Ep.75: Biohacking with Ben Greenfield
I have the most interesting guest to introduce to you, Ben Greenfield. He was raised in rural North Idaho. He was homeschooled all the way through senior year. He calls himself a complete nerd; president of the chess club, played violin for 13 years, wrote fantasy fictions, and spent his whole childhood with his nose in a book. He graduated high school at age 15 and started college right after that. As an undergraduate, Ben studied anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, pharmaceuticals, microbiology, biochem, and nutrition. He did an internship at Duke University and with the NFL. He graduated at the age of 20 as valedictorian, all while working as a bartender, personal trainer, lab assistant, nutritionist, and spinning instructor. Ben was then accepted into six medical schools but he decided instead to get a masters degree in exercise physiology and biomechanics. He opened a bunch of personal training studios, gyms and physiology and biomechanics labs all over the Northwest and he was voted America’s top personal trainer in 2008.
I’m not done yet…Ben has completed 120 races and 12 Ironman triathlons. He finished the coveted Spartan Delta. He’s a relentless self experimenter and he’s a leader in the field of biohacking. He’s also a bow hunter. He’s been on reality TV. He’s lived a lot of life and he’s only 36. In today’s episode, you will learn all about the exciting new field of biohacking. He will discuss some key strategies for improving energy, fitness and overall health.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Learn more about Ben and his biohacking strategies with Kion: HERE
Checkout his website: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/
Read his book Beyond Training
Find greater peace with The Christian Gratitude Journal
Speaker 1: Ready to live at the higher vibrations, where peace, love, joy and good health are the daily standard? That’s what this show is all about. Welcome to Vibe. Here’s your host, Robyn Openshaw.
Robyn: Hey everyone, it’s Robyn Openshaw and welcome back to Vibe. I have the most interesting guest to introduce to you. I’ve been trying to get him on the show for a long time. He’s a lot different than everybody else we’ve been interviewing. The only similarity is the one we just interviewed [Thal Ger 00:00:33] who did 100 big challenges, big goals in 10 years. But my friend, Ben Greenfield was raised in rural North Idaho. He was homeschooled all the way through senior year. He calls himself a complete nerd, like president of the chess club complete nerd, like played violin for 13 years, wrote fantasy fictions, spent his whole childhood with his nose in a book. He graduated high school at age 15 and started college right after that. Played singles and doubles for the men’s tennis team at the age of 16.
So for four years as an undergraduate, Ben studied anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, pharmaceuticals, microbiology, biochem, nutrition. Graduated top of his class. Did an internship at Duke University and with the NFL. Graduated at the age of 20 as valedictorian all while working as a bartender, personal trainer, lab assistant, nutritionist, spinning instructor. If you’re not tired already listening to that, Ben was then accepted into six medical schools but he decided instead to get a masters degree in exercise physiology and biomechanics. Then he jumped into the fitness world. He opened a bunch of personal training studios and gyms and physiology and biomechanics labs all over the Northwest and he was voted America’s top personal trainer in 2008.
Ben has done 120 races and 12 Ironman triathlons. He’s a relentless self experimenter and he’s a leader in the field of biohacking. I have found that my audience doesn’t really know what biohacking is for the most part. But I’m going to let Ben tell you what it is. Ben became professional obstacle course racer. He completed the coveted Spartan Delta. He’s trained with Navy SEALS. He’s done all over the world open water swims, mountain runs, adventure races. He’s a bow hunter. I think he won like some competitions in bow hunting. He’s been on reality TV. He’s lived a lot of life and he’s only 34. Welcome to the show Ben Greenfield.
Ben: I’m actually 36. I got older since whenever you got your hands on that bio, Robyn, apparently.
Robyn: That makes you downright old.
Ben: Or maybe you’re talking about my biological, not my chronological age because I actually have been testing that. Have you heard about this test? TeloYears analysis that takes a … It samples the telomere length of all of your white blood cells, like one drop of blood and then it spits out your … Not your chronological age, your biological age. I’ve been testing every year doing all these … I’ve really gotten into antiaging and longevity lately and it’s actually getting younger. So maybe I am 34. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you called it.
Robyn: Well, with all the things that you do, if you’re going to be 36, I really want you to be a lot younger than 34. Are you seeing like the repeat test that you do every year that you’re getting a lower and lower number? Tell me about that.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. It is getting lower but when I originally tested, it was two years higher than my chronological age and it’s because of all that masochistic crap that you just listed off that I’ve done to my body over the past couple of decades, all these Spartan Deltas and Ironman races. I mean, it’s really not a big news flash that that stuff isn’t that great for everything from arterial stiffness to hormones. So I think I took some years off of my life doing all of that and now I am attempting to undo some of that damage with everything from stem cells injections to NAD therapy to a lot of the things that science has to offer us for antiaging. So yeah. I’m 36 though, chronologically.
Robyn: Okay. So I’m really interested in what you just said because we just live in this age where most people are exercising way too little but then there’s this small section of people that I’ve privately felt for a long time that are overdoing it. You seem to be admitting that maybe there is an overdue.
Ben: Oh, absolutely. The benefits of exercise actually begin to diminish. You see an increase in risks of mortality. There’s a Dr. James O’Keefe who has done some fascinating research on this especially in endurance, in ultra endurance athletes. It is about 60 minutes of anaerobic exercise like crossfit WOD type of stuff, intense exercise about 60 minutes. You see a pretty significant law of diminishing returns. For aerobic exercise, it’s about 90 minutes. By aerobic exercise, I don’t know … Well, I’m talking to you right now, Robyn, as we were discussing before we started recording, I’m walking on the treadmill, right? That’s more like very slow paced, hunter gatherer, gardeneresque type of activity. That’s not that 90 minutes I’m referring to. I’m talking about like the marathon or you see out jogging in the streets for a couple of hours a day. That’s the type of low level aerobic exercise that would be deleterious.
So it’s about 60 minutes of intensity or 90 minutes of kind of like aerobic triathloning or marathoning or whatever on a daily basis that winds up being bad for you. It’s surprising how many people still exercise that much when they don’t really need to and when of course you don’t see exercise appearing in the Venn diagram of all the blue zones, right? You see wild plant intake and surprisingly enough high intake of legumes and friends, family and relationships and love and lack of smoking. But yeah, I think a lot of people do overdo it. If climbing Mount Everest makes you happy and scratches an itch for you or you want to go do like a Spartan or triathlon, great. But I don’t want to pull people into thinking that’s the way that you increase health and longevity per se.
Robyn: Yeah. I love that in your willingness to make yourself a human experiment which is a big part of why you’ve gotten so much popularity online, I’ll just admit it, you’re my favorite biohacker because I really feel like you are walking the talk. You live on 10 acres with your wife and your twin boys. You’re out there bow hunting what you eat and growing what you eat and gathering what you eat and I really am going to want to hear more about that.
Ben: Wait, am I even your favorite biohacker compared to goat man?
Robyn: Who’s goat man?
Ben: He’s a UK researcher. He actually wrote a book called it’s like becoming goat man. I think it’s the name of the book. You can probably look it up on Amazon. But he fitted himself with prosthetic limbs and a special goat helmet and attached like a rumen to his stomach and went out and lived with goats. He even used a form of trans-direct cranial stimulation, the same thing like the Golden State Warriors are using to enhance like hand-eye coordination of their players prior to a game. Anyways, he used a different form of this to actually remove his ability to be able to speak properly so that he wasn’t tempted to talk a lot when he was out there with the goats. So he biohacked himself into becoming a goat for … He was out there I think for a few weeks living amongst the goats, somewhere in the pastoral hillside of the UK to just see what it felt like to live a little bit more closely with nature and to be an animal. To me, that’s a pretty impressive feat of biohacking and I think he should be your favorite.
Robyn: Well, I’ll really consider it. I raised my kids on goat milk and I might have to seek this guy out if he’s reentered into regular human life. Well, I was kind of like one step removed from the total natural lifestyle and that I actually went and got the raw goat milk from someone who milk them themselves. I think it’s probably hard. I don’t know that I’d really-
Ben: It is. We have Nigerian dwarf goats so we live out here. I’m walking on my treadmill. I’m looking out the window and we’re covered in ice and snow right now. So we had to have pretty hardy animals on our property. So our chickens are Icelandic and the goats are Nigerian dwarf goats which are small hardy goats and they actually for their size give a lot of milk.
Robyn: It’s one of the great things about goats. I hear they’re good pets and then look at all these multipurpose things that you can do with them as well as they give you better milk. What cows will give you and especially with all the steroids and hormones and antibiotics, right?
Ben: Well, I mean, even you’ve got an organic A2 cow, that’s grass fed, you still have a different size of the protein, right? It’s the thermodynamics of the protein. So when you look at the size of a small goat and the size of a full grown goat, they’re actually closer in weight to a human than a cow is. It’s a smaller, more absorbable protein. So you tend to see less immune issues. For us, for one of my twin sons who would get asthma and some immune type of issues especially during like a soccer match, he’d have a hard time breathing. He have to go sit on the sidelines and we did was we switched him from cow based dairy to goat cheeses and goat dairy and that fixed the issue, shockingly enough. So yeah, it’s very hypoallergenic. Almost like lamb meat is a very hypoallergenic meat.
That being said though, there was a period of time where I was sponsored as an athlete by a camel’s milk company and apparently from a nutrient density and a hypoallergenicity standpoint, camel’s milk is at the top of the totem pole but I just didn’t feel good about getting camel’s milk like shipped to me on airplanes to sit in my fridge. It didn’t seem that sustainable, camels.
Robyn: Yeah, right there with you. I used to go to this really weird dirty goat farm and get half gallon jars of unpasteurized goat milk and I did that for many, many years, like well over a decade. Because I had the exact same experience you did and my eldest son was asthmatic. It’s actually pretty severe. You wouldn’t have had to get your son off of dairy onto goat milk because … I mean, you would have not had also get him off of sugar but I got him off the process trained. But that was a shift we made too and we never used the bronchodilators and steroids and antibiotics again and that was the beginning of mini changes. But yeah, getting my kids onto raw goat milk, there’s a lot more similarities to human breast milk and smaller protein molecule, smaller fat molecule crosses the human semipermeable membrane.
Robyn: Without having that mucous forming reaction. So anybody who thinks you have to give your kids dairy, you don’t.
Ben: I also, I take a lot of colostrum. I use a goat based colostrum. Not year round. I’m careful with a lot of anabolic compounds like that that increase growth hormone just because I feel like being in a constantly anabolic state could potentially kind of fly in the face of longevity where you have to … That’s why I fast for example. I do intermittent fasting everyday and on the weekends I fast from Saturday until Sunday dinner and that’s not anabolic. It’s kind of catabolic. But colostrum, what I’ll do with that, because as you’ve just eluded to, one of the things that it can do is actually close up some of the tight junctions in the gut and it acts on the Zonulin protein I believe in those tight junctions and in the same way that it can heal up a baby’s gut when a baby is first born. Most babies do have a leaky gut and colostrum from mom’s breast milk helps to heal that up.
It can do the same thing to a permeable gut in adults and one of the things that it’s been studied for is athletes or people who exercise in the heat. You get a significant increase in gut permeability when you engage in intense exercise in the heat. So I take colostrum for about two weeks prior to a hot race or like I’ve got a race in San Jose at the end of March coming up, a Spartan race, and two weeks out from that race, I’ll load with colostrum and then I’ll also load with beet juice. The beet juice is different. That’s more of a nitric oxide precursor. The colostrum is more for keeping your gut less permeable in the heat. But it’s actually, a lot of athletes don’t know this. It’s a fantastic supplement you use if you’re competing especially in hot conditions.
Robyn: How about for so much of my audience who experiences gut issues? We have this huge epidemic in leaky gut and all that. Do you think it’s good part of their first line of defense there?
Ben: Yeah, it is. Unless you have a significant immune reaction to any dairy protein in which case you might want to be careful. But I like for example like a Cyrex or [Ratanpan 00:13:43], a good, it’s a good allergy testing or food intolerance testing panel. They do some really good food allergy and gluten cross reactivity panels. You get tested just to make sure you’re not super sensitive to dairy. But yeah, I mean, as long as you don’t have any type of dairy protein allergy, it’s fantastic for that.
Robyn: So I watched a video you did with on somebody else’s show and you were talking about how you like Cyrex. I wanted to tell you this, because I think you’ll be interested in this, that our friend, I’m sure you know him too, Dr. Alan Christianson.
Robyn: Yeah. He did an experiment where he took the same person’s blood and sent it to two different labs because like me, he had the sense that a lot of these allergy testing labs are giving pretty bogus results. So he took 22 people and some of them he sent two different vials of the same person’s blood to two different labs. Some of the 22 people he took their two vials of blood, marked them as two different people and sent them to the same lab. In both cases, more than 80% of the time, the two test results came back so different as to be chalked up about the same as if it was like random chance, like two different people. So I share that with you because he actually proved how bogus a lot of the labs are and it sounds like you think that the Cyrex lab gives good results. Is that what I hear you saying?
Ben: Yes. Apparently they use something called a double assurance system where they test both the raw and the cooked version of the protein which is important because some people will have like a reaction. Their white blood cell will show an immune reaction to like a raw egg protein versus a cooked egg protein for example Cyrex test is the raw. They test the raw and the cooked and then they have some kind of an accuracy assessment that they do that make it more accurate or gives you a much shorter list of foods that you can’t eat that annoy you that you have to in your refrigerator and it taunts you when you have these 100 different foods you can’t eat. It’s a pretty small list you get from Cyrex. Apparently it produces fear fewer false positives. So I like it.
Robyn: Interesting. Yeah. Alan Christianson favorites are Meridian Valley and Biotech. Yeah, so I’m super interested in … I love that if you’re going to be this biohacker and you’re constantly experimenting on yourself that you’re willing to say, “Hey, I think these things actually aged me faster and I’m going to, in the name of being a true scientific experiment I’m willing to talk about it.” Say, “Hey, that wasn’t really working for me.” What are some of your biohacking experiments on yourself that you think probably took you the wrong direction and now you’ve changed and I’m curious if you’ve ever calmed down a bit because you’re so driven.
Ben: Yeah. I am pretty driven and based on a lot of personality assessments that I’ve done. I really do rank as what you might call an achiever. Someone who likes to be constantly productive. My wife will sit out on the porch in one of our hammocks up there and stare out at the forest, sipping on a glass of wine for like an hour and a half in the evening and I can’t sit out there for more than five minutes without whining like go inside and work on a book or a blog post or play my guitar or make something or workout. I’m hardwired to constantly want to be doing something. Or like I thrive on hyper productivity and action and so so yeah, I’ve always kind of been that way. But when it comes to the core of your question, biohacking or biohacks that haven’t worked out, there’s not that many of them really. I haven’t serious injured or hurt myself in any way with any biohacks aside from cold thermogenesis, that’s one that gets popular and I think some people overdo it and I certainly got very excited about it.
When I first interviewed Ray Cronise I believe back in 2013, shortly after he wrote that Wired Magazine article about the positive effects of cold therapy on everything, from nitric oxide production to conversion of white adipose to brown fat. I really got into it. I lived at that time close to the Spokane river and I would go out to the Spokane river and swim in it. It would get colder and colder and I think it was spring of 2014 when I went out there and just swam for as long as I could just to get all the benefits of cold thermogenesis. I remember sitting in my car afterwards and I couldn’t figure out how to turn the car on and I completely lost bowel control and literally just exploded with diarrhea all over my car seat because I was so cold and so shivering and just lost complete control over everything. That’s probably like the worst I’ve ever done to myself, was just getting too cold. I probably could have died swimming in the river at that temp.
So now I’m more of like a quick in, quick out kind of cold guy. I had a crane drop at 19-foot endless pool that I keep cold back in the forest behind my house and I go jump in that for about five minutes every morning, not even that. After I’ve gotten myself all nice and toasty warm in the infrared sauna where like I started off everyday with a little bit of hot and a little bit of cold. That’s about the worst I’ve done to myself. Most of the other bad things I’ve done to myself has been like doing some of the things you talked about, like the 24-hour world’s toughest mother where my wife was crewing for me. All I was eating the whole time was those drive plantains because we stopped by Whole Foods on the way into the race.
I just grabbed a whole bunch of those and those were setting in the tent and I did this 24-hour toughest mother in the Vegas desert where it got just teeth grittingly cold at night. There was a point between about 2 and 4am where I’d have liked crawl in the sleeping bag with her because I was shivering so bad and I couldn’t stop my whole body from shaking and literally she just stripped me down naked and snuggled up next to me and inside my sleeping bag for a couple of hours. Bless her heart to warm me up. I’ve done multiple Ironman triathlons injured where I’ve just had to walk the marathon and take like six hours to get through it. I did that Spartan that you were talking about, the Spartan Delta which was 32 degrees below zero back in Vermont and you couldn’t even pull down your pants to take a crap during the race. That’s freezing your butt cheeks off. A couple of girls lost toes in the first couple of hours of the race.
I remember one of the aid stations, just like a bunch of frozen fish and they had pots and you had to figure out how to take your fire starting kit and I personally used a blue Gatorade to boil my fish in so I could actually eat some fish to keep going and continue the race to be able to finish. That was about a three-day event. All of those types of things. I think that those definitely exceed the parameters of what we might consider a hormetic stress that would make you stronger and instead produce inflammation and enough hormonal depletion to actually make you weaker. For me, with all that ultra endurance stuff, especially when I was in the throws of it, I experienced really low testosterone and really significant disregulation of thyroid. No surprise here, but really elevated hsCRP and homocysteine and and cytokines and a lot of electrolyte abnormalities.
So yeah, it’s those things. It’s like the stuff that we would consider to be, “Oh, you must be healthy because you look good spandex and you can run 26 miles.” It’s like those things really have damaged me and the biohacks, everything from infrared lights to NAD injections to really good pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to a lot of things from mitochondrial density like hyperoxic training and ketogenic diet. A lot of those things seemed to have healed a lot of the damage. Honestly right now, at this point in my life, I feel like a million bucks. My wife and I were talking about this a couple of days ago, I feel like I’m 16 years old. I’m strong and I’m horny and I don’t get sick at all. I’ve got great energy during the day. I’m doing far less of this intense masochistic exercises.
As a matter of fact, I’ve shifted almost primarily to just like explosive exercise, high intensity interval training, working with the kettlebells and doing just short course racing instead of long course racing. So ultimately, I haven’t really messed myself up with any biohacks, I guess aside from swimming for too long in a cold river.
Robyn: I’ve seen photos of you where you’re rocked up and weight 30 or 40 pounds more than you do now and you described in a rather negative way which makes me think of some friends of mine who have been in the fitness competition industry and my personal opinion is that what they’re doing is super, super terrible for their health nutrition wise. So talk about your, of course you went and did that for a while. Of course you got all rocked up and looked like Mr. Universe. So what did you learn?
Ben: That was bodybuilding. I did that when I was younger. I was 21 and 22 years old when I body build. So I weight about 175 right now and I was 215 pounds at 3% body fat as a bodybuilder. That was hormone free. I was a poor college student. I really couldn’t afford drugs and so I did all by eating copious amounts of protein, I mean a lot of protein. Like I don’t know how many grams I was at per day but well above that 200 gramish amount where you begin to get like ammonia toxicity and a whole bunch of nitrogenous waste and I was consuming a lot of protein, but bad protein. I mean, just like what happen to be on sale from the frozen steak section of the grocery store, four to five cans of tuna at night. I was sponsored by ABB Bodybuilding Shakes which is kind of like number one doctors recommendation Ensure where which is like Maltodextrin and soy protein isolate and vegetable oil and a bunch of crap in a can. Same thing except this was just copious amounts of protein.
So it was a high, high, high protein, low fat, low carb diet that I followed while living in the gym doing … I did a full body exercise routine. Like a full body weight split, cleans, jerks, dead lifts, squats, presses, full body, three times a week and then I do all of what I called my vanity exercises on the weekend where I’d blast the calves or the biceps or the triceps or the arms, the neck areas like that. Yeah, I was pretty unhealthy. I looked really good but again very low testosterone. A lot of gut issues. That really messed up my gut for a long time. Yeah, like you mentioned, I did look good and I got kind of sort of strong, not like function, you don’t even get that functionally strong when you’re doing that type of stuff. I’m probably stronger now than I was when I was a bodybuilder but I had a lot of muscle and I looked good and I could pose.
I was married at the time. Married at the time, still am married, same girl, my wife Jessa. She used to go backstage with me and she would smear the gold flakes tanning lotion all over me so I’d look really good underneath the lights and then I’d drink a bunch of red wine and dark chocolate to bring blood to the surface of skin so you get all vasodilated. Then I’d go out on stage and I’d squeezed my butt cheeks till they cramped because I was dehydrated and peeing orange from all the dandelion root extract I’d used before the shows to dehydrate myself because it draws your skin closer into your muscles when you’re super duper dehydrated. So yeah, also not the healthiest of sports.
Robyn: Wow, crazy. Crazy stories. Now, you have … Tell me how you get the self confidence to go shoot yourself up with $8,000 worth of stem cells. I saw you do that on a video. Tell us about that.
Ben: Yeah. Well, there is a company in Florida, the US Stem Cell Clinic. They do, they grow, they extract fat from your back. So I had to go in there. It was a horrible procedure because I’m still pretty lean. I’m maybe like 7% body fat now. A big part of that is honestly because I’m still racing. I still race professionally in the Spartan races and triathlons. So I purposefully keep myself lean. Unlike the bodybuilding years, I’m actually eating a healthy diet. I ate a lot of fats. I’m still active enough where I stay pretty lean and naturally kind of lean anyways. But I go into this clinic and they’re like, “Dude, you should have had more donuts and Twinkies coming in here,” because I had almost no fat. So they had to thrust this needle in and out of my back for like 90 minutes over and over again just to suck enough fat out and they still couldn’t reinject me that day because they have to take the fat and grow it because they still didn’t get enough fat from my back.
My back hurt for weeks. So anyways, they take this fat and they used a collagenous enzyme to break down the fat and the concentrate, the stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, the MSCs, from the fat. Of course, those can be reinjected as a lot of people know into joints, similar to prolotherapy or platelet rich plasma which I’ve also had done which is pretty efficacious but these stem cells are far more efficacious and typically they’re actually combined with these growth factors from platelet rich plasma. Meaning, once you’ve extracted those stem cells and you’ve grown them and you’ve isolated the stem cells and you get them shipped on ice to your house or to a doctor’s office who’s going to inject you. They’ll also on the same day of the injection take your blood and they spin your blood in a centrifuge to concentrate what are called the growth factors and that’s called platelet rich plasma injection and gold standards is you’d inject a joint with both the stem cells and the platelet rich plasma to heal a joint.
But if you’re just going after the antiaging effect, the effect you might get from similar to the studies where they reverse aging in old mice by injecting the old mice with the blood of young mice, you can do the same thing by injecting the stem cells from the younger you or just stem cells in general into your bloodstream and they will go anywhere they need to go to actually act on that tissue for healing. So I got the procedure done. I waited a few months for them to actually grow the stem cells. I ordered them to my house and then I do push IVs on myself anyway. So once a week I do a push IV of a Myer’s cocktail, just a big blend of nutrients and vitamins and minerals and then I also do a push IV of glutathione.
So for me, taking a needle and putting it into like the vein on my arm and pushing the stem cells in there wasn’t too far of a cry from doing a Myer’s cocktail or glutathione injection and so I ordered the stem cells and while I don’t believe it’s legal for a physician to, at this point, inject stem cells into your blood, although they can inject joints, you can inject them into your own blood. So I injected the stem cells and then I sent off my telomeres for analysis a couple of weeks later and I’m waiting to get the results back but I’m interested to see what happen. I mean, I feel really good. Like I mentioned, I honestly feel right now like I’m a teenager and I don’t know if that’s from the stem cells or just from kind of a clustered effect of all the things that I do each day for health. But ultimately, yeah, I mean, the tricky part was hoping I didn’t miss the vein with that really expensive bottle of stem cells. That’s the thing that was going through my head because it’s kind of like you get one shot.
Robyn: Yeah, I was pretty amazed. My jaw was on the floor watching you mainline stem cells on your own that you probably couldn’t talk a physician into doing it like that. But we did something similar with my son two months ago, had all four impacted wisdom teeth out at the same time and so my biological dentist prepared some platelet rich fibrin and had the oral surgeon who had no clue about any of this kind of stuff, had him injected in there along with some [Ozone 00:31:13] and we got out of there with all four of his teeth, no steroids, no antibiotics, no dry socket, no cavitations which is pretty cool. So I’m a believer in this way of technology helping us with antiaging. But let me ask you something, I’m 15 years older than you, should I be banking stem cells or am I too old?
Ben: I don’t think you’re too old. I mean, look at it this way. You could take the 50-year old you and have that injected into the 65-year old you or the 70-year old you or the 80-year old you. So in my opinion, if you got the ability to be able to do it, it’s still a decent idea. Although there are of course like umbilical or embryonic stem cells that a lot of older individuals will use rather than getting their own stem cells extracted.
Robyn: Yeah, that’s what I’m wondering is should I just get them from, get stem cells from another person who’s much younger if it comes to that?
Ben: Right, like a baby. Yeah, you get less of the Image result for mesenchymal stem cells available versus harvesting your own tissue and using that. But yeah, I mean, this is hard for anybody who’s aging to hear but the older yourselves are, the weaker they are and of course the shorter their telomeres are. So yeah, the longer you wait, the less effect of those stem cells will be. But it’s all relative, right? The 50-year old you is still far, far younger than the 65 or the 70 or the 80-year old you. So if you have the opportunity to be able to do it, I don’t think it would hurt. But yeah, the younger, the better in my opinion of course.
Robyn: Yeah, I feel like I’m kind of on that line where I don’t really know if I should just be … I’ve never banked stem cells but you’re coming to Park City soon and we have a leader in the field of stem cell application and research and so I’ve always thought, “Maybe I should go do that.” But maybe no issues health issues have hit me yet so it hasn’t become … But it’s one of those things that you should think ahead on. So take us to what you think the most exciting trends are in your world of biohacking? What do you see out there that troubles you or what do you think is really exciting out there?
Ben: Well, some of the things that make me feel really good and that I think there’s some decent research behind, one would be Photobiomodulation which would be the use of infrared or various forms of lights, red light, near infrared, far infrared, or a variety of effects, like what I do is I work with two infrared panels, on in front of me and one behind me and infrared can help with scar healing and help with collagen and elastin in the skin and it can also have a mood enhancing effect. It can cause a little bit of an increase in growth hormone. It can actually induce increased activity of cytochrome C oxidase in cells. So whether that be like Photobiomodulation used in a headset, like this one called a [Vilight 00:34:33] that they use in a lot of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients that I own and use in the mornings. It’s like a cup of coffee for your brain.
Or whether you were to shine this, I’ll shine it, I don want to be crass but I’ll shine it on my testicles for example to enhance activity of the Leydig cells in the testes which causes you to produce more testosterone and at the same increases what’s called the angiogenesis or the growth of new blood vessels and so you could have better orgasms and better libido. Then of course there’s the idea that you could combine it with something like a sauna, there’s a lot of these infrared saunas now. I use mine almost everyday. The skin is the largest detoxification organ and not only is it good for sweat but you’d also get a little bit of a licing of that cells as well, especially when you do something like a fasted infrared treatment. So I’m a big fan of that as one kind of cool … That would be something I use everyday would be light via Photobiomodulation. A couple of others-
Robyn: How do you get that? Is that something you can buy and have at home?
Ben: Yeah, I use … There’s a lot of brands out there. I used these ones called Joovv Lights and they’re just these big panels. I have my own stand in my office, one behind me and one in front of me. So while I’m working or I had to be on the treadmill or I’ve got like a little wobble board beside my treadmill, like a mat, it’s … This mat’s interesting. It’s a foot mat that was patterned after the Korean rice paddy fields by this Swiss inventor who used to walk in the fields and you feel fantastic afterwards and his feet got a lot stronger. So I have this mat that’s called the Kybun mat, K-Y-B-U-N. So I’ve got that and like a balance board and my treadmill. But then these lights, I can shine it anytime. Those are pretty cool.
Another one that I like is this concept of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to allow you to actually do anything from increased blood flow to tissue, to increase bone density. There’s some very interesting studies on tumors and the ability of PEMF to actually kill cancer cells and there’s a lot of different PEMF device out there right now. But one that I’m using, it’s like the price of a small car but you could go to their website and look them up and see if there’s one you could just go to at a clinic in your area. It’s called a Pulse, [inaudible 00:37:07] my neck here. This thing is called Pulse XL Pro, I think. It’s pulsecenters.com. It’s this giant table that you lay on, but I mean, this thing, they use it on race horses.
I’ve used a lot of these PEMF devices and you can’t really feel them. This thing just shakes your whole body and just in the past couple of weeks, I had a little hip and back injury and this thing has made a night and day difference, like really, really strong, powerful. It called PEMF, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. You can use this for sleep, to increase your … You can increase your delta brainwave production by setting it on what would be called like the Schumann resonance frequency which should be what the earth would emit, the same frequency that the earth would emit when one would be earthing or grounding. This is like that on steroids. It’s a really, really high intensity PEMF. I like that. I’ve been using that a lot, like everyday. I use this Photobiomodulation everyday.
Then a lot of people are into hyperbaric oxygen therapy which I briefly mentioned earlier to enhance mitochondrial density. There’s this other device I have behind me right now that I actually did a little workout on this morning. It’s called a LiveO2 Adaptive Contrast unit. What it does is it sucks all the oxygen out of the air and concentrates it inside of this bag and then there’s a switch where you can switch to breathing pure oxygen if it’s in plus mode or about 30% less oxygen than you would normally breathe at whatever area you happen to be in in the world elevation wise. So you can go back and forth from hypoxia to hyperoxia. So I’ll do 10 rounds of 15 at hypoxia then 15 seconds at hyperoxia then 15 seconds of recovery at hyperoxia. This the equivalent, like 15 minutes of that. It’s like 24 hours in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber and I’m riding a bicycle while I’m doing this.
So I would say, yeah, three things would be Photobiomodulation, really high intensity PEMF and then like hypoxic, hyperoxic, what’s called adaptive contrast training. People also call this exercise with oxygen therapy, EWOT. But I use this Joovv Light for the Photobiomodulation and this one called [Vilight 00:39:33] for the head. Those are two really good devices. I’ve noticed a really positive effect with. The PEMF, the one I use upstairs for sleep is called the Flex Pulse but the bigger one in my office for injuries and for a more full body effect is called a Pulse XL Pro and then this hypoxic, hyperoxic unit, it’s called a LiveO2 Adaptive Contrast unit. Those are the three things that I use almost everyday.
Robyn: I have been furiously taking notes, probably follow up with about one or two of those things later. I don’t think we should end interview without talking about your take on food. You’re deep in the nutrition world. You eat a very, very clean diet. I watched your take on vegans, watching a video interview you did with someone else and I was surprised at how much we see eye to eye, you and I, because I think of biohackers as big eaters. While I don’t identify as a vegan, Ben, I love the idea of us eating more plants for the sustainability and I rarely eat animal products and I kind of get my missing links covered in a variety of way, [colleen 00:40:49] and creatine and B12 and vitamin D.
I either supplement for that or I eat, I actually eat an animal product probably three times a month and specific ones usually to hedge, sort of to hedge my bets because I don’t necessarily think that a vegan diet is the only way to go. I don’t think you have to be vegan to be healthy but I was raised by a plant-based eater who was raised by a plant-based eater and my grandmother went that way after being diagnosed with cancer and she went Gerson therapy and healed of a terminal cancer diagnosis and it was really powerful for me. So somebody who wants to eat low on the food chain like I do and I think that even the cleaner sources of animal protein available to most of us because most of us aren’t going to go out in the woods with a bow and bow hunt like you, I think a lot of those sources are problematic in the modern world. What do you think of the average whole foods vegan needs to do supplementally and what do you think is the right diet?
Ben: I don’t think there is a right diet. I think that people need to eat based on what they’re genetically hardwired to eat. There are people who are Sub-Saharan African or Southeast Asian or people with familial hypercholesteremia for example who have very high levels of saturated fat sensitivity who might produce inflammation or extremely high, high cholesterol or high particle count in response to let’s say like one of these trendy, high fat, low carb or ketogenic diets. Then there are other people who have very deleterious blood sugar responses based on for example a fasting study in Israel that inspired Robb Wolf’s book, Wired to Eat, who will have blood glucose that goes through the roof in response to a cookie or a banana or whatever whereas other people are far less affected by that.
By testing your genetics, you can certainly get some clues, not only as to what your ancestors sort of eaten but also what genes you may have that may make you more or less predisposed to having a bad reaction to certain foods. We of course spend hours talking about everything from [PPARSUs 00:43:06] causing inflammation in response to ketogenic diets, to MTHFR issues related to your ability to be able to actually process some of these folate sources in the diet. So ultimately, and I have an article about this on my website, it’s called F diet, how to customize your diet to you which is based on this concept of testing. I was reading a fascinating research article the other day on how levels of Prevotella bacteria in the guts will cause you to have either a positive or a negative response to high fiber intake from plants, right? So even the gut microbiome might influence your propensity to thrive or not on a plant-based diet.
So yeah, I mean, it comes down to testing your body. We live in an era where it’s not that expensive to get a genetic test that would have costed like $10,000 a decade ago. You can go get it for 100 to $200 at say like 23andMe and you could export that raw data if you want to take a really deep dive into say like StrateGene or Genetic Genie and learn a lot more about what you should or should not be eating. So I think you have to customize to you buy my nutritional philosophy is that when it comes to a book like Steven Gundry’s Plant Paradox that argues that plants are equipped to kill us as well.
My opinion on that is not if you’re smarter than the plant, not if you know how to soak and how to sprout and how to ferment and how to deactivate phytic acids or I have bread almost everyday but it’s via like a slow fermentation process from a non-GMO wheat berry, the soured bread that my wife makes, a lot of the gluten is predigested and the glycemic index is lower. We talked about goat milk. So ultimately, I think that just about anything in God’s green earth can be rendered digestible. So because of that, I’m a real foodie. I follow what might be closest to like a Weston A. Price type of foundation approach where I eat good, organic, raw dairy and I’ll eat grains, assuming they’ve been soaked and sprouted and fermented prepared properly. I eat meats and plants. I’m omnivorous in that sense, always from good sources.
So yeah, I think it’s a process of A, customization and then B, once you’ve customized, specifically when I say customization, like your macros and some of your food choices, then it still comes down to taking those foods and rendering them digestible by not being an idiot in the kitchen, by actually how to do things. I mean, anybody can take Quinoa and rinse that in a strainer and then soak it in a mason jar overnight and change that water and maybe do that one or two times and if you know how to do that, you could probably sprout it too. That’s not rocket science, just a lot of people are honestly, they’re just lazy with food, right? They don’t render it digestible. So I think that’s a bigger issue than like the actual macros or even the food choices that you make is just looking at the digestibility of the foods that you do eat.
But yeah, long story short, because I eat a nutrient dense digestible diet from a wide variety of food sources, I’m omnivorous and as I mentioned earlier, I’m careful not to overeat and careful not to be constantly consuming anabolic compounds like eggs and bacon and milk and dairy and meat. But yeah, I eat a lot of plants, higher fat, moderate protein, relatively low carb, a little bit more carb if I’m exercising a lot. That’s in a nutshell my diet, so.
Robyn: I love it. Great answers. Your wealth of knowledge at a young age. I wanted to interview Ben because I’ve sat next to him at conferences and he’s got like this duffle bag and he’s got all this healthy food and he’ll go sit in the corner outside the room and meditate like he really walks the talk. That’s not true of everyone. So I’m really impressed with how you’re living your life and you seem to be just as motivated and excited about being a dad as everything else that you do. So I really admire you and I really have enjoyed the conversation. I knew I would. I’ve been really digging into your stuff and I knew that my audience would enjoy it even though you probably, the biohackers are usually the 25 to 45-year old male crowd and my crowd is the 35 to 65-year old women is most of the people who follow us at GreenSmoothieGirl and here on the podcast at Vibe.
But I’ve learned a lot and I really appreciate you taking the time. I know you’re crazy busy. You’re involved in so many different things. I mean, professional athlete to running this biohacker brand. So I really appreciate you being with us. Tell us where we can learn more about Ben Greenfield fitness and your podcast and your books that you’ve published. Tell us more.
Ben: Yeah, I mean, you can just Google me. You can find my website where I do a podcast and some articles and got a book. But yeah, you should, bengreenfieldfitness.com would be probably my top website. So there you go.
Robyn: Your book, what book would you send the 35 to 65-year old female crowd to?
Ben: I like a book that’s like 500 pages of a bunch of biohacks and tools and toys and I recently updated it. It’s called Beyond Training. But honestly, the book of my own that I eat my own dog food off the most, sitting here behind me and it’s a gratitude journal. I gratitude every single morning and I publish a gratitude journal that is my own gratitude practice that my wife and my two boys and I use each day. It’s called the Christian Gratitude Journal. That one’s pretty easy to find too. You could just Google it or find it on Amazon. But I think that that’s almost like changing a lot of people’s lives more than the big thick book on biohacking. So that one’s at christiangratitude.com. But I’m just as proud of that one and feel like it’s producing a positive difference in a lot of people’s lives so that would be a good one to check out if you you like that woo woo stuff and that whole idea of optimizing your spirit each morning. It’s a good little read.
Robyn: We love that. We’re two woos around here, not one. So thank you so much for being with us Ben Greenfield.
Ben: Awesome. Well, thanks for having me on Robyn. I’m honored.