The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #179 - Best Of 2022 (Part 2)
2:05 - IF Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group For A Weekly Episode GIVEAWAY, And To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!
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5:10 - FOOD SENSE GUIDE: Get Melanie's App At Melanieavalon.com/foodsenseguide To Tackle Your Food Sensitivities! Food Sense Includes A Searchable Catalogue Of 300+ Foods, Revealing Their Gluten, FODMAP, Lectin, Histamine, Amine, Glutamate, Oxalate, Salicylate, Sulfite, And Thiol Status. Food Sense Also Includes Compound Overviews, Reactions To Look For, Lists Of Foods High And Low In Them, The Ability To Create Your Own Personal Lists, And More!
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Join Melanie's Facebook Group Clean Beauty And Safe Skincare With Melanie Avalon To Discuss And Learn About All The Things Clean Beauty, Beautycounter And Safe Skincare!
8:05 - eating your Vegetable Tops
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #139 - Farmer Lee Jones
12:25 - Does More Vitamin Fortification Equal More Obesity?
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #167 - Mark Schatzker
17:35 - Freezing Your Eggs
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #161 - Dr. Sheryl Ross
22:00 - BONCHARGE: Blue-light Blocking Glasses For Sleep, Stress, And Health! Go To boncharge.com And Use The Code melanieavalon For 15% Off!
24:30 - Unifying People Through Puzzles
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #177 - A.J. Jacobs
28:00 - Veganism and Brain Health
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #133 - Max Lugavere
33:05 - Mitochondrial Uncoupling
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #136 - Dr. Steven Gundry
38:25 - Measuring Biological Age
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #168 - Dr. Morgan Levine
46:15 - BLISSY: Get Cooling, Comfortable, Sustainable Silk Pillowcases To Revolutionize Your Sleep, Skin, And Hair! Once You Get Silk Pillowcases, You Will Never Look Back! Get Blissy In Tons Of Colors, And Risk-Free For 60 Nights, At Blissy.Com/avalon, With The Code avalon For 30% Off!
49:45 - Chronic Fatigue
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #164 - Ari Whitten
55:00 - Prioritizing Your Partner
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #127 - Dr. John Gray (Part 1)
59:45 - Gender And Uric Acid
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #141 - Dr. David Perlmutter
1:07:50 - Lectins and other Antinutrients
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #163 - Simon Hill
1:13:35 - The Concept Of Play In Our History
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #159 - Mark Sisson
Melanie Avalon: Okay, friends, what better way to start off our Best of Episode Part 2 than with one of the most inspiring, incredible, energetic, life changing conversations I have ever had? Everybody needs to hear Farmer Lee Jones. He is doing incredible things for bringing back our attention to growing food for flavor, and as a consequence, for nutrients. He's like Wim Hof level for his enthusiasm. His book, The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide To Common And Unusual Vegetables--With Recipes is honestly the most gorgeous book I have ever received. Friends, if you need gifts for people and they're into food, get this book. It is mind blowing. You will learn so much about vegetables and produce and flavor, and it has so many cool recipes. Definitely check it out. After interviewing him, I honestly just wanted to change the world. I was smiling so much during this interview.
Farmer Lee Jones is so cool. He was even the answer to a jeopardy question. That's when you know you're pretty cool. So, without further ado, please enjoy this excerpt from my conversation with Farmer Lee Jones.
Farmer Lee Jones: It's interesting. Carrots, for thousands of years, we only ate the top of the carrot. Now, we only eat the bottom. The top is full of nutrient. You can actually exchange the carrot top, if you're doing anything with a salad or if you're making one of the basil-- I can't think of the word right now. Help me out.
Melanie Avalon: With basil like for the salad?
Farmer Lee Jones: No, not for salad. It wouldn't. Yeah. It's right there. It's so simple of a dish that we make we use a basil. No, well, I can't think of it.
Melanie Avalon: Like a pesto?
Farmer Lee Jones: Yeah. I don't know why, but I had a brain freeze right at that moment. But yeah. With a basil pesto, you can actually exchange the carrot top out running through the blender and you can make an amazing pesto with the carrot top. We don't have to waste any of it. We talk about it that in the book. Even the trimmings. Make a vegetable stock. It's amazing. We can extract everything. Again, celebrate that vegetable plant by using every part of a plant.
Melanie Avalon: I remember, one time I was going to the grocery store, and I specifically wanted the leaves on the top of the beets, I was trying to find them and they had cut all the leaves off. So, I went up to the guy and I was like, "Where do I get the beets with the leaves?" He looked at me like I was crazy. [laughs] I was like, "I just want that," [laughs] because I bought some beets before, and I had tasted the leaves and it was so good. It was like salty. So, yeah, I was like, "Oh, maybe I'm crazy." [laughs]
Farmer Lee Jones: No, you're not. I'm really glad you brought that up, because I don't know whether any of the listeners are in tune enough with their bodies and I'm sure some of them are nodding their heads, yes. But I think that if we listen to our body, it craves certain minerals. There actually are more nutrients in the top than in the bottom of the beet. So, I love that you were seeking those out. It could have been that you were so attuned with listening to your body that it was telling you. I don't know if you've ever experienced this, but there's times when my body says, "I need kale, I need Swiss chard, I need beets."
Melanie Avalon: I literally felt like my body said-- I don't know, if I tasted them before, but my body was like, "I need beet greens." So, I went to the store to buy them. [laughs] They were not there.
Farmer Lee Jones: I think that that's really good that you were there craving that. Follow those. I would encourage listeners to follow those cravings, because your body's telling you something. Again, I read this in National Geographic and it always stuck with me. But there were women, and they were eating soil, and it seemed so abstract to me at the time. As we've done more deep dives into the mineral deficiencies that we're finding in vegetable, their bodies were craving minerals. And instinctively, they knew that those minerals were in the soil and they were trying to fulfill something within their deficiency of their body by eating the soil. Now, I can guarantee the soil didn't taste good, but they were listening to their body. I really encourage listeners to really be in tune with yourself. When it tells you, you need beet tops, when you need kale, you listen to it and follow that advice that your body's telling you. Instinctively, it'll tell you what you need in many cases.
Melanie Avalon: Our next guest is one of those guests, where I brought him on for his newest book and was so fascinated and blown away by it that I immediately read all of his other books as well in preparation. Mark Schatzker is the author of The Dorito Effect, The End of Craving, Steak. To be honest, when I started reading The End of Craving, I didn't think I was going to learn that much new in it, which is very pretentious of me, but I just thought it was going to be about the issues with the processed food industry. Oh, my goodness, the stuff he talks about and how things are affecting our weight and it's not what you think, it's things like our vitamins actually making us fat and is making things less calories with artificial sweeteners also making us fat by stopping our metabolism. There's this whole theory of nutritive confusion. It is mind blowing stuff. Read his books, listen to this interview, and here is just a brief glimpse of one of the things that we talked about.
s it just that the vitamins are the switch that makes it possible to live on processed foods and then you gain the weight from the processed foods? Or, does it also linearly track, where if you add more vitamins, you get fatter?
Mark Schatzker: It's a really good question, because some people use niacin as a heart medication. They will get like a super, super, big dose. So, shouldn't those people become super, super, fat? I think this is complex. This is a story about the food that you're exposed to from a very young age. It's a piece of the pie. I think if you want an obesogenic diet, you need a lot of calories, you also need the vitamins. There are obese people in Italy. It's much, much rare. It's very rare to have things like extreme obesity just because I think it's harder to pull off. You've got to work a lot harder to get the nutrients in your body. Whereas here, our food is just more like that rocket fuel feed by its very nature. The question is, does this enrichment or fortification, is it enough on its own? It might be in part. When they added that to the pig diet, those pigs got big and fatter more quickly. But at the same time, I think there's all sorts of other things. We're also doing things like mismatch, things like adding flavorings, if that makes sense.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. And I'd have to look at it again, but I think on one of the pig studies, I think it showed that the more vitamins they added, the fatter they got.
Mark Schatzker: Well, what was really interesting was, there is a study I looked at where they looked at pigs in confinement, and they looked at pigs on pasture. They had two groups of pigs on pasture. One getting what's called a mixed ration, where the food and vitamins are all mixed together. And one where there was like the corn and soy in one bunk, and the vitamins and protein additives were in this other one. And then, there was alfalfa. What they found in that one was that the pigs just weren’t really seen to eat the vitamin supplement and they're like, "That's weird. Where's it coming from?" The answer is the alfalfa. So, when you enrich their feed, it is turned off the desire to eat the green feed, the good stuff, the alfalfa. When you didn't enrich it, which is to say, when they were just eating the good corn by itself, then it's this desire to eat alfalfa would spring up and they would go and eat it.
I think the other thing that's troubling about this is that when we're adding this stuff to our food, it might literally be turning off this little switch to eat good stuff, because we're getting it in kind of a trick, a shortcut way. It's like a cheat.
Melanie Avalon: You also talked about scurvy, and the idea if those sailors had been given vitamins. Would they never have craved fruit?
Mark Schatzker: Yeah. So, this is really important, because people, if they recognize the term 'scurvy', it'll be from like a history class where we talk about British sailors, I mean, horrible, horrible experiences of the scurvy that they get on the long ocean voyages, they weren't getting enough vitamin C. Everybody always talks about the fact that gum swelled up. That's one thing that happened. And they swell up horrifically. Their teeth would swing in their mouth. Their old wounds that have been healed for decades would open up again. But the thing that the history books never talk about, but if you research it is that one of the very first symptoms of scurvy was a craving for fruits and vegetables, and the sailor would have dreams of gorging on fruits and vegetables only to wake up and they would start weeping when they realized it was a dream. They would look at the ocean and see these heads of coral, and their minds would transform them into cabbages and oranges.
The medical doctors back then had no clue and they came with all these idiotic theories, but the sailors knew exactly what they needed. When they would get into port-- There's a story of British ship. It was called the Centurion. It washed up on Juan Fernández Islands. I think it was like 1763 or something. They just had awful scurvy. They scrambled to shore and they started eating moss and wild turnips. They talked about how incredibly good they tasted. And of course, moss and wild turnips don't taste good if you're on all fours yanking them out of the ground. It's because their brains knew what they needed. And their idea of what tasted good adjusted to what their body needed. That's how smart your brain is. If you let things run properly, we are perfectly enabled to nourish ourselves. But boy, have we got things screwed up in the world we live in now?
Melanie Avalon: Okay, friends. Up next, we have a guest who is doing a true service for so many women. Dr. Sherry Ross is a celebrity gynecologist. Her books, She-ology, and She-ology The She-quel are full of celebrity testimonials, including a forward by Reese Witherspoon. What she is doing is so important when it comes to education surrounding the health of our sexual organs and fertility and all the things. I personally grew up in the Christian Bible belt south, where sex wasn't really talked about and I didn't even go to a gynecologist growing up. So, I really thank Dr. Sherry Ross for spreading awareness when it comes to women's sexual health. Her book covers everything you could ever want to know about your vagina and vulva. And it was really thrilling to sit down with her. So, please enjoy this excerpt from my conversation with Dr. Sherry Ross.
Well, speaking of eggs, how do you feel about egg freezing, and who should consider that, when should women consider that, is there a timeline for when it's too early, too late? I feel I should probably look into this.
Sherry Ross: I love egg freezing. I just think it's the best form of family planning that you can ever, ever have in your life. It's really taken family planning into a whole new conversation for egg freezing. We are seeing it so often now, which is great. Or, at least, women are talking about it. I think it's so, so, so important. It's part of birth control. It just has to be part of the conversation. In late 20s, it has to come up in the whole conversation of family planning. It's like techno family planning. The best age is going to be 31 to 37, 38. But if you're talking about it in your late 20s, you're creating that roadmap. You're talking about it, you're either in a relationship, or you're working. Women are very busy now. So, thinking about having a family, it can be put on hold, which I think is really, really fantastic.
Melanie Avalon: And how long will the eggs last, technically?
Dr. Sherry Ross: The freezing of eggs has really changed a lot in the last five years. It's elevated to even a better staying power, freezing power with these eggs, and defrost, whether it's 10 to 15 years. I'm not quite sure how long, but it's somewhere in that range. Maybe even longer. It just evolves. The infertility and freezing process evolves. We're seeing companies like Facebook and Apple, they're embracing and protecting woman's choice to delay motherhood by paying for egg freezing. I'm hoping that that's going to become more of a common service that jobs offer women. I think that's just so forward thinking. We're freezing eggs now with really a lot of confidence. So, it's really conversation in late 20s, definitely early 30s, and really thinking about it. I think the biggest barrier is cost, because it is about $12,000 to $15,000 to go through the entire process.
Melanie Avalon: Is it something that is at all covered by insurance?
Sherry Ross: Well, we're not seeing it yet. It's interesting. We're seeing IVF. Some plans cover a cycle of IVF in vitro. I'm hoping we see it. [giggles] Again, it's all about women and making them feel equal in the workplace. Now, women are CEOs, we have seats in the boardroom. Women have a presence. I think it's going to be related to advocacy that we have to fight for a lot of things. Having your company or your insurance policy, pay for a cycle or to have egg freezing, you would think what happened. They pay for Viagra. At some point, our needs would also be met from the insurance angle.
Melanie Avalon: Up next, we have a very recent guest. I know I just aired this episode, but it was so fabulous and so amazing. I couldn't not include it in our best of lineup. So, my audio editors for the show, for example, they typically just send me back the finished file without any comments. My audio editor specifically commented on how much he loved this episode. That's how fun it is. A.J. Jacobs is so funny. He's a multiple New York Times bestseller, including books like The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, Thanks, A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, and the recently released The Puzzler: One Man's Quest to Solve The Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, From Crosswords To Jigsaws To The Meaning Of Life. We definitely got into that in this episode. If you want to listen to an episode that I think will make you see the world in different ways, appreciate the little things, contemplate not only the meaning of puzzles but the meaning of life, definitely check out my interview with A. J. Enjoy this brief clip from our conversation.
You talk about how puzzles, in theory, you could possibly solve the world, because what is the one thing that can unify people of different--?
A.J. Jacobs: Oh, yeah. There was a great study where they took people from different sides of the political spectrum. So, conservatives and liberals and they had them do all these activities. The one activity that united them was they all did crossword puzzles. And just this idea of having a common goal to work towards, they were able to bond over that. Yeah, it is possible. Puzzles could save the world if we give them to Congress. I don't know. Or, we give them to both sides of the Red States and the Blue States and we all work together. That really is, all kidding aside. The idea of working together on a problem, uniting against a common threat is one of the best ways to unify people. So, I'm all for it. And regarding that cultural divide, I have found it so helpful to try to think of that as a puzzle.
If I'm talking to someone from the other side of the political spectrum, I happen to be a liberal. Down the line, I have some differing views, but mostly liberal. If I'm talking to someone who's a Trump supporter, instead of trying to see it as a fight, as a war of words, I try to see it as a puzzle. I try to say, "Let's try to solve it together what do we really disagree on? What evidence is there that could convince one of us that they might be wrong? What is the crux of our difference? What can we do if we don't agree? Is there a way forward?" All of these are cooperative puzzles, mysteries. I find it a much better way to engage with someone I disagree with. It's just more productive. It's more pleasant. My blood pressure doesn't go through the roof. And I learn more and there's a better chance that I'm going to come to some productive agreement. When you're at the Thanksgiving table and your uncle is saying crazy things that you don't like, just try to engage him as if he's a puzzle and you're working on a puzzle together, what can you figure out.
Melanie Avalon: Up next, friends, we have another legend in the health sphere. Max Lugavere is so well known for his books on diet and brain health. I've been following him for years. So, it was really a surreal moment to sit down with him. His multiple New York Times bestselling books include Genius Foods and the Genius Life and of course, the recently released Genius Kitchen. He's super passionate about what he does and I really enjoyed hearing his thoughts on some of the pro-vegan diet concepts for brain health. Things got a little spicy, and they got a little spicy on my Instagram afterwards as well. So, I really think you guys will enjoy this clip with Max Lugavere.
I think my audience, one of the complaints, I don't know, if it's a complaint, but I'm always throwing different opinions at them with guests. I recently had on the Sherzais. They run, I think the Alzheimer's Institute at Loma Linda. I'm not sure exactly what the school is called. So, they're all about a low-fat vegan diet. Their book is called The Alzheimer's Solution. Do you have thoughts on that, the vegan approach?
Max Lugavere: Absolutely. There's zero evidence that a vegan diet is promotive of brain health. There're lots of evidence to the contrary. We can take our sides when it comes to grass-fed beef. I'm of the opinion that grass-fed beef is a health food and that it benefits brain health, and I can back that up with my reasoning for that. But if you're not as a neurologist promoting the consumption of at least fish, then you are not sticking with the science. You have diverged from the science and you're now talking out of your butt, essentially. Those two neurologists, they mean well, and I respect them. But the recommendations to me are mind blowing. Now, I'm not that familiar with them. So, I don't know if they are promoting the consumption of fish or where they stand on that, but I will say that the vegan diet is not optimal from the standpoint of the brain far from it. Yeah, I think it is a disservice to people. There have been studies to show that in older adults, the consumption of choline is associated with a fairly dramatic risk reduction for Alzheimer's disease.
Choline is most abundantly found in animal products. Egg yolks, beef, foods like that. It's an incredibly important, conditionally essential nutrient that serves as the backbone for acetylcholine. And the word, acetylcholine, that choline at the end of it is the suffix is we get that from our diets. We synthesize a small amount of it in our bodies, but we need to get choline from our diets. The Institute of Medicine, we have daily an adequate intake for it. It's very difficult to get from vegetables, even though it is found in vegetables in very small amounts. Yeah, 30% risk reduction for people who consume the most choline. Choline is most abundantly found in animal products. Animal products also provide a bevy of really important nutrients that are plug and play to our biology from zinc to vitamin B12, to preform omega-3 fats, to creatine. Creatine, many people are familiar with because of its association with physical performance, and bodybuilding, and sports, and stuff like that. It's a vitally important nutrient that we need for good brain health. When they supplement vegans and vegetarians with synthetic supplemental creatine, they've seen improvements in their cognitive function. That is a non-trivial data point to me.
You don't see that improvement in cognitive function in omnivores. Omnivores are already getting their creatine needs from their diets, but vegans and vegetarians are not. Creatine is exclusively found in animal products. These are called Carni-nutrients. There's carnitine, there's taurine. To me, it's unquestionable that an omnivorous diet is optimal. In fact, it is the omnivorous diet that created the human brain. There's no hunter-gatherer group throughout alive today certainly, but in the historical record, that subsisted exclusively on vegan diets. Veganism, today is it's a modern luxury. I just think it's a very privileged thing to suggest.
Now, there is evidence that just to be clear that meat consumption is associated with worse health outcomes, but that's because you have to understand what's called healthy user bias. When you zoom out at the population level and you look at meat consumers in this country, they tend to consume more calories, they tend to eat more fast food, they tend to smoke, they tend to have other unhealthy lifestyle habits. So, that association is there. But when you control for those factors and you take people-- There was just a study that was published that showed this that, when you control for diet quality, meat has no negative impact, whatsoever. So, I think that this is really important and yeah, it needs to be understood.
Melanie Avalon: Up next, friends, we have a guest, which is truly a surreal moment to have had him on the show not once, but twice. Steven Gundry is the legend behind The Plant Paradox and all of those other paradoxes. He's the reason you know about things like lectins. I originally had him on the show for The Energy Paradox, and then I had him back on for his newest book, which is not a Paradox Book. It is Unlocking the Keto Code: The Revolutionary New Science of Keto That Offers More Benefits Without Deprivation. Dr. Gundry does some pretty interesting questioning on what we think ketosis is compared to what it actually may be. In particular, he talks about what he thinks is the true benefit behind the keto diet, which is mitochondrial uncoupling. He makes the argument that ketones are not the magical fuel source that we think that they might be and points out the problems with low carb diets. I really think you guys will enjoy this conversation. So, please welcome the legendary, Dr. Steven Gundry.
So, how are mitochondria sort of like a club and what is the role of mitochondrial on coupling?
Steven Gundry: Mitochondria, if we think of them as the coolest, hippest new club, where people go to couple up, the club is the hottest steamiest place. There's hormones raging, there's alcohol flowing, and there's everybody trying to get in, and there's pushing and shoving to get to the bar, and everybody wants to couple with everybody else, and it's a happening place. But the problem is, things get out of control all the time in these clubs. We've got bouncers, which we'll call anti-oxidants and we've got doormen to control the velvet rope that lets people in. If things get out of control-- In the club, there's only one way in. There's only one entrance and there's actually a separate exit. The object of the game is to get protons to couple with oxygen and then leave the club via the revolving back door. As they leave the club, they generate ATP and that's how it's done. But a lot of times, other people, electrons, who should be coupling with protons, want a couple with oxygen molecules, and these produce free radicals and reactive oxygen species which are damaging. There has to be a mechanism to keep things under control to pop off the pressure in this club, if you will.
Lo and behold, it was discovered in the late 1970s that mitochondria have emergency exits in the club, where when people get out of hand or when protons can't couple up with who they want a couple with, they can leave via these emergency exits. These emergency exits are controlled by what are called uncoupling proteins. There's actually five of them. These emergency exits serve as pop off valves for mitochondria to avoid damaged mitochondria. I like to use the example of a pressure cooker. Most of us have a pressure cooker and everybody knows there's a little pop off valve or release valve that the steam escapes whenever the pressure gets too high, because if it kept getting higher, you explode the pressure cooker, which my mother did when I was growing up. It was very exciting. So, we have released valves in mitochondria. And it turns out that, lo and behold, ketones actually open the release valves on mitochondria. They not only open the release valves of mitochondria to take the pressure off the work of mitochondria, but in the same signaling capacity, they tell mitochondria to divide and make more of themselves to handle the workload.
It's like we could hook one dog up to a dog sled and that dog had pulled the dog sled, but the dog would be doing a lot of work. On the other hand, if we hook six dogs to the dog sled, the six dogs can do the work of one dog without much effort except here's the punchline. Those six dogs are going to eat a lot more food than the one dog did. That's the beauty of uncoupling mitochondria. Each one of them has to do less work, but you make more mitochondria, which are actually going to use more fuel like fat. So, fascinatingly, the more you uncouple mitochondria, the more you release this pressure route, the more weight you lose and the healthier your mitochondria get. Yay.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, friends. Up next, we have a guest that I was so, so excited about. The instant, Dr. Morgan Levine's people reached out to me about her coming on the show, I was an immediate yes. I was so obsessed with her work. I've been listening to her on many podcasts like Dr. Peter Attia. She's doing incredible work with the science of longevity, which, as you know is one of my favorite topics. This episode was definitely a deep, deep dive into the factors that affect aging and the nitty-gritty of genes and genetics and cellular pathways, and all of the things. If you want to be inspired and motivated about taking charge of your true biological age, this is the conversation for you. So, please enjoy this clip from my conversation with Dr. Morgan Levine for her new book, True Age: Cutting-Edge Research to Help Turn Back the Clock.
I want to measure my biological age. So, how did you develop the system that you have for measuring biological age? What is it actually measuring?
Morgan Levine: Yeah, I've worked it on a few different kinds of systems. The one that actually started about a decade ago was just-- You can measure or try and estimate biological age just from the normal types of lab tests that you would get done at your annual physical. So, things like cholesterol and different inflammatory markers like CRP, HbA1c, or glucose, and then a bunch of things to do with cell counts. We actually developed a way that you can combine those into a single aging profiler, or biological age score, or we often call this your phenotypic age score, and show that that is a better predictor risk of disease or mortality risk than your chronological age. So, that gives you kind of a whole person systemic biological age. But actually, what my lab is more interested in are these molecular measures of biological age. And usually, what we use is epigenetic data. So, maybe David Sinclair, if he was on talked about the epigenetic clock. So, these are measures that use something called DNA methylation. It's not changes to your DNA sequence. So, you still ACGT. You're not changing that. But what you're changing is you have these chemical tags that can happen at specific sites throughout your genome that we call CPGs, where you have a C right next to a G. And this just changes the accessibility of that part of your DNA.
The interesting thing to think about is, all of the cells in your body have the exact same DNA, but clearly, they exhibit very different phenotypes. So, your skin cell does not act or look the same as your brain cells or your neurons. What gives their phenotype is the epigenome. So, it tells the skin cell you use this part of the genome, these are the protein products that you can derive, whereas your brain cell will use different parts of the genome and this is dictated by turning on or off certain parts using these epigenetic modifications. The interesting thing is that the epigenome gets dysregulated. We think dysregulated, but it definitely changes with aging and we can actually look at this profile to say, “Oh, you've had kind of this degree of drift or change that might be indicative of someone, or a cell, or tissue that is of some chronological age.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, wow.
Morgan Levine: All right, that was a lot.
Melanie Avalon: No, no, no, I love it. I love it. So, some questions about the tests. Actually, when I was talking to James, he was saying that they use the phenotypic age in a lot of their trials to see if what they're doing is effective. So, that was super cool. That first type with the nine biomarkers to clarify, what are some examples of those biomarkers of the nine?
Morgan Levine: Yeah. So, for that one you have things from your CBC, so your cell blood counts, so things like what white blood cell percentage, something called red cell distribution width, which is just how wide you’re the-- how much variance there is in the width of your red blood cells. So, a bunch of these little measures. You have things that map on to, kidney function. So, creatinine, alkaline phosphatase. You have liver function, and then you have fasting glucose and you have-- oh, this is testing my actual memory. Albumins in there. I should remember all of these. Yeah, I’ve to go back and look into it exactly.
Melanie Avalon: I found one of the ones online and was taking it, but then I realized I wasn't sure. I don't think I had all the data I needed to fill it out correctly, because then I did it and it gave me my result. I think it basically said I was like dead. So, I was like, "I don't think I've put in the right numbers." [giggles]
Morgan Levine: Yeah. So, that's the other thing people need to pay attention to are the units. So, the other thing is, if the lab you did your tests at measuring different units than that one, you have to actually convert them or they'll give you some crazy, insane number.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was like, "Okay, that's not correct."
Morgan Levine: That doesn't sound like it was correct. Oh, CRP is another one in there. C-reactive protein, which is--
Melanie Avalon: It needed a percent and the data I had was not in percent and I was like, "I don't know how to convert this to clarify." So, for that test, is that comparing just to other people with similar biomarkers or is it comparing to an in between marker like a methylation status or something?
Morgan Levine: Yeah. So, that one is comparing to other people. Actually, it was developed using a study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination study, NHANES, which is supposed to be for the US nationally representative. So, it should represent all different types of people within the population about the percentages that they exist in the population. But the issue again, before, was that we have to use a population from the early 80s, in order to actually be able to train the test, because we need mortality follow-up, we need to know who lives, how long they live. So, we need a long follow-up time. So, that one is saying, compared to the average United States population in the 80s, this was how old your profile looks.
Melanie Avalon: You said the population in the 80s actually lived shorter than today.
Morgan Levine: Yes. So, most people will actually score lower than their chronological age on that test. So, it actually underpredicts age.
Melanie Avalon: So, even though they lived shorter, did they not have lower rates of chronic disease as well?
Morgan Levine: It depends. Some chronic diseases there were higher rates. I think we're doing better in certain cancers, mostly probably because of earlier screening or better screening. But yeah, I think the one thing that people have actually shown, it's our life expectancy has increased a lot, but our health span hasn't increased quite as much. So, we're actually just keeping people alive who are sicker longer. But we actually compared biological age between that population and more current populations. We also find that people today do, at least in terms of these parameters look younger.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, we have a lower biological age now as well?
Morgan Levine: Yeah. So, the average person today has lower biological age than the average person then. We've also looked at within different groups. Actually, the biggest difference tends to be older people. So, I forget what the age cutoff was. But I think for people in their 70s, they're even younger biologically than people in their 70s back in the 80s.
Melanie Avalon: Wow. Up next, we have a super fun guest who my audience had been begging me to have on the show for honestly years. Even before I launched this show and was asking for recommendations, I would get requests for Ari Whitten. He's pretty well known for his book, The Ultimate Guide To Red Light Therapy. His newest book is called Eat for Energy: How to Beat Fatigue, Supercharge Your Mitochondria, and Unlock All-Day Energy. It is a deep, deep dive into the mitochondria, as well as how everything that we put in our mouth, including food and supplements, affect it. So, without further ado, please enjoy this brief clip from our conversation.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, that's an interesting relationship there. Yeah, there's definitely a pretty ugly history around some of this in terms of how the medical profession has treated women. In some instances, hysteria, of course, basically going, "Hey, women are these very strange, illogical creatures sometimes and they act in these crazy ways that we men can't understand. Maybe it's coming from their uterus. Let's cut out their uterus and see if that solves the problem." So, there's that. And then with chronic fatigue syndrome, for a long time, and this is partly due to limitations in testing technologies for a long time. But basically, you could run a blood test on people with chronic fatigue syndrome. The vast majority of the time, their markers will come back perfectly normal.
Based on that, a lot of these doctors concluded, "Hey, there's nothing actually, physiologically wrong with you. This is all in your head." And so, they were prescribed antidepressants and basically, treated hypochondriacs and treated like it was all psychosomatic. And that, of course, is very wrong. We now know chronic fatigue syndrome is in fact, a very real condition and we have sophisticated enough testing that we've established many, many different biochemical abnormalities in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Melanie Avalon: Questions about that, actually just to get some definitions here. Clearly, it has a long history. We just discussed of not seeming like a credible disease or condition. And you just mentioned the metabolites, which you mentioned in the book there being like 600 or so metabolites related to chronic fatigue. So, stepping back, what is it exactly?
Ari Whitten: Well, this is also interesting, because despite the fact that, as I just said, we have a number of metabolites that have been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, there is actually still no definitive test, single test that you can do that says, "If you test positive on this particular marker, these two markers, then that means you have chronic fatigue syndrome." So, it's still a diagnosis that's largely based on symptoms. And basically, the symptoms are severe debilitating levels of fatigue combined with something called post-exertional malaise, which means that for a day, or two, or three, following even brief bouts of physical activity, even maybe moderately strenuous physical activity, someone might be pretty wiped out. They might be in an extreme amount of soreness, and pain, and severe fatigue, and brain fog, and things like that. So, that symptom is to a large extent diagnostic for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Now, having said all that, I really don't focus specifically on chronic fatigue syndrome, specifically for a couple reasons. One is, there's a legal aspect to it. I don't want to talk about medical conditions, because it can get me legally into hot water, if it's implied that I'm saying, "Hey, here's these recommendations I'm making which can treat this specific medical condition." Sso, for that reason, I take things out of the realm of chronic fatigue syndrome and talk purely about fatigue or chronic fatigue, which are not medical diagnoses, but a description of low levels of energy.
The second reason even more important than that is that chronic fatigue syndrome really just represents the extreme end of that spectrum of how debilitated someone can become as a result of low energy levels. But this is not an on off switch. It's not like, "Oh, you either have amazing high energy levels bouncing off the walls with energy like a little kid or you're debilitated with chronic fatigue syndrome." There's a hundred degrees of gray areas in between those two ends of the extremes. And most people, most adults are somewhere in the middle, if not maybe slightly in the direction of or moderately in the direction of chronic fatigue without necessarily meeting the diagnostic criteria of chronic fatigue syndrome and having this severe post-exertional malaise, but they have poor energy levels relative to what they had when they were in their youth.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, friends, as we near the end of this episode, we can't not include one of the biggest legends of all time, the author of the bestselling nonfiction book of the 1990s, yes, I am talking about John Gray, the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and a million other books as well. He is such an energetic pleasure. I actually had him on for two episodes. There was just that much to talk about. John has really fascinating revelations when it comes to male and female relations. So, please enjoy this clip from my conversation with John Gray.
John Gray: It's so easy to unconditionally love your kids. They are you. [laughs] So, they're acute version of you and a little version, you can control them. So, when I come home, they'll run at me, "Daddy, daddy, daddy." Then Bonnie would complain to me that kids only listen to me and not her. Well, I change that very quickly. They come and see me and first thing I will say is, "Where's your mother?" After a while, they say, "Mom's here, mom's there," because I'm going to go to her first. I'll carry them, but I'm going to go to her first so, they see me prioritizing her.
The women today need more respect and that's what they're trying to get. They just don't know how to get it, how to communicate it, how to talk to men to get it. But even when you read gender books, they all say, "Men need more respect." You do not need to respect. We all need respect but what is the real-- What men need more of is to feel successful, to feel appreciated for what they do, to be accepted for not being perfect, to be trusted that they're doing their best. All of those qualities of trust, acceptance, and appreciation bump up testosterone, admiration pumps up testosterone, acknowledgement pumps of testosterone. This is our doing side. Then, we have our being side which wants to be heard, seen, valued as a good person, as a loving person, as a vulnerable person, and to be protected. The protection women need today is based upon getting what they need. They need to be able to open up and be protected from some guy who says, "Well, that's stupid." But why would you feel that or why are you telling me that? Are you overreacting to the situation? Let's all just wake up to mention, never say, you're overreacting instead say, "Help me understand that better. Tell me more. What else?"
Don't react as a man knowing she needs to talk to raise her estrogen, because if she needs to talk and raise her estrogen, she's in a stressed state and anything you say is not going to help other than asking questions. So, these are like new skills that we have. Even like dating skills. Women all have been taught by their mothers basically, "If you want somebody to be interested in you, be interested in them." No, don't be interested in him. If ever you're dating somebody and you're more interested in him than he's interested in you, forget it. Not going to work out in most cases. Particularly, we have a pattern of men who don't call back, and men who don't commit, whatever, it's because you're giving too much. Every woman gives too much. She tries to please the man. Your job is to learn how to get a guy to please you. Give less, get more will raise your estrogen. Then, you actually walk around in a state of gratitude, and appreciation, and trust that you can get what you need. But when you're out of balance, you tend that to be too demanding to both men and women.
When your estrogen levels and testosterone are not in balance, we demand more than what life gives us. Then, we want to change somebody else. Then, we use negative emotions to intimidate others, to guilt others, to threaten others in order to get what we want. We have to recognize, we want negative emotions. We don't suppress them, particularly, if you're a woman. If I'm a man and I have them, I take time to rebuild my testosterone, then if I still have them, I look at what they are in order to analyze them the way Freud would do is what is the thinking that's off. The only time you have negative emotions is when you're not thinking aligned with your higher self. So, emotions serve a great purpose for me. I get upset about something, then I go, "Okay, why am I upset? Clearly, something I didn't know I really wanted is not showing up for me and now, I need to become aware that I'm not getting what I want."
My thinking around that always has to do with, unless I change the outer world, I can't get what I want, instead of changing myself to get what I want. If you're focusing on changing yourself to get what you want, you're not upset with anybody. But the way you know you need to change your thinking is you get upset with somebody and you analyze that and you look at it. If you do that as a man for analysis, you will raise testosterone and have better relationships. If you're a woman, you don't focus on the analysis first, because that's testosterone producing. Just simply, what happened, and how you feel, and what's going on, and what else you feel. And don't stop at what you feel. Go to what emotion is linked to what you feel. This is a whole new thought for people, which is emotional intelligence 3.0 or something.
Melanie Avalon: Up next, we have a guest that I have been a fan of for years and this was his second appearance on the show. I had the honor of having Dr. David Perlmutter back on the show for his book Drop Acid. What I loved about this book is that he is talking about something that nobody is talking about, which is the role of uric acid as the potential root cause of metabolic syndrome. So, without further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Dr. David Perlmutter.
One other big topic to maybe tackle, so speaking to the context of everything and how there's nuance to all of this, what do you think is the role of gender when it comes to uric acid? I was reading about the correlations and oftentimes, with the all-cause mortality, some of those would disappear when it would just be found for men, for example. You talked about the role of alcohol and how it correlates to uric acid, and that it didn't apply to women and wine. Why? Why is that happening? Why are women maybe not experiencing as many of the negative effects as men?
David Perlmutter: It's a great question and there's a fairly straightforward explanation for that. That is that estrogen helps the kidney release uric acid into the urine. So, women, by and large, have lower uric acid levels in comparison to men and that goes away after menopause. It actually does tend to explain a lot. Getting back to the alcohol, I just want to make sure that your listeners understand what the data is telling us about that. These are evaluations of tens of thousands of people, who complete what is called a food frequency questionnaire. In other words, evaluating what people eat over period of time and then looking at various blood markers of whatever you want to measure. In the case of uric acid, what has been noted is that women who consume wine, their wine consumption is associated with a lower uric acid level. In men, they don't really have much change in their uric acid level when compared to wine consumption.
Hard liquor in men and women, more so in men is associated with an increased level of uric acid. But by far and away, the worst player is beer. Beer has alcohol and also has purines again from the brewers' yeast. That's very, very cellular, lots of nucleic material broken down into purines. What is that doing? Dramatically raising a uric acid and telling the body make fat. So, there's very good rationale for understanding where the beer belly is coming from. The beer belly is a manifestation of activating an alarm system in the body telling it to make and store fat very quickly to prepare for a time of caloric scarcity, when you may not have any food.
One of the areas I just want to unpack briefly, because I think it's really important and that is that our bodies actually make fructose. [chuckles] In the context of survival, that's a great thing that you could activate a mechanism in your body such that it would make more fructose, so you can make body fat and survive. But these days, maybe it's not the best news. You might then ask, "Well, what is causing our bodies to make fructose? If it's such a bad thing these days, what are we doing to make that happen?" It turns out that one of the most powerful influences on the pathway to make and it's called the polyol pathway. P-O-L-Y-O-L. The one of the most important influences is when the body feels as if it's dehydrated, when it's dehydrated or feels it's dehydrated, an enzyme is activated called aldolase reductase. Aldose reductase, sorry. Aldose is the sugar. Aldose reductase is involved in converting glucose, blood sugar into fructose and that'll be on the quiz. So, everybody has to remember that.
Anyway, the body thinks it's dehydrated, it makes more fructose. How does the body think it's dehydrated? It does so, because the body is very sensitive to sodium levels. When you get dehydrated, your sodium level goes way up. You see somebody in emergency room is really dehydrated, their sodium level is sky high and you have to very judiciously bring it down by giving them an IV slowly that is low in sodium. So, that's the body sensor that it's telling the body that we can't find water, sodium goes up. Well, it turns out that you can raise your sodium just by eating a bag of chips, just by eating a lot of added salt, and parking yourself in front of the playoffs, in front of TV. Eating a bag of pretzels with salt, your sodium levels going to go up and immediately, you're going to activate the conversion of glucose into fructose. Uric acids produced and guess what? You make body fat. You become insulin resistant. For a long time, we've known that people on a higher salt diet have a dramatic increased risk for becoming obese, a dramatic increased risk for developing type-2 diabetes, and we've certainly known the hypertension part of that story for a very long time, but we didn't understand the mechanism.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, friends, one of the things I love is bringing on people of all different perspectives onto this show. As you guys know, I love bringing on people who are really well known in the vegan and plant-based sphere. Simon Hill is a treasure. He is one of the most open minded, kind, unbiased figures that I have met in the vegan sphere. I'm not saying that the vegan sphere is necessarily biased. I just think on the extreme sides of things like carnivore versus vegan, for example, people can get wrapped up in their perspective. What I love about Simon Hill is that he is really comprehensive and nuanced and very open to people doing their own manifestations of a plant-based diet. Once I had him on, I immediately booked him for a part two Q&A. So, look for that in 2023. In the meantime, please enjoy this clip with Simon Hill for his book The Proof is in the Plants.
Actually, I'm glad you brought up the broccoli, because that is something that the carnivore sphere people will say a lot. As an example, they'll say that or is "evidence," they'll say that all kids basically don't like green vegetables and it's not until later. So, they say we accustom ourselves to this taste and that's due to the antinutrients and such in broccoli. Where do you fall on plant antinutrients?
Simon Hill: There are certain foods if overdone, for example, if you consume too much spinach, you could end up with kidney stones. You'd have to consume a lot though. A lot of this comes down to exposure. For example, lectins is one that gets thrown up a lot, right?
Melanie Avalon: I've had Dr. Gundry on the show twice.
Simon Hill: Yeah. So, how should I phrase this? I think Dr. Gundry has some really great things to say. So, I don't want to come across as just having a go at him generally. We would disagree on lectins a bit though. Where I think he puts a lot of his emphasis is on the preclinical mechanistic data. So, what happens if you put lectins into a cell that's been removed from the body in a petri dish kind of thing. That level of evidence we need to be thinking about very critically. There's a few reasons for that. I mentioned how important exposure is before whenever we're looking at something. If we're talking about whether our food is healthy or not, critical to that is how much are we being exposed to. And in this mechanistic level of science, what's really easy to do is to expose a cell to something like lectins at a level that it would never be exposed to in the human body through a human diet. So, I could expose the cells to the amount of lectins magnitudes higher than what you would ever be exposed to through eating legumes, for example. And we see many, many mechanistic studies that show that lectins could be problematic, the exposure level is astronomical.
Now, what I like to explain to people here is that you can have a compound like lectins or any compound that can be healthy at a certain level of exposure, but then it can also be harmful at a certain level of exposure. Let's take oxygen for an example. I think that most of us would agree, breathing in air that contains oxygen is a good thing. We require it. It sustains us, right? It's critical to the production of energy and the maintenance of life. But if I was to give you 100% oxygen, you would soon pass out and eventually you would die. The oxygen concentration in air, I think, is 21%, maybe 26%. But if I expose you to 100%, oxygen, it becomes deleterious. That same compound that's healthy for us ramped up at a certain exposure level becomes harmful. Now, with that in mind, the fact that 100% oxygen is harmful to us, none of us are going around saying. "Don't breathe air." Are we? [chuckles] The common-sense approach is, "Okay, 100%, oxygen is bad, but 21% in air is beneficial for us. I'm going to breathe today." Now, with lectins, we see this extreme exposure in mechanistic. Petri level science can cause some deleterious effects to cells, can increase markers of inflammation, etc.
Now, what about in humans? Well, if we look at population data and you look at populations who are consuming foods that contain lectins, and sure they're cooking them and soak beans and cook them, which does remove or minimize, reduce some of the lectins, but there's still lectins in these foods, these people have very good health outcomes. If lectins were as kind of poisonous as they're often portrayed to be, then we should expect to see these cultures and populations who eat a lot of lectin-containing foods, we should expect to see higher incidence of autoimmune conditions or conditions related to gut barrier breakdown. We should expect to see poor health, but in fact, we see the opposite. So, I think that alarm bells go off for me when a lot of this is derived from mechanistic data, where there is a very, very extreme exposure amount. I think we just need to be careful over extrapolating from that to human health.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, friends. What better way to end our Best of Part 2 episode for 2022 than with a figure who is one of the key reasons I am doing what I'm doing today. I've been following Mark Sisson for years. When I first started doing paleo, after Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson with Mark's Daily Apple was one of the go to resources informing my journey. He's also the creator of Primal Kitchen. I was so nervous to interview Mark, because he is that much of a legend and it was such an honor to sit down with him. I had interviewed his friends like Elle Russ and Brad Kearns, but not the legend himself. This was really an incredible, inspiring conversation and a perfect way to end our best of 2022.
Okay, I have some follow up questions from that. One, so, you're mentioning this concept of play. Was play something that hunter-gatherers would do? So, it sounds like with endurance sports, that's something that from an evolutionary perspective, we would have never engaged in as a thing.
Mark Sisson: No, 100% right. No, it would be such a waste of energy, precious human energy to think about training with a mindset of going to the well every day or five days a week. To answer your first question, yes, our ancestors and our ape predecessors play as a huge factor in development and growth. Humans are wired to play throughout their entire life, not just as children. We hear this mantra in child development about kids are-- you’re supposed to let them play, and experiment, and fall down, and they develop social skills in addition to physical skills, certainly, wires the brain for planning. As an ancestral human being, that includes planning how to hunt an animal that you're going to eat. So, a lot of our ancestors, we hear the stories about the hunters tracking and running after the beast for two hours before they kill it. Well, it's not all running. Some of its walking, some of its hiding and crouching, some of it is skipping from one hiding stone to the next. It's not a linear all out run at max capacity for two hours. It was a game in and of itself. The hunt became a game as much as anything else.
A lot of the early tribal events were based around games that men and women and children would play, all of which helped with social skills with learning, with development, with enjoyment of life, with breaking the monotony of an otherwise tedious existence, et cetera, et cetera. So, yes, play is an integral part of humans. The reason that it is one of the 10 Primal Blueprint laws that I want everybody to play as often as much as they can. Back to my own experience, I've realized that throughout much of my endurance career, I wasn't playing much. I couldn't really take a chance on playing a pickup basketball game, or even a pickup baseball game for fear of pulling a hamstring or twisting an ankle. I couldn't ski for the same reasons. So, there was not a lot of--
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