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The Most Advanced Aging Analysis Test Of The Future?

The ability to track, measure, and optimize your biological age is a field rife with confusion and a dizzying variety of testing methods such as telomere analysis and methylation clocks, transcriptomic-based, proteomic-based, and metabolomic-based predictors, and composite biomarkers.

But a new biological age test developed by a company called TruDiagnostic claims that it will change how we measure health and ultimately, how we can improve it using epigenetic testing.

In this episode, my guests from Tru Diagnostic, Ryan Smith and Dr. Daniel L. Stickler, talk about why this new development in epigenetics testing promises to be so revolutionary.

Ryan Smith is part of the team that developed the biological age test and worked to bring it to market. Dr. Stickler, co-founder and chief medical officer at Apeiron ZOH, Inc., is a physician to high-performing executives and entrepreneurs who want to upgrade their current state and is also an author, speaker, blogger, and podcaster.

During this discussion, you’ll discover:

-The difference between biological and chronological age…10:15

  • Chronological age is simply the time since you’ve been born (70 years old)
  • Biological age is similar to a “clock” of the cells; can be accelerated or reversed due to one’s lifestyle
  • Problematic to use either metric because they are measured against norms such as the general population
  • A “health score” is preferable
  • BGF podcast with Dr. Bill Andrews on telomere analysis
  • Life Length telomere testing
  • Unclear whether telomere aging is a cause or a metric of aging in general

-The connection between stem cells and telomere testing…14:05

  • Intrinsic vs. extrinsic epigenetic age
  • Began in 2013 with two different epigenetic “clocks”:
    • Dr. Steve Horvath
    • Dr. Greg Hannum
  • Telomere length of stem cells is a key metric in the methylation process
  • Currently no way to measure the length of only stem cell telomeres

-The difference between testing epigenetic markers vs. telomere lengths…16:20

  • The holy grail of current anti-aging research is finding the relevant markers: brain, telomeres, epigenetics, etc.
    • Epigenetic age, glycan age, brain age by quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG), blood markers, telomeres…
  • Brian Kennedy is leading the charge
  • Biological age provides a single objective measure to predict a large number of age-related diseases: dementia, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, etc.
  • TruAge Epigenetic Test Kit provided by TruDiagnostic (use code BEN50 to save $50)
  • Big difference is how they’re tied to outcome measurements, how predictive they are of actual age
  • Telomere testing doesn’t have statistical significance to markers of biological age or life expectancy, can change so fluidly, can jump up or down and no one really knows why
  • DNA methylation testing is more accurate, more functional, more about risks to other types of diseases, overall readout of where you are at in your health
  • Epigenetic testing does not track changes in the nucleotide sequence, genes are always there, some are turned on, turned off, turned up, turned down
  • It’s the aspect of changing the way in which genes are expressed


-Different types and uses of epigenetic testing…21:25

  • Methylation testing is the one closest to biological age
  • CpG sites (cytosine, guanine nucleotide) are methylated at a predictable rate
  • Accelerated methylation of DNA is indicative of a high rate of aging
  • Horvath testing is accurate; typical margin of error is ~2.6 years, which is very good
  • Crime investigators, health insurance companies use this data for their investigations
  • TruAge test is a reading of cellular and biological age, does not predict death
  • Epigenetics are “heritable” changes in gene expression (heavily influenced by lifestyle factors, not genetic history)
  •  The most important time in a person’s life is the lifestyle of their parents 3 months before conception thru the first 2 years of life
  • Some methylation patterns are written in “pen”(really hard to change fixed patterns), and some are in “pencil,” which can change
    • Cellular aging process can really be reversed
    • Around 60% is modifiable
  • “Epi” comes from Greek language and means “above”

-How the millions of CpG sites in the body are tested…28:25

  • TruAge test utilizes a microarray-based platform, isolating DNA, doing bisulfate conversion which allows testing methylation sites
  • Testing many copies of the same DNA, with over 900,000 CpG sites
  • The test determines what site on the DNA is methylated; different from the algorithm used to look at it
  • Cellular senescence; looking at DNA is all about creating new algorithms to read DNA; correlating methylation sites to senescent markers, coming up with new tests for senescence
    • Looking at methylation markers and correlating it to telomere length
    • Look at constituent DNA and figure out how much is the senescent cell burden
  • Intrinsic vs. extrinsic epigenetic age;
    • Dr. Horvath’s algorithm is really good at predicting cellular age at all different time spans, different tissues
    • Dr. Hannum’s is a little bit less predictive
    • As we age, amount of senescent T cells in the body goes up, amount of naive T cells go down

-The key factors that indicate an acceleration of aging…38:20

  • What accelerates aging:
    • Lifestyle factors: smoking, poor diet, not exercising, etc.
    • Very aggressive exercisers show extreme aging
  • Negative effects of lifestyle won’t show up epigenetically right away
  • Socioeconomic status, education levels can affect epigenetics tremendously
  • Stress levels, particularly as a child
  • One drink per day (beer or wine) can positively affect epigenetic rate
  • Females age at a slower rate than men
  • African Americans tend to age slower than other ethnicities
  • Environmental factors: air pollutants, non-native EMF, water, biological lighting

-How your diet affects your epigenetics…48:15

  • Depends on the individual’s ancestry and genetic history
  • Mediterranean diet tends to favor epigenetics
    • It’s the diet of the first humans, so it’s in more people’s history

-Compounds that slow down aging with great efficacy…52:30

  • Metformin
  • TRIM Trial (Metformin, DHEA, growth hormone, vitamin D)
  • TruDiagnostic has a whole host of senolytic compounds on the horizon
  • Things that were theoretical a short while ago are reaching clinical practice today
  • The “sweet spot” of cellular senescence is dependent on an individual’s age, lifestyle, genetic history, etc.
  • Stem cells are poisoned by senescent cells
  • Quercetin
  • Fisetin
  • Rapamycin
  • mTOR

-What Dr. Stickler and Ryan Smith would do if their biological age was less than optimal…59:45

  • Meditation
  • Regular exercise
  • Sleep tips
  • Understand how your chronological age will affect your testing
  • Repeating telomere testing – wait around 5 years to get an actionable outcome
  • Repeating epigenetic age testing – after 6 months, effects lifestyle pattern shift are seen

-And much more!


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

Resources from this episode:

– Ben’s TrueAge Results:

BenGreenfield-TruReport

 

TruDiagnostic TruAge Epigenetic Test Kit (use code BEN50 to save $50)

– BGF podcasts:

– Supplements:

– Gear:

Other resources:

Episode sponsors:

Beatin’ Path Media: You’ve got digital media needs, and James Newcomb of Beatin’ Path Media has got you covered. James is the audio editor and show notes copywriter for the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast and wants to help you take your podcast, audiobook, or videos to the next level.

Kion Clean Energy Bars: Satisfying, nutrient-dense, real-food energy bars with a delicious chocolate coconut flavor! BGF listeners receive a 20% discount when you use discount code BGF20.

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 your Joovv today and receive my brand new book, Boundless as a free gift.

Vuori: Activewear and athletic clothing for ultimate performance. Vuori is built to move and sweat in, yet designed with a West Coast aesthetic that transitions effortlessly into everyday life. Receive 25% off your first order when you use discount code BEN2020.

Clearlight Saunas: You can be sure that I researched all the saunas before I bought mine and Clearlight was the one that stood out from all the rest because of their EMF and ELF Shielding and their Lifetime Warranty. Use discount code BENGREENFIELD to get $100 off your sauna, free shipping, and a free bonus gift!

Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Ryan Smith, Dan Stickler, or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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Is Your Home’s “Dirty Electricity” Wrecking Your Health?

Sit back and prepare for a wild ride, because it’s finally here: The official, fully updated, EMF-shielding “building biology” analysis of my biohacked home in the forest.

Are your sleep-enhancing devices potentially hurting your brain and sleep patterns due to the dirty electricity they emit during a night of sleep?

Is a “low-EMF” office really low EMF?

Do “healthy” saunas produce EMFs or dirty electricity?

Is it OK to use popular grounding or earthing devices?

Do any of those fancy EMF personal protection devices actually work?

How big a deal are cell phone towers or 5G panels, even if you don’t live directly nearby one?

We’ll tackle these questions and plenty more as you get to listen in (and watch, using the video here on this page) during an entire building biology analysis of the Greenfield home.

My guest on today’s show, Brian Hoyer, first joined me on the show “The Intriguing Science Of Building Biology (Along With A Complete Analysis & Surprising Results From Ben Greenfield’s So-Called “Biohacked Home”)”.

Brian’s dive into health started when he became a father wanting to provide the most optimal growing environment for his family. His desire for them to thrive—and his devotion to discover the truth—drove him to find the most insightful and effective cutting-edge methods for addressing what’s really going on in our bodies and environments. This led Brian to become a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, train with The Klinghardt Academy, and become a certified geobiologist trained by a pioneering naturopathic and environmental medicine clinic in Austria that’s been addressing EMFs and geopathic stress since 1983.

Brian and his wife, Lindsey, built an EMF shielded tiny house in the summer of 2017. Brian travels all over the country doing EMF assessments, speaking at conferences and on podcasts, and helping families install shielding solutions. After testing many homes for EMF around the country Brian founded Shielded Healing in 2017 with the goal of helping modern humanity recreate electromagnetic environments that more closely mimic our historic human habitats.

According to Brian, EMF testing and mitigation has been stuck in the same pattern for 20-30 years. The last 10-15 years professionals all around the world have been recommending the same solutions even as our exposure has increased 500-1000 times or more. The same fabrics, the same meters, the same recommendations, and saying pretty much the same things, despite the drastic increase in exposures and chronic illness.


Here’s the entire video of Brian’s walkthrough of my home:


Here’s what you’ll hear in the podcast:

-The difference between a “building biologist” and an EMF shielding expert…7:00

  • Brian began as a health practitioner
  • A biohacking way to fix:
    • The house
    • The person
    • Earth frequencies from external stimuli (cell towers and the like)
  • Book: Healing is Voltage by Jerry Tennant
  • Book: The Body Electric by Robert Becker
  • Brian’s first podcast with Ben covered the basics: Building biology, WiFi routers, cell towers, smartphones near the head, etc.

-The protocol Brian follows when evaluating a home or office…11:00

  • 6 basic stressors explored and measured:
    • Magnetic fields – Tests on devices with motors running (refrigerators, induction stoves, etc.), unbalanced current in the wires, outside power lines near big substations with transformers. Test using the NFA-1000 Gauss meter. The ESI-24 ($300) could also be used (use code BEN5 to save 5%)
    • Electric fields – Test the body’s current, dirty electricity that’s on the ground using the ESI-24
    • Dirty electricity – Test the lines for thousands of different frequencies that are riding on the 60Hz electrical system; (spikes, surges, etc.)
    • Wireless frequencies – Test using the Spectran V5 and the ESI-24 (wifi routers, cellphones, cell phone towers, etc.)
    • Artificial light – Test flicker and spectrum of the light, match the indoor environment to the outdoor environment
    • Geopathic stress – Naturopathic/homeopathic term for the energy coming out of the earth; scientific term is Telluric current
  • Difference between electric and magnetic fields: Electric fields travel along anything conductive; magnetic can travel through anything
  • Pulsing electric or magnetic fields are the concern; they are not found in nature
  • Pulsing causes the cells to “jostle” in several different directions at once; affects the mitochondria
    • Magnetism affects almost every mineral in some way
    • Electro-hypersensitivity in people with metal overload, mold, mycotoxins, biofilm, poor methylation
  • EMF frequencies are not modulated to be healing frequencies
  • Robert O. Becker research on PEMF, electromagnetism, electric current, etc.
    • How the fields can be used in beneficial ways therapeutically, and have an effect biologically on the tissue
  • Issue between a cellphone and a PEMF device: cellphones are not modulated in a way to be healing frequency or any kind of healing therapy
  • Faraday bags available on Amazon
  • Defender Shield smartphone case (use code BEN20 to save 20%)
  • Open Signal app tests the connection speed of mobile phone and wifi signals
  • iPhone to ethernet cables

-Living Room and Kitchen…31:45

  • Starting with the magnetic field, wiring issues can be discovered right away
    • Living room measured 0.35mG (daytime – 0.5mG or lower)
    • Bedroom 0.3mG or lower
  • Brian’s tests – making the invisible visible, and the inaudible audible
  • Light Rhythms Concerto EMF protection device
  • Testing the body’s micro-voltage for radiofrequency radiation
    • Acceptable measurement:
      • Under 1000μV in daytime areas (it was over 10,000μV with the cell phone turned on)
      • Under 100μV in nighttime areas
    • 2 lav mics and a cell phone maxed out the measuring device
  • Devices that claim to block or cancel EMF often do not offer much protection (read the fine print)
  • Book: The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
    • Double-blind placebo effect
    • Engaging in behavior you know is unhealthy can be more harmful than blissful ignorance (psychological stress)
  • Set up a protocol, act on it, then stop stressing out about it; you can’t fix everything at once
  • BGF podcast with Joe Mercola on EMFs
    • Carb mitigation
    • Ketone bodies having protective effects on some of the inflammatory pathways
    • High magnesium (use code GREENFIELD10 to save $10)/mineral (use code GREENFIELD10 to save 10%) intake has a positive effect on some of the deleterious effects on calcium channel influx
    • Diet rich in sirtuins
    • Supplementing with NAD protecting against ionizing radiation damage
  • Real-time radio frequency spectrum analyzer
  • FM radio frequencies resonate with human body more than other frequencies
  • Book: The Invisible Rainbow by Arthur Firstenberg
    • Correlation between EMF exposure to diseases
    • “Perfect storm for chronic illness”
  • The body can act as an antenna for cell phones, TV’s, etc.
  • EMF-blocking underwear may conduct EMF if in a high-density EMF area (use code BEN to save 20%)
    • Get an EMF meter, know what’s going on in the environment (use code BEN5 to save 5%)
  • Book: Electromagnetic Field Measurements in the Near Field by Hubert Trzaska
  • Wired keyboards, trackpads, etc.
  • Make sure the computer is grounded (third prong)
  • Grounded charging cable and charger
  • Use a wired mouse rather than wireless
  • Himalayan salt lamp


-Boys’ Bedrooms…1:09:50


-Master bedroom…1:51:45

  • Things running during the night to test:
  • Measurements with all devices running:
    • Electric field at 1200mV
    • Slightly elevated magnetic field but not necessarily a concern
    • Some voltage coming from the diffuser; a battery-powered diffuser would be way better
    • BluShield actually producing more EMF than it is blocking
    • chiliPAD controller should not be under the bed
    • Belkin grounded power strips are good
    • Bluetooth of the Molekule air filter should be disabled (use code BEN to save 10%)
    • To accurately test, the Dreem should be worn while inside Dr. Mercola’s Silvershield EMF shielding tent; as it is, the Dreem is emitting flicker (100Hz)
    • Studies show that flickering light can be beneficial with PBM at specific frequencies
  • A grounding mat under the bed can be problematic if the rest of the room is not properly protected

-Smart Meter and Solar Panels…2:13:30

  • Smart meters operate around 900 MHz; can go as high as 2.4 GHz
    • Magnetic field reading of 20~30mG
  • Shielded Healing power conditioner
  • Power Perfect dirty electricity filter near the solar storage battery
    • Switched on: less than 40mV, switched off: 190mV

-Testing Wearables In the Faraday Tent…2:21:30


-Biohacking Room…2:31:15

  • PEMF Chair measurements:
    • 0.4mV and 29μA
    • On PEMF device: 7.8pps(Hz) and 103mG; reading on Brian’s meters: 16.7Hz
    • Body current: 26μA at 44kHz (device is producing dirty electricity)
    • Dirty electricity filter cut the dirty electricity in half
  • Some ground current is measured from the difference between foundation ground and house-ground potential
  • BioCharger has more or less similar frequency to the infrared sauna
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) chamber (use code BEN to save $500)
    • With device off: electric field at 2000μV

-The Office…2:57:45

  • Desk space
    • Ultimate Longevity grounding mat and Ultimate Longevity grounding patches
      • Plugged in: 130mV, 7μA (dirty ground)
      • Patches unplugged: 400mV
      • Unplugged: 93mV
      • Grounding mat increases body voltage
      • Not grounded at all: 1900mV, body current not changed much
    • NanoVi running: 4.8V, body with 1.3V
    • Micro amps measure dirty ground
    • Patches help drop the body voltage
    • Replace power cords with E-shielded power cords
  • Testing continuity or resistance of Ben’s skin: 0.6MΩ
  • House grounding versus outside grounding: outside has lower voltage potential
    • 380mV, 3.8μA, DC voltage and current: 860mV, 8.0μA
  • Grounding via mat and patch is counterproductive
  • It is always recommended to ground everything at one point/location. Different locations have different voltages.
  • Eizo Flex Monitor with Iris Blue Light Blocking Software
    • Monitor flicker: 200Hz with the lights off
    • Flicker is less with the lights on (incandescent bulb lights are filling in the gaps of the flicker)
  • Brian uses and recommends ASUS Eye Care Monitors or Acer VisionCare Monitors
  • Blood Glucose Monitor
  • Morozko Forge (use code BENFORGE to save $150)
    • There is some electrical current in the water; 0V on the tank and in the water
    • 7.8μA DC current near the Forge
    • Good grounding in the water
  • On the grounds: from the house ground to the outside ground current
  • Book: Dirty Electricity by Sam Milham, epidemiologist on dirty electricity and all things EMF

Closing Ceremony…3:30:00


Resources from this episode:

Brian Hoyer:

Luke Storey’s EMF Home Safety Masterclass

– BGF Podcasts:

– Books:

– Gear and equipment:

– Supplements:

– Other resources:

Episode sponsors:

Kion Coffee: Carefully selected and roasted for taste, purity, high antioxidants, and health. BGF listeners receive a 20% discount when you use discount code BGF20.

Organifi Green Juice: Now you can get all your healthy superfoods in one glass…with No Shopping, No Blending, No Juicing, and No Cleanup. Get a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.

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.

Public Goods: The one-stop-shop for affordable, sustainable, healthy, household products — from home and personal care to premium pantry staples — all in one place. BGF listeners, get $15 off your first order, with no minimum purchase when you use discount code BEN.

Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback on building biology for Brian Hoyer or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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The Beginner’s Guide (Top 7 Hacks!)

Warning: This is going to be interactive.

Biohackers believe in experience-based learning. Or in plainer terms… we like to touch stuff. If you don’t try it, how do you know it works?

If you have a coffee near you, pick it up and chug it.

Your Challenge: To read this article FAST.

Jim Kwik, accelerated learning expert and conference keynote, asked the audience to remember FAST learning.

  • ForgetForget your preconceptions.
  • Active: Read actively and participate in the demos.
  • State: Feel the excitement and curiosity to learn. Sit up, lean forward.
  • Teach: Read as though you must teach this to others.

Jim teaches these techniques in his accelerated learning classes. Your challenge is to apply them while reading this article.

Do you accept the challenge? If so, take a moment to manage your state.

Alright, let’s dive in.

When Biohackers Gather

“This is like Disneyland for adults!”

With the three massive flow-state inducing swings, the hyperbaric chambers, the neurofeedback booths, the ARX Fit workout machines, the nutrient injection stations, the vibration plates, the oxygen bar, the Bulletproof Coffee bar, and the other 30+ technology exhibitors, the 2014 Bulletproof Biohacking Conference certainly felt like a health-focused amusement park of the future.

Conference speakers included flow-state expert Steven Kotler, mobility expert Kelly Starrett, memory expert Jim Kwik, nutrition expert JJ Virgin, brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen, and more than 35 other health and performance leaders.

With three consecutive 12-hour days of non-stop information, I’d have needed Jim Kwik’s brain to absorb and recall everything.

Here’s my attempt at mapping all the topics discussed:

To simplify, I filtered it down to 7 actionable biohacks that you can start doing immediately:

Movement, nutrition, rewilding, awareness, music, flow, and gratitude.

But first…

What the heck is “Biohacking”?

Biohacking is a crazy-sounding name for something not crazy at all—the desire to be the absolute best version of ourselves.

The main thing that separates a biohacker from the rest of the self-improvement world is a systems-thinking approach to our own biology.

You know how coffee feels like a shot of energy to your brain?

Pre-coffee you is sleepy….zzzzzz…

Post-coffee you is WIDE AWAKE!!

The only difference is the coffee in your stomach.

The lesson is this: What you put into your body has an ENORMOUS impact on how you feel.

We all know this. What we eat and drink is one way we alter our state.

Music is another. If you put on smoooooooooooth jazzzzzzzz, you’ll feel different than if you blast T-T-T-TECHNO.

The things we put in our stomach and ears are inputs into our biology.

As humans, we are complex systems. What goes into us affects what comes out of us, and I’m not just talking about our poop. Our behaviors, our health, and our performance in all areas of life are outputs.

If we want better outputs—to have more energy and focus, to be free of disease, to have a better memory, to perform optimally in business and athletics—then let’s tweak the things we put into our body and mind to stack the deck in our favor.

Biohackers use the tools of the Quantified Self to measure these inputs and outputs, and to experimentally test the effect of different tweaks.

As I mentioned earlier, biohacking is about getting your hands dirty and learning from experience.

Do that with me now.

1. Gut Punch Your Posture

biohackingWe all know sitting for long periods is terrible. It causes muscle tightness and destroys our potential for athletic performance. Eventually, it causes injury and chronic pain.

We aren’t supposed to feel that pain.

Kelly Starrett, founder of MobilityWOD and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard and Ready To Run, gave tips for restoring our natural mobility.

  • Tip 1: Spend 10 minutes foam rolling each day. Simple and effective.
  • Tip 2: Maintain a neutral-spine position.

He had everyone follow a sequence to stabilize their spine. Try this with me now.

  1. Squeeze your butt.
  2. Breath out and pull your ribcage down.
  3. Engage your abs 20%.
  4. Set your head in a neutral position, ears inline with shoulders (imagine someone grabbing the top of your head above your ears and pulling upward).

(Image source here.)

This same stabilizing sequence can be used while standing. While standing, also twist your feet into the ground (like a screw) to add more stability.

Unfortunately, this posture is really hard to maintain while sitting.

A more stable sitting position is to sit cross-legged or in a butt-to-ground squat in your chair. You’ll look silly doing it, but you’ll get the last laugh.

Kelly also had us play a game. If you see someone who isn’t engaging their abs, smack them in the stomach. A couple gut-smacks and you’ll be much more aware of your posture.

Recap 1: Spend 10 minutes foam rolling each day. 2: Every hour, practice resetting your posture by following the neutral-spine sequence. 3: Punch friends in the gut if they aren’t engaging their abs.

2. Eat The Right Nutrition

Nutrition was a popular topic at the conference.

Dave Asprey, creator of the Bulletproof brand, outlined the new Bulletproof Diet. In short, eat…

  1. lots of veggies lathered in grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is a common brand)
  2. grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, and low-mercury fish (like wild sockeye salmon)
  3. moderate starches and fruits

Cook lightly, if at all. Drink Bulletproof coffee.

That’s my massive simplification to get you started. For full details, go here:Bulletproof Diet Book

JJ Virgin showed how sugar is linked to almost every common disease. It’s also MORE addictive than morphine.

Looking for an impactful biohack? Try removing sugar from your diet.

Dr. Tom O’Bryan discussed the gut-brain connection. If you have a food sensitivity but eat that food anyway, you get inflammation. Inflammation makes our brains dumber.

Test for your food sensitivities, then stop eating those foods.

Food sensitivities can be tested through an expensive but thorough alcat test, the Bulletproof Stress Detective app (using heart rate), or by doing the HR test yourself.

Recap 1: Eat veggies, healthy fats, high quality protein. 2: Reduce sugar 3: Avoid food sensitivities

Fun fact: In just three days at the conference, over 200 lbs of butter was consumed in the coffee alone! If you weren’t sure, that’s a LOT of butter. Like a 200 lb person made of butter.

3. Rewild Yourself With Nature

Did you know every dog is a descendent of the Gray Wolf?

That adorable golden puppy with big blue eyes curled up in your lap… yep, he’s a wolf. His great-great-great-great-great grandfather wouldn’t be rolling over asking you to rub his belly. He’d be eating you for dinner.

In a very entertaining talk, Daniel Vitalis showed how we, as modern humans, are no different than that puppy.

We have domesticated ourselves and made it taboo to think otherwise.We are not as fit, resilient, or adaptable and much more prone to chronic disease than our ancestors.

If domestication is the problem, then re-wilding is the solution. Daniel outlined four systems for re-wilding our natural nutrition.

1. Eat Living, Wild Foods

Humans, like most animals, eat living (or once-living) things for fuel—broccoli once cut from its stem, the leg of chicken amputated from its body, those mushrooms plucked from the ground, sauerkraut covered in tiny microbes.

We need these wild foods.

If you want to be a real wolf, go outside and forage these foods yourself.

2. Drink Unprocessed Spring Water

What we drink is as important as what we eat, but most of us aren’t aware that our water is as processed as the processed food we now know to avoid.

Most water has minerals removed and chemicals added. Instead, find a natural spring and load up. You can find one near you here: http://www.findaspring.com/

Otherwise, it’s better to drink water bottled in glass than tap water.

3. Breathe Air From Nature

Do you think about the air you breath as nutrition?

As you can guess, natural air is more rejuvenating than the moldy air in our homes. Go outside.

Another tip: To absorb oxygen most effectively, fill your lungs by breathing deeply through the diaphragm.

4. Expose Yourself to Sunlight

Sunlight is part of our natural nutrition, so expose your skin to those warm rays of sun.

It’s time to rewild.

Open your eyes and see that you are that little puppy. To become the wolf, go back to nature.

Start by just spending a little more time outside.

Recap 1: Eat living, wild foods. 2: Drink unprocessed spring water. 3: Breathe air from nature. 4: Expose yourself to sunlight. 5. Go outside.

5. Go Outside

But outside is dangerous and scary!

Joe De Sena, creator of the Spartan races, says to Spartan Up and change your frame of reference. A long time ago, people had low expectations and a high tolerance. Today, we have high expectations and can tolerate very little.

My great-grandfather came to the US with no money, no family, and no plan. He was happy to be alive.

Low expectations. High tolerance.

On my flight to LA, someone loudly complained about the wifi not working. “Life sucks!”

High expectations. Low tolerance.

It reminds me of this Louis CK bit: everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy (4 min video).

How can you change your frame of reference then?

1. Make Yourself Uncomfortable

  • Attempt a Spartan Race
  • Take a cold shower
  • Try Rejection Therapy. My experience is here: http://vimeo.com/79453884 (5 min video)
  • Contemplate death. Read Seneca or Marcus Aurelius.
  • Be homeless? I’m currently doing this, but that’s a story for another day ????

2. Meditate

To change where we direct our attention, we need to become aware of our attention. Then, we can consciously create the internal states, behaviors, feelings, situations, and meaning we desire.

Meditation is the tried-and-true path to enhanced awareness.

There are advanced methods of meditation, like neurofeedback and 40 Years of Zen, but meditation is always accessible and free. Start with meditation.

Tim Ferriss has a general rule about meditation: the less time you think you have to meditate, the more time you need to spend meditating.

Recap 1: Put yourself in uncomfortable situations to lower your expectations and raise your tolerance. 2: Meditate.

Challenge Check-in!

Are you still reading FAST?

Are you participating, inquisitive, and eager to teach this to others?

Check your posture. Is your spine stabilized or does someone need to punch you in the gut?

Just checking…. okay, let’s continue.

5. Hear Music, Change Your Brain

Here’s my personal secret to hacking focus:

Put on headphones. Open Spotify. Play instrumental rock or electronic music.

When that’s on, the world around me disappears and I can get lost in my work.

To dig deeper into audio as a biohack, it’s important to understand how the brain works at a high level.

Your brain has 100 billion neurons that use electricity to talk to each other. At any moment, millions of neurons are talking at once, which produces a lot of electrical activity. When this activity is measured with an EEG, the result is a wave-like pattern called a brainwave.

The frequency of this brainwave depends on what you are doing.

Brainwaves 101:

  • Beta (14–30 Hz): awake, concentrated, alert. We spend most of the day here.
  • Alpha (8–14 Hz): meditative state, awake but relaxed, twilight state between sleep and waking, improved memory recall.
  • Theta (4–8 Hz): light dreaming, access to unconscious mind.
  • Delta (0.1–4 Hz): deep dreamless sleep, restorative, complete loss of awareness.

In a process called Frequency Following Response, a consistent sound wave has been shown to change your brainwaves.

In Bill Harris’ talk on dramatically increasing awareness, his research showed that audio entrainment helps meditators create awareness 8x faster than traditional meditation.

Binaural beats are one example of audio brainwave entrainment. Here are a few others:

 https://www.focusatwill.com/ https://www.centerpointe.com/v2/

Recap 1: Put on headphones. 2: Try audio entrainment.

6. Hack Flow

A theme of this year’s conference was the elusive “flow state”. Flow is that optimal state of consciousness when we feel and perform at our best. Time slows down, you forget yourself, and you perform at a higher level than ever before.

In other words, you know those times when you are kicking ass and nothing can stop you? That’s flow.

Steven Kotler, author of Rise of Superman, realized that action and adventure athletes are the only ones who consistently enter this state. As he says, since their sports put them frequently in life or death situations, it’s either “flow or die”.

Kotler’s research identified 17 triggers to enter flow

He also learned that flow is cyclical.

Before you enter flow, you must experience a struggle. This is the learning phase. Your brain shows beta waves in this phase (awake, concentrated).

Next, you must release completely. This is when your subconscious can do its magic—consolidate the information and relax. Your brain shows alpha waves here (meditative state, awake but relaxed).

Then there is flow. Theta waves (access to unconscious mind)

Finally, you enter a recovery phase. Delta waves (deep dreamless sleep, restorative).

If you are struggling to complete something, push yourself a little longer. Then stop and do something completely different, like foam roll in the park. That release is a critical step to entering flow.

Recap 1: Work hard on something, then break and disconnect completely. When you return later, you’re more likely to experience flow.

7. Show Gratitude

Interactive demo! Try this.

Think this sentence and then pause and notice how you feel.

“Ugh, this guy has wasted the last 12 minutes of my life. I’ve learned nothing and this demo he is asking me to do is bullsh*t.”

… hmmm ok …

Now try this one.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to expand my worldview. I am practicing my ability to read information and filter what is meaningful to me.”

… pause a moment …

Now one more.

“I am MASSIVELY grateful this author injected caffeine into his veins to have the energy to compile all this useful information into one concise article. I am grateful to be learning something new today and am giddy to apply one of these techniques in my daily life. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!”

Wait, why weren’t you already thinking that?!?

If you weren’t, you should watch this.

You get the point though: We can think about the same experience in many different ways. If we are grateful, we positively change our perspective on the events in our lives.

UJ Ramdas presented gratitude as a biohack and offered four techniques to start your daily gratitude practice.

  • Gratitude Journal. At it’s simplest, just write down 3 things you are grateful for each night. Pro tip: If you want email reminders, set up a google form (here’s a template) and use IFTTT to email yourself that link (If 10pm, then email me the link to that form).
  • Five Minute Journal. The journal created by UJ. Answer three questions each morning and two before bed. Puts you in the right mindset to start and end your day. (Link here)
  • Gratitude Walk. UJ recommends doing this on your way to work. Be very present and feel gratitude for everything you see and experience during that short walk. Try to feel the gratitude in your heart.
  • Gratitude Visit. Write a letter (300 words) of love and gratitude to someone important to you. Set up a time to meet them, then take out the letter and read it to them. UJ says it is extremely transformative.

Gratitude is a daily practice, similar to meditation. Like meditation, it becomes more natural over time. In fact, gratitude and meditation go very well together, like peanut butter and jelly. (For those wondering, PB&J is not Bulletproof.)

Remember: What you put into your body affects what you get out. In this case, your thoughts create the world you experience. If you put gratitude in, you get gratitude out.

Recap 1: Develop a daily gratitude practice.

Your Mission

  1. Pick one: Mobility, Nutrition, Nature, Attention, Music, Flow, Gratitude.
  2. Try it. Commit to it for 7 days.
  3. Make it failure-proof. Read the bonus biohack below to upgrade your willpower and make this habit failure-proof.

By Mark Moschel. This post originally appeared at Medium.com – thank you to Mark and Medium for allowing me to repost it.


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High Carb vs. High Fat Diet

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

Meet Denise Minger.

kempner_weight_loss_3

Wait, no. That’s not Denise. 

This is Denise.

denise_september

The woman above Denise is a woman from a dietary study who lost 123 pounds in just shy of a year. She’s not to be confused with the woman above her, who obliterated 278 pounds in a bit over a year.

All on a 90-95% carbohydrate based, high-sugar, high-starch, low-fat diet.

And that’s just a peek into the contents of today’s podcast. But back to Denise.

Denise blogs at RawFoodSOS.com, where she just released the controversial article “IN DEFENSE OF LOW FAT: A CALL FOR SOME EVOLUTION OF THOUGHT.” That particular article is exactly what we’re going to be digging into this podcast…

…but Denise is no stranger to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Last year, I published the article “How To Figure Out What Diet Is Right For You“, which contains many anecdotes from Denise’s book “Death By Food Pyramid“.

As a self-described health blogger, Denise typically spends about five hours a day reading and writing about nutrition. In both her writings and lectures she has a reputation for aggressively challenging today’s leading voices of conventional wisdom, and is perhaps most famous for her thorough refutation of “The China Study” book. Denise is considered to be a major thorn in the side of both mainstream nutritionists and other health figures who adhere to standard dietary dogma.

During my discussion with Denise, you’ll discover:

-Why Denise doesn’t drink coffee and eats lots of sushi and sashimi…

-How in the process of redeeming fat, we traded one form of oversimplified blame for another…

-What carbosis is, and why you need to be very careful mixing carbohydrates with fats…

-Why our current definition of low fat is very flawed, and the more appropriate definition of what low fat actually is…

-The low fat history you’ve probably never heard…

-The shocking evidence that sugar and white rice can actually cure diabetes and melt fat off the body…

-How decreasing “healthy” saturated fat and increasing intake of vegetable oils has been shown in baffling research to actually benefit conditions such as multiple sclerosis…

-Why it’s a myth that a low-fat, high-carb vegetable diet is what eventually killed researcher Nathan Pritikin….

-Why Denise has changed her mind about some issues she had with the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, and why she apologizes to vegans and vegetarians…

-And much more!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about high carb vs. high fat, and Denise’s new take on a high carb, low fat diet? Your own thoughts to share? Leave it all below and either Denise or I will reply!



Also published on Medium.

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Why Your DNA Is Worthless (& What You Need To Focus On Instead).

Your DNA alone is worthless.

So claim my guests on today’s show, Dr. Matt Dawson and Dr. Mike Mallin of Wild Health, with locations in Versailles, KY and Bend, OR. I first interviewed these guys in the episode “How To Use Precision Medicine To Enhance Athletic Performance, Defy Aging, Balance Hormones, Fix The Heart & Much More.” and now they’re back to talk all things DNA and genetics.

Dr. Matt Dawson is a precision medicine physician in Lexington, KY, co-host of the Wild Health Podcast, and has been obsessed with performance optimization as long as he can remember. He received scholarships to play two sports in college even with “minimal talent” because of his voracious reading and implementation of any fitness or nutritional techniques that would give him an edge. Dr. Dawson continued that obsession in medical school, and as a physician, he has won national awards for education, innovation, and leadership. He has lectured in over 20 countries and trained thousands of other physicians through live lectures, online education, two textbooks, and an educational app.

Dr. Dawson combines his training in genomics and functional medicine to give personalized, precise medical guidance. His obsession with performance optimization has morphed from, initially athletic, to now mental performance and longevity. Whether it’s a professional athlete or a grandparent optimizing their mental clarity and mobility to keep up with their grandkids, Dr. Dawson is passionate about helping everyone perform at their absolute peak.

Dr. Mike Mallin is a physician in Bend, OR who is obsessed with health performance and precision medicine and is co-founder of the Wild Health Podcast. He completed medical school in South Carolina and trained in Emergency Medicine in Salt Lake City, UT where he competed in several ultramarathons and found his love for the mountains and performance.

Mike currently practices in Bend, OR and Lexington, KY in his precision medicine clinics. He is also co-founder of the Ultrasound Podcast, an educational podcast that has taught thousands of physicians all over the world how to use ultrasound.

During this discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why DNA data in and of itself is insufficient…6:30

  • Epigenomics: Genomics taken in context of the whole person
  • Get a sense of what a person’s genes are transcribing via lab values
  • Understand how lifestyle and habits can affect specific genes (ex. PGC1A)
  • Needed a simplified means of interpreting genetic results
  • Falsehoods have been noted in DNA reports
  • A comprehensive analysis includes lifestyle, preferences, microbiome, etc.
  • DNA reports will occasionally translate RSID’s wrong
  • Misreading data can lead to unhealthy lifestyle decisions

-What sets Drs. Dawson and Mallin’s new software apart from other DNA software…13:26

  • Lifestyle and patient preferences factor heavily
  • Microbiome data is important
  • Looking for a more comprehensive picture of a patient than simple data
  • Cholesterol levels, cardiovascular conditions, etc. are taken into account

-The results from the software thus far…18:11

  • “Whole picture” approach allows for more accurate diagnoses and appropriate recommendations
  • Cardiovascular risk down  by over 50% in less than 6 months on average
  • LP(a) decreases more than 2 years of statin treatment
  • LDL-P down an average of 357 points per patient
  • CRP down over 50% in patients who start off with it elevated
  • Average HRV increase of 15 from genomic-based training programs
  • All mostly without pharmaceuticals


-How Matt and Mike test for aging and their “gold standard” longevity protocol…23:32

  • Get the basics right first: sleep, environment, exercise, sunlight, etc.
  • Personalized: genomics, preference-based
  • Get biological age first:
    • True Age Test
    • DNA Age Test
  • Horvath Clock tests methylation in the body; telomere test results have been erratic
  • Pulse press cycle is important
  • MOTS-C
  • Resveratrol
  • NAD
  • Article: Growth hormone, DHEA, and metformin reversed aging
  • Use peptides w/ caution; opt for natural treatments first
  • Exercise protocols used during anabolic phase of treatment
  • Dr. John Douillard’s Colorado Cleanse
  • Dr. Valter Longo’s Prolon Kit

-NAD protocols used by Mike, Matt, and Ben…43:00

-Peptides used in the Wild Health practice…50:23

  • Semax for neuro-cognitive  strength
  • Selank for anxiety
  • Dihexa for neural optimization
  • CJC-1295
  • Ipamorelin
  • Epithalon
  • GHK
  • Zinc Thymulin
  • Tailor Made triple (zinc, copper and minoxidil)
  • BPC 157 and Thymosin Beta 500 for injury recovery

-Goings on at the Kentucky Castle…53:48

  • Spa, float tank, cryotherapy, sauna on site
  • Food and farming on site
    • Organic garden
    • Sheep and goats
    • Chickens
  • April 7-9 conference
    • Ben will be speaking
    • Teach how to apply what’s been discussed in this episode
    • Open to the public, but focused on physicians and practitioners

-How Mike and Matt practice what they preach on an individual level…56:45

-And much more…

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

Resources from this episode:

Wild Health MD website

April 7-9 event at the castle (Stay tuned to my calendar for details.)

DNA methylation age of human tissues and cell types

Growth hormone, DHEA, and metformin reversed aging

Boundless

Dr. John Douillard’s Colorado Cleanse

Dr. Valter Longo’s Prolon Kit

Quicksilver Push Catch Liver detox

Weston A. Price diet

Thorne Resveracel

Tailor Made Compounding

MiCacao cacao tea

Episode sponsors:

Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.

Organifi Glow: A plant-based beverage that helps support the body’s natural ability to produce collagen, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and protect the skin from sun exposure and toxins. Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code: BENG20

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

Vuori: Activewear and athletic clothing for ultimate performance. Vuori is built to move and sweat in, yet designed with a West Coast aesthetic that transitions effortlessly into everyday life. Receive 25% off your first order when you use the link Vuoriclothing.com/Ben

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

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Dr. Gundry and Darin Olien discuss the world’s most powerful “superfoods”

Ever wondered what makes a “superfood” super?

My guest on today’s episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast, Darin Olien, has traveled to over 40 countries in search of the most powerful and nutritious foods on earth. His travels have even earned him the nickname “Superfood Hunter.”

And recently, Darin has come across one of the most nutritious (and tasty!) foods on earth — and it’s now available in grocery stores across the country.

On this episode, Darin and I chat about some of the world’s most powerful foods, five secrets to a longer life, and the “snack food” you should be eating A LOT more of.

So listen in — you won’t want to miss this episode!

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The shocking “exotic” secret the food companies DON’T want you to know (6:00)
  • How stress has produced one of the most potent and powerful olive oils in the world (you won’t believe where these olives are growing) (7:15)
  • How one tiny nut nearly sparked a war (14:15)
  • My “go to” low-calorie snack that is WAY more nutritious than an almond (17:00)
  • One “brain-boosting” fruit that you’re probably NOT eating (and why that’s actually shocking) (28:05)
  • Darin’s 3 “desert island” superfoods and why you should be consuming more of them (29:50)
  • Five “globe-trotting” secrets for a longer, happier, and more vibrant life (32:00)
  • The “dangerous” secret buried in the label of your kombucha (38:35)

Mentioned on this episode:

SuperLife: The 5 Simple Fixes That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome

SuperLife

SuperLife Living (Twitter)

Daren Olien (Instagram)

Baruka Nuts (official site)

Baruka Nuts (Facebook)

The Longevity Paradox 

If you like this episode, you may also enjoy:

172 Marathons, 16 months in prison – but THIS was the hardest thing he did.

Biohacking — Bulletproof Style

Are we addicted to chemicals in soil? l Eugenia Bone

Watch on YouTube:

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How To Modify Your Exercise And Nutrition As You Get Older

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

Aug 15, 2012 free podcast: How To Modify Your Exercise And Nutrition As You Get Older. Also: healing a broken foot, dealing with an eating and/or exercise disorder, post workout nausea, using the MostFit Suspension System, does your body self-limit, healing your gut after radiation therapy, ammonia in your sweat, and can green coffee bean extract hurt your workouts?

Have a podcast question for Ben? click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, Skype to “pacificfit” or scroll down on this post to access the free “Ask Ben” form.

If you have trouble listening, downloading, or transferring to your mp3 player just e-mail [email protected]. Also, please don’t forget to leave the podcast a ranking in iTunes – it only takes a minute of your time and it helps grow our healthy community!

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News Flashes:

To get these and other interesting news flashes every week, follow Ben on Twitter and Google+.

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Special Announcements:

Go to www.audiblepodcast.com/ben to get your free Audiobook today.

Cooking Class with Ben & Jessa Greenfield: “Make Your Own Probiotics” – Thursday, August 23, 6:30-8pm. Fee: $5 per person – includes recipes and samples. Location: Pilgrim’s Health Education Center.

Need blood testing to find out your health or performance biomarkers? – Ben recommends WellnessFX

Last call – Come with Brock and Ben to Thailand and get this Asia Pacific 70.3 Training Plan for free!

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Listener Q&A:A donate button that reads - keep the podcasts coming

As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.

Audio Question from Tony:
Recently broke a bone in his foot and is looking for help from the nutritional side and supplement side. Also looking for advice on how to stay fit while on crutches for the next 8 weeks.

~ In his response to Troy, Ben mentions Capraflex.

Audio Question from Chuck:
Has been dealing with an eating disorder for years. Is currently checked in to an in-patient facility and eating all meals there. Exercise is frowned on until more weight is restored. Feels like all the weight he is putting on is going straight to his stomach. Wants to distribute the weight more evenly without sabotaging any success he is having in the program.

Audio Question from Ben:
Post workout nausea and/or lightheadedness. He trains fasted, usually around 11 or noon. Drinks a shake in the locker room right after lifting, squatting, push/pull etc… drinks a small coconut water and whey protein shake. 10 or 15 minutes after the shake he gets dizzy and nauseous. He doesn’t have this issue if he skips the shake.

Audio Question from Ben:
He is driving from California to New York and would like to stay fit during the trip. Do you think he could anchor the Most Fit Suspension Trainer on the car door the same way you do on a home or hotel door?

~ In his response to Ben, Ben mentions The MostFit Suspension Strap.

Bill asks:
I am a 60 year old male triathlete and using Ben’s advanced 1/2 Ironman training plan. What adjustments in training, recovery and nutrition would you advise in general for older athletes? I find I’m taking an extra day off (usually an easy recovery training day) while working full time with family responsibilities.

~ In his response, Ben mentions the liquid multivitamin.

Bill asks:
About eight months ago (before I became a listener) I purchased Ellington Darden’s “New High Intensity Training,” As a result of applying this approach, I have become stronger, at 48-years-old, than at any other time in my life (including while playing college football). It’s been great. However, I have two concerns. First, I am still going up… with no particular reason to keep getting stronger. I’m a creative director, not an offensive tackle. Should I just pick a plateau and choose to stay there forever? Or what? Also, my lifts are starting to be limited by (or possibly damage) non-target areas – for example, I could go higher on dumbbell flies as far as my chest is concerned, but my wrists aren’t strong enough. And I can keeping squatting higher weights, but my hips are hurting. Seems like my body’s trying to self-limit, maybe? I am surprised by how strong I have become with no ceiling in sight… is there a ceiling? Any thoughts, on HIT training in general and this situation in particular?

Lauri says:
My partner just completed abdominal radiation therapy for cancer. Needless to say, this pretty much trashed her digestive system. I have been looking into the GAPS diet as a potential method to help her along the healing path. However, when I’ve done a search through PubMed, I have not been able to find any peer reviewed articles on this diet. Are you familiar with any that are out there? I may just not have the correct search parameters.

~ In his response, Ben talks about the book: Fourfold Path To Healing.

Andrew asks:
I seem to be producing very high levels of ammonia in my sweat. In fact, if I was working out in a public gym I’m sure people would think I’d wet myself. This seems to be irrespective of whether it’s a low intensity long workout or high intensity intervals. I consider my diet reasonably balanced though I am having trouble lowering my body fat levels despite a slow but steady weight loss. I take no supplements though I have just purchased a protein powder.

Gerry says:
I recently watched a Dr. Oz episode that mentioned chlorogenic acid in the form of pure green coffee bean extract. The info presented stated that this acid slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream and burns glucose and fat in the liver. I’m trying to drop weight, but I’m a very active triathlete who works out 6 days per week. Would this supplement be beneficial to help me reach my weight loss goals? Or would it be detrimental to my training and nutrition by decreasing the amount of glucose available to my body during workouts?

Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!

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The Birth Control Pill and… Music? Sex Hormones and Your Ability to Recognize Courtship Cues

Today we welcome guest author Sarah E. Hill, Ph.D., who leads evolutionary psychology research at Texas Christian University. Her primary research interest is the effect of hormonal birth control on women. She is the author of a book on that very topic: “This is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences,” which illustrates the many ways the pill changes women. To learn more about how the pill affects you, check out this episode of Bulletproof Radio

 

The Birth Control Pill and… Music? Sex Hormones and Your Ability to Recognize Courtship Cues

by Dr. Sarah E. Hill

Even though this might feel like a reductionist way to see the world, sexual motivation is, ultimately, at the heart of many things that we do. It’s one of those pesky byproducts of being designed by a process that rewards gene transmission. A lot of our traits – especially those traits that come into full bloom right around the time in our life when fertility is high – are maintained as part of the human nature playbook because they helped one of our ancestors reproduce.

This means that sexual motivation – which is a psychological program coordinated by our sex hormones – is related to a lot of things that don’t feel like they have anything to do with sex.

Outward signs of sexual motivation

Now, some of the things that we do to attract partners are pretty obvious. Like, doing things to look attractive. This is something that women do for lots of reasons, but one of those reasons is that it increases attractiveness to men.

And this isn’t me being sexist, here, this is just what the research tells us. When women are looking to attract a man’s attention or entice a partner they already have, one of the first (and most effective) things that most women do is spend a little extra effort on their appearance[1][2][3]

For example, research finds that women’s mating motivations are at the heart of things like clothing choice and cosmetics use, as well as doing things like dieting, exercising, and visiting tanning beds. Mating effort begets beautification effort, and although this isn’t the only reason that women like to make themselves look good, it’s one of them.

The relationship between mating behavior and music

 

Now, other things that mating effort might be linked to are less obvious.
Take music, for instance.[4] Music is interesting because it’s one of those things that all cultures create, but without an obvious survival purpose (you can’t French horn your way out of a wildebeest stampede). This is usually the hallmark of a behavior that is maintained to serve a courtship function.

Consistent with interpretation, almost all organisms that create complex acoustic signals, do so for the purposes of mate attraction. This is why birds sing, howler monkeys howl, and red deer roar. Acoustic signals make a nice medium for discriminating between potential partners because they provide all sorts of information that is useful for females (they’re usually the choosers) to use to determine whether a male is of high quality or not.

This is because rhythm is a product of the nervous system. And nervous systems that are better put-together can produce more coordinated, complex rhythms than nervous systems that are less well-put-together. This is why so many species use rhythmic displays such as song and dance as a means of mate attraction. They tell us something about the individual’s motor control, as well as their self-confidence and creativity, which are other traits that bespeak high genetic quality.

There is no reason to think that humans are any exception to this rule. Rhythmic displays created by whales, wrens, frogs, flies, honeybees, and humans all show off the functioning of the nervous systems to prospective mates. The Keith Richards effect – where a kind of road-worn guy with good musical skills can get access to an almost alarming number of sexual partners – is no joke. This is why almost all adolescent males eventually try their hand at the guitar. A well-executed rhythmic display attracts mates. If you don’t believe me, ask Keith.

Now, given that any courtship display that’s worth doing is going to have an audience that is attuned to all of its brilliant rhythmic nuances, we should also find that women’s attunement to rhythmic displays is similarly tied to mating effort.

Although this is a relatively new idea (we’re actually actively researching this question in my lab right now), research in non-humans is largely supportive of the general idea that fertility may increase females’ attunement to the quality of rhythmic displays. Women’s ability to discriminate between high- and low-quality displays should be more pronounced at high fertility and lower at other times in the cycle because conception is possible.

Artificial hormones mess with your ability to recognize attraction

So, what does all of this mean for women on the pill? Well, there is a lot of research that needs to be done on this topic before we can know for sure. But, I think that there’s a good chance that the pill might influence women’s direct mate attraction efforts (beautification and the like), as well as their attunement to courtship cues, like music.

I say this for a couple of reasons.

First, this is what theory would suggest. Sex hormones fuel mating effort. Mating effort drives mate attraction behaviors and attunement to courtship cues. It doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to predict that preventing the hormonal surge that prompts mating effort (both in terms of releasing an egg and wanting sex) will also suppress behavioral offshoots of this same motivational pathway.

Second, although we need more hard data on this, this idea is something that has come up more times than I can count when talking to women about their experiences of being on and off the pill. Many women I have interviewed have told me that they noticed an uptick in their interest in their appearance after going off the pill that coincided with the return of their sexual desire.

For some, this meant that they started clothes shopping again and growing their hair long after being short for years when they were on the pill. For others, this has meant a renewed interest in healthy eating and working out. For others yet, this has meant cosmetic surgery and teeth whitening.

Now, I don’t know for certain whether the pill, per se, was responsible for any of this. Right now, this evidence is anecdotal. And I’m also not saying that it’s bad to care less about your desirability. Most of us would probably benefit from a healthy dose of “I don’t give a sh** about my appearance”. This is just something that might be worth noting as you consider your options and your experiences.

For me, the most noticeable change was the music thing. And I have since heard this repeated back to me by several other women.

To provide you with some context, I had loved listening to music all through high school and early college years and then, I just…stopped. I never questioned why this happened. I didn’t even notice. I just stopped listening to it, favoring podcasts and NPR when I was traveling or in my car. Although I don’t have perfect documentation of any of this, this change in listening habits corresponded to the time that I began the pill.

Now, flash forward eight-ish years (a couple of months after going off the pill), I started downloading new playlists to listen to in my car for the first time in forever. I got a subscription to Spotify. I finally downloaded Pandora. It was only after a friend had commented on my rekindled interest in music that I even had my attention drawn to the fact.

Even then, I figured that my renewed love of music was probably just a byproduct of needing more things to listen to since I was working out a lot more than I used to (that happened to me, too). And although I can’t be 100% certain about the pill having anything to do with any of this (you can bet we’re collecting data on this, too), I would be very surprised if it didn’t. Mating effort and attunement to courtship cues are driven by sex hormones. There is good reason to think that – at least for some women – these things might change on the pill.

So, sex is more than just sex. And having a diminished desire for actual sex (like, sex-sex) may be a canary in the coalmine of much more pervasive changes in women’s motivational states. While a lot of this thinking is still in its infancy, it’s worth considering if these outcomes might be meaningful to you.

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