January 4, 2024
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/qa-466/
[00:00:35] The importance of Essential amino acids
[00:14:09] The other benefits of essential amino acids
[00:20:38] The benefits of Spirulina
[00:28:07] Why are vegetable oils dangerous?
[00:34:05] Is there any use in bodybuilding after 80?
[00:38:27] Q: Do you have any advice for fixing an anterior pelvic tilt?
[00:45:04] Q: Are LED lights bad for us?
[00:55:18] Closing the Podcast
[00:56:14] End of Podcast
[00:56:36] Legal Disclaimer
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
A guide to essential amino acids, the best fat loss supplements, can you gain muscle if you’re old, pelvic tilt fixes, and a whole lot more.
Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life Show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let’s do this.
Alright, folks, first of all, I’ll address the elephant in the room. If you’re watching the video version of this podcast, yes, my mouth is a little bit blue. I’ve been experimenting a lot. I hinted at this in podcasts. I think it was 454, what are we on, the 460s, 464, about how I’ve been using methylene blue. And, about an hour ago, I put some 99.99% USP, meaning pharmaceutical-grade methylene blue into my mouth. I’m always experimenting with different formulas. This one is nicotinamide mononucleotide or NMN; what’s called nano liquid gold, which apparently has some good effects on skin, hair, and nails, nano liquid silver fulvic acid, which is also pretty powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and of course, methylene blue, which I primarily use for brain function and cognition energy. And, even emotional regulation has been shown to help with, but it can also reduce anxiety and help out with depression. It’s antiviral. It’s antimalarial. It can really help out with the mitochondria by improving your oxidative metabolism. Anyway, so I put a little bit of this tincture into my mouth before the podcast. It’s this stuff called a BioBlue. I think they might be coming on board as a sponsor for the show. So, maybe I’ll get a discount link or something like that for you guys as I’m prone to do.
But, I actually am not here today to talk with you much at least about methylene blue. I got all sorts of interesting information in today’s show from the newsflash archives so to speak. All the latest and greatest things I’ve discovered this week. I also want to reply to a really great listener question about an issue that a lot of people have and don’t even know it often, anterior pelvic tilt. But, I really want to kick things off with a topic near and dear to my heart, which is essential amino acids, why they’ve been a staple in my own protocol ever since I was racing Ironman triathlon and was looking for a way to race in a somewhat ketogenic state to have lots of muscle protein synthesis or at least staving off muscle protein breakdown. And, even have a protein source I could rely upon without a lot of distress in my digestive system during long bike rides and runs and even swims from a water bottle by the side of the pool. And, for a while, I experiment with these things called branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs for this. And then, way back in the day, I got turned on to essential amino acids. Head nod to one of my friends who’s raced 40-plus Ironman triathlons. He’s a 70-plus-year-old doctor. Sorry for the vagueness in terms of the number of triathlons and the age. I don’t remember, but it’s a lot and a lot. Anyways, his name is Dr. David Minkoff and he works in longevity medicine. He works with a lot of cancer patients. He works with a lot of athletes. And, essential amino acids were one of the main medications if you want to call them that, or supplements that he used and recommended to his clients and his patients. So, he turned me onto them and I started using these amino acids and was blown away.
So, I want to fill you in on these because there was a recent paper that was released by The International Society of Sports Nutrition that I thought was fantastic and had a lot of really great takeaway information for you and me in terms of these essential amino acids. And, just to backpedal a second here, they’re called essential amino acids or so-called EAAs because there are really nine of them: histidine, isoleucine, yes, you’re going to get all the information you need to impress your friends at your next nutritionally fueled cocktail party, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. They’re called essential because you can’t produce them, your body can’t make them, what’s called, endogenously. They’re essential. They need to be consumed from exogenous sources for human survival.
And, there’s another one called arginine you may have heard of that’s called a conditionally essential amino acids. That means in certain circumstances, the endogenous production of arginine can fail to meet your physiological needs. And, sometimes that also will be considered an essential or so-called conditionally essential amino acid. And, the way that amino acids work is that when you consume, what are called, free-form amino acids or free-form essential amino acids, they stimulate muscle protein synthesis and protein turnover through your body, including the synthesis of new muscle protein. Thus, producing gains in muscle mass and quality and improvements in physical performance and functional outcomes. And, I’ll get to some other use cases for them momentarily as well as how to use them and how to time them and before or after workout or whatever.
But, the idea, the reason this is important, this idea of muscle protein synthesis is that in normal conditions, your rate of muscle protein synthesis also known as MPS and your muscle protein breakdown are equal over the course of the day. Now, if your MPS, and remember that’s muscle protein synthesis, if you’re remembering the alphabetic soup, when that exceeds the rate of muscle protein breakdown, muscle mass will increase over time along with the potential gain in strength. Now, accelerated muscle protein turnover, which means your protein synthesis and your breakdown, is increasing at the same rate without a gain in net muscle protein mass can also benefit muscle function. Because what happens is even if you’re not gaining muscle mass, it’s this idea of young muscle.
I talked with Joel Greene, a podcast guest several years ago about young muscle and how you could do things like foam rolling and massage and work with a percussion gun and things like that to reduce soft tissue adhesions and muscle fiber cross-linking, and it’s very similar to that idea. You don’t have to necessarily be putting on mass to get a benefit in muscle function and the replacement of older damaged muscle fibers with younger new highly functioning muscle fibers. This is why you don’t just lift to get swole, even though some people like to do so. You lift to maintain really physiologically and biologically beneficial new muscle fibers. So, the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis or turnover is the principal metabolic basis for increasing your strength and your physical function.
Now, in addition to that, way back in the day when they did early investigations, they demonstrated the amino acid effect on skeletal muscle was primarily through the stimulation of MPS. That’s how amino acids work. They stimulate muscle protein synthesis. They don’t stave off muscle protein breakdown. And, that’s a little bit of a myth out there. They keep muscle from getting broken down. That’s not the idea. What they do is stimulate muscle protein synthesis. And, this gives us a very good clue about how to use them, about how to use, and time our essential amino acids.
Now, the way that they actually stimulate muscle protein synthesis, and I’m just giving you guys a brief overview of everything that’s in this fantastic paper, is via what’s called translational control, which has been studied since the ’50s in terms of how essential amino acids can affect so-called translational control. Now, all that means is it’s linking of amino acids dictated by your mRNA code. Okay, translational control is essentially your mRNA working along with bound amino acids to write out the code of the proteins that mRNA is directing them to do.
Now, if you have a deficiency of any one of those essential amino acids, that makes that essential amino acid what is called limiting. And, that means that all of that translational elongation gets terminated before the process is complete. That’s one reason why you can’t just use one or two or three amino acids or just leucine like some people do. You have to use all nine of the essential amino acids to increase the genes associated with amino acid sensing and transport and what’s called mTOR regulation or the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.
Now, you can actually measure muscle protein synthesis in response to amino acid composition, and they do this. What they do is they determine the rate of what’s called a stable isotope tracer amino acid into muscle protein over time. And so, they can actually see if the amino acid is winding up in the muscle. So, for example, there was one study that looked at the effects of daily consumption of an essential amino acid formula in young healthy subjects compared to placebo and they were doing 28 days, nearly a month of total bed rest and daily consumption of the essential amino acid formula through the 28 days of bed rest. Ameliorated the loss of muscle mass compared to people consuming a placebo and they were able to trace those amino acids and the muscle protein synth is in this study to show it was the essential amino acids that kept people from losing muscle even when they weren’t exercising or lifting weights because of the stimulation, the increase in muscle protein synthesis.
Now, that’s really important because they’ve also done similar studies with leucine, which is a very popular amino acid. You’ll find it in many energy drinks and branched-chain amino acid formulas. They found that that induces a very short quick what’s called transient response in muscle protein synthesis, but it’s nowhere near enough to induce long-term gains in muscle mass and muscle function like the consumption of EAAs can do because the synthesis of muscle protein requires adequate availability of all the amino acids including all nine of those essential amino acids. Now, remember, your body can get the rest endogenously, so it can make its own. But, these essential amino acids, they have to come from external sources.
Now, they’ve also found that the depletion of amino acids in muscle can limit muscle protein synthesis. And so, that means that if you are going to want to be in a very anabolic state well say weightlifting but you don’t want to digest proteins or get a steep rise in insulin or you want to exercise in what some might call a semi-fasted state, that’s where EAAs can come in handy.
Now, they’ve also looked at and compared branched-chain amino acids, milk protein, and then what’s called branched-chain keto acids. And, what they found is that when you compare those to essential amino acids, there is not a drop in the decrease in plasma amino acids that keeps the muscles from getting broken down. So, it just comes back to this idea over and over again that you got to have all nine essential amino acids on board to get the benefits of them.
Now, one question I’m often asked as I talk about essential amino acids is, are they safe? And, this paper goes into the fact that when you look at the safe amounts of every essential amino acid, the data indicates that more than 100 grams of them can be safely consumed per day in an American adult. Now, reasonable dosage is typically right around 15 grams or so. And, I know some people who will do, for example, three 5-gram dosings of essential amino acids during the day. I like to do 10 grams before workout and 10 grams after workout.
So, I’m going to stop here real quick. What have we learned so far? We’ve learned that protein turnover ensures the continuous renewal of degraded and damaged muscle protein, and it’s important in maintaining muscle protein mass and function. And, that can be measured. The surrogate for measurement of the protein turnover is the determination of muscle protein synthesis by what’s called stable isotope tracer methodology. And, that allows us to see that the primary acute response when you consume essential amino acids is the stimulation of protein synthesis. We’ve also learned that you can take up to 100 grams a day of this even though I don’t think that’s necessary to take that much.
Now, interestingly they found that even as little as 1.5 grams has been enough to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. And, when I mentioned 15 grams, the reason I mentioned that number is because you don’t get a significant increase in muscle protein synthesis when you consume more than about 15 gram of essential amino acids at a time, kind of similar to how if you’re going to have protein with a meal. In most people, once you get up to about 30 grams, and in almost everyone, once you exceed about 40 grams, it gets very difficult to absorb all that protein in one sitting or digest all that protein in one sitting. So, my recommendation is dose your essential amino acids in 10 to 15 gram portions and then dose your whole food’s protein in about 30 to 40 gram portions.
So, what else were some interesting takeaways from this paper? First of all, it turns out that people who are in a negative energy balance, people who are dieting, the way that that affects muscle protein synthesis is as you can imagine in a way that limits the amount of muscle protein synthesis. And, that negative balance in proteins through the body will adversely affect both muscle protein synthesis and also your physical performance. So, what they found is that if you take in EAAs when you’re in a calorie-deprived state, and this is important a lot of times for people who are dropping weight, people who are endurance athletes, you actually see a regulation of positive whole body protein balance even if you’re at a calorie deficit. So, it turns out that these can be useful for maintaining muscle when you’re fasting as well.
So, the next thing that is interesting is that if you look at physical function in the absence of exercise training, when you take in essential amino acids, there’s some interesting takeaways. Like, when you look at older individuals, there was one randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in older women who got a placebo or they got 15 grams of essential amino acids per day for three months. And, what they found was that their lean body mass was increased significantly compared to a placebo even though they weren’t actually exercising. They’ve also shown that this is particular for older individuals, and that’s interesting because older individuals have a harder time breaking down and assimilating protein from food anyways that those who get essential amino acids, in this case, they were doing about 12 grams per day, improved their distance walked, they improved their grip strength and they improved their leg strength. And, that was compared to a group that was consuming whey protein. So, it turns out that free-form amino acids versus the amino acids that you would have to break down and get from protein appear to be superior when you’re looking for a lot of the biological or the physical benefits that you would get even staving off frailty with age and maintaining things like grip strength and walking cadence with the intake of essential amino acids. And again, it’s not much, 12 to 15 grams a day in some of the studies that I was just citing.
Now, when you look at resistance training or weight training, and I did a whole podcast with this guy named Milos Sarcev, a really popular bodybuilder about what he consumes before and during and after workout. And, he had mentioned when I interviewed him that he will bring essential amino acids to the gym. He has some other stuff in that brew like creatine and, I don’t know, HMB and ATP and God knows what else in his giant 32-ounce shaker cup at the gym. You know the type I’m talking about, usually like a headband, and I don’t know, maybe some knee-high aerobic socks. I don’t know about that last part. But anyways, resistance exercise appears to be best stimulated when you’re going in with elevated pools of amino acids versus just taking the amino acids afterwards because you’re getting better stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. And, it’s interesting because I think it was Milos and I that also talked about combining essential amino acids with blood flow restriction training so that you get a bigger pool of essential amino acids in the muscles while you’re training them and for anybody doing BFR training, which I’ll link to a few podcasts I’ve done on because it can be a very useful way to train and trick your muscles into thinking they’re lifting a heavy weight. Well, it turns out that if you use EAAs before that, you could really help out even more with the muscle protein synthesis that you’re looking for.
So, they’ve also looked at essential amino acids for endurance training. They found that it can stave off the fatigue and also the post-exercise soreness and improve recovery times when you’re using them for endurance training. They’ve also found that if you are using essential amino acids and doing consistent exercise, it actually sensitizes your skeletal muscle to the anabolic effects of essential amino acids. So, I think it was last week I was talking about lift heavy stuff, get cold, do some fasting. I would include the idea of if you’re training consistently, get a good source and intake of essential amino acids in when you’re training because that can actually help to sensitize your skeletal muscle and allow you to get the gains that you’re looking to realize even faster. They’ve also shown with high-intensity interval training that increased protein availability, meaning if you do your interval training in a Fed state with protein, can enhance muscle hypertrophy in what’s called mitochondrial biogenesis, the creation of new mitochondria. Well, if you look at the fact that oral amino acid formulas require little to no digestion and entail minimal gastric load and a rapidly absorbed and transported to the periphery into the muscles, that makes them also ideal for getting these effects that you’d be looking for when it comes to protein prior to high-intensity interval training.
Now, probably this is one reason that Dr. David Minkoff has told me in the past that he’ll use these with his patients because they’ve also done EAA therapy studies on infections on heart failure, on stroke, on peripheral artery disease, on lung cancer, on cystic fibrosis, on muscle cachexia from cancer, on brain injury, on metabolic syndrome, on obesity, on liver fat. And, in diabetes and in all of these studies, beneficial effects were observed despite the absence of a control group of the consumption of essential amino acids contained in dietary protein. And so, what that means is there’s a lot of clinical relevance that would indicate that essential amino acids can be very beneficial for a wide range of clinical outcomes as well.
So, I’m going to give you a list in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/466 of all the other major takeaways from this study. But ultimately, the TLDR, I guess in this case, what, it’s too long to listen, TLDL is that even as little as about 15 and actually 12 grams of essential amino acids per day can produce really good results. They can get you better results especially pre-workout and I would argue also post-workout than a whole food’s protein source. They’re easier to break down. And, in addition to that, you can take up to 100 grams a day with no deleterious effects. Now, they’re a staple in my routine, they have been for years. There’s different places you can get them. I’m sure there’s a few of you who are totally having fox guarding the henhouse syndrome because you know one of my companies Kion, we actually produce amino acids. But, I would be telling you this entire story about amino acids and the really interesting ways to use them regardless of that.
So anyways, that’s the latest on amino acids. I will link in the shownotes again at BenGreenfieldLife.com/466 to this entire fantastic study on the things. But, takeaway message is I would add these to your protocol if you’re not already using them. And, if you have questions or comments or feedback about how you use them or how you’d like to use them, then let me know.
So, how do you like that for starting off with a very dry white coat lab-style explanation of deep nutritional science? I’m hoping that you use this particular podcast as bedtime listening because that was a lot of dense stuff.
So, I want to talk now about spirulina. And, I might just stay kind of dense here. I don’t know. Spirulina. It’s the stuff that can turn your mouth green, just like my mouth is blue right now. It is known as one of those off-championed superfoods that you typically overpay for along with everything else your grocery shopping cart full of organic avocados handpicked by, I don’t know, Himalayan monkeys. And, it’s right up there with some of those other things like green coffee extract and cocoa extract and garcinia and garlic and ginger and all these things that are reported to be useful as supplements for weight loss.
Now, here’s the deal. They just published a paper that actually took 6,171 people who were overweight or obese. So, we’re talking about a pretty decent meta-analysis of randomized control trials and they looked at the effects of supplements on weight loss. So, they took 111 randomized controlled trials and they looked at 18 different supplements. They looked at flax seeds, cinnamon, capsaicin, saffron, resveratrol, green coffee extract, grape seed extract, ginger garlic, cocoa extract, black seed, curcumin, garcinia, green tea, chitosan, psyllium, and spirulina. And, for any who of you who are interested in this idea of natural alternatives to things like Ozempic and some of these GLP-1 agonists, this is interesting, because what they found was the highest certainty of evidence for weight loss was spirulina. They averaged about 3.9 pounds of weight loss from spirulina.
Now, there were some others that had pretty decent certainty of evidence, including psyllium fiber because honestly you just poop out all your weight. Actually, I’m kidding, it’s fiber-based and can keep you full. Kind of like spirulina, and I’ll explain that in a minute. Black seed, chitosan and curcumin. Now, chitosan is an interesting one because that’s not really a fiber. Chitosan is basically a sugar. It comes from the exoskeleton of shellfish like crab and lobster and shrimp. Now, it is fibrous. It’s not just what you would traditionally think of as fiber, but it’s actually a sugar and it comes from the outer skeleton of fish. However, some of these other things like psyllium seed and black seed, you might consider these to be commonly known fiber sources.
So, spirulina is interesting because I thought why the heck would spirulina assist with weight loss? We’re talking about the equivalent of a heaping teaspoon or so per day that you could stir into food smoothies, et cetera. Well, I’m going to link to a really interesting paper I found that summarizes all the different intriguing mechanisms of action of spirulina. For example, it’s been shown to allow for better fecal excretion. That sounds gross, I know. But, fecal excretion of cholesterol and bile, meaning it reduces absorption of fats in the small intestine. And so, you poop more fats out when you’re consuming spirulina and it might also result in a lipid-lowering effect. And, that’s related to what are called the phycocyanin components of spirulina.
Now, these photo pigments are also another reason. I like to combine something like spirulina with red light therapy. It’s also fantastic for that. It’s got anti-inflammatory properties. So, you get reactive oxygen species that are often associated with tissue inflammation and damage. And, spirulina is blue-green pigments. These water-soluble photosynthetic pigments have really good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And, considering that inflammation and oxidation can be related to weight loss resistance, that’s probably another reason that it’s not just useful for general health but for weight loss.
And then, there’s weight loss. So, the proposed mechanism of action in the way that spirulina would actually be so powerful for weight loss is a reduction in what is called macrophage infiltration into visceral fat. Okay. So, it lowers inflammation related to visceral fat. It prevents hepatic fat accumulation. It reduces oxidative stress like I was just talking about. And interestingly, it also allows for an improvement in insulin sensitivity and satiety. Meaning a reduction in appetite. And, I think the reduction in appetite could be due to an improvement in what’s called leptin resistance in the arcuate nucleus region of your brain. So, that means that spirulina can actually affect your brain to reduce your appetite and increase satiety.
Now, spirulina may also increase digestive enzyme production. It affects what’s called pancreatis lipase activity. So, what that means is that actually technically it inhibits, doesn’t increase digestive enzymes, it inhibits pancreatic lipase. Now, what that does is that can reduce your postprandial triglyceride levels. So, there’s another lipid-lowering effect that it has related to the pancreas, and then also can prevent cholesterol accumulation because of what’s called the gamma-linoleic acid components of spirulina. Now, gamma-linoleic acid is formed from an enzyme in your body called delta-6-desaturase. And, that enzyme gets inhibited with things like mineral deficiencies, low magnesium, for example, alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse, infection, aging. And, when you have a GLA deficiency that can cause arterial thickness and hypertension and what’s called dyslipidemia or poor lipid balance, now spirulina helps that by having gamma-linoleic acid, and then also it has vitamin B3, and also have niacin. And, that’s also been shown to help with lowering cholesterol.
So, when you look at spirulina, I mean I got through this study and I decided to just throw a couple of bags in the freezer and I’ve been dropping it in my smoothie. Because spirulina will stay fresh in the freezer for a while. Now, I think it’s ideal to use spirulina that’s actually like a living cell-based spirulina. So, the one in my freezer, it’s got 30 billion living cells in it and it’s fresh harvested. They freeze it and then they send it to your house and they tell you to keep it in the freezer. The stuff I’ve been using is from this company called Royal Spirulina. I don’t even know if I have a code for them or anything like that, but if I can find one, I’ll put it in the shownotes for you over at BenGreenfieldLife.com/466. But basically, the Royal Spirulina, it’s a pretty good deal. Even though Spirulina is not inexpensive, I think it comes down to 72 bucks a pound at Whole Foods for good Hawaiian spirulina. They sell their spirulina crunchies there for 140 bucks a pound. This stuff that I have in the freezer comes down to about $45 or so per pound. And, considering 1 pound is going to last me probably a couple of months or more, that’s not bad for $45 for a couple of months considering all of the benefits that it has and considering you can stir it into bone broth, smoothies, make juice out of it, whatever.
The other interesting thing, and this is related to the conversation I had with Dr. James DiNicolantonio is that it may also be a good insurance agent against the consumption of vegetable oil. Meaning, if you go out for a burger or you have some canola oil and some salad dressing and you want to limit the damage from that, the oxidation from that, you can actually use spirulina as kind a sponge. Glycine also works similarly. It’s like 5 grams of glycine or 5 grams, which is about a heaping teaspoon or so, of spirulina can really help if you’ve been consuming vegetable oil. Not that you want to use that as an excuse to head out for your local French fry outlet, but it’s good to know that your green mouth can protect you from the nasty French fry oils.
I tweeted recently the next time that one of your friends tells you there’s no proof that seed oils are bad for you, you need to tell them about something called HNE. Okay, HNE is short for pretty long mouthful of a phrase, a phrase, a word, a description, I don’t know. Trans-4-hydroxy-2-nonenal. That last part sounds like something a baby would say, “nonenal.” So, if you feed varying amounts of this to rats, they develop kidney and liver problems and some can die. Now, why would that be important because that substance which we call HNE for short forms in your body when free radicals react with fats.
Now, how would these type of fats that high HNE be found in your diet, for example? Well, it turns out that HNE forms when fats in your body are oxidized, which is a reason to sleep well, destress, not overtrain, et cetera, but it also forms when cooking oils are heated to a high temperature in the presence of oxygen. I’m going to say that again, it forms when cooking oils are heated to a high temperature in the presence of oxygen. Not all oils are susceptible to this oxidation to the same degree, however. And, this is important because the biggest source of HNE is linoleic acid, which is a polyunsaturated fat.
And, I know that you’ve probably heard polyunsaturated fats are supposed to be good for us and some are. But, corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oil, in particular, these are the fats a lot of people are told to use to prevent their cholesterol levels from going through the roof even though I think it’s probably not a news flash now in many health communities that they’re not really advised by a lot of nutrition experts these days even though some of those nutrition experts get a raised eyebrow or get laughed at by people who don’t believe this message about polyunsaturated fats. But, the deal is even though polyunsaturated fats are a lot less likely to elevate cholesterol than saturated fats found in meat or hydrogenated oils and trans fatty acids like, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, whether or not you think that eating foods that aren’t going to lower cholesterol as much is an issue or not, it’s not the cholesterol you need to be worried about, it’s that when you see these golden French fries, for example, this was segue I was talking about, they’re laden with HNE.
So, if you fry, not only should you use oil only once, ideally you should use a heat-stable oil like avocado or macadamia nut oil or olive oil, but you should really limit your intake of any food that’s been fried multiple times. That includes most foods at restaurants due to this 4-hydroxy-nonenal, this HNE. It’s basically a product of lipid peroxidation. And, I bring all this up because I recently came across a paper in Free Radical Biology and Medicine entitled “4-HNE modified proteins in metabolic diseases.” And, it is pretty crazy, the effect that these HNEs can have on what is called your cellular protein pool. So, they are very reactive. They’re able to change the function and stability of proteins very easily. They can influence cellular function and behavior very easily. Even though it gets a bad rap sometimes, I’ve seen some research that my friend Dr. Mercola has sent me and that he has published on his website that they can hang around in the body for months on end and they influence what’s called crosslinking. The HNE forms what’s called crosslinked HNE protein adducts. And, that means it can influence what’s called the cellular senescence process and contribute to excessive aging. This is probably why you see people who eat a lot of fried foods, they seem like they’re aging a little quicker, their faces seem to age a little bit more. When you combine it with heat and radiation exposure, and this is something I always notice when I’m walking by the pool in a hot place like Vegas and you see people eating fried food and fried chicken and burgers and French fries by the poolside, the worst thing you could be doing, combining radiation with high HNE exposure like solar radiation.
So, the takeaway message here is that if people are telling you that seed oils are not bad for you, then one of the arguments you can bring to the table is, “Hey, have you heard of HNE? It’s in just about any fried polyunsaturated oil like canola and safflower and sunflower. It interacts with proteins in your body because it’s heavily oxidized and it causes excessive aging. And, there is a host of research on accelerated cell death due to high HNE consumption.” And, I will include in the shownotes a link to this latest study that I’ve come across in terms of how much damage it can do to the body.
Interestingly one of the things that came up in the paper is how much glutathione could be protective against this. I talked about spirulina, I talked about glycine, but if you have good glutathione intake or good n-acetylcysteine intake or good intake of glutathione precursors like say selenium or sulfur-based compounds: broccoli, brussels sprouts, even whey protein, you could theoretically be able to withstand some of the damaging effects of HNE just a little bit more. Because let’s face it, I don’t think any of us are going to not ever have a fry. Even a sweet potato fry, I think many of us are probably going to have a piece of fried chicken every now and again. Best fried chicken in the world I’ve ever had is actually in Japan, but it still is fried in oil that’s probably been used a couple of times. Some of us are going to have fried vegetables, tempura, whatever. I’m not saying to completely ignore fried foods. Okay, fried foods are a highly palatable food that can produce a lot of pleasure but don’t fool yourself into thinking that there’s not a biological tradeoff. And furthermore, consider things like glutathione, spirulina, glycine, and the like if you are going to consume a significant amount of those kind of foods or really any amount of those kind of foods. So, that’s the deal with HNE, 4-HNE. And again, I’ll link to that at BenGreenfieldLife.com/466.
Alright, here’s another interesting one that I thought was really helpful or hopeful, I should say, to me. And, this is a new study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. So, if you’re listening and you’re old or if you’re listening and you know someone who is old, pay attention. Because it’s been speculated in the past that people who are over 85 years old cannot build muscle if they’re weight training. This latest study showed that consistent resistance training, particularly 12 weeks of whole-body resistance training three times a week could produce an increase in muscle mass strength and physical performance in aging populations, with no difference between people who were 65 to 75 years old and people who were 85 plus years old. Meaning, as that old Chinese proverb, if I can talk, goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago or today,” the best time to start lifting is as soon as you hear this message.
Now, you’re probably familiar with the idea of sarcopenia, right? Sarcopenia is the onset of muscle loss that occurs basically from your mid-30s on and occurs at a faster rate if you are protein or amino-acid-deprived or don’t load the muscles or both, but it is never too late to stave off sarcopenia. And, this is important because sarcopenia is what can lead to mortality: falls, fractures, hospitalization, loss of independence, many chronic diseases, much of that is related to just not having enough muscle to be able to not fall, have an accident, have time off, be stuck in bed, and then just stuff builds up. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes because you’re sitting around, bed sores, you. So anyways, resistance training is something that works to save this off. Clinical trials up till this point have shown that all adults even very frail people over the age of 75 can make significant gains in muscle mass and strength by doing resistance training at least twice a week.
Now, when it comes to this new study, it turns out if you’re 85 plus years old, three times a week, you can also gain muscle even if you’re 85 plus. There was even one study. It was a small study. It was only 10 people, but it was really frail institutionalized 86- to 96-year-olds who did a high-intensity progressive resistance training program. Just imagine a 95-year-old grandpa doing a high-intensity progressive resistance training program and out doing wall ball throws and bench pressing in the gym. Well, they found that they increased the average mid-thigh muscle area, which is one standard of looking at muscle mass and muscle growth by 10%. That’s the equivalent to the amount of muscle typically lost over that decade of 86 to 96 years old, and leg strength increased by, get this, 180%. You might have heard of Charles Eugster before. He lived up until 2017. He took up weightlifting in his late 80s after he noticed a decline in his muscle mass. He went on to become a bodybuilder. And, in 2012, he gave a TEDx talk. I’ll link to the TEDx talk in the shownotes. It’s called “Why bodybuilding at age 93 is a great idea.” And, if I remember properly, this was also a guy who was throwing back meat and egg yolks and all sorts of nutritionally dense foods that I’m sure the American Heart Association would have told him not to eat. But nonetheless, he lifted weights, he was swole. He didn’t even start until his late 80s, Charles Eugster. Look him up.
And again, we’re talking three times a week, in some studies, two times a week, full body weight training routine. So, it turns out that you can gain strength as you age. And, by the way, one other thing I should point out is that that study that I just talked about, it goes way back to 1990, high-intensity strength training are what are called nonagenarians, effects on skeletal muscle. And, a nonagenarian, by the way, it’s a person who is between 90 and 99 years old. It’s a synonym basically for somebody who’s 90-something. So, I want to be a swole nonagenarian. I don’t know about you or at least I want to be an unfrail hard-to-kill nonagenarian. And, I’ve just told you the secret in terms of how to do it. Make sure you’re still eating adequate protein. That’s the other thing they’ve shown for older individuals. 0.8 grams per pound or so of protein is a good idea along with digestive enzymes to help break it down. But, that’s the latest on weight training and age.
Okay. So, I want to take a listener question, then I have one other thing that, if time permits, I want to get into that’s very interesting related to me being in my office underneath bright lights right now at 6:00 p.m. in the evening.
So, I actually got a question from listener Bruce. And, if you want to leave your question, you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/466 and leave it there. But, Bruce says, “Ben, do you have any advice for fixing an anterior pelvic tilt?” Well, I wanted to reply to this question from Bruce because this is a huge problem in a lot of people. Anterior pelvic tilt is also known as lower cross syndrome. And, they’ve found that these days up to 85% of males and up to 75% of females actually have anterior pelvic tilt. So, if you’ve ever been told that your butt sticks out or that your stomach sticks out, the chances are you probably have anterior pelvic tail. It’s also known as a lordotic curve in your pelvis. Now, all it means is the name implies, anterior pelvic tilt is that your pelvis is rotated forward. Now, when your pelvis rotates forward, that forces the curve in your low back to adopt a more extended position that’s called hyperlordosis. It’s also referred to by the highly scientific term duck posture, the Donald Duck posture rather. If you ever look at Donald Duck kind of sticking his chest out and his butt out with that hyper curve in his low back, it’s Donald Duck posture, hyperlordosis.
Why is this an issue? Causes lower back pain, causes a lot of pressure on the spinal vertebra which over time can lead to joint irritation and intervertebral disc pressure and disc degeneration. It can cause chronic pain of your back, your hips, your knees, your ankles, cause poor balance. And, the way that you get it is if you’re sitting or standing with poor posture. If you have tight hip flexors and weak glutes, if you don’t know how to hip hinge properly. Sometimes it can happen in people who have been overweight or obese for an extended period of time. And, the thing is you can fix it as you can imagine based on the idea that it’s caused by the hip flexors being short and the hip extenders being long. Weak long glutes, short hip flexors. And, that leads to increased curvature of the lower spine and of the upper back.
So, your hip flexors, these are the muscles that attach the thigh bone to the pelvis and the lower back. So, you would use them to run or to kick or to bend at the hip. You can imagine those would get really tight if you were sitting for a long periods of time, for example. Your hip extenders are your hamstring muscles and your glute maximus. Those help to extend the hip. Now, if you throw weak stomach muscles into the equation here along with the tight hips and the weak glutes, it make makes the problem even worse. So, what’s the trick? As you can imagine, it’s pretty straightforward. You would somehow strengthen or shorten the glutes and lengthen or extend the hip flexors and then continue to engage in exercises that will do this as a part of your routine.
So, as far as what some of those exercises are, I’m going to link to a few really good ones in the shownotes. But, for the hip flexors, any yoga hip openers, the couch stretch is fantastic. That’s one that I think was coined by my friend Kelly Starrett, great physical therapist. The couch stretch is one I do every day. Actually, I do it after I go to the bathroom from sitting on the toilet. I do the couch stretch just holding on to the kitchen count or the kitchen. I don’t poop in my kitchen. I do it in the bathroom, bathroom counter. I do the hip flexor stretch. The child’s pose that you would see in yoga, that releases your back muscles like your latissimus dorsi. That tends to get very tight when you have anterior pelvic tilt. The cat-cow stretch. I do this one. As a matter of fact, we have family meditation and devotions in the living room each morning. And, sometimes during family meditation, I will do the cat-cow stretch with breathing as I sit there and listen to our devotional and to our inspirational verses that we listen to for the day. So, that’s another good one.
Any of the warrior poses, like I mentioned, which would include some of these yoga hip openers. Those are really great as well. And then, for the glutes because I just told you how to lengthen the hip flexors for the glutes, glute bridges. There’s actually a called the “Glute Lab” by Brett Contreras and they did EMG analysis of all the different exercises in the gyms to look into exercises in the gym, singular I suppose, to look at all the different ways that you can stimulate the glutes. And, it turns out the glute bridge machine at the gym is a really good one. You can actually get these hip thruster machines even for a home gym. I don’t have one but I will often do bridges. I have this funny-looking bridge I do. I have one of those vibration plates. I put my heels on the vibration plate and then I do a bridge by pushing my hips up towards the ceiling and I’ll hold that isometric position while the vibration plate does its vibing for a full minute and your glutes are just hammered after that. I probably average about 10 sets of that a week. I just do it in between rest periods or during rest periods while I’m at the gym in between some other exercises.
Squats. Great, obviously along with many lunging exercises. There’s an exercise made popular by a back mechanic named Stu McGill called the bird dog. You may have seen that one before where you extend your right arm left leg and the left arm right leg while you’re bracing and contracting your core as hard as you can. And then, I would say at the top of the list, creme dela creme of hip flexor stretching, back strengthening exercise or I’m sorry, glute strengthening exercises, I should more appropriately say hip extensor strengthening exercises would be the Foundation Training program by my friend Dr. Eric Goodman. I’ve done a whole podcast on that. I had him and his team come to my house and train me and my family. I still do those exercises. Most of my clients, if you’re listening in, hello, you guys know that I load those up onto your training calendar all the time to do. And, it’s about 10 different exercises that you just sprinkle in during little breaks during the day. You can do them all in the morning. You can split them up and do a few one day and a few the other day, which is typically how I do it. I allow myself for 15 minutes of stretching every morning. And, when I say stretching, it includes a lot of the exercises or stretches I just told you along with foam rolling, massage gun work, but I’m a creature of habit and consistency. So, it’s 15 minutes every morning that I just set aside to allow myself to do my own physical therapy. And, for me, that adds up to what, I can do the math, 90 minutes a week of physical therapy that I’m doing it myself using a lot of these moves. And, I swear that’s one of my keys to not getting injured and being young and virile and climbing up mountains when I’m 42. It sounds like I’m old. I’m no Charles Eugster yet. That’s for sure.
So anyways, I will link to some of my favorite exercises on anterior pelvic tilt. And, if you want some more resources, definitely listen to either of my podcast episodes with Katy Bowman, B-O-W-M-A-N.
Now, there was finally a very interesting article that I came across that was recently published in the website Fee Stories about this new incandescent light bulb ban which has kind of pissed off a lot of people in the health world particularly who are clued into the fact that LED lighting is not that great for you. Okay.
So, I light my entire house with both halogen and incandescent lighting. And, there are a few rooms in the house that use what’s called biological LED. Now, the problem with most indoor lighting simply comes down to artificial blue light. When you dig deep, there’s a bit more to it than that, which I’ll get into. But, blue light is very energizing. You get huge amounts of it from the sun. It plays a great role in circadian rhythmicity and in seasonal signaling. It sends a message to your brain and to your body via the retina in your eye and the photoreceptors in your skin that it’s day or night summer or winter. So, the more blue light there is, the more sunlight there is. Blue light also, based on its wakefulness-enhancing properties, is something that can increase cortisol. It increases your stress response. It increases your production of reactive oxygen species in certain so-called hormetic amounts that’s not bad. But, in nature, blue light never exists without being paired with red and near-infrared light. That’s present throughout the entire day. Blue light is not.
This is why sun and even sunrise and sunset and going outside for natural light exposure or lighting your home or your office with as much natural light as possible is important. Because when you look at LED lights, they are only the concentrated stress-inducing, often eye irritating, I’ll get into that in a moment. Blue light doesn’t have red light, doesn’t have near-infrared light. And, some people will hack this by putting a red light, like a near-infrared or far-infrared or red light. Well, not far-infrared, mostly near-infrared and red light in their office and having that on while at the same time they’ve got overhead LED blue Lighting on. That can be a decent strategy. You can just wear blue light-blocking glasses because, like I mentioned, your skin has photoreceptors. So, basically, this comes down to the type of indoor lighting that you choose.
Now, Edison who you’re most likely familiar with, taking any history class whatsoever, you know that he came up with the incandescent light bulb and DC electricity. And then, Tesla came along a few years later with AC, alternating current electricity. And, in the ’40s, fluorescent lighting took off. In the ’60s, LED light started to come out in different colors. And then, these white bright light LEDs, they’re more recent invention. They came into existence around 2010 or so. And, that brings us to the two main types of indoor lighting when it comes to the quality of light: Thermal lights and non-thermal lights.
Thermal lights are made from heat. With non-thermal lighting, you don’t use heat but you use other technologies. So, thermal lights made from heat would include incandescent. That’s old-school light bulbs, and halogens would fall in that category. Whereas, non-thermal lights would be LED and fluorescent. Any type of these energy-saving lights, they’re also known as CFL lights. Now, incandescent light bulbs and halogen light bulbs, because they’re made from heat and not these other LED and fluorescent technologies, are more akin to daylight. They have all of the color spectrums. There’s no severe peaks and troughs. The spectrum is gradual It’s got all the colors in it. They give off light in the yellow, the orange, the red, and the infrared spectrum. Problem is these incandescent light bulbs are also known to be energy inefficient because of their heat emissions. However, they’re not less healthy, they’re less energy efficient, but they’re not less healthy.
Now, the reason for that is because fluorescent lighting and LEDs, CFLs and LEDs, the quality of lighting is very poor. To make them energy efficient, they have to eliminate the red light and the infrared light. And, that means that they’re giving off lots of this blue light that in high amounts can generate reactive oxygen species and stress-induced responses in the body because the artificial light is not counterbalanced with the positive effects of something close to sunlight on the body.
Now, fluorescent lighting, that can be even more detrimental, and that’s because you have this heavy metal mercury and photons of mercury light emit a frequency within the range of visible light that can penetrate the body. And, if you have heavy metal load or mercury buried in your fat cells, that many people have from say dental work or I don’t know if it’ll get me canceled for saying this, sometimes vaccinations. You can actually reactivate mercury that’s in your fat cells. Now, if a fluorescent light breaks, you should never clean it up, you should also be very careful spending lots of time in front of a mercury-powered fluorescent light.
Now, when you look at LED lights, they don’t have mercury but they still have a ton of isolated blue light. Now, there is a lot of research out there that blue light can damage the photoreceptors in your eyes with long-term exposure. That’s something called melanopsin. It can suppress melatonin, which is why you should wear blue light blockers at night at least but your skin is still getting exposed. It can harm sleep. It can damage mitochondria. It can accelerate aging and disease. It’s been linked in high amounts to myopia or shortsightedness, age-related macular degeneration, obesity, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and even depression. This might even be why shift work at night, imagine the hospital worker walking through that LED-lit hospital hallway has been linked to higher rates of cancer and increased cardiovascular disease.
Now, blue light is an extremely effective suppressor of melatonin. And, not only is melatonin important for sleep as you already know, I think, but it’s also one of the greatest anti-inflammatories and anti-cancer agents that your body produces. And, this might be why colon, prostate and breast cancer have all been linked with excess exposure to artificial blue light.
Now, there’s a few other things to consider with lighting. Okay, electromagnetic fields, for example. The energy savings in the form of fluorescent and CFLs means you also get high electric, high AC magnetic fields, and high amounts of dirty electricity, and they’re the worst in fluorescent and CFLs. Halogen downlights are pretty high up there too with high electric and AC magnetic fields. LEDs are a little bit better, but they generate a lot of dirty electricity and they also produce a lot of flicker. Because with LED lights, the frequencies have to constantly switch on and off at a rate way higher than your eyes are able to register. But, on the cellular level, your bodies and the photoreceptors and your skin still perceive that. And, if you get headache or eye strain or muscular strain and your neck and shoulders, a lot of times that’s because your eye can’t keep up with the flicker effect. And so, the head employs the neck and shoulder muscles subconsciously to try to stabilize the effect. And, most standard LEDs and even LED backlit monitors will flicker a lot.
So, what do you do about all this? Well, first of all, incandescent light bulbs aren’t technically banned. So, the idea was that the Biden Administration allowed a 2007 ban on incandescent light bulbs to go through at the end of July in 2023. It’s not a ban on incandescent light bulbs specifically though, it’s a standard that a light bulb must illuminate 45 lumens per watt. And, that basically eliminates the option of a lot of incandescent lighting even though you can still find incandescent lighting. You can also choose biological LED lighting or O-LED if you go to the website and I’ll link to it for my friend Brian Hoyer who’s a building biologist. He has a fantastic lighting guide on his Shielded Healing website that my wife and I have used quite a bit for our current home and also for the new home that we’re building in Idaho.
And, like I mentioned, you can find biological LED, you can find incandescent, you can buy halogen, but the idea is that they’re trying to say that the LED light bulbs are more efficient but at what cost? High amounts of dirty electricity and an impact on your health that I’m not a huge fan of. It doesn’t just come down to cost. And, actually the incandescent light bulbs don’t cost that much. We’re talking about probably, I don’t know, few dozen bucks a month maximum. So, here’s the deal, incandescent light bulbs can be hard to find. They’re still sold as party or decorative lights in hardware shops. And, if you go to the Shielded Healing website and read up on a few other resources there, and I’ll link to Brian Hoyer’s lighting guide in the shownotes.
Amber or red lights, like in our bedrooms, we have amber or red incandescent lighting, which you can also find at online specialty lighting shops. There’s one website called blockbluelight.com, I think, that has them. There’s another one that’s been a sponsor in the past called BonCharge. I’ll link to them in the shownotes as well. You can find healthy LEDs but you need to look for LEDs that come close to resembling daylight. Similar to what you’d find in an incandescent light bulb. So, they need to have what’s called a color rendering index of 95 or more. Because a score of 100 is similar to daylight at noon, and the CRI indicates how close the colors in a certain light source represent the true color of an object. And, that will also help with the flicker effect. So, you want a CRI of 95 or more in looking for a healthy LED. Lot of times it’s going to be called a biological LED. You also want to look for LEDs that have what’s called a warm color temperature, which is measured in what’s called Kelvin. Around 2,700 is pretty good to shoot for. Right around 2,700 as far as the color temperature. And, that will also help out with your circadian rhythms.
What else? I have a cheapo red light headlamp, a red camping headlight from Amazon that I use to get around the house at night and in the morning if I’m up later or earlier than the rest of the family. Red nightlights in the bedrooms. Candlelight can work after sunset. We have a wood-burning fireplace in the living room. We often will sit around that in the evenings. Don’t use overhead LEDs or halogen downlights, instead use incandescent lamps or low-voltage halogen lights. And, this is something that’s getting kind of geeky, but there’s what you can get called a DC transformer that can reduce dirty electricity and flicker in the cans for your bulbs. This would probably be more for a new build or for a pretty significant home overhaul, but that’s another option. And then, of course, remember, sunlight is going to be your best lighting source. So, as much as you can keep the curtains open and keep natural light coming in, the better.
So, ultimately, I thought that when coming across that article it was so important that I would be remiss not to share some of my thoughts on light with you. So, hopefully, that lights up your day. You can have that along with your French fries, your spirulina, glycine and your essential amino acids, and everything else that we talked about. It’s all over in today’s show. So, today’s shownotes which you can find at BenGreenfieldLife.com/466. Leave the show a rating or a review. It helps out the show a ton. It helps me to get bigger and better guests. It helps to get the show a lot of visibility. Many of you skip that step, but it only takes a minute or two. Please, if you’re able to, leave the show a rating or review. And, until next time. I’m Ben Greenfield signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/466. Have an incredible week.
Want free access to comprehensive shownotes, my weekly roundup, cutting edge research and articles, my top recommendations for everything that you need to hack your life and much more? Visit BenGreenfieldLife.com.
In compliance with the FTC guidelines, please assume the following about links and posts on this site. Most of the links going to products are often affiliate links of which I receive a small commission from sales of certain items, but the price is the same for you and sometimes I even get to share a unique and somewhat significant discount with you.
In some cases, I might also be an investor in a company I mentioned. I’m the founder, for example, of Kion LLC, the makers of Kion-branded supplements and products which I talk about quite a bit. Regardless of that relationship, if I post or talk about an affiliate link to a product, it is indeed something I personally use, support, and with full authenticity and transparency recommend in good conscience. I personally vet each and every product that I talk about.
My first priority is providing valuable information and resources to you that help you positively optimize your mind, body, and spirit. And, I’ll only ever link to products or resources, affiliate or otherwise that fit within this purpose. So, there’s your fancy legal disclaimer.
Before asking your question, search in the 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 Life!
Want to submit your question for Ben to answer on the podcast? Submit here or send a direct message on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. To make it easy to spot, preface your question with “Q&A Podcast Question: (ask a question)” and keep it concise, please.
Q: Bruce asks: Hi Ben, do you have any advice for fixing an anterior pelvic tilt? I have done a ton of exercises for the last two years and I’m not seeing any real results…46:16
Q: Are LED lights bad for us?…53:01
- Unlock Longevity: February 24, 2024
Join me in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, February 24, 2024, for the Unlock Longevity event where I’ll be presenting on “The 5 Elements in Your Environment That Will Make or Break Your Health.” Check out more by going to bengreenfieldlife.com/unlock-longevity (use code Greenfield10 for $10 off your ticket).
Beekeepers: Our mission is to reinvent the medicine cabinet— we merge modern science with natural medicine to create clean, effective products that actually work. Beekeeper’s Naturals is offering you an exclusive offer: Go to beekeepersnaturals.com/BEN or enter code BEN to get 20% off your order.
Vuori: Get yourself some of the most comfortable and versatile clothing on the planet at vuori.com/BEN. Not only will you receive 20% off your first purchase, but you’ll enjoy free shipping on any U.S. orders over $75 and free returns.