Show Summary: “Give your brain a break, let it be the true hybrid engine that it wants to be, and quit depriving it of this alternative or additional fuel, namely ketones.”
A lot of people have requested for Dr. Benjamin Bikman to be in the podcast again, and he's back with more valuable information that can save you and your family's lives! In the 89th episode, he discussed how glucose could kill and how it triggers different diseases when it goes up. Now, he'll discuss how it could affect the human body's neurological health.
When the brain is hungry, it can cause neurological problems. It's because the brain can't get enough energy from glucose, and there are simply no ketones around to provide the alternative fuel. Sadly, people usually eat sugary & starchy foods that don't have ketones, depriving the brain of what it needs.
Also, reductions in brain glucose use have been detected in those suffering from migraines which are also evident in Epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. Listen carefully as Dr. Benjamin breaks down the lethal effects of glucose & lack of ketones in the brain. Share this with your friends and family and learn how to protect yourself from neurological illnesses by trimming down your sugar intake.
Quick Recap: What is Insulin?
Dr. Benjamin 3:52
How insulin and sugar affect neurological disorders?
Dr. Benjamin 20:16
The best and easiest way to take care of your brain
Dr. Benjamin 49:56
Why We Get Sick
Welcome to the Gutsy Health Podcast.
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This is the Gutsy Health Podcast with Jaunique and Tristin Roney. Hey, you guys. Welcome back to the Gutsy Health Podcast. I have my co-host, Gina Worful, and then we have Dr. Benjamin Bikman back on the podcast. You guys, when we had him on about a month ago, everyone's minds were blown. It was one of my most shared podcasts, like one of the highest downloads. And it's just because when you've come across someone who is so knowledgeable and is so passionate about the biochemistry of the human body, it's hard to not have that be so infectious. So, Ben, welcome back. It is such an honor to have you here and to have you in front of our entire audience. Thank you.
My pleasure. I really enjoyed our first round. And I'm looking forward to round two.
I mean, I cannot tell you how many messages I got where they were like, yes, please bring him back, because that's what we said in the last podcast episode. Just to recap everyone we spoke about a month ago, we will tag the last podcast in the show notes. We spoke about hormones, we spoke about insulin resistance. Everything was about how we are consuming too much sugar and how that's leading to insulin resistance and how that's affecting our hormones, how that's affecting cancer rates, how that's affecting mitochondrial health. And today, we wanted to dove a little bit more into how that's affecting us neurologically. But before we do that, Ben in your foreword, you mention on the very first page how back in the nineteen hundreds, the top three killers were lung infections, tuberculosis and gastrointestinal infections. But today, when we asked the question why we get sick, it's heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Can you tell us what happened in a hundred years?
Yeah, what a wonderful way to start. There were two things that happened. One was the genuine benefits of scientific knowledge in the realm of our understanding of human health. And that was really the discovery of antibiotics. And that is why we had the almost total loss of death or, you know, the taking away of death from infectious causes. And at the same time as we were getting so clever making these scientific discoveries to prolong life, we inadvertently used the same scientific tools to make food much worse and less nutritious than it ever was before. And now we're eating foods that our ancestors, even just a few generations ago, would have never imagined. And mind you, they would have had the same struggles with these incredibly delicious, dare I say, addictive foods that we have now. So there's nothing inherently broken with us and our addiction to these foods that any human would experience this across any time. So that really, in my mind, is the problem where some there was a wonderful advancement which cut the disease, the deaths from infectious diseases. And as those diseases went down, of course, people have to die from something. We just happened to replace it with diseases that were almost nowadays, most instances cancers. A bit of an exception always. But in most instances they're entirely a result of the food we eat.
Right, and how our food, like you said, is just so nutrient depleted but we are mass producing sugar. We're mass producing grains. I mean, when you look at the old food pyramid from USDA or whatever it is at the bottom of that food pyramid, the thing that they tell you to consume the most is bread and grains. Right. And that is not what you recommend or what we recommend. And so changing this cultural idea that we actually should go to wholefood, plant-based, healthy meats, healthy proteins, that's a massive lifestyle shift and a cultural shift because our culture is so ingrained in soda and fast food and inflammatory oils and processed stuff. Can you quickly or not quickly take as much time as you want, but can we recap what is insulin? What is blood sugar? Why is it destroying our bodies? Why is this the epidemic of our day and age that is our number one killer?
Yes. So insulin, by way of a fundamental background, insulin is a little hormone. It's a peptide hormone that's a unique class of hormone, unique, but the most common, in fact. In other words, it's just a little protein. And that stands in contrast to other hormones like sex hormones, which are cholesterol based hormones are two very different things. But what they all have in common, what makes a hormone a hormone, is that one cell or some cells are making it and then it's telling other cells in other parts of the body what to do. So insulin is released from our pancreas and it is telling every cell in the body to do something. Every cell in the body will respond to insulin in some way. Now because there are so many different types of cells, it's no surprise that insulin tells cells to do so many different things. Its most famous thing or its most famous defect is generally what it does at fat cells and muscle cells, and that is to stimulate the uptake of glucose. Essentially, when glucose is up in the blood, if it stays up, that's lethal, we would literally die from that through one a couple of different mechanisms, but nevertheless it would be lethal.
So insulin comes in as the hero and knocks on the doors of the cells in the fat tissue and muscle tissue opens these glucose doors and allows the glucose to come in from the blood, thereby lowering blood glucose and then insulin, having done its job, retreats back into the background and insulin levels will go down. That is the natural physiological process. But as happens so often in physiology, there's a pathophysiology to it. There's a there's a sick version of it. And the sick version of it essentially comes from our incessant consumption of insulin spiking carbohydrates. Now, we make that even worse by adding to these insulin spiking carbohydrates, highly refined oils as well. And that is essentially in its simplest version, that would be a carbohydrate that is packaged in a bag or a box with a barcode. If someone's eating their carbohydrates from prepackaged foods, it is almost certainly going to be containing some refined seed oils, most especially soybean oil, or they may be clever enough to call it vegetable oil. And there's no such thing as a true vegetable oil. It's all these seed oils and that is how they come together and that there's a not to get off the topic. But I will for just a moment that almost right there is the division in how I view carbohydrates that I in no way throw all carbohydrates under the bus despite someone perhaps wanting to hear me say that. That's not what I'm saying. Carbohydrates should come out of bags and boxes and they should be fruits and vegetables, especially grains are in particular foods that we have changed drastically.
And now, especially here in the Mountain West, I think it's safe to say we have a particular obsession with grains. We revere them in a way that I don't think was ever intended to be the case. And I think it's also prudent of us to scrutinize how grains have changed over the years, certainly over the last two hundred years. But nevertheless, back to the original point, the incessant consumption of insulin spiking carbohydrates, especially combined with incredible levels of omega six polyunsaturated fats, these are playing into insulin, essentially never getting a break that insulin know. We eat a starchy sugary meal and insulin may take up to three hours or more to come back down to where it was before.
And by then, because we live in a culture where we can never stop eating, we've bumped it back up again before insulin ever had a chance to get back down to fasting levels or baseline levels. And so essentially, we've created a dietary environment where a person is spending every waking moment and well into their sleeping moments in a state of elevated insulin. And when insulin is chronically elevated, the cells of the body will start to turn down its sensitivity to that insulin. Now, not all cells can do that. Some cells will start to like the muscle cells. They will start to keep the doors closed in a way where insulin is trying to come and do something in the muscle cells just aren't listening. Now, other cells, though, like the Thika cells of the brain that make the sex hormones, they stay sensitive to insulin. So an insulin is going now several times higher than it used to be all the time. The muscle cells have become resistant to it and then the thicker cells are just sort of a victim of the high insulin where they don't they can't become deaf to the insulin screams.
They continue to hear them with perfect clarity and can't help but respond. But in this case, they're responding too much. And that really is the heart of insulin resistance. Then it is that confluence of two events. It's the two sides of the coin, I think I described it, which is chronically elevated insulin and insulin not working the same way that all of the cells of the body.
Yeah, that's beautiful. I wanted to ask you a little bit about I wanted to go back to we all know when we eat carbs and sugar, it spikes our insulin. But you mentioned the polyunsaturated fatty acids, these vegetable oils. And what is the mechanism that is happening when we eat those? Let's say someone ingests fries from a restaurant. That's the potato starch and you know, those carbs there. And then the canola oil that it's fried in. What is that inflammatory oil doing to our bodies? Because, you know, a lot of times we don't even think about those inflammatory oils. We're just like, oh, it's just an oil at the fat. It will stabilize our blood sugar. How does that affect insulin and our blood sugar?
Yes. That's a wonderful question. So the primary fat, just to be very specific, the primary fat of concern or of interes t is a fat called linoleic acid. It's basically a kind of a version of olive oil where olive oil has one unsaturated bond, like a fat molecule is a big, long string. It's like a pearl neck, and then the pearls are carbon atoms, carbon, the carbon that's all around us in the air and in the plants, in the vegetables and things, we eat well, everything.
So it's a long string of pearls in the pearls or carbons with olive oil, one between one of those sets of pearls. There's a bit of a different strand connecting them together in the case of linoleic acid. Now we have three of those different little strands. There's something different between carbon bonds across three different instances that that isn't what's called an unsaturated bond and that there in lies the problem or the concern, because really fat molecules potential to harm is the potential for it to become altered.
And that is why linoleic acid in particular is so problematic, because it has so many of these weaker bonds, these unsaturated bonds, and it is at these unsaturated bonds where the molecule can become what's called oxidized. And so what happens with especially with linoleic acid, it becomes what's called a lipid peroxide, which is a remarkably dangerous reactive oxygen species. So people nowadays we'd like to talk about oxidative stress a lot and get these antioxidants in. And there's some truth to this and there's some exaggeration to this. The fact is we need oxidative stress. The body must have it. And when we try to turn down oxidative stress too much, we end up causing problems on the on one significant end, it could be a contributor to cancer.
On another end, if we turn down oxidative stress too much, we don't get the beneficial adaptations to exercise. We need a little bit of oxidative stress. And that is one of the mechanisms the immune system will use to kill bad cells. It will basically use oxidative stress as a weapon. So we need it. But when you have what's called these lipid peroxides, which are derived almost totally from linoleic acid, the primary fat from things like soybean oil and canola oil and corn oil, a lipid peroxide is a particularly damaging reactive oxygen species because it's a fat and fat molecules are able to slip their way through cells and membranes so they can slip into the mitochondria and create mutations in the mitochondria.
They can slip into the nucleus and create mutations in the DNA and slip into the membrane of the cell and damage the membrane of the cell. So that is really at the heart of why I'm so wary of things like soybean oil because of the high composition of linoleic acid, which again, has such a propensity or such a potential to become a weapon of mass destruction within every cell in the body. And now let's compare that then to natural fats, which are the fats that we as humans have been eating since the beginning of our species. However, we came to be who we are.
We've been eating animal fats and fruit fats, and certainly we ate animal fats first. But the fruit fats, those are the fats that our ancient ancestors would have been able to obtain fairly easily, because that's when you just get the flesh of a fruit, like a coconut or an avocado or an olive, and you just simply have to press it. You can even step on it and it'll create enough gravity or enough pressure to extrude an oil from it. So we've been we're well adapted to those oils. And the more saturated fat is which these natural fats tend to have, the more saturated fat is, the more stable it is. And so it is, in fact, virtually impossible to make a lipid peroxide from a saturated fat, whereas soybean oil, like a polyunsaturated fat, it can become oxidized at the moment. It hits the atmosphere like the moment you open that bottle of vegetable oil.
It's probably already somewhat rancid, but it's certainly getting rancid in real time, let alone when you heat it eating it just accelerates it in orders of magnitude. And so when someone's eating French fries that have been, which they always are nowadays, fried in soybean oil, they are getting every fat molecule on there has become basically an oxidized or a peroxide version of itself. And that's a problem because linoleic acid in its pure form, if we eat it and it's not oxidized, which again, that almost means you have to just get it from natural sources like animal fats, all animal fats will have some linoleic acid, but it's that exquisitely low levels and it's totally inert. But the body can actually burn telecasted like a fuel like it can any fat. You just have to let it stay as the fat in the moment someone's drinking it from or eating it as a packaged oil. It has gone through heavy processing where it is very likely already been oxidized to a degree, let alone actually heated it up. And the heat threshold is very, very low for these to become liquid peroxides. And that then back to your original question as I've gone on this much longer.
It's beautiful, I love it.
That becomes the heart of the problem where the body, these molecules, these liquid peroxides are so damaging that immune cells like macrophages, kind of the hero of the immune cells, the poster child, it will seek these lipid peroxides and engulf them to try to get rid of them from the body. And then it will call out to other immune cells. It will basically tell it'll be one macrophage eating, let's just say one lipid peroxide from linoleic acid. But it knows that there's other linoleic acid molecules there. It will send out an inflammatory signal. It will start releasing these pro inflammatory hormones, which is essentially one cells call to the other cells saying, hey, I need your help.
That's kind of what inflammation is and why we never should speak about it in a bad way because we need it. Without it, we would have died from even the most modest wounds and infections, but that is what inflammation essentially is. It's a cry for help where one immune cell is recruiting other immune cells. And that's the signal, the inflammatory signal that's calling this bringing them all together. But when we are incessantly eating these fats, it's a losing battle and the immune system is fighting. It's like it's fighting an infection that it just can never win because the insult is this fat that we just keep eating and we eat it. There may be people listening. I'm sure I mentioned this last time, maybe people listening who think, well, I don't eat soybean oil, I don't eat vegetable oil. Chances are you do. It is the single most commonly consumed fat in the American diet. We eat more of our fat calories from soybean oil than any other fat. And it's funny because people want to lay the blame on animal fats.
And we don't eat any more fat from beef, for example, than we did from 1999 until 2020. We eat no more of our fat calories from beef than we have over one hundred years. But it's soybean oil that essentially went from zero to the most common consumed fat in our diet.
Well, how often do you think people are probably grabbing their omega 3s from the store and those are likely to be rancid, that they're just picking up the Costco shelf?
That is exactly right. Yep. Yep. And I'm thrilled you mention that because we can speak very glowingly of omega three fats and we do and perhaps for good reason, they do appear to change the way we metabolize omega six fats. So it's almost like they compete for metabolism. But Omega 3s have a polyunsaturated they have multiple unsaturated bonds. And so we should also scrutinize how they have been processed. And while I am a big advocate of Omega three, I'm a big advocate of getting it the way it may I say the way God intended, which is eat it in the natural form, get it from fish and the linoleic acid that the omega six fat that's coming in those animal fats, you don't have to worry about it at all. The body knows what to do with it when it gets it in its original form.
And what about when you cook that fish? Do you think that heat is oxidizing those omega 3s?
That is a great question. I honestly don't know. I know of a study that looked at the thermo stability of Omega six and compared that to saturated fats, and I've honestly never seen data on Omega three fats.
I'm curious because my opinion on fish oils is I actually don't recommend them unless it's from a company that boasts that they extract their fish oil very delicately. But my favorite and I'm curious, Ben, if you have an opinion on this, but my favorite is cod liver oil, because it has its built-In vitamin A and vitamin D, which act as like antioxidants. So it's kind of like their own built in damage control. And so. So would you agree with that? Because a lot of people are like, well, I get tuna omega and I'm like, oh, you should probably get the cod liver oil because of that built in like damage control mechanism of those vitamins. What would you say to that?
Yeah, I think that's genius, actually. So if there were some assurances that the Omega three oil was kept at, say, cold temperature and not processed other than just somehow simply extruded, which I actually don't fully understand that process, but the fact that natural omega three fats come with like vitamin E or, you know, for example, which one of these known antioxidants, it might be nature's way of preserving the Spolin saturated fat in its natural state.
So, yes, I would say I would in fact, agree. I would think cod liver oil would be a better choice.
Probably like the most ideal, and I know you're going to both of you are going to say is like I love sardines, like sardines are such a good superfood. And you guys just try it with a little bit of like mayo and a little bit of apple cider vinegar and like dip some crackers and that or..
I like avocado.
Yes, it can be so, so good. If you guys like tuna, you'll like sardines, sardines that are great omega three source as well as other things. Ben, can we transition into talking about neurological health, Alzheimer's. I know you've been doing some research around this, and if you guys are interested in hormone health, weight loss, cancer, we spoke about that in the last podcast, definitely go and listen to it. It was so popular, but today we wanted to really unpack neurological disorders and how insulin and sugar affects that.
Yeah. So let me speak to my own data first, which I can speak to, of course, as a as an absolute authority. And then I can cite other data and then maybe present the bigger picture. So our publication from a few months ago revealed that the background is that we had access to actual human samples from the hippocampus. So humans who had died with our collaborators actually measure a huge list of genes from the hippocampus of people who had died with Alzheimer's disease and people who had died without and they were age matched. So these were people of the same age. We were able to compare them across like that, maybe further background, additional background. The hippocampus is the memory and learning center. So that is the site of concern. When when we talk about things like Alzheimer's disease and cognition, there are other brain centers like the hypothalamus is the appetite center, for example, and the other sections. But the hippocampus is the site that we're interested in when it comes to memory and learning. So that's where we did our studies and we looked at two gene expression, involved in two energetic pathways, glucose metabolism and ketone metabolism. And why those two? Because those sorts of two energy sources for the brain. The brain doesn't use fat for fuel. The brain is so fat itself, it uses fat for building itself. Infrastructure so ketones are a fuel that the body can get from fat and then glucose, of course, is just glucose.
Now that is. So those are the genes we studied and we found that virtually every gene involved in glucose metabolism was significantly down, not even subtly down, but a lot down from the hippocampus of the people who had Alzheimer's disease at the time of their death. In contrast, the genes involved in ketone metabolism were almost totally normal and these were a lot of genes. I think we measured around twenty five genes involved, every literally everyone involved in glucose metabolism and they were all down.
We measured the roughly 18 genes involved in ketone metabolism and only two of them were down in one particular part of the hippocampus. All the rest were normal. That was a tremendous genetic justification or corroboration of what other groups have seen. So those are my labs data and we have more to come on that soon. But then it was a perfect corroboration of other human data. And this is other groups now that I'm citing. But other groups have shown that people with even mild cognitive impairment, so really early stage Alzheimer's disease, when you measure the rate of glucose metabolism in their brain, it is significantly down.And again, this is even in people that would not be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, that they kind of just it's early. It's so early. And yet we see these detections. We can detect this reduction in glucose use. However, ketone use was totally normal.
And this is something that you can detect. There was a study from the same group. They measured this brain energy use in women in their 20s who have polycystic ovary syndrome, which is, of course, an insulin resistance problem that we spoke about last time. So this reduction in brain glucose, energy use is so sensitive that you can detect it even in young, healthy women in their 20s and you can correlate it with just even modest cognitive impairments. So this is something that really persists.
So why is this happening? Like why when the brain uses glucose for fuel, why is that genetic component so sensitive and so easily broken down? Is it because we're eating too much glucose? Is it because it's a really sensitive and finicky gene? Is it because we're supposed to be oscillating between ketones for brain fuel and glucose for brain fuel like what's happening, do you think?
Yeah, yeah. There's so much I'm going to try to remember everything that's going through my head right now to get it all out there, because it's such a great question and I have, if I may say such a great answer. So there are some unknowns causes, as I'm speculating a little, we are one the low hanging fruit. I'll start with that then we can climb the tree to the harder fruits. The lowest hanging fruit would be insulin resistance itself that we know the hippocampus becomes insulin resistant. We know that people with insulin resistance, even PCOS and girls in their twenties, let alone an older, you know, a 60 year old guy who's overweight and has hypertension and type two diabetes. We know that insulin resistance is an incredibly relevant risk factor when it comes to cognitive impairments like Alzheimer's disease and what is likely the case here. Is that the hippocampus has also become insulin resistant and insulin controls glucose use everywhere to some degree, the hippocampus is no exception. It's kind of like the muscle in the fat cells that I mentioned earlier. There are glucose doors that insulin needs to come and knock on for them to open. Well, the hippocampus has some of these doors. So as the hippocampus becomes insulin resistant, it is just reducing all of its glucose metabolism. So that's the low hanging fruit that I can mention with pretty high confidence.
That is really scary. Can I just say that? Because most of us have insulin resistance, so if we have insulin resistance in our muscles, in our fat cells, we have it in our brain. That's what you're saying?
Yes. At some point it's probably going to make its way there. Yes.
And therefore, we probably suffer with, like brain fog and memory loss and all of these things. And we just say, oh, because I'm tired. Before you move on, I do want you to move on. But I want people to also realize, but also contributes to insulin resistance is stress and sleeplessness. And we are a society that thrive off of those two things. We glorify, we revel in it. Right. You can have the perfect diet and your glucose and your insulin could still be spiking because you're so stressed out of your mind. So I just wanted to remind people of that then keep going, because this is so juicy now.
And I love what you said, though we revel in it. In fact, we brag about how just how busy we are and how we brag about how much our phones are beeping at us.
Yeah, it's tragic. So you'd mentioned stress is a contributor to insulin resistance. In fact, that kind of is a nice segue to the other point that I wanted to make, which is inflammation. We know that inflammation in the brain is a significant variable when it comes to cognition and Alzheimer's disease. And this is where our newest work, I think, becomes provocative and compelling, where we are looking at the degree to which a certain molecule called jeremiads. And that might sound familiar because people put it in lotions and shampoos. And I don't have a problem with that. I don't think it's harmful on the skin. But when you have too much jeremiads in a cell, the cell becomes insulin resistant. So we've measured the amount of ceramide from the hippocampus of mice that are used as Alzheimer's models and a way to study Alzheimer's disease.
And we see that there is much more ceramide in the hippocampus. And my post-doctoral work when I was at Duke Medical School in Singapore, of all places, a beautiful place. My big contribution to science at the time was detailing how inflammation increases ceramides accumulating within cells. And so another contributor to this kind of separate from insulin resistance in a global way or in a whole body way, is that if the hippocampus is experiencing inflammation, then it will be accumulating ceramide. And then the ceramides in turn will make a cell insulin resistant hippocampus included. So still comes back to some form of insulin.
Now, one last thing, and I'm happy I remembered you'd mentioned cycling between ketones and glucose in the brain. I think that is tremendously healthy. And I also think it is our natural state. And I say that because that is how we literally develop in the fetus. These are studies from rats because you couldn't do these kinds of studies in humans. We know that in the mom, most of her ketones in pregnancy are going to the fetus, especially to the baby's brain. This growing little baby's brain, I very much suspect it's similar to humans. So even the developing in utero little baby's brain is hungry for ketones and we see that with newborns. So even once baby has come out of mommy and is now a separate little being.
Well, I would say it always was. Now, as we see it, as a separate being. Now we know that a newborn can get into deep, deep ketosis within just hours. In fact, it's shocking how fast. So a baby will breastfeed in the natural milk sugars would result in an insulin release which would tamp down babies ketone production.\
Now, interestingly, mom's milk is enriched with medium chain triglycerides, which are themselves very ketogenic. They're also antiviral and antibacterial and many other things, which is why there's a study in the Philippines now looking at the potential effect of coconut oil on actual covid-19 because it's such an antiviral, these medium chain fats. But breast milk has this in their very ketogenic. And so it is baby's natural state where baby eats, and within two hours after breastfeeding, a baby will be in as deep a state of ketosis, that it would take an adult of two days of fasting to get into.
And I want to add that formula does not have those medium chain fatty acids. It doesn't.
And so I remember studying that and being like, oh my gosh, these are so, so, so important for their development and you only get that from breast milk. And so keep going because I'm so glad you touched up on that.
Yeah. Did we talk about this last time?
We did. Yeah, we spoke about how formula, the first ingredient in high fructose corn, sirup and all they care about is the macros and nothing about micros. And so we are just setting up babies for failure when it comes to insulin resistance.
Yep, yep. And really not that I'm giving anyone advice, but if this were my baby and we weren't able to breastfeed our babies, I would do everything I can to find something like a good goat milk or something similar. But all of this just reflects that ketones and maybe to really put a fine point on it. One of the reasons premature babies will so often experience learning disorders later in life, like actually have genuine developmental delay and learning disorders, it's very likely because they don't have enough fat when they're born in an underweight, because that's what happens. That kind of the last trimester, mind you, in mom's insulin levels are at her peak to help baby get fat. But that's really it, baby. Everything is essentially there and ready to go. The lungs aren't quite polished off, but it's essentially help baby get as fat as possible because once baby is born, all of that fat will end. Of course, the fats the baby's getting from milk, that's going to be a source of ketones for the baby and those ketones will fuel the brain. And so a key to a healthy baby is truly its fat. And that is something and if I said this last time, I apologize, but that is something where we as mammals are incredibly unique and as humans, we human mammals we are, which all of us are. We're so unique because we are the only land based mammals that are born obese and we are the only mammals bar none full stop who has a brain and skull larger than the birth canal.
We have these massively big hungry brains that we're born with and they need ketones to fuel them. So if a baby is born underweight, we really want to fatten that baby up. Now, we don't want to do it with soybean oil, which is what formula has in it. We want to do it. It is soybean oil is the main fat in baby formula. We want to do it with natural fats like dairy fats, if at all possible. Again, I'm not giving advice here and I don't want someone to misinterpret what I'm saying. But a baby is supposed to have fat on it, on his or her little body, because that fat will be burned as ketones and ketones are perhaps the preferred fuel for the human brain.
Wow. And you said the preferred fuel. How often should we be in ketosis and how do we get into ketosis and what should we be doing? Like what is the ideal scenario as people roaming the earth right now as far as brain health goes, that we have these brains that are not aging?
Yeah, yeah. So I say ketones are a preferred fuel because some of these same studies that I've cited and others find that as ketones start to go up in the blood. And the fastest way to do that is fasting. And what we see is that as ketones are going up in the blood, a brain, ketone use goes up as well. And there's a huge, tremendous myth. And this is largely perpetuated because of well intentioned yet ignorant professors at universities who say that the brain can only use glucose and that is absolutely false.
When ketones are available in the blood, the brain will be getting 75 percent of all of its energy from ketones. So glucose takes a back seat to ketones. The moment the ketones are in the blood, the brain will start using them. That to me, even though the body can be swimming, it can be flush with glucose. But the moment the ketones are there, it starts to switch over and start using ketones. That to me is quite telling just how valuable the ketones are to the brain.
So Jaunique your question I love and I have to just speculate here because I don't know if studies that have, you know, quantified the amount of ketosis or frequency of ketosis, I would say a person would maybe on one end. I actually I'll say this and it'll be a little bold. I will say be in ketosis every morning, at least to some point in the morning and that is very doable. Someone might hear me say that and think, oh, my goodness, that's ridiculous. It isn't. If someone fasts for about sixteen hours, they'll usually be at the low levels of ketosis and that is fine for the brain. The brain will start using it and that's not as hard as people think because it basically means don't snack in the evening and don't eat a sugary or starchy breakfast.
That's it. If someone just does those two things, you know, when you're done dinner at six o'clock or so, you're done. No more food because anything else you eat is going to be junk. The whole that's when we're at our weakest.
What do you think about exogenous ketones, helpful ornot helpful?
Yeah. Yeah, really. That's great.
So can you explain what exogenous ketones are? That's when you ingest that from a product, is that correct Gina?
Yeah, that's right.
So exogenous. It just means it's coming from outside of the body as opposed to say endogenous, which is when we make it. It's coming from within our own bodies. So, yeah, there is enough so ketones over the past few years have been shown to be so genuinely beneficial, reducing oxidative stress, reducing inflammation. And I don't say these things lightly. I know that's the kind of thing someone will say. And it's almost it's just casual, like, oh, this is antiinflammatory. This will cut your inflammation when they don't actually have any evidence to back it up. It literally will result in less oxidative stress. When it's burned as a fuel, it will literally inhibit inflammation. So these are very, very well done studies that prove this. So I can understand the interest in ketones, in my thought on exoticness ketones is that if someone is experiencing a disorder that requires high ketones as almost part of the therapy, then exogenous ketones are entirely justified. And that would include things like neurological disorders. If I were talking to someone who had Alzheimer's or early stage Alzheimer's, I would absolutely say I would absolutely encourage them to look into some exogenous ketones. But the same goes with migraines. So everything as I've been speaking about Alzheimer's disease, there's been this common undercurrent that actually flows through other neurological problems, which is this brain glucose, hypo metabolism, or a brain that is not getting as much energy from glucose that it used to. We've been speaking about it in the context of Alzheimer's disease, but the exact same thing is evident with epilepsy and with migraines. So people who have migraine headaches also have detectable or demonstrable reductions in brain glucose use. It's just a different part of the brain in all of these disorders. But that's what they all have in common. They all are, to some degree, problems of the brain kind of being hungry. And the hunger is derived in two ways because it can't get enough energy from glucose and there are simply no ketones around to provide the alternative fuel because the average individual is eating starchy sugary meals six times a day so they don't have any ketones. So exogenous ketones I think are warranted. Certainly in those instances, I would say they're also warranted in extreme athletics because it is another fuel that a person can take. Sure they're drinking their Gatorade, which of course is pure garbage, but it's giving them glucose, which is a genuine energy source. And you could also be drinking ketones as well, which is an entirely separate energy source altogether.
So what are your thoughts on is this the same for, like, MS Gambaro syndrome or is it just specific to the brain?
Yeah. Oh, that's great. So MS there is even there a little bit of evidence, nothing as compelling with the other ones I just mentioned. There's a little bit of evidence to show that ketones in ketosis might be helpful. I actually think it's less a matter of energy in that case and more a matter of inflammation and the loss of myelin or these kind of neuroprotective wraps around our neurons. There is studies to show that people with MS benefit tremendously when they eat more fat and have more cholesterol in their diet. And that could just be part of the reality that we're myelin. You know, this protective covering of neurons relies on cholesterol. And that might be why people who take cholesterol inhibiting medications like statins can so commonly suffer from pain.
Don't get me started on statins.
Because the loss of cholesterol is resulting in literal damage to their neurons.
Oh, man, don't get me started on statins. We could do a whole podcast on that. But yeah, I was just curious if that affects other areas too. And I also want to remind everyone that, you know, you were saying that the brain experiencing this type of insulin resistance like this MS because of inflammation, you know, and you were talking about the polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are so systemic in our food. So insulin is not like when we're talking about brain health. It's not just insulin, even though that is a big one. We got to watch out for these poofters, these polyunsaturated unsaturated fatty acids like this is what our American diet is thriving in, are these two big evils. So we need to be hyper aware and hyper focused on that and protect our children, because here's my other question that I wanted to ask. Oh, my gosh, I'm so glad I remembered. Do you think that there is a link between poofters and high insulin, high sugar and ADD and ADHD and all of these mood disorders or ADHD are not mood disorders, but do you think there is a link here?
I do. Now, this is me. I'm speculating. So everyone please know there's very I think there's one manuscript I've ever seen published that looked at. It was a case study of a kid with, oh, that was autism. It was a case study with autism. One autistic boy whose parents put him on a ketogenic diet and noted very obvious improvements in the child. So that's a case study, which is basically an anecdotal report. I do think that. I think that when we are putting kids, we basically wire that child's brain to be subject to the highs and lows of glucose rather than experiencing or relying on or knowing even how even providing the kind of steady energy that can come from a diet that is controlling carbohydrates, where we're letting our kids, as I've said, already, get their carbohydrates from bags and boxes of barcodes. That's not the way to do it.
The kid is going to get this big, big rise in glucose, which is almost always accompanied by a rapid drop and in many instances an excessive drop where the drop the glucose levels have gone below where they were before because the insulin response was just so significant that it kind of overshot what was needed. This happens to people, happens to kids. And I think it is a testament to how clever companies and marketers have become, where we will look at giving our child a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice and think we're doing them a favor. We think we're helping our child by doing this in fruit juice, I think is one of the great marketing wins for these companies because it's just pure garbage. But fruit isn't, of course, I'm not saying fruit is, but fruit juice is garbage.
So, yeah, I think the more we allow and I think about this a lot as well as a father, I look at what has changed in how kids will eat compared to even how I want to eat. We don't even have to look back in time to previous generations. But really, it's this absolute shift in the macronutrients.
Oh, my gosh, yes.
She has to get excessive levels of processed carbohydrates combined with excessive levels of processed fats, all while removing protein, which is the literal building block of so much of our tissues. And because protein is expensive. And so if you're just creating a product to make money, which I don't mean for that to sound cynical, I am a capitalist, you know, having gone to almost every communist country except North Korea when I was in South Korea, but having lived in Russia, visited Cambodia and Vietnam and South Korea, I'm very much a capitalist. But not to change the topic or I'm in favor of the virtues of capitalism or what can be done. But when you see what we're giving, what a manufacturers incentive is, which is to make money, they want a product that will simply increase their bottom line, and that will be to use cheap carbohydrates, cheap fat, and to remove the expensive part, which is protein. Protein is expensive and so if they can get away with not putting it in, they certainly will because it'll make them a little more money. But that is what we need to shift. We need to then make sure our kids are getting protein from the best sources, which will always be animal sources. There's just no apologizing for that. Animal proteins are the best. And then we want to make sure that they're getting fruits and vegetables, you know, the best forms of carbohydrates. And they're getting the fats that are supposed to come with those animal proteins that we want them to eat. Don't take those fats out as much as we can. We want that kid to be eating those fats that come with those proteins. And so it's a direct rebuke of kind of the modern processed food.
There are two things I want to say to that. One, you spoke about macros versus micros. I'm seeing a big I've seen this trend over the past few years where these like health experts and I put there in air quotations. They are like intense people that work out and they build muscle and they're constantly like recording on Instagram, like, oh, I did X amount of grams of protein and fat in this. And they are getting their food from like, you know, low sugar this and low sugar that five years down the line, they're starting to be hit with like all these health issues. Right. And they're starting to learn like, oh my gosh, I did this wrong and these artificial sweeteners are damaging my liver. And it actually wasn't about the macros I didn't get enough micronutrients in. And so I'm not saying like, oh, this is so interesting and fun to see. It's not fun to see people suffering, but it is a testament to macro versus micros. If you are eating what nature made you, if you're eating, you know, vegetables and fruits and healthy proteins and legumes and all of that, you don't have to count macros like you shouldn't like your body is designed to eat these foods and thrive off of them like it literally. These foods have the damage control built in them to heal and repair and to stabilize things. So I'm so glad you spoke about that. There's one other thing touching on the capitalism thing. Oh, my gosh. I want everyone if you have time, go to YouTube or maybe we'll find the link and put it in the show notes. But Hassan Manaj, he has a show on Netflix and he highlights the capitalism around soda here in the United States and how it went into China and how it went into India and how they literally paid their own scientists to create the campaign of you.You're not fat because you're eating sugar. You're fat because you're not exercising. So just exercise more and consume your soda. And then they also like they paid off or they had employees within government structures to keep repeating that and seeing that same story. So not only did they have their own private funds, but they had paid off people and all in the name of capitalism. Like you said, I'm all for capitalism if it's not off the backs of the health of the American people or people in general.
We even see this. Yeah, and this is just happening still in real time. The American, one of my biggest groups that I've had to struggle with professionally are a group of dietetics or dietitians in this. You look at the American Dietetic Association who actually grants the life or dietitians and look who is funding, who's paying for the party. Oh yeah Gina you're part of, you're up to your eyeballs in these folks.
Well, I remember going to the first conference by the academy, and it was funded by POPs soda company.
General Mills, the big major sponsors just feeding the information and you're like, what?
I remember there is a picture going around that really gave dietitians a bad name because there was a photo of a dietitian with, like, Snickers bars and she was like, yes, this is a healthy part of our diet. And it's like, I get it, the ballot balance and all things included. But to come from this point of like this is a healthy choice or it's like, I don't know, it just the whole conference is being funded by different soda companies and General Mills, and that's all tha it was awful. I never went back again.
I don't blame you.
And well, in fact, there's something I can't help but add this to what you're saying. One of the great, I guess, for lack of a better word, is myth's. One of the great myths of modern kind of nutrition is this idea of moderation in all things. But that's in principle that sounds so wonderful. But when you're talking about addictive foods, you can't moderate something that's addictive until the alcoholic one glass of wine per day is perfectly healthy.
But they can't do that. They can't stop at one glass of wine. So while in principle I can sort of sagely nod my head at the idea of moderation in all things, but in practice it doesn't work because when we're talking about addictive foods and that's usually worked, ironically, that's typically where people are invoking it. You know, they're talking about, well, I'm having my big Coke and I'm having a candy bar or I'm having some French fries. But it's OK moderation in all things. That's the very thing that can't moderate. No one ever says that while they're eating an apple or you're cutting into a steak.
We treat and indulge ourselves in what nature created like you real men in your senses and you eat fruit. It's like, oh, my gosh, what an incredible experience. Why do we even need to have the Snickers?
Well, and also, like we need to remember, sugar is the most addictive substance on the planet and it's a legal substance, too. And so these companies, these corporations, they know this. They use it to their advantage, like, why do we monitor other things? But when it comes to sugar is just like Free-Range, it's like, yeah, put as much sugar in that as you want. We're not going to limit it. What's happening? Where is the government there? Where where are the dietitians protecting us from that? Right? I mean Tristin has been in the hospital so many times and I look at the menu items and I am dying inside and the protein shakes that they recommended, I am dying inside. And these are all designed by dietitians who are counting these macros and their education and their whomever's are being funded by these companies that really don't have our best interests at heart like they don't.
We kind of went on a tangent. I'm so sorry, but people need to know this. Like they need to know that this is the political climate. Food is politics, people. It's all about your money. It's all about how much money they can get out of you. And it's like, what a great business model to have a legal addictive substance and just sell it in math. Right. Make it look beautiful.
They can put an American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association stamp of approval.
I know it.
Because it just removes the animal protein in the saturated fat and replaced it with junk. And they can actually advertise it as healthier.
Right. I just can't. Oh, my gosh. I want this to just keep going. I wanted to keep going and going and going. Oh, my gosh, this has been amazing. I know listeners are going to, like, just love this. Gina, are there any other things that we want to unpack? And Ben, are there any other things you want to unpack before we close this up? Because it's been so beautiful.
I would love to just summarize. If you just like for people who are like, OK, my mind is blown with all of these things, what would you say is one or two main takeaways of like what should they do right now?
What a good question.
That's a good question. Well, given that the topic, the various topics, but the brain topic in particular, maybe I can come back to the sentiment that I expressed earlier, which is give your brain a break and let it be the true hybrid engine that it wants to be and quit depriving it of this alternative or additional fuel, namely ketones. And I think the best, easiest way you don't have to go on some strict ketogenic diet or the keto diet or anything like that or multiday fasting. You don't have to be that extreme. I would say eat a reasonable dinner that isn't an overt indulgence that has fat and protein and even carbohydrates and then stop eating after dinner. I know that one in particular is easier said than done because evening is when we are at our weakest. So make sure you don't have these foods that you can't moderate in your home at the time, if at all. Don't get them in the home when you have a treat, it's something you do outside of the home or you've made it from scratch with your family.
But when you have dinner, you're done eating. And when you wake up for breakfast, either don't eat breakfast because maybe you won't be hungry. There's no such thing as breakfast being the most important meal. You have to eat it. That's absolute silly of silliness. So you either don't eat or eat a meal that is very strict with carbohydrates, not that you can't have any, but that they are very unrefined and or not refined at all and have relatively low starches and sugars and then focus more on protein and fat, which won't turn off the production of ketones because the magic of that overnight window is that you've stopped eating.
And so insulin and glucose now have a chance to come down. And as they do so, the ketone production starts to go up, the body starts shifting more into fat burning. So give your brain a break, let eat ketones and give your children a break or the kids around you and don't feed them out of bags and boxes with barcodes. Let them eat. I mean, those can be the occasional indulgence, but truly let it be an exception. In the bulk of the food they're eating is coming from real foods that have protein and fat.
I love that. You just posted something yesterday about like how to become more insulin resistant and you highlight it like eat more protein, focus on protein. Do you want to tell listeners more about your protein shake? You have a protein shake. If you go to gethealth.com is that correct?
You have a protein shake, which I love by the way. It's one of my favorites in combination with Akito Greens. I really love Akito greens. Do you want to talk to listeners a little bit about that and why you used whey? Because some people have like sensitivity with whey. What's your opinion on that and how can you educate us about the benefit the whey.
Yeah, I'd be happy to. Thanks, yeah. So it's always delicate for me to transition into that where I am a scientist, but I defend my entrepreneurial spirit in this health code, this company in the shake I made with a couple of my brothers by essentially saying that when you think as a scientist, as I have been learning and answering important metabolic questions, it's frustrating when you can't do anything about it. And so that very much played into my wanting to turn these answers to questions, into solutions to problems.
And the fact is, people nowadays like something easy and convenient and it's hard to just always plan out meals. So that was really the birth of this idea with a couple of my brothers. So the health code shake, we wanted it to match the one to one macronutrients mix of proteins to fats that is the most anabolic or the most bone and muscle building mix you can get. And that is part of the problem with whey is that it's how people take it. It's not the way itself. Overwhelmingly, when people are taking whey, they're taking it from like a whey only shake. It's just a protein shake and that is not the way nature intended it. Fat and protein are supposed to come together and whey is no exception. So whey is the best protein and egg whites. It's right up with each other that a human can take. We digest it and get more of those amino acids than any other protein. So that's the reason we focused on those two proteins, in particular egg white and whey.
But the problem so often is that people will only take whey and they will report a sensitivity to it. But when you eat protein and fat together, which is how nature intended all proteins to come, the bile acids, which are components traditionally thought of as only relevant to the fat digestion, also help with protein digestion. So the bile acids actually accelerate the the activity of the protein phytic enzymes in our stomach, in our guts. And that is what a person is deprived of when they're only eating the protein. They don't get that extra digestive help that comes from eating the fat because of the fat digestive process. And again, namely, it's those bile acids or bile salts. So that's the justification for the mix the particular mix of macronutrients and even the individual components where we wanted those best proteins and we combined them with natural fruit fats, mostly coconuts and olive, and then we even put a little bit of some extra like grass fed geese, for example.
Then you put collagen in there, too? You put everything in there.
This is really misunderstood. I know a lot of people will criticize collagen because they will say they criticize it on the basis that when the body eats proteins, it will break that protein down into its component amino acids. And there's no guarantee where those amino acids will go. So the idea has historically been, well, I'm going to eat collagen, which is a protein or peptides, and then I'm going to digest those peptides into their amino acids. And then those amino acids are just going to go anywhere around the body they want. And there's no guarantee they'll turn back into collagen at all. In general, that's true. But collagen has an amino acid called hydroxy prolene and hydroxy prolene is the main amino acid of collagen and it stays intact as hydroxy protein. And it does, in fact, get enriched in skin, muscle and bone that has been shown. So that's my defense of dietary collagen. Now, that's interestingly what vitamin C does. Vitamin C makes hydroxy protein in the body, which is why if someone's worried about their collagen, they can either eat a lot of vitamin C and or just eat some animal products with collagen in them because then you don't even need the vitamin C.
And that's a funny story. This is a historical story here where why do we call why we're British sailors called limeys. They were eating limes to get the vitamin C to fight off scurvy. In fact, vitamin C name is ascorbic acid, and that's derived from anti scurvy because they would eat vitamin C, they'd make collagen in their gums, wouldn't bleed and they wouldn't lose their hair. But that all started because they'd stop eating meat. The British rations had changed from eating meat to eating just kind of this bread cracker like substance, which was, of course, deficient in collagen and totally deficient in vitamin C. So then they just started adding limes and they got enough vitamin C to stop the scurvy. But at the whole time they could have just gone back to eating meat and they would have been fine.
If you've heard this mechanism before, I went to a conference one time and they were saying that the main mechanism benefit of collagen is that it actually has a higher Medek like effect where it is, the fragments are small enough, it gets digested and absorbed, and then it passes by cell receptors and then cell receptors receive that information as though they were degraded and broken down collagen in the body and that up regulates our bodies production, acknowledging that it's not so much as being deposited, but also like Phytic acid, but also signaling to the body that there's been broken down collagen.
That is very compelling. I don't know. That could absolutely be true. But it's also true that the hydroxy Prolene absolutely does go to contribute to new collagen synthesis. So it could be a combination of those two. That's a really compelling thought. One thing that would be interesting to women, perhaps there was a human study finding that collagen supplementation actually resolved cellulite concerns. Cellulite is, of course, very unique pattern of connective tissue kind of working its way through fat tissue and then collagen actually resolved that connective tissue from the cellulite.
Amazing, but so cool. I bet so many women are going to love that. And it's funny because earlier this week I was talking about MTHFR gene mutations and connective tissue and I was saying how collagen and vitamin C are like, they go hand in hand when it comes to building and repairing and stuff. I'm so glad that you kind of you just reiterated that. I have another question about your protein. I'm so sorry, because so many people ask, what's the perfect protein powder and blah, blah, blah. I have so many but would you say that whey like the one that you have formulated? That's probably is it really good as a meal replacement and for building muscle versus plant based protein?
Oh, yes, yes. Yes. So this shake that we made was very deliberate to that. We wanted it to be an actual meal replacement shake. So it's not just a protein shake. Sure, it has what I would say are the best proteins in the best forms, which is to say it's also coming with fat. But we really did want it to be a meal. So it's has a caloric load and satiety to make it a meal. But yes, I think someone can very much look at it as a kind of recovery meal. Or I don't only just take it as a recovery meal, I will sometimes use it for breakfast if I'm hungry enough or depending on my the demands of the day. But yeah, it's a meal replacement shake, but it has protein and calling it a protein shake is, you know, it's not wrong, but it's also meal replacement.
You say would be a priority if somebody was wanting to work on extending their fasting window. But maybe they only have time to do their workout first thing in the morning and they're doing a spring training and they want that recovery continue to push the fasting window or just getting that muscle recovery with the shape?
Yeah, so I think that we underestimate the body's ability to make muscle, which is to say that you can build muscle and be strengthening your muscle even though you are fasted. The primary thing would be to ensure that you're not. That would get harder the skinnier person is because if we have fat tissue, that fat in a way defends our muscle, because if we start running out of fat, then we start running out of the ability to make ketones in the brain is left demanding 100 percent of its energy from glucose and muscle protein can turn into glucose.
But nevertheless, if so, if someone is a normal average American, which is that would mean they have plenty of fat, then they don't need to worry about not being able to build muscle after a workout. It would really be more a matter of are you genuinely hungry now and then? If so, then make sure you focus on your macros to keep them in the right ranges. But again, to Jaunique point earlier, I don't think you need to count them, but just control your carbs, prioritize protein, don't feel fat then and then you're going to be all right.
OK, thank you. Thank you so much. Maybe we can do another podcast on protein and I'm like, no, but Ben has a real job he doesn't justify it. So anyways, Ben, thank you so much. This isn't the only thing I could just pick your brain for, like days and days and days. You guys, if you want more information, how can they reach you? How can they find your products? How can they get more of you?
Yeah. Yeah. For those who are a glutton for punishment, they can find me on, I'm generally active on social media, on Instagram. I try to do one or two posts a week. I just can't bring myself to do more. They can find me there at Ben Beckman, PhD also blog content or learning more about the shake it, gethealth.Com and then check on my book. All these are topics that we go into. I go into book length detail in a book Why We Get Sick.
You guys get the book. I mean, you literally can just open a page and there's just truth bombs. Like, for instance, I just opened the page today and was talking about low breast milk supply. Apparently, if you're not producing enough breast milk, it's because you have too much insulin and you have insulin resistance. And I was like, oh my gosh, that blows my mind, because so many people always commented on how much breast milk I made and I was so skinny. And I'm like, well, I don't know where it's coming from. And it's I think it's because of my, like, super great diet that I had. My son was ginormous. He was a giant and I had Grave's disease. And yet I was still producing all this milk. It was insane. So your nutrition, there's so many things when you open this book and you read it, it's just going to blow your mind over and over and over again. So please get it. And Ben, thank you again so much for your time. Thank you for educating the masses. We need more of you in our lives. And I am so grateful that the world has you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
My pleasure, love. This is a fun venue. Always a pleasure to chat with you guys.
Thank you, and Gina thank you for bringing in all the great questions. I just I adore you. Thank you both and listeners, thank you for listening. And we'll get you next week. Bye.