Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

View all Platforms
Episode 98
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Fix Your Brain And Live A Genius Life

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

View all Platforms

Did you know dementia begins in the brain decades before symptoms start showing up? We can see changes in brain scans 30 or 40 years before forgetfulness and other disconcerting symptoms creep in. 

But I’ve seen so many patients overcome symptoms of brain dysfunction through the right diet and lifestyle changes. If our actions can have that much power to reverse some forms of brain illness, why aren’t we talking more about using them for prevention?  I’ve seen people with genetic predispositions avoid a diagnosis altogether by living a conscious life. 

That’s exactly what my guest and good friend, Max Lugavere, and I get into on this week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy. Max lost his mom last year to a rare disease called Lewy body dementia, which comes along with the neurodegenerative and physical symptoms of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 

We can’t ignore the connection between the brain and body—they’re inseparable—and some of the most impactful ways to support both of them are right at our fingertips. Max explains how getting adequate sunshine (especially in the morning), spending time in nature, embracing some uncomfortable temperatures, and eating dinner earlier are all simple yet super effective methods for preventing illness. We also talk about optimizing nutrients like vitamin D and magnesium. 

Max explains how his interest in brain health and nutrition has evolved from his first book, Genius Foods, into a comprehensive whole-body plan for optimal living in his new book, Genius Life

Brain disorders have for so long been made to feel out of our control. But there is so much we can do to prevent and reverse the range of signs and symptoms that steal our brains, bodies, and health as we age. I hope you’ll tune in for tips from someone I consider a true expert on the topic, Max Lugavere.

This episode is brought to you by Lumen and Thrive Market.

I’ve recently started using an exciting new device called Lumen that measures your metabolism through the breath and gives you feedback on how your nutrition impacts your metabolism. If you’re interested in improving your metabolism and getting personalized nutrition, you should definitely check out Lumen. Right now they’re offering my listeners $50 off with the code HYMAN50. Just go to Lumen.me and use the code HYMAN50 to personalize your nutrition and improve your metabolic efficiency on a whole new level.

Thrive Market has made it so easy for me to stay healthy, even with my intense travel schedule. Not only does Thrive offer 25 to 50% off all of my favorite brands, but they also give back. For every membership purchased, they give a membership to a family in need, and they make it easy to find the right membership for you and your family. You can choose from 1-month, 3-month, or 12-month plans. And right now, Thrive is offering all Doctor’s Farmacy listeners a great deal, you’ll get up to $20 in shopping credit when you sign up, to spend on all your own favorite natural food, body, and household items. And any time you spend more than $49 you’ll get free carbon-neutral shipping. All you have to do is head over to thrivemarket.com/Hyman.

Everyone gets off track from time to time, that’s why I founded a new company Farmacy to create best in class protocols that combine food, lifestyle habits, and supplementation to support true wellness. Our first protocol, The 10 Day Reset is a systems-based approach designed to help you get back on track and reclaim your health. Learn more at getfarmacy.com.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn (video / audio):

  1. How Max’s mother’s illnesses as well as her life and death inspire him to become an expert how how to fix your brain
    (1:50 / 5:56)
  2. The interconnectedness of our brains, our cognition, our emotional wellness and our gut health, hormones, heart health, and more
    (7:12 / 11:19)
  3. The effects of natural and artificial light on the body and the brain
    (12:11 / 16:18)
  4. The importance of our body’s relationship to temperature and how to activate our thermoregulatory pathways
    (19:31 / 22:20)
  5. Nature as medicine and how air pollution affects cognitive function
    (25:05 / 27:54)
  6. Vitamin D, its connection to Alzheimer’s and depression, and how to get optimal levels
    (29:15 / 32:04)
  7. Fasting, intermittent fasting, and early time restricted eating
    (40:54 / 43:43)
  8. The connection between brain health and exercise, the benefits of resistance training, how muscle supports the body, and high intensity interval training
    (47:32 / 50:21)
  9. Max’s new book The Genius Life and his 21-Day plan for genius living to help us reset our brain and body to its factory settings
    (56:22 / 59:11)
  10. Healing our relationship to food and the importance of avoiding ultra processed foods
    (59:35 / 1:02:24)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Max Lugavere

Max is a filmmaker, health, and science journalist and the author of the New York Times bestselling book Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life. He is also the host of the #1 iTunes health podcast The Genius Life. Max is excited to release his sophomore book, The Genius Life: Heal Your Mind, Strengthen Your Body, and Become Extraordinary, a lifestyle guide to living happily and healthily with proven, research-based lifestyle tactics, which we dig into more throughout this episode. 

Transcript

Max Lugavere:
Before we start with any dietary changes, it’s really about making you the most resilient that you can be.

Kaya Purohit:
Hi, everyone. Kaya Purohit here, one of the producers of the Doctor’s Farmacy podcast, before we get started with this week’s episode, we have a quick word from our sponsor which happens to be Dr. Hyman’s new company, Farmacy. Thanks for tuning in.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman, do you have FLC? What’s FLC? It’s when you feel like crap. It’s a problem that so many people suffer from and often have no idea that it’s not normal or that you can fix it. I mean, you know the feeling. It’s when you’re super sluggish, your digestion’s off, you can’t think clearly, or you have brain fog or you just feel run down. Can you relate? I know most people can, but the real question is what the heck do we do about it? Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing, so there’s not one single solution. However, there is a systems based approach, a way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC and I call that system the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The 10 Day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits and targeted supplements to address FLC straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with thousands of my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a quick fix. It’s a system that works. If you want to learn more and get your health back on track, click on the button below or visit getfarmacy.com, that’s getfarmacy, with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y.com.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and that’s Farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter and if you care about your brain, which I do, then this conversation’s going to matter to you, because we have an incredibly brilliant guy, a true genius in my mind, Max Lugavere, who’s been a long time friend, an inspiration, even though he’s half my age, because he digs into the science of what it takes to have a genius life, which sounds like a great aspiration. He’s a film maker, he’s a health science journalist. He’s the author of the New York Times Bestselling book Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive while Protecting Your Brain for Life, which sounds so awesome. It’s published in eight languages and he’s also a host of the number one iTunes Health podcast, The Genius Life, which I’ve been on, so I’m so excited.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So Max also appears on The Dr. Oz show and he gets way more traction on the [inaudible 00:02:26]. I don’t know why, because I’m like an adviser and I’m … I guess, I’m all old story … Rachel Ray, the Doctors, he’s [inaudible 00:02:34] to Medscape, [inaudible 00:02:35], Fast Company, CNN, The Daily Beast and NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, Wall Street Journal. He just is the guy, I love him, he’s a brilliant man and he’s got a great heart and he cares about this topic and his new book, The Genius Life: Heal Your Mind, Strengthen your Body, and Become Extraordinary is a lifestyle guide to living happily and healthily with proven research based lifestyle tactics. I like tactics.

Max Lugavere:
Tactics are good, tips, tricks.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So welcome, Max.

Max Lugavere:
Thanks for having me, what an honor, what a pleasure.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now like most of us in this space, who have had to dig into the science, you know, always wasn’t for a great reason. Like I became an expert in functional medicine because I became super ill and I had to figure out what to do about it and you had a similar experience with your mother and we’ve been in touch a lot about your mother over the years and she died last year and you dedicated your book to her and for people who don’t really know you or know your story. I’d love share with the audience what happened with your mom and how’d that inspire what you’re doing?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, my mom is the chief inspiration for everything that I do. She was 58. I was in my late 20s when she started to display these mysterious symptoms. There was a change to her cognitive abilities, it seemed almost as if overnight she had had a brain transplant with somebody 40 years her senior.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Max Lugavere:
And, yeah, I know, it was crazy and she also, there was a change to her gait, which is the way that a person walks. It was at the Cleveland Clinic, actually, in Ohio, long before I think you had gotten there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
But where for the first time she was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disorder and the diagnosis was pretty murky. It was unclear as to what she had, but nonetheless, she was prescribed drugs for both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and just to give some context, I had no prior family history of any type of neurodegenerative disease. As I mentioned, my mom was not old.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
She was young.

Max Lugavere:
She was young. She was 58, she was spirited, youthful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Young to me, I’m 60. That’s like teenager, practically.

Max Lugavere:
I mean, yeah, somebody in the prime of her life, and when we got that diagnosis, it sent my world into a tailspin. It was the first time in my life I’d ever had a panic attack. I remember sitting in the Holiday Inn, in Cleveland, Ohio, after receiving those prescriptions from the well respected neurologist who we saw just a few hours prior and Googling for the first time the drug names and looking at the Wikipedias for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, which you know, I mean, say whatever you want, those are the places that I think most people go when they … You know, they consult Dr. Google.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Dr. Google.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, of course and so I was no different. That’s what I did. I went there. I didn’t have a background in medicine, of course, and seeing how little these drugs, these pharmaceutical, biochemical band aids, how little they do for conditions as complex as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. I started to … I mean, freak out, you know. What going to happen to my mom. Was I going to lose her? Was she going to forget who I was and that really that was the line in the sand, where from then on I became just fixated on trying to find a better way, looking for solutions in the medical literature that could both, maybe act therapeutically for my mom but in tandem with that, I was also trying to understand why this would have happened to her and what could be done to prevent it from happening to myself?

Max Lugavere:
One of the most shocking findings that I stumbled upon, which you know well, is that often dementia begins in the brain decades before the first symptom.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
And so it became very clear to me that this is something that if we really want to move the needle on this category of diseases, we really have to start today talking about prevention.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so true. I think most people don’t realize that with Alzheimer’s that first changes in your brain can happen 30, 40 years before you forget your keys, and it’s actually something you can look at on a brain scan. I think it inspired you to ask a whole bunch of questions, that someone really without a medical degree usually doesn’t ask, which is what causes these symptoms? Your mother had something called Lewy Body dementia which is sort of a cross between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and affects motor function and affects memory and cognitive function and you sort of had to look into literature and go, “Well, like what causes this and how do I not get it myself?” And so both from the love of your mother and self-interest that you sort of became an expert on how to fix your brain.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, it’s become a major passion of mine, to say the least. I mean, I think the brain is the most important organ. It really is who we are. As neuroscientist DF Swaab famously says, and is actually, he has a book by the same title, We are Our Brains. And to watch somebody who you love more than anything in the world descend into decrepitude is the hardest thing imaginable.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. That being said, there are ample things that we can now, that we can do in the literature to protect our brains as they age and we don’t know everything. 90% of what we know about Alzheimer’s disease has been discovered only in the past 15 years.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
But we don’t have to sit idly on our hands, and I think that’s the point.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I think, you know, you’ve been part of our Broken Brain series and we’ve delved deeply into understanding the various aspects of why brains break and how to fix them. As a functional medicine doctor, I’ve seen so many patients with these conditions actually get better and once you start to understand the biology and how the brain works, what injures the brain, what are the things that are … we call it dementogens …

Max Lugavere:
Wow, dementogens, wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, and how do you do like a cognoscopy, as opposed to a colonoscopy, which is how do you really look at all the things that can impact brain function. It opens up a whole world of possibility of how to help these people. Your latest book, Genius Life, Genius Life, you expand on the Genius Food Plan, and the whole approach in there, that was mostly looks on nutrition and how to fix brain health. We know that our brain health and our cognitive function, our emotional wellness really depends on so many things. Like our gut, and our hormones and our heart and the nervous system, and there’s constantly crosstalk and communication.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The body’s a web, that’s really what we focus on in functional medicine. The body is a network, it’s all connected and just because, you know, your stomach isn’t in your brain doesn’t mean it’s not related to your brain and your immune system and everything else. Tell us about the research around … things that you’ve found that help us to understand how to prevent dementia and how to optimize your brain function.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so I mean to start off, when … I think as a functional medicine practitioner, what I’ve been able to glean from my exposure to the field through colleagues like you and David Perlmutter and guys like that, you know, you’re really having to undo the education in a way that you’ve had in allopathic medicine that really kind of takes a reductionist approach.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
You know, looking at the brain as separate from the body and in fact I can corroborate that when I had these experiences with my mother in the clinician’s office, at the most storied cathedrals to Western medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, the Cleveland Clinic.

Max Lugavere:
The Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Columbia in New York, NYU, I’ve gone to all these places with my mom. It’s the same thing. It’s, you know, the-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No second opinion, it’s the same opinion over and over.

Max Lugavere:
Over and over and over again. Yeah, and I think that that can be very upsetting and it elicits a sense of hopelessness and that’s what I experienced, that same reductionist sort of approach. I think what’s given me the edge, again, not as a trained medical doctor or anything like that, but I think there’s a certain level of creativity is required to connect dots and to see patterns where others might not. As a functional medicine practitioner, my sense is that that’s kind of how you’re trained.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Totally.

Max Lugavere:
You’re trained to think about these topics in a more creative way and that’s something that I just intuitively did when I started to experience what was going on with my mom and I just intuitively realized that the brain is influenced by the boy. How could it not be?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Duh.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so Genius Foods was really a nutritional care manual to the human brain, unfortunately the brain doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. It was a book that really …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Neither does the body.

Max Lugavere:
Neither does the body, but that’s what the genius life to me, that’s kind of where I was going with the text as I was writing the Genius Life, to make it-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The owner’s manual for your brain.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, yeah, and the body and to really unveil the connection that the brain has to the body. I think a lot of people don’t realize that they’re connected. You know, you can’t look in the mirror and flex your Hippocampus the way you can your bicep so I think it’s important for people to be able to regain a sense of bodily health because of all the benefits that that’s going to provide to the brain: Better mood, better mental health, better cognitive function. So this is a, it’s sort of like a care manual to the body and it goes beyond nutrition, so nutrition is just one part of the story as you know, you talk about that in Food Fix.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
But exercise, the relationship that we have with nature, the relationship that we have with temperature, the relationship that we have with light, the ever present environmental toxins that your average human is exposed to on a daily basis. These are all the kinds of topics that I wanted to talk about in the book-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow, so people, about lifestyles, what you eat, sleep, exercise, dress. You don’t hear people talking about light and nature and temperature, right?

Max Lugavere:
Right, right, right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Fascinating.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, they’re all super important parts of the puzzle. I mean the relationship that we have with light …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They’re all inputs, they regulate our biology.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In ways that we are now understanding that we didn’t understand before.

Max Lugavere:
Well, consider this, I was thinking a lot about cancer because my mom actually, Labor Day of 2018, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and another horrific …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
She didn’t die from the brain disorder, she died from pancreatic cancer.

Max Lugavere:
She didn’t. Yeah, I had just gotten back to LA from a trip and I got a call from my brother was in New York with my mom and she had turned yellow. So usually if you turn yellow, it’s either you’ve eaten too many carrots or you’ve become jaundiced for whatever reason and the difference is that the whites of your eyes become yellow, when you’re jaundiced. Oftentimes you’ll see a gallstone, but they did an MRI of my mom’s abdomen and what they found was a tumor on the head of the pancreas. As you know, 90 plus percent of the time when they diagnose pancreatic cancer, it’s already …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Too late.

Max Lugavere:
Too late, and it was brutal and barbaric and it was the worst thing I ever experienced but that my mom developed not one but two of humanities most feared conditions really made me start to think about the world in a new way and going back to light. I mean, there are certain instances where light, it’s been proposed and this is a rapidly evolving science, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg, but can actually act as a carcinogen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Light?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What kind of light?

Max Lugavere:
Well, artificial bright light at night that suppresses the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a key gatekeeper to the process known as autophagy, which is when our cells clean house and it’s sort of like the KonMari method for biology that it uses to clean up old, worn out, dysfunctional proteins and organelles. It’s also involved in DNA repair, so DNA damage is at the root of cancer, aging.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s how you rid of waste and how we repair our systems. It’s regulated by Melatonin and light.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so I mean I think that’s kind of a bold statement and it’s a hypothesis that certainly warrant further testing to know for sure, but there is a well documented increased risk of certain cancers seen in night shift workers, which make up 20% of the global workforce. So getting bright light in through your eyes in the morning is crucially important for anchoring your body’s circadian rhythm, which guides everything from how coordinated we feel, how much focus, we’re able to have, how much energy we’re able to have, how well we digest and metabolize food, but in the latter half of the evening, avoiding exposure to extremely bright light, especially if it’s on a ongoing, chronic basis, I think is …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We were all [inaudible 00:14:56] those goofy glasses with the David Asprey, with the orange lenses.

Max Lugavere:
Amber glasses, yeah. Like amber colored, blue light blocking glasses, I think that among all the wellness bio hacking gimmicks that that are out there, I think that those are among the most useful, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, and it’s powerful, because I remember reading, a number of years ago, about studies in animals where they would give them Melatonin and it would suppress cancer, and part of it has to do with the light, which actually inhibits Melatonin. So if you’re living as a hunter-gatherer, the sun goes down, you maybe got a few candles, maybe they didn’t have candles back then, maybe they didn’t have fire when we were first starting out and our bodies are designed that way.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And now we have this incredible light that’s such a issue. I remember reading a book a number of years ago called Lights Out, you ever come across that book?

Max Lugavere:
By TS Wiley?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it was like a eye opening book, literally, and it was about how the invention of light bulb correlated with all these chronic diseases we’re seeing now.

Max Lugavere:
Huh, yeah, I mean …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Heart disease, diabetes, cancer and it talked about the biology of light and how it impacted us and we don’t even think about it. We just are on our phones all night or have computers in our beds. We have bright lights and there are ways to fix this. So what are the ways people can fix the light problem?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, well, I think there’s two things. First of all, you want to make sure that you’re getting good quality light, early in the day. So preferably before noon, so not only is that going to help anchor your body’s circadian rhythm but it’s going to help protect you against blue light induced Melatonin suppression later in the day. So that bright light, the suppression-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So go outside, don’t wear sunglasses.

Max Lugavere:
Go outside, don’t wear sunglasses or don’t wear sunglasses when you’re driving to work if you have a half an hour commute to work and …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Does it get through your windshield?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, yeah, it’s all about the light intensity. What you need is about a 1,000 lux of light and there’s an app that I have no affiliation with but it’s called Lux and you can … There are some questions as to how reliable it is but I think it can give you a good relative sense to the light intensity in your ambient environment. So if you download the app, you can kind of just make sure that you’re spending time in an environment that’s at least 1,000 lux in the morning, because that seems to be the light intensity that the Melanopsin proteins in our eyes are sensitive to that basically kicks off this 24 hour timer. So that I think is crucially important, and …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So in other words, to actually have good sleep you need to get outside and get sunlight in the morning.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, yeah. 100%, good sleep begins actually the morning of and 1,000 lux of light … These Melanopsin proteins in your eyes that are sensitive, they act like a light switch, they’re not super sensitive, because as you mentioned, then a hunter-gatherer exposed to camp fire or to stars in the sky would have their circadian rhythms all messed up.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Max Lugavere:
So it’s not that sensitive, it requires again, a 1,000 lux and you can easily achieve that by standing by a window for about a half an hour and even on an overcast day, you’re going to get at least a 1,000 lux. Now the problem is maintaining that circadian rhythm has become one of the central challenges of modern life, because that light intensity, which a 150, 200 years ago nothing would be a 1,000 lux. There would be no artificial light source that would reach a 1,000 lux, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right, right.

Max Lugavere:
But today we have TV screens, we have Smartphone devices, you can easily walk into a drug store or a supermarket and the lighting inside, those bright fluorescent lights are easily a 1,000 lux.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s true.

Max Lugavere:
So it sends your circadian rhythm deep into the abyss and that’s one of the reasons why, I think, and why it’s been proposed, that we see ill health associated with people who …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true. One of the founding kind of Father Doctors of Functional Medicine, one of my mentors, Sydney Baker, wrote a book called Our Circadian Prescription, which was all about exactly this circadian medicine and there’s even things like Chrono biology, where there are different chemo therapy drugs that work better at different times, different organs are activated at different times, and they work better. I think he even described in the book how in sports, if you look at the statistics at teams that have to cross time zones, typically lose more than the ones who don’t and who are playing at home.

Max Lugavere:
Interesting.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s a huge factor, so besides, light, what else have you found that was sort of unusual in your targeting optimization of the brain and the body or the brain/body or the body, mind, mind, body … It’s not …

Max Lugavere:
Everything, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s the same thing, there is no separation is the point.

Max Lugavere:
No separation. I talk about the relationship that we have with temperature and how important that is.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Cryotherapy?

Max Lugavere:
Cryotherapy, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Saunas?

Max Lugavere:
Saunas.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hot and cold.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, and I always try to make things like my recommendation’s achievable by average people so you might not have access to a sauna, you might not have access to a cryotherapy chamber, but just getting into colder water, taking a cold shower or exposing your … Wearing your skivvies like on your terrace during the cooler months can all be a great way of activating these ancient thermo regulatory mechanisms that we all have in us that we’ve allowed to gather dust, because we all live in a state of chronic climate control. I think that by staying in that climate comfort zone all the time, it undermines some really powerful reparative and restorative pathways that we have in our body.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s the science of that?

Max Lugavere:
Well, I mean, being exposed to cold air boosts the proliferation of brown fat, so I mean, we’re all afraid of gaining even more fat on our waistlines and on our hips but brown fat is actually something that we want to have more of. It’s metabolically active. It’s brown because it actually has a lot more mitochondria than normal white adipose tissue and it …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which are the energy factories near cells, that make energy, right?

Max Lugavere:
Energy factories in your cells, yeah, they give you more energy, but they also, this brown fat actually burns fat and it burns sugar, and we can actually increase the amount of brown fat that we have on us. It’s not actually visible, you can’t see brown fat, it only accumulates in a few parts of the body, in our armpits, around our collarbone, down our spines, shoulder blades, that’s where you’re going to see the brown fat. You can’t actually see it, because it’s really relative to the amount of white fat that we carry, it’s like a very small, small in concentration, but it’s really good for our metabolic health. So whether that means turning down the thermostat-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So you get more brown fat, if you expose yourself to cold?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, because brown fat, it’s there to … It burns calories to generate heat. So when you’re in a cooler environment, this brown fat is burning calories to generate heat. Brown fat was actually originally identified in babies. Babies when they get cold, they can’t shiver. Babies can’t shiver, so they have this brown fat that basically acts like an internal heating pad and for that reason, it wasn’t known whether or not we carry this type of fat with us through adulthood but now not only do we in fact carry this brown fat, with us, which acts like an internal heating pad that burns calories as I mentioned, but we can encourage its proliferation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, well, the Tibetan monks knew this for years. They have a practice called Tummo. You know about this?

Max Lugavere:
No.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, Tummo is amazing. It is a technique called drying of the sheets and so they train the monks to activate their brown fat through meditation and they have them up like in the Himalayas in the monasteries way up in the freezing mountains.

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And they practice by dipping cold sheets in ice water and they wrap the monks in the sheets and the monks have to dry the sheets with their internal body heat and when they can do that, they send them up overnight into the snow with basically a loincloth.

Max Lugavere:
Oh, man.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And they have to stay alive.

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And they do it, it’s quite an amazing practice and we’ve had such a surge of things like saunas and cryotherapy and they’re … We haven’t talked about it in the show but there’s something called Zombie cells. Zombie cells …

Max Lugavere:
Like Senescent cells?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, the things that tend to kill us, where are these sort of senescent or aging cells and they just create a lot of nasty immune effects and inflammation of the body and it’s hard to get rid of them. I mean, cryotherapy or cold exposure is one of the key mechanisms for getting rid of these zombie cells, which helps extend longevity. Personally, I found that when I was really sick and even now, it’s the standard part of my practice, I go into a hot sauna or a steam, really hot and then I turn the bath, big bath tub, only cold water, and I jump in.

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s pretty invigorating but you feel afterwards like your whole nervous system is awake and you’re alive and you’re energetic and it clears your head. It’s pretty striking.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, it is striking.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When I had chronic fatigue syndrome it was one of the few things that gave me like a half an hour, and hour of feeling some respite.

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
I use that therapy regularly for … I have low back issues. I think a lot of people do. I feel like it’s a powerful analgesic. I get instant pain relief. What it does for my mental acuity and my mood is … I mean, I don’t think that there’s a drug as powerful as what that does.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, no, no. Jump in a cold lake, it’ll wake you up.

Max Lugavere:
It’ll wake you up, yeah, but I also want to mention before moving on from cold that there have also been a number of studies where they’ve taken people with Type two Diabetes, which is very common, many people have blood sugar issues …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Pretty much every other human in America.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, and they’ve found that when taking subjects with Type two Diabetes and exposing them to just mildly cool temperatures, I believe anywhere between, I think it was somewhere between 60 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not super cold. By making no other changes to their diets or lifestyles, they were able to achieve a 40% improvement in insulin sensitivity, which is an effect size that you would expect by putting these patients on a new exercise regimen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
Just exposing them to cooler temperatures.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow, so you don’t have to get out of your chair, you just have to freeze.

Max Lugavere:
Just … Yeah, activate that brown fat. Yeah, leave your thermal comfort zone. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, your best biology.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that brings up the next subject which is nature is medicine, because we’re so isolated from nature, both the light experience we have isn’t based on natural light cycles, the temperature experiences we have aren’t based on being exposed to the environment like we always have been and it has really detrimental health effects. So you talk about nature and how that is really … The disconnection from nature is really a source of problems for us.

Max Lugavere:
Major, today, we spend 93% of our time indoors, you know, in big cities and there’s a lot of this research now coming out of Japan on Forest Bathing. There’s actually a Japanese word, I believe it’s Keroshi or Kareoshi or I could be butchering it, but essentially, there’s a very significant portion of the population that gets worked to death in Japan. There, I mean 93% of Japanese peoples live in cities, so they’re far removed from nature and so this nature bathing line of research has really become a major focus.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, and it’s now being studied increasingly around the world, the relationship that we have with nature, especially as our cities become more and more dense and more and more polluted. But in the Genius Life, I talk all about how air pollution can affect cognitive function and put us at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. 20% of Alzheimer’s cases might be owed actually to heavily polluted air and today 52% of Americans live in environments with heavily polluted air.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Isn’t there, like there are some like UV app on your phone where you can tell the air quality or …

Max Lugavere:
The Air Quality Index, yeah, I believe you can actually … I think the weather app on an iPhone tells you the air quality.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, my niece lives in Houston, she says every day they get warnings not to go outside.

Max Lugavere:
I mean it’s scary and our indoor home air can be just as polluted if not more polluted …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It can be.

Max Lugavere:
Than outdoor air, but in regard to outdoor air, what I think is really the most pressing of concerns where brain health is concerned is what’s called fine particulate matter. So airborne particles that are two and a half micrometers or smaller that are actually able to enter, we breathe it, we breathe these particles in. They enter circulation and they can pierce the blood brain barrier and enter the brain.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
And they’re doing studies now in very polluted parts of the world, like in Mexico City where they’ll take children and they’ll actually see these particles, like Magnetite, which is made of iron in the brains of children …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow, wow.

Max Lugavere:
And what’s very interesting, Mark, you know like Rudy Tanzi up at Harvard doing all this research on viruses in the brain and how it can …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The microbiome of the brain …

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, the microbiome of the brain and how amyloid might be a response to an inflammatory insult in the brain.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Amyloid is like the gunk that clogs up your brain if you have Alzheimer’s and it’s sort of a response to inflammation, sort of like a band aid in a way, right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, what they’re seeing now is amyloid presence in brains of people who have inhabited very highly air polluted … You know, areas with very high concentrations of air pollution.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so whether it’s magnetite, or other fine particles or the herpes virus, amyloid is like this protein, which may be actually coming to the rescue, but the point is that being in a place where there is a high concentration of air pollution, might actually be creating this inflammatory insult to the brain, which is causing this very early presence of the pathologies that we associate with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So connect that back to nature, because you’re saying we should all move out of cities and become farmers?

Max Lugavere:
More connected to nature, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’ll be good.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, I mean there are some things that you can do, so spending more time in nature, I think is super important, especially if you’re at heightened genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. So if you’re an APOE e4 [inaudible 00:28:52] carrier, making an effort to spend more time in nature.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s a gene that increases risk, if you have two of those genes, like of getting Alzheimer’s by 75%, yeah.

Max Lugavere:
About 14 fold, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
So doing that, also getting out in nature is crucially important because of the exposure to the sun, so exposure to the sun, I think, is very important. We were talking all about circadian biology, exposure to bright light, crucially important, vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. There’s a review of environmental risk factors that I talk about in the book, and vitamin D was one of the top …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s a big deal, because depending on the day that you look at it, up to 80% of us are insufficient or deficient and the way the reference range works, is it’s based on a population measure. So you take a group of people, you measure a spectrum of the levels and the population and then you look at sort of what’s the average, right? And you have like two standing deviations from that and you can kind of determine what’s “normal.” But normal isn’t optimal.

Max Lugavere:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you were a Martian, and you landed in America today, 75% of Americans are overweight. It would be normal to be overweight. It does not mean it’s optimal, so the levels we often see in the laboratory ranges are not really where we should be hitting. The levels can be 20 or 30, but you should be probably have 45, 50, 60 at least and I think, probably 80% of us are deficient or insufficient and that leads to depression. It leads to increase for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, so many different things, and I think there’s been mixed data about replacing it, fixing it or not. I think it’s complicated, because when you like, people are eating garbage and they throw vitamin D in there, it’s not going to help.

Max Lugavere:
Yes, correct.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If they’re not exercising, they’re smoking, they’re drinking a lot, they’re eating crap, taking vitamin D is not going to do anything. But if in all things being equal, people who are low in vitamin D have higher risk of this and if you clean up your lifestyle and you’re still low in vitamin D, it’ll make a big difference.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, I’m glad you brought up context because one thing that very few people know, you could be spending as much time in the sun as you want, frolicking all day in the beautiful warming rays of the sun or even supplementing with vitamin D but if you’re not getting adequate magnesium in your diet, which 50% of the population does not get adequate magnesium …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, true.

Max Lugavere:
The enzymes that convert the vitamin D that your skin creates into its active hormone form in the body, all are magnesium dependent.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
And magnesium, half of us don’t consume adequate magnesium. It’s found in dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, almonds.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, and a lot of things cause us to lose magnesium, stress, coffee, alcohol, sugar, caffei … all those things we love.

Max Lugavere:
Exactly. Magnesium is like an anti-aging, it’s a macro mineral, we don’t consume enough of it and it’s involved in all of the DNA repair enzymes, we’re talking a little bit about DNA damage, they all require magnesium as a co-factor. It’s involved in ATP synthesis, so energy production.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[crosstalk 00:31:57] my practice and these patients come in with all these magnesium deficient symptoms and they think I’m a genius when I give them magnesium and they go away. Things like migraines or headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, twitching, palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, anything that’s irritable, twitches or spasms in any way or cramps, it’s usually magnesium deficiency and it’s so easy when people take it they go, “Oh, my God, I didn’t know I was so low.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think you’re right, it’s so prevalent. I think, as you age, also, your skin doesn’t really convert the vitamin D as well, either, right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, I make specific recommendations in the book for people no matter where they are in their life, no matter what age they are, it’s important … Context is everything really, but you’re right. People who are overweight, people who have darker, skin complexions, people who are older, they probably are going to need to spend more time in the sun to create the same amount of vitamin D.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, what I once learned from Michael Holick, who’s a vitamin D expert, he said, “If you really want to get adequate vitamin D, without taking vitamin D, you have to basically be, practically naked between 10:00 and 2:00 in the daytime for 20 minutes, south of Atlanta.

Max Lugavere:
Wow, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now that probably isn’t happening for 99% of people.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough. I try to get into the sun as much as I can, because the other thing about the sun, we as humans, you know, I think that reductionist approach that we’re talking about, I think we’re hardwired to try to break everything down and I forget who … Maybe it was Michael Pollen but in nutrition, they call it nutritionism.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
Where they like to break down foods into just the bare essentials to see if we can replicate it in a pill form and that hasn’t really …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or identify or we even do worse, we sort of identify the bad ingredients, like saturated fat or sugar or whatever and so we focus on regulating those in food and then the food companies just kind of dial up or down different ingredients to sort make it “healthier,” but it’s not really. It’s still junk food, right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, exactly, and so I think we can apply the same thing to the benefits of getting sun exposure on our skin and in through our eyes. So I mean, vitamin D is created when the UVB rays from the sun reach our skin, but UVA rays might actually be useful in terms of creating nitric oxide and actually helping us lower our blood pressure.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so blood pressure is another topic that I talk about in the book, because it’s so related to brain health. If you want your brain to be performing well, if you want it to age well, you really have to make sure that your blood pressure is in healthy range.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And getting the right amount of sunlight can help.

Max Lugavere:
Can help.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, wow.

Max Lugavere:
Getting the right amount of sun.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now, mental health is such a big crisis in this country. One in four people experience major depression in their life. It’s the biggest cause of the economic burden of chronic disease, not from direct health care cost but things like disability, loss of quality of life, not being able to function very well in your life and vitamin D is one of those things that seems to really impact depression. So you talk about a study in the book that has to do with vitamin D and depression, can you talk more about that?

Max Lugavere:
Well, vitamin D is important for the synthesis of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter involved in mood.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s the happy chemical.

Max Lugavere:
It’s a happy chemical.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s what Prozac does, it increases serotonin, right?

Max Lugavere:
Increases serotonin, SSRI, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors can boost serotonin at the synapse, which is … serotonin’s also involved in focus and attention and executive function, but, yeah, so vitamin D is important in the synthesis of serotonin. From its raw materials, one of which tryptophan, an amino acid, so making sure that your vitamin D levels are in a normal healthy range, important, and you can easily get your vitamin D levels D tested from a doctor. It’s a very cheap test. The recommendations that I make in the book are to make sure that your levels are somewhere between 40 and 60 nanograms per milliliter.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
Which seems to be a range where we see the lowest risk of all cause mortality.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I remember reading a study, it was incredible. Women who had vitamin D levels less than 45 had a 60% higher chance of having pre-term labor and when you think of the cost of neonatal intensive care and taking care of pre-term babies, it’s staggering and you’re talking about pennies for a vitamin that can literally prevent pre-term labor, so it’s really kind of [inaudible 00:36:39] most everything and the difference is with vitamin D, is that not everybody needs the same amount, right? So what should we be taking?

Max Lugavere:
Correct, not everybody needs the same amount, you really, before you start taking vitamin D as a supplement, you ought to get your levels tested. You know when we make, when we synthesize it from the sun, our skin basically makes what we need and it breaks down the rest. It’s really, it’s almost impossible to get too much vitamin D from the sun.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Although lifeguards can have levels of a 150.

Max Lugavere:
That’s amazing, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right, and it’s not toxic.

Max Lugavere:
Right, I mean it increases calcium absorption. So, I always like to recommend vitamin K2, for people that are in … I mean, especially at those levels, but with a vitamin D supplement, I think generally, there was a research calculation that suggested that for the general population, 2,000 international units a day, would be ideal to get the average person to an optimal level, but people, again have different … People who are older might need to supplement more. People who are overweight might need to supplement more to get the same improvement and also, again …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, people who are overweight tend to be low in vitamin D because it’s a fat soluble vitamin so it all gets sucked in the fat and it doesn’t get into your system like they need.

Max Lugavere:
Right, yeah, it gets sequestered by fat tissue. The same also can occur with other fat soluble vitamins like A, E, K.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I don’t if you read this morning … probably not, because you’re probably don’t read the JAMA Pediatrics Journal every day, but …

Max Lugavere:
Not pediatrics, no.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But I do, and I read this paper this morning that showed that women when they’re pregnant took 2800 units of vitamin D, compared to 400, which is in the typical pre-natal vitamin that there was a dramatic reduction in the bad effects on bone when their kids were born. In other words, their kids, their babies had much higher bone density, and then their risk later in life of osteoporosis was dramatically reduced.

Max Lugavere:
Hm.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, that’s almost 3,000 units, which most doctors don’t even think about recommending and some people may need up to five or 10,000 if they’re not good absorbers and there’s genes that affect that, so you might need only a 1,000, but I think a 1,000 is minimum for most people and it takes about a 1,000 units to raise your blood level 10 nanograms per [inaudible 00:39:07].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So if you’re 20, you need at least 3,000 to get up to 50, right, and then you can see how you do, but I think people need to measure it. They need to check it and they need to make sure they’re okay, and if not, take the right supplement and not the kind that you often get from your doctor, I hate to say, which is vitamin D2, which is not an active form of the vitamin, but vitamin D3, and you can get that over the counter now, and you can get a 1,000 units in others, but you want to make sure you measure it, right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, I mean, vitamin D2 is the plant based form of vitamin D and vitamin D3 is the animal based form. It’s bio-identical to what we create in our own skin, so you always want to make sure that you’re taking vitamin D3.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay so that brings up a sticky question, so it’s really made from lanolin and other things that you can get it from sheep and stuff and their fat, so what if you’re vegan, what do you do?

Max Lugavere:
That’s a good question, vegan sources of vitamin D3. That’s hard to get.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, right, it’s hard to get.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, this is one more of those nutrients that you’re just not really optimizing probably.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:40:14] people don’t convert vitamin D2 to D3 and if you’re a vegan, you want to make sure you’re checking vitamin D3, and you can also check D2s, because you might have a really high D2 but a very low D3, so it’s important to make sure. I once took care of this Hasidic rabbi and he had a really bad thyroid problem and I said, “You really need to take this combination thyroid, but I don’t know if it’s okay.” He’s like, “Why?” I said, “Well, it comes from pig, it’s a whole thyroid extract from pig,” and it’s not kosher. He’s, “It’s fine, as long as it’s for your health and as long as you’re not eating it, and it’s a medicine, it’s fine.” So I thought that was very interesting perspective.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The other thing you talk about in your book, it’s sort of connected to this whole circadian biology and how we can reset our clocks is this idea of when we eat, because we often focus on what we’re eating, how much we’re eating, but we really don’t focus that much on when we’re eating and there’s a lot of interesting research lately on the when, on fasting, intermittent fasting, time restricted eating, all kinds of ideas that people are having that extend life span, that reduce the risk for many diseases so tell us more about the importance of when.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, well it seems that there is this eating paradigm that’s emerging in the literature and is being called Early Time Restricted Feeding, so basically eating an earlier dinner, seems to be associated with improvements in blood pressure, in blood sugar, independent of weight loss. So a lot of people online will say that intermittent fasting is really only useful in so far as it has an ability to help us control the amount of calories that we consume. But it seems to be the case that by not eating too late at night … you know, because as I mentioned, light is a major time setter that the brain uses to know what time of day it is and optimize it’s processes accordingly, but food is another time setter and it’s a time setter for the periphery, for the clocks that are in our metabolic organs, you know, in the organs of digestion and what have you, and so eating too late at night might actually negatively affect things like blood pressure, blood sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So people like do intermittent fasting or what we call Time Restricted Eating, they’ll eat at noon and they’ll [inaudible 00:42:26] eat to 8:00 at night, is that a bad idea? Should it be more like 8:00 in the morning till 4:00 in the afternoon?

Max Lugavere:
I mean that might be ideal. The issue is that we’re not waking up with the sunrise and going to sleep with the sunset like our ancestors might have used to do. We wake up a lot later, we go to sleep a lot later, so I think that to try to recreate the optimal eating paradigm for our … The bodies that we’ve inherited might be a futile effort, so the recommendations that I make are to not eat for an hour or two after you wake up, especially if you wake up with an alarm clock, because the problem is a lot of people who wake up artificially with an alarm clock, to wake up, get ready for work, their Melatonin levels actually haven’t properly …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Come down.

Max Lugavere:
It’s likely that their Melatonin levels haven’t come down.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s why they could be groggy when they wake up.

Max Lugavere:
Groggy, but also less insulin sensitive, you know, so if you’re drinking a glass of orange juice or eating a bran muffin or whatever first thing in the morning …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which you probably shouldn’t do anyway for breakfast.

Max Lugavere:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s not genius breakfast, right?

Max Lugavere:
Well, your listeners are savvy and they’re not eating like that, right, but …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I hope you’re not.

Max Lugavere:
But, no, I mean that is a mechanism by which your blood sugar can stay abnormally high, whereas if you just perhaps are to wait an hour or … and also a way that you can make sure that your Melatonin levels have come down is, again, to get that bright light in through your eyes in the morning.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So eat light for breakfast.

Max Lugavere:
Eat light for break … Yeah, eat light, especially if you have to wake up early, and then to eat a … I mean, I would say that if you were going to eat a heavy meal, do it in the daytime and then eat a lighter dinner.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Of course, you’ll be wanting to take a siesta in the afternoon.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So the Spanish had it right, that’s right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But the thing, I agree, I always say that you shouldn’t eat three hours before bed, because your body’s getting ready to repair and heal and if it’s digesting, it doesn’t do such a good job and if you want to gain weight, the best way to gain weight is night eating. It’s the best way.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, and it’s not because … Here’s the thing, so like sometimes I have these confrontations with people in the fitness world who say, “Well, you know, a bagel isn’t magically going to be 200 calories at 8:01 PM if it’s only 100 calories at 8:00 PM,” and that’s true. The calorie content of food doesn’t change, right, from one time to the next.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Max Lugavere:
But it might actually, the disruption of your body’s circadian rhythm might negatively affect hormones involved in energy metabolism, in hunger, so eating late at night could actually make you more hungry the following day.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My favorite study, I read when I wrote my book [inaudible 00:45:03] like 15 years ago or more was they fed people the same calories in three meals over the day or they fed them like one meal at night and the ones who had the one meal at night with the same amount of calories gained weight …

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Compared to the other group, even though they eat exactly the same amount of calories.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, because it might reduce leptin, which is the metabolic throttle essentially that dictates our resting energy expenditure. It might actually increase levels of ghrelin which is a hormone involved in hunger. So these are all the indirect ways in which late night eating can actually make you gain weight, whether or not …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And leptin also actually causes reduction of inflammation.

Max Lugavere:
It’s anti-inflammatory.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so the system that we’ve inherited is very complex but there’s a great way of expressing it that I was able to glean from my interview with Satchin Panda, who’s one of the leading experts on circadian biology. At a certain point in the evening, you have to kind of consider the kitchen having closed. You know when you go into a restaurant after hour …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’d be last night I was in Washington, DC, and I went with my friend Congressman Tim Ryan and we tried to go at a Mexican place, was like this healthy, vegan, kind of taco place and they were shut.

Max Lugavere:
Kitchen closed.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They’re like, “Kitchen’s closed.”

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We had to find some other place.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so I mean if you just think about your body in the same way, and you know, it’s a little bit of a term of art … you could digest anything at any time of day, does that mean it’s going to be optimal? Not necessarily. So at a certain point, I would say, give yourself an 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM cutoff and say the kitchen’s closed in your body. That’s it. You’re winding down, you’re getting ready for bed. You’re not going to be as insulin sensitive in the evening as you were during the day. Also, metabolism, especially when you’re eating lots of carbs, can cause insulin to spike which can negatively affect hormones like growth hormone, it can affect the way that your brain cleans itself up, because of an interaction, with insulin degrading enzyme, which we know dismantles the plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which is often called Type three Diabetes.

Max Lugavere:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Alzheimer’s of the …

Max Lugavere:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s basically diabetes of the brain. If you’re diabetic, your risk of Alzheimer’s if four folds higher. That’s 400% higher, that’s staggering.

Max Lugavere:
That’s a great reminder.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We were also talking about a couple of other things that are really great for the brain, like exercise, which I think 80 plus percent of Americans don’t get enough of.

Max Lugavere:
I know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So what’s the connection between brain health and exercise?

Max Lugavere:
Well, exercise is such a big topic and a lot of people were talking about it. I just think that it’s really important to underscore that exercise is … You’re always talking about how food is medicine, exercise is medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exercise is medicine. Yeah, I would just say, if exercise was in a pill, it would be the most powerful drug ever invented.

Max Lugavere:
It really would be, it really would be. So I’m a big fan of resistance training. I think this is something that not enough people are talking about. Women, I see, can be afraid of weight training. They don’t want to get too big and too bulky. I’ve been trying to get jacked for 20 years, it’s not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. Resistance training, going to the gym, getting stronger, building muscle, prioritizing protein at every meal, it’s going to cause a re-comp of your body essentially.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I’ve been trying. I started about 60 years old. I’m in the gym. It’s struggle street but …

Max Lugavere:
Struggle street.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m starting to like it, but I think it’s working. I can see a big change in my body and I feel stronger and less pain and it’s good.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, I mean, if nothing else, having more muscle on your body provides a sink for excess energy, for excess glucose, excess starch, and sugar that’s going to make its way onto your plate inevitably. As much as we try to abide by the blood sugar solution, and others who have told us to really …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Who wrote that?

Max Lugavere:
I mean, great book, it’s important to note that like a New York City apartment, and I know you know this, Mark, there’s not a lot of place to store stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Nope.

Max Lugavere:
And that’s especially true in the body of sugar. We have very limited … There’s very limited options in terms of where we can store the sugar that we consume.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Muscle.

Max Lugavere:
Muscle’s one of those places and growing more muscle, by getting to the gym, you provide a sink basically to soak up extra sugar that you might consume or starches or car … what have you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s good, because yesterday I went to a class called Yoga Sculpt, which is basically like yoga with weights.

Max Lugavere:
Oh, wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which was hard as heck, but I told myself it was good for me. Max will be happy with me if I did that.

Max Lugavere:
You’re looking lean. I mean, [crosstalk 00:49:56] …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I know, I just … I didn’t want to say this, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I eat healthy and exercise, it’s like I have to make sure I don’t lose too much weight, so …

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, there’s also something that happens, exercise is really cool, which is that it stimulates this chemical in your brain that’s like Miracle Grow, can you tell us about that?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, so exercise stimulates a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or Miracle Grow for sure.

Max Lugavere:
Miracle Grow for the brain, yeah. It promotes the survival of our existing brain cells and it promotes the growth of new, healthy new brain cells.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So it makes new brain cells and it increases the connections between your brain cells.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Your brain works better.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, you can actually … I believe there’s a YouTube video where BDNF is sprinkled on dendrites, which causes them to sprout …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Because they’re like parts of your nerve cells.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, it’s like the physical correlates of memories, actually, and so it’s like a chia pet, and we can cause this up regulation of BDNF in our brains by exercising and I think for a long time, the emphasis was on aerobic exercise and aerobic exercise is great. We know that aerobic exercise can cause growth of the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus which is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease and aging, but we now know, thanks to new research that whatever the exercise modality is that you enjoy doing, even resistance training can boost BDNF, so just being more active.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s great, so you talk about this thing in the book, which is like a marathon in 10 minutes, how do I do that?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, yeah, how do you basically get the benefits of running a marathon in just 10 minutes? It’s high intensity interval training. So along with resistance training, I think HIIT training, H-I-I-T, crucially important.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which is basically exercising as hard as you can till you’re about to throw up and then stopping, is that it?

Max Lugavere:
Pretty much, but doing it, but here’s like the good part. You only have to do it for a few seconds, like 10 to 20 to 30 seconds, pushing yourself to your max effort and then recuperating and then doing it again. What the study found is that when you take subjects and you have them do this HIIT routine, about a two minute warm up and then four or five cycles of all out either cycling, or swinging around the big heavy battle ropes, which is something that I enjoy doing or doing sprints up a hill, that people are able to achieve the same boost to their cardiorespiratory fitness as people who are doing like 30 to 45 minutes of steady [inaudible 00:52:20] on a treadmill.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s really true. It’s really true. I have some great studies that I read about this where if you do High Intensity Interval Training, you literally can exercise like fraction of the time and get far more benefit than if you ran an hour a day. You burn nine times percent more fat and you actually increase your metabolism and what’s incredible about it’s not just the calories you burn when you’re exercise, because you’re going to burn more calories if you’re running for an hour than if you’re doing High Intensity Interval Training, but it speeds up your metabolism so that when you’re sitting down or you’re on your computer or you’re watching TV or you’re sleeping, you’re burning more calories so … and people who are fidgeters also tend to burn more calories, too.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, people who overeat, tend to fidget more and fidgeting is a great way to burn calories, actually. Fidgeting falls under the category of non-exercise physical activity that I talk about in the book, that can burn-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Called NEAT, Non-Exercise …

Max Lugavere:
NEAT, yeah. How neat is NEAT, you can burn anywhere between 300 and a 1,000 calories every day, just with fidgeting, with chasing your cat around the living room.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, there used to be that guy in medical schools kept knocking the kid in the seat in front of him.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I wasn’t very popular but I was always [inaudible 00:53:28].

Max Lugavere:
He probably loved you but, yeah, going back to High Intensity Interval Training what’s amazing about it is it kind of does to your cells what calorie restriction does and calorie restriction, we know is one of the few ways of extending life span in smaller organisms, right? High Intensity Interval Training, the way that it works is it creates a momentary energy crisis for your cells where your cells basically say to one another, “We’ve got to keep up or we’re going to die.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
And what they do to keep up is they create healthy new mitochondria. There’s a process called mitophagy, it’s sort of like autophagy where old worn out mitochondria that have become dysfunctional basically get gobbled up and this is one of the … I mean mitochondria that don’t function well is at the root of aging, at the root of neurodegenerative conditions. So by doing High Intensity Interval Training, we basically get to … it’s like the fountain of youth for ourselves and our mitochondria.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A few of these things you’ve talked about are very interesting and they have to do with ways in which the body gets stressed, that activates a healing response, right, whether it’s the exercise intensity, whether it’s the cold therapy, these have powerful effects like that. It’s called Hormesis, which is a medical term for … and it’s actually such a good thing to push yourself a little bit, because it actually activates all these healing and repair mechanisms. The Time Restricted Eating, the when to eat, the cryotherapy, the exercise intensity, those are all sort of very scientifically validated mechanisms for activating these healing systems in our body and they’re not that hard, right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, they’re not that hard.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Roll around naked in the snow.

Max Lugavere:
Roll around naked in the snow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Run as fast as you can till you’re throwing up for 10 minutes or a few seconds.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And make sure you don’t eat before bed and … right?

Max Lugavere:
It’s so cool, it’s so cool and one of the coolest things about it that I talk about in the Genius Life is the spill over effect that happens and I don’t, I haven’t seen this talked about in any other book, so I think this is kind of a novel idea that ideas that I advance in the Genius Life, it’s that this notion of cross adaptation, so by rolling around in the snow, or by sitting in a sauna, or by exercising vigorously, these are physical stressors that hormetic stress that’s so good for us, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
We know that when we take cold showers, we acclimate. When we go to the gym and we get in better shape, we become more capable of doing more exercise, but here’s where cross adaptation is amazing, it can actually make us more resilient in other areas of our life. So by acclimating and getting more resilient in the gym and taking these cold showers and sitting in the sauna, you can actually can become more psychologically resilient. There’s this spillover effect.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s called cross adaptation.

Max Lugavere:
Whereby you actually can adapt psychologically by imposing a stress on your body physically.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And clearly, all this is going to help us fight Corona Virus, right.

Max Lugavere:
One hopes, it’s crazy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, yeah, I mean you’re building your immune system, you’re building your resilience, you’re building your health, that’s the best way to fight it is to build your own immune system. I mean there’s a study, I mean we talk about stress yet, but there’s a study, I remember reading a number of years ago, where they literally injected cold viruses into people’s noses to see who got sick and they gave them a stress questionnaire and the ones who were the most stressed got sick and the ones who weren’t stressed didn’t get sick, and you see them …

Max Lugavere:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
People are exposed to all kinds of colds and some of them get sick and some people don’t, why? It has to do with a lot of factors, but that’s one of them. All right, so you’ve got this incredible book the Genius Life. It’s a great book, I really recommend it. It’s really a tremendous contribution to understanding about how to actually fix our brains and fix our health, but you make it really simple for people. You have this 21 day plan for Genius Living to help reset our brain and our body, to its factory settings which is sounds so good.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it’s like when your computer gets completely screwed up and you just have to turn the thing off and reboot it, right, and how does it help fight fatigue, anxiety, depression, how does it optimize your brain health, and how does it help you live longer and healthier. So tell us what this 21 day plan is all about.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, it basically puts all the pieces of the puzzle together. I know that the information that you’ve gleaned here can sound overwhelming, but I think knowledge is power and so long as you act on that knowledge, that’s really where you’re going to see the most bang for your buck. The book is really all about the simple things that you can do every day that are going to add up cumulatively to big health wins and you’re going to feel them immediately. So whether it’s …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Small steps for big wins.

Max Lugavere:
Small steps for big wins, that could have been the subtitle of the book. You’re a pro at this, but, yeah, so it’s taking all of those different topics, which I’ll admit, circadian biology, nature, can be … each of these topics can be its own book but what I’ve tried to do is I’ve tried to deliver the most relevant and actionable research in a way that’s easy to understand, easy to apply, achievable, so that people can really start to feel better today.

Max Lugavere:
And so what I do is I go through a four week program where week one is really getting your stress levels down, boosting your resilience to stress, which we talked about. This is a big topic and also going through your kitchen and your medicine cabinets and kind of questioning a little bit some of the industrial chemicals to which we’re routinely exposed, compounds that might be serving as endocrine disruptors …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, right, you’ve got to get rid of all the toxins in your home, the things you wash your hair with and putting your skin and your cleaning supplies and the ingredients in your food and all that, right?

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, just sort of cutting down, just to make your … Before we start with any dietary changes, it’s really about making you the most resilient that you can be. I mean, for example sleep, making sure … if you are trying to radically change your diet, and your under slept, I mean you’re not going to be met with success because …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Max Lugavere:
Sleep is like … I use this metaphor from Game of Thrones, I’m a big Game of Thrones nerd and in Game of Thrones, at this point, the show’s water under the bridge, so I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything but you’ve got to kill the Night King before all the Zombie White Walkers fall, by killing the Night King, that’s what gets all the Zombies basically defeated and so by optimizing your sleep, that’s the equivalent of killing the Night King. All the other problems are going to become much easier to tend to once you improve your sleep, which is crucial, sleep is sacred. It’s another form of medicine, and so that’s all week one.

Max Lugavere:
Then week two and three, we go into some dietary modifications. Really, my goal with the dietary recommendations that I make in this book is really in part to heal people’s relationship with food, which I think has become so fractured today, that relationship that people have with food. There’s like the macro wars, there’s carbs, fat, I don’t know what to eat. I make it really simple for people. I say that the best thing that you can do is to avoid ultra processed foods.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Max Lugavere:
And we talked about this, too.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So much.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, when you were on my show.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Max Lugavere:
Which is amazing. I think that if you do nothing else, cutting down on the consumption of ultra processed foods.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true, I sort of joking, you know, I coined this term Pegan and it was kind of a joke, a paleo vegan, and my latest book food fix, was number one in paleo and number one in vegan on Amazon. I’m like, “Okay, that’s it.” I think they have way more in common with each other than they do with our traditional American diet. They both believe in whole foods and lots of plants and just good ingredients and not eating crap. Compared to the traditional American diet or SAD diet, the Standard American Diet, they’re more alike than they are compared to that ultra processed diet. I think that’s such an important strategy.

Max Lugavere:
Well, said, I mean just … Like ultra processed foods, I mean one of the thing … I feel like few people realize that the mere processing of food can make a food inherently more fattening. If you were to take whole nuts and you chew nut, almonds, macadamias, whatever, a significant portion of the calories that you’re consuming, you actually end up pooping out. Whereas if you were to just process slightly those nuts in a grinder, and turn nuts into nut butter, like almond butter, you’re absorbing 100% of those calories and so this is true of ultra processed foods that …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So make your own nut butter in your mouth, is that the idea?

Max Lugavere:
Make your own nut butter in your mouth and I like nut butter, too, so not to demonize nut butter or any food, really.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Me, too.

Max Lugavere:
But ultra processed foods, they’re extremely calorie dense, you’re absorbing 100% of the calories, they’re not satiating, and so there’s that. Then I also make the recommendation to focus on protein, really to bring protein back to the table. I think it’s something that the fitness community has embraced for years, but I think most people are kind of confused about the role that protein plays in health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s like a whole podcast in and of itself.

Max Lugavere:
I know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’ve got to come back and talk about protein because …

Max Lugavere:
We’ll come back, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So much [inaudible 01:02:28] plant protein, animal protein, should we eat less meat, we have no meat? Should we focus on only plant proteins? I’ve written a lot about this and I think protein quality matters, I think the utilization of the proteins are different if it’s plant or animal protein. I think there are a lot of plant proteins that are great, but you have to eat a lot to get the equivalent of what you get … You know three cups of beans and good luck if you’re going to eat them to be equivalent to the amount of protein that you get in a six ounce piece of fish or chicken.

Max Lugavere:
Yeah, I’m eating three cups of beans. I’m going to have to work from home that day.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly. Well, Max, you are a genius and I love what you do. I love the intelligence you bring to the work you do. I think those of who aren’t acquainted with Max, you’d better get acquainted, his new book The Genius Life: Heal your Mind, Strengthen your Body, and Become Extraordinary, which sounds like a great aspiration. I’m on that track … is out. You can get it on Amazon, anywhere you get your books. Go to GeniusLifeBook.com to learn more about the book and Max’s work and you will not be disappointed, because he’s a real deal and I am so excited to have you on the podcast and to learn from you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I learned so many interesting things today I actually didn’t know, so it was really good for me and I hope you all learned something and if you loved this podcast, please share with your friends and family on social media. Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you. Share with your friends and family, as I said and subscribe to wherever you get your podcast and we’ll see you next week on the Doctors Farmacy.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

Send this to a friend