What follows is a transcript for the podcast Biohacking for Longevity: Getting Older Doesn’t Have to Suck.
Sub-section topics within the interview include the following:
- What is the Most Significant Cause of Aging?
- Functional Genomics and Aging Research
- How Aging Works When You Age with Health
- 40 Years of Zen: Neurofeedback and Meditation
- HeartMath Device and HRV During Meditation
- What Foods are Good for Mitochondria?
- Eating the Right Foods at the Right Time
- The Definition of Mitochondria
- Sources of Polyphenols to Improve Mitochondrial Function
- How Can Toxins in Your Home Affect Your Health?
- Circadian Rhythm and How to Sleep Like a Rockstar
- SARMs and Peptides
- About Dave Asprey
What is the Most Significant Cause of Aging?
Dr. Heather Sandison: Welcome to Collective Insights. I'm your host today, Dr. Heather Sandison, and I am thrilled to be joined by basically the king of biohacking today. Dave Asprey, thanks for being here.
Dave Asprey: I'm happy to come on.
Dr. Heather Sandison: So, you have a new book out, Super Human, where you talk about the seven pillars of aging. Can you take us through those seven pillars?
Dave Asprey: I can, most likely from memory. Writing a book makes you, it makes you really concentrate on how do you boil away everything that's interesting and maybe kind of useful and distill it to make it teachable. And I've always found that the two ways I can really internalize something is you either teach a class on it or you write about it. And it takes thousands and thousands of hours of writing to do that. And when you boil it down, there's seven things going on inside the body that make us old. And it's not just one thing. We've always said, oh, you can't do anything about aging because no one's ever had an anti-aging pill.
It's like, well, okay, let's think about car maintenance. Look, as long as you change your oil every 3000 miles or 5000 miles, whatever it is, then your car will last forever. But, oh wait, you also have to change your tires, and you can't do just one because you will fail and your car will end up at the side of the road. It's inevitable. But if you do both of those things, and maybe the other maintenance that's required, you'll have a car that goes as long as it's supposed to. And if you're one of those crazy people who scrubs your car with a toothbrush and changes your oil every five minutes or whatever you do, like, I have this car that's 30 years old and still driving and it's got 400,000 mile, good for you. So I want to be that guy from my body and I don't care if I have to buy a couple cars along the way. That's fine. You put your energy into something.
So, what are the essential maintenance tasks that stop aging? And before we get into the seven pillars, there's four things that kill you, don't do those, because not dying is the first step to living a long time, so those four killers are in the book and we're not going to go into those in the context of this answer. But the seven things that are making us age. One of them is mitochondria, which is probably my most favorite of topics, I wrote a whole separate book on that, and in the context of how to make your brain work better, and the book was called, Head Strong. So I dug really deep in this and it turns out, oh, that's one of the things that makes you feel good now. But in terms of aging, if you make less energy, now we understand that that directly impacts sleep. And also, your body uses energy, and it has to have enough of it in order to fold proteins properly.
So if you have mitochondrial issues, and most people over age 40 do, in fact, all of them according to the studies, unless they're on aggressive antiaging regimens, well, you're not gonna have enough energy to repair mutations and to fold proteins and to do repair tasks. So you slowly start to go down.
Another one is cell loss, we actually just have less cells over time. And this is called sarcopenia, you lose muscle when you're age. And the New York Times called me almost muscular, I'm like I win. You don't want to be too muscular because that also inhibits aging. So you want to be muscular-ish, so you have enough muscle that you can actually rely on it should you get really sick or there be a time of famine or something, and enough fat but not too much fat. So that's really important, there's two of them.
Another one of these, I call them in the book, straitjackets on or cellular straitjacket. This is basically cellular stiffening. And these are changes in the composition of the cells themselves over time, some called amyloid forms. And we've all heard of amyloid plaque in the brain for Alzheimer's, but it turns out amyloid forms throughout the body. And in Super Human, in the book, so look, there's three things you can do to attack this pillar or support this pillar, depending on which one it is. There's things that are cheap in the supplement side of things or other lifestyle changes. And then there's the, here's what crazy billionaires do. And I did as many of those as I could get people to do for me. And then I wrote about that experience. So, you sort of see the spectrum, and the idea is the crazy expensive stuff will be cheap for the rest of us in five and 10 years, as things inevitably become more available. So I've got three of them there.
Then there's, cell gunk builds up inside the cells. And this is a major issue because imagine you have a furnace, like an incinerator that burns garbage inside each cell, and you actually do, lysosomes. And some things don't burn it. So if you only put stuff in a furnace that can't burn, you'll pretty much burn for a very, very long time before anything happens. If you put chunks of metal in there that don't burn, eventually, it gets clogged up and then it just sits there. So if you could put less metal in that furnace, and in the book, I tell you just what to eat, not what to eat. And then also how do you encourage the behavior of these or just get rid of the old furnaces and replace them with new ones. And these are things that are possible with the right signals to your cells so that they get to do that.
There's also junk outside the cells, which is a substantial problem as well, and that's the fifth or sixth pillar, however many am at now. And then we have telomeres, which is something a lot of people have heard of probably on this show, where there is something to do with the number of times a cell can divide. And telomeres are eminently hackable via a variety of things that we didn't used to think they were. I think that hit all seven unless I missed one in there. Feels like I got them all.
Functional Genomics and Aging Research
Dr. Heather Sandison: So, how does this directly relate to longevity? You talked about, obviously, don't die, and then here's all the things that we can do to maintain. Do we know the science of this intervention might help us live this much longer or is it more nuanced than that?
Dave Asprey: We have some science but it's also sort of like how do you herd a flock of sheep? How do you guarantee that one sheep won't squirt out the side and the dog has to run around and gather it back in. So, on an individual basis, it's probably hard to say if you do this one thing, it's hard at least today, but where we're going to be able to answer that question is, you're going to need really three big data sets. And one of them is, what's going on in your gut bacteria. And there's a company called Viome that I think is the leader in that space. And just disclosure, I am an investor, early, early advisors. I've gone deep with their chief scientist and I say that not just from a, I'm a fanboy but I've peeled back the covers. But I do have a very small but financial interest in it.
So, Viome is interesting. So your gut bacteria are clearly messing with you, or helping you or both, and you can control them because they're pretty stupid, they're bacteria. In fact, they're as stupid as your mitochondria, which you can also control, which are also old bacteria. So, there's that. Then there's your genes. And for a while, at the beginning of creating this biohacking field, I was a little bit down on the human genome stuff. I was probably one of the first couple thousand people that my genome sequenced very early days. I think it was 25 grand at the time. I was disappointed with the results because you have a 5% greater risk of something or 5% less risk of something else, but your risk of it was only .5%. And if you add 5% of .5%, you're like, oh, nothing in my life change but I know that genetically I probably don't process this prescription drug as well. It was not useful.
But the era of functional genomics has come around. And so now, if you have a picture of your genes and they're telling you which genes you can turn on and off with epigenetics, it becomes interesting. And the company that's done the most work there that I'm a fan of is called the DNA company. I had their chief scientist on my show several times on Bulletproof Radio and was just blown away. And so I've also become an advisor and investor there as well. I have the Amazing habit, when I find stuff that I wanted that I couldn't buy anywhere else, if I can help it, I will. And if I can't find anywhere else, I'll build it. And that's why I've started several companies in the space just to solve problems, to make stuff exist that didn't exist that I wanted, including coffee without mold in it was kind of a big deal because I hate not having coffee. So, I started that. It really highlighted the problem with mold as well. So it's this idea.
But the DNA company, it's functional genomics. I've got, what am i genes doing that actually tells me how to live? What are my gut bacteria doing that tells me how to live? And then the interaction between those two. And then the third thing is epigenetics, which is what do you do to turn them on and off. And within epigenetics, the data that's hardest to get is called the exposome, which is a set of all the environmental factors you were exposed to throughout your life. By the way, that's like a real size map of the world.
Dr. Heather Sandison: That's a lot of data.
Dave Asprey: It's a lot of data, and at a certain point, like wow, so, I saw a leaf out my window right now. Is that in my exposome? So, we're going to end up boiling that down. But what we are figuring is that there's many, many lifestyle factors. And when you combine all those things together, we will eventually be able to tell you, oh, the combination of your genetics, your gut bacteria, and the city you live in, means that you should be taking this combination of substances, and it could be tweaked. We're not there yet, but the AI models are getting better. So that's how it's going from a science basis.
How Aging Works When You Age with Health
Dave Asprey: But what I can tell you, in Super Human, over and over I cite studies of things that enhance the lifespan of animals in a meaningful way. And the mantra people have been repeating has two evil components to it. One of them is that when you get old, it's going to suck. There's going to be diapers, wheelchairs, you won't know your own name, you'll be entirely reliant on other people. That is actually not how aging works when you age with health, not at all, and it's not how aging was historically.
What aging actually looks like is you become the village elder, and you have enough energy to give back, you have enough time to give back, and you want to because it feels good and it makes you a better person to give back. So like, oh, look, I can tell all the young whippersnappers where all the good hunting grounds are, and I can tell that one, don't marry her, you guys are not compatible. I know that you're both attracted to each other, but seriously, just date for a couple weeks and work that out. And then, no. Because you've seen it, because you've done it, because you've already got divorced three times or whatever the thing is, but wisdom is so valuable.
And that's why in the book I talk about this in the first chapter, look, most of the things that I've learned that have been the most valuable are from people over 70. And the reason I could write a book on antiaging is that when I was 26, I started going to an antiaging nonprofit group and learning from people literally three times my age with more energy than me. So I know it's possible because I've seen it happen, and I know we can do 120 years old because, well, we have evidence of humans living 120. And those humans couldn't spell ATP when they're young because they didn't know it was a thing. And they didn't know about DNA because it wasn't a thing, and didn't know about antibiotics because they didn't exist. They didn't know about mass spectrometry. They didn't have any internet. If you wanted to research, they didn't have microfiche. They had to go order an encyclopedia or some weird thing like that. I don't even know if they could read back then. Just kidding, I think they could.
They were fighting war on horses when people 120 years old were alive. It's that big of a deal. Cars weren't around in 1900. Okay, they're still alive today, a few of them. So we can do that as a species. It's proven. If we can't do 50% better in the next 100 years, it's because, well, we ran out of top soil, which is an issue if you think in the long term or because an asteroid hits the planet. So otherwise, assuming there aren't massive societal issues like that, we're going to live way longer than we think. And it's going to make the world a much better place than it is now.
Am I allowed to swear on your show?
Dr. Heather Sandison: Yes.
Dave Asprey: Oh, yes, [inaudible 00:12:04]. So, one of the things that happens as you age is you have enough time to get your shit together. So, you learn to stop being reactive to stupid stuff, you learn to not falling for the latest candy the media's dropping for you. You learn that arguing incessantly about things that actually you have no control over doesn't change anything, and it actually lowers your quality of life, and you go on and on. And eventually, you achieve this thing called peace and wisdom and clarity. And if you're going to be around for 100 or more years, maybe you're not going to throw the plastic wrapper in the ocean, maybe you're going to take care of the planet, maybe you're going to take care of the people around you because you have to be around them for maybe centuries. Good God, do you want to live in a world full of like starving peasants? I don't think so. So you're going to do the work it takes to create a world of abundance.
So, that's why antiaging is so important. That's why I wrote the book. And that's why these seven pillars are just so critical. So you look at Tech, it's the environment around us and it's the thing that happens over time where studies show actually when people are over about 50, they've already had their midlife crisis and whatever, then they start actually having some of the happiest times of their life, where they're actually satisfied because they realize, it doesn't really matter if you have a saggy butt. It doesn't really matter what people think about you, and you're actually resilient. And we can teach younger people to be resilient, and we can give them the antiaging tools.
And oh my god, preventative maintenance is so much easier. I've seen old people get young, but that takes a serious amount of money and time and work. You take young people and you're like, hey, did you want to kick ass, did you want to have abs? Did you want your brain to work all the time, and did you want to not be emotionally reactive when you don't want to be? Here's how to do it, and funny enough, now you stayed young. So, that's how you do it.
40 Years of Zen: Neurofeedback and Meditation
Dr. Heather Sandison: So, one of the things you and I are both very passionate about is meditation. And I had the privilege of being able to go up to 40 Years of Zen, one of your creations, and get the benefit of intensive, a five day intensive with the neurofeedback. So combining the technology of millennia with the technology of today of putting the cap on and having the neurofeedback system. So can you talk about what inspired you to create that and what you're seeing with people going to 40 Years?
Dave Asprey: Sure. In my career journey, which has been odd, I was actually the first person to sell anything over the internet. I sold a caffeine T-shirt out of my dorm room in college before the web browser was created. And I was in Entrepreneur Magazine, I'm wearing like a size double extra large shirt, I'm 300 pounds. It was just a crazy time, but there wasn't a name for eCommerce. I was just trying to make my tuition. So I'm like, I'll sell some shirts. But in retrospect, it was kind of a creative thing. I was fat and I had arthritis and I actually had just a lot of anxiety and stuff I didn't recognize, and a brain that didn't work. In fact, when I got my brain scan done with Daniel Amen, almost 20 years ago now, he's like, "Dave, your brain looks like the brain of someone living under a bridge taking street drugs. You have environmental toxin caused damage to your brain from toxic mold."
So I'm sitting here a little bit more emotionally reactive than I'd like, and just not happy at all. I've made $6 million, I've lost the $6 million two years after I made it. And it didn't matter whether I was famous because I was an entrepreneur when I was 23, and it didn't matter if I was rich, I was still completely miserable all the time. And I got out of five year bad relationship. I was like, I'm a really smart computer science dude. How is it possible that I'm making these mistakes? Clearly I'm the common element here. So I started doing the personal development work, maybe a little bit earlier than a lot of people do. And I went to Tibet to study meditation from the masters. I did holotropic breathing with Stan Grof. I got myself First EEG machine in 1997, where I'd heard about this and I write about that experience in a couple of the books.
I said, you know what, I do meditate. I've done my Art of Living breathing exercises for five years. 40 million people every day do these exercises. It started in India. And I wrote the foreword for the book on that recently. I look at the value of mantra and meditation, I'm an advanced yoga person, I put my ankle behind, I did all that work. But I also have kids and I run multiple companies and I'm a New York Times multiple bestselling author, and I run a Webby Award winning podcast with 150 million downloads. And I'm actually working on a mousetrap powered car with my 10 year old son. I could spend that time that I'm spending with my son meditating, or I could just say, you know what, I'm going to do that and I'm going to find a way.
And what I found after a lot of searching is that it is entirely possible to reach those esoteric advanced altered states. of high performance, the stuff that they write about in thousand year old manuscripts. And it is possible to do that, it's just a lot of work unless you have a computer hooked up to your head. And the computer says, oh, you're doing it wrong, you're doing it wrong, you're doing it wrong, there, that, you got it. Your brain doesn't know what it feels like to go there. So it's like, throwing a little little tiny net in the ocean and just hoping you get something, and maybe you will, maybe it's going to be edible, maybe it's going to be a piece of seaweed, but it's probably going to be nothing, and meditations like that. And eventually you learn.
But if you kind of have a laser guided thing on the net, that's like, no, no, the fish is over there, no, you didn't get it, and then you get it. Oh, wait, okay, that's what it feels like. That's sushi. So, when you can do this for five days intensively, we can take someone's brain and put it in the same state as if they've been meditating for years and years and years, or decades as the cases. And some of the states that people reach there are very profound and they're incredible states of creation. In fact, especially my first few books, those outlines were entirely done with neurofeedback. I sat down, went into an altered state, kind of shook myself out of it, wrote the outline, just write on a piece of paper, and that was the book.
And other times, it's for me a lot of like, oh, that's why I act that way. That's [inaudible 00:18:18]. So you're going to go through and you edit your patterns. But for me, I was just such an asshole. I had to do something about it. And so, I started this company because I realized if we can help people who are in a position to influence many others, that's where the most leverage is. It's the most powerful work I've ever done, and one of the most important companies that I have, that 40 Years of Zen practice. I don't promote it super heavily. It's five people at a time, there's a neuroscientist, there's custom hardware and software we've been developing for years. And it's like, it's a thing, and if you're called to it, you go, and if you're not called to it, it'll be there.
HeartMath Device and HRV During Meditation
Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah. And there's lots of pieces of that are very accessible from home certainly. And so, these meditation practices, lots of leaders and you have pieces of that in your books. So, it doesn't have to be five days away from home.
Dave Asprey: No. In fact, I would recommend, I don't have a financial arrangement or anything, just if you're interested in meditating faster, heart rate variability training, I put that technology in the world of biohacking years ago, and I was an advisor for quite a while to the HeartMath Institute, unpaid, just I believe it matters. [inaudible 00:19:28] somehow certified from them too, it's something or another. But this is a $100 thing you clip on your ear, and it changes the spacing between your heartbeats. And you can learn very quickly when you're in fight or flight mode and when you're not. And just that thing, you do it for about seven minutes, the average person can shift out of the fight or flight and into recover mode. And it is way better than just meditating.
So, you spend 100 bucks and you buy a meditation class and just meditate with the thing on your ear and just be like, oh wait, when I open my heart this way, there's no words that tell you what opening your heart feels like. But there's a thing. When it turns green on your phone and it bings the right way, there, you did it. That's why all this feedback is so important because I can't use words to tell you. And the old way we used to do this was imagine the Buddha and he's on a 42 pedal lotus and one pedal is blue. And they're trying to get you to visualize stuff to put you in a certain state, but no one can tell you the state because it doesn't have words for it. That's why feedback matters.
What Foods are Good for Mitochondria?
Dr. Heather Sandison: Totally. So, certainly the neurological signals that are coming from our brain to ourselves help with mitochondrial function. But there's a lot of other practical things we can do like diet and lifestyle. Can you go into some of the dietary suggestions that you make that help to produce mitochondrial output of ATP function just to optimize mitochondrial function generally?
Dave Asprey: Oh, yeah. If you go back to my first book here, second book, actually, my first big book was The Bulletproof Diet in 2014. It was the first big book to talk about intermittent fasting and ketosis in a modern context. And before that, there was paleo which is sort of like high protein, low carb, but not intermittent, and not with the intermittent fasting. And fasting where you say, all right, I'm not going to eat until noon or two in the morning is the most common schedule, it's actually really important. And probably some occasional longer fasts are a good thing if you want to live a long time.
And big thing, and I write about this, there's a blog post on Daveasprey.com, where I talk about women and intermittent fasting. A lot of times, look, just because it's good doesn't mean you have to do it all the time. And people [inaudible 00:21:43], oh, I know exercise is good so I'm going to go run a marathon. The guy who ran the first marathon died from running the marathon, that's why we celebrate it. It's not going to make you healthier to run a marathon, it just isn't. It might make you tougher and to show yourself you can do it, but it isn't an act of health and neither is working out everyday of the week, it'll actually over-train you in short order. So, simply intermittent fasting, yeah.
I talked to this one really young guy, like 15 or something. He's like I'm going to intermittent fast for everyday for the rest of my life. And I'm like, that's not going to work. You're going to have to occasionally have some gluten free pancakes in the morning, like it's okay. And I chose pancakes specifically because sometimes you need to have carbs because these things called gut bacteria, they eat certain kinds of carbs. And it turns out the glial cells in your brain, the ones that maintain your brain, the immune system of the brain, the ones that help with synaptic pruning and maintenance, they like glucose and they need some glucose. And so, we went through this phase where some people were, if you eat a gram of glucose, you're a bad man. And the keto bro, dirty keto world, where as long as it's not sugar, you can have it. It doesn't work. I did that in the mid 90s with the old Atkins diet.
And so, what you want to do if you want to live a long time is you look at the type of fat you eat. It's a major thing, and Super Human is the only book I've ever found that talks about, if you put a certain kind of fat in your mouth, where will it go in the body and what does it do? There's lots of people saying, oh, if you eat this kind of fat, it can go to your body as fat. But what no one talks about is that your white and fat in your body, the stuff under your skin around your waist packed around your organs. If you're not doing it, right, especially, that stuff changes very rapidly in its fat composition. So if you eat some corn oil, canola oil, industrially raised meat, very quickly you get high inflammation levels because the cells themselves change their composition.
But it's funny, the part of the body that has the most saturated fat that is the most stable is the brain, where 45% of that fat is saturated fat, and your brain will not allow that to vary at all its [inaudible 00:23:49] because of function. But the Omega-6 Omega-3 ratio in the brain does change, but it doesn't change as much as the white fat actually, which is interesting because that's the fat that's going to give you love handles and inflammation and extra estrogen and things like that.
So, low fat diet, high fat diet, it's stupid. It is not scientific, it doesn't mean anything. It's like, did you want to go on a liquid diet? Well, hold on a second, was the liquid gasoline, because in that case, no. And liquid was Bulletproof Coffee, well, hell yeah. Okay. But they're functionally different things. So how dare some researchers say, oh, I put mice on a high fat diet without telling you exactly what type of fat it was, because it's so critical. And the same thing, high protein, my favorite plant-based protein is rice and, the nerve gas used in the Tokyo subway attack, it comes from beans. I'm going to use vegan logic, therefore, all plant-based proteins will kill you because that's what it says in the China Study.
This one animal protein that's an extract of milk, it causes cancer risks to increase dramatically, therefore all animal products will kill you. The logic is stupid. Each protein does a different thing in the body. Each amino acid does a different thing in the body. Each type of fat does a different thing in the body, and each type of carb does. If you want to live a long time, don't eat the types of carbs that trash you, that would be especially fructose. And you can actually have a little bit of glucose, and don't have too much starch but you need some, and it should be more resistant. And on the fats, don't eat oxidized fats or fats that oxidize easily, except in a few cases where you know they've been treated right and your body needs them, like the Omega-3 oils, not the plant-based Omega-3s, those are garbage. It takes 45 grams of plant-based Omega-3s to become one gram of EPA or DHA if your body even has the enzymes to make the conversions. So you should take EPA or DHA.
And then from a protein basis. High protein diets are bad for you. And in Super Human, I write very specifically about what types of protein. High glycine, low tyrosine, low methionine proteins are particularly the ones you'd want to go for. And you just don't need that much protein. That's not the issue. I'm 10.3% body fat, all the scales say that I have a high body mass index, even though I'm 10.3% body fat because I have muscle, and I don't need a super high protein diet. And I believe that humans, the vast, vast, vast majority of humans do not do well over time without animal products. You can do a vegetarian diet if you're some genetic backgrounds, but you need to have substantial amounts of ghee and probably egg yolks if you're going to do that right. For the fat, not for the protein.
Eating the Right Foods at the Right Time
Dave Asprey: So the fattiest cuts of grass fed, grass finished organic animals you can get are going to be very beneficial for you. So is collagen protein, which actually undoes the damage of eating too much steak for instance. Plant-based proteins generally aren't that good because most of them have anti-nutrients in them. They make it very hard to absorb. So, I would eat buckets of gravel if I could live off that and thrive. It doesn't work. I've been a raw vegan, a very devout one. And there's a vegan trap, there's a keto trap, and there's actually a fasting trap, and they're all the same. I did it, I felt great. Therefore, I'll do it even more. And that's the exercise trap. No, you cycle, you go in and out.
Anyone who's listening, you want to go vegan for a couple weeks and change the ratio of autophagy to mTOR, basically, you're either building muscle or you're recycling cells, you can do it. It's fine. You want to fast for a week, great. You want to fast for a couple days, great. All of these are ways to do it, or you could do this thing called protein fasting that came out in 2014. Funny, the book was called The Vulgar Diet. Protein fasting, one day a week, don't eat more than 15 grams of protein. You can still eat and you get most of the effects of fasting just from doing that.
So, it's not about eating or not eating. It's not about fat or no fat, it's not about protein or no protein, it's not about carbs or no carbs. It's about choosing to eat the right ones at the right time. That's what makes you live a long time.
Dr. Heather Sandison: Clinically, I see this play out over and over again with my patients. It's that it's not the diet that you're on, it's actually that change in diet that gets them the benefit. I always try to emphasize with patients that this might not be the best diet for you, let's give it a try, and this definitely won't be the best diet for you for the rest of your life. There are seasons in the year, of course, there's different things we should be eating the spring versus the fall versus the winter versus the summer. And then in the seasons of your life, as you age, you're going to want to shift the way you eat based on activity level and all kinds of things. So I really appreciate you driving home that point as someone who really popularized the ketogenic diet, that it's not so much about the diet as about I think the what you're eating. So choosing good high quality foods to put into your body, and then what's right for you at that time.
Another thing that seems to throw people off is this idea that it's about, okay, I can eat these foods that are in this list versus what I'm hoping for the goal is to change my metabolism even temporarily. We want this dynamic ability to be able to bounce back and forth between burning sugars and burning fats for fuel. And that being stuck in one is no better than being stuck in the other.
Dave Asprey: Thank you for saying that. The whole kind of bastardization of what I was trying to do with The Bulletproof Diet, and okay, people lost a million pounds on the diet, it's been a very successful book, and just the program. But it's that you have to go in and out. And what the body really responds to is the slope of the curve. And it's the same for exercise. studies now show you want to do cardio, you can get more results in seven minutes of going really slow, then 20 seconds really fast, then really slow, then 20 seconds really fast. And that outperforms, your body changes more because the curve was really steep. Like, oh my goodness, from zero to 100 back to zero.
Well, the same thing goes with metabolism. So, you're in ketosis, you're eating a low or a very low carb diet. And you're cruising along, and then the weekend comes. And then you have carbs. In the 80s or actually the 90s, there was a book on natural bodybuilding that talked about doing this. And they talk about having a cheat day, and it's cheeseburgers, pizza, cake. Most recently, Tim Ferriss, whose work I respect, is like, oh, you got to have your cheat day and it's like, just eat garbage.
Okay, here's what happens if you eat garbage, I call it garbage, but it's fast food or whatever, give in to your cravings. I did this for years when I weighed 300 then 250 pounds. And you have cravings for the next four or five days if you do that. And it's like, once a week I blow up a building in your city, but don't worry, you can be calm the rest of the time. It doesn't work. You've got to have some calmness. So what that means is that during your cheat day, you have carbs, but it doesn't mean you have to have them fried with sugar on top. It's cycling in and out of ketosis, always eating foods that don't cause inflammation.
And when you do that, man, I feel good. I've done that for more than 10 years. It is sustainable, you're not hungry. But it's because there's always a curve. My glucose tolerance is high, my insulin sensitivity is perfect, is as good as you can get. And that's metabolic flexibility, so I can go a day or two without eating, not a problem. I can eat actually a high carb thing and I'm fine. I just don't all the time. But some days I'll eat 100 grams of carbs, no big deal. They're just the right carbs. And I'm completely okay with that. And I maintain my weight, I maintain my focus, everything works. I just don't do it too often because it makes you old.
Sources of Polyphenols to Improve Mitochondrial Function
Dr. Heather Sandison: So polyphenols in particular have a role to play in the mitochondria. Can you speak to these plant nutrients?
Dave Asprey: Yeah. The mitochondria are not really just power plants in the cells. And that's what we all learned in seventh grade, and as an author, I've said that, God, so many times. But what they are is they're sensing organisms. They're the ancient bacteria that really harnessed these other cells, and they're still calling most of the shots in the environment. And their job is to keep the petri dish that is you alive, even if it's against your best interests. So they're the ones telling you eat the cookies, eat the cookies, because, okay, we're just dumb bacteria, we like sugar again, just go for it.
However, what really gets them going is having the right materials. And you can send signals to them using polyphenols. And it turns out a lot of the signals, the polyphenols change your gut bacteria, which then change your mitochondria, because your gut bacteria talk to your mitochondria via different chemicals, even via light it turns out. So, some of the polyphenols profoundly improve mitochondrial function. Things like resveratrol, things like green tea, grape skin extract or grape seed extract, pomegranate, the list goes on and on.
And when you take a combination of the right polyphenols, oh, by the way, coffee is the largest source of polyphenols in most people's diet, and those polyphenols are good for you in multiple studies, or tea, just drinking tea, eating green vegetables, eating spices and herbs is very high. Pretty much the more of those you eat, the more likely you are to live a long time. And that's why you really either need to supplement them or you could do what I do. I live on an organic farm. So, I can pick a handful of oregano and rosemary, and I do every day and I throw it in whatever I'm eating and it tastes good. But that's not normal.
So if that doesn't work, you can buy organic pounds of this stuff and put it on everything you eat or you take some capsules and I definitely have formulated capsules like that for Bulletproof. I write about it in my book, so you guys can have some good polyphenol formulas as well. They're very important. After you get your vitamin D, your vitamin A, your vitamin K and your magnesium, polyphenols should be very high up that list.
How Can Toxins in Your Home Affect Your Health?
Dr. Heather Sandison: So I've done a sort of pseudo-experiment here because, as I mentioned to you, I recently took over a residential care facility for the elderly and we inherited their five hospice residents. And two of them unfortunately passed, that was sort of the natural course, and expected. But the other three, one has since started walking, one has been kicked off hospice, and the other one is about to get kicked off hospice.
Dave Asprey: Don't you know that's bad for the business model. You have these hospice people and you're making them live longer. What are you doing here? You're going to break the drug model.
Dr. Heather Sandison: Right. It's interesting because even the families, it's a little bit challenging to have these conversations because the expectation is decline. And so, what we are doing in this residential care facility is changing that expectation, that really, people should come there, it should be more of a retreat, and they can go home with more functionality. I am not anyone there's doctor, so I didn't change any of the medications. We didn't change any of the diagnoses. All we changed was the food. And it is so, so powerful. It's profoundly powerful. So thank you for spreading this.
The other thing we did, I will say is, we've created a non-toxic environment. So all the cleaning products have changed. We checked diligently for mold, we got everything out.
Dave Asprey: Thank you for that.
Dr. Heather Sandison: Well, it's essential. As you know, it's these inputs into our system that send the signals about how our cells should behave, whether they should behave as healthy cells or as dying cells. And it's the sum total of all of that that's going to be how we feel.
How Mold Can Affect Your Neurological Functioning
Dave Asprey: Is the sum total of all that. And you take people who are already struggling with their health and you put them in a house full of formaldehyde and paint fumes and carpet glue, and there was a water leak over there. And I did a big documentary on toxic mold because it really affected my life. I've seen it in the most successful people and in unsuccessful people, it's an equal opportunity thing. It doesn't matter if you have a $5 million mansion, you get a water leak in there, it just cost more to fix it. And if you don't fix it, it will wreck you. But it might not wreck the other people in house the same way it wrecks you.
And so, we need to get people who are struggling. It is a cause of cancer. It's not the only cause, it is a cause of cancer. And it's certainly a cause of rapid mitochondrial decline, which is why one of the symptoms of living in a moldy building is you put on weight rapidly and unexpectedly and it's inexplicable. I feel hungover all the time. My emotions are all over the place and I'm getting fat no matter what I do. Look at the ceiling. Are there watermarks? If so, I'll tell you, and I mean, I've lost count, thousands and thousands of people just in person over time, it's like, have you looked and then they come back, oh yeah, I have. And people think they're crazy sometimes, but they're not.
Dr. Heather Sandison: I have to thank you because it was Bulletproof Radio that originally introduced me to these ideas around mold, both you and Daniel Schmachtenberger here at Neurohacker, like, hey, look at this dive deep into the Shoemaker training. And then later it was Neil Nathan, who is one of my formal mentors who really have made this science accessible and more clinically relevant. So many doctors, especially for the symptoms you were describing, where it's very nonspecific. It's neurological symptoms, it's GI symptoms. It runs the gamut. And so, nobody can make sense of it if you're going to the gastroenterologist and to the psychiatrist and the neurologist. You've been through all of this.
And so, having this explanation for people, being able to show them the pathway to get out of it, being able to just say, hey, look for mold in your home, and either move or fix it, it's just been so profoundly helpful for so many of my patients. So, thank you for making that accessible and being really one of the pioneers of that work.
Dave Asprey: You're welcome. And people used to get so mad at me for saying that. I think Neil Nathan's work is very, very solid and Ritchie Shoemaker was the first guy to figure out these weird connections. Some of his later stuff has been a little bit out there in terms of sort of mycotoxins don't matter was one of the things he was saying. And it turns out there's two things that happen when toxic mold both in food and in the environment, they're different. But one of them is that the mold itself, the lining of the spores, and all that it is a cause of inflammation. It is bad for you. You breathe it, it does all sorts of bad things.
And then there's the actual toxins that are very low molecular weight that are in the mold. And those toxins poison your mitochondria. So inflammation stops mitochondrial function or is oftentimes caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. But a poison that gets into the cells that soaks into the fat and your body gets distributed across all your cell membranes, especially in the brain and nerves, really matters. So when people like me are living in a moldy place the way I used to without knowing it, you really got to get on top of that. And it can take a couple years, in fact, I published some stuff in I think The Bulletproof Diet or Head Strong about the half life of fat and the body being around two, two and a half years.
And it was a study from a while back, but how long does fat stay? So if you have toxins that are dissolved throughout your body in your fat, it's going to take you a couple years of eating clean and not living in mold in order to change the composition so you don't have these poisons in you. And you can speed that up with certain IV things and all, but I think it's very important that people understand. It is not something to mess around with. 100 million structures have this. And if your new job, you go in and it smells like a mop, and you can see water stains and you come home feeling exhausted, quit. It is going to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to get well if you work there for 10 years. And if you just work there for a year until it wrecks your health, you'll only need six months of disability. And you might feel okay, you're still going to get cancer from it or Some other bad thing because it affects different people differently.
This is a major part of antiaging and just showing up because the whole time, you will be emotionally reactive. And you see that in your patients. Mold patients are the worst ones, they can't follow through on anything, and they get pissed off at everything. I know because I'm talking about myself.
Dr. Heather Sandison: It's so hard because it's when your cognitive function is declined, it's been so affected by this, and yet, you're trying to make these really big changes in your life, like you said, like either remodel your home, mitigate the mold, move potentially or change jobs. It's so challenging and you don't have the full capacity of your brain.
Circadian Rhythm and How to Sleep Like a Rockstar
Dr. Heather Sandison: So I want to talk a little bit more about other sources of signaling. Light is another big one, and you've written extensively about things that signal the circadian rhythm. And of course, that influences sleep, it influences how awake we feel. Speak a little bit more about how you can sleep like a rock star.
Dave Asprey: This is a major part of living a long time and just functioning really well. I'll be the first admit, I was anti-sleep for a lot in my life. I think the world is interesting and there's all sorts of fun stuff to do and why would I want to go to sleep when I could read at least. There's so much good stuff. When I started Bulletproof, I went for about, I got less than five hours every night, and quite often less than four hours of sleep for 18 months. And said, I'm just going to see what happens if I do this. And it was pretty amazing because I actually lost weight and I was just fine because I was really monitoring my sleep. I've monitored my sleep with different gadgets for 14 years.
But it's still not good for you. It's not a good thing to do. But people live the longest sleep six and a half hours a night, not eight hours. So healthy people need less sleep, we know that. So then how do you get really good sleep? Well, it turns out light is a much bigger signal, even more so than food, but they both matter. I was one of the early guys to say look blue blockers for sleep, I've been wearing them on stages since about 2008, when I'd give keynotes in the computer security industry, and like, why is that weird dude wearing orange glasses.
The problem is that blue blocking glasses ruin your circadian rhythm, because during the day, you have to be able to get blue light, just not the toxic blue light. It turns out there's two spectrums of blue light, there's I'm going to call it, toxic blue, and the upper end of blue is called sky blue. And if you don't have that as a signal into your eyes, you don't wake up, and the cells in your body, which are programmed through about 5% of the receptors in your eyes are not used for vision, they're used for time setting. And they're called melanopsin sensors.
So these things, they pick up the right spectrum of blue, they go, oh, it's daytime, let's turn on the metabolism. Well, the problem is that all day long, we're bathing ourselves in toxic blue, which is a lower spectrum of blue, as well as some sky blue, and way more of it than is balanced by other things. Your eyes get tired, your brain gets tired, it causes all sorts of problems including macular degeneration.
So, one of the companies I founded, actually I've written the patent so I know what I'm talking about here, it's called TrueDark, and we make glasses that block some blue, but not all blue during the day. So, it's different than blue blockers. And at night, we have a different set of glasses you wear. And those block four, they're layered optical filters, they block four different spectrums of light that are all associated with waking you up. Blue, which is one of those four spectrums stops you from making sleep hormones, the stuff you need in order to go to sleep, melatonin. But the other colors will also keep you awake.
So it turns out there's three things from light that control how you're going to do. One is the color of the light. So if it's more like a sunset, you're going to want to go to sleep. If it's more like daytime, you're not, and it only takes a few seconds to mess up the timing system. The other one is the angle of the light. So, light that comes in from above is daytime light. Light that comes in from right in front of you or below you is evening light, who would have thought. And then the other one is the intensity of light. So even if it's red light and you're staring into a spotlight, oh, it's really bright. So you want dim lights, you want lights that don't have those four activating frequencies, and you want lights that don't come in from overhead. The exact opposite of what your bathroom has and your house has.
So, my company TrueDark has glasses that fix that. I've eliminated jet lag from my life and I travel a lot, at least when there's not these pandemic theaters going on. And on top of that, we just launched a bulb called the TrueLight Circadia bulb. This is designed by the people who built the ... This is a bulb that's designed by the people who built the International Space Station lighting, the hardest circadian environment there is. As you dim it for the evening, it changes its color intensity as well. So this is the only bulb like it, custom drivers. And during the day, it's only got the sky blue without the toxic blue. So, it's entirely different experience during the day because it doesn't piss you off to look at it during the day, and at night, it turns into a sunset when you just turn on a dimmer.
So, that has been a real life changer for me. I go to sleep at a normal time. My bedtime for 25 years has been exactly 2:05AM because I write late at night, I love it. And I thrive, I've lost weight, I've done well, but I actually go to bed like 11 o'clock now. I feel like I'm weak. But I wake up early now too. Disgusting mornings. So that's how important it is, it'll change everything.
SARMs and Peptides
Dr. Heather Sandison: So, other important things, other types of signals, SARMs and peptides. I know I'm keeping you, you're a busy man. Can I pick your brain about SARMs and peptides?
Dave Asprey: We can go for a minute or two on that.
Dr. Heather Sandison: Thank you.
Dave Asprey: There are a lot of signaling molecules we just didn't understand in the body. And a lot of them are peptides, and peptides are really easy to understand. If you look at the alphabet, there's a bunch of letters in it. And when you're looking at proteins, well, if you think about it, all proteins are made from something called amino acids. Those are the alphabet of proteins. So all words in a language are made of its alphabet. So all proteins are made of amino acids.
Well, peptides are just individual words stuck together. Those are the small peptides. And larger peptides are maybe a sentence. And a whole protein is a paragraph or a page. So, okay, we're talking about very small assemblies of peptides. One of my favorite peptides, and something that I made really cool and that everyone's talking about now is collagen. So Bulletproof put collagen on the market and made it a performance supplement, as it should be, an antiaging supplement. And the reason it's working in part is because it has di and tripeptides. These are two letters [inaudible 00:46:53], like if ands and buts, with one T. And those kinds of peptides actually are really effective, and some of the 12 letter words are really effective.
So, from an antiaging perspective, there's a chapter in Super Human where I go into what these peptides can do, and some of it is radical. You can make your telomeres longer. There's really profound rapid healing that's possible, and it goes on and on. But these are $50 to $200 or $300 compounds that are seriously effective, more effective than a lot of pharmaceutical drugs and necessary antiaging compounds. And then SARMs are out there as well.
Dr. Heather Sandison: So, on the peptides I would second that. Clinically, I have seen things like BPC-157 and Thymosin alpha 1 just be complete game changers for patients. They're highly effective, relatively affordable and very, very low risk. And so, I'm really excited to see what the next decade or so brings in terms of the FDA approval. How we navigate the acceptability and the use of those things and hopefully that will become more and more widely available.
Dave Asprey: I think it will. And we'll probably find a way to make more of them work orally. Right now, you have to inject them like you would insulin or something once a day, as you all know, but just for listeners. And then SARMs are these compounds that activate selective androgen receptors. So traditionally, you take testosterone, which I'm a huge advocate of. If you're over 40, man or woman and you haven't had a hormone test, get one and then go on testosterone or whatever else you need. Your brain will turn on. You'll live longer, you'll feel better, it's not going to give you a higher risk of cancer, that's garbage science. Man, it gives you your zest for life back, not to mention the bedroom stuff, which is nice and do the fat loss or whatever. But you should have the levels of a young person even when you're old. That's called antiaging.
But SARMs let you get some of the benefits of testosterone without the downside, which is really powerful. I put on 29 pounds of muscle in six weeks without changing my diet or exercise using SARMs and posted about that a while back.
About Dave Asprey
Dr. Heather Sandison: So, lots more to come I think on those topics, but a lot to learn also in Super Human. I think you have an entire chapter dedicated to those subjects. And so, lots more to dive into there. I know I have kept you and I'm so grateful for your time and just the insights that you've shared today and through all of the publications you put out there through the blog, the Bulletproof Radio, and of course, the books. Dave, thank you so much for being with us here today. Can you just talk about how people might be able to access some of the things that we discussed, The TrueDark, Super Human is out now.
Dave Asprey: Yes. So the book Super Human hit the New York Times list for a couple weeks in a row, just google Dave Asprey Super Human, you'll find it wherever you like to buy books. And if you go to truedark.com, you'll be able to get the glasses that make you sleep better or the light bulbs that don't cause damage during the day and help you sleep better at night. And then my blog is daveasprey.com and Bulletproof Radio is a big podcast with 100 plus million downloads, top iTunes and all that kind of stuff.
Dr. Heather Sandison: Awesome. Dave, thank you again. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you here.
Dave Asprey: I love being here. Thanks for spreading the good word.
Dr. Heather Sandison: Absolutely.