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What Is Cortisol? A Hormone Crucial To Your Health & Survival.

Let’s face it: cortisol gets a bad rap these days.

“I have high cortisol.”

“I have low cortisol.”

“My cortisol it out-of-whack.”

You’ve no doubt heard this all before or said it yourself. So in an effort to decode cortisol once and for all, I decided to feature a wildly popular previous guest of mine—the guy who personally helps me and my wife manage our own hormones and has helped countless listeners of mine with their own anti-aging and natural hormone management protocols.

His name is Dr. Craig Koniver.

Dr. Koniver was a guest on the episode “How To Get Your Own Vitamin and NAD IVs, The Truth About Umbilical Stem Cells, Peptide Injections & Much More With Dr. Craig Koniver.

He has been practicing performance medicine for over 18 years and is the founder of Koniver Wellness in Charleston, South Carolina. Not satisfied with the disease-based model of modern medicine, Dr. Koniver seeks to help his clients optimize their health and performance through time-tested, nutrient and science-driven protocols that are the cutting-edge of medicine. He is the founder and creator of the patent-pending FastVitaminIV® as well as re-engineering the NAD+ IV protocols, now called Brain Refuel™.

Dr. Koniver’s client list includes Navy SEALs, NFL players, PGA golfers, Hall of Fame NHL players, world-class professional athletes, Fortune 100 Executives, and well-known celebrities and TV personalities. In addition, Dr. Koniver offers a comprehensive training program of the Koniver Wellness Model to physician practices across the country.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

-What is cortisol? 5:32

  • Hormone secreted by adrenal glands
  • Not enough attention is given to cortisol in the medical field
  • “Stress hormone” — fight or flight response
    • It is secreted in response to any real or perceived threat or stressor
  • We’re hard-wired to have high cortisol in the am, and low in the evening
  • Rhythm vs. volume is key
  • Acute hormone; ex. being chased by a lion
    • Turns off pain recognition
    • Anti-inflammatory
  • Catabolic hormone — wear and tear
  • We’ve changed cortisol from an acute to a chronic hormone
  • Key takeaway: try to find meaningful ways to live w/ the sun’s rhythm
  • Lowest levels are at around 10 pm; allows anabolic hormones testosterone, growth hormone, and melatonin to elevate
  • Most critical hours of sleep are 10 pm – 2 am
    • It takes melatonin 12 hours to reset
    • Later (or no) sun exposure means melatonin levels peak later, leading to loss of sleep quality

-How cortisol is secreted…13:37

  • Perceived stressors (most often subtle in modern times)
  • Primitive part of the mid-brain, above the spinal cord
  • Reticular Activating System (RAS) triggers release of cortisol
  • Signal sent to locus ceruleus (one of the most connected parts of the brain)
  • Signal sent to hypothalamus, to pituitary, then to adrenal glands
  • Norepinephrine and cortisol are “partners in crime”; released along w/ cortisol
  • Pituitary responsible for all signaling molecules
  • We stop releasing cortisol, and have surplus of norepinephrine
  • We release an average of 35 g of cortisol per day
  • Irregular sleep patterns (night shift workers) lead to chronic health problems later in life

-How cortisol imbalances affect our lives…20:12

  • Our brains cannot differentiate between perceived and real stressors
  • Visualizing a success (or a failure) will trigger cortisol secretion
  • “I can’t wait to wear that outfit” is much more effective than “I’m way too big…”
  • RAS helps distinguish background and foreground in our world
  • Buy a red truck, all of a sudden you see a bunch of red trucks on the roads
  • What you put your attention is what you’re going to get in your life


-How cortisol gets disrupted…25:40

  • Humans are “super-adaptors”; we can tolerate stressors over a long period of time
  • Modern tech can disconnect us from the sun, circadian rhythm, and cortisol flow
    • We release cortisol at night when we look at TV, phones, etc. at night
  • We tolerate stressors for years and decades, but it eventually catches up with us
    • It will eventually blunt the anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, melatonin)
  • We lose sleep quality, take longer to heal injuries, workouts are more challenging, etc.
  • Gold standard to test adrenal function: salivary cortisol test
    • Salivary is far less stressful than a blood draw (hence more accurate results)
  • We rely on stimulants such as coffee and prescription drugs, rather than address the issue of disrupted cortisol flow

-Why cortisol is such a hot topic in modern society…37:40

  • Acute stressor triggers cortisol
  • Over time, cortisol has become a chronic hormone, rather than an acute hormone
    • We’ll never be chased by a lion in the jungle
    • We trigger cortisol response w/ everyday stressors
    • Chipping away at cortisol release over time
    • We can’t keep up w/ cortisol demands; lose cortisol reserve
  • Major stressor (loss of job, death in the family, etc.) causes a breakdown when cortisol levels have been chronically disrupted
    • Cancer, autoimmune disease, etc. occur with this breakdown
    • Many fear cancer, other serious illnesses
    • Best way to prevent disease: take care of cortisol levels
  • Be aware of indicators of low cortisol levels: poor sleep, longer than usual recovery times, etc.

-The key element regarding cortisol missed by conventional medicine practice…43:13

  • Adrenal fatigue and insufficiency doesn’t exist in conventional medicine
  • Two extremes in conventional medicine: Cushing’s disease, and Addison’s disease
    • Cushings: too much cortisol secretion
    • Addisons: not enough cortisol is produced
    • There’s a gray area; it’s not simply black and white
  • As cortisol levels are disrupted, norepinephrine levels increase
    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • This feels like anxiety
    • Consider visiting a doctor knowledgeable in this as you may have lost control of the cortisol buffer
  • Study in the Netherlands on men over 50 who ran marathons vs. men who didn’t run marathons
    • Men who ran marathons suffered more heart attacks (due to overtraining)
    • Positive exercise can still be a stressor, releasing cortisol
  • Recovery is key to being an elite athlete

-How cortisol interacts with other hormones in the body…49:30

  • Hormones are like kids w/ differing personalities
    • Cortisol is the neighborhood bully
    • High insulin levels and cortisol lead to weight gain (cut carbs in the morning)
  • Abnormal cortisol modulation affects thyroid levels deleteriously
    • Be aware of your adrenal status if you’re on thyroid hormone replacement
  • An imbalance of cortisol and testosterone inhibits muscle production
  • Growth hormone depletion leads to brain fog, weight gain, etc.

-How to effectively modulate cortisol…56:52

  • Tests:
  • Adrenal glands are like a factory producing hormones: cortisol is the goal, but we need to make the other hormones
    • Cortisol imbalances lead to depletion of other hormones
  • Pregnenolone is made from cholesterol; low cholesterol levels affects cortisol production
  • Number 1 risk factor for cancer for men is low testosterone; cortisol will help optimize health
  • Having a cortisol reserve enables us to handle and tolerate stress, thus preventing cancer, autoimmune disease
  • Behaviors to normalize cortisol levels (deliberate contemplative exercise)
    • Meditation, prayer, reading
    • Activate parasympathetic system, turn off sympathetic system
    • Meditation is not the only means of managing stress
  • Adaptogenic herbs:
  • Critical nutrients:
  • Peptides: (use code: BEN2020 at check-out to get a 15% off of products and phone consult)
    • Hexarelin
    • Epithalon
    • Ipamorelin
    • GHRP 6 and GHRP 2
  • Intranasal and intravenous stem cells
  • Hydrocortisone replacement (don’t surpass 35 mg per day)
  • Phosphatidylserine (100-300 mg)
  • Ashwagandha (use at bedtime – 300 – 3000mg)
  • Glycine (great for the liver, 1000-5000 mg at bedtime)
  • CBD (bedtime)

-Closing thoughts…1:14:42

  • Good correlation between HRV and cortisol; collect morning and evening times
  • Cortisol helps be your best cognitively
  • If you’re feeling tired, stressed and anxious, check your cortisol levels

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Koniver Wellness ( use code: BEN2020 at check-out to get a 15% off of products and phone consult)

Episode sponsors:

Boundless: Pre-order my new book Boundless now, and to get in on the Boundless Sweepstakes!

The Kion Fasting Challenge: The Challenge starts January 6th. It’s completely FREE to join, and when you do you’ll get a bunch of exclusive content including access to a Q&A by yours truly answering all your burning fasting questions.

JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it’s the only light therapy device I’d ever recommend. Give it a try: you won’t be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a month’s supply of Kion Berry Aminos absolutely free.

Four Sigmatic: I’ve been using Four Sigmatic products for a while now and I’m impressed by the efficacies of their mushroom products. I use them. I like them. I support the mission! Receive 15% off your Four Sigmatic purchase when you use discount code: BENGREENFIELD

Got a question for me or Craig related to cortisol, or anything else we talked about in today’s show? Leave a comment below, and one of us will reply!

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The One Component Of Fitness Most People Neglect (Meditation, Plant Medicine, Yoga, Sex & More: How Ben Greenfield Trains For The Spiritual Disciplines). – Ben Greenfield Fitness

Correction note: I said “Richard Dawkins” in this episode and meant to say “David Hawkins!”

As I age, observe great thinkers and philosophers, and continually seek wisdom, I’ve become increasingly convinced that caring for one’s spirit is as important—no, more important than caring for one’s body and brain. After all, long after our muscles have atrophied and skin has sagged, long after our brains have degraded and accumulated with plaque, long after our blood vessels and nerves have become clogged and weak, and long after our relentless pursuit of fitness and longevity has become a vain effort, our spirits can be just as strong and bright as ever. Yet, sadly—especially among those immersed in physical fitness and biohacking—it seems that the spirit is the most oft-ignored component of our human vessels, quite frequently shrunken and shriveled from a near-complete neglect of the spiritual disciplines…

…disciplines such as meditation, gratitude, prayer, fasting, study, fellowship, celebration, charity, and all those elements that most of us know are important but somehow shove to the side because, let’s face it, life gets busy and it just seems far more practical and immediately useful to go hit the gym rather than sit cross-legged on the floor meditating, breathing, spending an extra ten minutes in bed journaling, or prioritizing a family dinner. 

As I mention with increasing frequency the importance of the spiritual disciplines, I’m often asked how I personally incorporate these practices in my own life. So, similar to how last week I shared with you the nitty-gritty details of my own nutrition supplementation program, in this podcast I’m going to delve into how I weave everything from yoga to breathwork to plant medicine into my own life. I in no way profess to be an expert in these matters, and although it is my goal over the next ten years to become as spiritually fit as I am physically fit (and to focus perhaps even more on the spiritual disciplines than I currently do on the physical disciplines), I hope that a few of the insights I’ve incorporated into my own life these past several years may serve you well in your own pursuit of spiritual greatness.

During this podcast, you’ll discover:

-Why you should value spiritual disciplines in the first place…6:40

  • Focusing only on physical health and wellness can be quite shallow
  • Spiritual exercise/discipline is just as real and vital as physical
  • Caring for our spirit is just as important, if not more so, than our body and brain
  • Attachment exercise from Awareness by Anthony De Mello
    • Think of something or someone to which you’re attached
    • Say, “I really do not need you to be happy; I can be happy without you”
  • Happiness is a state of non-illusion — the absence of an illusion

-How Ben has educated himself on spiritual disciplines…13:00

-Ben’s morning spiritual disciplines…19:27

  • Before getting out of bed, time w/ family, etc. read in bed (scriptures, aforementioned books) for 5-10 minutes
  • Enhancing meditation tips:
  • Spiritual disciplines can be “hacked” just like physical disciplines
  • MiCacao tea w/ Kion Coffee
  • Spend 10-15 minutes doing stretching and deep tissue work
  • Family gratitude practice


-Ben’s sauna practice…37:45

Our Father in heaven, I surrender all to you
Turn me into the father and husband you would have for me to be
Into a man who will fulfill your great commission
And remove from me all judgment of others
Grant me your heavenly wisdom
Remove from me my worldly temptations
Teach me to listen to your still, small voice in the silence
And fill me with your peace, your love, and your joy. Amen

-How Ben manages stress during busy and intensive workdays…44:45

-End of day spiritual practices…47:28

  • Gather for family dinner (big factor for longevity in Blue Zones)
    • Meditation, activation of parasympathetic nervous system…
      • “I’m aware of my body
        I smile at my body
        I’m aware of my food
        I smile at my food
        I’m aware of my company
        I smile at my company”
    • Centering breaths
  • Games for family dinners
  • Finish up remaining business while family cleans up and gets ready for bed
    • You dwell on and dream about what you’ve dwelt on during the day
  • Family bedtime
  • Self-reflection journal

-Spiritual lovemaking…57:50

-Areas for improvement…1:09:00

  • Participating in local charitable causes
  • Share your gifts — make your service enjoyable
  • Strengthen connection w/ local church community

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Book: Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster

– Book: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney

– Book: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele A. Calhoun

– Book: The Jesuits Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ

– Book: Solitude: A Philosophical Encounter by Philip Koch

– Book: A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor

– Book: Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

– Book: The Simple Life by Charles Wagner

– Book: Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetites by Lynne M. Baab

– Book: The Sacred Art of Fasting by Thomas Ryan, CSP

– Book: Awareness by Anthony De Mello

BGF podcast with Der. Andrew Weil

– Book: Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler

– Book: Healing and Recovery by David Hawkins

– Book: Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David Hawkins

– Book: The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young

Episode sponsors:

The Kion Fasting Challenge: The Challenge starts January 6th, it’s completely FREE to join, and when you do you’ll get a bunch of exclusive content including access to a Q&A by yours truly answering all your burning fasting questions. To join just go to getkion.com/fasting

Organifi Red Juice: Enjoy all the benefits of the 11 superfoods and their micronutrients that help increase resting metabolism, support cardiovascular health, and remove toxins to turn back the hands of time! Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code: BENG20

Thrive Market: Organic brands you love, for less. Your favorite organic food and products. Fast and free shipping to your doorstep. Receive a gift card up to $20 when you begin a new membership using my link.

Magic Spoon: A brand new company that has reimagined all your favorite childhood breakfast cereals. Low carb, keto-friendly, ZERO sugar, and tastes just like you remember. For free shipping on your order at Magic Spoon, use discount code: BENGREENFIELD

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for me about the spiritual disciplines? Leave your comments below and I’ll reply!

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The Align Method, Ice Baths, & More With Aaron Alexander.

You may remember the amazing, eccentric, crazy, cool Aaron Alexander if you listened to my episode “Exogenous Ketones, Deuterium-Depleted Water, Near Vs. Far Infrared, Scorpion Stings & More! A Special Episode Recorded Live In Panama“…

…well today, Aaron’s back.

I recorded live with him at his pad in Southern California and after chilling in an ice bath, doing nitty-gritty breathwork, and getting up to all the other crazy tom-foolery biohacks at Aaron’s place, we recorded for you a nice little podcast. Among the topics of discussion were Aaron’s new book The Align Method: 5 Movement Principles for a Stronger Body, Sharper Mind, and Stress-Proof Life, which shows readers how posture and body alignment are powerful tools for building strength, achieving peak performance, reducing pain, and approaching the world with a new sense of confidence, and teaches you how to optimize activities such as:

  • Floor Sitting
  • Hanging
  • Hip-Hinging
  • Walking
  • Nose Breathing
  • And much more…

Blending Eastern philosophy with Western mechanics, The Align Method outlines the necessary tools to leverage the power of your own senses and body language to feel more flexible and confident and details exactly how to reshape your environment for enhanced creativity and longevity.

In this discussion with Aaron, you’ll discover…

-What makes green tea special…4:58

-Natural biohacks that can be implemented for low or no cost…6:36

  • Cold thermogenesis
    • Activates the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Nitric oxide release
    • Humming/chanting increases nitric oxide production
      • Activates the vagus nerve
      • Inducing stress resilience prior to the stress of the cold treatment
  • Sunlight exposure
    • Metabolic flexibility is increased w/ sunlight exposure
    • Increased HRV and good vagal nerve tone
    • Vitamin D activation
    • Cellular resistance
  • When to choose tech over nature
    • JOOVV lights can provide adequate infrared light in 10 minutes vs. 2 hours of sunlight
    • PEMF tables can shortcut what can be derived from nature
  • Bottom line: Nature is preferable, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing better living through science

-Ben Greenfield’s morning meditation routine…15:37


-Hunting zen and interdependence with our fellow man…21:43

  • Innate instinct to provide, even with modern conveniences around us
  • Book: A Paradise Built in Hell
  • Interdependence is oft-neglected
  • C.S. Lewis: We’re all spirits in human bodies w/ capability to go one way or the other
  • Skin to skin contact releases oxytocin; results in greater success in war, athletics, etc.
  • Don’t sacrifice interdependence for self-dependence (self-made man)
  • Connections is the undying currency

-The two “mountains” in our lives…40:07

  • Book: The Second Mountain: The Quest For a Moral Life
  • Mountain 1: career, business, shelter, etc.
    • Circumstances bring us into the valley, and realize Mountain 2
  • Mountain 2: we discover interdependence, community, connection, etc.
  • Mountain 1 is oftentimes a prerequisite to Mountain 2
  • No regrets about the past; using experience to scale Mountain 2 when we arrive there

-Practices that build indomitable connectedness in your family…46:00

  • Eye-gazing:
    • Zero judgment zone
    • See different parts of the other each time
    • Deep connection reduces shame, increases vulnerability
    • Eye-gazing during sex increases intimacy w/ your partner
  • “You’re not raising your children, you’re raising your grandchildren”
    • Traditions, practices at the dinner table, etc. are observed, learned and passed on to the next generation
    • Encourage children to participate in your exercise routine, even if on a limited basis
  • 55/38/7 principle of communication:
    • 55% is based on body language
    • 38% is vocal tonality
    • 7% is the words we use
  • Power of demonstration cannot be undervalued as a parent

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Book: The Align Method by Aaron Alexander

BGF podcast with Philip Land

– Book: The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown

– Book: The Power Of Your Breath by Anders Olsson

– Book: A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit

– Book: The Second Mountain: The Quest For a Moral Life by David Brooks

Episode sponsors:

The Kion Fasting Challenge: The Challenge starts January 6th, it’s completely FREE to join, and when you do you’ll get a bunch of exclusive content including access to a Q&A by yours truly answering all your burning fasting questions. To join just go to getkion.com/fasting

Beekeeper’s Naturals: A wellness company specializing in innovative nutraceuticals made from healing hive compounds and plant-based ingredients. Get 15% off your order when you use discount code: BEN

Policy Genius: Whether you’re an insurance expert or a newbie, Policygenius created a website that makes it easy for you to compare quotes, get advice, and get covered.

Fresh Books: It’s cloud accounting software that basically does your invoicing for you and on top of that gets you paid 2x faster. Try it out for a free 30-day trial of FreshBooks right now. Just enter “The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast” in the how did you hear about us section.

Got a question or comment about The Align Method or anything else Aaron or I discussed? Leave a comment below, and one of us will reply!

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Why Water Isn’t The Best Way To Fully Hydrate & Much More!

Based on breakthrough new science in the field of hydration, the new book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration debunks many popular myths about “getting enough water” and offers a revolutionary five-day jump start plan that shows how better hydration can reduce or eliminate ailments like chronic headaches, weight gain, gut pain, and even autoimmune conditions.

Chronic headaches…brain fog…fatigue…weight gain…insomnia…gut pain…autoimmune conditions. We may think these and other all-too-common modern maladies are due to gluten intake or too much sugar or too little exercise, but there is another missing piece to the health puzzle: Proper hydration.

Yes, even in this era of Poland Spring many of us are dehydrated due to moisture lacking diets, artificial environments, medications, and over-dependence on water as our only source of hydration. For this reason, your new diet or exercise plan may fail because your body doesn’t have enough moisture to support it.

Quench presents a wellness routine that can reverse all of that, based on breakthrough new science in the field of hydration. You will be surprised to learn that drinking too much water can flush out vital nutrients and electrolytes. Here is where “gel water” comes in: the water from plants (like cucumber, berries, aloe), which our bodies are designed to truly absorb right down to the cellular level. In fact, Ms. Bria’s work as an anthropologist led her to the realization that desert people stay hydrated almost exclusively from what they eat, including gel plants like cactus.

Based on groundbreaking science from the University of Washington’s Pollack Water Lab and other research, Quench offers a five-day jump start plan using hydrating meal plans and the heart of the program, smoothies and elixirs that use the most hydrating and nutrient-packed plants. Another unique feature of their approach is micro-movements, which are small, simple movements you can make a few times a day that will move water through your fascia, the connective tissue responsible for hydrating our bodies. You will experience more energy, focus, and better digestion within five days…then move onto the lifetime plan for continued improvements, even elimination of symptoms.

My guest on today’s podcast and the author of Quench, Dr. Dana Cohen, has been successfully practicing medicine here in New York City for 20 years utilizing a distinctive medical approach. Dr. Cohen has helped thousands of patients find relief after repeated unsuccessful attempts with other practitioners. Dr. Cohen was board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1998. She is an advisor to the Board of Directors of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM), the leading voice of Integrative Medicine for more than 1,500 MD, DO, ND, and master-level health-care providers. She has been the program director for their conferences and gathered the leaders of functional and integrative medicine to give world-class symposiums. She received her MD from St. George’s University School of Medicine and completed a three-year internal medicine residency at Albany Medical Center.

During this discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why water isn’t always the ideal way to hydrate…7:32

  • Searched for innovative topic on which to devote substantial research
  • Co-author approached regarding hydration techniques at the Hydration Foundation
    • “New phase” of water
    • Is it possible to hydrate via food?
  • The 8 glasses a day myth
    • Comes from nowhere, similar to the food pyramid
    • Some say they drink little water and remain hydrated

-What “gel” water is and how it differs from “regular” water…11:26

  • Structured” water
  • Slightly thicker, different chemical equation (H3O2)
  • Desert plants have gel inside (thickened water)
  • Gel water is found in waterfalls, and in nature in general
  • It’s the type of water found in our cells

-The best foods to eat that contain gel water…14:41

  • Chia seeds gel when exposed to water
  • Cucumber seeds are gelatinous
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Fruits
  • Fiber mixed w/ water becomes undrinkable when left; becomes gel water


-How hydration (and dehydration) is measured via food intake…16:35

  • There’s no research on determining clinical dehydration (although we know when someone is truly dehydrated)
  • The means of determining hydration levels via water consumption have not been applied to food as of yet

-How people who dwell in deserts hydrate…22:08

  • Bedouins “front load” water consumption (first thing in the morning w/ electrolytes)
    • Robes they wear are quasi humidifying tents
    • Drink camel’s milk, goat’s bread
  • Low-fat diet is counterproductive
  • Ghee is very high in gel water

-Why chia is such a potent source of hydration…26:08

  • Rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid
  • Grinding chia seeds; creates more gel water when add water to it
  • Perfect thing to add to smoothies
  • Lectins in chia seeds: proceed w/ caution
  • Tara Fix recipe:
    • 12 oz. water
    • 1 tsp ground chia seeds
    • 4 oz. kombucha
    • Pinch of rock salt
  • Books by Christopher McDougall:

-Ancestral hydration tactics from history…32:54

  • Nomadic cowboys in Uruguay consumed Yerba Mate
    • Has all vitamins and electrolytes necessary to sustain life
    • Dissolving plants in water delivers nutrients and hydration from the plants better than water alone
  • Ancient pottery shows signs of gelatin from grains; evidence of eating lots of stews containing grains and vegetables
  • Hasda people consumed Baobab fruit:
    • Blended flesh w/ water; full of fat, fiber, and vitamins (an ancient smoothie)

-The link between fascia and hydration and why it’s so important…39:30

  • Fascia is the network of collagen that surrounds every cell and organ in our body (like the outer walls of the grapefruit holding in the fruit)
  • “Living Fascia” video mentioned by Dr. Cohen
  • Piezoelectricity: Motion that stretches tissue and generates electricity
  • Study found that women who fidgeted less than other women had a 43% increase in all-cause mortality
  • Small movements are better than nothing
  • Dry skin brushing

-A recipe for “beauty water”…48:56

  • Water mixed w/ simple ingredients: blueberries, pomegranates, lemon, etc.
  • Adds electrolytes, structure to the water
  • It’s very possible to over hydrate; dispose of electrolytes before their efficacy can be applied to the body

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

– Book: Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration

– BGF podcasts with Dr. Gerald Pollack:

– Book: Cells, Gels & The Engines of Life by Dr. Gerald Pollack

– Study: A high-fiber diet does not protect against asymptomatic diverticulosis.

– Book: Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

– Book: Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

– Video: Fascia

Hydration Foundation

Episode sponsors:

-Boundless: Click here to pre-order Ben Greenfield’s new book “Boundless” now and to get in on the Boundless Sweepstakes!

Kion Serum: Use Kion Serum anywhere you’d like more vibrant, youthful skin and hair. Save 10% off your order when you use discount code: BGF10

Organifi Gold: A new take on an ancient secret: Pain-soothing herbs, incredible antioxidants, and phytonutrients all in one delicious, soothing “Golden Milk” nighttime tea! Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code: BENG20.

Four Sigmatic: I’ve been using Four Sigmatic products for awhile now and I’m impressed by the efficacies of their mushroom products. I use them. I like them. I support the mission! Receive 15% off your Four Sigmatic purchase when you use discount code: BENGREENFIELD

Native Deodorant: Safe, simple, effective products that people use in the bathroom everyday. Native creates products with trusted ingredients and trusted performance. Get 20% off your first purchase when you use discount code: BEN

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Dr. Dana Cohen or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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What Supplements Should I Take? Ben Greenfield’s Ultimate Guide

I am often asked what supplements I take, why I take them, and if we really need supplements in the first place. After all, if you, like me, follow a healthy lifestyle, I’ll wager you probably eat plenty of plants, prioritize sleep, hydrate with filtered water, and expose yourself to the sun as much as possible.

So why even consider supplementation?

Let’s begin with this: our modern, post-industrial, polluted, toxin-laden lifestyle demands more nutrients than food can provide.

That’s right.

The chronic stressors of modern life—ranging from heavy metal and synthetic chemical exposure to sensory overload—have been proven to increase your body’s need for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to shuttle toxins through detox pathways and prevent the formation of DNA-damaging free radical. This means that even if you are eating clean, relatively nutrient-dense food, you are likely not getting the full array of nutrients from food that prior generations enjoyed.

There are five factors that contribute to poor nutrient availability in most modern food.

1. Nutritionally Depleted Soil

Due to modern farming techniques and fertilizers, most soil is depleted of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in conventionally grown crops. You may think that eating organic is the ultimate solution. While some research suggests that organically grown food contains more nutrients than non-organic food, other research has concluded that there is no significant difference in nutritional content between the two. In addition, for most of human history (and prehistory), our ancestors ate now-nearly-extinct, dense-cell-rich carbohydrates in the form of foods like wild tubers, which provided essential prebiotics so that probiotic bacteria could flourish (in contrast to the refined acellular grains and white rice that comprise modern carbohydrates). In addition, the modern high intake of refined carbohydrates and processed foods creates significant blood sugar swings and glycemic variability that our ancestors did not encounter to as great an extent. A glance at a coffee shop display case or hotel breakfast bar that features bagels, muffins and sugary cereals explains why many people need a snack a couple hours after breakfast to make it through the inevitable mid-morning blood sugar crash. Blood sugar imbalances lead to chronic inflammation and may be responsible for up to 80% of modern diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. This is a rollercoaster you definitely want to hop off.

Similarly, the meat, eggs and dairy products commonly found in grocery stores deliver fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, than those from wild or pastured animals. Most Western diet munchers also consume an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, further exacerbating chronic inflammation.

2. Age-Related Declines In Nutrient Absorption

Your ability to absorb nutrients from food decreases as you age. While growing children should absolutely be taking a multivitamin to support healthy tissue and bone formation, supplementation becomes equally important for older generations. Many medications used to treat age-related diseases, such as acid reflux and hypertension, also interfere with proper nutrient absorption, further increasing the need to take supplements.

Then there are precious fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D. While the recommendations for sufficient vitamin D levels are controversial, it is safe to say that many Americans, especially aging Americans who spend more and more time indoors, do not get enough vitamin D. Even if we do our best to get sun exposure – whether it’s a morning walk or going outside for lunch – it is rare to get as much sunlight and vitamin D as our outdoor-dwelling ancestors did.

3. Poor Food Handling Practices

Modern harvesting, shipping, processing and storage techniques degrade the nutrient content of food. Plants grown with modern fertilizer can contain only 25% of the micronutrients of plants grown using more traditional farming methods, and nutrient content declines as they are shipped and sit on store shelves. It makes sense that a fresh-picked apple is more nutritious than the apples you buy at the supermarket in winter, which were likely treated with 1-methylcyclopropene and could be up to 10 months old (according to an FDA spokesperson). And the preservatives used to maintain freshness could impede the bioavailability of the food’s nutrients and even increase your body’s need for more nutrients to process these synthetic additives.

4. Pesticides, Herbicides & Pollutants

Pesticides, herbicides and chemicals found in the modern food supply are combined with low-quality water, environmental contaminants from elements like degraded plastic and airborne pollutants like carbon monoxide, lead and mercury. These synergistic factors vastly increase your need for extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients to combat the formation of free radicals and the attack on your metabolism and immune system.

5. Exercise

Are you an athlete or frequent exerciser? The amount of extra oxygen and energy used by active individuals requires far more than the nutritional RDA of the average population. Indeed, consuming only the stated RDA can actually limit your athletic performance. So if you engage in Crossfit WODs, Ironman triathlons, obstacle races or heavy weight-lifting, your nutritional requirements mean you need to take supplements.

In addition to these five factors, there are scientifically demonstrated longevity benefits of caloric restriction. Given these benefits, it seems silly to argue that you could ignore calories and simply eat more food to obtain nutrients. This is another crucial area where supplements come in – they are a helpful boost for those of us wanting to consume enough nutrients to function well but also wanting to live longer using strategies such as intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting and caloric restriction.

The assumption that previous generations didn’t take supplements is also not true. Ancient supplements include root, stem and leaf teas, medicinal powders ground by mortar and pestle and highly concentrated oil extracts. Just because these dietary supplements didn’t look like capsules and ridiculously-oversized tubs of powders doesn’t mean they weren’t supplements. In addition, our ancestors certainly consumed dirt, which we now know contains a wide range of beneficial probiotics. Perhaps even more compelling is the fact that animals, ranging from insects to chimps, self-medicate and supplement by consuming specific compounds. For example, when some caterpillars get infected by parasitic flies, they’ll eat poisonous plants to kill the invasive larvae. Ants fight off microbes and bacteria by adding spruce resin to their nests. Several animal species consume mud to counteract stomach upset, and animals of all kinds use plant medicine as their own rough approximation of “supplements.”

Ultimately, supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and even nootropics and psychedelics is a natural, time-honored way to enhance the body and brain. In our modern era, while many would argue that your brain should work fine on its own, operating with flawless precision in the presence of clean food, pure water, sunshine, and fresh air, I beg to differ and have benefited highly from a bit of ancestral wisdom combined with better living through science.

During this podcast, you’ll discover:

-Why you would want to take supplements in the first place…9:48

  • The post-industrial age creates a greater need for nutrition than previous generations
  • Cell phones, air, water create toxicity for our systems
  • Food that is farmed and produced does not contain the same level of nutrients as before
    • Soil is depleted of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants
    • No significant differences in organic produce in nutrient levels
  • Ancestors ate nearly extinct foods: quinoa, tubers, cellular grains
  • Modern food is acellular grains and white rice
  • Abundance of refined carb and processed foods creates high blood sugar swings
  • Meat, eggs and dairy products contain fewer Omega-3s and other anti-inflammatory nutrients
    • Imbalanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (as high as 40:1)
  • Modern fertilizers deplete food of nutrients
  • Preservatives have deleterious effects (the age of “fresh” produce is a bit shocking)
    • Decreases bioavailability of nutrients and increases the body’s need for nutrients
  • Fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin D) are deficient in most people
  • Multiple examples of supplementation occurring in ancient generations
    • Root, stem, leaf teas
    • Powders extracted and compounded to aid the body’s nutrient absorption
    • Ate dirt, which contains  high amounts of probiotics
    • Chimps and monkeys self-medicate by consuming specific plants (sometimes psychedelic compounds)

-Supplements Ben uses for basic daily nutrient and micronutrient repletion…20:16

-Energy supplements…27:18


-Supplements for fat loss and blood sugar management…36:21

-Recovery supplements…38:27

-Supplements to keep your gut in tip-top shape…44:48

-Supplements to help with deep, restful sleep…54:51

-Supplements Ben is currently experimenting with…59:47

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

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Summary

So that’s it! I trust this guide gave you ideas on how to enhance your health, performance, and recovery without needing to pop a dizzying array of pills.

I get lots of inquiries about other supplements like greens powders, l-carnitine, high-dose Vitamin B, beta-alanine, sleep supplements and so on. I highly recommend specifically tailoring your supplement protocol to meet your specific goals, and also to use the comments section below to ask me your other specific questions. Ideally, you should choose supplements that address your own genetic results or blood biomarkers, and to learn more about personalizing nutrition and supplements to your genetics, listen to my recent podcast with Dr. Ben Lynch, author of “Dirty Genes,” or read my article about customizing your diet to you.

So what do you think? Which supplements have you found to be personally useful? Do you still think supplements are a waste of time and money? Do you have questions about other supplements folks have recommended to you? Leave your questions, comments, and feedback in the comments section below!

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