Ben Greenfield: Cold Showers and Biohacking

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When you get up in the morning, the first thing you do is probably to have a nice, hot shower. But did you know that a cold shower is actually better for you? It's true! The benefits of cold showers include strengthening your immune system, improving your blood flow, and much more! Read this article to discover the benefits of cold showers!

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Ben Greenfield: Cold Showers and Biohacking

  1. 1. Ben Greenfield: Cold Showers and Biohacking Ameer Rosic ֬Tuesday April 15 th 2014 Read Full Article Ben Greenfield discusses the Health benefits of cold showers, and how Biohacking can improve the quality of your health! Transcript (Listen to the Full Podcast Here): Ameer: Hey guys welcome to another edition of the Optimal Health Show, we have a fantastic show for you today we have the one, the only Ben Greenfield. How you doing brother? Ben: What’s up Ameer, I’m doing good, I’m doing well. It’s good to see you. Ameer: Fantastic, I know you’re busy, you just had your crazy conference a week ago or so, tell us a little bit about that conference that just passed by. Ben: It was like Ted Talks for fitness nerds. It was a bunch of folks learning about everything from fighting brain inflammation to [02:34], to the best workouts for getting lean fast to just basically everything that you would want if you wanted to optimize your body and your mind performance as fast as possible. So they brought in a bunch of people, some of the big hitters in the fitness space like [02:57], Dave Asprey, Ray [03:00] and Phil [03:01], just a lot of people who taught folks about health. It was really fun and it was a lot of work to put on a live event so I definitely spent a lot of time in the past three months putting it all together but it was fun. Ameer: But people are probably asking themselves, how did you get to this journey of yours in optimizing health? You and I, we’re in a very secluded segment of society, we want to become the best possible version of ourselves but what started your journey in optimizing you? Ben: Well, I guess if we are going to rewind pretty far back just wanting to get better at tennis because I was a tennis player and I took my love of tennis and married it to studying kinesiology and biomechanics and physiology while I was going to college. From there I branched out, I’ve got like this whole ADD kind of thing even though I haven’t been diagnosed with that per say because I don’t really go to the doctor, but basically I’m always dabbling in new activities and new sports. It’s kind of weird that I’ve been a triathlete for 10 years because really up until that point I was doing tennis, bodybuilding, water-polo, teaching spin classes, I played soccer and basketball and baseball and every sport under the sun during my junior high and some of my high school years. For me, it was just all about wanting to get better at
  2. 2. sports, purely selfish reasons I just wanted to be the sports super hero and to be able to do what I was doing as well as possible. Ameer: Through your journeys though how did you stumble across some of the information? I know that you practice certain cyclic low carb cycling, you do really unorthodox stuff compared to the so- called norm. How did you come about this information, what drew you to this information? Ben: Well, the problem is that when you’re looking at all this performance information, whether it’s in a bodybuilding magazine or a triathlon or a tennis magazine or something like that or a website or a podcast or a video, it’s all about performance, performance, performance how to get faster, stronger, better, leaner, etc. and nobody’s talking too much about what happens to your body when all of this catches up with you later on in life. You brought up the low carb thing and sure I could eat sugar and carbohydrates and that’s a perfect drug for fueling. For example my sport of triathlon, it helps me to go really fast, but at the same time that’s a lot of blood sugar fluctuations, that’s a lot of work being done by my pancreas, it’s a lot of potential inflammation in my blood vessels, it’s a lot of cross linking of those carbohydrates to proteins and formation of these advanced glycation end products, there are a lot of things that occur when you’re just focusing on the performance aspect and not on the health. Case in point like that, I decided I do really want to focus on the health component, it is really important to me, it is a good idea to take care of your body at the same time you’re pursuing wanting to squeeze every last drop of performance out of it and so maybe I’ll figure out a way to fuel my body without using so many carbohydrates or using longer chain carbs or more fats, something like that. Then once you start to go down that rabbit hole there’s all sorts of stuff from like what kind of shampoo do I use to wash the chlorine out of my hair after I swim, am I going to go buy it from Walgreen’s with the 18 different labels or am I going to use basically what I use now which is Vitamin C spray. Another example is am I going to go out and do a 2 or 3 or even 4 hour indoor ride on my indoor bike trainer all winter like most of my peers who train for ironman are doing, exposed to electromagnetic frequencies all day long inside the office, over training, leaching minerals or am I going to go out for a quick high intensity interval mountain bike ride in the snow. You start to add up little things like that and yeah it does end up, when you put it all together, looking kind of geeky but at the same time and I don’t want to sound arrogant or full of myself but I get lots of compliments about my skin and my hair and my nails, kind of like the little things that are sure just surface stuff but they are evidence, little pieces of evidence, that my connective tissue integrity is doing ok, that I’m not creating a lot of free radicals in my body, that I’m probably not stripping that many years off my life training for ironman. So that kind of is the long answer to your question and the short answer is health versus performance. Ameer: Yeah, obviously there has to be a mixture of both and as both you and I are professional athletes there has to be a fine line, we both realize that what we’re putting ourselves through may not be the healthiest thing at the time being, it’s unnatural to train X amount of hours per day for something so we have to counterbalance is what you’re mentioning. Do I need to train on a bike as EMF all winter, no I can go outside and have some fresh air and be on a real bike. Through your journey, and obviously finding out that nutrition is a pivotal role in how your perform, was there any certain books or influential people in your past that made you really question the foods that you put in your body can affect your performance? Ben: Yeah, there were a lot of people, I read a lot I’m a total bookworm I always have been, the library is two blocks from my house and until I got my Kindle I was there all the time, now they miss me because I’m not in there quite as much. Whenever I find something I want to read on Amazon I send a sample to my Kindle and if it doesn’t completely suck I buy it and I read it. I’m just always reading or I’m always listening to podcasts or following people’s blogs so yes there are certainly some people who have formed a lot of my ideas about health versus performance. People who are leaders in the whole
  3. 3. ancestral and primal health movement specifically, people like Mark [09:56] like who are some of the other favorite people that I follow Paul [10:03] there are so many people now in that space, a lot of them and myself and us are kind of recycling information now. Those are some of the people, I also try to keep my ear to ground of research quite a bit in terms of I read all the Stone Hearth newsletters, I subscribe to those health, nutrition, fitness newsletters because they’re good little journals, good little digests of what’s going on. Honestly, on my Twitter like the Ben Greenfield Twitter thing, people now that they know I like to geek out on this stuff, I get half of my book ideas from my Twitter feed because people will alert me to an article and I’ll go read it. Like this morning I was reading a fantastic article about endurance training and thyroid and whether or not there really is evidence that shows that down regulates your thyroid or whether that’s just a myth. A lot of times it’s just being out in the community and seeing what people are saying then delving into the research of the books that they are talking about. But yeah I would like to say there is kind of a system but for me it’s like I hear about something and I go research it and draw what I can from it. Ameer: I totally agree, you mention a previous person there Art De Vany, he’s one of the people that I like to listen and talk to, he’s living proof of what he talks about himself, he’s in a different league all in his own. Ben: Yeah, he’s a total badass, I’d love to look like that when I’m 70 or… Ameer: He’s a rock star man. It’s not the fact that the information is hard to get, it’s pretty overwhelming actually, you have information, so much information on the internet. What I find hard is some people refuse to believe the information or they find it hard to implement. Did you have any problems like that? You read this literature, this research, you [12:15] stuff, you’ve listened to Mark [12:16], you’ve followed Art De Vany, but when it came time to apply it did you have any constraints or resistance to apply the information? Ben: Yes, there are some things that you got to get past, for example you have to have confidence in yourself because people will make fun of you. If they see me wearing blue light blocking glasses while I’m doing an interview or if they for example see that I’ve got a structured water filter in my house or that I wear a human resonance frequency bracelet. You can certainly get made fun of for a lot of this stuff and I’ll certainly be the first to admit that some of it is a little geeky but self-confidence is really important when you’re getting into going after the whole live as healthy as possible route because it is stuff that’s not socially acceptable. It’s socially acceptable to go to the grocery store and buy your healthy bag of trail mix which is in fact vegetable oils and rancid seeds and nuts and sugar, preservatives and a bunch of food that has had its bio-photonic energy sucked out of it. But you throw around a word like bio-photonic energy at a party and people kind of start to shy away from you, so. Ameer: Can you please explain to our audience what is bio-photonic energy? Ben: Bio-photons are basically the energetic compounds that you’re going to find in food that has been exposed to good amounts of sunlight, well mineralized soil and basically had lots of exposure to natural earth. The fresher a food is the more bio-photons it’s going to have in it, the more of that vibratory energy your body is actually able to absorb and assimilate. The marriage between quantum physics and food is in its super, super infancy right now but the idea is the way that the food has been treated, because it is a living organism and what’s it’s been exposed to really does affect the amount of energy that you can derive from it. I know this is a total sedge-way to your question but when you’re talking about something like that yes self-confidence is one really important thing. Another thing is mental and nervous system strength so I track my nervous system strength using morning heart rate variability measurements and I do things like take a cold shower every day, icy cold shower, usually twice a day to
  4. 4. make sure that my nervous system is really strong and I use tips and tricks that I’ve talked about on my website before to kind of get myself to go into the pain cave when I’m working out because it is harder to things like intervals. I like to say that most triathletes for example are lazy, which shocks a lot of people but it’s true, it’s easy to go out and run at a slow snail’s pace on like this death march for 2 hours versus to go out to the hill behind my house and sprint up it 10 times until I’m blue in the face and be done in 20 minutes, it’s like that ladder scenario is very hard to overcome. So self-confidence, taking care of your nervous system, being willing to go to the pain cave, some of those types of things are certainly things you’ve got to be able to do when you’re going after this health versus performance type of trade off. Ameer: So when you first started implementing the nutrition and you started tweaking or bio-hacking your nutrition, was there a phase that you thought oh this is all bullshit or was it pretty quick that you saw results happen within your performance? Ben: I mean nutrition is a total evolution, it’s not a switch. I say that but what I should say is for me it was evolution because I started off just eating fast food every day and gradually finding out more and more things and kind of making that transition from first cutting out lots of processed and preservative laden food to then beginning to cut back on carbohydrates a little bit to then beginning to worry about whether or not my food was organic or not to then beginning to worry about the way the animals were treated from the meat that I was eating. You go down this route and a few years later you look back and you’re like wow I kind of look like a nutrition Nazi now but in fact I feel freaking fantastic so for me it was an evolution. What I would hope is that for people who are discovering this video or who read some of my books or look at my super human food pyramid or something like that that they would be able to make that transition much, much more quickly than I made literally over the course of a decade, myself and my wife. A big, big part of this too is my wife, she and I run the inner circle together where she does healthy cooking video’s and recipes for folks and stuff but she comes from a ranching background, she’s used to food prep, she’s used to gardening, she’s used to the idea of food being way above and beyond just buying it from the grocery store so she was a big, big help as I went through this stuff. I’m the guy who learns that most people are deficient in Vitamin K2, it’s a fantastic blood and bone building vitamin and one of the best sources of it is natto a fermented soy bean that’s been exposed to a certain bacteria that allows it to ferment in the right way, well I’m the knowledge guy and I tell people that and I write that and then she’s the person that goes out to the Asian food store, buys the natto and then ferments it in our fridge so we kind of tag team a little bit in that she helps out quite a bit teaching me a lot of the prep stuff that I’m too busy to do because I’ve got my face stuffed in a book or I’m podcasting or something. Ameer: Well it seems to be a very good marriage. Ben: Yeah so it works out kind of well, she teaches me a lot of the practical stuff and that’s another really important thing is to have a supportive family environment if you are in a family for doing this kind of stuff. Ameer: I think you hit a key note right there and most people past the age of 30 I’m assuming are married, you know the majority of the population here, and I find it hard that say a husband or a wife wants to go on a journey to optimize their health, maybe they want to clean up their nutrition just a little bit or maybe they want to optimize their sleeping patterns a little bit. I don’t think it can just work with that one individual, as a married couple both parties have to agree, like the yin and the yang they have to work together right. So what’s your experience with this, starting with your wife, you said a decade ago, I’m assuming there were ups and downs or rollercoaster rides along the way?
  5. 5. Ben: Yeah, it’s so, so hard I have some clients who I work with who do not have supportive spouses and it is so, so hard for them to be able to even do something like if I encourage them to not eat beef that has been grain fed for example it is just like a foreign concept for their spouse to go to Wal-Mart and buy the grass fed beef that’s right there beside the farm fed beef because the grass fed beef is whatever a dollar or two more expensive. That sounds like a little thing but stuff really starts to add up as that person’s body starts to accumulate with Omega 6 fatty acids and hormones and antibiotics and then they come to me complaining about joint pain after their workout and I say to them well you’re eating meat 4 times a week and is it dumping inflammation into your body or is it actually giving you all of these Omega 3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory compounds and they’re like well I eat what my wife got or what my husband got and it’s one of those deals where it’s so much easier when the person’s spouse is on board. It’s like well yeah we got what was right there on the food list that you gave to us so easy-peasy. It really is tough and for my wife and I, it is kind of like I explained, it’s one of those things where my wife doesn’t do a lot of the reading, she doesn’t do a lot of the research but she’ll listen to something that I’m saying, she doesn’t listen to my podcast it’s just like a conversation we’ll have a night when we’re going to sleep. I’m like hey Jessa I talked to this guy on my podcast today and we discussed alkaline diets for migraines and this was a couple of years ago that we had this discussion and I’m like you should try some of these green smoothies and some of these alkaline foods and experiment with some of this stuff so she from there goes and finds a bunch of green smoothie recipes and learns how to implement an alkaline diet and how to pee on the acid alkaline urine strips and all this stuff and that all of the sudden becomes part of our life, a new recipe added to our repertoire, the green smoothie in the morning and so that’s kind of how it works is we just bounce stuff off each other and help each other out. But yeah it’s been an evolution from the early days when we were first married where we just would make stir fry at night and that was the healthiest meal of the week. Ameer: Now through you’re journeys with your wife and your family was there any tips or tricks that you can share with our audience to maybe alleviate anyone having problems right now? I know it’s hard, it always helps to hear someone else’s advice who’s been there, who’s done that. Ben: Yeah, I think that one really important this is to not necessarily try to do everything at once and I think that’s one important thing is that you take things in small chunks. The idea of going and throwing everything out in your cupboard and your pantry and your refrigerator, that works for some people but I think that others just need to do something simple like replace regular milk with organic milk or replace regular eggs with some pasture raised eggs or buy some organic vegetables or maybe start to rinse your non-organic vegetables in a mix of vinegar and water rather than just water, little things like that. Then the other really important thing is to understand that people who are eating healthy and who are doing things like myself and my wife are doing, we’re not necessarily all that complex, we eat a lot of the same things week after week after week. I have almost the same thing for breakfast every single morning, one of three things I either do kind of a green smoothie slash sludge, I do kind of a protein parfait with some coconut milk and protein powder or I do some high fat coffee where I blend up coffee with some butter and stuff like that. Ameer: The bullet proof coffee. Ben: Yeah the bullet proof coffee exactly and I have the same thing for lunch, I always have a salad with some avocados and sometimes some fish or some sardines or something like that on it. Then dinner usually we’ve got about 5 to 10 different recipes that we vary through and snacks for me are always the same almost every single day I have some coconut flakes or some dark chocolate chips in some protein powder and some coconut milk, that’s pre-workout and it’s like literally you could write down my diet easily on one 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. But people I think take things to way too high a level of complexity and get these big diet books that have all these recipes all over the place and it’s like it’s too much. So
  6. 6. keep things simple don’t try and change everything all at once and then I would say the other thing is understand this kind of stuff is part of human nature. I do have some really busy clients who have told me I’m not going to cook, I’m not going to do food prep, I’m not going to do any of this stuff and I think that they are missing out on a very enjoyable part of life, our senses, our touch, our smell, our taste, you experience a lot of that when you’re preparing food and when you’re cooking and even if you think you’re too busy to prepare food I would encourage you to take some time. Even if it’s just, for me I do dinner one or two times a week and I usually bring my kids into the process so I’m spending time with them and I’m able to experiment with some different herbs and spices and it just kind of keeps you grounded versus always outsourcing food prep, having your spouse do it, or buying the healthy foods at the grocery store or whatever. So think that learning some of hands on stuff even for people who are way into time management and time hacking and lifestyle hacking and stuff like that, it’s really important to do some of the cooking yourself too. Ameer: I think the knowledge too because I’m seeing from my generation and each generation after me, the actual skills and education, the fine art of culinary is disappearing. When hear people don’t go shopping, they don’t know how to cook, hell people don’t even know what slow cookers are, they don’t even know what type of tools and materials they need for cooking, that’s kind of scary for me when I hear that, really frightening. That’s the basis of survival, learning to prepare and cook your food. God forbid something happens that you don’t have access to Wal-Mart, you don’t have access to anything, you have to at least know the basics how to cook so I think you hit a key point here that enjoying time with your family, learning how to cook, having fun, smelling the food, touching the food, experiencing the food is an epic portion of becoming an optimal version of yourself. Ben: Yeah, and I think that there are a lot of really busy people out there who, I don’t want to get too morbid here, but they’re going to be on their death beds 10, 20, 30, 40 years wishing they had experienced a little bit more life and vitality and I think that’s a really, really important part of this is getting your hands dirty is a big component of that and you don’t want to end life having lived your entire life basically exercising really hard and working really hard and not experiencing arts, culture, cooking, stuff like that so I think that’s really important too. Ameer: It hit the same note I think Mark [27:21] talks about the art of play. Ben: Yeah. Ameer: So playing we’ve lost the play, it’s frustrating, it’s tough because it’s hard today people are worried about paying their mortgage on their house, paying off the car, paying their children’s university education tuition and basically we’re working just to stay alive and almost to die at the same time but we don’t have any luxury or freedom. Honestly people, I find it really difficult for some of my clients to just suggest man just go out there and walk for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, get some fresh air in your nose, experience some sunshine, get some Vitamin D but that’s even difficult, 15 minutes of walking outside. If that’s difficult I don’t see what’s happening for the future of the human race right now because I think we got to, we’re going way too fast, we’re way too convenient addicted right now that we need to stop all this fast paced stuff that we’re doing and get back to the basics. Ben: Yeah, and two things I would have to say on that too, two kind of resources I would give the audience. One is there’s this really good series of audio downloads called the Philosopher’s Notes that can give you a really good perspective on life, I think it’s at www.entheos.com http://www.entheos.com/a-philosophers-notes/ OR http://www.entheos.com/a- philosophers-notes/newsletters Philosophers notes are really good, I listen to those a lot and they’re just basically like cliff notes on audio of a lot of the really good philosophies out there on life and living
  7. 7. and enjoying life. Then the other thing that’s really important in terms of perspective is to understand the constraints that you may be placing on yourself that are stressing yourself out. For example, it’s my kids birthday today, they’re actually in the other room playing with some toys right now and on my schedule this morning I was supposed to write this sales letter for this manual that I’ve created on fat loss and I was also supposed to spend 30 minutes working on my book so that’s a total of about an hour and a half I was supposed to spend this morning, that I had on my schedule and I woke up this morning and I could hear my kids stirring in their bedroom and I looked at my little scheduler that said ok Ben do this and do this. Those were my constraints and for me it’s very mentally hard to step out of something that I have written for myself, that’s the power of the written word but I simply selected that stuff and erased it off of the day and boom it’s gone. You need to understand that even though sometimes scheduling and all these rigorous tasks that we hold ourselves to are important for productivity, sometimes when it comes to your health, to your enjoyment of life which directly affects your fitness and your performance and everything too, sometimes you just have to realize that these are constraints that we make for ourselves. Me telling myself that I’m going to work 30 minutes on a book this morning is a constraint that I placed on myself and a lot of times we have more freedom than we think when it comes to being able to either do what I did and get a chance to play with my boys in the morning or taking your example go outside for a walk in the sun. Step back and look at whether or not the constraints that you have in your life are constraints that you’ve placed on yourself that are kind of silly or unnecessary or if they really are constraints like you’re going to get fired if you step outside and go for a 30 minute walk, you got to choose wisely. Ameer: If you have to give one optimal health tip and it sounds like you’ve already given it but if you had no other choice than this one tip, what would be your number one tip for everybody out there, listen if you’re going to do this one thing at least do that to optimize the quality of your life. Ben: Have a morning routine, I have not skipped my morning routine in almost 3 ½ years and I’ve kind of evolved and changed as I go but you have to have a ritual every single morning and I do not know of a single successful, rich, healthy, well-performing person on the face of the planet who I’ve spoken to, any mentors, anybody who does not have a morning ritual. My morning ritual is for 5 minutes in the morning, before I get out of bed I do some deep breathing exercises and I take my heart rate variability using this special little device on my phone. I get up out of bed, while I have coffee going I take an ice cold shower for about 5 minutes, I get out, I pour myself a cup of coffee, I sip my coffee while I read for a little bit and then I stretch for about 15 minutes and my stretching is a series of yoga and deep breathing and stuff like that and then I move on, then I can check email or work on a book or whatever. I don’t skip my morning ritual, even when I’m traveling and stuff I always do some semblance of that morning ritual so that’s my top tip for people is have a morning ritual. Ameer: That’s a fantastic tip, I highly agree with that. Well Ben I want to thank you for coming on the show it’s been fantastic I hope everyone enjoys this information, its wonderful information. Where can the audience catch you, where can they get in contact with you? Ben: www.bengreenfieldfitness.com is my website and I love to help people out so if you go over there, leave a comment on a post I’ve written, call into the podcast and ask a question. My goal in life, my calling in life, is to help people enhance their performance and enhance their health and maximize their potential in those respects so I’m happy to help and it’s www.bengreenfieldfitness.com Ameer: You heard it folks so check out Ben, he kicks ass.
  8. 8. Ameer Rosic Ameer Rosic is obsessed with health. A Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Functional Diagnostic Practitioner and Functional Medicine Practitioner, Ameer has spent years empowering himself with knowledge about optimal health, and now his passion is to share that with you! From interviews with top health experts to fitness and nutritional advice and more, Ameer Rosic can help you live a life of optimal health! Discover more at www.ameerrosic.com. Connect with Ameer: Facebook | Twitter | Google Plus | YouTube | Pinterest

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