[00:00] Introduction/Peloton/MVMT Watches
[06:48] About Tyler Lebaron
[09:15] What Tyler’s Training Looks Like
[13:00] Whether Tyler Follows Any Special Diet or Takes Any Special Supplements
[23:50] How Hydrogenated Water is Far Different Than Regular Water
[26:05] The Way That Hydrogen Gas Dissolved in Water Actually Affects Your Cells
[41:49] Whether Hydrogenated Water Blunts the Hormetic Response to Exercise
[49:30] How Hydrogenated Water Can Act as An Exercise Mimetic
[1:03:52] The Effects of Hydrogenated Water on Exercise Performance and Digestive Health
[1:08:05] The Fascinating Anti-Allergenic and Anti-Exercise-Induced Asthma Effects of Hydrogenated Water
[1:11:01] Why Most People Haven’t Heard of Molecular Hydrogen
[1:13:56] The Link Between Molecular Hydrogen and So-Called “Healing Waters”
[1:16:52] How Much Hydrogen Water You Actually Need to Drink to Get the Benefits
[1:19:52] Where Can People Get Molecular Hydrogen?
[1:25:12] End of Podcast
Ben: [audible breathing] I’m breathing hard. I have this heavy bag outside my office. I use that or I do jumping jacks. If I’ve been kinda sitting around for more than an hour, I get up and do 100 jumping jacks. Now, I hit the heavy bag as fast as I can as hard as I can 100 times and I come back in here into my office and I record podcasting magic for you. In this case very magical, we’re talking to a 30 year old scientist phenom who runs a 2:30 marathon, he deadlifts 420 lbs. and he drinks, of all things, hydrogen-enriched water. You don’t know what that is? You’re about to learn.
This podcast, speaking of cool things, is brought to you by this brand new, incredible bicycle. This is not a bicycle that I ride to the grocery store, this thing actually sits in my house. And it allows me to get live streamed classes from a New York City studio, any type of classes that I want.
Now bicycling, as you may or may not know, is a fantastic way to not just burn calories but you generate a huge amount of mitochondria, you can do crazy high intensity interval workouts on it. With this new program, I can do 20-minute burns, I can do hip-hop, I can do rock and roll, low-impact high-intensity, I’ve got over 8,000 on demand classes that I can do. And I can ride live with other people, it’s called a Peloton. It’s this cutting edge, indoor cycling bike that brings these live studio classes right into your home, or in my case, behind me in my office. It’s got a 22 inch HD touch screen, this super silent belt drive so it’s really quiet so I can actually hear the workouts that I’m doing, not like a super loud indoor trainer like a lot of these things are. And a tiny little compact 2×4 foot footprint, so you can put it anywhere, living room, basement, office, bedroom, behind your refrigerator, you name it.
So, they’re giving all of you a limited time offer to get your own Peloton, well worth it. Here’s how: you go to onepeloton.com, let me spell that out for you. One, O-N-E, Peloton, P-E-L-O-T-O-N, onepeloton.com and get $100 off any accessories with your Peloton bike purchase and a great workout at home anytime you please, no driving to the gym. Onepeloton.com, use the code GREENFIELD and yeah, you do this at home but you aren’t lonely on your spin bike coz you’re with a whole bunch of other people. You just plug into other people, do the workout with them, it’s amazing, check it out.
This podcast is also brought to you by MVMT Watches, and they’ve sold over a million watches now and the reason for that is these things look super stylish, they’re minimalist. I’ve got four of them, actually, I can rotate between my white one, I’ve got this jet black one, my wife has this white one that I think looks super hot on her wrist, they have fashion-forward bracelets they just added to their collection, classic cuffs and trendy barbed wire designs, finishes like gold and rose gold and matte black and you name it. Those are just $40, and the watches themselves look like these super expensive Rolodexes, but you get them for pennies in the dollar. And they even have these custom new Valentine ’s Day boxes where you get a watch and a bracelet, and there’s nothing better than opening up what you thought was just a bracelet and getting a watch too, or vice versa. So Valentine ’s Day is just around the corner, this is perfect for Valentine ’s Day, perfect. And there’s still time to get it, 15% off these MVMT watches, just go to MVMT.com/ben, that gives you free shipping and free returns, MVMT.com/ben. Alright, let’s go chat with Tyler.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“It’s hydrogen gas. I mean this is the jet fuel that you’re talking about, or rocket fuel, really, right? You have hydrogen and oxygen, they combust together, you make water. Hydrogen is three times more energy dense than gasoline. This is the molecular hydrogen we’re talking about, powers the sun, power the cars, also powers the body, right?” “Really, we look at the metabolic pathways that hydrogen activates and exercise activates and we do some parallels, we do some correlations here. We see exercise can activate say certain free expression which is amazing for exercise, so can hydrogen.”
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and my guest on today’s podcast is kind of a phenom. He was introduced to me by Dr. Joseph Mercola, who happens to be one of the more popular docs who I’ve ever had on this show. And Dr. Mercola filled me in on this guy and on the concept that we’re gonna talk about today which is molecular hydrogen. Not as boring as you might think, it’s actually really interesting stuff. And his name is Tyler Lebaron. Tyler, am I pronouncing your name right? Is it Leh-baron or Lay-baron? Or Luh-baron?
Tyler: Depends, are you Francés? Lay-baron.
Ben: [laughs] Lay-baron.
Tyler: But just Lebaron.
Ben: Alright, Lebaron, which is French for “the bear”, I’m just gonna make that up.
Tyler: Yeah, well “the man”.
Ben: We’ll roll with it dude. So Tyler’s 30 years old, he’s run a 2:30 marathon. What do you deadlift, dude, 450 lbs.?
Tyler: 420 is my max.
Ben: Wow. Dr. Mercola told me 450-ish so we’re in the ball park.
Tyler: And I told him don’t be just saying things that aren’t true. He also said I was doing a 2:20, no that’s what I’d like to do. So… [laughs]
Ben: Yeah. Well you’re trying to qualify for the trials, right?
Tyler: Well I would like to see if I can make that qualifying time, that would be pretty sweet.
Ben: Yeah, that would be. And you’re one smart cookie so listen to this folks: Tyler is the founder and executive director of the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, he has a degree in Biochemistry, he interned at Nagoya University in Japan in the department of Neurogenetics to research the mechanisms of hydrogen gas on cell signaling pathways, he’s the director of the International Hydrogen Standards Association, the International molecular Hydrogen Association. Let’s see how many times I can say hydrogen. He speaks around the world at different medical conferences, specifically on biomedical hydrogen and the use of hydrogen and hydrogen research, and he studied everything, physiology and exercise physiology and nutritional biochemistry, molecular cell biology, quantitative chemical analysis, biology analysis techniques. And he has researched just as many things from vitamins and minerals and nutraceuticals to biological and chemical properties of creatine, therapeutic uses of exercise for disease prevention and treatment, free radical biology in medicine which we’ll delve into today, whole host of topics. But you know what’s most interesting, Tyler?
Tyler: What’s that?
Ben: You studied at Nagoya University?
Tyler: Well yeah, for my internship. That’s kinda the epicenter of a lot of high-gen research, so I had the opportunity to go down there and actually do the research in 2013 and really get involved.
Ben: You know it’s crazy about that coz I used to go to Nagoya every year to race in the Ironman Triathlon they used to have over there at Nagoya.
Tyler: Ah, hontou desu ka?
Ben: Yeah, I’d fly over to Centrair Airport, you know that airport?
Tyler: Yep, absolutely.
Ben: Yeah, and triathlon’s literally right across the street. It was amazing, I’d go there and just stuff my face with sushi and get amazing massages, visit some Japanese saunas, do the triathlon, take the bullet train over to Kyoto, hang out in Kyoto and then fly home. It was like one of the funniest things I’d do every year, amazing.
Tyler: That’s awesome, I just barely got back from Nagoya a couple of weeks ago.
Ben: Most people go to Tokyo or Kyoto, but I kinda like that area around Nagoya. A lot of people don’t even realize they have this amazing airport you can fly into and a lot of times at a lot lower cost than Tokyo or Kyoto. So interesting.
Ben: So before we even delve into molecular hydrogen man, I’m curious about your training protocol coz not a lot of people can deadlift over 400 lbs. and run a 2:30 marathon. I’m just curious how you’re able to lift heavy and run as fast as you do in an endurance sport.
Tyler: [laughs] Yeah, they are kind of diametrically opposed training, but I think that the first thing is most people don’t train that way, and you can. First off most people who run don’t lift any weights at all, and then those that do typically lift very light weight and lots and lots of reps. And conversely those people who are lifting heavy weights or something, they don’t run a lot. And my goal has just been “I wanna be strong.” I don’t care about being huge and doing things for hypertrophy and have big muscles. I wanna be strong so I lift heavy weights and that’s the most important way to get stronger, to induce that stimuli for the central nervous system and everything to actually lift more weights because that correlation between hypertrophy and strength is not as strong as most people think that it is. So I guess when it comes to my training for weight lifting, it really is focusing on lifting heavy, more like a powerlifter.
Ben: So when you do that, are you doing concurrent training, meaning are you…
Tyler: Oh yeah.
Ben: When you go to the weight room are you doing running followed by powerlifting or weight training and then back to running or are you completely separating your aerobic training and your strength training?
Tyler: It doesn’t matter. As long as I’m doing both, it’s fine. For example, I’ll have a focus, so let’s say my focus is on strength training, I wanna get my bench press up, my deadlift up, whatever up as high as I can. That’s my primary focus, that’s what I do first, that’s what I do say in the morning or something, and then for running I’m just doing high intensity intervals, I’m just staying in the best shape that I can. And then after I kinda start getting tired or plateauing a little bit of the heavy weights and things, I’m looking for a little change and I wanna get back into running, I just switch them a little bit. Like a teeter totter, it’s gonna lop-side a little bit more and I’ll start focusing a lot more in the running, getting in more distance, getting more intense training times, and then kinda maintain the weight. I’ll just keep on going back and forth, back and forth, and changing it if I’m gonna go for a competition on weight lifting I’m focusing on that. And then “oh a marathon’s coming up”, I wanna focus on this so that’s kinda how I do it. So I try to train both of them everyday, but as long as I’m doing them both at the same time within the same day or in the same training session, then it doesn’t matter. I like to do it different times of the day because that way I can get some recovery in before I go do my next bout of exercise. I wanna be as much recovered as I can so that I can get a good exercise session in.
Ben: Yeah, that’s interesting. So even though you’re specifically focusing on a certain time of year on strength or on endurance, you’re still all year long training both strength and endurance in the same training cycle.
Tyler: Yeah, when I’m trying to maintain, not necessarily trying to improve just trying to really maintain, we look at the studies in the VO2Max for example, going out and doing a few bouts of high intensity exercise a few times a week can really maintain your VO2Max pretty well as opposed to the enormous amount of time that’s required to improve your VO2Max.
Ben: Yeah, that’s really interesting. Are you following a kind of special diet or do you use any special biohacks or anything like that? Any little secrets that you have up your sleeve as a scientist?
Tyler: Maybe. [laughs] Sometimes I tell people what I do and they’re like “wow that’s amazing, such a good idea” but to me that’s “what else would you do?” For example, I do eat as healthy as I can, I really stay away from just refined sugars and carbohydrates. Not necessarily saying they’re just “bad” bad, but there is good, better and best, right? And there’s better choices, better options and so I try to eat clean in those regards, and then mind the time and the nutrition I think is important. For example, when do you take your protein? Which protein do you take? For me, I don’t take that much protein at all. In fact, most of the time I don’t take any protein coz I just try to eat well, but we look at the research, we know that 20-30 grams of protein is really all you really need. And primarily it’s the BCAAs that we need anyway, specifically leucine, so 20-30 grams of protein, you’re getting most of your benefits. But for me, if I’m hungry, then I’ll take protein before I go workout. And take a look at the research on protein supplementation before a workout, it’s amazing. So if I’m hungry, before I work out I take protein. If I’m not hungry coz I just ate a couple of hours ago, then I’ll go work out and as soon as I’m done, then I’ll take protein. But unless I’m really training and trying to get to that next level and kinda plateauing or something, I usually don’t even take protein.
Ben: That’s interesting, and it’s also interesting what you said about BCAAs coz I actually don’t really use BCAAs. There’s some really interesting studies on depletion of some of the vitamin B’s with use of BCAAs and some pretty extreme glycemic variability with the high doses of leucine and then some neurotransmitter issues. I just wrote an article about this, I’m a way bigger fan of essential amino acids and I’ll use those for example before or during and after a training session for a very similar effect, but you kinda blunt some of the negative effects of BCAAs with an essential amino acid. Are you familiar with any research on BCAAs?
Tyler: Oh well, I am. I’m not familiar with that research you’re talking about. I mean leucine is essential for the stimulation of mTOR, and that is very anabolic and some of the research I saw a while ago was suggesting that the primary benefit of taking whey protein or different BCAAs in general was because of the benefits of leucine specifically. Now I do agree and I understand just based on common biochemistry principles that taking levels of too much of one specific amino acid can certainly cause problems. And so for me, I actually will first take protein then I’ll go to the next level, the EAAs, essential amino acids, and then if I’m looking for serious competition, I just really want extra push then I’ll look at supplementing in just pure BCAAs or just focus on leucine. And that’s for a very short time period, I’m not talking about chronic supplementation for months on end, just for a short period to get me to that next level.
Ben: Right, you’re looking for a pretty extreme anabolic effect. I guess I was more referring to some of the issues people experience with metabolic issues with BCAAs, but the other thing is I personally like EAAs just because a lot of times I’m competing in endurance sports so I’m trying to avoid too much catabolism.
Tyler: Sure, sure.
Ben: So I’m trying to flood my blood stream with as many amino acids as I need for repair post workout, but then also because central nervous system fatigue can be a big issue during endurance sports. The EAAs keep a lot of tryptophan from kinda flooding the blood-brain barrier which the BCAAs don’t do quite as well a job of so it kinda keeps me from bonking during the longer endurance sessions.
Tyler: I’ll have to look into that.
Ben: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ll get your address later, I’ll send you a bottle of this stuff that I use for the amino acids. It’s like freakin’ jet fuel.
Ben: But we’re gonna talk about a different kind of jet fuel.
Tyler: That’s right. [laughs]
Ben: This whole concept of molecular hydrogen. Let’s just start here. What is molecular hydrogen?
Tyler: Yeah, so it’s just hydrogen gas. This is the jet fuel that you’re talking about, or rocket fuel really, right? You have hydrogen and oxygen, they combust together, you make water but the combustion is amazing. Hydrogen is three times more energy dense than gasoline. So this is the molecular hydrogen we’re talking about, powers the sun, power the cars, also powers the body, right? It’s not an energy source to the body but in the sense that it does have some really neat therapeutic and medical effects that we’re really just recently finding out. One of the first publications on the hydrogen could be giving therapeutic effects was actually in 1975 by Texas A&M and Bailey University, and the published a report in the Journal of Science, one of the top journals out there. And they used a hyperbaric hydrogen chamber in an animal model of melanoma tumors and they found that this treatment at very high pressure of hydrogen could basically reduce the melanoma tumors. And what’s really remarkable was the therapeutic applications, but if you think about the actual utilization, actual application of a hyperbaric chamber in normal life and our clinical practice, it’s not too easy to do. So I think that’s why not much research was done until 2007 when there was an article published in a very prestigious journal “Nature Medicine”. And in that article they found that hydrogen was very neuroprotective and prevented the toxic damage from ischemia-reperfusion injury that it was induced via middle cerebral arterial occlusion in a rat model.
Tyler: And basically when this happens and you have this hypoxia or low blood flow to the brain and different things, you’ve got lots of free radicals, lots of oxidative stress and that ends up causing necrosis and cell death and all these different problems. And hydrogen gas was very effective at preventing that from happening, and it was done at a very low concentration, only 2-3% which is below the flammability level, it has to be higher than 4.6% to be explosive. And so now, we can see that hydrogen gas can actually be utilized in a clinical setting because it’s not flammable, and now ten years later, the Japanese government has now approved hydrogen inhalation as an official medical procedure for post cardiac arrest patients, because they’re finding that it’s actually more effective than conventional treatments like hypothermia. When the heart stops, it’s not so difficult to get the heart started again. You can get the heart started again but then a lot of them will die shortly after because when that blood goes throughout the rest of the body and hits the brain, that blast of oxygen and oxygenated blood to everything starts causing this cascade of all this radical damage when oxygenated. So administration of hydrogen gas is able to help attenuate and mitigate those toxic effects and there’s a huge study going on right now, 360 patients with maybe 10 or so different hospitals and universities are evaluating the outcomes. And so far the preliminary results are quite promising.
Ben: Interesting, so when you’re talking about the use of hydrogen in these situations, are you breathing it in or is it a different delivery mechanism? One of the reason I ask is I have been at medical conferences and health conferences before where folks have walked up and had these little tablets that dissolve in water and make little bubbles and they’ll drop it in my water and say “I’m hydrogenating your water, this is gonna make it amazing as an anti-oxidant or get some of the other benefits that you were just talking about.” Is that how the delivery is occurring in these studies?
Tyler: Well yeah, so that’s a great question. There’s several ways to deliver hydrogen, there’s a hyperbaric chamber. And actually, just as a side note, there are actually hyperbaric chambers that have been developed now, it’s like 2% hydrogen and you just get in the chamber and go through a therapy. But then there’s inhalation that’s with the canula or a gas mask for example. In China, I was in one of the medical clinics there, and you go in and you sit on their chair in their clinic and you inhale hydrogen gas and there’s probably 60 or so clinical studies that are currently in progress right now on the use of the hydrogen gas inhalation. And then, there is just simply drinking hydrogen-rich water, so you can take hydrogen gas just like CO2 gas or oxygen gas and you can dissolve it in water. Now you have water that has hydrogen gas in it, and the solubility is about 0.8 millimolar or 1.6 milligrams per liter, and by simply drinking that water, that also gives remarkable therapeutic effects. And this is the interesting part too is you’re gonna get a lot more hydrogen gas by inhalation but that does not necessarily mean greater benefits. And in fact, in one of the studies I’ve done actually at Nagoya University in 2012, with a Parkinson’s disease model, they found that continuous administration of hydrogen gas in the air, so 24/7 they were inhaling hydrogen gas all the time, was not effective in preventing the development of Parkinson’s disease in the animal model. However, the drinking of hydrogen-rich water was very effective, so in some cases it appears that drinking hydrogen-rich water is actually more effective than inhalation.
Now there’s been more studies and things have been done, pharmacokinetics alter pharmacodynamics, so there’s many methods of administration but what we do know from the clinical human studies and the animal studies is that yes, drinking hydrogen-rich water is also very effective and may be, in some cases, more effective. Maybe in other cases not as effective, but we do need more research.
Ben: So how would you actually make hydrogen-rich water? What’s actually occurring, coz water already has hydrogen in it, right?
Tyler: Okay, that’s something good to bring up. So water is H2O, right? Looks like Mickey Mouse, you have the oxygen with the hydrogens attached to it, but that’s the issue, they’re attached to the oxygen, they’re already bound up. Look at glucose, the chemical formula for glucose is C6H12O6, so 6 carbons, 12 hydrogens, and 6 oxygens. Well, just because glucose has hydrogen in them doesn’t make it the same as water or doesn’t make it therapeutic for you, right? Those hydrogens are all tied up or bound to the oxygen or to the other molecule. Pretty much every organic molecule out there has hydrogen in it, but we’re talking about hydrogen gas. Just two atoms, two hydrogen atoms that are chemicals bonded together.
Tyler: And that’s the hydrogen gas. And that gas can be dissolved in the water. When you dissolve it in the water, it doesn’t alter the structure of the water, doesn’t make H4O. So technically hydrogenation of water is not true coz hydrogenation suggests that it’s gonna attach to the water molecule, that does not happen at all. It’s dissolved in the water. So to your question, how do you make hydrogen water, well you can simply dissolve it. Just take a tank of hydrogen gas and bubble it into the water. You mentioned about these tablets for example, the way the tablets work, the tablets themselves don’t contain hydrogen, that’s impossible. Hydrogen is a gas, a tablet is a solid, but there are hydrogen producing tablets. So if you took the tablet or these other things out there and you drop it in the water and it reacts with the water to produce hydrogen gas, coz like you said water already has hydrogen, so the tablet is able to liberate that hydrogen and it bonds together. Now you have hydrogen gas. That’s why if you’ve seen the tablets when you put it in, you’ll see tons of gas bubble being produced off of the tablet. You can even light them on fire, you can see this is hydrogen gas. That’s one of the ways that it can be done.
Ben: Now hydrogen’s like an inert gas, how does it even have any therapeutic effects? How is it actually working once it gets into your body?
Tyler: Yeah, that’s why I got interested. Hydrogen gas is kinda biologically inert. It’s not inert like helium or other of the noble gases o something, but yeah. When you look at other gaseous signaling molecules in the body such as nitric oxide or hydrogen sulfide or carbon monoxide, these gases all have specific chemical properties that allow it to interact with certain receptors. Nitric oxide is a free radicals so it’s very reactive. Carbon monoxide is very polar so it’s able to bind very strongly to the iron and part of the human oxygen system or different areas. So these all have specific capabilities to bind, but hydrogen gas doesn’t really have this, it’s this very small molecule, it’s non-polar, it’s neutral. So the mechanism of how it’s actually causing these effects to the actual primary targets are actually still elusive. We actually are not sure how it’s happening, but what we do see in the in vitro studies is that hydrogen gas acts as a cell signal modulator.
For example, it’s able to activate the nrf-2 pathway, so maybe we should talk about that just a little bit. So the nrf-2 pathway is a transcription factor, and then when it is activated, it binds to the DNA to a specific portion, the ARE, antioxidant response element portion, and it causes the transcription of your body’s own antioxidants like glutathione, superoxide dismutase and several other cytoprotective enzymes and proteins, and this is critical. So this nrf-2 pathway is very protective and it’s one of the benefits of exercise or one of the many supplements out there because nrf-2 pathway can be activated and in turn upregulate the body’s endogenous antioxidants.
Tyler: So hydrogen somehow can activate that pathway, and we’ve seen it so many times in studies using genetic knockout models, MIRNA interference or pharmacologically blocking the nrf-2 pathway. What we see for sure hydrogen, as a gaseous signal modulator, is activating this pathway leading to these effects.
Ben: So this signaling pathway that it’s deactivating is the nrf-2, that’s how you pronounce it?
Tyler: Yeah, or the “nerf-2.”
Ben: Okay yeah, the “nerf-2”, that’s right. So in terms of affecting that pathway, would that pathway be something that is associated with the actual response to exercise meaning exercise or something like that would cause inflammation or oxidation and then the body would upregulate things like mitochondrial enzymes and have basically a fitness response? So technically, wouldn’t hydrogenated water be the same as an antioxidant or anti-inflammatory in terms of you needing to be careful with excessive exposure to it?
Tyler: I see what you mean. So you’re saying because when we exercise we activate these pathways and by taking normal antioxidants we actually negate or abolish those effects, the benefits of exercise.
Tyler: Let’s review, for our audience, let’s just review some of that and then we can answer the question very clearly. It is essential, when we consider free radicals and reactive oxygen species, it is true as we all know that they’re linked to pretty much every disease and the pathogenesis of them and their progression in pretty much everything. We cut an apple in half and it starts to turn brown, that’s oxidation and that happens everytime we breathe oxygen. It causes an oxidation to our body, but at the same time when we exercise we are breathing a lot more oxygen, and between 0.1-2% of the oxygen that we inhale turns into free radicals and reactive oxygen species but these, just as you mentioned, these reactive oxygen species are critical in mediating the therapeutic benefits of exercise. And they activate transcription factors, they activate mitochondrial biogenesis, the upregulation of PGC-1 Alpha and a number of other areas. Nitric oxide is critical for the vasodilation and number of other extremely important benefits, but it’s a free radical by definition, and several studies have shown that supplementation or ingestion of high levels of antioxidants chronically can actually negate exercise training, prevent the increased insulin sensitivity or even hamper the increase in the mitochondrial biogenesis.
Ben: Right, like high dose vitamin C or high dose vitamin E for example.
Tyler: Exactly. It’s sad but you can imagine people are [0:31:31] ______ on it, “I’m gonna be healthy, I’m gonna get my vitamins, I’m gonna start exercising.” They do this for 10-12 weeks and then “man I’m not in any better shape than I was when I started.” And maybe it’s because we’re neutralizing these essential reactive oxygen species, but at the same time there are those free radicals that are toxic, that are damaging such as the b-hydroxyl radical or another oxidant peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite is extremely damaging as well, very powerful oxidant and it’s formed when you have excessive high levels of nitric oxide and superoxide and they react together to form peroxynitrite. But if we look at superoxide for a little bit, superoxide is critical in the production of mitochondrial biogenesis, and it’s specifically produced and specifically regulated under a tight homeostatic range. And when it gets too high, then our body’s enzyme superoxide dismutase will basically convert that into hydrogen peroxide, and then hydrogen peroxide as an oxidant, if it’s actually specific act of [0:32:39] ______ or a protein sum of the hydrogen peroxide can actually transverse through and activate specific transcription factors to induce further cytoprotective benefits. And those levels are very tightly regulated as well and it can be quickly neutralized by glutathione peroxidase, catalase, and a number of other antioxidants.
So everything is very tightly regulated but what happens is when we age or various environmental toxins or maybe going out as an untrained person, a weekend warrior, you’re not trained, you don’t have the buildup, the cellular adaptations and you push yourself really hard for a few hours or maybe you go run an Ironman or a marathon you’re not really trained for, or if you are an elite athlete and you’re doing your best to really train and you chronically train at high intensity for prolonged periods of times, you’re creating a lot of these very damaging free radicals that are above the level that our body can normally handle. And so our levels of glutathione and superoxide dismutase and different things, they start to decrease and then we start getting oxidative stress. And then we’re at risk for infection, at risk for injury, we have more inflammation, we have all these problems. So now, let’s consider molecular hydrogen.
Tyler: Hydrogen gas does not scavenge or neutralize with these free radicals. If it reacts with any radical, the only possible radical that it can react with and neutralize with be the hydroxyl radical. That’s the only one that is reactive enough, so it’s like a selective antioxidant, and in fact that Nature Medicine publication, the title was “Hydrogen acts as a selective antioxidant by reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals.”
Ben: Got it, and I’m gonna interrupt you real quick.
Ben: I’m gonna hunt that down and link to it over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/hydrogen if you guys wanna delve into any of these research studies that Tyler’s talking about.
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Ben: So this study was in Science Magazine, it was looking into the anti-inflammatory effect.
Ben: What did you say, Nature Magazine?
Tyler: Yeah, Nature Medicine.
Ben: Okay, Nature Medicine. So it was showing us selective antioxidant properties, is that how you described it?
Tyler: Exactly, yeah, yeah.
Tyler: It selectively reduces just the cytotoxic radicals not the beneficial radicals.
Ben: I’ve never heard of something that could actually do that before, is that common?
Tyler: Not really because typically if you have something that’s a reductant, it’s going to react or can neutralize pretty much anything. Vitamin C for example, great antioxidant but maybe it’s too great, maybe it’s too powerful type thing. So it can neutralize, just like the studies you mentioned earlier, neutralize those beneficial signaling molecules and so now we’re not getting those benefits mediated by the reactive oxygen species. But yeah, hydrogen gas is selective and it’s not going to… it really just helps to maintain redox homeostasis, that’s the way that I term it. We have to, like I said everything is tightly regulated, even hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, nitric oxide, those are all tightly regulated. And if those get too high, damage ensues, and hydrogen gas can help via its cell signal modulator effects, help reduce those levels. For example, hydrogen can downregulate the over-activity or hyper-activation of NADPH oxidase system, which produces superoxide, so by downregulating or decreasing its activity we have less superoxide production. And when the levels are so excessive that it’s damaging to the cells, you follow?
Ben: Yeah, yeah. This is super interesting, so what about the ability of it to affect other antioxidant enzymes? Let’s say like glutathione or superoxide dismutase or a lot of these other pathways, like for example a lot of folks will do genetic testing, right? Like I’ve done my 23andMe analysis and I’ve got some snips that might downregulate that superoxide dismutase pathway. What would be the effect of hydrogenated water on some of these other antioxidant pathways?
Tyler: Yeah, and just a clarification, we don’t wanna call it hydrogenated water but maybe just HRW or hydrogen-rich water or something.
Ben: Hydrogen-rich water.
Tyler: Yeah, that’s probably a better… coz hydrogenated means it’s like chemically bonded but…
Tyler: Exactly, what we do see, what we do know is hydrogen gas can activate this nrf-2 pathway and lead into higher expressions of glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase and an induction of another set of protective proteins and enzymes like heme oxygenase. But the important thing about this is it only does it if it needs to be. This is a really big point and makes it very difficult to study hydrogen too, but if you were to take a normal healthy cell, for example, that has a certain level of glutathione or super oxide dismutase, et cetera, and you give or administer molecular hydrogen to that cell or that tissue or that animal, you actually see that the level of glutathione does not change. It doesn’t increase or decrease, and that’s because it’s already at normal homeostasis. That’s where it needs to be, but as soon as you add some sort of a toxin or an assault to that cell or that tissue or that animal, then the glutathione levels may decrease a lot but the administration of hydrogen gas helps to maintain it where it’s supposed to be in that homeostatic range.
Ben: Okay, got it. Interesting, so it has a positive effect on the activation or the upregulation of additional antioxidant enzymes in addition to it being able to affect that nrf-2 pathway itself without actually blunting the natural hormetic response.
Tyler: Exactly. And maybe we can categorize this, hydrogen can help reduce the oxygen stress by (1.) its cell modulated effects in terms of decreasing excessive levels of free radical production such as the NADPH oxidase system or maybe inducible nitric oxide synthase which is very problematic if it gets too activated. Hydrogen can decrease that. In other cases though it can increase ENOS, endothelial nitric oxide synthase so we get higher levels of nitric oxide production, and so we have one is decrease in the raw production because it’s downregulating it’s production, preventing it from occurring, and then another is via this activation of the nrf-2 pathway and leading to higher levels of the glutathione and the superoxide dismutase things but only to maintain this at the homeostatic level and not blunting the hormesis effect. And if we actually look at the clinical studies with hydrogen for athletes, for example, there was one with the lead soccer players, the double blinded placebo control crossover control study, and drinking hydrogen rich water, and they found that hydrogen was effective at preventing the early fatigue, decreasing lactate production as well as just improving their overall performance. But it did not decrease the markers of oxidation, which suggests that it’s not going to blunt those therapeutic effects, or those hormetic effects of exercise.
Ben: This is super interesting. Now one of the things I noticed when I was over at your Molecular Hydrogen Foundation website where, by the way for those of you wondering Tyler doesn’t sell anything on that website, he just studies molecular hydrogen, which is fascinating. You’re such a geek, dude.
Ben: You talk about the anti-apoptotic effect, like the anti-cell death effects of hydrogenated water. And that makes me wonder, when it comes to things like cancer, for example, if there’s an anti-cell death effect, would this be something risky to drink. Like eating too much dairy or taking too much growth hormone, for example, that it may be potentially too anabolic or keep natural cell death from occurring?
Tyler: I mean I guess the best answer is we don’t really know. What we can say is what we have seen in the research that because hydrogen is selective like it is, it may not have that effect on the cancer cells in all cases, especially in a living person. And we look at the anti-apoptotic effect, well that’s because we’re preventing the caspase activation earlier on in the signal transduction and preventing the protein phosphorelation cascades earlier on, and that’s resulting in anti-apoptotic or the prevention of cytochrome-c release, different things that causes cell death. Now if you’re on the website, you can go to Studies then you’ll see cancers listed there, and there’s a number of studies where it’s actually shown that hydrogen could have a suppressive or inhibitory effect on various cancer cell lines such as colon cancer.
There was a pretty good inhibitory effect on the growth of colon cancer, and they’ve also done another human study. It’s open labelled, it’s kinda small but it’s still very good with showing hydrogen was able to help negate some of the cytotoxicity or some of the damage that occurs with taking normal chemotherapy drugs. And that’s a really important thing there because chemotherapy is so harmful and damaging to the body, so hydrogen being able to mitigate those toxic effects but not alter the antitumor effects of the drug is very helpful.
Ben: Wow. Why would something that’s anti-apoptotic, that’s anti-cell death, be a good thing? Coz I thought that natural cell death was something we’re going after when we, say, fast for example?
Tyler: Sure, but at the same time, when you… okay, fasting for example, has anti-apoptotic effects for normal healthy cells, and that regulates DNA repair mechanism, it enacts gastric-renal secretion which is very neuroprotective. There’s a lot of benefits from fasting, but fasting as you know also can be beneficial for cancer inhibition because you’re not getting the growth hormones signals or substrates that are promoting cancer growth. So we can’t look at it, just because it’s anti-apoptotic, we have to look at under which conditions is it anti-apoptotic, because in some of these studies, it promotes apoptosis, it promotes cell death. And when we look at specific things like cancer studies, for example cancer shuts down the mitochondria from working. It does most of its metabolisms through glycolysis, and the reason why is because the mitochondria actually works fine, it just shuts it down, and the reason why is it’s because mitochondria are very smart and I think realize the cell is cancerous, they will send out cytochrome-c and that’s a signal for apoptosis. So cancer shuts that down, and some of the chemotherapy drugs, what they try to do is actually inhibit glycolysis, forcing the cancer to activate the mitochondria again and use the mitochondria to get it’s ATP, it’s energy needs. And as soon as it does that, then the mitochondria say “hey man, the game’s over” and it induces apoptosis, the cell suicide.
Well, hydrogen is very efficient at inducing mitochondrial biogenesis and upregulating the activation of the mitochondria, maintaining mitochondrial membrane potential, a lot of benefits to the mitochondria. So it’s also possible that hydrogen gas administration to the cancer activates the mitochondria and then in turn the mitochondria realizes the cell’s cancerous and thus induces apoptosis, and therefore hydrogen is very suppressive against cancer. So it’s all under which conditions are we looking at, you follow?
Ben: Yeah, exactly. It sounds like it has kind of like a cell signaling effect, too.
Tyler: Exactly. And so that’s real cell signaling and this hormetic effect. There was a study done, it’s funny coz I knew this was the effect in 2013 but it was just published in 2017, and what they found is hydrogen does induce a hormetic effect in the initial stage. So they took and administered hydrogen gas to the cells and you actually see very mild small transient increases in superoxide production. And so hydrogen administration, just like exercise, slightly increases superoxide production and other free radicals.
Ben: Kinda like that SARMS that they talk about, the exercise in a pill that they give to mice. It sounds like this is kind of having a similar effect except it’s just water with extra hydrogen in it.
Tyler: Yeah, with hydrogen gas in it. It is kind of like an exercise mimetic. If we look at the metabolic pathway…
Ben: Yeah, a mimetic, exactly. An exercise mimetic.
Tyler: Yeah, and really, we look at the metabolic pathways that hydrogen activates and exercise activates and we do some parallels, we do some correlations here, we see exercise can activate say certain expression which is amazing for exercise, so can hydrogen. Exercise increases the NAD+, the NADH ratio and electron energy carrier system, they’re very important for anti-aging and for exercise, hydrogen can also do that. Exercise activates PGC-1 Alpha which leads to mitochondrial biogenesis and a lot of other benefits regulated through the PPAR, peroxisome proliferator activator receptor, hydrogen also increases PGC-1 Alpha. And we can keep going down the list of various transcription factors and pathways that are activated by exercise and then we look and see “hey, hydrogen also activates these pathways and likely does ensue its hormetic mechanism.”
Ben: That’s really interesting. So when it comes to hydrogenated water, there’s this concept…
Tyler: Hydrogen rich water.
Ben: Sorry, I keep saying that. Hydrogen-rich water. Gotta be careful man, you deadlift more than me.
Tyler: [laughs] All good.
Ben: So hydrogen-rich water, there’s this concept of alkalinity where a lot of people buy these countertop alkaline water makers. What’s the properties of hydrogen-rich water when it comes to alkaline versus acidity? Is there any advantage to it from that standpoint?
Tyler: Sure. First off, hydrogen gas has no effect on pH, it’s a completely separate property.
Tyler: There’s no correlation, no relation. If we look at pH, pH stands for potential of hydrogen so it is kinda confusing.
Ben: That’s why I was curious, how it would affect hydrogen levels.
Tyler: Yeah, so the higher the hydrogen, the higher the pH but it’s actually very different. We can walk through this briefly. The potential really means like power as in exponent, like the power of ten, and in this case it’s the inverse of an exponent which is a logarithm. And the hydrogen of H in pH is hydrogen ion or the H+, so again hydrogen gas is H2, neutral molecule, 2 electrons. H+, no electrons, just a bare naked proton basically, that’s H+. So pH literally means the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration, which is completely different than this hydrogen gas that we’re inhaling or talking about for therapeutic use, so you can take hydrogen gas and you dissolve it into acidic water, alkaline water or whatever, it’ll have no effect on the pH directly. It does not convert into protons and electrons, it’s just hydrogen gas and it stays that way. And an interesting history because if we do look at the history of the alkalinized water or electrolyzed reduced water as it’s called in literature…
Ben: What’s alkaline water called in literature?
Tyler: Alkaline ionized water in the literature is called electrolyzed reduced water.
Ben: Electrolyzed reduced water is the same as alkaline water?
Tyler: No, no. It’s the same as alkaline ionized water.
Tyler: Because there’s two ways to make alkaline water. You can make alkaline water just by adding some baking soda or some sodium hydroxide or you can make alkaline water through an electrolysis machine.
Tyler: And the properties will be different. Not the alkaline properties but the properties of the water will be different because when you do electrolysis of water, you make hydrogen gas. That is how you mass produce hydrogen gas, from electrolysis of water. That’s your high school chemistry experiment right there, you put the battery in the water and all of a sudden you start seeing bubbles, one off the cathode the other off the anode which is hydrogen and oxygen, respectively. So when these alkaline ionized water or these electrolysis units were making alkaline water, a lot of people were getting benefits thinking, incorrectly, it was the alkaline property of the water that was making them healthy. But really it was the hydrogen gas that was produced from the alkalizer, from the electrolysis machine. And now many studies have shown that when you take the hydrogen gas and remove it from alkaline ionized water or just water, all the benefits are eliminated. And then even the president of the Korean Water Society which is also one of our MHF advisers, he’s one of the pioneers in alkaline ionized water research that he himself has done many studies showing that yes, alkaline ionized water exerted these anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects and a number of different things, but when the hydrogen gas was removed from the water, the benefits were eliminated.
Tyler: And this is also a clinical finding because the medical community knew that the alkaline claim never made sense. And the scientists who did the research, they never claimed the benefits were from the alkaline property of the water because it doesn’t make any sense. To put it in comparison, even if we subscribe to the concept that we need to alkalize our bodies and eat alkalizing foods or this kind of stuff, even if we subscribe to that, you cannot do it with alkaline water because alkaline water is not a buffer. In fact a comparison is, when we look at baking soda, which is our body’s natural buffer sodium bicarbonate, that’s our natural buffer in our body, we have about 10 millimolars of that. If we do a comparison, about one teaspoon of baking soda can neutralize as much acid as over 700 or 800 liters of alkaline water at a pH of 10.
Ben: So these alkaline countertop water makers or even adding sodium bicarbonate to water could alkalinize the water but what you’re saying is that the benefits of alkaline water would not persist unless somehow that water was also hydrogen enriched, and in the case of both sodium bicarbonate water and countertop alkaline water makers, those still aren’t hydrogen enriched?
Tyler: Well adding baking soda to the water or other things, that of course will never have hydrogen gas in it. But the alkaline water countertop makers or the ionized water, they can have hydrogen gas in it, at least initially if you have the right source water. As some people will have very low TDS for example, we measured this. You can measure the concentration of hydrogen gas with…
Ben: The total dissolved solutes?
Tyler: Yes, the TDS, total dissolved solids and then I’m just saying we measured the concentration of hydrogen gas produced via various of these products out there. It’s very easy to do now, and what we see is, depending on the source water and depending on the ionizer, the electrolysis machine, you can have very good levels of hydrogen or very poor levels of hydrogen. And if you talk to the industry, if you talk to those who’ve been selling alkaline ionized waters for a long time, every single one of them will tell you this fact: it’s best to drink the water fresh. And if for whatever reason if they don’t know, if you’re not cleaning your machine, or if you leave the water out for weeks or so many days, it seems like the benefits are not there anymore. Well now we know the reason why is because the hydrogen gas has just dissipated out. It’s out of the water coz it’s just a gas, it’s gonna dissipate out, and the reason why is because yeah, it had hydrogen gas initially but now you let it sit on the counter so long and now it doesn’t.
Ben: So if you drink it right away is it hydrogen enriched water? If I have a Kangen countertop water maker or something like that?
Tyler: Exactly, yeah. If you drink it fresh from the faucet, and it’s gonna last for a little bit, it’s not gonna vanish within the blink of an eye type of thing, but you can’t leave it sitting out for weeks or something. But yeah, the hydrogen gas will be there and you can get some benefits. But the other thing though is, and that’s only if you live in a place that has good TDS. You have to have like 100ppm TDS or something to get the dissolved hydrogen.
Ben: So what if you add extra minerals and stuff to it before you put through a countertop water ionizer?
Tyler: That may work, but if you consider the filter, I’m not an expert in this area but if you consider that your TDS of your source water is say 20ppm and you’re gonna try to increase that to 100ppm, adding 80 more milligrams per liter of minerals, I don’t think you can do that so easily. It might be better off to move to a different source water with higher TDS levels.
Ben: Would you drink ionized water from one of those countertop machines or do you?
Tyler: I have in the past. One of the reasons I know so much about this coz I actually first got introduced to ionized water in 2009 and I started looking at the literature and was like “man, maybe there’s something to this.” Coz the claim people were making about the alkaline benefits doesn’t make sense but there was research on it, I started evaluating that and that’s when I came across this hydrogen gas.
Tyler: So now that we know the benefit is from hydrogen gas, for me, why don’t I focus on what the benefit is? Coz all those units, they were manufactured and designed and optimized specifically for alkaline water, not hydrogen gas.
Ben: Yeah, I’m kinda careful with them anyways. I don’t use them, my dad’s big into water filtration techniques and he informed me about some issues with metallic ions, I guess they pass some of that water over a metal plate and metallic ions can be present in the water that you’re drinking and so you might get a buildup of things like mercury or lead or aluminum or copper, apparently by drinking too much of these countertop water ionizers. So I personally don’t really use them, I always drink my well water and I have a couple of filters it goes through but…
Ben: You could always do it and just test your blood metals or your hair metals and see what happens.
Tyler: Well it may not be so easily. They try to do them right, try to use good platinum. Platinum is a very inert electrode but you could have alloy issues and you could have degradation of electrodes and actually get platinum particles into the water. There’s an ongoing, it’s an unknown thing so…
Ben: Yeah, okay. I hear you. I wanted to ask you a little bit about where you could find other sources and figure out a way to make hydrogen enriched water, but I have a couple other questions for you first. We have a lot of people who exercise who listen in, like you, is there any effects aside from the antioxidant or the anti-inflammatory effect that this would have on exercise performance? Have any studies been done on that?
Tyler: Umm, yeah. So there’s the one that I mentioned earlier and that was with the elite soccer players and they found that hydrogen was able to decrease their fatigue level as well as decrease lactic acid production, and that’s critical because that suggests that hydrogen is able to improve the efficiency of the mitochondria. Coz when we exercise, we primarily rely on mitochondria for ATP production and then as we start to exercise more intensely we start to get tired and have to start relying on glycolysis and then we can start getting high levels of lactate or people call it lactic acid production, not lactic acid. But anyways, because the study was shown that the lactate levels were reduced even though they exercised intensity was the same, that suggests that the mitochondria was functioning better.
There’s other studies showing that hydrogen was able to help improve soft tissue injury like recovery from sports soft tissue injuries by taking hydrogen water. And there’s also another study that was out of Japan, vaping hydrogen enriched water helps prevent damage of inflammation and too much oxidative stress. It was very interesting, the trend was a slight decrease in oxidative stress but not enough to abolish the benefits of that stress, but specifically the article found that it decreased the delayed onset muscle soreness so that you could go and exercise again and continue getting the benefits of exercise. I actually was involved in another study out of Japan where we’re doing hydrogen-rich water for performance in VO2Max. The increases in this study, increases in their exercise capacity and I’m just finishing up another study that I’m doing here and find… I was actually using the hydrogen-rich tablets and found that there’s a decrease in the sudden maximum exercise, at least a trend in the sudden maximum exercise heart rate.
Ben: That should be a good thing, yeah. Improvement in exercise efficiency and economy.
Tyler: Exactly, yeah.
Tyler: So there needs to be more studies done, it’s still a very new area of research but the safety of hydrogen is very high and the preliminary results from animal and human studies is very, very encouraging and there’s some pretty neat studies that are coming out. I really think that it’s a great thing for exercise. Either (a) to help prevent the excessive inflammation and oxygen damage that will hamper exercise performance and/or maybe actually act ergogenically to mimic exercise and it’s benefits and inducing those transcription factors.
Ben: Interesting. What about the effects of, now that we know the effects on lactic acid, the fact that it can almost act as an exercise mimetic as well, improve exercise economy and efficiency, I found some websites that sell hydrogen enriched water and they talked about improvement in aerobic output in swimmers and also a halting of atrophy of muscle during detraining. And also what you alluded to, muscle fatigue and lactic acid recovery, so I’ve seen some of these studies. What about another issue that a lot of people deal with and that’ll be the gut. From what I understand, the bacteria in your gut, your colon I believe, actually produce some hydrogen-rich gas, some people more than others, you know what I mean?
Ben: But what’s the deal with the effects of this stuff on our gut. If our gut already produces hydrogen gas, would there be more health effects for the gut by actually drinking it?
Tyler: That’s a great question and that and a number of things. First, the fact that the intestinal bacteria are already producing hydrogen gas further illustrates the safety of hydrogen gas. We’re always exposed to hydrogen gas in our cells, in our breath, in our blood all the time, so the administration of small amounts of more hydrogen gas is very safe for you. But then the question is why is it still effective? Why are we seeing these animal and these human studies that’s still effective even though we’re getting so much more hydrogen gas from intestinal bacteria? Well, there’s a couple of reasons why, one of them is because the intermittent type of exposure, just like most cell signal modulators, pulsing type effects is gonna be more effective, and we get that that way. And we also see that the route of administration, by inhalation or drinking, is just a different method of administration and because these pharmacokinetics dictate pharmacodynamics, that’s also going to alter the effects. And then as far as the microbiome, there may be some benefits also, could be one of the targets of hydrogen to actually improve the microbiota and the normal microflora, improving the optimal homeostasis. And maybe, there were some studies, in early studies out of Russia for example, I don’t know how credible they are or things, but there are some interesting correlations from human studies and some Parkinson’s disease and different things are going on, looking at things like hydrogen-producing bacteria is lower in people with various neuro-degenerative problems and by taking hydrogen we can maybe help improve the population of certain bacteria or improve the homeostasis of the microflora to cause an inhibition of the pathogenic bacteria and increase in the beneficial bacteria.
Ben: That’s interesting. So that’s why a diet that’s rich in fiber which would feed bacteria and assist with production of hydrogen gas could also have a little bit of an anti-inflammatory effect.
Tyler: Sure, and it does and we’ve seen this. In fact, the University of Florida and the Forsyth Institute of Boston, Massachusetts with Harvard Medical School did a study a few years ago in 2009, an animal study and they took an animal, a rat or maybe it was a mouse, but they administered lactulose and they found that the lactulose administration produced a lot of hydrogen gas. Lactulose is a fiber, non-digestible carbohydrate, but it produced a lot of hydrogen gas and it provided a protective effect to the liver when a toxin was administered. But then they took the bacteria and they removed their ability, genetically modified, genetic knockout study, and removed their ability to produce hydrogen gas and put it back into the animals. And the benefits of the fiber in this case were eliminated, suggesting that a lot of the benefits in this case again were mediated by hydrogen gas.
Tyler: And by administering the bacteria back, they can metabolize the lactulose and produce hydrogen gas, they reinstated all the benefits.
Ben: That’s fascinating. I have one other question for you about the health effects. I noticed on your website that you talk about the fact that there maybe some kind of like an anti-allergenic effect. How would that even work?
Tyler: Yeah, that was done, actually one of my friends Dr. Itoh there in Japan in 2009, he’s one of the first studies to show that really hydrogen acts as a cell signal modulator. When we have this cascaded information where we’re getting an allergy for example, an allergic type reaction, we’re getting high levels of pro-inflammatory mediators as the various interleukins, cytokines, and myokine activity. And when they get really high, hydrogen can help to decrease them back to normal. And it appears that happens early on in the signal transduction process near the receptor interface and thus prevents this excessive upregulation of the allergy response.
So these studies were there where they give LPS, lipopolysaccharide to induce neuro-inflammation or other types of inflammatory diseases, hydrogen is very effective at preventing that allergic type reaction or that inflammation. But again, like free radicals, we need inflammation as well to help mediate a lot of the benefits. The myokines or the cytokines that are produced from exercise, like interleukin-6, very pro-inflammatory and very damaging and diabetes and all sorts of thing, but also very important for mediating the benefits of exercise while hydrogen only mediates or attenuates these inflammatory markers back into that homeostatic range and not so much that it’s negating the benefits of the exercise or whatever we’re talking about.
Ben: Do you know anybody who has hay fever or any other type of allergies who have tried hydrogen enriched water or something like that?
Tyler: I have heard, and I’m always very skeptical when I hear the testimonials, but I hear quite a few of them. People who had allergies, for example people who have asthma or exercise-induced asthma, when they start taking the oxygen, there’s some really good effects. There’s support from that company in Texas, they’re selling their hydrogen products, but there was somebody there I guess who have documented with their doctors. It’s a really neat study that they have showing that the hydrogen has really improved their asthma, their exercise-induced asthma, significantly. So I think it’s a great area to look at.
Ben: Why haven’t more doctors talk about this? I’m pretty steeped in the supplement, the fitness and nutrition industry and I haven’t really heard much about it before until Dr. Mercola mentioned it to me. Why isn’t this more mainstream?
Tyler: Well I just think at the time, I mean if you look at nitric oxide, when it was known that something amazing like this back in the 70s, and then it finally won the Nobel Prize in the 1995 or 1998 or something. But still, nitric oxide is just now really receiving the press and the discussions and the awareness that it merits. Well hydrogen gas, I mean it’s still in its infancy. We have so much more research and exciting things to discover and learn of how it’s working, and there’s only a thousand scientific publications or so which yeah, maybe it’s impressive for just some therapeutic molecule or something, we have a thousand scientific publications and it has been shown to be effective in about 170 different human and animal disease models and essentially every organ of the human body. But we do need more studies, and the awareness is really growing exponentially and the research is growing exponentially.
So I just think because there’s 7 billion people in the world, and it’s quite a new area of research, it’s gonna take some time, and I predicted that a few years ago, 2013-2014 I predicted that 2017 would mark the year of the awakening if you will, in terms of people with influence, people like you, Dr. Mercola, some of the big players, celebrity, fitness figures and professionals, sports teams. They will learn about hydrogen and the slowly start promoting that, and that’s exactly what has happened. There’s a number of celebrities and professional sports teams and players and people out there that are using hydrogen now and talking about it. But it’s just gonna grow, it’s gonna slowly take some time. And so in 2027, another 10 years, I think it will be everywhere. I think doctors will talk about it all the time. I think I’ll be a mainstream thing because it doesn’t negate the benefits of some other therapy, there’s no contraindications, and it is the molecule of life. I mean it’s what started the universe and life, the evolution of life, it’s involved in everything and now the biomedical research is really showing us how essential it really is.
Ben: Yeah, it’s interesting coz you have oxygen as being one of the main elements we find super important for life, and hydrogen is on the other end. That’s like the balance between oxidation and reduction so you almost have this yin and yang type of effect where everyone’s talking about breathing and hyperbaric oxygen chambers and Wim Hof breath work and it’s all about oxygen, oxygen, oxygen.
Ben: But a lot of us aren’t thinking about hydrogen, so this is really, really fascinating. The other thing that I noticed was in some of the research, they’ve looked at a lot of these, I know this is kinda woo-woo but these healing waters, like these springs or these curative water you find around the world. I know there’re some sites in Japan and Mexico and Germany, and we hear about sulfur a lot of the time, but correct me if I’m wrong, a lot of these type of waters have turned to traditionally, these healing waters have pretty copious amounts of this hydrogen in them.
Tyler: Yeah, I mean I don’t know a lot of it, I know that some of them do and it is very interesting when you go to the places that are really actually documented to have some beneficial effects. It could be as simple as people are drinking this water and it has some iodine in it and they are getting better. But there are other things in there, like some of these spring waters, they actually do have hydrogen gas in them and they’re produced either from bacteria or from basalt catalyzed reactions, there’s a number of mechanisms for how hydrogen gas can be in these waters and people have gone and measured them and you can get small amounts of hydrogen gas. And if you consider that if you’re bathing in the water, then the concentration does not need to be so high because hydrogen gas is the smallest molecule in the universe, it’s smaller than oxygen. So when you’re bathing in the water, that hydrogen gas from the water can diffuse through the cells of your skin and into your blood. And actually studies with bathing of hydrogen water have actually shown increases in blood levels of hydrogen as well as breath exhalation, there’s increased levels of breath hydrogen showing that hydrogen really is diffusing into the body and exerting these benefits.
So it is very interesting when you consider this whole romantic relationship between hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen, this primordial first element in existence and it balances the oxidation and reduction. And then when the two, hydrogen and oxygen react together, you form the life-giving solvent water which is the perfect balanced molecule, and now we’re learning about the benefits of hydrogen. Oxygen is essential for life but it’s slowly killing you, slowly oxidizing just like the apple that turns brown.
Ben: I interviewed Patrick McKeown who wrote The Oxygen Advantage, and a big part of that is you actually focus on breathing less, a lot of light nasal breathing, controlling respiratory frequency for the reasons that you just described: excess oxygen. That’s why too much exercise equals too much oxidation, right? Too much inflammation and one of the reasons for that is muscle damage and inflammation of course, and another reason is just excessive oxygen intake. So yeah, it’s really interesting and I wanted to ask you, coz I know we’re getting a little long and I wanna make sure I have a chance to talk about where you might be able to find sources of hydrogen enriched water or make it and I’m curious how much you actually have to drink. In these studies, are we talking about gallons a day, is there a dose-response effect, how much do you actually need to use?
Tyler: Yeah that’s a great question, and I think the research, we need to have more research to really answer that specific question “how much do we need to use” because the amount, the dose is different based on age, the weight of the person, the ethnicity, the genetics, their diet, their microbiota, which disease it is. In some diseases, maybe they need a lot more. Rheumatoid arthritis for example, with those studies they used a higher concentration of hydrogen, like 5 milligrams per liter, but in other studies something close to 1 milligram per liter concentration is enough. And so the IHSA, International Hydrogen Standards Association which I’m director of as well, we just had some more meetings and we released our initial proceedings on what we’re setting as the initial standards simply based on the current human studies. What has been shown in the current human studies to be affected, and it’s looking like, at a minimum level, you need about0.5 milligrams of hydrogen a day. And likely, taking more, specifically for different disease, is better because a higher concentration is not ever less effective that a lower concentration that often it’s a good idea to just get a good dose of hydrogen and that should be where things are at.
Ben: Hmm. Now a lot of these websites, they sell… Sorry, we talk about the hydrogenated… the hydrogen tablets on Amazon, for example, there’s hydrogen tablets. You said you’ve used those before, but did you say that those tend, because hydrogen’s so inert, those tend to come off the water very quickly? Are those an effective source of hydrogen enriched water versus… I know there are other companies that will sell bottles of hydrogen enriched water that are already bottled, already hydrogen enriched. Do you use these pills at all that you can just buy off of Amazon, the tablets?
Tyler: Yeah, I mean it depends. It all depends because there’s a lot of maybe scam products out there and different things. There’s tablets that work, there’s tablets that don’t, there’s ready to drink pouches and another even plastic bottles that work and some don’t. Of course if it’s in a plastic bottle, it’s not gonna work at all because hydrogen gas is gonna diffuse right out of there.
Ben: So it needs to be a can or a glass?
Tyler: Yeah, I mean something… an aluminum container of some sort is known to help keep the hydrogen gas in the water. The physical-chemical properties are such that it doesn’t diffuse right out such as it would with plastic containers.
Ben: Okay, one of the brands that I’ve come across is H2, I believe it’s called H2Rejuvenation. They’re like these effervescent tablets that you dissolve in water. Have you used these before?
Tyler: Yeah, I know of those ones as well, so yeah you can usually test the concentration of hydrogen.
Ben: What do you mean, how do you test?
Tyler: Well there’s the redox titration reagent called H2Blue from H2Science Inc. and you can use that and you can actually measure the concentration of hydrogen in various products. Because it’s a lot to say “oh we make 1ppm or 1.6ppm or something” but actually they don’t, it makes a lot less or even not.
Ben: You’d wanna get the strips, these reagent strips and you can actually measure to see if it really has hydrogen in it?
Tyler: They’re drops. Their reagent is a liquid.
Ben: Oh okay, got it. Now another company that I found sells these things by the can. This one is called H2Bev, H2Bev Molecular Hydrogen Drink. Have you used that one?
Tyler: Yes, so I’ve also tested that one. I mean I’m trying to be very vague coz you know…
Ben: Yeah, you have to stay as the scientists, right? The unbiased scientist.
Tyler: Yeah, there’s so many products out there and I think some of them work well, some of them don’t. We don’t sell things, we don’t make recommendations or endorsements for the products. That one is in a can and I guess I did mention earlier that’s one of the anecdotal report that I saw with the asthma, and so they have a good product and you can measure the concentration that comes in the can. And they have different beverages like nitric oxide or something product. It’s really great for performance and some of them have different flavors so it’s not just water. It’s a good refreshing drink, if you will. But there’s other products out there and other cans and other pouches and things as well, you can always measure the concentration with that H2Blue reagent and see where it’s at.
Ben: Interesting. Okay what I’ll do for people listening in, I’ll hunt down some of these tablets, some of these cans, some of these testing drops, and the other resources that Tyler and I brought up including his website for the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, if you wanna delve into this even more. I’m personally fascinated by this, absolutely intrigued and Dr. Mercola’s one of my friends and I certainly put a lot of trust in much of what he has to say as well and so… That sounds bad, the way I say it, I put a lot of trust in what he has to say, let’s put it that way. So I’m gonna experiment with this a little bit myself, I’ll kinda let you guys know what I get as far as results, whether I self-quantify or throw down some hydrogenated workout before I swing. Hydrogen enriched water, I should say, before I go swing the kettlebells.
Tyler: There you go.
Ben: So Tyler, in the meantime, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us man. This is absolutely fascinating.
Tyler: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, and everyone’s welcome to check out the website, molecularhydrogenfoundation.org. I’m not much of a social media person but if you look me up on Facebook, I every once in a while do post some of the new studies that we have done and some of the different conferences and symposia that I’ve been at. But please, if you have your questions with products and different things, talk to Ben. We don’t really make those recommendations, we just totally focus on the research on what’s out there.
Ben: Alright, awesome man. You’re a wealth of knowledge and one smart cookie so I’ll put links to all this stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/hydrogen. And Tyler, thanks so much for coming on the show, man.
Tyler: Yeah, thank you. Awesome.
Ben: Alright folks, well until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Tyler Lebaron signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
My guest on today’s podcast is an absolute phenom and was first introduced to me by Dr. Joseph Mercola, one of the most popular guys I’ve ever had on my podcast (specifically for the episodes How To Reverse The Damage From Cell Phone Radiation, Hidden Sources Of EMF, The Best Way To Measure Your EMF Exposure & Much More With Dr. Joseph Mercola, High-Fat Fudge Balls, The Best Fruits For Blood Sugar, Egg Allergies & More With “Fat For Fuel” Author Dr. Mercola, and Killing Fat Cells, Fixing Mitochondria, Growing Superfoods & More: The Official, Much-Anticipated, Mind-Blowing, Geeked-Out Podcast With Dr. Mercola). He’s just 30 years old. He has run a 2:30 marathon and can deadlift 450 pounds. And he’s one smart cookie. His name is Tyler LeBaron, and he is the Founder and Executive Director of the science-based nonprofit Molecular Hydrogen Foundation/Institute. His background is in biochemistry, he interned at Nagoya University in the department of Neurogenetics to research the molecular mechanisms of hydrogen gas on cell signaling pathways, he is a director of the International Hydrogen Standards Association (IHSA) and the International Molecular Hydrogen Association (IMHA), he speaks at Medical conferences across the USA for physicians, and at academic biomedical hydrogen symposia and conferences around the world. He is also a member of the Academic Committee of Taishan Institute for Hydrogen Biomedical Research. He collaborates with researchers at home and abroad and helps advance the education, research, and awareness of hydrogen as a therapeutic medical gas. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and has studied Physiology, Advanced Exercise Physiology, Nutritional Biochemistry, Molecular Cell Biology, Quantitative Chemical Analysis, Biology Analysis Techniques. His research spans the gamut and includes: -Therapeutic effects of hydrogen gas -Free Radical Biology and Medicine -Therapeutic effects of electrolyzed reduced water -Therapeutic effects of exercise for disease prevention and treatment -Biological effects of inorganic nitrates -Biological and chemical properties of creatine -Vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals -Supplements and ergogenic aids -Health, longevity and wellness -Physiology, biochemistry and organic chemistry
Eliminate fatigue and unlock the secrets of low-carb success. Find out how in The Low Carb Athlete – 100% Free. Sign up now for instant access to the book! Email* I'm interested in…* YES, HOOK ME UP! During our discussion, you’ll discover: -What Tyler’s training looks like to be able to lift heavy and also run as fast as he does in an endurance sport… -Whether Tyler follows any special diet or takes any special supplements… -How hydrogenated water is far different than regular water… -The way that hydrogen gas dissolved in water actually affects your cells… -Whether hydrogenated water blunts the hormetic response to exercise and why it may be one of the few antioxidants one could potentially use in conjunction with hard exercise… -How hydrogenated water can act as an exercise mimetic, just like “exercise in a pill”… -The effects of hydrogenated water on exercise performance and also on digestive health… -The fascinating anti-allergenic and anti-exercise-induced asthma effects of hydrogenated water… -Why most people haven’t heard of molecular hydrogen… -The link between molecular hydrogen and so-called “healing waters”… -How much hydrogen water you actually need to drink to get the benefits… -Where can people get molecular hydrogen? Resources from this episode: –Water and Wellness (use discount code GREENFIELD for 10% 0ff) –The essential amino acids that Ben talks about –Kangen countertop water ionizer -H2Bev molecular hydrogen drink (use code BEN for 10% discount) –HRW molecular hydrogen drink – use code Greenfield to get a free promo package with your first purchase of the tablets, including a ‘to go’ stainless steel double walled gasketed vacuum bottle, a branded phone back ring and a branded USB, value $30! Show Sponsors: -MVMT Watches – Get 15% off today — with free shipping and free returns —by going to MVMT.COM/BEN -Peloton – Peloton is offering listeners a limited-time offer. Go to onepeloton.com, enter the code “GREENFIELD” at checkout, and get $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. -Omax – Go to tryomax.com/ben today to get a box of Omax3 Ultra-Pure, FOR FREE! Terms and conditions apply. -Onnit – Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ONNIT and save 10% on your purchase. The discount is built into the link.
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