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Antioxidants Are Bad For You

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Why Antioxidants Are BAD For You – With Ari Whitten

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Where Does Energy Come From?

Ari Whitten was buried in the scientific literature for two years looking for a an answer to a nagging question: where does energy really come from in the body?

Along the path he discovered a concept called Hormesis which is rooted in new scientific understanding of cellular biology. Essentially, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is alive and well in the human body. Hormetic stressors stimulate the body to produce for mitochondria which, in turn, produce more energy for us. This means more powerhouses to burn calories and charge our lives.

What are Hormetic stressors? Exercise is the most notable one. It taxes the body which stimulates growth and positive epigenetic expression. This is all over the literature and most people know about it. So what are the others? Heat, cold, and certain phytonutrients also act as Hormetic stressors.

Ari spent two full years researching this concept (he’s in good company with other experts) and has been implementing Hormetic practices in both diet and exercise with people around the world.

Are Antioxidants Beneficial?

What I found particularly interesting about the interview was the way it challenges the dominant theory of aging which revolves around oxidative stress. If this were the case, then antioxidants would offset tissue damage and cellular aging. Essentially, the thinking has been that the fallout from oxidation drives the aging process, but according to Ari, most serious aging experts have already moved on from that thesis. Why? Because experiments have shown post-exercise use of antioxidants has not shown the promised results.

The principal of Hormesis dictates that some external stressors need to stimulate endogenous pathways/processes which trigger the body’s inane ability to heal. The ARE (Antioxidant Response Element) makes magic happen in the cells. It turns out that this system helps make the cells more resilient. It triggers the release of internal compounds which essentially perform the “promise” of antioxidants…but actually work. In fact, this system has helped us evolve and meet challenges for thousands of years.

It’s kind of like hormone replacement. Once you start, the body slows its own production and gets lazy. It turns out this is the same rough concept with Hormetic stressors. Keep the body guessing and it’ll continue to grow and adapt…

I highly recommend listening to the interview and hearing it from Ari himself. I’m going to dig into the research and test these principles in my own life. So far so good.!

Enjoy the interview and HERE IS A LINK to Ari’s program if you’re interested in learning more.

Interview Notes From The Show:

Pedram:
Hey, welcome back to The Urban Monk. I am excited to be in studio with another live body. We’ve been doing a lot of Skype interactions with people which is great because I get access to people around the world but today I have my friend, Ari Whitten in studio. He’s local San Diego. A very, very interesting story. He’s got a couple of best selling books out already but he’s really kind of turn the corner and his conversation has become around energy. We’re not talking about Qi Jong energy in the way that I talk about it from the mystical sense but we’re talking about physiological cellular basis of something that I’m going to be personally doing along with some of my audience in the ensuing weeks because it make sense. I really wanted to share his message with you. Ari, welcome.

Ari:
Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Pedram:
It’s great to have you here. This is good. Again, it’s like a real person. I’ve been staring at a lot of screens.

Ari:
This is my first studio interview. I’ve done tons and tons of online video stuff but it’s nice to be physically next to you.

Pedram:
Yeah, right, it’s good. It’s good. Maybe if we had time we go for a run after this or something like that.

Ari:
Cool.

Pedram:
You started looking at energy a while back, you’re a research buff. You love research, you love getting into it. You spent a lot more time on pub med than I do. You started to uncover some information that was very useful about how we produce energy and how the body has resiliency towards things. I’d love for you to just get through your journey of you’re like a fat-burning guy and then you found this which became so much more interesting.

Ari:
Yeah, I’ve been a fat-burning body composition, muscle building guy for a very long time. Starting from the time I was 11 or 12 years old, my big brother was a personal trainer, into body building, had a mentor who’s a body builder, professional body builder so I was like, think young teenager growing up in that world wanting to get abs and biceps to pick up girls. That’s really the start of my health journey and it was really body composition focused. I went on to get a degree in kinesiology, lots of certifications for fitness and nutrition. I was a personal trainer and nutritionist for about a decade. That was my world for a very long time.

Then I started to see so many people suffering from fatigue and lack of energy and I started to get emails from people when my business transitioned online I would get emails from people talking about this all the time. It just piqued my curiosity, why are so many people fatigued? I originally set out with an idea that I was going to develop a science of how to boost your energy and overcome fatigue and I thought it would take me, I’m a pretty good researcher, I’m very fast when it comes to that stuff and I have a good knowledge of the scientific literature. Normally when I want to understand a concept I can just go in for a few hours, dig up everything I need to know and I’m like, “Okay, have my answers.” I started doing that with energy and fatigue and it was like this rabbit hole.

I just found one layer to the story after another and what I thought was going to take me a few weeks or a few months ended up taking me over two years of literally full time work. I’m talking about like I wasn’t doing anything except pretty much all day everyday researching and writing about that subject. Then also, I wasn’t all just me by myself. I also went out and talk to physicians on the front lines of treating fatigue and interviewed them. I talked to nutrition experts in specific areas of nutrition, circadian rhythm experts, neuroscience experts and basically pulled all of their knowledge together into a formula for how to overcome fatigue and increase your energy and really like a comprehensive scientific approach to doing that.

Pedram: What’s the gestalt because you know, energy everyone thinks it’s calories in calories out, lift some weights, move on, right? Drink some coffee if you’re tired, that’s the old paradigm. What does the new paradigm starting to look like through all this?

Ari:
Okay. The first thing that’s important to understand is the way that most people approach improving their health is a reactive approach, it’s I have this symptom, what can I do to fix this symptom? What pill, what supplement can I take? What herb can I take? What set of vitamins? Whatever can I take to fix this issue? What medical treatments can I get? Whatever it is. That’s the thinking that you typically operate from and even conventional medical paradigm that’s where you’re operating from, it’s you have this symptom, I’m going to prescribe you this drug or surgery. Alternative medical practitioners are generally operating from that same paradigm in that sense.

Pedram:
Just replace it with an herb.

Ari:
Yeah, replacing drugs with herbs or vitamins or minerals and it’s really about giving something to fix a symptom. My way of thinking about it is that approach doesn’t work very well. What I think we need is an approach that is based on being proactive and actually building up the body not giving something to fix something that’s wrong with the body but actually building your cells up into something that is more resilient and stronger and more powerful and something that creates energy more efficiently.

Pedram:
That is built in to the innate capacity of our physiological systems yet we’ve allowed them to get lazy.

Ari:
Yes. Sorry, were you going to say something?

Pedram:
No, it’s just it’s this like we’re about to get into this but once I got Ari’s gestalt on all this, it was like holy crap, this is cellular kung fu. Kung fu is about putting strain on systems so that you become stronger and so this is philosophically is just so aligned with how I was trained on the outside but then nutritionally all these things that I’m taught for the body are all about throwing supplements at things.

Ari:
Yes, you kind of alluded to it but basically the central concept, one of the most important central concepts to this whole paradigm is something called hormesis.

Pedram:
Hormesis.

Ari:
H-O-R-M-E-S-I-S, basically Nietzsche kind of summarize this whole philosophy when he said, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. It’s obviously a very exaggerated way of viewing this but that’s the basic idea of it. The principle is that when we expose ourselves to a transient metabolic stressor, our bodies are actually stimulated to adapt and grow stronger and more resilient. When we expose ourselves to one type of stressor, our bodies actually make adaptations that protect us against numerous other stressors beyond just the one we’re being exposed to. If this sounds heady or if this is kind of abstract, we’re all more familiar with this than we realize in the form of exercise.

Exercise actually works on this principle of hormesis. Basically, this is the reason that we have all these thousands of studies that say doing exercise protects you against diabetes and protects you against heart disease and protects you against cancer and boost your brain health and protects you against neurological disease, right? On and on and on, basically every potential disease there is. What’s going on there is you’re taking a transient metabolic stressor and turning it into something that’s actually boosting your body’s resiliency and energy producing capacity and a whole bunch of other immunological effects, hormonal effects and antioxidant effects in the cells.

Hormesis: What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger - @AriWhittenAW via @PedramShojai

Pedram:
All from exercise?

Ari:
Yes.

Pedram:
Now, everyone says exercise and there’s so many reasons to exercise. We now understand that it’s because of the stress it puts on the system. Too much, too little, just right, is there a Goldilocks zone or is there just like create a stressor, move on and have a formula to it.

Ari:
First of all I think it’s good to point out that most people actually don’t understand exercise in this context. Most people think of exercise as exercise is good for you but most people don’t really understand why. They certainly don’t understand that it’s actually a stressor to the body. People think of it as intrinsically beneficial like for example, meditating or sleeping or drinking water or taking your vitamins and minerals. It’s something actually that is completely different than that. It is a stressor, it’s something that’s potentially bad for you if you do too much of it. It is not intrinsically helpful. All you need to do to realize that is if I tell you to go run a marathon every day for the next two weeks I promise you you’re not going to be feeling very good at the end of those two weeks. You may even be dead.

Pedram:
But it’s healthy.

Ari:
Okay? That’s because you’ve exceeded where that beneficial dose response is and that’s the case with all hormetic stressors and most things that are good for us when we do too much of them they actually become toxic and bad for us. There is that Goldilocks zone. Basically there’s a U curve where if you do too little you basically get no effect or you’re actually moving in the opposite direction, your body is degrading. If you do too much, you negate the effects as well and you potentially provide too much stress and overwhelm your body’s capacity to adapt.

Pedram:
How do you know?

Ari:
You know, there is no one size fits all answer, that’s a tough question and it differs depending on what specific hormetic stressor you’re talking about. Even within exercise, there are lots of different kinds of exercise. I can take somebody that is a used to running marathon and then have them go squat and bench press and do a bunch of weight training and they are going to be totally unfit for that and exceed their capacity to adapt and recover from that very easily. Vice versa, if I take a weight lifter power lifter and have them go start doing marathon training with that first person, they are going to exceed their capacity to recover and adapt very easily. It’s based on your current fitness level and your training habits as they are now.

Pedram:
How do you know when you’ve hit that? Just [self-puking 00:11:31], do we find our own line?

Ari:
If you’re throwing up.

Pedram:
You passed it.

Ari:
Yes. You can have those kinds of symptoms while you’re actually doing the workout but one of the things that you’ll notice is actually the next day or the day after or a week or two into a particular kind of training. How you’re feeling when you wake up? Are you feeling like your body is achy and sore and you’re fatigued and you just want to lay in bed? You’re probably exceeding your body’s capacity to recover because ideally exercise should be something that’s giving you energy. If you do too much, it can take that away from you. You’ll end up chronically fatigue and that’s not an uncommon thing. In elite athletes and people professional athletes who are training two or three hours a day, they have to be very, very careful walking that line and preventing over-training. It happens pretty frequently.

Pedram:
People do. You mentioned energy. Let’s tie in the mitochondria because it’s a big part of your formula, it’s a big part of all of our formulas. It’s what fuels the cells and so this whole concept is about doing what with our two, the mitochondria.

Ari:
Good question. Basically all hormetic stressors work by building up your mitochondria. Mitochondria are of course our cellular energy generators. Now, one of the biggest problems in the world today and this is kind of crooks of my whole approach to this is that our modern world lacks certain natural hormetic stressors, certain hormetic stressors that are natural for our species from an evolutionary perspective. The absence of those hormetic stressors in our environment basically degrades our mitochondria. They shrivel up, they shrink and we lose our capacity slowly over time to produce energy effectively. Okay?

Then the problem here to tie back into what we talked about the beginning is people are then trying to fix that problem of basically the shrunken little shriveled cellular engine, the fact that our mitochondria aren’t working very well. We’re trying to fix that by throwing supplements or drugs at it. I don’t think that’s the answer. I think the answer is introducing layers of hormetic stressors these natural hormetic stressors back into our lives to build up our cellular engines again.

Pedram:
The mitochondria are shriveled but they are not dead.

Ari:
They are not dead.

Pedram:
They could be rehabilitated?

Ari:
Yeah, there’s kind of a gray area here because to some extent they actually are dead.

Pedram:
You need new mitochondrial cells?

Ari:
There’s different ways of affecting our mitochondria. There is the ability to build up bigger, stronger more powerful mitochondria. Then, there’s also the ability to actually create new mitochondria from scratch and so when we don’t have these hormetic stressors in our lives, not only do them shrink and become weak but some of them actually die off. The number of mitochondria in our cells is actually lower.

Pedram:
Interesting. Okay, then when we do have the hormetic stressors it signals for them to turn the factory back on.

Ari:
Exactly.

Pedram:
Also you have neogenesis. How do you start producing more mitochondria?

Ari:
Yes, hormetic stressors do induce mitochondrial biogenesis. They build them bigger and stronger and potentially also create more mitochondria.

Pedram:
This happens in cells all over? Obviously if you’re exercising it’s probably happening in your muscle cells but is it happening throughout the body systemically?

Ari:
It’s happening systemically in a large percentage of organs and different types of hormetic stressors will affect different parts of the body differently but just actually you said a second ago that when you do exercise it will happen in your muscles. Not necessarily. Let’s say you take a person who is completely unfit and they are doing zero exercise right now, you can have them do pretty much any type of exercise whether it’s cardio, it’s interval training, it’s sprinting, it’s weight training, whatever.

Swimming, biking, running, whatever it is and if they do anything, they will not only build bigger, stronger mitochondria but they’ll build more mitochondria to get mitochondrial biogenesis. Now, I’m sure that most of your audience is probably fairly health conscious, probably most of them are already doing some exercise. Here’s the tricky part, whereas in that sedentary person, any type of exercise creates mitochondrial biogenesis. In somebody who’s already doing some base level of exercise, most types of exercise don’t create mitochondrial biogenesis.

Pedram:
Because you are now no longer pushing hard enough to trigger this?

Ari:
Exactly.

Pedram:
Got it. If I’m going in and doing the same damn treadmill three times a week, it’s really not pushing my body and saying, “Hey, this is a stressor.”

Ari:
Yeah, the body only adapts if there’s a need to. If you think of this, you know muscle building is a nice way of thinking about it because our bodies adapt and grow stronger only when they are subjected to a stressor, right? That’s one specific type of hormesis is strength and muscle building hormesis which is specific from resistance exercise. Okay and by lifting these heavy loads, we send the signal to our body, “You need to adapt and grow stronger for this thing that I’m asking you to do.” Our tendons and our muscles grow stronger and we synthesize more muscle fibers to be able to perform this thing it’s asking us to do. Our bodies are reluctant to do that. Right? We don’t go and like I do three sets of ten reps lifting this cup of water and then the next day my arms are like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.

Pedram:
Does that work?

Ari:
It doesn’t work, unfortunately. That’s because the body it’s all about efficiency. It’s all about accomplishing whatever you’re asking it to accomplish with the least amount of energy and effort possible. Okay, it’s not to strain ourselves. Every time you lifted a cup of water you grew huge muscles while those muscles burn energy and so now your caloric requirements go up. If we’re designed for an environment where food is scarce and we don’t have thousands of calories available to us at every second, having that extra muscle is actually a liability. The same is actually true with mitochondria. If you have hundreds more mitochondria in each of your cells, your cells are going to burn more energy constantly.

Your cells will actually look for a way to essentially create the least amount of mitochondria possible. An analogy here or a way of understanding this is actually hummingbirds. Hummingbirds have an insane amount of mitochondria in their cells. They just burn energy like non-stop to the point where they have to spend pretty much every waking moment consuming sugar water to fuel those mitochondria. Then at night, this is interesting, in order to survive the night, in order just to make it through the nighttime period they actually have to drop their body temperature by I think it’s something obscene it’s like 20 degrees. They almost go into hibernation mode and turn off all of their machinery.

The Modern World Is Making Us Unable To Create Energy - @AriWhittenAW via @PedramShojai

Pedram:
Just to cool the engines.

Ari:
Just so that they don’t starve to death overnight while they are sleeping and they can’t feed. That’s the sense that having extra mitochondria in cells that are really efficient at burning and producing energy in that sense in that kind of environment they can actually be a liability. Now, the problem for us is we’re not in that scenario. Modern humans are in a food abundant world where we have fast food restaurants and vending machines and grocery stores and whatever we want, this crazy fast food calorie dense abundance wherever we want and whenever we want. We don’t have to go hunting and gathering for food anymore and we’re sedentary and we’re missing out on all these other layers of hormetic stressors we haven’t talked about yet. We’ve gone on the other extreme. We’ve lost mitochondria and now we’re getting fatter because our cells are so inefficient at burning and producing energy.

Pedram:
For someone who has an abundance of calories available, increasing the mitochondria turns up the coal factories, if you will, and then you have more throughput but you need to spend the energy to your point. You can’t be sedentary or else it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Ari:
Yeah, I mean, any movement in that direction towards that hummingbird is going to be massively beneficial for modern humans. The more that we can induce some mitochondrial biogenesis create bigger, stronger mitochondria cells that consume and produce energy more efficiently the better off we’re going to be in pretty much every way. That is linked to the prevention of pretty much every disease known to men as well as longevity in general.

Pedram:
Energy feeds the cells, supports the immunity, helps the brain, does all sorts of cool stuff.

Ari:
Yeah.

Pedram:
Okay, we want energy. We know the mitochondria will kick out energy and we know that hormetic stressors will induce the genesis, the biogenesis of new mitochondrial cells or fix the flat tires and get things going. To put a cap in this exercise thing, you have to exercise but you have to push your body right to that line so the body keeps going, “Hey, this guy is growing.” Then keep moving that flag forward?

Ari:
Yes. There’s a couple of layers to that. One is basically just progression and intensity. If all I can lift right now is I can do bicep curls with this cup of water for three sets of ten, two or three weeks from now I want to be able to do the same amount, the same volume of work but with more resistance.

Pedram:
Heavier water or more weight? More reps?

Ari:
More reps, more weight, something has to progress.

Pedram:
Got it.

Ari:
Okay. If I just say, “Hey, I’m doing exercise.” Three sets of ten and next week I’m doing three sets of ten, six months from now I’m doing three sets of ten with this cup of water, a year from now the same thing, basically I’m doing nothing. I’m wasting my time because I’m not creating a stimulus for my body to adapt anything. It’s already adapted to do this. You have to create some kind of progression in terms of the load, in terms of the intensity, in terms of the duration so if you’re doing more cardio activities, you might progress on the duration. You’re not lifting an external load, right?

Pedram:
Put up the incline, increase the speed.

Ari:
Yeah, if you’re doing intervals you might try to progress on let’s say you’re doing 30 second on, 30 seconds off well then you build up and try to get faster on the treadmill doing that kind of interval for let’s say six or eight weeks and then you might switch it. You might start doing ten second burst or you might start doing a minute burst. You’re creating new stimuli that you’re always trying to force new adaptations in your body.

Pedram:
Got it.

Ari:
Doing the same thing always, the same exercise routine and this is very common, probably 90% of people who exercise just go to the gym, they do the same thing they’ve always done. They are mostly wasting their time.

Pedram:
You see it, you see the people like I’ll go to the gym now and again I see the same people on the same damn treadmills looking the same way and just pounding away doing the same workout day in day out.

Ari:
If you’re going to make the time for it, it’s great that you’re making the time for it. I don’t want to bash most gym goers because it’s great that you’re doing it and it’s better than nothing.

Pedram:
Would it be nice to get better results?

Ari:
Yeah, if you’re going to make the time for it you might as well get some results from it instead of just wasting your time doing something your body has already adapted to.

Pedram:
Totally, totally. Okay. Pace up, keep challenging the body, keep it guessing and keep it knowing that you are going to keep bringing new and more difficult challenges so it will build muscle and adapt.

Ari:
Yes.

Pedram:
Which will give you more mitochondria, more energy.

Ari:
Yup.

Pedram:
Great. Exercises are hormetic stressor, got it. What are the other ones?

Ari:
Good question. Lots of layers here. Temperature is a really cool one that a lot of people don’t think about. Right now we’re in this building and it’s a beautifully insulated building, we’re protected from the elements, right? Whether it’s summer and it’s really hot outside or it’s winter and it’s really cold outside, we’re in here, we don’t feel it. Right? We can be in shorts and a t-shirt and be totally comfortable. This is a modern thing. This has only been around for a short time in the context of human history. Prior to that, humans didn’t exist in well-insulated buildings, we didn’t have climate control in our houses and in our offices where we can just push buttons and it keeps it at a comfortable 72 degrees all day and we didn’t have high tech clothing and heater in our seats in our cars and all kinds of stuff like that. We were subjected to the elements.

We got cold in winter. We got hot in summer. Sometimes we got hot in the middle of the day and then cold on the same night. If you’re sleeping in a TP you’re subjected to the elements and that’s the way it was. What happens when you subject your body to heat or to cold? You have to switch on new machinery in your body to deal with those temperature stress and those temperature stressors are basically activating the same molecular pathways as exercise. Okay. When you’re doing that, you’re creating this transient stressor and you’re making your body work, you’re making your cells have to work hard and they also creates bigger, stronger mitochondria.

Pedram:
Either direction hot or cold?

Ari:
Either direction.

Pedram:
Just variance to a degree where it’s now a challenge.

Ari:
Yes, in the context of hormesis, both are essentially the same. There are various other pathways that are stimulated differently between the two so cold activates something called brown fat and brown fat thermogenesis and it’s a specific kind of fat in our body that it’s a metabolically active fat. It burns energy and produces energy and produces heat mainly actually so it’s basically our body’s internal heater. When we don’t expose our bodies to cold, that heater shrinks. For a long time up until five or ten years ago, it was actually thought that this kind of brown fat didn’t even exist in adult humans. We knew it existed in infants and it was present there and it had been known about and talked about for a very long time and we said, “Infants have this internal heater built into them to keep them warm but adult humans don’t have it.”

Pedram:
We lost it.

Ari:
It was thought in those terms. It actually turns out that adults are supposed to have it. Adults who are healthy and who are regularly exposed to cold who are living traditional lifestyles do have lots of brown fat that does switch on very efficiently to burn energy produce heat when it gets cold outside. The reason that they didn’t know it existed in adults was because most people grow up in temperature controlled environments so it actually atrophies and goes away in the same way that if you put a muscle in a cast and you don’t use that muscle it shrinks. That’s what happens to brown fat.

Pedram:
They didn’t test Wim Hof?

Ari:
Exactly. If they tested Wim Hof they’ll find lots of brown fat.

Pedram:
Interesting, are you a lost cause if you grew up in San Diego in air conditioning? Is there a base of brown fat you could always go back?

Ari:
You can convert either beige fat or there’s some evidence that you can actually convert white adipose tissue which is body fat into brown fat. You’re definitely not a lost cause. The leaner you are now, the more efficient your body tends to be in actually creating new brown fat.

Pedram:
Interesting. Does it mater like let’s say I did my sauna this morning can I go straight to an ice shower or do you want to leave the hormetic stressors spaced so you get maximum results?

Ari:
It’s a good question. There’s a researcher that I really like, her name is Ronda Patrick and she’s really into hormesis like I am. I know she’s actually trying to find some evidence on the contrast hormesis like the specific effects of doing heat and then cold or alternating between the two. To be honest we need more research in that area to say definitively. I think it’s likely that there’s some unique benefits to doing the alternating back and forth but to the extent that it maybe limits your … What I mean by that is let’s say you get really warm and then go do a cold shower for a couple minutes, it may not be enough to cool your body to the point where you actually get genuine cold stress.

Pedram:
The Russians, I have a couple of my good buddies that are Russian and we go to these Russian Spas and you go in the sauna and they think these little birch things and they just beat the crap out of each other. You get all the capillary dilation and the detox effects then they jump in like you shower and then you jump in this like ice bucket tub until you’re shaking like a billy goat and then you go back and forth, back and forth. To me I’m like, “Man, this is going to give me a heart attack,” but you do it a couple of times you’re like, “Damn I feel good.” It starts to wake something up and maybe they are onto something that we start to figure out, right?

Ari:
Yeah, it’s interesting that you bring that up because almost all traditional cultures have some form of heat therapy. If you go Turkey they have something called the hamam. The Romans, the Greeks they’ve all have these bathhouses, steam rooms, hot rooms, native Americans had, what do they call it? The sweat lodge. This is a universal feature, almost throughout the world. They’ve all figured out.

Pedram:
We’re still rocking it.

Ari:
Yeah, exactly. Finnish saunas, the Russians like you said. This is a phenomenon that’s emerged all over the world and usually when you see something like that, when you see smoke there’s usually fire. In this case there’s a lot of fire and there’s a whole lot of science that shows massive benefits from doing this kind of stuff. To give you an example there was a recent study that came out that basically mapped the amount of sauna used relative to cardiovascular disease mortality, heart attacks and strokes as well as all cause mortality. They found massive reductions in both heart attacks, both heart disease, as well as all cause mortality, death by any cause directly linked with sauna use. Now, I tell people if they would’ve found that a drug let’s say like statin drugs or some other drug had anywhere close to this level of effect on preventing all cause mortality.

The Body Only Adapts If There Is A Need To - @AriWhittenAW via @PedramShojai

Pedram:
Blockbuster.

Ari:
Yeah, I mean this would be multi-trillions of dollars of profits on this drug, it would be prescribed to every human in the world and consider the most powerful miracle drug in existence. Since it’s not a pill, it’s a sauna, we’re like, “Oh, whatever.”

Pedram:
Yeah, you can’t keep emptying bottles of saunas and that’s the problem. Infrared versus traditional, I mean there’s all sorts of cutesy stuff now happening in the sauna realm. Do you bet on one versus another, I mean heat is heat?

Ari:
Heat is heat and one of the problems with infrared saunas … Actually you know what let me step back and kind of explain what the difference is. Traditional sauna will heat up the air in the room, infrared saunas actually have emitters in the walls of the sauna that they’re usually either ceramic or carbon fiber. They emit infrared energy, electromagnetic radiation and if that sounds scary to people consider that the sun also emits electromagnetic radiation. When you’re out in the sun and you feel heat on your skin it’s primarily the infrared part of that electromagnetic spectrum that’s creating that effect.

This infrared energy basically goes into our body and sort of heats us from the inside out versus heating the air in the room that we’re breathing and sort of having this hot air passing over our body. They’re really working by different mechanisms. Traditional sauna is get up to usually around 180 to 200 degree, infrared saunas operate at much lower air temperatures and their goal is to heat you up from the inside.

Pedram:
It works.

Ari:
Yeah, now if you are actually getting really hot and you feel uncomfortably hot and you’re sweating a lot then you’re getting heat hormesis, you’re getting a benefit from it. Pretty much regardless of how you do that whether you’re sitting next to a fire in a traditional sauna, you’re out in a hot day in the sun in the desert or you’re in a infrared sauna. Heat is heat like you said.

Pedram:
Got it. Cold, how cold? Freezing cold like you got to be uncomfortably cold?

Ari:
You should be a little uncomfortable, I’ll put it that way but I think a lot of the ice bath stuff is not necessary and is too extreme for the vast majority of people. A good analogy here is exercise like you’re not going to take somebody who’s sedentary and say, “Go run a marathon. Go squat 500 pounds.” You’re going to start them with some …

Pedram:
Let’s walk.

Ari:
Yeah. Get up of the couch let’s start by going for a walk. Gentle bike ride. Lift some very light weights, right? The same thing with heat and with cold, you don’t want to jump into extremes here, you’re trying to build up your body’s resilience not overwhelm it.

Pedram:
Shock it.

Ari:
Shock the system and over tax your nervous system and then end up fatigued, right?

Pedram:
Yup, got it. Okay. Exercise, temperature, extreme temperature, heat and cold, what other hormetics?

Ari:
UV light from the sun is a hormetic stressor and there’s a another cool one that we can talk about which is plant phytochemicals. Different compounds can be hormetic stressors as well. Toxins can be hormetic stressors when they’re done transiently in small doses. If you have chronic exposure to certain toxins everyday, day in and day out and you never going to give your body a break from it. That’s going to be a big problem and not very good for you but transient exposure to certain things that are toxic can actually be beneficial. For example there have been benefits associated with radiation hormesis for a long time and this is actually well known for anybody who wants to go explore the scientific literature around this. Small doses of radiation can actually be very beneficial to your health. I’m not saying.

Pedram:
Go do that.

Ari:
I wouldn’t recommend that. There a lot more safe ways of doing this concept but then we have xenobiotic, forms of hormesis, caffeine is a good example of this, nicotine is a good example. There’s a compound called methylene blue that is I remember when I was into aquariums when I was young I used to use it to treat diseases in my fish. You pour this like dark blue, looks like blue dye.

Pedram:
You can’t get it off of you.

Ari:
Yeah.

Pedram:
They treated the GI’s who used to get like STDs and stuff with methylene blue.

Ari:
It’s basically a form of hormesis, it’s called xenobiotic hormesis and xenobiotic just means something that it’s a chemical that’s foreign to your body. If you look at the scientific literature on that which is sounds like you have you’d see all these crazy effects of treating and preventing all sorts of diseases, right?

Pedram:
Yeah, the natural paths are all over that stuff.

Ari:
Then probably the coolest one which ties in well with what you do is called xenohormesis and what xeno means is just foreign. It’s another species basically and xenohormesis is plant phytochemicals. This is a really cool area and it relates to antioxidants and the free radical theory of aging. We talked about this on the phone recently but to give your viewers a kind of intro into this.

Pedram:
Let me get you adjust that a bit. It’s poking in.

Ari:
Cool. Are we good? Cool. Okay.

Pedram:
To give the viewers.

Ari:
Yeah. Pretty much everybody is familiar with the free radical theory of aging, right? They may not know it by that term but the basic idea of this is our cells get damaged and age faster and we get disease as a result of free radicals oxidants that are acting on our cells and causing this damage. As we accumulate damage from these oxidants, these free radicals, that’s what ages us and degenerates us and causes disease. Logically if we’re operating from that framework it makes a lot of sense that if we go and supplement with antioxidants and we start taking vitamin C and vitamin E and vitamin A and things along those lines, we are going to prevent those free radicals from causing that damage.

Pedram:
Problem solved.

Ari:
Boom, it’s super simple and it makes a ton of sense logically, that’s it. Now, here’s the big problem with that, when we actually look at the research and there’s a lot of research on this, some that spans decades where you have people supplement with antioxidants. What you find is that they don’t work, they don’t cause any extension of lifespan, in fact in some cases they decrease life span, they don’t prevent the diseases that they were proposed to prevent like heart disease or cancer or diabetes.

In some cases they actually worsen those conditions and basically all of the evidence and I’m not cherry picking a literature here, you can look at the meta analysis from the American Heart Association that have tested these trials. They pulled all the studies together to look at the overall effect so that prevents you from cherry picking an individual study or here or there. Basically these studies are very consistent that antioxidants do not work to reliably extend lifespan or prevent the vast majority of diseases.

Pedram:
It’s a multi-thesis?

Ari:
Right, that’s one layer of it. Now, here’s the other layer to tight it into to what we are talking about before. If free radicals are bad and cause disease and shorten your lifespan then doing things which increase free radicals should sort of speed up your demise essentially. Here’s an example of one of those things that increases free radicals, exercise. Does exercise increase the rate of aging and cause all these disease because it’s producing free radicals in your system?

Pedram:
The opposite.

The Prevention Of Every Disease Is Linked To Energy - @AriWhittenAW via @PedramShojai

Ari:
Right, it’s the exact opposite. You have this theory, the free radical theory of aging, it’s accepted by 99.99999% of people because that’s what we’ve been told for so many decades and I was operating on that for many, many years or decades myself. Taking lots of antioxidant supplements thinking that, “I’m so health conscious I’m going to take all these antioxidants supplements, I’m doing myself such great, great things,” and in fact my health consciousness was probably actually doing me harm.

Pedram:
Because you are making your cells lazy?

Ari:
Yes. Basically this free radical theory of aging, the two main lines of evidence are one, does taking antioxidants prevent disease and aging? No. Does exposure to free radical producing things like basically all the hormetic stressors, they all produce free radicals, does that increase aging and cause disease and speed up our demise? No. Basically the theory is not valid and that’s as controversial as that might sound to many of your viewers. The theory is actually already been just pretty much discarded by virtually all aging scientist who actually study this field.

They already know everything that I just said and it’s widely known. What antioxidants are doing is basically … Here’s how this actually works. There is some evidence linking cellular redox state which is basically the balance of oxidation and reduction around the cell. There is evidence linking that to various diseases and aging and we know that when the cellular redox potential is disrupted that does lead to aging and disease. Okay. We started there and that was good and then we went to this thing of antioxidants.

Pedram:
Supplemented?

Ari:
Right, and it turns out that was wrong. Here’s what’s actually going on and the way this actually works. If you expose your body to transient metabolic stressors, transient increases in free radicals and oxidation, you stimulate your cellular capacity, your internal antioxidant capacity, okay. By doing this in the same way that if you lift weights your muscle grow stronger, you lift a bunch of weights and then give your muscle time to recover, the muscle grow stronger. In that same exact way exposure to free radicals transiently causes your internal cellular antioxidant mechanism, something called the ARE, Antioxidant Response Element. It builds that up your internal cellular antioxidant system then become stronger and more robust and that is actually how you slow down the aging process and prevent disease.

Pedram:
Inner cellular Kung Fu?

Ari:
Exactly.

Pedram:
Yeah, you build up the resilience in a cell instead of making it lazy by giving it A, C, E, whatever your antioxidant load is.

Ari:
Yes.

Pedram:
The key point here is you got to keep moving the ball forward with transient stressors just below the line of like overwhelm.

Ari:
Yes.

Pedram:
Okay.

Ari:
Exactly, and just to tie this in just to make it clear, when you take antioxidant stress you’re doing the opposite of going and doing exercise or taking some of these dietary phytochemicals or exposing yourself to heat or cold or intermittent fasting, you’re doing the opposite. Instead of doing a transient metabolic stressor that strengthens your internal antioxidant system that builds your mitochondria, you’re actually weakening the system. There is actually evidence to support that. One of the interesting line of studies that have tested this is they asked people to do exercise. Again, something that transiently increases free radicals and basically they say, “Okay, I want you do this exercise, here’s some vitamin C and vitamin E, I want you to take it before and after your workouts.” Okay, what happens? It turns out that in those populations where they had speculated the these people would recover faster and adapt faster and perform better, it’s actually the opposite.

Pedram:
It blunts the response?

Ari:
It blunts all of the benefits of exercise. They don’t get as much improvement in insulin sensitivity for example. They don’t grow muscle and strength as efficiently. It’s actually blocking the benefits of exercise.

Pedram:
Now, is this just supplemental antioxidants because people think like, “Pomegranate, blueberries, all these types of things, what the hell, so I’m not going to eat fruits.” Where do I draw the line?

Ari:
Yeah, this is a cool twist on this information and one of the aspects that’s confusing is we get wrapped up in semantics. We use this word antioxidants and we say, “Oh, you know, take your vitamin C, it’s an antioxidant. Take your vitamin E, it’s an antioxidant. Do your pomegranate and blueberries, those are antioxidants.” They’re actually not working through the same mechanisms. When we start to look at the different molecular pathways that are being activated, the antioxidants pills, the vitamins are blocking these hormetic effects. It turns out that a lot of the dietary phytochemicals, the herbs and the anthocyanins and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables [inaudible 00:47:02] exercise or heat or cold. Okay, they don’t primarily work through anti oxidation.

Pedram:
They’re not providing antioxidants, they’re stimulating the ARE as well?

Ari:
Yeah, this is one of the confusing aspects of this because some of these compounds actually do have some limited antioxidant capability and that’s part of why people have gone down this path of calling them antioxidants. When you look deeper what you actually find is they don’t do the same thing as antioxidants, they do the same thing as exercise and hormetic stress. They build up our internal antioxidants of defense system. Instead of weakening it and fragilizing us like lots of exogenous antioxidant supplementation do, phytochemicals actually work like good hormetic stressors do, they build us up, they make us stronger and more resilient.

Pedram:
Unbelievably cool. We have all of these different chemical mediations or whatever that come through natural food which it’s like go back to grandma saying, “Just eat, right,” right? You eat natural food, you’re getting it and then you have exercise, you have heat, you have cold, I’m sure there’s probably a couple other hormetic stress categories out there that are more esoteric or something that deliver stress to the system in some way that’s positive. What about this piece and you and I have talked about this online, offline and I just want to make sure it’s shared with our audience as well. In terms of cycling like if you ate blueberries everyday for six years straight, what does that do?

Ari:
Okay, beautiful question. When it comes to this plant compounds there’s … As you know from your studies there’s just enormous amount of different plant phytochemicals that have benefits, I mean thousands of different phytochemicals. There’s two big mistakes that people make when they’re approaching this realm. One is failing to realize that these phytochemicals are specific to a specific foods and herbs and if you don’t consume those specific foods and herbs you don’t get the benefits of those phytochemicals. People hear, “Eat your fruits and vegetables,” and they have their romaine lettuce and their spinach and their blueberries and their red wine and their chocolate and they’re like, “Okay, I’m good to go. I have my phytochemicals.” Okay, there’s literally a thousand other beneficial ones that you’re not getting with your limited supply of those. That’s sort of mistake number one.

Sauna Use Is Linked To Lower Mortality Rates - - @AriWhittenAW via @PedramShojai

Pedram:
Mix it up.

Ari:
Yeah, you have to in order to get the benefits of these different compounds you got to go out and eat those specific foods. If you want luteolin you got to eat artichokes and celery. If you want resveratrol you got to eat grapes. If you want EGCG you got get tea and chocolate. If you want curcumin you got to get turmeric. If you want sulforaphane you got to get cruciferous vegetables. If you don’t get that that specific food in your diet you don’t get that specific compound. There’s all these benefits that are waiting out there that are easily accessible, people aren’t getting them.

Mistake number two is people think, “Okay, blueberries are good, chocolate is good, tea is good, so I’m good. I have those and I’m going to do those everyday. Resveratrol is good, I’m going to take my resveratrol pills three times a day. Problem solved.” Okay, think of it like this, if you have a fire and somebody is yelling, “Put out the fire. Put out the fire. Put out the fire,” weeks after it’s been put out you’re not really doing anything, right? You’re just kind of wasting your time. Another way of looking at this is, like I said with exercise if you’re always doing the same stimulus day in and day out the same, your body is already adapted to it, you’re not getting the benefit.

When it comes to these phytochemicals you’ll maximize the benefits that you get from them or I should say the most benefits that you get from them happen in the first few weeks. If you continue to take them for months or years after that, you’re mostly just wasting your money. The better approach would be to go, “Okay, there’s all these hundred or 200 great substances that have proven beneficial effects on human physiology. I’m going to systematically cycle through them and use this handful of five to ten for a weeks and then I’m going to off these.

Then I’m going to go on these group of five to ten and then I’m going to go off these and then I’m going to go on these group of five to ten and then I’m going to cycle back to these ones I took originally,” right and you will get five times, ten times more benefit from using those compounds by doing it in that way than if you just said, “I have my resveratrol and blueberries and coffee and I’m going to drink those everyday.”

Pedram:
Think about nature, right, it’s like if you go in a natural environment you have the mustard flower, you have the miner’s lettuce and maybe one or two other things you go like wild forage and then the grapes will come in when they do and then they’re done. Right, that’s nature.

Ari:
Exactly.

Pedram:
Right, that’s not grocery store, that’s not modern agriculture. Right, it’s like that kind of cycle has always been there and it’s like we’ve kind of face synced with it it almost sounds.

Ari:
Exactly, yeah. If you think about it it’s actually insane, I mean it’s unbelievably remarkable and amazing that there are thousands of these plant compounds that have beneficial effects on our cells.

Pedram:
Yup.

Ari:
It’s like, “How did this happen? If I eat this plant it’s having all these crazy effects that help me live longer and prevent disease. Where did that even come from? How was it possible that these thousands of things could all have beneficial effects?” you know what I mean?

Pedram:
That’s a big question and it’s almost becomes like a spiritual question it’s just like, “How the hell is this so well orchestrated?” Us stepping out of that ecosystem and kind of like getting tomatoes through Heinz tomato paste and all these things. It’s just, it pulled us out of this genius system that gave us the sun, gave us the cold, gave us the hormetic stress and all that. We’re trying to compensate for losing a lifestyle that had built.

Ari:
Exactly. Yeah, and the other aspect of this is that there’s a seasonal aspect, not all of these plants grow all the time. I’m about to harvest pomegranates from my parents house because they’re about to ripen. Now that we’re getting into September and November, October, November, this is the pomegranate time of the year. We feast on pomegranates for good few months right now and then the rest of the year we don’t have them.

Pedram:
It goes away but you eat your fill when it’s pomegranate season.

Ari:
Yeah, I eat a hell of a lot more than my family.

Pedram:
Yeah, that’s funny because I’ve been middle eastern it’s like that’s how we roll and so will just go to town on pomegranates until it’s like it’s over and you’re done like, “I don’t need pomegranates until like the next season.”

Ari:
Yeah, my girlfriend was joking with me yesterday, we’re talking about getting it from my parents house and normally my mom will just … She’s so good about peeling them all and she just creates this huge container of ten pomegranates where it’s the berries so you don’t to have to like actually do all the hard work.

Pedram:
Just go for it, yeah.

Ari:
You just get a spoon and you just start shoveling it in your mouth and I mean you can eat like four pomegranates in five minutes.

Pedram:
Totally.

Ari:
My girlfriend is like, “This year I’m getting my fill. I’m going to take it from you and I’m going to make sure I get some because normally you eat it all.”

Pedram:
You eat it all. Yeah, totally, totally, we have to rush in these pomegranate. Man, all right we are out of time and we still have so much more I can ask you, it’s just this is so good. What I’m going to do to my viewers audience here is I’m doing the hormetic training here. Ari has kind of personally counselled me, I’m going to do I’m going to report back to you guys. He’s got this program that’s wonderful called The Energy Blueprint, I invite you to do it with me.

I’m in, I see this, it’s clear, he’s shown me the data. It’s just makes so much sense and it’s like cellular Kung Fu. Join me on it, let’s do the whole protocol, let’s do the hormesis and let’s bring our cells back to life. I get it. I get where you’re coming from and I know that what you’re saying is true. He showed me the science on it and it’s awesome and it’s time to do this. Man, what a pleasure having you here in person.

Ari:
Likewise. Yeah, it’s been so great.

Pedram:
I look forward to it. I’m going to be texting him from my sauna or something.

Ari:
Yeah, I’m stoked that we get to have that personal relationship and I’ve been studying your materials and I think they’re such a great complement, they just go so naturally together.

Pedram:
Yeah, you actually give me a lot of scientific basis for a lot of the energy, economics, arguments that I’ve been making since 2009, right and so I was like, “Yeah, thank you.” Thank you. Man, thank you.

Ari:
Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Pedram:
Yup, for all The Urban Monks out there this has been awesome, awesome show for me, I mean I literally like go back and listen to this three – four times and just absorb what it is that Ari just talked about. It’s important to understand and then you will develop a discipline around how to live your life to constantly keep growing and it’ll give a feedback loop to your body to say, “Oh yeah, let’s do this.” I’ll see you next time. Have a good one.

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