty, too. But salt is actually a controller, a master controller of all of our other minerals. Almost every single–
Ben: Now, when you say salt, James, are you referring to table salt? Are you defining salt the way that it might be defined in chemistry class? Or when you say salt, what exactly are you referring to?
James: So, when I say salt, I'm actually referring to both sodium and chloride. So, sodium and chloride, both of those two essential minerals that make up salt actually control the movement of a lot of molecules in the body. So, almost every single neurotransmitter in the brain, in order for it to move in and out of a cell, requires sodium or chloride. To move glutathione in and out of a cell typically requires sodium or chloride. To absorb vitamin C or drive vitamin C into any tissue requires sodium. So, two molecules of sodium to drive one ascorbic acid molecule into the tissues.
So, it's a master controller, both sodium and chloride, for almost every molecule in the body, including glucose, to move glucose in and out of the cell and numerous amino acids. And so, when you're deficient in sodium or chloride, now you can't move things in and out of the cell. And so, because it's so vital, the body will pull sodium from the bone if it doesn't have enough to maintain a normal sodium level. Unfortunately, the osteo class that will break down the bone, they're not specific, they're not smart enough just to grab sodium from the bone. It will actually strip calcium and magnesium at the same time and induce magnesium deficiency. So, there's been numerous balance studies to show this that if you're not getting enough salt, it actually induces magnesium and calcium deficiency.
Ben: Okay, got it. Yeah, that makes sense. What's the best way to test? Because you'll a lot of times find on some of the fancier blood panels that it will give you like RBC magnesium, you see chloride and CO2 on there. Sometimes you'll see a few other minerals, but those are all typically broad-based measurements of a handful of minerals. Typically, you don't see all 17 on there, the 17 essential minerals that you list in the book. Is there a test out there that just tests in a really good gold standard way for all 17 essential minerals so you can just see, “I'm low in this, high in that?” And by the way, I should say as I ask you this question, last year, I interviewed Barton Scott from the company–I think his company is called Upgraded Formulas. And he's big on hair testing for minerals. And so, that's another flavor of mineral testing I've come across and discuss on the show. But I'm curious in writing this book or in your own research what you found to be the best way to test for minerals.
James: Well, hair mineral analysis is interesting because it's a three-month reflection of blood. So, it's sort of like a longer snapshot of what's been going on in your blood for three months. So, in that aspect, it actually is technically better than blood. Now, part of the problem with blood and hair mineral analysis is that you have to take into account that certain minerals are called acute phase reactants. Meaning, some will drop due to inflammation even if you're not deficient, and some will actually increase due to inflammation, to combat it. Even if you're deficient, you could have high levels of copper, for example.
So, if you take into account, there's about four or five minerals that are acute phase reactants. If you know which ones go up with inflammation, which ones go down, and you can adjust for that, then yeah, hair mineral analysis can be fairly effective. If we're talking about a gold standard, it's different for every mineral. So, the gold standard for magnesium is actually called IV magnesium low test. Essentially, they give you 400 milligrams of magnesium IV over four hours. And then, over 16 to 24 hours, they see how much comes out in the urine. And if you're holding onto too much magnesium, essentially if you're holding onto 20% of that dose that was given, or more, you are highly likely deficient because the body is holding onto that dose. But most people aren't going to get an IV magnesium low.
Ben: I was going to say, most people aren't going to get that. What's the second-best for that?
James: So, the second-best would be a mononuclear blood cell magnesium test, and essentially, immune cell tests to show how much magnesium aren't immune cells. That's the only blood test that has ever been validated against an IV magnesium low test. And there are just numerous studies showing that mononuclear blood cell magnesium correlates very well with total magnesium body status. But the simplest way is to look at a blood test and then never go below the mid-range of a blood test for minerals because–
Ben: And the blood test would be like an RBC magnesium test that's typically what we see in the blood test?
James: No. And not even a red blood cell test. So, red blood cells are carriers for magnesium. So, they can be high because you're actually deficient because it's transporting a ton of magnesium around the body.
Ben: Yeah, good point.
James: So, I'm referring to like serum or plasma in blood tests. And so, if you think about it, a normal range is based on normal “people,” which 50% of us are sick anyway. And then, there's two standard deviations apart from that. So, being in the normal range is meaningless. What ends up happening though is if you are deficient, even though the mineral status typically won't drop below the “normal range,” it will go subpar and below the mid-range of normal. So, you want to try to always be at least midway of normal or higher. So, you want to be on that sort of middle top range of normal when it comes to minerals. That's the easiest way to look at a blood test and say, “Am I actually magnesium sufficient or not?” Because typically, in order to be deficient, you have to be less than 1.7 milligrams per deciliter for magnesium, but you're probably deficient if you're less than 2 milligrams per deciliter.
Ben: Okay, got it. So, coming back full circle, you could get a decent idea of overall mineral status of a lot of these essential minerals with just something as simple as a hair analysis. And then, there are a few important ones. Probably magnesium be at the top of the list that you may want to get a blood test for?
James: I would think for almost all the minerals, if you're on a blood test, if you're looking at being higher or at the mid-range of normal, that's probably suggested that you're okay. If you're below the mid-range of normal, even if you're normal, then you need to start adding tests to really figure out, are you truly sufficient or not?
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You get into like the nitty-gritty tests in the book, like if you really want to find out for, whatever, magnesium, copper, et cetera, if you're super concerned about one, then here's some better test to do. But overall, if you're getting a blood panel, if it's showing minerals, if you're within the reference range and above the midpoint, you're probably good. If not, you should do some more digging?
James: Exactly, yup.
Ben: Okay, got it. Alright. So, I'm going to throw a little curveball at you, but I know my audience is super into water, and so I know this is going to come up. We've talked about things like how really good water filtration systems like, say, reverse osmosis or even a multi-carbon block filtration system. It's probably going to remove an appreciable amount of minerals from the water dictating that you may want to add some minerals back in or at least be more cognizant of your mineral intake if you are, as you should be doing, doing a good job filtering your water. But we haven't talked much about soft versus hard water. And you aren't a fan of soft water even though most people in a Westernized context are drinking soft water, like we soften our water. And you think that might not be a good idea, or at least might be contributing to mineral deficiencies, and I would love for you to share that with the audience.
James: Sure. So, when you think about it, we never used to drink soft water. It's something that we just decided to do, not from a health perspective because we didn't like the scaling on pipes that would happen because of the calcium carbonate in mineral water. And so, essentially–
Ben: Okay. I'm going to ask the dumb question. What's soft water?
James: Soft water is water where the calcium and magnesium has essentially been removed from the water, whereas typically, the water would contain some of that. But then that causes scaling on pots and pans when you cook, or it can scale the piping in your house. So, they soften the water and remove the minerals so it doesn't cause those issues. So, think about it like running hard mineral water through a coffee machine, it can mess up the machine itself, right?
Ben: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. I mean, because my dad was a coffee and espresso machine repairman. He was like all over making sure the water was not too hard, but it goes beyond pipes. Didn't they, in medicine, endorse water softening because of the association with lower rate of cardiovascular disease when people were drinking soft water?
James: No. So, actually, what ended up happening is the reverse. So, they started softening the water because of basically cosmetic value, not to mess up the pipes and not to mess up cookware when you're cooking, scaling the pots and pans. And then, in the '80s, Massaroni and colleagues started publishing all this data that people who live in hard water areas, things that have–particularly, if the hard water was higher in magnesium, had a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease and death. And the WHO started publishing these studies as well. So, it's the hard water hypothesis has been shown globally really that anyone who lives in a hard water area is at a much lower risk of numerous diseases because they're getting more minerals through their drinking water.
Ben: Okay. Alright, gotcha. So, then what do you do about the problem with the corrosion of the pipes or some of the aesthetic issues? Is there a way to have our cake and eat it too in terms of softening the water, but not getting, for example, the decreased cardiovascular health from drinking soft water versus hard water?
James: Right. Well, here's the thing, too, is that soft water is more acidic. And so, it can potentially even leach out more heavy metals like cadmium. So, that's even potentially one problem with soft water is potentially more cadmium. But the way to do it is to have more or less copper piping and metal piping, and use more plastic piping or other versions, non-metal versions of piping would be one way to prevent scaling. But the other way to do it is, okay, you have your soft water for when you need to, just run water for like a shower, and then you just buy actual hard water. So, you buy mineral waters for ingestion. And that's sort of what I do. I typically consume things, Gerolsteiner water. And then, I'm getting my calcium, my magnesium, and my bicarbonate to offset the acid load of my animal-based diet.
Ben: I want to ask about the water momentarily, but before I do, what about do they make like a water softener that would just be like shower head filter that could soften the water so you're drinking waters hard, but then, for example, what you're showering in is soft?
James: Oh, that's a good question. I don't know. I know they make a lot of filters to get out the fluoride, to get out chlorine, things like that. I don't know if they actually have–
Ben: Oh, I'll find out. My dad would know. Hey, Dad, if you're listening in, leave us all a comment, Dad, about that because my dad probably knows. He looks in the water filters all the time, so he'll fill us in, I'm sure. Go to the comment section, pops, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/mineralfix. Let us know how we can soften our water and still drink hard water. Now, if we switch to plastic piping, is there a concern about like microplastics and things like that that we might be consuming as a bounce-back [00:37:53] _____.
James: True, and that's why I typically try to drink my mineral waters from glass. Almost all the mineral waters that I consume are from glass. So, typically, most of your microplastic ingestion is due to water or beer that people consume, that they're getting through the plastics, whether it's the cans or whether it's the bottles that they're consuming. That's where most microplastics actually come from.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now, you mentioned Gerolsteiner. And you actually had a fantastic anecdote in the book. I've always been a fan of carbonated water and popping a piece of gum just because I don't like to eat a lot. I go a long time between meals, and I can jam all day in carbonated water, or sometimes Zevia and gum. And you talk in the book about how carbonated water can lower hunger, and it's not just like a thing that is caused by the expansion of bubbles in your stomach or something like that, or some type of placebo effect. You actually talk about how defects are mediated by enhanced postprandial gastric and cardiac activity, and that it literally does actually lower appetite when you drink carbonated water, which I thought was fantastic because a lot of these carbonated waters from the evidence that I've seen and the graphs that I've seen like the Pellegrino or the Gerolsteiner that you talk about is actually pretty mineral-rich. But in terms of your own water intake, it sounds like if you're drinking Gerolsteiner, you are drinking carbonated water. If people are going to go out and drink some of this glass bottled water, as you recommended, what would you say are some things to look for or some of your top brands that you really like for water?
James: So, if you're someone who consumes like an animal-based diet and you're consuming a high acid load, then the two things you really want to look for is you want to look at the bicarbonate and the sulfate. So, bicarbonate provides alkaline to the body and sulfate provides acid. So, there's a lot of good mineral waters that are high in bicarbonate, but then they're also really high in sulfate. Now, it's not necessarily bad for you, but you're just going to need to find a different source to actually bring alkalinity then to the diet. So, that's something I typically look for, is I want to make sure it has a high bicarbonate to sulfate ratio if I'm using it to offset the acid load of my animal-based diet.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it. So, the deal with the carbonated water in terms of the actual graphs and mineral content, I guess what I want to get at is if people just want the best of the best from mineral water and wanted to get something they could find at Whole Foods, or Amazon, or at the grocery store pretty readily, do you think that Gerolsteiner is at the top of the list, or are there others that you like?
James: It's definitely at the top. And one of the reasons is because it has 100 milligrams of magnesium per liter and about 350 milligrams of calcium per liter. The reason why you want to try to consume minerals through a liquid form is, A, it's caloric-free. B, the bioavailability is much higher than certainly plant foods because it's already ionic, it's already dissolved, and it's readily absorbable. So, you're getting this calorically-free, highly bioavailable form of calcium and magnesium and you're slowly consuming it throughout the day, giving its bioavailability even more. And so, they've done studies looking at this where if you consume 7 ounces of mineral water seven times a day versus 24 ounces, let's say two times a day, the bioavailability and retention of magnesium is 40% higher by consuming it slowly throughout the day, like we would have during evolutionary times. So, there's just triple advantage of getting minerals in a lower dose, slow throughout the day. It dissolved in an ionic form.
Ben: Okay. That's interesting. I did not know that because of the ionic form that something like a mineral-rich carbonated water is actually going to allow for better mineral absorption than you would get from even like a mineral-rich produce. So, that's really good to know. Now, in terms of the water itself, there's also a very common practice now of folks including myself adding trace liquid minerals, not like pinches of a good salt to their water, but liquid minerals. Like Robb Wolf I think launched a company called LMNT, I believe is the name of his company, where he's doing, like–I think it's a liquid or powder. And then, my friend Nick Norris, who's a former Navy SEAL who lives down in San Diego, he's got a new one called Protekt. And then, probably at the top of the totem pole and the one I've talked about the most is Quinton, Q-U-I-N-T-O-N, championed by folks like Chris Shade at Quicksilver Scientific, or Robert Slovak at Water and Wellness. And they say Quinton comes from these phytoplankton blooms and pristine water and is higher in minerals and any other source on the face of the planet, et cetera. Where are you at with this seemingly increasing trend of like liquid packets of minerals that could be added to water or other beverages?
James: I think it's a great way to top off your mineral status. Particularly if you're using it as a lower dose and slowly consuming it throughout the day, you're going to get more bang for your buck. I mean, it's still going to work if you use higher doses and shorter frequencies. And I think because our food is now more nutrient-depleted across the board, both plants and animal foods are particularly depleted in magnesium, calcium, copper, and iron compared to 60 to 80 years ago because we now grow food for yield. And the phosphorus fertilizers, and the NPK fertilizers have reduced the mineral content of our foods. Adding and using these type of trace minerals as the liquid form to increase your mineral status I think makes a ton of sense.
Ben: Okay. Do you use any of those?
James: I don't because I use Gerolsteiner water, and then I use my diet to fill in the gaps using things like organ meats, [00:43:29] _____ pastured liver. And I try to eat more ancestral meats like bison, elk, venison, which are much higher in minerals compared to even grass-fed cattle.
Ben: Yeah, particularly copper, and those organ meats are fantastic for copper. And you actually described the big issue with copper deficiency in the book. You even say that iron deficiency, when a lot of people think they're iron deficient, they might actually be copper deficient. What do you mean by that?
James: Yes. So, in order to transform iron to the form that can bind to transference so it can move around in the body, it requires the enzyme-dependent on copper, ceruloplasmin, in order to do that. So, you can't move, you can't export iron out of the liver, you can't move iron around without copper. And even digging deeper into the rabbit hole without vitamin A found in animal foods, you can't really move and utilize copper well. So, you can be iron deficient from actually vitamin A deficiency, driving copper deficiency, driving iron deficiency. So, the rabbit hole can get really deep on all of these things, which typically people tend to hyperfocus on one nutrient like iron for iron deficiency, and it's really, you got to look at the broad picture that these things can be affected by many other deficiencies.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now, the other thing that I wanted to ask you, as just a guy who's written “The Salt Fix” and “The Mineral Fix” books–and this is coming from me. I was recently at some parties down in L.A. or some dinner gatherings in L.A. and everybody wanted to sit by me not because I'm a great conversationalist or because I had much to contribute, but I do always have a bag of really good salt with me. And I'll take it out and just like upgrade the taste of any meal. In this case, I had like a blend of black Kona salt with some Colima salt, which is like a Mexican salt and a little bit of Himalayan salt, which of course the total salt orthorexics out there will tell us not to use because of the little bits of iron and metals in there. But it's not stapled, the Himalayan salt is, and I just like–it was just mixing and matching salt in a bag. It tastes pretty good. So, that's what I traveled with. So, I'm always trying out all these different kinds of salt, man. I love salt and the flavor of salt, but I'm curious for you, if you have any go-to salt brands, or even just like guilty pleasures if you're going to spend a few extra bucks on a really good salt.
James: Yeah. If you're looking for magnesium, there's a salt called–I think it's called Nordur salt and Saltverk. There's these sort of like Norwegian salts that can be up to 180 milligrams of magnesium per 10 grams of salt. Actually, certain Australian flat salts can have a lot of magnesium as well.
Ben: Could you just like search for Norwegian salt on Amazon and find that type of thing?
James: Yeah. The two brands–
James: Saltverk and I think Nordur. I can't remember which one was higher in magnesium. I want to say it was Saltverk was higher.
Ben: Okay. Everybody knows what to get me for Christmas now, Saltverk. I'll check it out. It just sounds good. It sounds like the Swedish chef from The Muppets, “Saltverk, chocolate moosey.” Alright. Well, the thing is when you're using a salt like Saltverk, are you pretty much every meal aside from your Gerolsteiner, every bottle of water, or are you still picky with what you'll actually salt?
James: Usually I use Redmond. I like the taste of it. It's more sweet, more [00:46:46] _____. Saltverk is a flake salt. So, it's really very high potency, but a lot of chefs will use it as a specialty salt, like they'll garnish it with the flakes. So, my typical go-to is like a Himalayan or Redmond Real Salt, just because it flavors better.
Ben: Have you heard that before about Himalayan, how it might be higher in metals, or in iron, or anything like that?
James: Yeah. Well, yeah, it's definitely higher in iron. That's where some of the reddish tones come from, the pinkish tones, from the ferrous oxide. And then, you do need to be careful with microplastics. So, typically, a lot of the salts from Hawaii are very low in microplastics because it's such a pristine ocean in Hawaii, whereas if your things maybe like Celtic salts or other salts have been tested, they have more higher amounts of microplastics, and underground salts typically have lower. But most Himalayan salts use explosives. So, you need to source a Himalayan salt that is either hand-harvested or doesn't use explosives. So, Redmond does not use explosives. The original Himalayan salt company is a hand-harvested Himalayan salt. So, there are ways to circumvent the explosive material that could be in some of the pink Himalayans.
Ben: And when you say explosives, do you literally mean they're using like dynamite to extract the salt?
James: Yes, literally dynamite to blow up the salt.
Ben: Is that why there's concerns about like mercury, and arsenic, and lead, and some of these pink Himalayan salts also?
James: No. So, like rubidium and uranium, some of those are naturally occurring in very, very low amounts. This was interesting, too. I think it was Paul Saladino who did a review of Gerolsteiner. I think it was on uranium that it contained it and it was telling people that maybe you shouldn't drink it. But the actual amount of uranium, I believe it was uranium, was well below the actual WHO guidelines for upper [00:48:38] _____. So, we got to take into context, too, even if these things, these salts contain things like plutonium and uranium, they're usually extremely in parts per billion.
Ben: Good. That'll make Homer Simpson happy. Yeah. I think it was an Australian research study. I believe it was pretty recent. I want to say it was like last year where they looked at Himalayan salt and found a significant amount of–I believe in that study, it was lead. I don't know if that was one brand of salt, but I mean, this is pretty recent that I saw this care about kind of like rethinking like pink Himalayan salt. Are you familiar with that one?
James: Yeah, I am familiar with that one, and it reviewed different salts and different Himalayans had wave, like tenfold differences in lead. So, you know what would be good is to get a certificate of analysis or a mineral analysis from the actual producer of the salt. And typically, lead will be listed. And I'm pretty sure Redmond was fairly low in lead.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it. So, it's going to depend on the salt brand. I mean, that's the same thing with bottled water, like Topo Chico went through that thing where some of their brands or some of their products last year were found to have a higher amount of microplastics in them. And apparently, they went back and fix some of their filtration mechanisms, and it's a non-issue now. But I think a lot of people don't realize if you reach out to some of these companies, they can provide with lab certificate of analysis. Sometimes they even publish this information on their website. So, you just have to be a savvy consumer and dig in. It's possible to find. Find those kind of details. And if you don't know, just be careful since your body is not only a giant excretion, too, but also a pretty good storage mechanism as well.
Now, another thing that I wanted to ask you about was a part of the book that I really enjoyed, and that's where you get into the practical nitty-gritties. I mean, somebody could read the book and come out with like a master's degree in minerals. But then at the same time, sometimes I like to focus on just some of the practical aspects. And you talk about fixing mineral deficiencies, and some of the things that you would do if you just want to prevent your body from becoming deficient of essential minerals by either, A, protecting [00:50:39] _____ secretion, or B, improving their absorption. We talked about coffee a little bit and we talked about some of the bottled water brands that you get. But then you talk about things like fixing insulin resistance, which some people might not think about when it comes to maintaining mineral status, and a few other smart tips. I would love to hear you lay out in practical terms if people really do want to maintain good mineral status, what would be the biggies based on what you learned writing this book?
James: Well, you brought up the first biggest one, and that is insulin resistance, which effects about 75% of U.S. adults. And the fact is is that many minerals are actually insulin sensitive in order to get into the cell. In other words, insulin helps magnesium and drive magnesium and potassium into the cell. So, if you are insulin resistant, you're not going to utilize and be able to drive your minerals into the cell as well. And so, the first thing, the three out of four adults in the United States need to do is sort of cut back on the things that induce insulin resistance, particularly omega-6 seed oils, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates. So, they can even utilize the nutrients that they're eating or the nutrients that are already inside their body in order to the functions that they have to do. So, that would be number one.
Number two would be to reduce the inflammation as well, which is essentially eliminating the same things I just mentioned because inflammation will basically shuttle minerals to antioxidant enzymes versus other functions like producing ATP, for example. And so, the higher inflammation that you have, the more your minerals are going to be shifted over to non, let's say, essential functions because it's trying to combat more inflammation in the body. So, if you can sort of become [00:52:19] _____ simply from just removing the toxic stuff that you're eating, that's going to improve your mineral status even if you don't eat any more minerals in the diet, simply improving your own inflammation and insulin resistance.
Ben: Yeah. And that also makes sense. They would shuttle minerals towards higher antioxidant activity. It makes sense that that would also dictate that people who exercise more or maybe are exposed to even other forms of inflammation, like not only the vegetable oils which are contributing to insulin resistance that you talked about, but maybe even things like EMF relationship stress. Like some of the things that we don't think about when it comes to inflammation, those may also create a need for higher mineral intake.
James: Yeah, and stress, too. Stress absolutely does increase the loss of magnesium through cortisol and through noradrenaline, which pushes magnesium out of the cell. So, literally, just trying to figure out ways to combat stress is going to help. And then, really, what it comes down to is people need to start including more animal foods in their diet, more pastured animal foods, more organ meats, particularly liver and heart liver for folate, vitamin A, and copper, and heart for CoQ10. At a minimum, people should be consuming 20% of their calories from animal foods because you're just going to be deficient if you don't do that otherwise. And trying to source from better than organic foods, pastured foods from regenerative farms are going to be much higher in minerals. And even going to step further that you and I slightly discussed, consuming things like bison, elk, venison, which across the board have about 50% more minerals concentration than cattle, even grass-fed cattle. So, I know that's like top tier for a lot of people, but it is what it is. So, if you're type A personality like me, I'm going to do everything I can to try to boost my mineral status through going up the chain like that.
Ben: Okay. Cool.
James: Yeah. The other thing is the acid load. People really don't believe in this because you can't really–it's hard to affect the pH of the blood with a high animal-based diet. But just like magnesium, for example, you can be deficient even with a normal level of pH. And the pH does actually slowly go down when you consume a high acid load, it just takes a while. And enzymes are literally dependent on pH. So, phosphofructokinase, for example, is very dependent. If the pH goes a little too low, it slows down, which is the rate-limiting enzyme for glycolysis to produce ATP. So, your enzyme functions and your ability to produce ATP goes down when you are more acidic. And you can't really tell by the pH of the blood, but you can look at the serum bicarbonate.
So, I've talked to a lot of high-tier carnivores and they have bicarbonate levels of 60-year-olds even if they're like 30 years old and they're eating a carnivore diet. And it's because they've depleted their bicarbonate stores. So, that's how you can tell if you're in what's called low-grade metabolic acidosis, you don't look at the blood pH, you look at the bicarbonate level, the fasting serum bicarb. And you can look at urinary citrate, too, which will tell you if it's low. You have metabolic acidosis and things like that, and that can deplete minerals, too. So, it's good to consume animal foods, but then you have to offset the acid load somehow. So, that would either be bicarbonate mineral waters, or that would be consuming things like sodium citrate, or potassium citrate, or magnesium citrate, or eating some plant foods.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. That's something a lot of people don't realize, like bicarbonate is pretty commonly seen on a comprehensive metabolic panel or basic metabolic panel, which a lot of people's physicians will run. It's pretty simple panel to get, but when you look at it, it can give you a lot of clues when it comes to electrolyte balance. And like you mentioned, a low bicarbonate might indicate excessively acidic state. Or I guess low bicarbonate would be more of a mineral-depleted state, whereas high bicarbonate would be more of a too alkalotic of a state, correct?
James: Yeah. So, what happens here is first of all, a low bicarb is typically 23, considered low, which you really want to be about 28. So, you might have a [00:56:18] _____ bicarb, you might have a bicarb of 24. That's very indicative of metabolic acidosis, and also likely calcium and magnesium deficient because in metabolic acidosis, especially if it's due to an animal-based diet, what ends up happening is the sulfate that is produced from the sulfuric acid that is formed from consuming cysteine-containing amino acids, animal protein, cysteine, taurine–what's the other one? I'm forgetting. I'm drawing a blank here. But anyway, the negatively charged sulfate has to be excreted by a positively charged mineral. So, if you're consuming a high animal-based diet, the body will use magnesium and calcium to pull the sulfate that is forming. And so, typically, if you have a low bicarb, which is indicating metabolic acidosis, then you're also likely low in calcium and magnesium because you're also stripping the bone to get rid of the sulfate that makes sense, the negatively charged sulfate.
Ben: Okay, got it. But that's something pretty similar or pretty simple for people to look for on their blood panel is that bicarbonate test.
Ben: So, the idea of adding minerals to your diet along with mineral water, so you're eating a lot of mineral-dense foods that you talked about, especially shellfish and organ meats, or even like organ meat capsules, which I really love is kind of like a quick source for doing that type of thing, kind of microdosing with organ meats throughout the week. And then, being careful with coffee and being aware if you're limiting carbs excessively. Improving your gut health is one that you talk about, improving your liver and your kidney health, avoiding heavy metal exposure, and then the insulin and the blood glucose. Like if you're doing some of those things, you're probably doing a good job in terms of your overall mineral balance. Those are some of the main things that I wanted to cover with you, James, but is there anything else that you think you would say super important or a glaring issue when it comes to minerals in folks that you didn't get a chance to talk about today?
James: One really interesting thing is that if you don't move a lot, like if you're not exercising and you overdose with minerals, you'll spike the blood because the muscle isn't absorbing the minerals, and that will trick your body into thinking you're overloaded in let's say magnesium. So, if you're someone who doesn't really exercise, doesn't have a lot of muscle, and starts taking like loads and loads of magnesium, you're going to spike the blood magnesium and trick the body into that. You're magnesium overloaded and then you'll start kicking magnesium out in the urine and reducing your dietary absorption. So, I think movement is actually really important in building muscle so you have the base to draw minerals, too, and that so you don't overly spike the blood with minerals.
Ben: Okay, got it. That's good to know. And the main thing here, the big takeaway for me really is that if people really want to defy the status quo when it comes to what we've been led to believe about salt, about minerals, your book “Salt Fix” is really good. This book “Mineral Fix” takes that to the next level in terms of getting into a lot of these other trace liquid minerals and essential minerals, and a lot of the smaller things that people might not think about when it comes to minerals. So, it's worth a read. I know it's a big book, but as you noted, James, third of it are references, which you don't have to read. So, it's not as long to read as you might think. But it's an excellent book. I enjoyed a lot and I really enjoy a lot of the research that you put out, and a lot of your writing. Is there any type of new book that you're working on now that I could get excited about or share with the audience, or you just done writing after putting out this 700 plus page beast?
James: Yeah. I think I'm taking like a sabbatical from writing books, but I mean, I'm currently doing a little research on medicinal mushrooms like reishi and stuff like that. I mean, the data is really, really intriguing on these medicinal mushrooms, which are actually approved in Japan and China as adjunct treatments for cancer therapy. They've been actually approved for over 30 years. And I was really excited about them because two years ago, I just developed massively terrible allergies and throat mucus and it's just terrible, and it's sometimes really difficult for me to even speak. And then, I found just medicinal mushrooms like reishi, lion's mane. The other one I use is turkey tail, and I'm like 80% to 90% better. And for people who are struggling with just any type of allergies or immune system dysfunction, I think it's worth a shot. I mean, I can't give recommendations, but I always thought it was like this hokey-pokey Chinese–no real evidence to it, but there's like some really good clinicals on these mushrooms like clearing HPV and improving cancer outcomes, even a Cochrane meta-analysis. So, I don't know, just something that I'm digging more into.
Ben: Yeah. You're preaching to the choir, man. I consume mushrooms like almost every day. I talked about it, but salt my coffee, but a lot of times I'll drop some chaga, or a lion's mane, or cordyceps, or all three in there. Typically, I'll use the Four Sigmatic stuff and then I always do a little bit of reishi in the afternoon. And right now over the next month, that's actually one of our projects here in our land is we're bringing some logs and going to start some medicinal mushroom grows right here on the property. And we also might even start doing a little bit of like the neuroplastic type of mushrooms, like doing a little bit of psilocybin or cubensis along with some of the medicinal mushrooms. And so, it's certainly something I've explored and will be exploring more and possibly even donning my farmer's hat and doing a little bit of growing out of in the future. So, your next book will have to be like a cookbook that basically is comprised of mushrooms and good salts. I think you'd crush it with that. So, maybe that's the next one for you.
James: Yeah, “The Mushroom Fix,” right?
Ben: That's right, “The Mushroom Fix.” Of course, you'd call it that. Alright, man. Well, first of all, thanks for coming on the show. And second, for those of you listening in, you can go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/mineralfix for all the shownotes. I'll link to all James' books and anything else that we discussed on the show today. I'm going to have to go get me some of that Nordur salt because that sounds amazing and add that to my pantry of salts. And James, thanks for coming on the show, man.
James: Thanks for having me, Ben. It was fun.
Ben: Alright. Cool, folks. I'm Ben Greenfield, and just because I got to say it one more time, with Dr. James DiNicolantonio, there I did it again, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com/mineralfix. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Micronutrient deficiencies are widespread across the globe in both developed and developing countries. These deficiencies pose a serious threat to long-term health and longevity. Deficiencies in key minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, increase the risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It is estimated that 1 out of 3 people in the United States has at least 10 minerals in which they are deficient: potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, and boron.
The Mineral Fix: How to Optimize Your Mineral Intake for Energy, Longevity, Immunity, Sleep and More is a new book on this matter—a comprehensive guide about the role of essential minerals in the human diet. It includes information on all 17 of the essential minerals that humans need for proper physiological function and survival as well as the 5 possibly essential minerals that also have an important role in overall health.
The author of The Mineral Fix and my guest on this podcast, Dr. James DiNicolantonio, is a Doctor of Pharmacy and a cardiovascular research scientist. A well-respected and internationally known scientist and an expert on health and nutrition, Dr. DiNicolantonio has contributed extensively to health policy and has testified in front of the Canadian Senate regarding the harms of added sugars. He serves as the associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, a journal published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society, and is on the editorial advisory boards of several other medical journals. Dr. DiNicolantonio is the author or co-author of more than 250 publications in the medical literature. He also is the author of five bestselling health books, The Salt Fix, Superfuel, The Longevity Solution, The Immunity Fix, and The Mineral Fix. You can follow Dr. DiNicolantonio on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also visit his website at drjamesdinic.com.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-Why adding salt might be a good thing…09:23
- When most people switch from a processed food diet to whole foods, you need to replace the salt
- Saltis good for exercise performance and improving insulin sensitivity
- The Mineral Fixby Dr. James DiNicolantonio
-Why healthy people might be more mineral deficient…09:55
- Healthy people will be more deficient in salt compared to people eating processed foods
- People starting on a ketogenic diet usually have a salt deficiency
- Resuming normal salt intake cleared atrial fibrillation, ringing in the ears, etc.
- When starting on a low carbohydrate diet:
- Recommend to increase mineral intake
- Low carb intake lowers insulin levels; insulin helps the kidneys retain salt
- The kidneys start producing negatively-charged ketone bodies but the kidneys have to maintain electro-neutrality
- So, in the first two weeks of a keto diet, the kidneys start to use the positively charged sodium ions to eliminate negatively charged ketone bodies
- Chronically, there is a reduction in the ability to absorb sodium because glucose helps with the absorption of sodium
- The extra processing of ketones requires a greater amount of minerals
- The absence of glucose causes a depletion of minerals
- The reduction in the exogenous intake of glucose is going to reduce the absorption of dietary sodium because glucose helps with the absorption of sodium
- Hack: Glycinecan help with sodium absorption
-Why glycine may help mitigate negative effects of damage…12:50
- Certain immune cells contain glycine receptors called glycine gated chloride channels which help to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine release
- Glycine is keeping the pro-inflammatory immune cells at bay
- 3 grams of glycine prior to bedtime or exercise time helps reduce core body temperature
- 5 grams of glycine to mitigate negative effects of vegetable oil
- Making your own bone broth
-Why Ben puts a teaspoon of salt in his coffee…15:45
- Coffeeand caffeine intake reduces potassium and sodium; also depletes magnesium
- Consuming 4 cups of coffee can result in a loss of about 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Coffee is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world
- Caffeine is a salt-wasting diuretic
- Twice as much chloride loss as sodium; also a loss of taurine
- Taurine reabsorption in the kidneys is directly dependent on sodium reabsorption
- Supplement with taurine
- Hamburger study on coffee: Inhibition Of Food Iron Absorption By Coffee
- Coffee inhibits non-heme iron
- Meat has both heme and non-heme iron
- Plants are typically non-heme iron
- One advantage of consuming coffee with meat is that it inhibits the oxidation products that form
- Decaf could be a beneficial swap for coffee to sustain proper mineral absorption and prevent you from becoming mineral deficient
- Coffee inhibits a lot of the oxidation products and actually reduces the number of free iron ions in the body which are extremely damaging
-What makes the 17 essential minerals essential..21:00
- Essential: if you don't consume it in your diet, you will eventually die from that deficiency
- Lysinecomes from comets hitting the earth
- Minerals catalyze amino acids to form life
- Our bodies cannot make their own minerals
- Essential minerals are the first line of defense against oxidative stress, the first antioxidants in life
-Mineral replenishment for adrenal fatigue and exercise recovery…23:35
- Cortisol pushes minerals out of the cell in order to be utilized for a stressful situation
- Once pushed out of cell, excreted through urine
- People who are stressed are more magnesium deficient
- Adrenal gland will hypertrophy if someone is sodium deficient
- People who drink a lot of coffee, exercise a lot, reduce carbs, or are under high stress should be concerned about getting a full spectrum of essential minerals and sodium intake
-The importance of getting a full spectrum of essential minerals and sodium intake…27:05
- Saltis the master controller of all the other minerals; controls the movement of a lot of molecules in the body
- Salt is sodium and chloride (2 essential minerals)
- If you're mineral deficient in sodium or chloride, you cannot move things in and out of the cell
- Sodium is so vital that the body will pull sodium from the bone if it does not have enough to maintain a normal level
- The osteoclasts that break down the bone are not smart enough just to grab only sodium from the bone; they also strip calcium and magnesium at the same time and induce magnesium deficiency
- Not getting enough salt induces magnesium and calcium deficiency
-The best way to test for all 17 essential minerals…28:30
- The Problem With Mineral Supplements, Why Minerals Don’t Get Absorbed, Why You Probably Have A Mineral Deficiency & What To Do About It, With Barton Scott.
- Upgraded Mineral Deficiency, Heavy Metals, & Metabolism Test:hair mineral testing is good for 3-month reflection of blood (use code BEN15 for a one-time 15% discount)
- Hair mineral analysis is a 3-month reflection of blood; technically better than blood testing
- Blood mineral testing results at mid-range or higher of normal is okay
- Some minerals, called acute phase reactants, have to be taken into account when doing blood and hair mineral analysis; some drop with inflammation, some increase with inflammation
- Gold standard tests are dependent on the minerals to be tested
- Gold standard for magnesium: IV Magnesium Loading Test
- Second best test: Mononuclear Blood Cell Magnesium Test—only test that's ever been validated against an IV Magnesium Load Test
- The simplest way to test for minerals is to look for mid-range or higher of normal in blood tests
- If blood tests come back with low mid-range or below, more specified tests are recommended
-Why drinking soft water might make you mineral deficient…33:05
- Soft water is where calcium and magnesium has been removed from the water
- Many people switched to soft water for cosmetic purposes
- Study: Geochemical Environments, Trace Elements, and Cardiovascular Diseases
- People that live in hard water areas had a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease and death
- Hard water hypothesis: getting more minerals through drinking water
- Soft water is more acidic
- A fix is to use less metal and copper piping, more plastic, or other non-metal versions of piping
- Buy mineral water for ingestion
- Drink mineral water through glass, not plastic
- Most of the microplastics people consume is through the plastic containers
-The top commercial mineral water products…38:00
- Carbonated water can lower hunger
- James drinks Gerolsteinerand eats an animal-based diet to maintain his minerals
- For someone who consumes an animal-based diet and consuming a high acid load, two things to look for are:
- Bicarbonate: provides alkaline to the body
- Sulfate: provides acid
- There are mineral water brands that are high in bicarbonate and there are some that are high in sulfates; look for high bicarbonate to sulfate ratio to offset the acid load of an animal-based diet
- Gerolsteineris definitely at the top
- Gerolsteiner has 100mg magnesium and 350mg calcium per liter
- The reason to consume minerals in liquid form is:
- Higher bioavailability than plant food because it's already ionic, already dissolved, and readily absorbable
- Bio-availability and retention of magnesium is 40% higher if consumed slowly throughout the day
- Rob Wolf‘s company, LMNT
- A Rock-Climbing Navy SEAL Talks Ibogaine, Meditation Tactics, Parenting, Purpose & More: The Nick Norris Podcast.
- Protekt(use code BEN to save 15%)
- Quinton Isotonic
- Quicksilver Scientific
- Water and Wellness
- Is “Drinkable” Seawater The Future Of Health Tonics?, How “Quinton” Works, Isotonic vs. Hypertonic & Much More With Water Researcher Robert Slovak.
- Liquid packets of trace minerals is a great way to avoid becoming mineral deficient; use at a lower dose and use consistently over the day
- Plant and animal foods are now more nutrient-depleted; depleted of magnesium, copper, calcium, and iron, compared to 80 years ago
- Organ meatsare a very good source of copper
- You can't move iron around without copper
- Without vitamin A found in animal foods, you can't utilize copper
-James' go-to salt brands…44:30
- The Salt Fixby Dr. James DiNicolantonio
- Kona black salt
- Celtic salt
- Himalayan salt
- Colima salt
- Nordur Salt: 180mg of magnesium per 10g of salt
- Saltverkis very high potency flake salt—180mg of magnesium per 10g of salt
- Redmond Saltfor everyday use
- Himalayan salt is higher in iron (where reddish tones come from)
- Be cautious of microplastics when using Himalayan salts, some Himalayan salts are harvested using explosives (dynamite)
- Himalayan salt from Hawaii is good, Celtic salts have a higher amount if micro-plastics
- An Analysis of the Mineral Composition of Pink Salt Available in Australia
- Salt quality depends on the brand
- Hand-harvested Himalayan salts are recommended
- Get a certificate of analysis from the producer
-Practical ways to fix mineral deficiencies…50:00
- Many minerals are insulin sensitive
- Insulin helps drive magnesium and potassium into the cell
- Insulin resistance affects 75% of U.S. adults
- The things that the 3 out of 4 (mineral deficient) adults in the U.S. should do are:
- Cut back on whatever induces insulin resistance: Omega 6 seed oils, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates
- Reduce inflammation through diet
- Reduce stress, lower cortisol levels
- Include more animal foods in diet, more organ meats, particularly liver and the heart; liver for folate, vitamin A,and CoQ10 from the heart (use code BEN to save 10%)
- We should be ingesting 20% of our calories from animal foods;
- Pastured foods are much higher in minerals like bison, elk, venison (50% more minerals than grass-fed cattle)
- Acid load, pH should be slightly alkaline
- Ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) goes down when you are more acidic
- Acidosis depletes minerals
- Supplement with bicarbonate mineral waters, sodium citrates, potassium citrates, magnesium citrates, plant foods
-Bicarbonates and electrolyte balance…55:20
- Low bicarbonate = 23
- Ideal bicarbonate = 28
- If you are low on bicarbonates, which indicates metabolic acidosis, you're probably also low in calcium and magnesium because you're stripping the bone to get rid of the sulfate
- To summarize how to avoid being mineral deficient:
- Adding minerals to water
- Eating mineral-dense foods
- Organ meat capsules
- Improve gut health
- Avoid heavy metal exposure
- Being careful with coffee and carbs
- Minding insulin and blood glucose
- Caution: If you're not moving a lot and you overdose in minerals, you can trick the body to think you're magnesium overloaded
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
- The Salt Fix
- The Longevity Solution
- The Immunity Fix
- The Mineral Fix
- The Problem With Mineral Supplements, Why Minerals Don’t Get Absorbed, Why You Probably Have A Mineral Deficiency & What To Do About It, With Barton Scott.
- A Rock-Climbing Navy SEAL Talks Ibogaine, Meditation Tactics, Parenting, Purpose & More: The Nick Norris Podcast.
- Is “Drinkable” Seawater The Future Of Health Tonics?, How “Quinton” Works, Isotonic vs. Hypertonic & Much More With Water Researcher Robert Slovak.
– Food And Supplements:
- Kona Black Salt
- Celtic Salt
- Himalayan Salt
- Colima Salt
- Nordur Salt
- Redmond Salt
- Kettle & Fire Bone Broths
- Ancestral Supplements(use code BEN to save 10%)
- Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water
- LMNT Electrolyte Mix Drink
- Protekt Natural Liquid Supplement(use code BEN to save 15%)
- Quinton Isotonic
- Quicksilver Scientific
- Water and Wellness
- Paleovalley Grass-Fed Organ Complex
– Other Resources:
- Inhibition Of Food Iron Absorption By Coffee
- Coffee Depletes Vitamins & Minerals, But Is This a Cause For Concern?
- Geochemical Environments, Trace Elements And Cardiovascular Diseases
- An Analysis of the Mineral Composition of Pink Salt Available in Australia
- Warning Over Toxic Trendy Pink Salt As It's Revealed Some Brands Have Dangerous Levels Of Lead And Heavy Metals – While White Salt Is Cheaper And Has More Essential Nutrients
–Kion Colostrum: Upgrade your gut health with “nature’s first food.” Kion Colostrum is made with premium, grass-fed bovine milk that promotes healthy gut function, supports the immune system, and enhances athletic recovery. You can get Kion Colostrum and save 20% off your first order with code BGF20.
–Organifi Red Juice: Enjoy all the benefits of the 11 superfoods and their micronutrients that help increase resting metabolism, support cardiovascular health, and remove toxins to turn back the hands of time! Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.
–Four Sigmatic: I’ve been using Four Sigmatic products for a while now and I’m impressed by the efficacies of their mushroom products. I use them. I like them. I support the mission! Receive 10% off your Four Sigmatic purchase when you use discount code BENGREENFIELD.
–Vuori: Activewear and athletic clothing for ultimate performance. Vuori is built to move and sweat in, yet designed with a West Coast aesthetic that transitions effortlessly into everyday life. Receive 20% off your order at vuoriclothing.com/ben.