How is it possible in the age of lockdowns that some people are getting even MORE fit?
Instead of packing on the quarantine 15, our friend Ben Greenfield returns to the show today to show us that you can build muscle and get ripped despite everlasting lockdowns.
Ben actually does this interview while exercising outdoors at his local track. He’s literally walking the walk here today.
Ben is a human performance consultant, speaker, podcaster, and New York Times bestselling author of 13 books, including Beyond Training and Boundless.
And on today’s show with our dear friend Ben Greenfield, we’re chatting about:
- How to protect your DNA against damaging EMFs
- What happened when Ben tried eating Carnivore for weeks
- How to gamify the learning process
- Why Ben’s not giving up vegetables, especially fresh veggies from his garden
- And tons more..
Let’s go hang out with Ben.
Ben Greenfield: Training & Eating for Longevity
Abel: Alright folks, I’m pleased to say that returning to the show today is fellow podcaster and long-time friend, Mr. Ben Greenfield.
I’ve had the pleasure to hang out with Ben over the years including at, let’s see, the Ancestral Health Symposium back at Harvard in 2012, I think it was.
Abel: Back when you were first on the show, Ben.
And so, of course, Ben is a man of many hats, who’s all over the place, as a top fitness writer, human performance consultant, speaker, New York Times best selling author of 13 books.
And I’ve got to say, Ben makes one of the best Ben Stiller Zoolander faces of all time. Thanks for being here, Ben.
Abel: There it is.
I’m not wearing any hats though, as you alluded to. I’m not wearing a single hat.
Abel: Or sunglasses.
Or sunglasses. I don’t want to shut down my retina response and my melanin up-regulation in response to this beautiful sunshine, so, I’m trying to max my absorption as much as I can get.
I really don’t wear sunglasses unless I’m risking snow-blind or sand blind at the beach, on the ski slope, something like that.
I really think that the eyes do a pretty good job communicating with the photo receptors through the rest of the body in terms of melanin regulation.
So, I actually think if you’re going in the sunlight, you want all the benefits, leave the sunglasses behind.
Abel: Yeah, I was talking to Matt Maruca a few weeks back about just that.
He noticed that a lot of people who were wearing sunglasses, those are the ones who get torched when they’re out on the beach. Because you’re cutting off your body’s own ability to sense.
Oh yeah, absolutely. And I mean the cool thing is, if we’re talking about melanin you can actually, this is fresh on my mind because I just did it.
I’ll usually consume something that will up-regulate melanin or that photo receptor activity even more, because what happens when the photons of light hit your skin, you up-regulate this part of the electron transport chain in the mitochondria called cytochrome c oxidase.
And there are some things that can funnel electrons into that pathway in response of sunlight and photons of sunlight against your natural melanin will do that.
But you can also consume things that either increase melanin in your body or increase other things that would interact with those photons of light to kick off electrons very similar like how plants photosynthesize it.
There’s that fascinating book about this called The Human Photosynthesis.
There’s also a new book actually, a really good book by Sayer Ji called Regenerate where he gets on to this concept as well, and a few of those compounds would be like melanin.
And there’s not a lot of foods that contain melanin but they tend to be like dark black foods.
Chaga is probably at the top of the list.
It looks like Shivaji from what I’m researching right now, may have some of that activity as well.
And then a popular New Tropic amongst a lot of the bio-hackers was originally used a fish tank cleaner, but if you get pharmaceutical grade it also works as methylene blue, that one will also interact with sunlight.
And then the last one is, and this is the one we’ve known about for the longest time would be anything kind of similar to a plant that has lots of chlorophyll and chlorogenic acid in it.
So, there’s two things, really three things that I’ve found that have pretty appreciable amounts of chlorogenic acid and chlorophyll and that’s chlorella, like chlorella tablets. And cilantro is also very high in this.
And this is kind of fascinating. There is this kind of rare form of buckwheat that they’ve grown in China for thousands of years, and there is some longevity hotspots that have been farming this particular crop for really long time and it is a special form of buckwheat.
It’s like shorter and all the nutrients are more concentrated in it, including this chlorogenic acid, which is antioxidant.
And it is called Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat. The only place I could find in the U.S. is this spot up in New York called Angelica Meals.
So, I ordered some of the flour and some of the bran from them and we have been making like pancakes and sourdough bread and stuff with that.
So, between that and getting out in the sunshine, that’s like the one-two supercharge.
Abel: Yeah, I was reading up recently, too, about poor dietary quality fats, especially when people consume vegetable oils, they’re seeing that their skin might burn more intensely.
And I’m thinking back to before I learned so much about health, I know I got burned horribly—my skin was paler, I was puffier.
There have been a lot of changes that have been made over the years.
Yeah, pizza and hamburgers on spring break, that’s the worst combo.
Because the polyunsaturated fats, if they do become damaged, those are what compromise your cell membranes.
That’s why I would much rather have like a stick of cotton candy or a handful of Skittles than I would like a greasy burger or some french fries cooked in vegetable oil, because that glucose from the sugar-load you can burn off.
And yeah, if it stays in your bloodstream for a long time repetitively you’ll get some vascular inflammation and some beta cells dysregulation of the pancreas and all the issues we know about with sugar.
But for an active person, especially sugar and carbohydrates, really are not much of an issue at all relative to vegetable oil consumption because the vegetable oils are used to actually build your cell membranes.
And so if you’re combining that with oxidation from heat and light, yeah, it’s a pretty nasty one-two combo.
So, yeah, they are probably the best, I think, the best book still on the whole polyunsaturated fats piece and that idea of rancidity and oxidation of oils causing damage to cell membranes or damage to metabolism overall is still Dr. Cate Shanahan’s book, Deep Nutrition.
I think she did a great job, great job in that book.
Abel: Dr. Cate is my hero.
Get Ripped Despite Everlasting Lockdowns
Now, let’s talk about something else, Ben, because you are one of the unicorns who has been leaning down and getting more ripped and putting on muscle during the lockdown.
So, let’s talk about that. How are you managing that?
Yeah, well you know, initially, and you know what, I was wrong about this.
And I put that out on my Twitter feed and my platforms where I released research that I’m reading.
I was initially under the impression that high intensity interval training and heavy or even voluminous exercise would be suppressive to the immune system to the extent to where you may increase your risk of contracting a virus or flu or an upper respiratory tract infection or anything like that.
And my reasoning for that was based on studies that have been done in Ironman triathletes, in marathons, are showing pretty significant immune system suppression in response to those activities.
But then when you dig into some of the more, I guess, practical research that doesn’t involve running 26.2 miles or exercising for 10 hours a day.
It turns out that even 60 to 90 minutes of a pretty hefty burst of exercise, if anything, seems to slightly strengthen the immune system response.
And so aside from the rare case where you’re just doing a complete Sufferfest.
I’m not opposed, as I was saying about six to eight weeks ago before I really dug into this research to the hard and heavy exercise, even if you’re exposed to something like a coronavirus.
However, there are some issues with that that I talk about in my book related to endocrine disruption and thyroid dysregulation.
I’m not a fan of over-training or obsessive training anyways.
But that being said, what I’ve done for about the past, I guess, what it’s like, 65 days now of sheltering in place, I really backed off on the exercise quite a bit.
Abel: Oh, really?
Initially inspired by my reasoning from the research done on marathoners and Ironman triathletes, and also by the fact that there are certain activities that significantly upregulate things that would strengthen the immune system, like nitric oxide, or heat shocked proteins, or carbon dioxide.
And so, what I’ve really focused largely on is sacrificing a lot of the time spent with the hard and heavy training and instead doing a lot of sauna, breathwork in cold.
Meaning I’ll typically do anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes of either Wim Hof breathwork or typically something closer like Pranayama techniques, because they’re a little bit less stimulating to the sympathetic nervous system than the Wim Hof protocol.
So, we’re talking about deep breaths in, moving energy up the body, and then long slow exhales, and almost a more peaceful and relaxed sort of way still after multiple rounds of that holding on the exhale, similar to what you would do with the Wim Hof protocol, but a little less kind of rapid or stimulating than Wim Hof.
And I’m always doing that in the sauna. And as a matter of fact, my 12-year-old boys and I did.
It’s almost like a mini-gong, where we did 50 straight days in the sauna with breathwork each night before dinner, and we’d go anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes and always finish with about two to five minutes in a 35 degree water in this cold tub I have outside my office.
And so a lot of my training kinda shift to the hot, cold, and breathwork as a nightly staple.
And in addition to that, the two forms of training that I’ve been using quite a bit, one is blood flow restriction training in which you tourniquet the arms and the legs.
And my reasoning behind that was that multiple research studies have shown that you can get a mitochondrial biogenesis response and you can get a satellite cell proliferation response, resulting in muscle hypertrophy and increase aerobic adaptations, along with this huge release of nitric oxide, big release of growth hormone, due to the lactic acid build up, and big release of something called vascular endothelial growth factor, which kind of like brain-derived neurotrophic factor, serves as a sort of miracle growth for the brain in response to this blood flow restriction training.
And that’s important because normally, those type of responses would occur in response to inflammation or eccentric damage from heavy loading.
So, it’s almost a way to trick your muscles into growing or maintaining their size and also their mitochondrial density with very light loads, little damage, and little amounts of immune system suppression.
And so, what I’m talking about is tourniqueting the arms and/or the legs and doing anywhere from 20 to 30 minute full body sessions of blood flow restriction training.
And the cool thing about that too is the recovery time is very fast. You could do this every day.
And so I’ve been doing a lot of that in the evenings, prior to the sauna breathwork in cold.
And then the other form of training that I’ve been using has been super slow training, single set to failure, moving the weight very slow forward, very slow back.
And the reason for that is because you can get a lot of time under tension on the muscle, which is really more important than number of sets or number of reps.
We can achieve a very high amount of time under tension in a very short period of time.
And because, again, I decided to sacrifice a lot of my exercise time to instead focus on heat and breathwork in cold, that again allows me to do a full body session about 20 to 30 minutes.
So, I kind of alternate one day doing blood flow restriction, and then sauna heat, and breathwork in cold.
And then the other day, kind of that super slow training with sauna and breathwork in cold.
And about 10 days ago, I kinda switched up because I’m a huge kettlebell fan, and I’ve been missing the kettlebells quite a bit.
And they’re very functional. I don’t think there’s anything that gets you as functionally strong as a good kettlebell practice.
Abel: I’m with you.
And right before the quarantine, I got my Russian kettlebell certification.
And decided 10 days ago that I need a new goal, so I signed up for the, kind of like the next level up for the Russian kettlebell cert.
So, I’m back to swinging kettlebells, doing a little bit less of the blood flow restriction super slow.
But I was able to actually build a little bit of muscle during the quarantine.
Keep my body fat the same and stay pretty fit, primarily with blood flow restriction, super slow training, heat breathwork in cold.
Abel: That’s so awesome, man. Now you’re coming up on 40, you’re a few years ahead of me, right?
Yeah, I’m 38.
How to Age Like a Champ
Abel: Have you felt much aging yet? And how so, if you have?
Well, I did, I would say from about the age of 28 to 35 or so, I was struggling.
I was struggling with some endocrine disruption.
I was struggling with some thyroid issues.
I was struggling with just not being able to pop out of bed quite as well the day after training.
And I really buckled down—especially while writing Boundless—and began to focus on a lot more of these longevity protocols.
Everything from some really hefty replenishment of my NAD levels to the use of a lot of these DNA repairing ingredients with resveratrol in my morning smoothie.
Like going through a ton of organic blueberry powder, dark cacao, things like that, which actually worked very, very well in conjunction with NAD to repair DNA.
And then I started to use peptides, which are fascinating.
These tiny little amino acid sequences that can act specifically on cell receptors to do things like decrease inflammation or increase growth hormone on the muscle level.
And then I also did a few rounds of stem cells.
I realize some of this stuff sounds pretty fringe and things that a lot of people aren’t going to do. But this is what I did.
Abel: This is what you live for, Ben.
Yeah, yeah. I got a hyperbaric chamber and started doing a lot of my reading of books and stuff while breathing pure oxygen in that hyperbaric chamber.
And also just began to focus on a lot more natural concepts, too. A lot more grounding and earthing.
I quit running as much and started to do more walking in the sunshine.
I went through my whole house and just changed up the whole water filtration system and drank more hydrogen-rich water, and I’ve been using a lot more minerals.
And, initially, a lot of these things were things I began implementing as I was researching the whole anti-aging and longevity sector.
Not only what a lot of the blue zones do, but a lot of these more modern things like the Russian peptide, the hyperbaric oxygen, or the stem cells.
And man, I got to say after doing all that for the past three years or so, I actually feel better than I did when I was 18.
I’m crushing everything from workouts to recovery, sleep is good, libido is good, my skin, hair and nails seem like they’re doing just fine.
But there was a period of time there where I was training well and eating well, but not focusing on all those other variables.
And now that I’m focusing on everything, I feel really good.
Adjusting Your Goals
Abel: What about as time goes on, how do you adjust your goals or give yourself that next carrot?
Because I know you’ve done so many different types of competitions and challenged yourself in so many different ways, how do you manage that?
Yeah. My perspective on it is, I think that sometimes people who are, say, into CrossFit or into triathlons or into Spartan, or into fitness competitions, or into bodybuilding, they almost feel as though they have to stick with that one training modality or that one goal for much of their life and just be the Iron Man triathlete or be the Spartan athlete.
Whereas, I’ve given myself mental permission to look at my life as more like a book, where you can read a chapter.
And I might be involved in one activity in a chapter that’s really my own personal Mount Everest, what’s keeping me happy, what’s keeping me motivated, what’s keeping me fulfilled.
But there’s also no reason that in the next chapter, it could be instead of say, and this is the case for me, Iron Man Triathlon and Spartan racing and body building, the next chapter is gratitude, meditation, long walks in the sunshine with some biohacking thrown in.
And who knows? A year from now, it might be me and my wife intensively training for a mixed doubles competition in tennis.
And so, I really like to view it as almost a little bit more of a renaissance man approach to goals and to sporting and to fitness.
I think that’s important to not tell yourself that your identity has to be formed around a specific activity, unless your profession relies upon that.
I get it, if you get your paycheck to go whatever, do CrossFit or do Triathlon, but that’s a pretty small sector of the population.
And so I think that’s important to just explore what’s appealing to you in the moment.
It’s the same approach we use with our kids who are unschooled.
How To Gamify The Learning Process
So, unschooling means that we simply allow them to identify their passions and express to us whatever their passions and interests might be in the moment.
And then we tweak their curriculum accordingly to surround them with as many games, and books, and activities, and tutors, and field trips, and excursions, and travel that fuels that particular passion they might have in life.
Like right now, they’re very interested in art and architecture.
So, it’s a large part of the curriculum. It’s tree forts, and oil and water color, and visiting the museum.
And when we travel, visiting churches, and temples, and more museums.
And they’re doing a lot of online art lessons.
They’re doing some different math that’s more focused around geometry, woodworking, building, because that’s what they’re interested in.
But a year from now, it might be more of a cooking block or maybe one of them wants to play violin, one of them wants to play the flute. So, we’re moving things that direction.
But I think that’s important just to be a curious life-long learner is to always keep yourself open to new challenges, and it’s great for the brain, too. So, that’s my approach.Be a curious life-long learner. @bengreenfield Click To Tweet
Abel: It’s so important to hear you say that Ben, because I think a lot of people, especially in the Western world, are tented into this hyper-specialization.
Then they get territorial over it.
And if that had been you, then you could easily still be the local tennis pro, because you were a rock star back in the day.
Yeah, absolutely. And there certainly is something to being a craftsman.
If anybody watches, for example, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it’s a perfect example of a guy who lives his life in the restaurant and crafts the perfect rice and the perfect plate of sushi because that’s what he’s chosen to hone in on as his one single passion that he focuses on with laser-like focus for years and years.
And if that’s your goal to be that kind of craftsman, then I think that’s great.
And I think it’s especially great if we’re talking about art, cooking, some type of creative endeavor that requires a great amount of fine motor skill.
But if we’re talking about just exercise and beating up your body in the same way month after month, I think you got to be a little bit more widely varied.
And there’s a new book by David Epstein, I believe, called Range in which he shows that a lot of people who’re pretty successful especially from a sporting standpoint.
They’re engaged in a wide array of activities, a wide range of activities, those that choose to specialize do pretty well.
But even those people that are ultimately feeling more happy and fulfilled in their specialization have engaged in a wide variety of activities leading up to that.
So, I would say if you feel called to be a craftsman and really dedicated to being excellent at one thing, yeah, there are certain things that are going to need to be set aside.
And you are going to need to spend a disproportionate amount of time pursuing that activity.
But again, I think when it comes to just exercise modalities that for the average person, the average recreational exercise, or you should definitely leave yourself open to just changing things up frequently and pursuing what you’re passionate about in the moment.
And that’s what’s going to keep you motivated to exercise.
Abel: Yeah. So suddenly it seems like a lot of people are being pulled into our worlds of homeschooling for you with kids, but for us also just running home businesses and what have you.
What recommendations do you have to those, especially parents out there who have careers, but also now homeschooling careers on top of that?
Yeah. That’s something I ran into because especially before the quarantine, I was on an airplane nearly every week.
And so I couldn’t necessarily be the sole educator in the home. My wife doesn’t really have a heart to teach.
She’s a wonderful homemaker. And we have goats and chickens and an enormous vegetable garden, and she’s wonderful at art, which was her degree in college.
So, there are certain things like animal husbandry, cooking art, etcetera, that she’s very called to teach and that she really wanted to help the boys with.
And I was really called to teach them things like heat, breath work, cold, meditation, a lot of these physical and spiritual disciplines.
But then of course, you get down to the nitty-gritty fact that, for example, in Washington State, there are 12 core subjects that we are required to teach our children and we are required each year to demonstrate proficiency of our children in those subjects like math, reading, writing, social sciences, etcetera.
And so we ran into a scenario where we couldn’t all be gathered around the kitchen table, Mom and I teaching the kids these things all day long, a traditional homeschooling setting.
So, the way that we did it was we went through a few books that I think are really good.
One is a pretty new and I would say somewhat relevant book when it comes to unschooling or homeschooling.
And that one is called Unschooling To University, a K-12 approach to unschool or homeschool.
But also should your child choose that they want to be something that requires a degree, let’s say an astronaut or an engineer or a physician, they’re still equipped to go to university for higher education.
And in addition to that, there’s a really good relatively new book called Free-to-Learn, which dictates this whole creative unschooling approach to education and really having education be more of a child playing with the things that they’re passionate about.
So, those are the two resources that we found to be helpful.
And then what we did was we hired two people.
We hired one virtual assistant who would collect all of the boys’ journals at the end of the day about what they engaged in and categorize those.
So, if they’re working on the tree-fort and they journaled about that, she’ll categorize that as falling into say art and math, or if they have a cooking podcast.
So, they cook some big wonderful meal for their cooking podcast that might fall into chemistry and let’s say if it’s an ethnic cuisine like Japanese, for example, social studies.
And so she’s doing that and she’s also ensuring that they’re signed up for their annual standardized tests that any passions that they express an interest in that Mom and I or them pass on to her.
They’re being built into a block during the year in terms of,
“Okay. So what time during the year are we going to leap in and start to study this new thing that they’re passionate about? And how is that going to look in terms of the day, the week, the month?”
So, almost the same thing that an executive assistant might do, but from a schooling standpoint.
She’s working virtually. She’s back East and she emails with the boys every day.
They do a Zoom call once a week with Mom and I and the boys.
And then we also have one other person who, I don’t know if nanny is the right word. But she’s someone that we hired to drive the boys to Jujitsu or to the Friday afternoon homeschool jump at the Trampoline Park or down to the museum, or to a local cooking class.
And she also spends a lot of time at our house during the day with the boys, which is nice for me too, because I pay her on the side to do things like take care of the mail, take care of the bills, scan stuff, do little things that I might not have time to do, whatever, strain the kefir or drain the sprout.
So just the little things that take up time during the day. So she’s wearing two hats.
And between those two people, what we’ve found is that with mom teaching what she’s good at, me teaching what I’m good at, any other passions or interest being passed on to this virtual assistant who then categorizes and plans everything and then one local person to help out with the chauffeuring and the logistical management, so to speak.
We’re able to divvy things up and stay relatively sane, still be able to work, still be able to get things done, still be able to spend time together as a family.
And so that’s the way that we’ve done it.
But it’s important for people to know that if you are unschooling, there’s never going to be a perfect way to do things, meaning I’ve seen all sorts of different examples.
And the example that I just gave works really well for us, but there’s never going to be one perfect way to homeschool or one perfect way to unschool.There's never going to be one perfect way to homeschool or one perfect way to unschool. @bengreenfield Click To Tweet
The main thing is, though, the lens through which you view it is that you’re paying attention to what your child is passionate about, and you’re surrounding them with as many people, items, objects, games, books, toys, activities, etcetera, that fuel that passion.
And then as a parent, try to stick to what you’re good at and what you feel really called to teach your child, and then try to outsource the rest.
And the outsourcing is, it’s not prohibitively expensive.
Compared to what we were paying for tuition for school for our boys, it’s a drop in the bucket to pay a couple assistants and buy some things off Amazon, and so it works out pretty well.
Abel: That’s a good point. And you as well, Ben, were home-schooled, right?
Yeah, K through 12.
Abel: So what’s your take on that?
Mostly because the way that I see it, at least temporarily is adults, children, everyone in between, we’re going to have to be learning from home, and some people take well to that.
I kind of take well to that. It eems like you do, as well.
But you have to adapt, you have to build those skills to be able to have the motivation to actually get to work and learn things and keep that up.
So what are your recommendations there?
Well, it’s two things. It’s accountability and it’s setting up actual milestones.
It’s just as simple as perfect analogy for you, like playing the guitar.
Not only do you need some kind of accountability, which might mean an online tutor, or a teacher, or any of these apps that kind of gamify the process, where you have to unlock one lesson before you move on to the next.
So whether it’s digital, artificial intelligence, automated based accountability or you’re a member of either an online group or a local group, that will call you out if you’re not there to practice.
That’s one part.
And in terms of milestones, it also would require you signing up for an open mic night, or putting your money where your mouth is and committing to a local recording studio and booking a time two months from now to go in and record your first three song set.
So, you see you’ve actually got some pressure and some motivation and an actual milestone on the calendar.
And so the same goes for any of these activities related to schooling, for example, you need some form of accountability, and then you need some form of deadline or milestone.
If my kids want to demonstrate proficiency in math and wood working skills via the construction of a tree fort, we say,
“Okay. We’re going to finish a tree fort by August first. We’re going to work on it from mid-March to August first.”
And the demonstration of proficiency, the milestone is going to be the successful building of the tree fort and it not blowing down in the wind when the first storm comes.
And the accountability is going to be the contractor that we hire twice a week to show up at the house at 9:00 AM, and the boys from beyond 9:00 to noon.
Every Monday and Wednesday, they’re going to be out there with the contractor working on the tree fort.
And so you build in those type of things, and I think that that type of structure and organization accountability and milestones really helps.
Abel: Yes, so it’s almost a misnomer when you hear “homeschooling,” it sounds like everything’s happened by yourself at home.
But in fact, what’s critical to all of that working is kind of the extra accountability.
Yeah, exactly. The old-school notion of homeschooling, gather around a bunch of books that you ordered online with your mom at the kitchen table.
That’s the way that I was homeschooled, and I got lucky in that I’m a pretty driven independent learner.
I’m a life-long learner, I’m super curious. I’ll go out and learn things on my own.
But yeah, just learning from a book at the kitchen table is not, in my opinion, the way that a child should be learning anyways.
Protect Your DNA Against Damaging EMFs
Abel: Yeah. And Ben, I was really excited to see you dedicate quite a bit of your new book which is formidable, to EMFs and to dirty electricity, and how strict you are in your own household and with your own habits around all of that.
Because I think a lot of people just skip over the fact that phones are dangerous and electronics, in general, are very dangerous.
But it’s easy to just make that phone call every day anyway. So, maybe let’s raise the stakes for people out here.
Yeah, it is to borrow the old adage of an inconvenient truth because these things are such an integral part of our lives these days, but they certainly do present some difficulties.
There’s not a lot of research out that says 5G is good or 5G is bad, but there is a lot of research out on 3G and 4G.
And in particular, the effect of that form of radiation on DNA, particularly DNA damage and also upregulation of a specific inflammatory pathway called the NF-κB pathway.
And then finally, a really intense effect on whatever single cell has in your body, these voltage-gated calcium channels.
And so what I mean by that is that you are affecting the actual electrical potential across the cell membrane with a sharp influx of a positively charged ion into the cell calcium while at the same time, damaging DNA and upregulating inflammation with constant exposure to these signals.
And there are certain things you can do to mitigate the damage.
For example, let’s talk about cell phones specifically, because we could probably talk for hours about all the other stuff.
We have ethernet cable spread throughout our house and they’re all plugged into either the router which has WiFi disabled, or they’re hardwired into the wall.
We were lucky enough to build our house when we already were aware of some of these issues.
So every single room has an ethernet port that you can plug into and adapters for computers.
But we also have iPhone to Ethernet adaptors or iTouch to Ethernet adapters to where we can be downloading apps, updating phones, messaging, talking on the phone, etcetera, while hardwired in the Ethernet via our phones, and that allows you to have your phone in airplane mode and still be connected via Ethernet.
So, that’s one thing that we do.
We use some of these products from DefenderShield, like the DefenderShield cases and the DefenderShield laptop pads, some things that will block a little bit of the radiating heat from coming off the devices.
None of us use Bluetooth headsets, we’re always using either air tube headsets or just the normal iPhone wired headsets.
And in addition to that, when you talk about those three pathways that I mentioned are influenced by this EMF, particularly from phones.
If you look at the calcium influx, they’ve shown the people on calcium channel blockers actually don’t get that type of dysregulation.
But there’s a whole issue with that in terms of its effect on, for example, exercise capacity and heart rate regulation.
But magnesium, supplementing with magnesium on, for example, a nightly basis, is fantastic to balance out a lot of that steep influx of calcium into the cells as is simply going outside barefoot which expose you to a lot of negative ions that help to counteract that positive charge within the cell.
When we look at the DNA issue, that comes back to a couple of things I mentioned earlier, a diet that is supportive of your NAD levels and that certain natural things will do that like high intake of fermented foods, like kefir and yogurt and kimchi and sauerkraut, etcetera.
But also intermittent fasting upregulates NAD as well.
Having those, for men, around a 12 to 16-hour non-eating period, or for women, somewhere around the 10 to 12-hour non-eating period.
And then NAD supplementation, I’m not opposed to that. There are some great NAD supplements out there.
Usually it’s not very well absorbed orally, but typically sold in the form of NR or NMN.
And when you do that, you also have a lot of sirtuin-rich foods in your diet, red wine, cacao, blueberries, darkly colored fruits and vegetables, etcetera.
That’s really good for the DNA repair piece.
And then finally, the very, very best thing I’ve found to be able to modulate that inflammation, particularly via the NF-κB pathway, is a higher amount of fat-burning.
Because in particular, ketones modulate that pathway quite well.
You don’t have to take ketone salts or ketone esters every day.
Even though when I’m traveling, I do that because I’m exposed to so much EMF.
I actually use ketones as a supplement when I travel to assist with some of that inflammation.
But that can be something as simple as mitigating your carbohydrate intake.
For example, I typically don’t eat any carbohydrates until the very end of the day at which point, post my cold and my heat, my breath work, and my exercise all of which upregulate your sugar transporters and put you in this temporary state of insulin sensitivity at dinner.
I’ll have 150-200 grams of carbohydrates. But most of the rest of the day, I’m keeping myself in a state of ketone production and fat-burning.
And that’s wonderful for modulating those inflammatory pathways as well.
Those are a few things you can do to limit the damage.
Abel: And get outside, like you are right now. It’s easy to skip that.
Oh yeah, outside, barefoot, yeah, or in some earthing or grounding shoes. Or just barefoot.
Being out in the sunlight is of course, helpful as well.
Even though, even everybody knows high amounts of sunlight, high amounts of that radiation could be potentially inflammatory.
But you got to get a pretty hefty amount of exposure.
So yeah, maybe when we talk about evolutionary mismatches whether it be Wi-Fi and EMF or a sedentary lifestyle, being outside is one of the best things you can do to battle those evolutionary mismatches.
The Carnivore Experiment
Abel: Yeah. Now, another thing I know you’ve experimented with is plant versus animal foods and deep ketosis for a while, especially with athletic activities.
So, I’d love to ask for your take on how some of those went. Let’s start with the carnivore experiment.
Yeah. As I think a lot of people in our sector are aware of, based on folks like Dr. Paul Saladino or Sean Baker.
A properly comprised carnivore diet with a nose-to-tail approach, meaning consuming the awful or the organ meats, does indeed provide enough nutrient density, even in the absence of plants, to fulfill most of our requirements.
Some would say there might be a little bit of an absence of appreciable amounts of vitamin C with that.
And I know a lot of people eating carnivore diet will supplement it with vitamin C because humans, unlike most animals, don’t make a lot of vitamin C.
And there can be some issues with minerals.
A lot of people doing a successful carnivore diet will use bone meal powder or ground up eggshells or things like that to keep the mineral levels topped off, particularly when it comes to calcium.
And, of course, a lot of bone broth can help with that as well as chewing the knuckles off of a roasted chicken and sucking on the bones, etcetera.
So, it could certainly be done. And I felt pretty good when I tried that diet for about 12 weeks.
But of course, from a social standpoint, and also a tradition standpoint, meaning being able to gather around mom’s goat cheese and beet salad and being able to go out to dinner with folks and not be that annoying person who is only going to eat a fried testicle and some kidneys to it…
Or being able to make a nice wonderful smoothie full of superfoods in the morning if that’s what you’re craving, versus leftover rib-eye steak from dinner the night before.
Plants, especially despite, yes, having built-in plant defense mechanisms and perhaps at one time even being…
Some of these folks will say, survival food that we would have turned to if we didn’t have access to larger, more nutrient-dense animal sources of fuel.
They’ve become a pretty integral part of our traditions, whether it’s the green bean casserole your aunt brings to Thanksgiving dinner, or the salad my wife might make at night or the sprouts I grow in my pantry.It's enjoyable to cook with plants, and to appreciate all the color of and all the wonders of God's creation. @bengreenfield Click To Tweet
I think that anything can be rendered suitable from a digestibility standpoint, if you know how to soak and sprout and ferment and deactivate a lot of these plant defense mechanisms.
So, if you’re able to do that, and you have the time to do it, I think that an omnivorous diet while still including a nose-to-tail carnivore approach is a little bit better way to go if you want to stay sane socially.
And also have some traditions built up around these plant foods and just be able to explore all the nooks and crannies of all the things that grow on this planet.
I think that for a short-term autoimmune approach or gut-fixing approach, you could say, yeah, carnivore diet you’re going to feel pretty good on that after about 8-12 weeks.
Same as a paleo autoimmune diet. But it’s a short-term diet that you would then eventually phase out of, by returning to a more broadly varied diet.
So yeah… But I have nothing against it.
And I bastardized the carnivore diet after a few weeks in, and started to include a little bit of root vegetable like pumpkin and squash, included a little bit of berry, included a little bit of honey, which is technically an animal food.
And I still didn’t do any vegetables, plants, etcetera.
But I did some roots and berries and honey. And yeah, I don’t have anything against it, I just think it’s highly restrictive.
Abel: Yeah. And there’s something to be said for the whole body and the whole spirit experience of eating.
And so, when you’re doing an elimination diet, you’re achieving one goal, but it’s not necessarily the goal of lifelong enjoyment and sustainability and that sort of thing.
Exactly. Yeah, it’s just… Yeah, it’s restrictive and removes a lot of the enjoyment from eating, I think.
Abel: So for you, what is, in terms of plants, in terms of your daily or weekly diet, what is the plant volume, the amount of plants that you’re eating compared to animal foods?
I’m not very good at giving an exact gram amount. I’m a little bit more qualitative.
Abel: Sure. Yeah, yeah.
But I can tell you that typically in my morning smoothie, because I’m lazy, I’ll usually use a greens powder like Organifi or Athletic Greens or something like that.
Just because I don’t like to do a lot of shopping and stuff in the morning.
So, usually I’ll have some bone broth, some greens, throw a little colostrum in there, some organic blueberry powder, maybe some nut butter.
And I just make these wonderful smoothies in the morning, usually sweet with monk fruit or Stevia.
Lunch, I’ll usually have a giant bed of greens, mixed greens with some home-grown sprouts or shoots, with a few select things from the garden like a nice and luscious tomato or a cucumber.
Usually some ferment, like some fermented kimchi or sauerkraut.
I probably have about a half pound or so, possibly more of vegetables, in that lunch time salad that usually also has sardines or anchovies on it, sometimes some macadamia nuts or some other type of easy to digest nut, dressed with something like extra virgin olive oil.
And then I only eat three times a day, max, but then in the dinner, at the evening dinner, again pretty large salad or a pretty large mess of roasted vegetables or baked carrot fries or some baked sweet potato fries, or something like that.
So, I would say I’m eating probably more than a pound of plant matter on a daily basis.
And we also do a lot of plant foraging for the wild metal, the wild mint, the plantain leaves, a lot of these things that grow around our house.
And I’ll often ferment those.
I rinse them well and make things like pestos and fermented jars full of wild plants as well and throw those in as sides to things like steak and fish.
And so I would say I’m eating a decent amount of plant matter every day.I'm eating a decent amount of plant matter every day. @bengreenfield Click To Tweet
But it’s unlike the way I used to consume plants, which would be like giant handfuls of spinach and kale in the morning blender, and huge amounts of pretty raw but hard to just digest raw foods like raw carrots and raw onions.
I generally, for anything I’m going to eat raw, it’s usually pre-digested like sprouts and shoots and microgreens and things like that.
And then most of the rest of my vegetables are baked or pureed or cooked or mashed or boiled or fermented or rendered digestible in some sense.
And I feel much better with that approach to vegetable and plant consumption than I did by just willy nilly eating whatever vegetables in a raw form that I desired.
Gratitude, Meditation, Journaling & Spiritual Practice
Abel: Yeah. I hear that. Well, we’ve got a couple more minutes here.
I love seeing that you included a piece about your spiritual practice with your wife, Jessa. Maybe you could just touch on that.
Why it’s important, how long you’ve been doing it, and what it looks like.
Yeah. So I think, again, especially with the folks who we tend to roll with, there is a deep emphasis placed upon the potential fulfillment of being very fit, or caring for one’s brain, whatever, being able to memorize a deck of cards or 50 names at a cocktail party, or being able to bench X amount of weight, or have a certain amount body fat or six-pack abs or the ability to be able to do a triathlon.
But I found from my own personal experience and with a lot of people I’ve worked with as well, that at the end of the day, that’s pretty unfulfilling if it’s simply done for self.
And if it’s done without a real focus on caring for I think the most important part of us, that’s often neglected and shriveled and shrunk up inside us, the soul or the spirit.
And about four years ago, I really began to focus a lot more on the spiritual disciplines, the so-called spiritual disciplines.
Gratitude, meditation, journaling, prayer, reading my Bible every day and just being steeped in the positivity of that.Gratitude, meditation, journaling, prayer, reading my Bible every day and just being steeped in the positivity of that. @bengreenfield Click To Tweet
A lot of just talking to God when I’m walking.
A lot of conversations with my wife at night where we just sit facing each other in bed and just have these deep chats where we stare into each other’s eyes.
Pumping really positive music, spiritual songs and hymns into the house during the day.
And the amount of fulfillment that I get from that is incredible, it’s very nourishing.
And it’s just really important to understand that we all have this unique purpose in life and at the end of the day, that’s going to be the thing that fulfills us most is taking whatever unique skill set that we were born with, whatever we’re good at, reading, writing, teaching, sports, whatever…
And forming our career or at least a large amount of our activities around that thing that we’re good at, and also developing a purpose statement around it.
My purpose statement… And I get in… In the book, I get into purpose in a pretty deep way.
But my purpose statement in life is to empower people to live a more adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life.
To empower people to live a more adventurous, joyful and fulfilling life.Live a more adventurous, joyful and fulfilling life. @bengreenfield Click To Tweet
But you need to also understand that if you’re doing that for you, so you can feel good or you can make money or you can live a long time or whatever, again, that’s going to be unfulfilling unless you take that purpose statement and you approach it from, what I would consider to be two perspectives.
A, loving God. And all I mean by that is that I think that we are all called to do the very best we can with whatever is placed on our plates for that day, and that glorifies God and magnifies God through our activities, and is a way of loving God.
Just doing a really good job at everything you do.
And then the other part of it is the golden rule, loving others.
Loving others as much as possible, doing whatever you do, in terms of fulfilling your purpose in life with a view towards making other people’s lives as rich and meaningful as possible.
So, you form your purpose statement around what you’re really good at naturally doing anyways, and then you go forth into life with that purpose statement with a focus on loving God and loving others, meaning doing things excellently and as unselfishly as possible.
And when you combine waking up out of bed every morning with that outlook and then also focusing on the spiritual disciplines, just as much as you’d focus on the mental disciplines and the physical disciplines, I think that’s a real key to feeling fulfilled and happy each day from the morning all the way into the evening.
Abel: The book is called Boundless. I really appreciated going through it and the meta-humor.
Boundless is right on the binding, printed right there.
So, Ben, tell us about where people could find that book as well as your work.
First of all, you are the very first person to ever make that remark, Abel.
So that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day, possibly all week.
Abel: Come on.
At least the wittiest. The wittiest.
Abel: Meta-humor, it’s all about that.
Boundless on the binding. Yes, meta-humor.
So, it’s just at boundlessbook.com. And then my podcast, my articles, including a lot of…
I think I’ve got two previous podcast episodes with you and another forthcoming here pretty soon.
All that’s at bengreenfieldfitness.com. And yeah, those would be two good resources for folks.
Abel: Alright, Ben, thank you so much for taking the time.
It’s honestly and sincerely so great to see you doing so well during these times.
Oh, thanks, Abel, you too.
And it’s good to see that your hair is coming along nicely.
Abel: We’ll talk to you soon, man.
Alright, dude, catch you later.
Before You Go…
Before we get there, here’s a quick note that came in from a long time listener of the show, Evan. He says:
My problem was always visceral fat. Because I have a slightly underactive thyroid and a less-than-functional gallbladder, I kinda gave up on losing it, even with all the sweating.
That is, of course, til I heard your podcast with Ann-Louise Gittleman!
Read the book. Did the routines and, low and behold, visceral fat evaporates. I don’t have to tell ya…..more energy, better sleep, better sex, better digestion and a mental focus through the day that I could only dream of before.
So….THANKS ABEL…..even though you haven’t answered my emails up till now (OK, so I’m egotistical), I’m still one of your biggest fans.
Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to more.
Love, Light & VIBRANT GOOD HEALTH,
Hey, Evan, thank you so much for writing in. I’m really happy that you listened to that show with Dr. Gittleman, because I think she’s one of the underrated geniuses and one of those hidden gems in a lot of ways.
She has some great books out there. Before I have people on the show, I tend to read not just one of their books or not just their most recent one, but oftentimes, a lot of their work.
And she has a wonderful book about EMF pollution called Zapped.
And it just so happens that Ben and I were talking a bit about EMF pollution on today’s show, and how to manage that. Because Ben is also a huge fan of Dr. Gittleman’s work.
So another note, yes, sometimes I get hundreds, maybe even thousands of emails and messages a day.
I do my best to read every single one, and many of you know that I respond to many, too. If I don’t get back to you right away, then there’s no harm in kind of reaching out to me again.
The inboxes are cluttered and crazy these days for, I’m sure, everybody. So don’t be offended if I don’t get back to you right away or if I don’t comment back to you right away.
But if you do want priority support, then look me up on Patreon. We’ve got a Patreon channel with some group coaching.
And I even do one-on-one virtual coaching with people all around the world.
This is one of the ways that we prioritize support.
So if you want to get into touch about any of that, you can just send me an email.
And also, if you just want to dip your toes into all of this and sign up for our newsletter, you can do so for free.
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Sign up, we’ll send you those goodies.
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What longevity protocols, workouts or other healthy habits do you work into your routine? Drop a comment below to let us know what you thought of this interview with Ben Greenfield!