What follows is a transcript for the podcast Fasting - Dave Asprey - Neuroscience.
Topics within the interview include:
- The how, what, when, and why of intermittent fasting
- How the food industry has altered natural eating behaviors
- Why fat does not break a fast
- The belief systems associated with fasting
- How intermittent fasting extends healthspan through circadian autophagy
- The scientific link between body temperature, fasting and longevity
- The latest longevity biohacks on Dave Asprey’s radar
Dr. Dan Stickler: So welcome to the Collective Insights podcast. I'm your host today, Dr. Dan Stickler. And today, I have an amazing human being with me and we're excited to welcome back Dave Asbury to the show.
For those of you who are not familiar with Dave, which is probably not many of you, Dave is the founder of Bulletproof and the author of New York Times Best Seller Fast This Way where he explores cutting edge science to examine the ways novice fasters and intermittent fasting loyalists can upend their relationship with food and upgrade their fasting game beyond calorie restriction. He is also the creator of the widely popular Bulletproof Coffee and host of the health podcast The Human Upgrade. Welcome back Dave.
Dave Asprey: Dan, I'm always happy to be on with you.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. This is actually only the second time we've done a podcast interview together. That actually surprises me and I seem to never get enough time to pick your brain on things for sure.
But today, we're going to focus on fasting. Now this is an area that is a passion for both of us, me from my clinical work with it and you've got an entire book that you researched on this topic. The biggest thing I'd like to start off with is really just to give an overview of fasting: foods to select, right times, how to do it.
The How, What, When, and Why of Intermittent Fasting
Dave Asprey: All right. When my publisher came to me and said hey Dave, can you write a book on intermittent fasting, I said yeah. I did that. It's called The Bulletproof Diet. It came out like in 2012 or something and people have already lost a couple million pounds on it and it's got all of that. But it was one of five things that you do if you really want to have that resilience and feel really good and I realized that most people were like I was which when I weighed 300 pounds and I was obese, I was scared to fast because I knew that I would go into starvation mode and then I would get fatter and I would be hangry and hypogly-bitchy.
But I told my publisher, you want a book on fasting? All right. Here's your book. Don't eat. There. There's a book. It turns out to be one of my most readable and accessible books because it's mostly psychology. You could put in a single blog post everything you need to know about fasting.
Number one, it's good for you for all sorts of reasons that you don't really need to understand. Okay? Number two, you can fast. Anything more than 12 hours without eating has benefits for fasting. Generally, longer is better until you fast too much at which point it's bad for you and then that's the rest of the book. That's why it's called Fast This Way, which is well how often? How frequently? What's the magic number? And the answer is I don't know.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Right? Because you might be a para-menopausal woman and your fasting practice is going to look very different than a 22-year-old man's and you also could be the 22-year-old man who is obese like I was when I was 22, has toxic mold exposure like I did when I was 22, and adrenal dysfunction. At which point, maybe a heavy fasting practice still won't work for you and you might want to fast more like you're an obese older person.
So what you end up finding is that it's a unique practice and it changes on a daily basis. You didn't sleep well last night? Maybe you should fast an hour less because you don't need to add more stress to the body. But generally speaking, three days a week, more than 12 hours a day of skipping food has some clinical benefits, according to a study out of Australia. That was actually a study on women. In Fast This Way, there's a chapter specific on all those studies of fasting in women as opposed to in men. Even though we're all people, there can be some big hormonal differences as well.
How the Food Industry Has Altered Natural Eating Behaviors
Dr. Dan Stickler: Okay. So from an evolutionary mismatch perspective, where have we gone offline with our relationship with food and our eating patterns?
Dave Asprey: There's one ad campaign that answers that question better than ever and this comes from big food and the slogan is You Can't Eat Just One. What it turns out is that in the normal type of stuff that we could eat, there's very few things that make you hungry right after you eat them. In fact, food that makes you hungry after you eat it, didn't work. It's not actually food. It's something else.
And the food industry realized, huh. We make more money if you want to eat more. And they do this and it's not necessarily that the dark emperor of food, although there might be one of those, who knows, but they didn't make a decision like that. What they said is we just want to make more money. Right? And it turns out and I've now ... Let's see. Bulletproof has done more than $600 million in lifetime revenue off food that doesn't make you hungry.
So I've gone up against these guys. I've met the CEOs of most of the big food companies. They're not bad people. They want to feed people and many of them have actually asked me this question one-on-one. Hey, how can we make our food healthier without increasing the cost because if we add half a cent to the cost of our food, our competitors will make it for cheaper and then everyone will buy that stuff?
So they're feeling trapped. They want to make healthy food but they know that if they don't make cheap food that tastes good and makes you want to eat it often, they will actually lose market share. So that's what we're dealing with. The primary things that make you hungry are not eating enough of the right kinds of fat. Fat creates satiety signals. It also has energy in it.
Now, how do we measure energy? Calories? So if you eat low-calorie, low-fat food and you're tired all the time, you might ask yourself whether eating less energy might make you feel less energy and the answer is maybe, but not always. Right? So fasting is also eating less energy unless you do intermittent fasting the way you're supposed to which is you eat the same amount of calories. When you do eat, you just put it in a smaller window.
So I would say MSG is one of the primary things the food industry uses to make us exceptionally hungry. It's such a bad thing that in the restaurant business, now I've had a restaurant that's been open for almost eight years in Santa Monica so I know something about it but I'm not a pro and they will sell you these spice mixes. They're 74% MSG but not 75% because if it's 75% MSG, you have to label it. But if it's 74%, it's allowed to be called flavoring, spices, spice extractives and there's a long list of code names for it.
So you have these well-intentioned restaurant owners who don't know the science and they will say oh no. There's no MSG in here. But strangely enough, when they add this magic spice mix, their revenues go up by 30% because people like the food more. The real reason revenues go up by 30% is that MSG causes reactive hypoglycemia. So your blood sugar crashes and your brain goes I need a hand here. I can't get this glutamate out of my synapses. They're firing more than they should which is why people get headaches and things like that from it. And then to respond to that, the body says I needed more hydration and I needed more sugar. So you order another drink and then you order dessert.
It's a perfect setup. So you spent more money and not only that, as you're eating, you're like this food is so good. This food is so good. So this is going on in almost every packaged food, every salad dressing. Even when you go to the organic grocery stores, you go to their hot food bars, canola oil and spice extractives and everything and canola oil is another thing that makes you hungry. It's Omega-6 fat. It slows your metabolism, makes you tired, and usually, it's damaged fats which creates free radicals which create inflammation which makes you hungry.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. I was actually reading an article this morning on mapping appetite in the brain. It was a neuroscience study. They just published and they were talking about how for most people, and this is most people because my wife was reading it and she goes no, I'd do that, you wouldn't grab a piece of cake for breakfast but your brain has no problem having a piece of cake after a meal in the afternoon or evening and the logic centers just don't work when it comes to making choices on foods.
Dave Asprey: It always made me curious about that because we also don't have a hard time eating donuts for breakfast.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. Right. I mean what's the difference there?
Why Fat Does Not Break a Fast
Dave Asprey: Why are donuts okay but cake not okay? I think it's because of the fat content. Donuts are higher fat than cake. Cake is sugary compared to most donuts and your body wants fat in the morning. I mean it really does and protein is also good in the morning if you're not fasting.
It is my belief, based on a lot of science we can go into, that fat does not break a fast. There's one kind of fast that it might and there's a bunch of kind of religious people who say you can only have water during a fast and the religion is based on science. They're saying well, the mice in the study only had water. But then you look at the history of fasting around the planet, they at least had tea. They drink herbs for a very good reason and the two big things that happen metabolically from a fast, as you well know, our number one, your insulin stays low. Right? Your insulin should not be going up during a fast or you've broken the fast.
But the other major benefit of fasting is something called mTOR and I know Dr. Stickler, I mean you know what mTOR is, but I'm going to define it for our listeners. Right? mTOR is a compound in the body that causes tissue growth. And you say that's a good thing, right, because I wanted biceps. So I also wanted to not have sarcopenia, which is muscle loss and wasting that happens as you age. So I would want high mTOR. Right? And it turns out bodybuilders raise their mTOR intentionally.
The problem is that if you want to live to at least 180 like you and me, then you don't want chronically high mTOR because mTOR also is correlated with cancer. Right? So it's like how do I have enough to be robust but not have it around all the time? Well, the way to do that is to spike your mTOR and have it low the rest of the time. When you're fasting, your mTOR is low. The number one spiker of mTOR is sugar and carbs and the number two is protein, specifically certain types of amino acids in protein.
So what that means, though, is if you eat fat, it will not change insulin levels at all and it will not change mTOR levels at all. So even one of the common fasting apps out there, they keep doing these videos like no, you can't have fat during a fast. It breaks a fast. No. Fat doesn't break a fast guys. It's because of mTOR and it's because of insulin and what you will find, and in Fast This Way I go through more of the science on it, is that if you're starting intermittent fasting and you're like most human beings on the planet who have never gone 24 hours without food, you feel like you're going to die. I mean it's bad and in fact, the first time I fasted, I hired a shaman to drop me in a cave for four days with no food and no people because I knew I'd be hypogly-bitchy. That's how scared most people are of fasting. This is a long time ago but that's in the book.
So what if you put some butter and some MCT oil in your coffee? And at this point, you say that doesn't work. Dude, millions of pounds lost. This has been a global phenomenon. You can go to small towns in India where they put butter and MCT oil in coffee and call it Bulletproof. Right? So that works and it is a knock-up of to Tibetan yak butter tea which has been around for like 5,000 years. So they'll do that and I think it's okay to do that during a fast because it turns off hunger, because well, there's actually a variety of mechanisms for it but you do that and then maybe that's your first fast. And maybe after a year of doing that, like today, I just had some black coffee or some tea, whatever I wanted to drink.
It doesn't have to be only water. I think water-only fasting is probably a medical supervised long-term thing if you're looking for some certain types of gut resets. The rest of us have some already and just get your fast done. Anywhere from half a teaspoon up to a tablespoon or two is just going to make you feel like yourself while you're fasting so you can be a parent, have a job, and not be a health influencer 22-year-old who's never been obese telling people you have to have only water. Yeah. Good luck guys.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. We have to clarify this though because I know people out there going like oh, I can have fat during my fast and they're going to go out and pick up some of this processed keto food.
Dave Asprey: Thank you.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. It's not going to work because there's other things.
Dave Asprey: Yeah. It has to be only fat and polyphenols if you want to. In other words, they can have some tea or some coffee but if it's got any protein or any carbs in it, it will break your fast.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah.
Dave Asprey: And I'm actually being a little bit extreme there. There's one kind of carb you could have during a fast, that's also in Fast This Way, and it's prebiotic soluble fiber that can't be digested because that is highly satiating and you won't be hungry if you put that in there. And so, if I put in my coffee, if I want to do a fast, I'll put coffee and coffee has its own benefits for hunger suppression and it doubles ketone production and you want ketones to go up when you fast because ketones are good for you and their hunger suppressant.
So you can do with black coffee and I wanted more. Add a little bit of butter. It doesn't have to be a lot, just a little bit, some MCT, and then you can add the soluble fiber, the prebiotic fiber. And what the fiber does, all of those turn off hunger which is great. That's what you wanted during a fast was to not think about food all the time. You wanted to just live your life. But then magically, the fiber gets into the gut and then bacteria there will turn the fiber into short-chain fatty acids, primarily butyrate and funny enough, butyrate is a pro-ketogenic fat. So soluble fiber turns into fat before it gets absorbed in your body so you're not raising insulin. You're not raising mTOR.
So there is nothing wrong with avoiding suffering and getting benefits and there's so much of this ... like you know what? I just love self-flagellation and hair shirts. 14th century monks would do this. They'd wear shirts made out of human hair so they were extra itchy and then they'd whip themselves in the back because suffering is good for you. I just believe that most humans have a life to live and it's hard enough to deal with all the stuff in life right now. You don't need to add to your suffering during an intermittent fast.
You want to build your resilience so that intermittent fast is not suffering and it's okay to use tools to get there. It's also okay to put on a warm coat when it's cold outside. Right? You might want to use a cold shower in the morning but you don't have to freeze your butt off all day long. It's not even good for you. So this is about being kind to yourself, doing a practice that's sustainable for decades that makes you live longer and feel better without putting all of your energy into doing the practice.
Dr. Dan Stickler: I used to do dogmatic intermittent fasting and what I found is that there were some mornings I would wake and I was voraciously hungry. And then other mornings, I just never had an appetite until like one or two in the afternoon. What I realized is I was ignoring my body's signals. I mean first, you have to know that your signals are correct. But I've gotten to the point where I just listen to my body and I say okay, am I hungry? Then I eat. And so, I don't follow any timeline of oh, this is breakfast. This is lunch. This is dinner. I have to fast for 12 hours. But when I look at my eating patterns, I mean I generally eat one to two meals a day and I don't snack. I just eat when I'm hungry which has been a game changer for me. I mean it's really made a huge difference. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dave Asprey: You are doing it exactly right and that's the underlying purpose of the title of the book. It's like Fast This Way and it's what your body wants. But what you've achieved and what some of your listeners have achieved is understanding that fine line between hunger and a craving and I did not even know there was a difference when I started on this path and I just always had cravings.
The Belief Systems Associated With Fasting
Dave Asprey: I remember I ended a meeting once. This was at the company that held Google's first servers when Google was just like two guys and two computers. I had eight people in the meeting and I just said guys, it's 11:45 and lunch is like in 15 minutes. But if I don't have lunch right now, I am going to kill one of you and eat one of you so we're ending our meeting now. If you want to continue, I'll be in the cafeteria. And then I went down and I said look, give me the double chicken breast and some veggies. Right? No fat and just protein and then, of course, at two o'clock I wanted my snack and the same old eating every two hours and just really, really bad advice.
That was a craving. That was I cannot function. I'm crashing. And if you get that after you eat, it's your fault. It's what you ate in the meal before. So a portion of Fast This Way is all about here's the food's most likely to cause cravings in you and when you eliminate most of those you go oh. Hunger's a gentle feeling. I probably ought to eat sometime in the next couple hours. If I don't, I'll be fine. But now's the time. Right?
It's a gentle thing and a craving is tacos. Oh my God. Tacos. What am I going to have for lunch? Oh man. Pizza would be really good. Hmm. And you get this constant voice ringing in your head about food, food, food and then, you start feeling it in your gut. It's like this gnawing feeling and you're like I can barely hold myself back.
And now, I'm going to get a little bit dark on you. I saw a video of something. I think it was Korea. Maybe it was Japan. I don't remember. It was a language that isn't native to me and it was about a very obese person who was stuck in an elevator for three days and well, he ate another person.
Dr. Dan Stickler: That's dark.
Dave Asprey: Just in three days. Right?
Dr. Dan Stickler: Oh my God.
Dave Asprey: Right? But that's cravings. You have to or you will die. That's what your body is telling you. It's not true but it feels true because your body told you it was true and I just felt compassion for the guy. I was like oh my God. That person's metabolism is broken and God knows what other trauma and stuff is going on in there. But we don't want to feel like we're going to die if we don't eat. That is always a craving because the reality is that you can go for at least 60 days without eating and you won't die.
I had this conversation with my son when he was maybe six or seven. He was trying to argue about eating something, broccoli or whatever was on his plate. My kids eat grass-fed meat. I live on an organic regenerative farm where we raise our own animals and we have the best food you could possibly have on the planet because we make it ourselves. Right? So he is complaining about something or another and I looked at him and I said that's amazing. I'm so proud of you. And he goes what? And I said you've decided to join me in an intermittent fast. You won't die if you don't eat for two whole months so we can fast as long as you want. Let's do it. We'll both put our food in the fridge and let's go play and he just looked at me like ah and he eats us broccoli. We've never had that conversation again.
But it's the knowledge that you won't die for months without food. Why are you thinking about pizza right now for lunch? If so, something is wrong in your biology. It's not wrong with you morally. It's not wrong in your brain. It's that your body is sending you that signal. Right? Isn't that kind of interesting? That's what I wanted people to get out of the book and I've taught now about 75,000 people how to fast. Basically, it's the guts of the book, for free. You can go to FastThisWay.com and I'll just teach you how to do the fasting.
It's something that is life-changing. I have heard so many people say I didn't think I could go 24 hours without food but I wasn't even hungry and it's the but I wasn't even hungry, that's the win. You don't have to suffer to do it and it is such an insanely high return on investment longevity strategy, it might be the highest one because when you make an investment in something, it usually costs you money. But this is like you walk into the bank and they're like oh, hey. Welcome. Here's five bucks and you're like I'm not even a customer. They're like yeah, yeah. I know. And then you go in further and they're like oh yeah. We're going to give you interest on that $5 too. What?
So intermittent fasting, you didn't spend any energy or time on making breakfast and you didn't spend any money on breakfast. So you got a return right away. But then, you got more energy that morning than if you had eaten breakfast. You actually feel better and your brain works better. So then you're going wait, I saved money and time and then I got more energy right now? And then over time, the interest payment comes in because you didn't get diabetes, because you didn't get Alzheimer's disease, because you didn't get cancer, because you live longer. But you didn't have to do anything that cost you money. You just got paid upfront and you got paid over time. That's why it was worth writing a book about.
How Intermittent Fasting Extends Healthspan through Circadian Autophagy
Dr. Dan Stickler: As far as timing on the intermittent fasting, I talked to you about the habits that I'd learned or I was dogmatic about and then, I kind of converted into feeling into it. I read a study, I think it was about two or three years ago, about fasting periods. They were trying to say what was the best. Is it the 12-hour fast during the day? Is it the 18-hour fast overnight? The conclusion of the researchers was that irregular fasting was giving the best results for people because they found that the people who were fasting routinely at a normal schedule, the body tended to adapt to that pattern and they were losing the benefits of it.
But when they would do like a 24-hour fast one day and the next day they'd do intermittent fasting, the next day they would eat breakfast and dinner and no lunch. But throwing it around kept the body from kind of adapting to a specific pattern so it kept the benefits a little bit stronger. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dave Asprey: I think there's a downside to that but the thinking behind the research is valid. If you do it the same way every day, your body will adapt and that's why in Fast This Way, guys, eat breakfast with carbs on Saturday just like on weekends. Take a day off. Do not do the same program every day for that exact reason. So you can break an adaptation pattern by once or twice a week having some breakfast.
Usually on Saturday mornings, I'll have some kind of white rice. I like Japanese mochi which is like a baked white rice thing so I'll have that and some bacon from our farm and whatever else and some coffee and I'll have that for breakfast and maybe a steak and I'm completely happy with that. And so, I ate three meals that day on purpose because I don't want to be always used to fasting. But I have spent a huge amount of time looking at circadian biology and sleep and one of the chapters in Fast This Way, I talk about how to control your circadian rhythm and fasting's a part of it but fasting is the second strongest signal for circadian timing.
The first signal is light and within light, there's five components of light that control what light does to your circadian timing. So what you do is you go back to billion years in evolutionary time when we were little mitochondrial bacteria floating around in the ocean and when the sun was directly overhead and we had the most intense light, UV, infrared, and the full spectrum of light including blue and all the other colors, that was funny enough right around between noon and two when there was the most algae that was the food source present because algae was using the light to turn into little things that were food for us.
So what that means is all these billions of mitochondria that are in your body are each independently seeking to understand what time it is so they can synchronize with all the other things and they're much like all the computers on the internet know what time it is so they can do stuff together. There's whole timing clocks online that allow this to happen.
So for your body to set that clock, it says huh. When is there the brightest overhead light and when is there the most caloric availability? When I say caloric, as measured by insulin response. It's not just calories because we already talked about how fat doesn't do the same thing. So it isn't just calories but it's certainly a raise in blood sugar. And when that happens, that's the middle of the day. So your ideal eating time is actually from noon to 2:00 PM and if you were to get the bulk of your calories then, outdoors in sunlight, you'd probably have the best outcome you could do. When people choose to have an earlier dinner, like stop eating after five or six and certainly stop eating after the sun goes down, magic happens and you get much better results from intermittent fasting from having an earlier dinner and a later breakfast.
So basically, making the peak of your food during the day, closer to the middle of the day, reaps additional benefits and that's why I wouldn't want to see people doing what the study says. Oh. I'll just have my food at eight o'clock tonight and then tomorrow I'll have it at 6:00 AM because the timing system in your body is looking for the peak of food to be around the middle of the day. That's not to say that you can't sometimes have a ton of protein in the morning because you just worked out and you wanted to do that and then I would just say have it when the sun is up, no matter what but do your best to on most days. Put it in the middle of the day because your sleep quality will actually demonstrate how important that was for you.
Dr. Dan Stickler: That's one thing that we call, with our clients we call that becoming ... It's getting away from emotional eating to strategic eating.
Dave Asprey: I love that.
Dr. Dan Stickler: You actually do it from an outcome standpoint and when I see people switch from that emotional eating to strategic, it makes a huge difference for them.
Dave Asprey: It's literally life-changing. Yeah.
Is There a Scientific Link Between Body Temperature, Fasting and Longevity?
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. You mentioned about calorie restriction and longevity. Obviously for you and I, this is a very passionate subject. We're in a very small WhatsApp group that shares everything new and exciting in the longevity world which I'm grateful for.
Dave Asprey: I love that group.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. But there was an article that was mind-blowing to me. It came out couple months ago and they were talking about the longevity benefits of calorie restriction and was it actually the calorie restriction that was creating the benefits. Are you familiar with this with the hamster?
Dave Asprey: Absolutely. I've been saying this forever. I's methionine restriction right?
Dr. Dan Stickler: Well no. This one went beyond that. This one looked temperature.
Dave Asprey: Oh. That one. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Where they found that when metabolism went up or when metabolism went down, there were the benefits there and that's what they were associating with the calorie restriction.
But then they did a study where they heated the rats up so their metabolism went up and kept them calorie restricted and they didn't get the benefits. But then they heated them up but then had a fan that blew on them. Their metabolism went up but their body temperatures went down and they actually got the same longevity benefits. So it was an article that said are we looking at the wrong thing? Are we looking at calorie restriction as the source of the benefits of longevity or is it the reduction in body temperature that occurs with it?
Dave Asprey: It's such a conundrum. I don't think I know the answer to that but I do have a little story about body temperature. In the early days of the longevity movement, at least the modern longevity movement given that most traditional Chinese medicine Ayurveda and Daoism is all also longevity studies. So there's thousands of years of people doing this before us.
But we'll say in the early and late '90s, I was obese, as I mentioned, and I had chronically low body temperature. Instead of 98.6, I was closer to 96.8. I was always cold and now, what I think you'd infer from that, from looking at that study is well great. You're going to live a long time. Right? But what we know is people with low thyroid function do not live longer. They actually die more because they have metabolic problems.
So what these mice are telling us, I think, is that if you have a healthy metabolism and you change the body temperature, something good happens. But most people with low body temperature don't have a healthy metabolism. So for me, what I had to do was not just correct the thyroid, the body actually gets stuck at these things. A control systems engineer who passed away many years ago came up with a protocol for resetting body temperature that was extreme but it's one that I did. What you did is you took relatively high dose T3 for a week. You wore a parka and insulated pants. You drank hot water. You sat in the heater and you literally hyper-regulated your temperature. So you always had a temperature of at least 101, well on thyroid hormone, above your normal dosage of it. And after that, my body temperature regulated back up to 98.6 even when I went back to normal dosages of thyroid for the amount of thyroid Hashimoto's that I had.
So I actually think it made a major difference for me but it's one of those things that I don't think is ever going to reach mainstream medicine. It feels important for a lot of enzyme activity in the body to have enough temperature because some enzymes, including DNA repair enzymes, have a very narrow range of activity. What I think is more likely going to be the anti-aging strategy is one that's been a core part of biohacking for years and years. That would be temporary cryotherapy. Like intermittent fasting is intermittent and in mice, you can put a fan on them. You can do whatever you want to do. But if you were to say be cold sometimes but not all the time and we know, I think with pretty good assuredness, that being chronically cold isn't good for you. Any kind of measure of body temperature, heart rate variability, all of traditional Chinese medicine, they're basically saying you don't want to be cold all the time.
So what does that mean? It means that you probably really do want to be cold-adapted. You do want to get that cold exposure. When I first started, maybe 15 years ago, really doing cold therapy, I was like all right. I did my ice bath at 35 degrees and walk around in shorts no matter what the Canadian winter here is like. But being chronically cold isn't good for you and so I stopped doing that.
So I don't know if we're going to find a human analogy to this. It may also be one of those cooling gloves. In fact, I've got a cooling and a heating glove over there like the NFL use. You put your hand in a glove that cools the blood but not the body. So there's like a whole bunch of anti-aging research I think will come out of that study but I don't know. What are your thoughts on it?
Dr. Dan Stickler: I don't know. I mean I see really good results with people with the cooling pads on the bed, just doing that nightly. I see biometrics that improve dramatically just from their wearables and their blood markers. So I think it's an area that needs to be explored that hasn't been explored very much lately.
Dave Asprey: You're right. In fact, the first launch, like the very first podcast ever to talk about Chilli maybe a decade ago was my podcast The Human Upgrade.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Oh cool.
Dave Asprey: And I had one of the first prototypes for them but it was noisy back then. But the newer cooling pads that are available are ridiculously quiet and really effective and they change temperature with the time of day to actually get more deep and more REM. And so, I think the science has come a long way towards just improving sleep which in and of itself is longevity-enhancing. But your point, that it may actually be the temperature that's longevity-enhancing and it's doing sleep, is kind of cool. I think you're right actually.
Dr. Dan Stickler: And Chili's the pad we go to with our clients. I mean it's just a great pad. But let's talk about longevity a little bit because let's face it. This is what we're all doing. I mean why are we intermittent fasting? Well for health and longevity or increased health span. So in the longevity world, what are your other primaries in either lifestyle or supplementation or any intervention that you're looking at right now?
Dave Asprey’s Latest Longevity Biohacks
Dave Asprey: Well, we already talked a lot about sleep but I aim for an hour and a half of deep sleep and an hour and a half of REM or more every night and I often get that in six hours of sleep now. Six and a half hours. I'll get that almost always. And if you're used to tracking your sleep, that's better than most even 20-year-olds would get in eight hours of sleep because with all these different things that we're talking about, not eating after the sun goes down, my company called True Dark makes glasses, where I've filed patents on them even, that controls all those five variables of light that are probably better than blue-blocking glasses.
So with all the various stuff I do, it seems to be working and that's a core part of my anti-aging strategy. And then, intermittent fasting for sure. Hormone manipulation is just a necessary thing. I aim to have the hormones of a healthy 30-year-old and I will have those as long as I live and I'm absolutely fine to be injecting testosterone. I've had low testosterone since I was obese as a young man. I'm on thyroid hormone. I think thyroid hormone's an antiaging hormone and most people over 50 have just a small amount of thyroid dysfunction and if they take some thyroid, they actually perform better.
I believe that one or two milligrams of nicotine, pharmaceutical nicotine per day is a really good anti-aging strategy for the brain based on research out of Vanderbilt. I call the guy Dr. Nicotine. In 1986, he published the first paper showing nicotine reverses Alzheimer's disease, not smoking which is bad for you, not vaping which is at least as bad as smoking but actually just pure nicotine in very, very low doses. That's 5% of one cigarette a day. I really do believe that is not just a nootropic but that it's an anti-aging substance at those doses.
I've been using methylene blue for 20 years, regular collagen consumption. I'm the guy who made collagen a billion dollar industry category so I do believe in that. I've had collagen every day unless it's a fasting day for 15 years now. It's a fundamental thing. Cyclical ketosis is non-negotiable. I'm not always in ketosis by a long shot. I don't think it's good to always be in ketosis. That's important. Regular toxin binding with activated charcoal and other things like that is also important. I've been doing ozone therapy to enhance and restore mitochondria for a long time. Something called EBO 2, where you actually take your blood out, filter it, and put it back in while you ozonate it is something that I also do. Are you into that in your practice?
Dr. Dan Stickler: We do ozone therapies and apheresis.
Dave Asprey: Apheresis. Even better. In fact, I should come in and do some apheresis with you. I've been looking for someone who was doing that. I didn't know you did it.
Dr. Dan Stickler: We actually are involved in an IRB study where we actually have access to young plasma. So we're doing the apheresis where we'll take off one to two liters of the plasma from an individual and we will reinfuse it with the plasma. The company we use uses 18 to 21-year-old college athletes that they get the plasma from.
Dave Asprey: Wow.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. I think the results are going to ... I mean, based on what we're seeing from a subjective standpoint, we're testing this with the true diagnostics methylation clocks.
Dave Asprey: Okay. Those are the best methylation clocks. That's the one that I use as well.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah.
Dave Asprey: What I find is that when I have a college student locked up under my bed for their blood, they don't like it. There was a study though. The first company doing young plasma didn't have any studies on it and it seems like just using any plasma replacement where you just get rid of your plasma and all the junk in it seems to have really profound anti aging effects.
I don't know if it's the young plasma versus clean plasma because the two compounds that are probably present in young plasma that matter are GHK which is copper tripeptide and we know those levels are higher. But you can just inject copper tripeptide intravenously with an insulin syringe and just get that one done or put it in an IV. It's not a big deal. And there's another compound, some other peptide, probably TB 500, basically the thymic fractions would be present in plasma. Other than that though, you might just get clean plasma and replace it with albumen and a couple peptides and get the same results without having to have the college student.
Dr. Dan Stickler: The preliminary studies so far have shown that just the apheresis alone, when you're replacing it with albumin and saline, is giving age reversal benefits from the methylation clocks as well. Not quite as strong as when we use young FFP. But they also found, I read this one study, where they were just infusing a bag of albumin alone and doing nothing else and they were getting reversal methylation ages. So I think it all goes along with the convoy's research that dedicated the last 12, 15 years to finding what these things are that actually reverse age, the older phenotypes.
Dave Asprey: I think, surprisingly, Bruce Lipton's research will come up here. Bruce Lipton is probably the guy who most popularized the idea of epigenetics before anyone else. He's a friend. He became kind of a more of a spiritual guy, to be perfectly honest. He wrote a book called The Biology Belief that a lot of people meditate and have probably read.
When I interviewed him on my show, we talked about this. He's a cell biologist from the '60s. He was one of the first guys to clone cells. So this is not like I was a preacher who was looking for an angle kind of guy at all. He's like I kept looking at this and it's like the medium of cell culture is what defines what the cells do. So we have to look at the medium of our bodies which is the environment around you. In fact, the definition of biohacking, when I wrote it, it's the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you so that you have control of your own biology. That's epigenetics. Let's just be really straightforward. It's a major component of longevity. It's not the only component of it but it's part of it.
So when you take cells, I think Bruce talked about this on the show, there's a researcher there who had cells in a culture and he just changed the culture medium every day. The cells lived 10 times longer than they were supposed to live until the day his interns forgot to change the medium and they died. Right? So there's something about having clean plasma, which is basically the medium for your blood cells, that I think is important.
And if you look at unusual guys like Thomas Cowan who talk about cytoplasm and water and this structure of water in collagen, within cells, and how possibly even the cell, the calcium potassium or the sodium potassium pump we talk about in cells, it may not actually be a pump at all. It may be a gradient caused by healthy collagen structures which are caused by water. There's a lot going on in cell biology that I don't think we know about but I do know that cerebral spinal fluid and blood plasma, it's more than just inert liquid and there's something going on there. I think we're going to figure out what it is.
The Role of Connections and Community in Living a Long, Healthy Life
Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, one thing to mention too that a lot of people don't mention about longevity is the community social aspect of life. Mario Martinez is a good friend of ours and he did a lot of the research on the blue zones. I think there was another paper I read not too long ago that talked about how psychosocial factors could be more predictive than most biomarkers for longevity. These people that were having exceptional longevity just had such community connections, such love. That's one thing that we work with with our clients. I mean our quality of life is our most important metric and it doesn't matter if you get all their labs looking good and their quality of life doesn't improve or they go down in quality of life. The whole goal is to improve quality of life.
Dave Asprey: I don't know. The way to live longest is clearly to cover your face and stay six feet away from everyone.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. For sure.
Dave Asprey: Just from a longevity perspective.
Dr. Dan Stickler: That's a government mandate now so they're helping people to live longer.
Dave Asprey: It's totally true. A community is terribly important. I struggle with that and I actually don't struggle with many things. I don't even like the word struggle because that just means that you're making yourself increase. You're struggling versus just working on something. Right? But I live on an organic farm on an island. There isn't a lot of community around here.
Dr. Dan Stickler: No.
Dave Asprey: So what I do is I get on airplanes and then I go to places where usually there's conferences where most of my close friends are anyway and then we get to like learn and do fun stuff and go to dinner and all that. But on a day-to-day basis, I don't get as much of that and during the pandemic, I didn't get much of that at all and yeah. I don't think that was good for humanity in general, certainly not good for me. So what's your advice for people then? You have those clients coming in saying I prescribe a community. What does that look like?
Dr. Dan Stickler: It is hard because most of my clients are like they're kind of wealthy people that tend to isolate themselves from those community groups. For me, my wife and I, we were 10 years in isolation just because we didn't like the routine socialization of let's go out and have dinner and talk about politics and sports.
Dave Asprey: Let's complain and get drunk. Yeah. Gee. Let's not. Right? I'm with you there.
Dr. Dan Stickler: But then we moved to Austin and we've got just a wonderful community of people that we get together several times a week in just each other's homes or somewhere where we just sit around. I mean we have people like Jamie Wheel and Aubrey Marcus and just real deep thinkers that can have meaningful conversations. That has been the biggest boost for me in really quality of life is actually starting to do that and we've been doing it for about two years and I jus absolutely love it and I think it's the way people should live.
Dave Asprey: I am strongly considering a move to Austin myself.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Oh. You should.
Dave Asprey: You got to be around enough people that you have regular interactions and the more weird you are, the bigger the community needs to be. Otherwise, you won't be around your people. Unfortunately for both of us, because we qualify to be in the weird WhatsApp group for anti-aging experts, is I hate to tell you, you and I are both highly weird which is good. It means we're not average.
Dr. Dan Stickler: I accept that.
Dave Asprey: But it does mean you got to find a way to build your community. So for everyone listening to this, if you feel like you're the only one like you, I promise you that you're probably not as weird as either one of us but you have to be around and you have to consciously go out and build that community. If you don't, I don't care how much testosterone or [Ashi Tabba?] or whatever else you're taking, you're probably not going to live a long time. That's what it comes down to.
Dr. Dan Stickler: That's right. Well then, speaking of mingling at conferences, we've got a conference coming up don't we?
Dave Asprey: That is right. The biohacking conference. It's entering its 10th year. It's September 15th through 17th in Beverly Hills. BiohackingConference.com. This started out, actually, like I said, 10 years ago. It was in San Francisco at a bar. And funny enough, one of the guys you just mentioned, Aubrey Marcus, was there and started talking about biohacking after that.
When you fast forward now, I built the conference because I wanted a community of people who were interested and it's like how do I change my biology so I can improve but I don't want to suffer to do it? I want the results and I don't want to do the stuff that's supposed to work like let's all go run a marathon. How about let's not? The first guy who did that died and people who run marathons don't have good inflammation panels. Right?
So let's do something that is more time efficient that gives us that extra resilience. So I built a community consciously and now there's about 3000 people who show up to the conferences. So come to LA and spend three days. I'll feed you the best food ever at a conference. This is the hotel where they host the Golden Globes. It's beautiful and you get to meet people who are into this stuff so you don't feel like you're weird. You're going I just found my community and you get to play with all the tech of biohacking. You get to meet experts and of course, you are there. Right?
Yeah. I have to say Dave's not blowing smoke on this. It's an amazing conference. I had the honor of being a speaker there last year, the first one out of COVID, at that conference, and it was so good to be back with that community. The top-notch speakers that were presenting stuff, I mean it's rare that I go to conferences that I hear things that I didn't know before and this is one where I have to start actually doing my research after I leave just to keep up with stuff. The vendors there, I mean I learn as much from vendors as I learn from speakers because they have all the new and exciting biohacking tools and you get to play with them and decide what you want to add to your regimen for sure.
I curate the vendors pretty well. I don't have a chance to try everything from every vendor because that's a whole lot of products. But what it is, I look for evidence that there's efficacy before we let someone in and I turn away any of the multi-level marketing and there's some other just kind of weird stuff out there.
I do my best to turn away the knockoff vendors. So if there's someone who created a new tech and someone else came along to it, I'm just doing the same thing but I did a worse job of it and made it cheaper because I believe in what the big food industry is doing. I'm like well, how about we just go with the original here? And there's times when someone comes along and says I innovated based on that idea and mine is actually better. It's like come on in.
So I'm looking to foster respect amongst the vendors and high integrity and that does matter a lot. Uou might have some, I don't know how it works. We don't know the mechanism of action yet but if you have evidence it works, that's where biohacking lives. We measured the data. We found that it works and then you get the skeptics to go if I don't know the mechanism of action, I can't use it because it might not work. I'm like okay. Let me help you out here. Here's your mechanism. Leprechauns.
Look. Most of the things we believed about science a hundred years ago were proven to be false when we found better ones. So if you need a story to feel safe doing something that provably works, I just gave you a story. So now how about you STFU and just do what works and we'll figure out the mechanisms as we're benefiting. That's the difference between academic science versus well, let's look at results.
Here's an example for you Dan. In Superhuman, this is my anti-aging book that came out I think four or five years ago and still stands the test of time. I would say today, I wrote about taking [Ashi Tabba?], which is a Japanese anti-aging, for many years, herb, and it doesn't even taste very good. I said well, here's all the reasons for it. Here's the studies. So this is something that we ought to do but we don't really know the mechanism of action although we have some ideas.
Just in late 2019, a paper came out on [Ashi Tabba?] looking at somewhere around a 20%, maybe slightly more than 20% life span extension in mice from chalcone which is one of the flavanoids that's in [Ashi Tabba?]. So should we have waited until we knew the name of the flavanoid or should we have just taken our [Ashi Tabba?] for the past five years? The biohackers take the [Ashi Tabba?] and say we can course correct later. Everyone else say I need to wait for more studies and meanwhile, they die waiting for more studies and I just don't want to be one of those.
Dr. Dan Stickler: I always tell my clients or the prospective clients when I'm on the discovery calls, I said I work with people that want to be on that cutting-edge, that aren't going to sit around and say I'm waiting for the longitudinal studies to come out because in longevity, if you're waiting, you will most definitely be dead.
Dave Asprey: There's a name for those people. It's called coward. I'm sorry. That's what it is and there's a reason that my new coffee's called Danger Coffee. Because look, when you have enough energy, you might do something like decide to try something that's probably going to work. Who knows what you might do? But you would at least have the power to do something and the weak people are the ones who aren't powerful enough to be dangerous.
So I'm looking to create a world full of people who are running at full power because people who are running at full power are not only dangerous because they can do the right thing when they want to but they're also peaceful because we're wired to help each other when our health is there. When we don't have our health, we're wired to punch each other and like that's not a good situation. So I want abundantly healthy, powerful people who might be dangerous who don't have a reason to be dangerous around me. That's behind all the work that I do to build that kind of human.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. For sure. More life in the years.
Dave Asprey: Yeah. I like that.
Dr. Dan Stickler: Well Dave, it has been a pleasure as usual. I always enjoy the time I get to spend with you and this was a nice extended period that we could have some open discussions. So thank you for taking time to be on the podcast today.
Dave Asprey: Thanks a lot, Daniel. I look forward to hanging out with you at the biohacking conference. Guys, BiohackingConference.com, and maybe I'll see you in Austin.
Dr. Dan Stickler: All right. Sounds great.