The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #84 - Dave Asprey
Dave Asprey is the founder and Chairman of Bulletproof 360, a high performance coffee and food company, and creator of the widely popular Bulletproof Coffee. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author, host of the Webby award-winning podcast Bulletproof Radio, and has been featured on the Today show, Fox News, Nightline, CNN, and dozens more.
Over the last two decades Dave, the “Father of Biohacking”, has worked with world-renowned doctors, researchers, scientists and global mavericks to uncover the latest, most innovative methods, techniques and products for enhancing mental and physical performance.
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7:50 - Dave's Background
10:35 - Dave's Introduction to Fasting
12:40 - what is fasting?
15:20 - the role of hunger in fasting
17:20 - hacking the fast
19:20 - adding black coffee
19:35 - adding butter to coffee
20:15 - butter and mCT oil creating exclusion zones in water
21:40 - LUMEN: The Lumen Breath Analyzer That Tells Your Body If You're Burning Carbs Or Fat For Energy! You Can Learn More In Melanie's Episodes With The Founder (The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #43 - Daniel Tal, The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #63 - Daniel Tal (Lumen)) And Get $25 Off A Lumen Device At melanieavalon.com/lumen With The Code melanieavalon25
23:10 - deuterium depleted water
26:55 - does MCT or butter break the fast?
30:45 - Using "training Wheels" during fasting
31:30 - letting go of rigid dogma
33:40 - protein fasting
35:30 - fasted gut bacteria
38:10 - gut bacteria in overweight people
40:00 - negative symptoms while fasting
42:40 - fasting for women
46:20 - Fasting and kisspeptin for hormone regulation
48:05 - c8 vs c10 MCT oil
51:25 - calories in calories out doesn't work
54:30 - diet Experiments & alcohol
55:50 - grass fed vs conventionally raised meat
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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #43 - Teri Cochrane
1:01:45 - omega-6 and PUFAs
1:04:30 - smart nicotine supplementation
1:06:25 - NMN, NR, Butyrate Supplementation
1:09:00 - Blue Light Blocking Glasses
1:11:00 - Dave's Biohacking Routine
1:15:05 - Hyperbaric Therapy
1:20:20 - Cold Therapy
1:21:50 - the future of Biohacking
Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. I am so incredibly thrilled and excited about the conversation that I am about to have. I'm going to start this with a little personal story to give listeners an idea of why I am so incredibly excited. As listeners know, I've been in the diet health sphere for quite a while now. I first went low carb around 2010, started doing intermittent fasting around 2011, cleaned up my diet with paleo around 2012. One of the key drivers in cleaning up my diet was I read a book called The Bulletproof Diet.
Dave Asprey: Ah-ha.
Melanie Avalon: Ah-ha, yeah. What's actually really-- I was just thinking about this. That was the first time that I really got exposed to the concept of inflammatory food potential. ,Now that's basically the lens of how I see all food, and so it's really weird to look back and think that there was a time that this was new to me. I read that book, I remember I printed out the list, the chart of the foods that were inflammatory and non-inflammatory and I made this whole collage that was Mulan themed and put it on my refrigerator and changed my diet, and listen to Bulletproof radio, became very obsessed with the whole biohacking world. I self-published a book, and when Dave Asprey launched the Bulletproof coffee shop in Santa Monica because I was living in LA at the time. I remember I went on the day it opened with one of my best friends and I was determined to give you a copy of my self-published book, but you had already left. I remember So, I gave it to somebody who worked there. I was like, “Please get this to Dave.” Then I left, and I thought, someday, someday I will connect with him. Friends, that's what's happening right now. I'm here with Dave Asprey, thank you so much for being here.
Dave Asprey: Well, thank you for being at the coffee shop on the opening day, still running strong six years later, I'm opening one up in Victoria BC, where I live in the middle of a pandemic.
Melanie Avalon: Exciting. Wow. That'll be the second one, so you have two?
Dave Asprey: Yes.
Melanie Avalon: That is amazing. I'm pretty sure everybody's really familiar with you. For those who are not, Dave Asprey is the founder and chairman of Bulletproof 360. If you guys know anything about Bulletproof coffee, that's all coming from him. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author.
Dave Asprey: Four, just hit it again last week, with Fast This Way. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Congratulations. We have the same agent and the emails with the New York Times bestsellers, and I saw your name on there. It's very, very exciting. He's been on the media all over, Today's Show, Fox, Nightline, CNN, everywhere. This man, basically needs no introduction, but the topic of today's show is he did recently released we just talked about it, Fast This Way. Dave, thank you so much for being here. To start things off, I have so many questions for you. Could you tell listeners a little bit about your personal story, in particular, your experience for four days in a cave, which I remember you'd mentioned-- I mean, I'd heard you mentioned it on multiple episodes for years and years and years. It was really exciting to read Fast This Way and get a much deeper picture of that. I was wondering if you could tell listeners a little bit about that experience. What drove you to do that, and then what drove you ultimately today, to write Fast This Way?
Dave Asprey: Well, I used to weigh 300 pounds, and I had brain fog, this was before I was 30. I had arthritis in my knees when I was 14. I had a high risk of stroke and heart attack, major cognitive dysfunction, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Pretty much my biology wasn't where I wanted it to be, but I was successful anyway in my career. I figured out how to lose the weight. This has been the genesis of The Bulletproof Diet, how to get my energy back and how to have more energy than I ever even knew was possible. Along the way, I thought, “Well, I know that I'm afraid of being hungry,” and it's because I've been told, if I don't eat six times a day, then I'll go into starvation mode, and then I'll somehow gain weight. That was an issue for me.
The bigger one though, was that I knew that if I didn't eat all the time, that I would get hypogly bitchy, I would be mean to people when I was hungry. I said, “Well, how can I handle this? How about I hire a shaman who's going to drop me off in a cave in the middle of the desert, do basically a vision quest.” Then, if I'm by myself with no food and no people for four days, then I know I'm going to fast and I know that if I get cranky, what can I do, pound on the walls of the cave. I went at it from a spiritual growth, I'm curious about this, I don't know anything about it, but it was also an abrupt way to try fasting. This was in 2008. When I started writing The Bulletproof Diet content that you referenced earlier, in 2010, was my first blog post saying, you should try intermittent fasting, you can use Bulletproof coffee during it, and there's good science behind that. Lots of other getting rid of food toxins and things like that, that evolved, blossomed into-- there's a whole diet category about just avoiding lectins, and oxalates are coming up and all these different things. Even cyclical keto was the center point of what I was focusing on. This was before all that, and this was the first time I ever went two days without food. The fact that I could be full of energy after four days without like, ridiculously full of energy. It was the final proof point to me that you just don't have to eat all the time in order to have energy. That was a flawed assumption.
Melanie Avalon: It's so incredible. Prior to the cave, what was the longest fast you had done?
Dave Asprey: I'd never fasted.
Melanie Avalon: At all, like none?
Dave Asprey: Yeah. I'm like, “Well, okay, fasting is scary.” It is, it still is for most people. I didn't want to do it because just the thought of it was a little bit repulsive. It's like, “Well, wait a minute, everything I've ever been told is that I have to eat very regularly for all these dumb reasons that aren't real.” But the bigger thing was, you turn into a monster when your metabolism doesn't work, you don't have enough energy to regulate your emotions. You're going to just act like a jerk. I spent enough of my life doing that, I just really wasn't comfortable with the thought of not eating. I didn't know how to do it the way that I learned after that combining it with Bulletproof coffee and with all the stuff that's in The Bulletproof Diet, that's when people have lost way more than a million pounds with all these techniques now, but at the time, fasting wasn't really a thing unless you were going to do it in a cave or an ashram or something. Now fasting is a thing, thankfully.
Melanie Avalon: I love the fear thing that you just tapped on. It's something you talk about all throughout the book, like the role of our mindset, and our perception of everything. Something I often think about, especially with fear is that sometimes it can be really scary to do something, but it's like, if you do it once, that's almost to me the equivalent of doing it thousand times because you just need to know that you can do it once, and then it opens the door to the continuation of all of it. Whenever I tell myself that I'm nervous about something, just do it once and then I will have done thousand times, because I know that I can, which also ties into-- when I picked up fastest way, I was really curious, like how it was going to tackle fasting, because now fasting really is all the rage. It's everywhere. I’m, like I said, also the host of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, so we're talking about it all, all, all the time.
But I think language is so important. You even say in the book, that language is one of our most powerful “biohacks.” What I loved about Fast This Way is that it really looked at the semantics of fasting and beg the question, what is fasting? I think we often get wrapped up in the scientific jargon, so we want to know, “Oh, it's this amount of hours,” or “It's time-restricted eating,” or “This is fasting and this isn't,” but you actually really ask the question from a more of a philosophical and esoteric perspective. I'm going to ask you that question. What is fasting?
Dave Asprey: Fasting just means to go without, but it doesn't say what you're going without. I talk about what I like to call hair shirt fasters. You know what a hair shirt is?
Melanie Avalon: I heard you talk about this on an interview, I didn't know what it was. No.
Dave Asprey: A weird sects of monks centuries ago decided that they would weave shirts out of human hair because it was the itchiest possible shirt you could ever wear. Then, they would wear that to increase their suffering so that they could be closer to God. Now, I don't believe that suffering is required or even has particular benefits. Toughness is useful but making yourself intentionally uncomfortable more so than is necessary to achieve what you want, well, that takes away from something else that you could have put energy into. Usually people say, “Well, you can only have water because that's what mice had during a fast.” No, look at the entire history of fasting throughout the ages. Most of the time, people are drinking tea, they're drinking something. Then even from that perspective, well, there is such a thing as a dry fast, what's a real fast? The answer is you can fast from carbs, it's called the keto diet. You can fast from junk food, it's called eating healthier. You can fast from animal products if you want to and you want to get sick, and it's called the vegan diet. There's all sorts of things you can fast from. You can fast from alcohol. You can fast from social media. You can do what's called a dopamine fast, which a friend of mine coined the term, Cameron Sepah.
All of these are just simply saying, “If my body thinks I need it, but I don't actually need it.” You can train the body to be calm when it doesn't have it because the body thinks it needs things way before it actually does. This is why all of us at one time in our life, have said to a friend, “Wow, I can't wait for lunch. I'm starving.” Come on. Number one, you can wait for lunch. Number two, you're not starving, it takes you probably 90 days to starve to death. You're nowhere near starving. You just have a craving. If you had hunger instead of a craving, you would just say, “It’d be nice to eat lunch, but I could wait.”
Melanie Avalon: Okay, question about the suffering. This is something that has haunted me for a while ever since I read David Sinclair's Lifespan. I had him on the show and he's amazing.
Dave Asprey: He's a friend. I like him.
Melanie Avalon: I love David. He referenced a study on Lifespan, talking about I think it was mice on calorie-restricted diets. When they used a diet that suppressed satiety hormones, I think because it was high fiber, they didn't see the same beneficial effects as when the rats were not having those satiety hormones from the manipulated diet. Prior to that, prior to hearing that study, I was all on board with, “Oh, it's completely fine to not perceive hunger or cravings, because you've hacked your biology to be fasting and not feel hungry and have all these benefits.” But after hearing about that study, now I'm wondering if there is some sort of connection-- because we know that like sirtuins and all these epigenetic changes that happen from fasting, it is because our body perceives a lack of nutrients. Do you have any thoughts on the dissonance between the cellular perception of energy fuel not being there, and then our cognitive feeling that it's not there and then our appetite hormones? Can we have our cake and eat it too? Can we always be not hungry and fasted?
Dave Asprey: The evidence is pretty strong that you can, there are some nuances there. One of them is around your gut bacteria. If you're doing a fast in order to change your gut bacteria, and even something like a carnivore diet, okay, you're starving out certain species. When you're doing something like a 20-day water-only medically supervised fast, no doubt you're doing something to your gut bacteria. That's important. There's room for that. However, I've interviewed multiple, multiple experts on autophagy, who've all said, “Well, as long as you keep mTOR down and you keep insulin low, you're getting autophagy.” What I write in Fast This Way is okay, there's three fasting hacks that do that and they do it in studies. The fact that in a mouse study when they fed rats a high-fiber diet, it was high bulk fiber, not high soluble fiber. Why that did what it did, I don't exactly know. It's pretty different than if you do one of the things I talk about in Fast This Way with prebiotic fiber. When you do that, you're actually feeding good gut bacteria, the kind that are more present in thin people than heavy people, and you're not feeding the sugar eaters. You're manipulating your gut bacteria differently.
You don't have to do prebiotic fiber though to turn off hunger. It's just something that helps a lot of people. I'm particularly concerned about over fasting, because I've seen after The Bulletproof Diet came out, a lot of people sort of read through all that, “Keto.” Then they turn into keto bros, “If you have another carb, you're a bad person.” That actually breaks people, and it does it reliably over time. That's why it's a cyclical keto diet when you read the full thing. When I looked at what's happening with fasting, we ran into that same problem where, okay, mice did it this way, but what works for people who have a very different life and very different demands on their life. I would say that for the average metabolically less fit person, if they are going to say, “Tomorrow morning, I am going to do a water fast until noon or 2 in the morning,” they're going to meltdown. They are going to be really hungry, really cranky, really distracted, it's going to be miserable. They're not going to continue fasting, because it's horrible. I would have been one of those when I was heavy.
When you say, “Okay, black coffee. Let's see what does it do? Oh, it helps with sirtuins. Hmm, but it's not water.” It has polyphenols that feed bacteroidetes instead of firmicutes. “Hmm, that's helpful.” If you add even small amounts of butter the way I've been talking about for a long time, what that does, and it doesn't have to be 200 calories. People who are looking for a chance to criticize bulletproof to make their mark will say, “Well, it's 400 calories.” No, guys, it's however much fat you want to put your coffee based on your body weight and your energy demands, it's however many calories you want. Even half a teaspoon of butter-- I finally figured it out. I funded research at the University of Washington, a few years ago, I wrote them just an open check for 50 grand and said, “Look at water chemistry and tell me what you find out.”
Dr. Gerald Pollack, who's the guy behind exclusion-zone water, he came back and he said, “This is really cool.” It turns out that butter and MCT oil create the largest exclusion zone I've ever seen in water. This is when water changes its viscosity level, and this happens in the body you drink water, your body basically holds the water near cell membranes, which are made out of little droplets of fat. Then, it heats the water with 1200-nanometer infrared light, also known as body heat. After a little while, the water is converted into the exclusion-zone water. Then that's the water they use to make ATP and to fold proteins and all the water inside this cell is in this state.
Well, when you use a blender and a little bit of butter to do that, magically, when you drink that water, or coffee, as the case may be, tea, whatever you like to do, you end up having water that the body can more easily use to do autophagy and to do any biological process. This is why the Tibetans blend their Yak butter tea. They didn't have the science behind it, but they knew it worked better. For fat burning, that really works, and having some ketones present. Well, there is no carbohydrate, there's no protein. In fact, what you're doing is you're putting-- in fact, the liver doesn't even get involved in digesting MCTs. What you're doing is exactly what happens on day three of a longer fast. “Oh, there's ketones present, and there's no other nutrients. Hmm.” That looks an awful lot like the same as fasting to me.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that part of the book really blew my mind, about the butter and the exclusion-zone water. I had no idea. I mentioned this before we started the call, but I'm currently doing a deuterium depletion protocol where I'm just drinking deuterium-depleted water.
Dave Asprey: I'm laughing at you.
Melanie Avalon: It's okay.
Dave Asprey: Openly. No, I tried that about five years ago. I actually talked to a guy at Oxford who invented a new way to do it. I went really deep down the deuterium whole. What you'll find is that it's probably number 20 on the list of things, you could do it, it's a very low priority unless you're dying of cancer and rich. It's one of the things that's almost impossible to avoid. Even when you do it, most people don't feel a strong difference. The ROI on deuterium depletion is pretty low. It certainly has an effect, it's just not a massive effect.
Melanie Avalon: Did you test your levels before and after?
Dave Asprey: I didn't. I did it for a couple months religiously and--
Melanie Avalon: Just drinking the depleted water?
Dave Asprey: Yep. Didn't find-- but you're talking thousands and thousands of dollars to do that. Of course, when you're eating more fat and controlling your carbs and all that stuff that lowers deuterium, but it's one of those rounding errors. There's one guy in particular, who's every year or two, he finds a new demon, and scaremongers and writes extra complex content around it. For a while, that was the thing I kept hearing from his followers and I'm like, “Come on.” Let's look at this because you're missing potassium. You know about radioactive potassium?
Melanie Avalon: Do I know about radioactive potassium?
Dave Asprey: Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: No.
Dave Asprey: Okay. Have you heard of a banana equivalent dose of radiation?
Melanie Avalon: I have not.
Dave Asprey: Okay. Well, if you take a Geiger counter and wave it over a banana, the Geiger counter will start ticking. If you land a small Cessna after crossing a border into the US, I live in Canada, by the way, so I've done this a lot. They come out with a Geiger detector and wave it over the airplane to see if you're a terrorist or something. If you have bananas with you, they will set off the detector. What's going on here is that, well, in addition to the radioactive deuterium thing that gets in the way of mitochondrial function in a very small way that is hackable by other mechanisms, something like PQQ, you also end up with these radioactive potassium molecules that are present everywhere, and they're having a similar effect on the body. If you were to really look at eliminating trace sources of free radicals from radioactive elements in the body, deuterium is just one of the two you'd want to look at. It's one of those things where you can chase perfection, but really eliminating glyphosate from your diet is probably a thousand times more important than deuterium depletion.
Melanie Avalon: The reason deuterium came up was, I interviewed Dr. Que Collins recently, the perspective that he gave was very much in line actually with what you just said. He knows that drinking deuterium-depleted water can have a measurable effect on deuterium levels, but practically it's not really the solution and that you can make massive changes, probably even more so with diet, lifestyle, things like that. I really appreciate his perspective. I'm still doing the deuterium depletion protocol.
Dave Asprey: It's a cool biohack, I tried it too, and I didn't publicize it to great extent. Like, I don't think this is worth it, but if all water was deuterium depleted and it added one cent per bottle or something, it’d probably be good for us. But it's so low on the priority list that, like, let's fix our soil, let's all eat grass fed, let’s get rid of omega-6 oils, let's get rid of corn syrup, let's remove mycotoxins from our food supply, let's remove synthetic estrogens. All of those are going to whack you long before deuterium will.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. 100%. Something else you touched on, and I'm really glad you touched on it was the idea of if you're taking “calories,” well, actual calories, I don't know why “calories.” If you're taking calories with MCT oil, but you're not affecting things like insulin or mTOR, then is that still the fasted state? Again, on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, we have this clean fast idea, it's really my cohost, Gin Stephens’. As a big part of her approach to fasting is the “clean fast.” But I've always been of the perspective that if you're taking in compounds or things that are creating the epigenetic signaling that is created by fasting, I don't really see where the issue is, because there are a lot of compounds that we take in that stimulate the same sirtuins and the same effects that we would get from fasting. I think there's a lot of debate that can get hostile at times about the clean fast and what is fasting, but it sounds like, to make sure we're on the same page, if something is not affecting insulin, or mTOR, was there any other factors that you think?
Dave Asprey: Those are the two that are going to give you 90% of the benefits. The third one is around manipulation of gut bacteria. Just to be really clear, anytime someone is hostile in defending their unique view, we have crossed from curiosity in science, and we've crossed into the realm of religion and belief systems. I'll tell you why I think what I think, but there's no reason to get emotional for this, and people who are getting emotional and hostile and you see it so much in the low carb world. It's like, “Why are you guys fighting about this?” The fact that we disagree is fine. How about this, be the proof, actually do what you say, and show yourself and show others that it works and let them try it. It's not that hard to try these different protocols for a little while.
What I know from 10 years of working with hundreds of thousands of people on The Bulletproof Diet, is people reliably lose weight without thinking about food on the Bulletproof Diet. I had a client lose 75 pounds in 75 days with a modified thing called The Rapid Fat Loss Protocol. We know that it works. You could argue and maybe even conduct some university studies that show, “Oh, there's some percentage difference in one of the forms of autophagy.” It's possible. However, I want millions of people who don't intermittent fast now to be able to do it tomorrow morning and have more energy than they did before. I know that if they do it the way I'm talking about for six months-- or really two years, it takes two years to replace half the fat in your body. That's the half-life of fat in your membranes. If you do that, you will have healthier cells that make more power than they did before.
Then, one day, whether it's three months or two years, I can't tell you it depends on you, what you've been eating and how sick you've been, and all that stuff, you're going to wake up and say, “I think I'll just have coffee this morning black because I just don't need the MCTs,” but you'll probably add MCTs to the one meal a day you eat or wherever you end up. Me, let's see, it's one in the afternoon for me right now. I last ate yesterday-- I actually had dinner last night, which is where I ate at 5 last night and I've had black coffee this morning. Tomorrow, I'll probably have some butter and MCT in it. I can take it or leave it just depending on how I feel that morning. It's that they both work, it's okay, but when you're getting started out, there is no way that a 300-pound Dave, who's 29 years old, could possibly have shown up to work and been functional doing that. This is the state of 80% of the country who are metabolically unfit. It's totally okay to use training wheels on a fast.
Then, when you are inexperienced faster to go, “You know what? I slept like crap last night and I don't feel very good and my brain is foggy. I'm going to take this during my fast.” I talk about the supplements you can take during fasting including activated charcoal, which really helps. On those mornings where your HRV is a bit low, add the butter in the MCT. It's not like you can be just right or wrong. It's a continuum. I look at this as very practical and actionable, and it's actually kind because we can see there's health influencers and people who have regained their health and whatever 10%,11% body fat and I have all this energy and I'm like better than I've ever been, and yeah, just have water, go for it. I could do that. I don't think that is what's going to work for most of the world.
Melanie Avalon: In my Facebook group, which is really where my main community is, we have only a few rules and one is be kind and one is you have to be accepting to everybody's viewpoints because it just drives me crazy. People get so hostile. They think there's a right and wrong, when maybe different things work for different people.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, I kick people out if they're not kind, This is my house, you come in here and you crap on the rug in my living room, you don't get to come back here. I don't have any guilt over it either. It's a matter of respecting and taking care of the people who are there to learn versus the people are there to prove their right.
Melanie Avalon: Also, to that point, recently there was that study-- what was it? It was the one that came out recently, where the fasting makes you lose muscle and makes you-- was it in JAMA? People were so scared that this study came out. I was just thinking that there's no reason to be scared about a study. It's going to show information, if the information “validates” what you are experiencing, then great. If it shows something else, there's no reason to have fear. That's just information. I feel very strongly about this.
Dave Asprey: Curiosity is a great canceler of fear. You look at that and go, “Hmm, what did they do?” I'm forgetting the guy's name who did this study, but he said, “Oh, I'm going to quit intermittent fasting.” Well, there's some interesting stuff. Okay, you look at-- is maintaining muscle mass good? I don't even think it is because guess what happens when you lose muscle mass? You gain it back, and you get fresh, healthy young cells made of good fats. So, the idea that you're supposed to hold on to all the cells in your body, it's absurd. What you are, is you're an eddy moving through a river of matter, your body doesn't even exist. At the end of this podcast, the body you have will be measurably different, the composition of the cells themselves than it was at the beginning. It's fine if muscle mass goes up and down a little bit. Only bodybuilders are saying, “Oh, we have to maintain muscle mass.” They don't maintain muscle mass. They have a muscle mass that is continually replenished. If it goes down and goes up a little bit, who cares? As long as it goes back up.
Melanie Avalon: One of the fasting types that you talk about in the book is protein fasting. I still remember the first time I read about that because I think you mentioned it in The Bulletproof Diet.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, it was in The Bulletproof Diet. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Could it be possible that a person could perpetually just recycle their own proteins forever? I know, L-arginine, I think, is the one amino acid that is essential essential to the point that you have to get it from diet. All the other amino acids, you can in theory recycle from yourself. I'm sure if you have any thoughts about how long you could do that?
Dave Asprey: Well, we have these people who claim to be breatharians. People doing extreme fasting, they tend to always lose muscle mass. My experience with maybe there is a breatharian. There's a few people that they sat under a tree for 80 days or something with people watching them, maybe that's real, but the vast majority of them, they're eating or drinking, they just don't know they're doing, and then mitochondria take over. It's like, “Okay, we got you.” Then there's no recollection that you did it, but there's a candy bar wrapper next to you, but it wasn't you. I think there's some weird stuff that happens when you push things that hard. We're going to assume that we don't have a proven breatharian that's measurable and all that sort of stuff. I'm sure there are things you can do to conserve proteins, but I don't know that we have any studies about how long you can do it. There's no one who's going to maintain a heavier than average muscle mass if they're just recycling their own protein. Even L-arginine really interesting. I've talked about supplementing it. A study just came out, actually, just very recently, that showed actually pretty disturbing negative results from arginine supplementation. [laughs] I was like, “Oh, man, this might not be something you want to amp up more than before.” I've always been a fan of ornithine more than L-arginine because they have some similar effects, but who would have thought.
Melanie Avalon: I did have some lingering questions about the gut bacteria fasting, because I asked for questions from you and got a lot of them and people did want to know more about taking fiber to support the gut bacteria in the fasted state. One of the things you talk about in Fast This Way, which I was not aware of that fasted gut bacteria released fasting-induced adipose factor. Does it matter a person's baseline state of gut bacteria because there's so much gut dysbiosis today, do you think most people will respond favorably to supplementing this prebiotic fiber while fasting or does it sort of depends on what gut bacteria you have going on down there?
Dave Asprey: If you don't have SIBO, most people do respond favorably. One of the complaints that you've probably heard from some people when intermittent fasting or going on a lower-carb diet is constipation. This will solve that problem. It also maintains and increases the number of species of gut bacteria. I used the formula that I talked about in the book. I tested it out really extensively when I was writing Super Human, my big anti-aging book. I quadrupled the number of species, not just the total volume, but the number of species of bacteria in my gut by feeding them soluble fiber. There are hundreds of studies that show increases longevity. You'll see some of the carnivore community-- and just to be really clear on that, the carnivore diet, if you look at The Bulletproof Diet roadmap, which has been downloaded probably 10 million times at this point, it's the summary of The Bulletproof Diet, there's a green zone of the bulletproof foods. If you were to eat a carnivore diet, you're in the green zone of The Bulletproof Diet. But what they find is radical shifts in gut bacteria and they say, “Well, this is probably more like it used to be,” but most of the populations, [unintelligible [00:30:51] people, that they're eating a lot of soluble fiber, in addition to a lot of meat.
So, I would say the preponderance of evidence is that is pretty good for you. We have no data that I've been able to find about the specific species that are making fasting-induced adipose factors, just science that has been done yet. But we do know that gut bacteria, in general, make this. For listeners who haven't read that, I mentioned [unintelligible [00:31:15] in The Bulletproof Diet as well. Your liver makes this thing that makes the body burn more fat and/or store fat based on how much you eat, whether there's food present, etc., etc. But the gut bacteria amplify the signal. It is my supposition that having healthier, more diverse, more abundant gut bacteria, basically more of the good guys, is likely to make that problem less of a problem.
One thing that we do know is that fat people-- and I just say fat people, because I was one and it's okay to be fat or to have been fat, it's just something that you want to work on. Fat people have more firmicutes and less bacteroidetes. One of the neat things about fat is that fat is antimicrobial. It actually suppresses most types of bacteria in the gut. When you're doing like a bulletproof coffee or any of the fat-only sort of things, you're basically clobbering your gut bacteria on the head. But if you have polyphenols present, that would be coffee, or tea, what happens is that they are a prebiotic for the bacteroidetes’ family. These are the ones that are more abundant in thin people than fat people. Since we have studies that say you can take gut bacteria, and take them from fat mice, or from fat people and put them in thin people, and thin people get obese, and you can take thin people bacteria and put them in fat people and they get thinner, we know that changing that ratio really matters. Feed stuff that is clinically shown certain types of soluble fiber to increase the types of bacteria that you want present in the gut, even during a fast.
During the time of the fast when you're whacking your gut bacteria over the head with fat, you might as well feed the ones you want to grow afterwards. If you put polyphenols and soluble fiber that feeds the good ones preferentially, what you're doing is you're creating a clean level playing field, but then you're feeding the guys you want to be present. I think this is a less understood and less appreciated part of fasting. You can use those tools during the fast. This might even be why during traditional spiritual fasts, they're drinking tea.
Melanie Avalon: I think it's so huge. Then on the flip side of that with the gut bacteria, I often say that LPS is the bane of my existence. That's something I love that you talk about, is some of the symptoms that people might experience while fasting, negative symptoms, could be from the release of LPS from gut bacteria dying.
Dave Asprey: There's pretty much two big sources of it, aside from just blood sugar dysregulation. One of them is when you burn fat that's stored in your body, you're releasing enormous amounts of heavy metals and pesticides and all this stuff your body sequestered in fat. Anytime they do a fat biopsy, you find tons of this stuff in there. One of my older blog posts about the Rapid Fat Loss Protocol, the subtext was how to lose weight faster than you should, because people who lose a lot of fat quickly get profound brain fog. That is coming from basically mercury and other things, including mycotoxins and pesticides that hit the brain because they all enter circulation and the liver just can't clean them out. This is why you have to use activated charcoal in support with glutathione if you're going to do something like that. That's one aspect of it.
The other one is, when gut bacteria are stressed, they follow the same algorithm of life that we follow. The first thing you do when you're stressed is you run away from, kill, or hide from scary things, including starvation. Your gut bacteria’s like, “How do we kill scary things?” We make lipopolysaccharides, LPS because that basically is a signal to all other life forms around, “Hey, this is my food source, get away.” They pump out more LPS. Then that causes systemic inflammation, it's shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, and then increase inflammation in the brain. Then you get hangry, hypogly bitchy, cranky, and foggy and all this stuff, that was the definition of my life when I was heavy, the whole chronic fatigue syndrome side of things. It's a relatively easy thing to handle to take activated charcoal, and it's proven to stick to LPS. If your gut bacteria are stressed, because you're re-engineering the composition of what's in your gut, when you do these practices, you're not going to feel the pain. Or you can say, “I just had water, activated charcoal is not water, therefore I'll just deal with it.” Well, I don't want to deal with it. I don't deal with writing something that matters or playing with my kids. We all have enough stress, you don't need to add extra stress, because you just chose a painful route of fasting.
Melanie Avalon: Bringing everything together, I've had Wim Hof on the show, and I love him. I love the experiments he's done on his method and mindset, and how the body literally responds to LPS, because that's what they use in his experiments as the toxin responds to with the immune system. I love they found that your immune system can be modulated to be more anti-inflammatory based on basically your mindset, which is just incredible.
Another huge topic that you talk about in the book that people are very interested in, is fasting for women. You talk about your hesitancies surrounding fasting for women. Well, to start things off, I think the nuances about studies in rodents is probably something to keep in mind because rodents, for example-- fasting for a rodent, like a 24-hour fast, because oftentimes just studies will be a 24-hour fast and a rodent. That's often-- I mean, that would be the equivalent of days in humans. I think that's often not accounted for. Then, you mention in the book about how rodents are popping out baby rodents on a much faster timeline, so dietary changes are probably making a bigger effect, but what do you think are the dangers for fasting in women? Should we proceed with caution?
Dave Asprey: No, women absolutely benefit from intermittent fasting. What I don't want to see happen is, what I've seen so many times when someone read The Bulletproof Diet and I get on the phone with a woman, and she's like, “I've never felt better in my life. I started intermittent fasting. I'm on the low carb side of things.” In the book, don't I talk about carbohydrate refeeds and how at least once in probably twice a week you can have some carbs, and you can even just go low carb and do intermittent fasting and still people approve, just don't eat toxic carbs? They go, “Yeah, but I felt so good.” Then, after usually six weeks for women on intermittent fasting, especially in combination with keto, but it can be from just keto or just intermittent fasting, they'll call and be like, “Dave, my sleep isn't-- I wake up and I feel hungover, I didn't sleep.” This was before most people had an Oura ring or access to good tech like that. I did the same thing when I was field-testing the bulletproof type before I wrote the book, I did three months of zero carbs whatsoever, and it wrecked my sleep. I slept with a headband on that monitored my sleep back then. I'm waking up 12 times a night and I don't remember it, but no wonder I feel like garbage in the morning. It's funny, carbs fix it. I'd have these conversations over and over.
Then, in the last couple years, I've seen more women saying intermittent fasting, but, man, my sleep goes away. Then a couple weeks later, “I'm having an irregular cycle that I didn't used to have.” “Hmm.” Then, I look back at the interviews I did with say Bree Schaaf, who's an Olympic medalist. She's, “Oh, I just went keto because it completely eliminated my cycle. It made my athletic performance highly predictable.” Yeah, but eliminating your cycle might not be what you wanted to do nutritionally, because that's a really stress state for someone. What I want women to know is that you don't have to fast the same amount every day. There's a new study with Dr. Murat out of Australia, who looked at women doing intermittent fasting three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and they found that ketones rose over the course of the week, and they were losing weight and they were getting metabolic benefits.
Here's the thing, don't do the same fast every single day, you do not have to do it. It's okay to do a 12-hour fast when you're menstruating. It's okay to do no fast when menstruating. If you're a very experienced faster, and it works for you, and you feel better, then do it while you're menstruating. But it's this rigidness that doesn't respect the fertility cycles of women that gets women into trouble. It's always sleep, then hormones, then thinning hair. It's so predictable and reliable. I don't want a world where anyone says I tried it for a while and then I had these side effects, fasting doesn't work. Then we go back to eating 12 meals a day of processed synthetic meat garbage. That's not where the world needs to go.
Melanie Avalon: 100%. You talked about the study with fasting and kisspeptin and how it encouraged the release of estrogen and progesterone. Was that for all women, or was that for postmenopausal women only, do you remember?
Dave Asprey: I don't know, in that particular study. I just don't remember from having read it.
Melanie Avalon: I found that really fascinating. There was this idea or takeaway that I got was that, that women were less likely to encounter the problems postmenopausal with fasting.
Dave Asprey: It's true that post menopause, women tend to do really well with fasting, but not necessarily longer, multi-day fasts, but intermittent fasting works really well. I just interviewed Margaret Paul, on my show. She's 81 and she's been intermittent fasting for 59 years. She says, “When I was young, I would do four and five-day fast in the 60s and 70s, I just find as I age, intermittent fasting works every day. I always have dinner by 5:45 and I do an intermittent fast for--” I think hers was 16 hours, if I remember, right, but you should see her, she looks like she's 60. She completely different biology, and she also eats a very clean diet. We know that this works over time. What I want people to know is you can do it tomorrow and feel good. Perfection is not required. But over-fasting is a danger. It's a closer danger for women than it is for men, but I don't think women shouldn’t fast. I think women absolutely should fast because it benefits them greatly to get their insulin under control. It's important, but just doing it the way that works for men, it doesn't work the same for women.
Melanie Avalon: I think that's a wonderful message. Then circling back, because there were some other questions I want to ask about the MCT oil, the amount of time and hours I've spent reading scientific studies about C8 versus C10, I'm just fascinated by it. Do you think C8, is it capable at all of actually being stored as body fat? This question has haunted me. I don't know if it actually can be.
Dave Asprey: I do not believe so, I have never seen a study that says it can be and it's not found in body fat assays that I've seen either. If someone has a study, otherwise, I'd love to see it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so. It's funny, because in the early days of MCT, these are actually the 80s. Bodybuilders use it for a little while and they always talked about getting obscene amounts of diarrhea from it, but they liked the energy. When I started Bulletproof, I was trying to figure out like, “How do I solve that problem, because the stuff is powerful, but disaster pants is a thing.” I went out and I did a lot of research on the manufacturer of MCT, like I did with coffee. What I ended up with was realizing that there are byproducts that are present when MCT is made if it's not made in certain ways, and one is called C17, there's other one called C23. These are all chain fatty acids that are really disturbing to the gut, and small amounts of those are in there. Some of the MCT was actually being made on cosmetic machines that had cosmetic ingredients still in them and things like that.
I tested a pure C8, which to my knowledge no one had done. I said, “Hmm, it's interesting, I can feel a difference from this one, it’s actually stronger.” That was the one that I took to market because I knew it worked better. Then about five years later, Dr. [unintelligible [00:43:24] at UC San Diego tested, you have to use the Bulletproof brand of C8 for the study. He found that it was four times more ketogenic than coconut oil and way more ketogenic than C10, then C12 which is in a lot of MCT oil you can buy today. C12 is technically a medium chain. Unfortunately, it is metabolized like a long-chain fat in the liver. I don't even think it should be legally called a medium chain. That was an old scientific thing or some guy just ran, it was, I don't know if it's 12 or less, it's medium. If it's less than 6, it's short. But metabolically speaking, C10 elevates ketones but not nearly as well as C8. If you make either of those and you are not doing the triple distillation and filtering process that we do, you have a higher chance of having disaster pants side effects.
Melanie Avalon: I wish it was more known the difference between like C8, C10 coconut oil because I think so many people just think coconut oil and they think MCTs.
Dave Asprey: Coconut oil is 5% Brain Octane, it's not even the same thing. Coconut oil, a tablespoon of that puts you in as much ketosis as eight hours of sleeping. In other words, it doesn't do much at all.
Melanie Avalon: I actually personally tried an experiment where I started adding-- because I can handle very high doses of MCT. I probably started adding about 4000 or 5000 worth of calories every day just with C8 and I lost weight. I was doing it actually try to gain weight because I thought it was easier to digest. I was like, “Well, I'll just add thousands and thousands of calories of C8,” and it the complete opposite effect.
Dave Asprey: The idea that energy will make you gain weight doesn't seem to be very accurate.
Melanie Avalon: I know. Something's going on there.
Dave Asprey: Sounds like calories in, calories out is a scam, but hey, that makes people so mad when you say that. I'm sorry, it just doesn't work. Then there's another one of my favorite studies, I don't remember if I wrote this one up in Fast This Way, but in animal research, they take a little wax pellet that is made out of a concentrated mold toxin called zearalenone. It's actually called Zeranol. Ranchers buy it and they put it in an industrial cows’ ear, and it soaks in through the high amount of blood flow that enters circulation in the cow. Then the cow gets fat on 30% less calories. If that drug can exist, calories in calories out is completely blown out. Okay, maybe calories are useful as a way of thinking about things some of the time, but really, if that exists, this whole law of thermodynamics thing that usually young people who've been healthy their whole life, they would like to stand up and say, “Oh, it's all about calories,” blah, blah, blah. But no one who's ever been fat and lost weight on low-calorie diet comes roaring back and all those things. We all know that that doesn't work. We need to get that out of our consciousness. It's all about a lot more than energy.
Melanie Avalon: Do you think it ever will leave the popular consciousness?
Dave Asprey: Oh, sure. Might not be in our lifetime. It's bad, false advice. It doesn't work. There's people like you and me talking about it. When you see someone sitting next to you, or better yet. someone on social media, who you know, like a friend in a Facebook group, or a family member, whoever, and they've been fat their whole life and suddenly, in a year, they're thin, and they're better energy and better looking and happier. “What did you just do?” “That's funny, I eat more, or maybe I ate the same amount, but I changed the composition of what I ate.” It's getting out there. This is why The Bulletproof Diet could grow over the last 10 years, why keto could grow, why intermittent fasting could grow. It used to take 30 or 40 years for this stuff to get out there. Look at the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet was the first keto diet. I have one of the first editions of the Atkins diet, it came out the year I was born. I keep it because if that information had been widely available when I was 16 or 19, it would have changed my life, but I never heard of it, and most people hadn't. They created a movement that took 25 years to do. Now, we have the power to do it in three years. Look at where intermittent fasting was three years ago. You could say, “Well, yeah, Dave.” Ten years ago, like you were talking about it, I was talking about it. Still, it's relatively quickly now that things can emerge and we can just test it. If million people try it and we're all talking about it, it gets out there. We just didn't have the speed of information dissemination that we do now.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, especially with things like podcasts and all of everything is absolutely amazing. Actually, one of the first-- I'm not proud to admit this, but speaking of calories in, calories out, probably the first crazy diet experiment I tried was, I was doing research and I realized that basically the hardest thing to store as body fat was protein and alcohol. I was pretty much eating just meat and drinking wine and it worked really well. I will say, I'm not proud of it, not advertising that. It just speaks to, there's a lot more than calories.
Dave Asprey: Alcohol is interesting because your body will burn alcohol for energy because it's a toxin, and easy to get it out of there. It'll burn that before it even burns ketones. It definitely isn't going to get stored but unfortunately, alcohol comes usually with sugar. In the case of wine, you're getting higher levels of fermentation byproducts, things like ochratoxin A, things like histamine or other biogenic amines. Those mess with your mitochondria. Over time, like, “Oh, look, I burned the alcohol.” But then over time, you get problems either with organ systems or with cell membranes that are a result of the toxin load that's in there. I'd say if you were to do wine and took some activated charcoal, which can be-- it does stick to ochratoxin A, at least pretty good amount, you might need to add some other stuff to it as well. You eat your meat, you probably have been better off, and then how you cook your meat matters and where the meat comes from matters. Those are variables that you just can't ignore.
Melanie Avalon: There's often a lot of debate about the grass fed versus conventional meat, and to what extent does the animal's diet affect the actual meat. The toxins and the omega-3, omega-6 ratio. If you're sensitive to soy, for example, and the animal ate soy, are you going to react to the meat? Where do you fall on that spectrum?
Dave Asprey: There isn't a clear answer that because it depends why you're sensitive to soy and how sensitive you are. There is evidence that people with strong allergies to corn and soy will react to meat from corn- and soy-fed animals, which makes sense because there's a small amount of it present. That's how biology works. But the bigger concern is that the fatty acid composition of grass-fed beef really is provably different than industrially raised meat, as well as the-- I mention those added thousand times stronger xenoestrogens, there's glyphosate, there's antibiotic residues. There's also something that no one talks about that's really important. Industrially raised crowded animals eating that kind of diet form very high amounts of amyloid, which is hard for the body to clear. When someone stands up and says, “Well, they're the same.” What they did is they put on blinders and they removed all, if they didn't look, or they removed a bunch of stuff that's in there. Then they can say, “Well, look at all these things that are the same, therefore it's the same.” When you look at the totality of it, not even accounting for the building of the soil, which is important right now, grass-fed meat makes you feel different and it does have different fatty acids in it, and it is a much healthier food choice. I have not eaten an industrial animal in more than a decade. The reason I did that is for a while there was like, “Oh, I'm at a restaurant, I'll just do whatever.” Every time I do it, you feel different the next morning, it's not the same.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. For listeners, I'll put a link in the show notes. I did an interview with Teri Cochrane and we dive deep into the amyloid formation and conventional animals. I think it's huge. A question I asked her, and she didn't know the answer to, but I would love to hear your thoughts on. We know that the stressed crowding conditions of animals creates these plaques, are these amyloid proteins that are truncated, and we can't digest them. Do you think because fish are at a lower consciousness level? Maybe they don't perceive stress the same way and they might not be as susceptible to amyloid formations and their protein? I wonder if-- since pig is really intelligent, if it would be more likely to have more of the amyloid formation. I don't know if you've ever thought about this.
Dave Asprey: I think the amyloid formation is more biological stress than cognitive stress, so to speak. I think though physical stress can come from other things as well. You can have physical stress from a bad diet, from bad gut bacteria. It's not just crowding that's causing amyloid. It's also any form of stress. You don't eat highly stressed animals, especially animals that lived under stress for long periods of time. That's what's going on there. I think it's a total stress. I don't know of a study of amyloid levels in farmed salmon, but if I can bet, I bet you that it's higher than in wild-caught. You shouldn't eat farmed salmon anyway, that stuff is bad.
Melanie Avalon: Speaking of salmon, omegas. Omega-sixes, polyunsaturated fats, I feel that's the new thing for being seen as a huge, huge inflammatory potential in our body and some people think it's the only thing or the main thing. Where does it fall on your level of inflammatory potential? Are you at all a fan of PUFA depletion diets?
Dave Asprey: The Bulletproof Diet is a PUFA-depleting diet. It was one of the big pillars of The Bulletproof Diet 10 years ago when I first blogged and in 2014, I published the book. It says, “Minimize omega-6 oils if you're going to eat them, eat them in whole form from refrigerated nuts or avocados, but not a lot.” I've been PUFA depleting for 14 years now. The recommendation in The Bulletproof Diet is, eat at least half of your calories, of your fat calories from saturated fats, that's at least half and the rest should be primarily monounsaturated. I've been doing that for a very long time, and it works fantastically well for a whole variety of reasons. So, I think it's very important and it's doubly so if you're talking about eating fried stuff at restaurants where the oil is used over and over. I've been talking actually for several years now on my show. If you have a choice between a plate of french fries and smoking a cigarette, you should say no to both. But if you were forced at gunpoint to do one, you should smoke the cigarette, because, well, nicotine is anti-Alzheimer's and you only have 24 hours of inflammation from the cigarette but you have 48 hours of worse inflammation from the fried stuff because of the Omega-6s. I like to think I'm one of the early voices saying do that. You look at how I formulated the Bulletproof Collagen Bars. I looked at how much fat can I get in there and how do I make sure it's got the right fatty acid profile? I built the bars from the ground up to not have high levels of omega-6.
Melanie Avalon: Glad that we're on the same page. Yeah, that's something I think is so huge, and especially on the Intermittent Fasting podcast, whenever we get any questions about not losing weight-- well, really not losing weight. I always try to just casually slip in there, you might want to try minimizing the omega-6s. That's something that I hope becomes even more appreciated globally in the consciousness.
Dave Asprey: I'm not allowed to say the name of the company yet, but I just made an investment in a company that I think is going to solve the problem. It's going to be hard to sell canola oil when there's a replacement that's stable, that's 25% the cost. Give it time.
Melanie Avalon: I'm so excited. Yay. This is very exciting.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, I know. We're going to change the world that way. We're going to have a lot of land going. Man, no one wants the corn and soy on this land. Maybe we could put grass on it.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, hey, here's an idea. Speaking of smoking, one thing I love that you talk about openly that a lot of people don't talk about very much is smart nicotine supplementation.
Dave Asprey: I think I'm the guy who put that out in biohacking. Am I not?
Melanie Avalon: Probably, I don't know.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, I did the first podcast with-- I call him Dr. Nicotine from Vanderbilt University about five years ago and started talking about it as a cognitive enhancer. It's in my Super Human book as an anti-aging supplement, where using one to four milligrams a day, starting in your 40s to help stave off some of the cognitive decline that happens with age.
Melanie Avalon: Do you use a patch or do you chew nicotine gum?
Dave Asprey: The cleanest source is Lucy, the nicotine gum. That's just because Nicorette, all of the lozenges and gums are full of neurotoxic, gut bacteria toxic sweeteners, and it's a major problem. For me, I'll either use-- there's a spray available in Europe and Canada. I live in Canada, so it's easy. The Nicorette mix that relatively has one of the least offensive artificial sweeteners and very low doses. Or, I'll chew the gum. I don't generally use a patch. I tried them-- maybe going back 10 years ago, I tried patches, I cut them in pieces and all, and I find it hard to dose with patches. I remember my very first podcast producer, she calls me up one day, she's like, “Dave, you told me about nicotine. I just put a patch on, I'm so happy. I'm doing so well.” She'd bought 25 milligrams the highest dose patch and she left it on, and she turned green and started throwing up. [laughs] I was like, “You did that wrong.”
Melanie Avalon: That happened to me.
Dave Asprey: Did it? Okay, it's like low dose. Low dose, guys.
Melanie Avalon: 100%. I hadn't thrown up since college and then I was like dying. I was like, “What is happening to me?” I actually still use the patches, but I cut them very, very small, but, yeah, I agree that could be hard to dose though. I really want to try NMN or NR patches. Have you tried those?
Dave Asprey: Of course, I try everything-- I'm lying. I've actually tried NAD patches directly, not NR. There's some conversations out there that says NAD can't enter cells directly, but we have really good evidence that that's not how it works. Likely, the reason that data came out there had to do with one of the things they were doing in the lab that would have blocked uptake of NAD that was like a medium they use, I saw a paper on that a long time ago. But we know that when people do intravenous NAD, it [unintelligible [00:57:59] cells. You can see it from IM injections and from patches. I've done all those. We actually do some of those at Upgrade Labs, my biohacking facility company, and people feel big difference. Your best bet though for nicotinamide mononucleotide [unintelligible [00:58:20] as an NAD precursor is actually to use it rectally, which is not as pleasant, but probably works 10 times better than a patch.
Melanie Avalon: Well, I feel like a lot of my listeners do coffee enemas and all this stuff, so maybe they'll be open to it.
Dave Asprey: Well, the most important thing there is just make sure you cool the coffee off first, all right?
Melanie Avalon: Oh, wait. Have you ever put butyrate in a coffee enema? Ah, that smells.
Dave Asprey: Butyrate smells like feed. Like it's just bad. I take butyrate capsules, I have for a lot of years. it's in butter. There's several studies I cited, I think in The Bulletproof Diet, about the oral effects of butyrate being different than self-generated butyrate in the gut. I like to make a lot because I take my prebiotic fiber quite often in my bulletproof coffee. Other times, I'll mix it in food or whatever, but I do 20 to 40 grams of soluble fiber a day, but not just any soluble fiber. I'm not talking whole grains and all that garbage. I'm talking tree sap that's been purified, that is the feeds that gut bacteria you want.
Melanie Avalon: I never opened a capsule until I decided to do an enema with it, and I will never do that again.
Dave Asprey: Just because of the smell?
Melanie Avalon: The smell, and it doesn't go away. I could not make it go away.
Dave Asprey: It's like cat pee in that you can't get it out. Even if you hold butyric acid capsules in your hand, your hand smells like old cheese for a while. Once it's in your gut, it does really magic things. I would prefer to swallow it if it was me.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, take it orally. Well, now I'm just dying to know because you are the king of biohacking. Your day-to-day life, what are all the things you're doing? I feel like I'm doing all the things and I'm really crazy, but what are you doing day to day every day, like blue light blocking glasses, red light therapy, sauna, cold?
Dave Asprey: Let’s talk blue light blocking for a minute. Blue light blocking glasses are bad for you. Hands down.
Melanie Avalon: Okay.
Dave Asprey: Here's why. During the day, if you wear blue blockers, you're getting none of the signal that your body needs to know it's daytime. It's too much during the day. If you wear blue-blocking glasses at night, you're blocking one of the three spectrums that control the SDN, the timing system. That's why I started a company that would make the proper glasses. It's called TrueDark, and it's actually patented. There's three variables in light on top of the four frequencies of light that you have to control if you really want to sleep well from glasses, but wearing blue blockers during the day is cutting off-- the strongest single signal that you have for circadian timing is blue light. You see me wearing my yellow glasses, they're TrueDark, they're blocking 75% of blue, but they're allowing some through, so they're optical filters, not just blue blockers. You see a bunch of these like acrylic-framed, made in China blue blockers, that's you're not doing it right. [laughs] That's like 1990s tech.
Melanie Avalon: My daily blue light glass timeline is, I don't wear any in the morning. I actually use a daylight device that is really high lux. Then midday-ish, when I'm looking at the computer or probably after midday, I put on clear ones that just--
Dave Asprey: Yeah, those are common. Those are 40%. We make those as well there. They might not be enough, but as long as you turn your screen brightness down, you're probably fine. You're not sitting under LED lights, obviously, in an office building.
Melanie Avalon: Right. Okay. Then I transition to the yellow-tinged ones. Then right before bed, I transition to the super red, every day, rinse and repeat.
Dave Asprey: You're doing it very well.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, I'll keep doing it then. What are the main biohacking things in your daily life?
Dave Asprey: I wake up, I do a similar thing where I have 220-watt halogen bulbs that are mounted where they would be at sunrise. When I wake up, I turn those on. Like you said, high lux matters. The color of the light isn't that important. I find halogen works very, very well for that. I've tested a lot of different stuff. I think I find most of the intense blue light or green light LED devices in the morning, they do have a circadian effect, but I think they're bad for your eyes. There's that. It depends on the morning, whether I'm dropping my kids off at school or whatever the deal is, but I'll usually have like a shot of espresso I made with mold-free beans obviously. I'll take a handful of Nootropics anti-aging supplements, a few liquid ones that I take, I'll put in the coffee. Then I do some basic, like goal setting and some exercise things from Dr. Barry Morguelan, his Energy for Success stuff, which has been really powerful. He was a surprisingly my most popular guest in 2018 on the show, even though a lot of people haven't heard of his work. He's the real-life Doctor Strange, UCLA surgeon from Kentucky, who went to China and studied in remote monasteries where no white guy’s ever been allowed and came back with some just incredible knowledge. He's a dear friend, and I've been using his meditation practices and that's been powerful.
I will often stand on the Bulletproof Vibe for a little while. I basically pick a biohack and this is something I think will be really helpful for you. It's that you might extend your life for a long period of time. However, if you spend eight hours a day worrying about biohacking, you will end up being stressed and your life was longer but most of the extra time was spent breathing something weird or in a cold shower. [laughs] I basically set aside an hour where I'm going to do something and maybe it's an infrared sauna, maybe I'm doing some additional red-light therapy, maybe I'll do cryotherapy, maybe I'll do resistance bands with blood flow restriction, maybe I'll do electrical stimulation, maybe I'll do neurofeedback. But the deal is I'm going to spend some amount of time each day doing something like that. Then, if I'm going to have a bulletproof coffee that morning, I'll make the bulletproof coffee then. Lately, I've had-- because of the book launch for Fast This Way, I've had a pretty tight schedule, sometimes eight interviews in a day, as well as managing the teams of my multiple companies. I've been really cutting corners.
We have a new creamer, finally after a long time of trying to get a coffee creamer that was right. It's got acacia gum, which is one of the most important prebiotic fibers and grass-fed butter and MCT, and that's it. I'll put a scoop of that in and blend it, which saves me time from getting butter and pouring and Brain Octane. I'll do that. I also have supplements then that are better taken with fat, I'll take those with fat. Then I usually start work.
Melanie Avalon: You put your “biohack” in the morning?
Dave Asprey: I do. Throughout the day, like sometimes I'm standing, I have a wobble board here. Sometimes, if I'm working on something that's compatible, I'll do PEMF at my desk, I'll do additional light therapy. One of the things that my glasses company that TrueDark makes, we have a light therapy that's got red infrared and amber. Amber has a really important biological effect that is missing from the light therapy industry. I use that because it affects capillaries and small blood vessels as well as collagen formation. Sometimes I'll put that over a part of my body while I'm working at my desk. But so much of my day is spent on Zoom, you don't want to always be like blinking with red and yellow, but sometimes I'll do that. Sometimes I'll do hypoxic therapy in the morning, which is from Upgrade Labs, because I have a whole Upgrade Labs at my house because I beta test everything before we roll it out in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica and soon in Victoria. Sometimes, I'll do hyperbaric, but basically, I pick something.
Melanie Avalon: Do you have a chamber at your house?
Dave Asprey: Yeah, I've had one for 10 years.
Melanie Avalon: Actually, I haven't done that.
Dave Asprey: If you did 40 sessions of hyperbaric relatively close to the space 40 sessions over the course of a couple months, it is profoundly anti-aging, and most people who have a head injury-- and I know this because my neuroscience facility, 40 Years of Zen, we've had about 1000 people come through. The vast majority of them electrically, like, “Did you ever hear head--?” “No.” You ask him 5 or 10 times, and he's like, “Oh, yeah. When I was four, I was unconscious for--” “Yeah, that.” You can see it electrically. Most people have just when they're kid, you fall down on your head, whatever. Hyperbaric will fix very old brain injuries. I interviewed Dr. Amen, who's a dear friend, yesterday for my show. He's like, “This is one of the big things that's affecting millions of people, but they don't recognize that the way your personality is, the way your brain functions today, is partly because of the hit to the head.” Hyperbaric is the fix for that. I interviewed Dr. Harch about that on Bulletproof Radio a while back where we talked about that.
Melanie Avalon: I had Dr. Amen on the show, and I did a brain SPECT scan and he definitely saw indications of some injuries in my brain. Then, I've had Dr. Kirk Parsley on the show and he's recently been doing a lot of studies with hyperbaric oxygen stuff, and I've just been thinking a lot about it. I need to try this.
Dave Asprey: It's totally worth it. I'm trying to think there's one other guy I should interview about-- oh, Dom D'Agostino, I think. Yeah, Bulletproof Radio might have been the first show he went on. He was one of my first like 20 guests and I'm at 800 episodes. He's been a really big researcher in hyperbaric plus keto, and I'm sure, fasting, well, in hyperbaric would be even better.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, to-do list.
Dave Asprey: Here's how to do it. I think you and your listeners, and I've talked about this on Bulletproof Radio, too, you can buy a chamber and use the chamber for a while and then sell it on Craigslist. Everybody wants a chamber, and you can probably find one there, but they don't lose value very much if you'd only use it for a little while. Look around for used one, if you can't find one, buy a new one, and sell it to someone and pass it on. That's cheaper than driving somewhere if you can find somewhere open and then finding a facility and then using it. There isn't strong evidence that you need a metal-sided chamber although the recent study in Israel, where they found that hyperbaric length and telomere length, they did use a hard-sided 2-atmosphere chamber, you can only get 1.4 atmospheres at home legally in the US. Although some people change the valves and those outs you can get 1.5 or 1.6 atmospheres. That's not a legal modification to make. I don't know why anyone has the right to make a law about how pressurized your chamber at your own home can be. I don't think that's a valid law, but you're not supposed to change those out.
Melanie Avalon: Is there a danger there with the pressure potentially?
Dave Asprey: From going from 1.4 atmospheres to 1.5 or 1.6? No. [laughs] It's pretty nominal.
Melanie Avalon: Never having used one, I can't even visualize like what the process is like.
Dave Asprey: It's totally simple. You zip yourself up in a big tube and turn on a compressor and the tube fills up like-- it's like you're inside a balloon.
Melanie Avalon: Can it ever over-pressurize?
Dave Asprey: No. Inside the balloon, there's a valve-- there's actually two of them in case one of them fails. The valves as soon as you hit a certain pressure, they start leaking air. No matter how much air you pump in, the valves release it, so it stays constant that pressure and then you also pump in oxygen gas through a little tiny hose and you breathe the oxygen. What's inside, there's just air pressure, but it's interesting. When you're looking at biohacking, studies show that just having pressure even without breathing the oxygen has all kinds of benefits and it comes down to mitochondrial physiology. Same reason when you go to the bottom of a pool that's good for you, is that the added pressure on the body actually slightly shrinks mitochondria. When you have electrons moving around millions of times a second, and they have a smaller distance to travel, well, even if you shrink the distance a very small amount, millions of times a second times a very small amount equals better mitochondrial electron transport.
Melanie Avalon: I'm going to try this. I feel like if I ever do have some crazy thing where I injure myself, I really wanted to get a chest freezer for cold therapy, and just sit in it. I was wondering if you could sit in it dry, that's what I would like to do. I don't know if that would still work.
Dave Asprey: You don't really want to do that.
Melanie Avalon: No?
Dave Asprey: No, because then you're going to get mostly cold that's from contact, which is really different because air doesn't carry it very well. I had a while back-- I was also an early advocate of cold therapy before Wim burst on the scene. I think he was he was teaching it long before I was. I went through various protocols around, like freezing your face and cold showers and whatnot. When I was really seriously doing it with ice baths on a regular basis, I was traveling, I went to New York. There wasn’t a bathtub in the hotel, hotels are great. There's an ice machines, you just get all the ice you want. I'm like, “What do I do?” Okay, so I took a bunch of Ziploc bags covered in ice, full of ice. Then I just put them all over, like my chest, my abdomen, my upper arms, all the places you do it, and I lay down on the bed. Then I fell asleep, because as you know, ice is really relaxing when you're used to it. I woke up an hour and a half later, I'm like, “Oh, that was colder than I thought,” and I dumped the ice and went about my business. But I got first-degree ice burns over 15% of my body and I was inflamed and had brain fog for like six weeks, I just felt like crap. That was not a good place to be.
Ice on the skin and if you're in a chest freezer, like that where you poke a hole for your head or something, you're going to get air that isn't that cold and all the parts of you touching the freezer are going to get over-chilled, you need water in there. What I do now is I have a liquid nitrogen cryotherapy chamber because I like three minutes versus a longer ice bath. But I also have an ice bath that's digitally controlled. It has a little separate chiller unit and you just dial in whatever you want. There's a little pump that pumps the cold air through, which is also better because circulating cold water kills you faster than still cold water. If you wanted to be fancy about it, you can buy a smaller chest freezer and have water and you hack the thermostat. Then, you have water with a little pump like an aquarium pump thing that pumps water out of that into a little tub. The tub I use for that is a $90 agricultural feed tub [unintelligible [01:12:32] farm, so I just go to the farms to buy those.
Melanie Avalon: I'm going to probably do something just like that. Then lastly, you had him on your show because I was researching to bring them on, but Sergey Young, we had a really nice conversation about the future of longevity science. What do you think is the future of biohacking? What are you excited about?
Dave Asprey: Well, it's really clear that there's a set of variables and these are the first infographics about biohacking when I was working to make this a thing. I was like, what are the variables that we have control over that the body listens to and the definition of biohacking, is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you, so that you have full control of your own biology. The external variables, you have temperature, you have pressure, you have light, and you have sound, you have nutrients, and things like that. All of those things, we are getting better and better at figuring out what signals to run through those to get the body to do what we want. I had a chance to sit on a couch next to the researcher from Harvard who figured out that 40 Hz flickering light breaks up Alzheimer's [unintelligible [01:13:43]. Wow, Isn't that amazing? Who would have thought that that could work and people say that can't be, but the results are very, very encouraging from that. We're at the place where we are now able to figure out what manipulating light, manipulating sound, and manipulating electromagnetic fields, companies like [unintelligible [01:14:06] half be, what those do. We're going to get better and better at that. It's encouraging because I use a clinical-grade computer-controlled pulsed electromagnetic frequencies on the brain, 40 Years of Zen, it’s one of the modalities there. You can really modify someone's state just by knowing what signals to play. I think this is going to be a big thing.
The other thing that's happening is we're becoming more and more aware of what gut bacteria do. Most pharmaceutical drugs work because they hit the gut and then the gut changes them. The bacteria change them and then they work. One of the companies I just had on my podcast looked at pomegranate. Well, it turns out 60% of people don't have gut bacteria that can turn pomegranate into urolithin A which is what gives it all its magic powers. Well, now you can just make urolithin A and you can take that, which is pretty darn cool. Same thing, there's another compound called spermidine. I wrote about it in Super Human. You can buy it, except it's a $200 research chemical that smells like what it seemed like. Now, you can buy spermidine and it actually mimics an intermittent fast. I take it during the intermittent fast. There's all these cool things where we're getting more and more dialed in.
The next step will be for us to be able to create what we want, small peptides and other compounds at home, or to just get them for cheap. There's huge research on peptides for manipulating things. I think the combination of light, magnetism, sound, and electrical signals as well playing various electricity stuff over my brain, over my body has been a part of my practice for 25 years. All of those are finally getting enough data. I think we're also right on the cusp of some major breakthroughs in neuroscience. There's a company called Kernel, that now has the very, very best brain scanning you could do. It was created by a guy who put-- I think it was like $80 million of his own money into just doing something that's never been done before. He's applying it purely just to be able to make better AI. The stuff that I'm working on at 40 years of Zen, stuff I've talked with other neuroscientists about, we're on the cusp of cracking the code in the brain, as well as the cellular code that David Sinclair will talk about, so I'm more encouraged than ever that we're going to be able to do this, but I'm more concerned than ever about the destruction of our soil, replacing good fats with bad fats by these fake vegan foods that, “Oh, it tastes like bacon,” but it slaps you in the face like eating junk food, because that's what it is. We've got to turn the food tide back, so that big food realizes that when they make food that healthy first, they make more money, and then when they make food that's bad for us, we won't eat it. Then, we're going to fix everything.
Melanie Avalon: That's incredible. Would you want to live forever?
Dave Asprey: I want to live so that I can die at a time and by a method of my choosing.
Melanie Avalon: That’s a good answer. Well, this has been absolutely amazing. I know we got off of the fasting conversation. Friends, you've got to get Fast This Way. It is an incredible book, incredible resource because there's a lot of fasting literature out there, there's a lot of discussion around fasting, but it really brings up a lot of things that I think people just aren't talking about and it questions you. We didn't even talk about the spiritual side of fasting, it dives deep into that. There's just so much in there. I cannot recommend enough.
Dave Asprey: The psychology is the biggest thing that's in this book because it would have been really easy-- the normal fasting book goes like this, “Step one, don't eat for a while. Step two, it's good for you. Here's some studies.” Then you argue vehemently for your studies. I didn't want to write that book, because I feel like there's several good books out there. I don't want to be another “me too” book. There is no other book on fasting like Fast This Way, because it really will show you what's going on at the cellular level, but also at the decision-making levels, and how you manage that. When people get the book, they get two weeks of training and how to do fasting like a challenge. It's at fastthisway.com, sign up for it. It's been really interesting to hear what people are saying, because there's hundreds of people saying, “I've never fasted 24 hours of my life, I can't believe I just did it.” For your listeners, maybe most of them have already done it, but I promise you there's some things that you probably haven't thought about in fasting and things you can do and things you might want to do and things you might want to shake up on occasion that will get you more out of it. It's based on 10 plus years of intermittent fasting with a large community.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I took away so many new things from it. Actually, one of the very practical things that I've implemented since reading it and it's not from the biological side of fasting, but you talk about a truth fast. You talk about removing the word “I can't” from your language, your vernacular for a day and you question when we say I can't, rarely can we literally not. That word is often incorrect.
Dave Asprey: It's always incorrect. Show me one time when can't is incorrect?
Melanie Avalon: Well, I was thinking about that, I was like, when can I literally can't, I don't know.
Dave Asprey: I get in this argument because I used to do with my son, he was like five or six. He's like, “Daddy, I can't travel to the sun right now without a spacesuit in a rocket.” I'd say, “Sure, you can. Just change the laws of physics.” He goes, “I don't know how to do that.” “I go, “That's right.” You don't know how to do it. That doesn't mean you can't.” That's why I can't is always wrong. It just means you don't know how. When you don't know how, when you say you can't, you stop thinking about how to do it, can't kills curiosity.
Melanie Avalon: Now my brain is just thinking. I'm trying to think of something. I can't do that, I guess-- Yep, so the point of that. [laughs]
Dave Asprey: There's a lot of things where you don't have the resources and you don't know how to get them. There's things that we know are possible. I can't start Tesla tomorrow if you wanted to do that. Except if you had all of the money on the planet, you probably could. It's always a question of knowledge or resources.
Melanie Avalon: I can't not have done something I did.
Dave Asprey: Let me unpack that. You can't-- [laughs] I don't even know what that means. You can't not have done something, so that means you can have done something you did. I'm just canceling out all the negatives in there.
Melanie Avalon: Right. Oh, that's what I do too. If I did something, I can't not have done it.
Dave Asprey: How do you know?
Melanie Avalon: Because I did it.
Dave Asprey: I have two examples for you there. Part of the reset process that we do at 40 Years of Zen is actually going back and showing your biology that you didn't do something you did, so that it'll stop being reactive to stupid stuff. It's a tried-and-true technique, it's the reset process.
Melanie Avalon: But you still did it. Right? You just taught your body to think it didn’t.
Dave Asprey: Right. That's one interpretation of it. The other one is, well, you've heard of the multiverse theory. We don't have any evidence that there isn't a timeline, where you didn't not do what you didn't do, however, you said it. In other words, what I'm saying is, find a way, do we know that you can time travel?
Melanie Avalon: I might have to exist in a different universe where I didn't do it.
Dave Asprey: You might choose to exist in a different universe, because have to is also another weasel word. You might also just say, “Well, one way I could do it is, I could just invent a time travel machine.” There you go. I don't think it's reasonable to create a time travel machine. I'm just saying we don't know you can't do it. It's always, “I don't know how to do it.” It's usually it's not worth the trouble to figure out how, or it would be too much work to figure out how, it doesn't mean, you can't. It just means that no one has said, “Oh, the ROI on solving that problem is so high that I'm going to go solve it.”
Melanie Avalon: That's why I loved Fast This Way, was the focus on another view of fasting and what it means and words and the experience. It's just very, very eye opening. I cannot thank you enough for your work, it’s very much appreciated. That brings me to my last question that I ask every single guest on this podcast. It's just because I realize more and more each day how important mindset is. What is something that you're grateful for?
Dave Asprey: Oh, wow. I do this with my kids every night, what are you grateful for. Here's a good one, I am grateful that Bill Gates just stood up and said that everyone should eat synthetic meat because it has provided a platform for everyone to express how inappropriate and disgusting that idea is and how harmful to the environment it is. He did that, and at first, of course, you feel this, like, “What are you saying here?” But then like, “Oh, wait, I'm just going to talk about this.” 10,000 likes and thousands of comments later, “You know what? There's a huge community of people who are standing up for the environment and standing up for human health and things that matter.” Even when something that you think, “Well, that's terrible--" I work on having a gratitude practice for things that I don't like because then I don't have to waste electrons on not liking them.
Melanie Avalon: I love it. Yeah, I think gratitude is so huge. I love the fact that you, like your brain cannot be in a state of gratitude and fear at the same time, so you can just turn off fear.
Dave Asprey: It's the biggest and maybe the second cheapest biohack. Fasting is also very cheap, because you don't have to make breakfast. [laughs] Very high ROI on gratitude and fasting.
Melanie Avalon: Fasting and gratitude for the win. Well, thank you so much, Dave, this has been a dream. I've looked forward to this probably for nine years, so this moment is absolutely incredible. Your book is amazing. I cannot recommend listeners, check it out enough. Any other links you want to put out there for people to best follow your work?
Dave Asprey: I would definitely check out Fast This Way, do the fasting challenge, and listen to Bulletproof Radio. Thanks for your nuanced question. I can tell you you're really focusing on biohacking and using all these techniques, and don't fall into that trap of thinking you have to do every biohack every day, I did that for a while, and you can't do it. You're like, “What's the right one for me to do now?” Do that and be grateful for it, and move on with life.
Melanie Avalon: 100%. I think I've already hit biohacking overwhelm. I often say that I can't wait to the day that I-- I don't want to ever feel that I have to have biohacking things to be in a good state of existence. I just wanted to see if something I can do that will bring nice things.
Dave Asprey: It will indeed. It's a constant practice just like meditation or sleep. When you realize, “You know what? I'm going to learn how to do the right thing for me right now,” that's when you really nailed it.
Melanie Avalon: Love it. Well, thank you so much, Dave. Enjoy the rest of your evening and hopefully we can talk again in the future.
Dave Asprey: Absolutely.
Melanie Avalon: Thanks.
Dave Asprey: Bye.
Melanie Avalon: Bye.