From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/qa-423/
[00:02:05] News Flashes: Does Weed Make You Stupid?
[00:06:54] Effects of Cannabis Use on Sexual Function
[00:10:56] Four Herbs That Increases Testosterone
[00:13:02] Astaxanthin Is A Good Brain Anti-Aging Agent
[00:19:36] Neuroprotective Role of Astaxanthin
[00:21:15] Astaxanthin For Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
[00:22:38] Podcast Sponsors
[00:28:10] What to Do About Cold Hands & Feet
[00:38:37] What's the Best Pre-workout Formula?
[00:46:20] Should Teens Fast?
[00:55:22] Closing the Podcast
[00:56:10] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.
Does weed make you stupid? And does cannabis affect your testosterone? What's the best pre-workout formula? Should teens fast? And much more.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, hello. This is actually a bit awkward because I am recording this podcast episode for you absolutely solo. I received a last-minute notice today that my trusty podcast sidekick, Jay T. Wiles, Dr. Jay T. Wiles, is indisposed. I think his internet crashed. So, it's just me, but there were so many cool news flashes about weed, and cannabis, and testosterone, and other herbs and compounds that came out this week, as well as some great questions that came through from you, the listeners, that I figured I would jump in and do a little solosode Q&A for you today. So, A, everything I'd talk about you're going to find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/423. If I mention research studies, products, special events, anything like that, you can get access to everything on the shownotes that we work laboriously over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/423. And then also, if you like these kind of Q&A episodes and you want to actually go leave a question for the podcast, you can also do that at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/423 because I usually start this episode with witty banter with my sidekick. And since my sidekick is not here, I'm not even going to worry about the witty banter. I'm just going to jump straight into today's hot news flashes for you guys.
This just in, does weed make you stupid? I know that there's been lots of controversy about this in the past because it has been shown that, for example, heavy use of THC might affect the gray matter in the brain, particularly in young individuals, which is why I don't think anyone prior to the age of 18 should be using much marijuana, for example, just because there might be some effect on overall anatomical structuring of neural tissue. However, this most recent study that just came out looked at the effects of cannabis use on cognitive function in healthy aging adults, particularly older adults who are over 50 years old, which is like the fastest-growing population of people who use cannabis. They say it's for pain. I think it's because there's a lot of grandparents out there sitting around, watching “Family Guy” on the couch, chuckling a little bit more heavily due to their doses of THC.
Anyways though, what this study looked at was a bunch of different articles and studies that had dug into whether or not THC affects particularly cognition, what's called cognitive function. And what they found lo and behold was that this systematic review observed extremely low doses of THC improved cognition in older individuals, both humans and rodents. Higher chronic doses also, and this is going to be a bit of a surprise to you, also seem to improve cognition a little bit as well. And so, I thought this was pretty interesting. So, I thought I'd dig into it a little bit more because when you read the headlines of these studies, sometimes it's a little different than what's actually going on behind the scenes.
So, yeah. This was a systematic review. It looked at the effects of cannabis use on cognitive function in the context of healthy aging. They took a bunch of studies in both adults and mice, and they looked at particularly older adults and mice because they want to see what it does to older people who use cannabis. And the background of this was that, like I mentioned, a lot of research suggests cannabis might alter cognition, might alter brain morphology, or the growth of gray matter in the brain, particularly, or the shrinkage of it more specifically. So, what they found was that again, the THC treated older models, performed better on cognitive tasks.
And so, then I dug into some of the other research that has influenced some of the mutterings out there about whether or not the use of weed might make you stupid. And you can indeed find another research study that came out just this past month on the use of THC and impairment of short-term memory and working performance. And so, whereas, overall cognitive function in older adults doesn't seem to be affected, the actual use of THC on a chronic basis, especially…and I'm talking about THC, not CBD, it does appear to impact working memory. And so, if memory, word recall, et cetera, is important to you on any given day or in life in general, you may actually want to be a little bit careful with cannabis.
Now, here's the interesting thing. There was yet another recent review that looked at the effects of cannabis use on cognition. And what this found was that when THC is co-administered with CBD, so if you were going to use marijuana or cannabis but use a higher CBD blend or supplement said compound with CBD, you actually see a reduction in the impact on memory and a reduction in the impact on cognitive performance, specifically the deleterious impact on cognitive performance. So, what this is is looking like is, A, if you're older and you're using cannabis for, let's say pain management or something like that, you don't have to worry too much about it shrinking your brain or impairing cognitive function. However, there is some evidence that it might affect your short-term memory, whether you're young or old.
With that being said, if you take some CBD at the same time that you take THC, and we're talking like a microdose of CBD, like 10 milligrams, 20 milligrams, right around that range, you can stave off some of these effects on cognition and working memory if you are concerned about that. And then, furthermore, again the evidence that I've seen over and over again does show that if you're younger and you're concerned about anatomical formation of your central nervous system, gray matter in the brain, et cetera, it might be a good idea to avoid marijuana altogether until your central nervous system is fully formed. So, that is the latest on THC when it comes to cognition.
However, there were also some interesting studies that came out this month that looked at the effects of cannabis use on sexual function. So, this was interesting, a look at both erectile dysfunction, as well as testosterone levels. So, the first thing is that cannabis users were found to be twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction. The overall prevalence of erectile dysfunction in cannabis uses was about 70%. And in control groups, it was only about 35%. And so, I'm not quite sure what's going on here, if it is more of a relaxation, a decrease in blood flow, whether it might also be something that could be co-administered with the cannabis.
For example, we know a lot of people who smoke weed would also be people who might also smoke cigarettes. And we know that nicotine is a vasoconstrictive agent, and in some people, can impair erectile function. Like I know some people who even will use like nicotine lozenges, or nicotine gum, or some other form of nicotine outside of a cigarette, and they'll have that happen. And so, if you're one of those people who uses nicotine and struggles with getting it up, fellas, you may want to be careful with that. And you may also really want to be careful with cannabis if it doubles your risk of erectile dysfunction that could actually be an issue. And these are people again who are pretty frequent cannabis users. I don't think that smoking a joint every now and again is going to significantly impact sexual function, although it might acutely, as I think many men know, impair sexual performance acutely.
And some people actually like to use THC for sex, and there are ways around this like beetroot, or Viagra, or anything else that might improve blood flow to the genitalia, while at the same time, you're using something that might increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. You can only stack certain things to offset the effects of other things. But ultimately, turns out that if you have issues with erectile dysfunction and you're a marijuana user, you may want to consider thinking twice about the use of marijuana. And what's actually interesting is that the erectile dysfunction does not appear to be related to, say, like a drop in testosterone because another study–and this is the final one I wanted to tell you about when it comes to THC. For anybody who's just not interested in pot, whatsoever, don't worry, we're almost done with this part.
Regular THC users, and they actually define these as people who use THC at least one time per month, which I wouldn't classify as a regular THC user. But anyways, somebody who uses THC at least one time per month every month for at least a year, these people had higher testosterone. Okay. They actually saw an increase in testosterone in regular users of THC. And again, there are so many confounding variables here, like, I don't know. Are more daring alpha males more likely to use marijuana? I don't know. Would they be the same type of people who might be having sex frequently, which would also indirectly increase testosterone? Maybe. But ultimately, it looks like you don't have to worry too much about the impact on testosterone if you are a frequent, and by frequent, we mean once a month, THC user.
Now, they didn't look at people who are using it like acutely every single day. We know that frequent targeting of the endocannabinoid system could probably cause some relaxation. It's considered a female plant in plant medicine. It's considered one of those more kind of like, I guess would be called yin compounds. And so, I suspect that if you heavily use THC, not only are you going to see an impact on erectile dysfunction, but also on testosterone. But it appears occasional use, even though occasional use may even impact erectile dysfunction, could actually cause a slight increase in testosterone, or at least is associated with an increase in testosterone. So, there you have it. That's the latest on THC. All sorts of interesting things we can learn from that.
Now, the other thing when it comes to testosterone is that there are other herbs that were recently looked into when it comes to things that actually work for increasing testosterone function in–or testosterone concentration in men. And this was a cool study because what they did was they did a systematic review of all the literature out there on all these different crazy compounds and herbs that you could use to increase testosterone. They looked at fenugreek, and ashwagandha, ginseng, forskohlii. I think there were like 32 different studies that they looked at, and 13 different herbs that they investigated because as you know, anybody who's looked at the ingredients labels of those gas station dick pills, understands that there are a host of different compounds and herbs that are often championed as being able to increase testosterone.
What they actually found, drumroll, please, in terms of what actually, at least in this systematic review, caused a statistically significant increase in testosterone concentrations, were fenugreek seed, ashwagandha, ginseng, and then the last one was forskohlii. Okay. Those are all readily available herbs. Obviously, you got to be careful where you get herbs because sometimes they can be laden with metals or other compounds, herbicides, pesticides, et cetera. But fenugreek, forskohlii, ashwagandha, and ginseng, I think it would be cool to come out with a testosterone increasing formula that combined those with the type of nutrients that I have in many podcasts before. Noted are notoriously low in men who have low testosterone, namely, vitamin D, boron, zinc, DHEA, creatine, and omega-3 fatty acids. And if you were to combine that with fenugreek, forskohlii, ashwagandha, and ginseng, based on what I've seen in research, you could actually have a pretty cool testosterone increasing formula. So, there's an idea for you, supplement manufacturers out there, unless I beat you to it in my secret batman labs at Kion. We'll see.
So, anyways, speaking of Kion, I obviously had a lot of questions come my way when we launched that fish oil, our Kion Omega, a few weeks ago because it has astaxanthin. I got lots of questions about astaxanthin. And so, I wanted to tell you a little bit about astaxanthin because there were some other research studies that came out this month that looked into this fascinating compound. So, this is really cool. And you got to bear in mind, like this particular study, actually, both these studies I'm going to tell you about, they're using kind of like higher doses of astaxanthin, anywhere from 6 up to 20 milligrams. I used to take like 40 milligrams of astaxanthin when I'd race Ironman Hawaii because it is really good. It's almost like an edible sunscreen. It's a really good skin protectant in higher doses.
The Kion Omega that we just launched, the fish oil that we add astaxanthin to just basically keep the fish oil from getting damaged or oxidized, that only has about 2 milligrams of astaxanthin in one of the soft gel capsules. So, you'd have to take at least like four capsules to start to get into the range used in a lot of these studies. But anyways, what they looked at with astaxanthin was it's used as what's called a geroprotector. What's a geroprotector? So, a geroprotector is any compound that would be considered something that protects against aging. And there's obviously been a lot of scientific interest in all these natural compounds with geroprotective activities in the past several years.
Now, among a lot of these studied molecules, astaxanthin is a pretty highly promising candidate because it acts on so many different pathways, particularly one called the FOXO3, which is one of only two genes that's been shown to robustly affect human longevity. But it's also been shown to do things like slow down brain aging by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factors. And it's also been shown to stave off damage, particularly oxidative damage to lipids, which is why we put it in the Kion fish oil, to protein, and to DNA. So, when you look at astaxanthin, it's acting on a wide variety of pathways. So, the reason for this is it belongs to this phytochemical family. It's called carotenoids. So, carotenoids are these natural called tetraterpenoid pigments, and they're found in plants, and algae, and fungi, and bacteria. They're usually classified as carotenes or xanthophylls.
And so, what these carotenoids do is they are what are called photoprotective compounds within these plants. They scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species within the plant cells, but then they can also, in animals, help to act as precursors to certain vitamins. For example, retinol or vitamin A is something that would be increased via the use of carotenoid intake. And there are there are different carotenoids that you'll hear talked about like lutein and zeaxanthin, really good for the eyes, lycopene from something like tomatoes, good for the prostate gland. There's another one called cryptoxanthin, which acts kind of similar to astaxanthin. But astaxanthin is one of the primary marine carotenoids. So, that means you'll find it in fish and like crustaceous, what would you call them, animals? Crustaceous sea creatures like lobsters and crabs. And edible seaweeds, particularly, are very high in these carotenoids. You also find them pretty common in diets that would be abundant in marine foods like the Japanese diet, or the inulin diet, or a lot of the coastal countries along the Mediterranean area. They have a diet that tends to be high in a lot of these carotenoids, particularly, marine carotenoid, astaxanthin.
And so, when we look at astaxanthin, it's synthesized by microalgae and by plankton. It's producing the cytoplasm of microalgae and plankton mainly to counteract oxidative stress in these compounds. So, the microalgae, for example, will produce astaxanthin in high amounts when they're under environmental stress or adverse culture conditions like high light, or high salinity, or nutrient deprivation. And the astaxanthin helps to protect these marine compounds. But then when fish eat phytoplankton or microalgae, the astaxanthin gets accumulated in the bodies of the fish, and that gives the pinkish-red color in like the flesh or the shells, or even the feathers, like flamingos, for example. Those will feed on phytoplankton and microalgae, and that's why flamingos are pink. It's the astaxanthin, which is kind of cool to think about, or like a nice, dark, reddish, pink cut of wild-caught salmon. That's because of the astaxanthin content. Whereas the dark, reddish, pink color of salmon from a farmed source is probably because they freaking dyed it.
So, anyways, you'll find this astaxanthin in a lot of marine compounds, and you can of course also supplement with it. But it's an extremely powerful antioxidant. I remember I interviewed one anti-aging researcher who wrote a book, Sandra Kaufmann, and she did like a rank prioritization of all the different anti-aging compounds out there. And astaxanthin was up there with like NAD and curcumin in terms of its effect at protecting the brain and also acting on a host of different longevity increasing pathways. So, it has all these different pro-longevity mechanisms because it acts on the Nrf2 pathways to modulate inflammation. It acts on the PGC-1alpha pathways to increase things like mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial health along with glucose regulation. It acts on, again that pathway I mentioned earlier, the FOXO3 pathway, which is amazing for DNA repair.
You've heard me talk about that klotho protein and the incredibly expensive probiotic called–oh, what's it called? Immortelle. It's a probiotic that increases the activity in the klotho gene. Well, the klotho gene is this really cool anti-aging gene that appears to be one of the prime genes involved in delaying cellular senescence and extending lifespan through the regulation of a whole bunch of different anti-aging cellular processes. Well, it turns out that in addition to probiotics, astaxanthin is something that can also increase the activity of this klotho protein. And so, the other thing that it does is it acts on these CRT1 pathways, which again will, along with NAD, particularly acts to protect DNA. So, it's really cool, all the different pathways that astaxanthin is acting on as an anti-aging compound. I'll link to this fascinating article in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/423, if you want to read up a little bit more on all the different ways that astaxanthin can work.
But at the same time that this anti-aging study just came out, another paper came across my radar that looked at the neuroprotective role of astaxanthin. So, based on everything that I've just told you, you know that it's great for general systemic anti-aging, but it's also been receiving a lot of attention for its use in the potential prevention or co-treatment of neurological pathologies, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. And this is really interesting because it turns out, I looked into this a little bit more, it's one of the few antioxidants that can actually cross your blood-brain barrier. Your central nervous system is kind of isolated from all the other compartments of the human body through the blood-brain barrier, which helps to keep neurotoxins from penetrating into the brain or keep immune cells or infectious agents from getting into things like cerebral spinal fluid or neural tissue.
But there are some things that can cross the blood-brain barrier to act as neural anti-inflammatories, and it turns out that astaxanthin is one of those. And when it does so, it increases nerve cell regeneration, it increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and it acts on all these pathways that increase neuronal survival, and neuronal growth, and differentiation of new neurons. And I looked into the studies on like lateral sclerosis or ALS on cerebral ischemia and reperfusion, especially after TBI or concussion, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and there's actually a ton of literature out there on the use of astaxanthin. And again, some of the ranges aren't super high. We're talking like 6 to 20 milligrams around in that range, and in some rodent models, as low as two. But it's pretty interesting all the different effects that astaxanthin can have.
And then finally, a couple months ago, a final general study came out looking at acute respiratory distress syndrome, an acute lung injury in response to COVID-19, and this particular study looked at microalgae derived natural astaxanthin as an antioxidant and broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory compound that could be protective against the cytokine storm associated with acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome. And this article summarized the most likely benefits of astaxanthin as being an adjunctive in attenuation of COVID-19 induced health adversaries. And so, this was also very interesting, and I'm definitely going to add it to my own potential protocol, should I ever come down with something like acute respiratory distress syndrome or acute lung injury related to COVID.
So, all sorts of super interesting new research on astaxanthin just because I've been geeking out on it since it's part of one of the new formulas we have at Kion, and it turns out that the effects of astaxanthin just keep on impressing me more and more. So, super interesting compound. It's definitely part of my daily protocol for sure now. So, I'll link to all these studies if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/423. And next, I want to give you guys some big, fat discount codes. So, let's do this.
Alright. So, first of all, you heard me mention that klotho protein when I was going over some of the research studies in the news flashes, and I mentioned probiotics. I get a lot of questions about which probiotic that I take every day. I reached out to the folks at Seed, who make this Synbiotic, the Synbiotic that I take, S-Y-Nbiotic. And they're going to give us all a 15% discount code. So, you go to seed.com/ben, and the code is BEN15. Now, this is a very different probiotic because they package it with these prebiotics, then they wrap it in a seaweed, like an algal formula, which means you're actually getting a little bit of astaxanthin with this, too. And what that means is they created it to be able to survive heat, and moisture, and light, and stomach acid, and get into your colon, like populate your entire digestive tract.
They've even put this thing through something called a Shine test, which is the closest system that's ever been developed in science to model the harsh conditions that you'll find in the gastrointestinal tract, and it successfully delivered a maximal release of probiotics. The beneficial bacteria survive through the end of the small intestine exactly where they're needed most with the use of this unique enveloping formula that they use in the Synbiotic where they actually package it in this kind of like protective seaweed type of coating. So, it's really cool when you get these capsules to your house. They're like dark green and they're just chock-full of really helpful organisms. I interviewed the guy who founded this company on my podcast a while ago and it's just very, very well-formulated. They're super smart. They're a biotechnology company. They're not just a probiotics company. So, they're also doing a lot of things to save the bees and develop other environmental friendly compounds. But their probiotic called their Synbiotic is amazing. So, seed.com/ben. I just take three a day in an empty stomach, that's it. Seed, S-E-E-D.com/ben, and then you can use code BEN15.
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Jason: Hey, Ben. Name's Jason, and I'm 46 years old, and I've got cold hands. They get worse in the wintertime, but they're cool in the summer. Probably, I'm thinking Raynaud's, but I don't want to claim that. I'm open to any feedback you have on maybe how to make it better, anything physiology, neurology supplements, testing, breathwork. I'm open to all of it. Any help is much appreciated. Thank you very much.
Ben: Oh, man. I get cold hands and feet myself, not as bad as my wife. I think my wife has Raynaud's. She has been diagnosed with Raynaud's, but she gets super cold hands and feet. I think my hands and feet just get cold because I just tend to have really genetically low body fat percentage like year-round. I'm around 4% to 7% body fat. So, I just don't have a lot of insulation, but man, like Raynaud's syndrome, which is quite common, especially in people who are complaining about what you're doing, Jason, it really is an issue. If you get like numb or tingling feeling in your fingers or toes when it's really cold outside, or if you just feel like your hands and feet get colder than all your friends' hands and feet, it is probably a good sign that you may have Raynaud's.
About 5% of people who live in the U.S. actually have Raynaud's. And there's a couple different things that can cause it, but it's basically this condition that affects the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to different parts of the body. People with Raynaud's, they get these episodes of what's called the vasospasm. So, the blood vessels narrow and reduce blood flow to the extremities, particularly in response to cold. And there was this French physician back in the 1800s named Maurice Raynaud, and he's the guy who identified this, which is why it's named after him, duh. And he explained that what's called the tri-color change that occurs when the blood vessel is narrow and cut off the blood supply to the extremities so that the extremities like the fingers or the toes, they'll look pale, or white, or a little bit bluish because the lack of oxygen and the blood rushes back in, and they turn red after the cold exposure.
And there's two types of Raynaud's. You've got primary Raynaud's, which is also called Raynaud's disease, and that's the more common form, but it's less severe, and that's basically the reduced blood flow to the arteries. And then, you have secondary Raynaud's, which is usually linked to like an autoimmune disorder, or a connective tissue disorder, or some other type of environmental or lifestyle factor that would be causing that vasoconstrictive effect. But people with Raynaud's usually will get like this attack where things get super-duper cold, especially if you get exposed to cold. So, you get tingling, you get numbness, you get coldness, the extremities will turn white first, and then blue, and they'll feel really painful. But then they'll turn bright red and start to throb and burn when the blood flow returns. I think anybody can almost simulate this even if they don't have Raynaud's if they get out into the cold snow or ice gets super cold, then go take a hot shower. And you know how everything almost like itches and tingles when you get in the hot shower? That's what people with Raynaud's feel like a lot, especially when they get into the cold.
And so, cold temperatures are obviously one of the main ways that this can get triggered. It's also triggered due to stress and anxiety. Some people get a Raynaud's attack even when they aren't exposed to cold temperatures. If they're exposed to a lot of stress and anxiety, they'll actually start to notice the tingling in their fingertips and that loss of blood flow, which is super interesting. It can be aggravated, especially secondary Raynaud's syndrome, which I mentioned, that can be aggravated by autoimmune disorders like scleroderma. That's a connective tissue disease. It's like an autoimmune disease. That means hard skin. That's what scleroderma means. It's hard skin. And you get this abnormal growth of connective tissue where the skin gets really thick and hard and builds up scar tissue so the blood vessels can't feed that area, like the fingers or the toes quite as well.
Lupus is another type of autoimmune disease that affects the skin, and that also can cause Raynaud's phenomenon or secondary Raynaud's. Rheumatoid arthritis is another. And there's a few other autoimmune diseases dictating that people have secondary Raynaud's. Like if you have Raynaud's syndrome but you also know that you've got like some weird food allergies and some weird autoimmune issues, you'd be a perfect candidate. And I'm not a doctor, I don't want you to misconstrue this as medical advice, but for adopting more of an autoimmune diet. Like I really like my friend Mickey Trescott's paleo autoimmune protocol as a food elimination protocol that can manage a lot of autoimmune issues that doesn't taste like cardboard or just straight-up ass.
It's actually a really, really good tasty cookbook, “The Paleo Autoimmune Cookbook” and “The Paleo Autoimmune Diet Book,” both of which I think you can find on Amazon written by Mickey Trescott I think are two of the better autoimmune type of books out there for kind of a dietary approach to a lot of these autoimmune issues, which could be helpful for you if you feel like your Raynaud's is triggered by autoimmune. If you smoke, if you drink alcohol, and anything that's going to cause vasoconstriction, that can also, including, like I mentioned earlier, maybe cannabis or nicotine, could also aggravate it a little bit as well. And so, that's something to think about.
More importantly, what can you do about it? Well, anything that would be a vasodilator can help, like anything with nitrates in it, like beet juice, red juice. I talked about that Organifi Red stuff in in the sponsor section. Anything that increases blood flow like that, nitroglycerin cream, even like Viagra or sildenafil, or anything along those lines that would increase blood flow would be something that can help out a little bit with Raynaud's syndrome. Nitrates or nitrate-rich diet. And if you go back and listen to the podcast episode in which we talked about nitric oxide a ton, we just geeked out on everything you could do to increase nitric oxide and everything that decreases nitric oxide, like the use of mouthwash or cleaning out the mouth too much because the mouth is where a lot of the conversion into nitric oxide by the oral bacteria takes place. Go listen to that podcast episode and make sure that if you struggle with Raynaud's or anything else related to vasoconstriction, including things like erectile dysfunction or poor sports performance that you go and listen to that big podcast episode that we did on nitric oxide. And I'll link to that one in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/423.
Prostaglandin is a special medication that's often used to open the blood vessels. But there's a lot of adverse effects associated with prostaglandin like headaches and nausea. And in my opinion, you can simulate a lot of what you get from prostaglandin medication, which is straight-up slightly higher dose fish oil. I feel like I'm being a shill for fish oil now because that's the second time I brought it up on today's show, but I'm just saying. In terms of a vasodilatory type of compound, and also a slight blood thinning agent which might help out a little bit here, too, that's something to think about would be like higher dose fish oil. When I say higher dose, I'm talking like around 8 to 10 grams or so. I personally usually take about 6 to 8 grams of fish oil a day just because I feel so good on it.
A few other things that you could think about doing. Acupuncture, interestingly, there have been some really good studies on acupuncture treatment with Raynaud's syndrome. And so, acupuncture, I'm not sure if it's due to the increase in blood flow or due to the increase in so-called key or life force energy to an area of the body, that one also appears to be somewhat helpful along with an autoimmune type of diet, and the avoidance of any type of vasoconstrictive compounds, and the consumption of the type of things that would actually increase blood flow. And by the way, things that can be vasoconstrictive medications would be like birth control pills, migraine meditation, beta-blockers that slow your heart rates, a lot of ADHD medications, those can all be vasoconstrictive agents.
And I'm not saying to stop taking a medication that your doctor has you on, but be aware of something that you're using is vasoconstrictive. And again, even like nicotine can be that way to a certain extent. Caffeine can cause vasoconstriction in some people. Cannabis, like I mentioned, can cause that. So, if you're using a lot of these type of supplements and compounds, you may want to experiment with not using them when you get exposed to cold, particularly, and instead choosing things like nitric oxide precursors, fish oil, et cetera, prior to cold exposure. And you may want to look into the acupuncture piece as well.
There's also some people who have been using the Wim Hof protocol to increase circulation. And this is really interesting because you'd think that that type of repetitive cold exposure such as doing breathwork followed by cold thermogenesis would aggravate Raynaud's. But it turns out that it may actually help to build circulation or at least increase your ability to kind of like train yourself to subconsciously increase circulation. And you look at some of these old yogis who are able to turn one hand red while keeping the other hand the same color. There's some crazy videos. If I can hunt them down, I'll put them in the shownotes, but they can literally send blood to different areas of their body by using a lot of breathwork techniques. And a lot of these yogic practices are something that Wim Hof is actually built upon, the Wim Hof breathwork tactic is actually built upon.
And so, there was this one lecture that was given at the cold research division of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine a few years ago in which a physician was talking about how he and his colleague were developing a protocol to help people with Raynaud's train themselves to regain circulation in their fingers. And all they were doing was three to six times a day, they were putting their hands in the warm water, and then in the cold water, and then in the warm water, and then in the cold water. And they did that for 50 rounds, like 50 days in a row, that cold water, warm water, almost like a hot/cold contrast bath for the hands. And all the 150 test subjects that they used there were able to venture out into the cold afterwards without losing circulation to their hands.
And the doctor who ran that study, his name was Dr. Murray Hamlet. He said, basically, they were just retraining the blood vessels to dilate rather than to constrict in response to the cold. And he claimed that it worked extremely well. And so, that's something to think about is just doing almost like hot/cold contrast for your hands. And considering that hot/cold contrast for the entire body for nitric oxide production, for vagal nerve stimulation, et cetera, is really fantastic, you could just do the whole body. I like to do three rounds of like a cold soak to a sauna or cold soak to a hot tub, or do a hot/cold contrast shower of 20 seconds hot, 10 seconds cold, or 20 seconds cold, 10 seconds hot for 10 times through. But it turns out that that might actually have a pretty good effect. So, I'll link to some of these ideas for you in the shownotes, including the Wim Hof protocol, and the paleo autoimmune books, and some of this other stuff I just mentioned. So, hopefully, that's helpful for you, Jason, and let's move on to the next question.
Preston: What's up, Ben? Preston here, long-time listener, constant applier of everything you talk about on the podcast and in “Boundless.” But when it comes right down to it, I'm still one to take a scoop of pre-workout, dump it in the mixer, shake it up, and go rep it out with the bros at the gym. So, what's the deal with pre-workout powder and how much stimulant should I be intaking on a daily basis? I'm going to gym up every day, but I'm using pre-workout like three, four times a week. Alright, love to hear your thoughts.
Ben: Well, hello, Preston, long-time listener, constant applier of everything I talk about in my podcast and in “Boundless.” That's fantastic. It sounds like you're really drinking the Kool-Aid, which is a horrific analogy because I think that comes from some kind of a cult in which they had the Kool-Aid spiked with arsenic or something like that. And a whole bunch of people died, and that's where that whole expression originated from. I think it was a Jonestown massacre. And so, don't go actually, actually drink the Kool-Aid. But in this case, there is some stuff you can drink because we're talking about pre-workouts, pre-workout stimulants.
Now, in Podcast 420, Jay and I talked about all the kind of things you could take before like a nighttime workout that would be considered a stimulant that would give you energy for a workout, but that would not stimulate the central nervous system to the extent to where you might impair sleep function. And so, that'd be a really good episode if you listen to. But the main things just to review super quick and then you can go dig into that episode, then I'm going to share with you a few other ideas that I have, were microdose of nicotine because it's in and out of your system a lot faster than caffeine, but can give you a little bit of a cognitive pickup for workout.
We talked about using that either via gum or a lozenge or using the Amazonian herb or powder called Rapé. There's this stuff called Zen spray that you can get from Dr. John Lieurance in Florida. And I'll use this a lot of times for my evening kettlebell workouts out in my icy cold garage. I'll do like two to three sprays of that stuff up my nose. It burns like you're smoking a cigarette up your nose for about 30 seconds. And then, almost like smelling salts, you feel like you could go kill somebody or crush a kettlebell. And so, that Zen spray works really well. That's another option. Lion's mane extract, even though it has small trace amounts of caffeine in it, is great for an evening workout because it'll give you mental and cognitive energy without keeping you up at night. And a lot of people actually swear by lion's mane to help with things like lucid and vivid dreaming. A lot of people will use that common microdosing stack of psilocybin and lion's mane and actually use a little bit of that in the evening and find that they dream better. That's not the case for me. I find psilocybin keeps me awake if I take it at night. But a little bit of lion's mane pre-workout can be another one to mess around with.
Theanine is also quite useful because it increases alpha brainwave production and puts you in the flow, but again, will keep you up at night. And that's also something that people will use for sleep and dreaming as well. So L-theanine powder, like 100 to 200 milligrams of L-theanine. The company Qualia, they make a really great nootropic formulation that's caffeine-free called Qualia Mind. That would be another one to look into. And then, the last one would be like a royal jelly acetylcholine precursor. And there's a company called Beekeeper's Naturals that makes one called B.Powered. And any of those would be considered nootropics or central nervous system stimulants that wouldn't affect circadian rhythm or keep you awake at night, or even be something that if you're using them during the day, you become super dependent on except maybe nicotine, which is arguably a little bit addictive, or perhaps a lot addictive for many people. But the cool thing is a lot of those compounds I just listed are also just useful for general workday function without giving you the jitteriness of a cup of coffee or affecting your circadian rhythm in the same way as a cup of coffee might.
Now, I also had a really interesting podcast with a bodybuilder named Milos Sarcev, and that was fascinating. I'll link to that one in the shownotes, but he went through his pre-workout formula because he's into not only intra-workout intake of certain compounds based on the theory that when the blood flow is hot and heavy to your muscles, that if you're drinking something in between your sets, or sometimes even in between your reps, you're going to increase delivery of that compound like amino acids, or creatine, or beta-alanine, or something like that, into your muscles. And so, he's one of those guys who, like many bodybuilders, will just walk around lifting with a shaker cup full of compounds.
But then, he also had like his super-secret go-to pre-workout formula, which is no longer super-secret because we talked about it on the show, and I'm going to tell you what it is right now. And it's kind of complex, and I'll put the whole recipe in the shownotes. But his go-to–and I tried this after I interviewed him. And even though I'm not a bit–like I don't go to the gym for hours anymore, I'm just like in and out 20, 30 minutes' quick kettlebell workout or whatever. But it is a pretty life-giving compound when it comes to a pre-workout formula. So, he uses about 10 grams of essential amino acids, 5 grams of leucine, 10 grams of glutamine, 5 grams of creatine, 5 grams of citrulline, 3 grams of arginine, those would be both blood flow agents, 3 grams of beta-alanine, 3 grams of carnitine, so a couple of things to buffer lactic acid, and then about 2 to 3 grams of an electrolyte drink powder.
He puts all that in a shaker cup and sucks it down. And what I like about that is if you look through the formula from amino acids to citrulline, to arginine, to beta-alanine, et cetera, it's not like you're drinking a bunch of yerba mate, and caffeine, and [00:44:07] _____ compounds on a lot of the stuff that feel like they're giving you a heart attack before your workout, instead, these are natural compounds that mostly just allow for better post-workout protein synthesis. They stave off some of the release of tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier so you get a little bit less central nervous system fatigue during your workout. So, I really like that formula. I realized just like any recipe, you probably didn't write all that down or remember it, but I'll link to that in my podcast with Milos in the shownotes.
And if you wanted to use some of the same stuff I use, my personal go-to, even though I like to do a lot of my workouts fasted, if I am going to eat something because I know a workout's hard and heavy and I just don't have enough of my system to get through, my go-to is very simple. I do 5 grams of creatine, 10 grams of aminos, and then a serving of exogenous ketones, like the HVMN or the KetoneAid exogenous ketones. Okay. So, I just do creatine, aminos, and ketones. And then, I do a couple sprays of that Zen spray in each nostril, and then just go crush it. And that's my go-to workout stack personally. So, I've got my ketones, I've got my aminos, I've got my creatine, and I've got my basically nicotine that I'm spraying up both nostrils.
For endurance athletes, the only modification that I make to that for the people who are going out and exercising for two, three, four hours, is I add in a little bit of what's called a high molecular weight starch. I like one called Vitargo or one called GlycoFuse, and these would be for a slow bleed of carbohydrates into the system to go along with the creatine, the aminos, and the ketones. And then, I also recommend again for those longer bouts, electrolytes, like the Thorne Catalytes, for example. And I'll have, for example, my Ironman athletes or my marathoners just mix all that up in a shaker cup. So, they got a low molecular weight or a high molecular weight starch, electrolytes, creatine, aminos, and ketones, and that's just like their rocket fuel for a long bike ride or a long run or something like that. And so, I'll put all these recipes in the shownotes, but that's the basics when it comes to your pre-workout formula. So, I hope that's helpful, Mr. Preston. And thanks for your support.
Rama: Hey, Ben. My name is Rama. I'm 16 years old and I am curious how much fasting and intermediary fasting would you recommend for a teenager like me to avoid or even improve my running performance, and also how much is too much exercise for my health. Thank you very much. Love you, Ben.
Ben: Oh, man, fasting. You know, it's interesting because I did a podcast interview with my friend Dr. Dan Pompa, and his whole family fasts a lot, a lot, like they're obsessed with fasting. And I've witnessed one of his sons go from being what would probably be classified as morbidly obese to just being trim, and fit, and muscular, and looks great, cleared up skin issues and all sorts of stuff for him. And I think he was like 13 or 14 when he started doing like two or three-day fasts. And when you look at many cultures who, from a religious standpoint, have fasting as a part of their religion, like the orthodox church, for example, or when you look at Ramadan, for example, and you see young people fasting all the time and it's not a big issue at all. Young people can burn through fat stores the same as adults, although arguably because they're rapidly growing and their metabolisms are higher, you do have to be more careful with caloric restriction or extended fasting.
I think the bigger issue with fasting, and this was something that turned into a bit of a controversy last year, is the potential for the creation of eating disorders. So, there was this