Introduction: In today’s episode of the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast: Is Joint Cracking Dangerous, the Pros And Cons Of Too Much Muscle, Do We Really Need An Appendix (And What To Do If Your Appendix Gets Removed), Natural Remedies For Eye Circles, and Why Cyclists Don’t Need Flexibility.
Brock: Well, I think both of us are out of our normal surroundings.
Ben: I think both of us are mama’s boys dude from what I can gather. I’m standing in my mom’s living room right now with my mic and a recording equipment pulled up here and you’re also on your mom’s dwelling?
Brock: I’m actually at my mum’s.
Ben: Your mum’s as they say in Canada.
Brock: That’s a…. there’s a good cultural difference right there for you. When you say mom, mom, mum. But I’m at my mum’s. I’m standing in the kitchen mere feet from a turkey that’s roasting.
Ben: Oh wow. That’s fantastic.
Brock: I can actually touch it but I won’t.
Ben: I do not want to think about food, talk about food. I ate so much food yesterday including bacon-wrapped asparagus, turkey….
Ben: Prime rib, sausages, it was nuts. This morning I’m living on kale and avocados. I think I’ll live on those the whole day. And this….
Brock: What’s wrong with that? It sounds good.
Ben: This is interesting. Have you heard about this, this holiday syndrome? I don’t even know if we mentioned the word recording in this podcast the day after Christmas.
Brock: Yeah, it’s wrestling day.
Ben: That’s right, it’s wrestling day.
Brock: Boxing. Boxing day.
Ben: Boxing day. I wouldn’t. No.
Brock: I have heard about that mostly because my girlfriend’s an ER nurse so I hear all about the chest pain presenting itself on Christmas day.
Ben: Yeah. And the underlying phenomenon you know, or the idea behind the phenomenon is something that’s kinda, it’s multi-factorial but it’s really interesting. I wasn’t even aware of this until recently that your risk of dying from a heart attack or even like a non-heart attack related death goes up like by 5% between Christmas and New Year’s.
Brock: It doesn’t surprise me.
Ben: And there’s a bunch of factors just like increased emotional stress, less people staff in like the hospital or healthcare facilities, increased intake of salt, caffeine, alcohol, along with less sleep typically. Sometimes colder weather which leads to like vasoconstriction and increased vascular resistance. Less day light, less sun exposure, and then there’s even this postponement of death idea, the idea that folks want to wait after they see their loved ones before they kinda die and pass away quietly until after Christmas and New Year’s so it’s kinda interesting.
Brock: Well that’s a big part of what my girlfriend’s noticed in the ER is like Christmas Eve is quite quiet but Christmas Day especially later in the day when the presents are opened, everybody’s had their meals and everything’s had their sort of winding down a little bit, that’s when the people who have been having chest pain for a good 12, 16 hours finally decide to go to the hospital or they just go and lay down somewhere quiet and that’s not the right decision.
Brock: Choose the hospital, not the laying down somewhere quiet by yourself.
Ben: Yea, so for any of our listeners, if your chest starts to hurt the next few days, put down the eggnog and the brandy and find your local staffed healthcare facility.
Ben: I don’t think our listeners would drop dead of heart attacks though, fortunately.
Brock: Maybe during an ultra marathon but not on a couch.
Ben: That’s right, with a glass and an eggnog.
Brock: bengreenfieldfitness.com/265 is the place to go always, well not always 265 but this week you will go there to find these awesome news flashes.
Ben: That’s right and I have an article, that’s a fantastic article that came out, I’ll link to it in the show notes but it’s on Nutrition Lessons of 2013 and the title of the article is “Cheese and Fat are Good and Gut Bacteria Matters A Lot”. This article, it’s really interesting. It goes into the recent meta analysis that was publishes in Obesity Reviews and it talks about how this whole low-fat high carb approach in making room for like fish, poultry, meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, all these kind of stuff is not only showing to be just as good for weight loss but also like professional athletes now like the Los Angeles Lakers have now switched to like an official like low-carb high fat diet.
So I thought that was really interesting. She also hits on the size of….
Brock: Wait, what was the name of the publication?
Ben: The name of the publication that this was in was the National Post but Obesity was where that study appeared. I’ll link to this article for folks who wanna read the article ‘cause it’s really good. She talks about how over 2013, we kinda proved this whole calories in-calories out approach is not necessarily the only thing that you look at and she gets into everything from inflammation like your hsc and p-levels to insulin resistance like your body’s inability to use insulin to control blood sugar to even like gut bacteria and bacterial status kinda having an influence on the whole calories in-calories out equation and I actually think another one that’s kinda good add-in is this idea that cooking food and processing food actually increases the amount of net usable calories in that food and this is something, I’m not saying everybody should become a raw foodist for example if they wanna limit their propensity for weight gain but it is interesting even by cooking food we increase the number of calories that are available on food so it’s not just about looking at the label or looking at how many calories happen to be in something using you know nutritiondata.com or whatever but also looking at the hormonal inflammatory and gut bacteria effect of….
Brock: So we can think of the year 2013 as being the year that it got even more complicated.
Ben: That’s right. That’s right. Because in previous years, it’s only gotten simpler. Another interesting thing that she hit on was that dairy fats from things like cheeses have been shown to have an inverse correlation with cardiac risk factors which is kinda interesting because sometimes we associate cheese with high fat yogurt, high fat dairy, with heart disease but it is in fact the case that fats and a good quality cheese you know, preferably from like an organic dairy source or like a higher fat yogurt not only makes you feel fuller faster but can kinda offer some pretty cool health benefits above and beyond just damn tastiness so.
Brock: I wonder how long that will take to get into sort of the colloquial relationship to food ‘cause you always see people just holding up like a brick of cheese saying something like, “oh, heart attack on a platter!” and stuff like that. I wonder…..
Ben: I think about the time they figure out how to put like organic full-fat dairy into a can of cheez whiz. That will probably about the point where it hits mainstream. One other thing she hits on in this article was this idea that we’ve really found out you know, I touched on this a little bit but that fermented foods are super duper helpful and I think we’re gonna dig into this when we talk in a little bit about the, I think we have a listener calling about the appendix and I wanted to mention fermented foods. Anyways though, interesting article. We’ll link to that one over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/265 and another thing that I posted….
Brock: Can you hear turkey sizzling in the background?
Ben: I can’t. Not on my….
Brock: Okay, good.
Ben: You may have heard my little sister walking out the door to head out to her cross-fit. She’s on a cross-fit kick right now which I think is awesome. So another thing that I tweeted was my lucid dreaming formula which I stumbled upon by accident. I actually had some rapid gut issues emerged when I had the bacterial infection from swimming in a waste-water lagoon over in Thailand a few weeks ago and I asked my naturopathic doc and he’s like, “well, you know, if you’re tummy’s kinda bugging you over the night,” and it was, it was keeping me up, he’s like, “and you don’t wanna take valium and you know, benadril or one of these drugs that kinda puts a hit on your liver, you could try melatonin.” And he told me that he prescribes about 20-25 milligrams of melatonin at night to his cancer patients that actually kind of reduce pain and allow them to sleep without using a pharmaceutical. So I figured I try it. Now 5HTP and L-tyrosine are two neurotransmitter precursors that have been, you find them things like mood stabilizers, you’ll find them in neurotropics like Alpha Brain for example. Their precursors for things like serotonin, dopamine, those are 2 of the biggies in some of your adrenalines, your neuroadrenalines specifically when it comes to l-tyrosine so you combine the nueroadrenaline and dopamine precursors from l-tyrosine which is amino acid with what you’re gonna get from 5HTP which is more of a serotonin precursor and that’s something a lot of people have used up and fall asleep.
In the past I found that it helps to enhance dreaming a little bit. Well I tried this melatonin and had these extremely realistic dreams at this 20-25 gram melatonin dose and….
Brock: 25 grams.
Ben: Yeah. Yup, exactly. Then, what I did was, I decided that I might as well guinea pig myself and see what happens when you mix it with 5HTP and l-tyrosine. About 300 milligrams of 5HTP with about 3000 milligrams of l-tyrosine. Now for stabilizing your mood, that’s typically what you do is a 10-1 ratio of l-tyrosine to 5HTP so I put together high dose melatonin with 5HTP and l-tyrosine and then I basically took this..By the way, with melatonin did I say grams or milligrams?
Ben: Yeah. Milligrams, sorry.
Brock: 25 milligrams?
Ben: Yes. Exactly.
Brock: Ah, that’s why I was like “25 grams?”
Ben: Yeah. Anyways though, extremely realistic lucid dreaming in which I felt like I actually had control over the dreams so I dug into this and it turns out that researches that had been done on melatonin especially with high doses of melatonin up to 50 milligrams of melatonin not only have dramatically increased rapid-eye movement sleep time and dream activity in people in sleep labs but it’s also been shown to cause this significant increase in vivid lucid dreaming. Now melatonin is a hormone. I think that it’s something that you should be careful experimenting with but if you’re just kinda curious what it feels like to get like lucid, vivid dreams, you could try out the same thing that I did in my little experiment. Go high dose melatonin, mix it with 5HTP and l-tyrosine. Spin a few dials in your brain and it’s kinda interesting so there you have it.
Brock: Sounds kind of fun but a little bit scary too.
Ben: It was very, you know, it was kinda similar to you know, if you’re gonna go out and see what like Ayahuasca or shrooms or something like that did to your body, in a safe controlled environment of course, but this is probably a little bit less potentially risky than something like that so….
Brock: Fair enough.
Ben: Very interesting. And whatever you think about as you’re going to bed is what you end up dreaming about ‘cause I’ve experimented with it 3 times now and like dwelt on different things and found that whatever it is that I’m thinking about or whatever movie it is that I might have watched before I go to bed, it’s exactly what I dream about and unfortunately, I tried this a couple of night ago after watching World War Z, the zombie movie and that was a rough night of sleep.
Brock: That. I was just thinking if I tried that, like last night I would have had angry bird dreams.
Ben: Yeah. You still sleep deep but it’s a little bit more disturbing so….
Ben: And then the last thing I wanted to mention was that I was reading in the National Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research the other day about the effect of kid’s somatotypes or body types on their ability to perform specific activities. What they found was that, they did what’s called the heath-carter method of finding out what kids’ body types were. Now the heath-carter method is the same method where I derived the questionnaire, the same method that I used to create the questionnaire in my book “Get Fit Guy’s Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body” and this is a book that I wrote for adults to figure out if you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph, the 3 different main body types and in that particular book there’s actually a 4thkinda mixed body type and then develop a customized exercise and nutrition program based on your body type so I always kinda, my ears perk up when I see body typing articles just based off that book and this one looked at kids and found out that sure enough, kids that are endomorphic have a lower likelihood of vertical jump height less like kids who are kinda more like apple or even like kinda pear shaped. Kids with mesomorphic are better at sprint performance, kids who are ectomorphic are better at aerobic fitness games but these are really significant so one of the things that you could do is you can use the heath-carter method which you could google or you could use the calculators or the book that I have over at getfitguy.com. You could figure out what body type your child is and actually kinda arrange their, the sports that you put them in or the potential for success on certain activities based off of their body type. So if you wanna go all Chinese/Russian Olympic squad on them and inject them into the correct sport, this is kind of an interesting article so we’ll link to that one in the show notes and also to the achieving your ideal body shape book in the show notes as well over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/265 so those are this week’s news flashes.
Brock: So entheos.com. I haven’t actually heard of this before but you’re doing a big class there tomorrow right?
Ben: Yeah, for anybody who is not busy over the holidays and has nothing better to do, if you happen to be tuning into this podcast on Thursday which is the day this podcast comes out, well tomorrow, 2PM Pacific, 5PM Eastern, I’ll be teaching a class called How to Rev the Human Machine: Recover, Elevate, and Vitalize. And in this class I’m going to teach you everything that you need to know not only to detox your body and sleep better and shut down inflammation and distress, kinda get your new year started off with a bang but it’s a class series that’s actually gonna go on and actually have several parts during 2014. You can watch replays, you can attend the class live for free, I think to get replays all year long is like 7 or 8 bucks or something like that and it’s kinda cool. It’s like this online class/learning platform and I’m pretty stoked about it so we’ll put a link in the show notes but yeah, if you wanna attend live, it’s gonna be on Friday, the 27th of December at 2PM and you can always go to the show notes for this episode and you can if you’re listening in this after the fact and if you link over you can watch the replay so….
Brock: Awesome. And speaking of learning online, you can learn a whole heck of a lot from audiobooks and once again, this episode is brought to you by audiblepodcast.com/ben. That’s audiblepodcast.com/ben where you can go over and if you sign up with that link, you’ll get a 30-day free trial and a download of a book of your choice.
Ben: I’ve got one for you.
Brock: Do you have… oh good.
Ben: I’ve got one for sure. It’s called Exercise for the Brain: 70 Neurobic Exercises to Increase Mental Fitness and Prevent Memory Loss.
Ben: Neurobic is our word for the day.
Brock: Is that a real word?
Ben: It is and… well it is now.
Ben: Anyways though, it’s got just a bunch of different exercises that works you through and you could put this in while you’re driving in your car and literally get smarter, I mean we’ve talked about this before in the podcast but you can slow memory loss, increase neuronal longevity, increase memory and learning potential by doing exercises for the brain in the same way that you do exercises for your muscles so….
Brock: Very cool.
Ben: So this is a brand new book. It’s written by Jason Scotts. It’s pretty short one, only 45 minutes long, but well worth checking out. Exercise for the Brain and 70 Neurobic Exercises to Increase Mental Fitness and Prevent Memory Loss. So go make yourself smarter.
Brock: I guess the idea would be that you could listen to it again and again and or you should listen to it again and again, do it again and again so you end up getting smarter.
Ben: Oh yeah baby, just like doing dumbbell curls. Oh, speaking of curls, one other thing that I wanted to mention is if you want to look good after doing your dumbbell curls, put on the brand new Ben Greenfield Fitness tech t-shirt. It’s not a big old cotton tent but it’s a really cool form-fitting shirt. It’s got the Ben Greenfield Fitness logo on it. It says bengreenfieldfitness.com on the back, comes with a BPA-free water bottle, a sexy little water bottle and also our cool kickass bengreenfieldfitness beanies and these are the high-quality head sweat beanies. When you get this over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/gear, it helps to support the show, kinda like in the similar way like donating to the podcast but you also get a bunch out of it and of course we send a free gear package to the person whose iTunes review which we read on the show which you’ll have to wait for the end of the show to hear if we read your review but check it out over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/gear.
Aaron: Hi guys, I love the podcast. Hey, it’s Aaron here from Ireland. My wrists and fingers click and also my knees, ankles, and my back a little bit, and just like your average person’s fingers would like sort of crack. Is this something to be worried about and is there any supplements or dietary considerations that I could take to help it? Are there any long-term effects that I should also be worried about? Thanks for your help and look forward to hearing your response. Thanks bye.
Brock: Now you hear a lot talk about this like people always saying, “don’t crack your knuckles, you’re gonna get arthritis and stop cracking your back, it’s gonna get loose and kick popping out and don’t crack your neck you’re gonna have a stroke.” So what is the truth around this?
Ben: Well first of all, I would have to say that you gotta make sure that you have your Irish coffee in the morning and I actually had some of that on Christmas day.
Brock: I’m gonna start removing anybody with an accent so this doesn’t happen. I’m sorry everybody.
Ben: And be sure to have your lucky charms every morning for breakfast.
Brock: Aaron you have my permission to punch Ben next time you are near him.
Ben: You know it’s funny actually I have this leprechaun pants, they’re like leprechaun PJ’s and I was literally wearing my leprechaun yesterday and my father-in-law made me an Irish coffee for breakfast which is like a spiked coffee so there you go, this is right up my wavelength right now.
Brock: You are pretty much living the Irish life that’s right there.
Ben: Yeah, only thing that was missing was a hegges or whatever they call it.
Brock: That’s Scottish.
Ben: My bad.
Brock: That’s Scottish.
Ben: That’s offended all out Irish listeners. So cracking and popping and clicking. Well the theory on how joints pop and crack is this idea behind cavitation and what that means is when your joint is cracked, the volume within your joint capsule gets increased when that joint capsule is stretched and when that occurs, you get pressured dropping inside the synovial fluid which is like the lubricating fluid for your joints. When that happens, these tiny amounts of air that are dissolved within your synovial fluid come together and they form bubbles so all this air and synovial fluid forms one bubble, that bubble collapses and that causes the popping or cracking sound as the joint is stretched and these bubbles pop.
Brock: In turn, let’s just like just for simplicity think of a knuckle. So I’m pulling on, my index finger pulling it away from my body away from my wrist. So that’s the stretching motion that injects the air or the whatever into the bubble?
Ben: Yup. Exactly. Same thing.
Brock: And also when I let go or manipulate it all, that’s what pops the bubble?
Ben: Exactly. Exactly. Now, there have been some studies that suggest that knuckle cracking can cause joint swelling, it can cause grip strength loss. Now those studies are somewhat small and I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that you’re destroying your joints if you’re cracking them and popping them a lot, pulling on joints that type of thing. But it is kind of interesting especially when you look at the grip strength loss because that’s just that there may actually be a little bit of either loss of synovial fluid or potentially some type of cartilage damage that’s occurring when you’re doing lots of cracking and popping so I personally play it safe. I don’t do a lot of neck popping and a lot of back popping, a lot of joint popping, that type of thing, like manual manipulation of pop. So I’d be careful as far as that goes even though the researches is kinda inconclusive on this stuff and but that’s called cavitation when you crack or pop a joint like that and there’s also clicking which a lot of people get in their knees for example. That’s the most popular place where you’ll hear a clicking noise. Typically clicking is due to a muscular imbalance so for example, with your knee, your femur and your tibia and your fibula come together to form this area where your kneecap sits and if your hamstring is very tight, that’s typically one of the issues, if your quads are very weak, what happens is the patella or the kneecap doesn’t glide in the correct manner and it tends to click on the surface of the femur or on the surface of the tibia or the fibula and that’s the cause….
Brock: So let’s say you’re doing like a deep squat like you’re just standing and you do a deep squat and your knee pops, that’s actually the bone on bone?
Ben: It’s not necessarily bone on bone, sometimes it can be ligament on bone, sometimes it can be the patella sliding over some of the other knee ligaments but ultimately that clicking is often associated with the muscular imbalance. A lot of times tight hamstrings, weak quads. You’ll hear this sometimes when you’re just like lying on the ground, when you’re doing a bicycle crunch like pushing a leg out away from you like riding a bike and you feel stuff clicking and popping, sometimes it can indicate that there is an actual miniscule tear or that there’s what’s called a plica which is kind of a folding of part of the synovial lining in the knee.
That stuff would have to be looked into a little bit more deeply via something like an MRI but if you get a lot of clicking and it’s not accompanied by loss of function per se or a lot of pain, it can just be a clue that there might be some muscular imbalance going on. So as far as clicking goes, I most often see it in the knee and that’s usually the issue with that. Now snapping, snapping is typically something you get in the hips. Sometimes the IT bands snaps a little bit, that’s usually super tight hip flexors. If your hip snaps, one of the best things you can do is take a foam roller to kinda like your soass and hip flexor area in the front of your leg, do lots of lunging, hip type of stretches and then avoid long periods of time in a seated position. So if you’re body tends to be one of those bodies that snaps and clicks and pops, I would basically consider making sure that you’re taking care of your synovial fluid, not only by being sure not to excessively crack joints but by also by ensuring that you have adequate intake of healthy fats. So like omega-3 fish oil. Super important when it comes to that stuff. Omega-3 fatty acid intake from olive oil, another really good source. Making sure that you address any muscular imbalances, specifically stretching your hamstrings, strengthening your quads, if it tends to be a knee clicking issue and then making sure your hip flexors are taken care of. Soft tissue in your hip flexors via foam rolling and also lunging hip flexor stretches and not spending a lot of time sitting and if you’re very noisy person from a biomechanical standpoint, that’s where I’d start.
Horacio: Hi Ben and Brock, here Horacio from Chile. This question jumped to my head when you announced the mass gain protocol that you will both apply soon. I ask this question based on the possibility that is realistic to achieve a similar strength gain with weight training but without growing the big muscles, maybe like crossfit style. Could you please explain if there’s any benefit of bulking up when you practice or doing sports or the reason is mainly looking good on the beach? What are the pros and cons of having a big muscle? Can you achieve benefits as less injury possibilities, maybe less cramps, more endurance, more power, but what about the muscle efficiency on calorie consumption? What about the extra weight you have when you race? Cheers. Thank you. Bye bye. Good job.
Ben: We’ve got a lot of ethnic listeners, a lot of accented listeners.
Brock: Oh it’s not over yet. Wait ‘til we get a couple more questions in. We’ve got some more.
Ben: Global audience. I love it. Yeah.
Brock: We are international.
Ben: Well I used to be a body builder and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’ve lost about 30 pounds of muscle. I’m now a skinny Ironman triathlete and I’ve kinda gone through that full spectrum of having a lot of muscle and also not having a lot of muscle. Now, there are some definite benefits to muscle. Sarcopenia, which is that gradual loss of muscle as you age is definitely associated with a drop in bone density and what a lot of people don’t realize is that skeletal muscle is the body’s larges endocrine organ meaning like when you look at the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands and all of these parts of your endocrine system, muscle outshines all that stuff in terms of its ability to produce again like this masculine growth hormone and it’s also why loss of muscle is associated with a pretty significant drop in testosterone, drop in growth hormone, drop in a lot of these anabolic hormones. It’s kind of a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg but ultimately, there are benefits from kind of like a like an endocrine/hormonal standpoint to maintaining muscle. From an energetic standpoint, muscles stores amino acids, muscle is a primary storage for glycogen, you know a little bit is stored in your liver, most of it is stored in muscles so when you’re looking at for example amino acids being neurotransmitter precursors or glycogen being something that helps you during for example like explosive efforts at the gym that type of thing. Muscle definitely comes in handy for those types of things as well.
Ben: On the flipside, there are some studies that have shown for example that calorie-restricted feeding can slow down aging and there are molecular mechanisms that have linked calorie restriction and longevity and someone who’s constantly stuffing their face with calories to maintain muscle, put on a bunch of muscle, what you see is what I call red face syndrome is when you go to fitness convention and there’s a bunch of body builders and big old people walking around, they’ve got these red puffy faces and wrinkled skin and the issue is that when you get a lot of insulin, high plasma concentrations of another hormone called triiodothyronine, and also the increased metabolism that occurs when you’re consuming a lot of calories for muscle gain or for mass gain, there’s a lot of what’s called peroxidation damage which is basically from free radical production from all these increased metabolic activity.
And so there’s kind of this law of diminishing returns in that you have to find that sweet spot between carrying enough muscles that you got adequate hormonal status but not also kinda pushing yourself so high above your natural weight set point that you produce a lot of free radical damage so for example, if I eat to my appetite and I follow my appetite, my weight stabilizes at around 185, 190-ish. So right now I weigh about 170-175 because I restrict calories and because I’m doing triathlon, lots of training, but I were to amp back training to a more sane amount training and eat to appetite, I would stabilize between 185-190 and that would probably kinda be that sweet spot for me and everybody has their own kinda sweet spot but you can get your own metabolic rate tested, eat as many calories as your metabolic rates plus a little bit more on line a lifting day, that type of thing and kind of approximate where it is that’s good for you but yeah, I mean I would say that there’s a definite law of diminishing returns when it comes to muscle gain for sure.
Brock: So that’s more of a tipping point I guess.
Ben: Yeah, and as Horacio alludes to, there’s some other issues here. For example, muscle is difficult to carry, it’s difficult to cool. So for endurance sports, it can definitely come back to bite you and I can tell you I feel way better competing at 175 than I did at 180 or 185 or 190. When I get to like 170, I don’t recover as well and I feel really crappy, my sex drive goes away so you know, you get to that level where your essential body fat can drop to too low a level and so there’s that. Injury prevention. This is why you see for example Ironman triathletes tend to be slightly bigger, slightly bulkier than say their ITU or short-distance racing counterparts and that’s because you do need a certain amount of muscle to protect your body from the pounding, the repetitive pounding especially if that occurs during like an ultra-endurance type of event. You know, on the flipside, you get to a certain level of muscles and you can have a higher propensity for cramping just because you’ve got more muscles there to potentially cramp. I used to cramp a lot more when I was you know, a high muscle guy, kinda getting into endurance sports versus now when I was a lot more sore after I’d compete. I would overheat way more often so yeah, I mean you gotta find that sweet spot that works for you so yeah, it’s one of those deals that if you wanna get faster at endurance sports, you do have to probably give up enough muscle to where you gonna see potential for increased risk for loss of bone density, loss of testosterone, loss of growth hormone, that type of thing. If you put on too much muscle, you’re gonna see decrease lifespan. So you have to decide what’s your priority and also, kind of where your natural set point is.
Brock: Isn’t there a problem to let’s say you do some serious body building, you put on a lot of muscle and then maybe you lose interest in that or you decide that you just wanna slim down. It’s the potential is there to actually balloon up a little bit if you don’t lose that weight and that muscle correctly too.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. You know and do you mean more like the skinny-fat kinda syndrome?
Brock: Yeah. So you stop lifting all the weights, you may be cut back your calories a little bit but you don’t necessarily restrict proteins or do what you did actually when you started doing triathlon to lose that muscle in a safe way, instead you get that sort of dowyness.
Ben: Yeah. If you did wanna lose muscle, a safe way to do it would be to slightly exceed the number of calories that you’re taking in with the number of calories that you’re burning but not necessarily to go out and do like really catabolic long-fast workouts with low levels of blood, amino acids in particular. Kind of a better way to do it would be to restrict calories slightly but then exercise with higher levels of blood, amino acids, and you could hack that with like branch chain amino acids, whole amino acids supplements, that type of thing.
Brock: Yeah so if you overshoot your healthy weight or you go over that tipping point you have to be sort of be careful when you’re coming back.
John: Hey Ben, my name is John. Love the podcast. I had my appendix removed when I was 11 or 12 years old and I’m now 34.
I have heard from a lot of people that the appendix was just vestigial, no longer serves a purpose in modern humans. Recently, I’ve read a lot more about how the appendix might be more important than what we once thought and so my question is, given that I’m living without an appendix, I’ve been without it for over 20 years, what considerations should I think about in terms of lifestyle? But just wondering if you had any thoughts as to how my lack of appendix might affect me and more to the point, what I can do to live optimally given this state of affairs. That’s all. Again, love the podcast. Thanks. Bye.
Brock: John’s letting us down into the international fancy accent department.
Ben: That’s right. And the appendix department, apparently.
Brock: Yes. He’s lacking an appendix and an accent.
Ben: You know the appendix was a, was pretty long thought over this leftover organ that we’ve somehow evolved to no longer need and there was never seen enough issue with appendix removal or appendicitis or appendix removal with appendicitis. There’s definitely an issue with appendicitis for everybody who’s had it but it’s extremely painful.
Brock: It’s not a good thing.
Ben: But it’s now believed, based off of a few research studies that have been done that the appendix is kinda used as a storage shed for the healthy bacteria that live in your gut and for example, there is one pretty interesting study that was done in 2011 where they looked at the risk for clostridium difficile which is kinda a disruption of your colonic flora and the increase risk of developing clostridium in the absence of an appendix. There was another study that looked at the production of the biofilm in the colon or the large intestine and found that this healthy biofilm and healthy flora that’s supposed to protect and support colonization by bacteria and the ability of your large intestine to for example, absorb vitamins and minerals or produce fatty acids you know, some of the things that colon does, is lost when you have your appendix removed and so you lose some immune function and some metabolic function in terms of your ability to produce fatty acids from fiber so that’s another issue. It’s possible that on a higher fiber diet, that the appendix again may increase risk of digestive issues with the lack of an appendix may increase risk of digestive issues and that again is probably directly tied to the loss of gut flora and that’s what a lot of the studies kinda found so far, as far as the ones that have been done on appendix removals. So if you’ve had your appendix removed, it should go without saying that probably one of the best things that you can do if you’ve lost kind of your storage house for good bacteria is to number 1, increase intake of fermented foods. The problem is that a lot of fermented foods are high in fiber and you may not do as well on high fiber intake if you lost your appendix but there are some that are a little bit lower on fiber. I’ve got an article, I’ll link to it in the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/265 but it’s an article I did for WellnessFX last year and it’s called Fermentation – It’s What’s For Dinner and it’s a pretty comprehensive article on all the different fermented foods that are out there that you could eat. Interestingly a lot of people don’t realize this, even chocolate is a technically a fermented food but….
Brock: What can chocolate do?
Ben: Exactly. But there are some other like lower fiber fermented foods unlike like kimchi or sauerkraut for example like a good natural yogurt. Poi for example is a fermented food. Kombucha or kefir would also be things that you could include.
Ben: Kafir as they say in Canada. Mum mom, kefir kafir. But yeah, I’ll include that. I’ll link to that in the show notes. I’ll even include a nice little easy homemade recipe for Kafir so that would be one thing…
Brock: It sure sounds like a sneeze the way you say it. Kafir.
Ben: Bless you. Good therapeutic grade probiotic. I’m a huge fan of the Caprobiotics brand for this, that’s the one I swear by, it’s the one that most of my clients use. It’s, it originates from a goat-based source. A lot of people would tend to have some allergenic issues with some probiotics due just some fine with this one but caprobiotics plus gives you over 30 billion bacteria….
Brock: Holy smokes.
Ben: And that’s pretty high. Most of the probiotics that you get are like even the really good ones are gonna be like 10-15 so caprobiotics plus, if you eat 2 capsules you’re getting 60 billion plus and it also….
Brock: I’m actually looking at the one on my Mum’s counter and it’s 50 million.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah and the caprobiotics is packaged up with prebiotics which are essentially the food for probiotics so it’s pretty much got everything that you need in there.
The only thing it doesn’t have in it that I’m a little disappointed in is a strain of bacteria called saccharomyces boulardii which is….
Brock: I thought you were gonna say chocolate.
Brock: It doesn’t have chocolate in it.
Ben: Saccharomyces is something that a lot of people tend to get knocked out when they’ve been on the antibiotic regimen so a lot of times people who have been on antibiotics, I’ll tell them go take caprobiotics but also go use like you know, get the designs for health saccharomyces boulardii and add that in you know, keep that stuff cold in the refrigerator but you know, you do a therapeutic dose of probiotics like for something like appendix removal would be like you do 5 per day so you’re getting over a hundred billion good bacterial strains per day and then also add in like a couple capsules of like a saccharomyces boulardii. It’s abbreviated s-boulardii as well. Boulardii. Eat it in that 1-2 combo in and that’s something that would really help out as well so that’s some of the considerations when it comes to the appendix that I would think about. I would come at it at a bacterial standpoint.
Brock: The appendix, no longer vestigial. Coming soon to a theater near you.
Kate: Hi it’s Kate. I live in Melbourne, Australia and my question is about waking up feeling really tired with really heavy dark puffy circles under my eyes. I sleep well, I have a really good diet. I’m active and mostly my health is really good. But I have become really conscious over the last few months about these dark circles which I feel make me look old and tired and I’m wondering whether there could be any hormonal or medical or nutritional ways and for these circles despite the fact that otherwise I generally feel pretty good. Thanks. I really enjoy your podcast and I really look forward to your response.
Brock: You know I’ve been noticing and I’m not sure if this is Kate’s problem too but as I get older, the more the circles linger.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. And dark eye circles are naturally gonna get bigger and everybody’s gonna have more of an issue with them as they get older just because we lose some of the skin, some of the fat pad under the eyes becomes thinner that causes a lot of the blood vessels to become more noticeable under the eyes and that gives the appearance of dark circles. So the skin under the eyes, you know, it’s thin and delicate to start with and that’s just going to increase with age but there are certain things that can cause those blood vessels to become even more of an issue. Fluid retention is one big one so you tend to see fluid retention in folks who either have thyroid issues or cortisol issues or both. You know, pretty simple test I think I’ve talked about before if you wanna just do a quick at home test would be to take your body temperature, either your auxiliary or your oral body temperature over several days and if it’s consistently low, you know, if you’re scoring in like the 96’s, 97’s or even dropping down to the 95’s, a lot of times that could just be a clue that you might have a low thyroid. You can also go out and get like a TSH, T3, T4 blood panel but temperature can give you a decent idea, I mean, qualitative variables, you know, just always cold, that type of thing. There’s a, like a, there’s a really book out there called “Why Isn’t My Thyroid Working” or something like that and it’s just chockfull of really interesting information about the thyroid.
Brock: So is the opposite true then? Just to sort of go down that path. Like if you’re warm all the time could that be a hyperactive thyroid?
Ben: Warm all the time, inability to gain weight, all that stuff could indicate hyperthyroidism but I just went into that so much last then than hypothyroid issues. If you’re temperature is jumping around a while, or you’re seeing like increases or fluctuations of about 0.3, severe always at 96 and you’re jumping around and you’re you know, 98.2, 99, you’re all over the place, a lot of times that’s more adrenal gland, cortisol issues. A lot of times you tend to see the 2 go hand-in-hand like consistently low body temp combined with fluctuations in body temp so either way, cortisol and thyroid issues can be one thing. Biggest thing you can do for those is to take care of your adrenal glands and take care of especially the electrolyte balance in your kidneys. Aldosterone is one of the hormones that tend to become depleted with high cortisol and adrenal fatigue. You can fix up something like that by making sure that you’re on like a good like trace mineral or sea salt kinda supplement. I really like sea salt like Aztec sea salt or Himalayan sea salt.
I really like a good Chinese adaptogenic herb complex. I think it’s no secret to a regular podcast listener that I use a Chinese adaptogenic herb everyday. I swear by it. I use one called TianChi and it is a mix of pretty much every kinda like yin and yang stabilizer on the face of the planet in one little packet. There’s about 40 pounds worth of adaptogenic herbs. So that’d be one thing that you can do. Lack of sleep and stress of course are big issues and I don’t think that comes as a surprise to anybody who looks in the mirror after not sleeping enough or being stressed out and you know, that’s just a matter of you know, going back and checking out the articles at bengreenfieldfitness.com. Go there and do a search on stress, go there and do a search on sleep. I’ve written all the articles you’d ever need to control both those factors. Dehydration simple and stupid but just not drinking enough water can be a big issue when it comes to dark circles under the eyes. Iron deficiency. More commonly you tend to see this one in women just because of the blood loss but especially if your vegan or you’re vegetarian and you have dark circles under your eyes, that can be a pretty good sign of iron deficiency. So that’s another one to think about or look into. Sometimes it goes hand-in-hand again with the cortisol and the thyroid issues and so you gotta you know, control stress, get adequate sleep, take care of your thyroid, take care of your cortisol, and then also take on the iron so you might have to get on the like a high intake of rhenium based iron with a little bit of vitamin c to increase absorption. Make sure you’re getting your non- rhenium based iron sources from like kale and bokchoy and dark leafies and mustard greens. You know, getting it on steak, that type of thing.
Brock: Dark leafies.
Ben: That’s right. Your dark leafies. So speaking of dark leafies, there are home remedies that you can use too to decrease dark circles under the eyes. Cucumber slices, those actually work. You may laugh at them when you see them in the movies or in cartoons but cool….
Brock: I thought that was a total cliché.
Ben: Nope. Cool cucumber slices over closed eyes for about 15 minutes can work wonders. That’s something easy to do like when you’re travelling, you can usually get your hands on a cucumber. Tea bags also work. Not herbal tea bags ‘cause they’re tannings and the black tea are the healthy ingredient that helps out with the swelling underneath the eyes so you can just get like earl grey for example and you put a plain cool earl grey tea bag over closed eyes in the same way you would do cool cucumber slices.
Brock: I wanna make a terrible joke right now. But I won’t.
Ben: I don’t wanna know. The other thing that you can look into…. 2 other things. The first would be coffee. Has really good anti-wrinkle properties, it’s also great for puffy eyes. Now, I’m not talking about drinking it, I’m talking about a coffee-infused lotion or a coffee-based oil like an essential oil that you mix with a lotion that you already have underneath your eyes. I’ll put a link in the show notes if you’re one of those total DIY people….
Ben: So if you’re one of those total DIY people and you wanna make your own natural coffee under-eye cream, there is a mix that you can use that’s essentially a coffee essential oil that’s mixed with some of the usuals you’d find in home lotions like shea butter and cocoa butter and there’s a little bit of vitamin e in there. Really good recipe for lotion you could make at home. Most lotions at home follow the usual recipe and melt these oils together, you mix in the essential oils and you put it in like a mason jar so that’s one option. The other option is you just get a natural safe lotion that you’re already using so preferably one that’s you know, low on parabins, low on fragrances, low on thalates, low on a lot of these artificial compounds, like a good natural lotion, like a healthy lotion and there’s a bunch listed over at the Ben Recommends page at bengreenfieldfitness.com and you just get some coffee essential oil. I like the website mountainroseherbs for good, quality, organic, essential oils. You mix that in there, you can mix about 20 drops or so in with your lotion and that is all of a sudden, a coffee infused oil or a coffee infused lotion that you can use underneath your eyes and that can really help out as well with the dark eyes plus, even though there’s no caffeine in the actual coffee essential oil, just the smell of it might wake you up a little bit. So there you go. You might just save yourself the price of a mocha. The final thing you should think about and this is more of coming at it from a Chinese herbal standpoint is that the kidneys, a lot of times, are linked to the eyes and the appearance of the eyes in Chinese medicine. And they call this a kidney yang deficiency. When you show black eyes or black circles underneath your eyes. And so one of the things that you can do is take foods that can help with kidney yang deficiencies.
So some of the things they’ll use in Chinese medicine would be high intake of omega-3 fatty acids from things like walnuts, pistachios, cold water fish, sardines, things of that nature. There are particular herbs that they use for this, one is clove, one is phenol. So kinda like licorice-y clove based type of compounds seem to work really well when it comes to kidney yang deficiencies and then raspberries interestingly. So you can make yourself a nice sardine salad with some raspberries and walnuts.
Brock: Actually. I was laughing at first but that sounds delicious.
Ben: Put a little dill on there. Brock’s suggestion was to probably make yourself a sardine raspberry smoothie. In other words brainworks.
Brock: Smoothie everything.
Ben: There you go.
Brock: That way you don’t choke.
Ben: Everything goes into the blender. So those are some of the things that I would do.
Troy: Hey Ben, this is Troy from Jacksonville. I just wanted to know what is the best pre-imposed stretch exercises for maximum flexibility while cycling. Love the podcast. Thanks for everything.
Brock: If I’m not mistaken, Troy asked this question on Facebook and we steered him to do it in the podcast because it’s a good question.
Ben: It is and I think it’s a question that I used to be….
Brock: A pretty good one.
Ben: Pretty confused about too. I used to think that tight hamstrings and you know, doing all these low back stretches is really gonna make me a better, faster cyclist or reduce back pain on the bike, that type of thing, and I was totally thinking wrong because when you’re stretching your hamstrings and you’re stretching your calves, and you’re stretching your low back, you’re stretching all these muscles that are kind of in almost like a stretched out, lengthened position, when you’re sitting all day or when you’re working on a computer or when you’re hunched over. And really, in reality, what cyclists need to work on is opening up the body and this is an issue of strengthening more than it is stretching. The only one single muscle that I think cyclists really need to make sure that they stretch is the hip flexors and even that, if you’re a person who’s not sitting all day who’s standing, even if those aren’t super tight, you don’t need to stretch those as much as just, you know, you make sure just open up the hips using a few of the exercises that I’m gonna point you towards here in a second. But when I say opening the body or strengthening the body, the best thing that a cyclist could do would be to strengthen the scapula by doing rows or pull-ups because cyclists tend to have hunched shoulders in the same way that a swimmer tends to have hunched shoulders. So that would be number 1, to do lots of pulling because you’re in this hunched over kind of pushing position when you’re on a bike. Second best way to open up the body, not the 2ndbest way but the 2ndway to open up the body would be to strengthen the glutes, strengthen the hip extensors and when you strengthen the hip flexors, not only is that naturally stretch your hip flexors, but you’re gonna be working in strengthening a lot of those muscles that you’re gonna tend to use especially when you’re playing power against the pedals anyways. Now the number 1 way that I recommend that you strengthen your glutes or your hip muscles are these foundation exercises in the book “Foundation” by Eric Goodman and I will link to that book in the show notes but any cyclists, or swimmer, or runner, worth their salt should consider doing so what I do is every other day, I do these core foundation exercises. There’s 10 of them, it takes me about 15 minutes. I do them when I wake up in the morning. It’s kind of part of my deep breathing, you know, morning protocol where I wake up, I do a little bit of journaling, I do a little bit of measurement of my heart rate variability to see what my nervous system is like for that day then I get out of bed and it’s before the kids are up, before my wife is up, I go into the living room or I go outside and I either do my morning yoga or I do my morning foundation exercises. I alternate every other day between the 2 and combine that with deep diaphragmatic breathing preferably nasal, really good way to start the day and those exercises in particular, foundation exercises are really really good for cyclists so they’re uncommon exercises, things like sticking your butt out while you’re reaching for your arms overhead and kinda like externally rotating your hips and gripping the ground to your feet all at the same time. It’s a little bit intimidating when you first get started but you have it memorized, you have your exercise memorized within a week, that would be the top thing you could do. Now when cyclists….
Brock: I also add that not only it’s kind of intimidating, it’s kind of hilarious when you walk in somebody doing them. I walked in on Ben in Whistler, Ironman Canada doing them and I was like, “woah, excuse me.”
Ben: Yeah. Yeah.
Brock: Especially the butt sticking up, arms up in the air one.
Ben: Yeah. There’s a lot of air humping that goes on.
Brock: Interesting sight.
Ben: Yeah. You’re like a baboon.
Brock: He was in his underwear.
Brock: He was uncomfortable.
Ben: The baboon in heat look. So you’ll go to a lot of these popular cycling stretching websites and they’ve got the cyclist hunched over, stretching the hamstrings, hunched over stretching the IT band. Doing a lot of like wall-facing calves stretches and doing these exercises that really lengthen the muscles, weaken the muscles, stretch stuff that’s only kinda loose in cyclists and don’t really work on putting the hips on the proper position or re-aligning the body. So strengthen your rowing type of upper body muscles, strengthen your butt, stretch your hip flexors, if you sit down a lot and those are the top things that you could do when it comes to flexibility. I wouldn’t focus more on like yoga and long stretches and pre-imposed workout stretches as much as I would focusing on strengthening the body and opening the body if you’re a cyclist.
Brock: Glamo. That is that. Troy’s question was our last one for the day.
Ben: Well if….
Brock: It’s actually a good time to remind people if you enjoyed the show, don’t forget to go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/love.
Ben: That’s right and…
Brock: And leave us some love.
Ben: You can get some love at bengreenfieldfitness.com/love as well as leave some love and if you go to giftfromben.com Brock and I shot a good video for you over there. It’s a 5-minute long video. If you’re curious what Brock and I even look like, go to giftfromben.com and check that out and you can see us. Brock is about 5 foot 2, kind of a… ..
Brock: 320 pounds.
Ben: Big, kind of creepy mustache. So you can check that out.
Brock: Wider that I am tall.
Brock: I like to say.
Ben: And of course, go over to iTunes and leave us a review and I’m gonna read a review that’s left by a listener. If you hear us read your review then shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get a kick-butt tech shirt, beanie, and BPA-free Ben Greenfield fitness water bottle out to you and here is today’s review. It’s by SunshineSprite and she says or he says: “Love it, love it. Love it. I started listening to Ben on the Endurance Planet podcast which though awesome in itself was lacking on a regular serving of Ben so obviously, I went straight to the horse’s mouth and signed up for the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast as I love its approach to training, nutrition, fitness, and natural remedies, not to mention his goofy repartee with Brock. Always a fan of the silly.
Ben: I love it when Brock is just cast as the goofy sidekick. Makes me feel so smart. “His podcast has gotten me through both long training runs and boring subway rides. I often start sentences with so I heard something interesting on Ben Greenfield last podcast. At any rate, I suggest you join the church of Ben ASAP and revel in its sporty goodness.”
Brock: Sporty goodness.
Ben: My apologies to anyone who’s sharing a subway ride with SunshineSprite. It is Ben subjected to these so I heard something interesting on Ben Greenfield last podcast line. But that’s a really great review. I like it.
Ben: And she even mentioned the Endurance Planet and for those of you who don’t know, I do a weekly sports nutrition episode on enduranceplanet.com but apparently that’s not enough….
Brock: It’s not enough…
Ben: Church of Ben so there you go.
Brock: Yeah. Real churches insist that you go more than once a week.
Ben: That’s right. So hopefully that wasn’t too creepy in terms of its discipleship type of feel. We don’t wanna create a religion here just some healthy people. So that about wraps up. Happy Holidays to everybody listening in between Christmas and New Years. Remember not have a heart attack in the next few days and head over to bengreenfieldfitness.com/265 for all the resources from today’s show and until next time, we will….
Brock: Coming from our Mums’ houses.
Ben: Hopefully coming to you from our own big boy houses next time.