The Genius Life 14: How to Heal Trauma, Fix Back Pain, and Poop Better | Aaron Alexander


The Genius Life 14: How to Heal Trauma, Fix Back Pain, and Poop Better | Aaron Alexander

Aaron Alexander is an accomplished manual therapist and movement coach with over 13 years of professional experience. He is the founder of the Align Movement, an integrated approach to functional movement and self-care that has helped thousands of people out of pain and into health. He also hosts the top-rated Align Podcast featuring the biggest names in movement and wellness.

What I discuss with Aaron in this episode:

  • Why we shouldn't so easily dismiss our own instincts when technology disagrees with how we feel.

  • The dangers of doing Kegel (or really any) exercises in the wrong position and how we can ensure we're properly poised to reap their rewards.

  • The numerous benefits of human contact once it's unwrapped from the societal hangups that equate it with sex.

  • Common complaints of people in search of body work and potentially physiological origins of anxiety.

  • The biological consequences of carrying feelings of guilt, hate, and anger.

  • And much more!


This podcast is sponsored by my friends at Genuine Health, a Toronto-based supplement company committed to helping others achieve optimum health—naturally. Check out what they can do for you here!


On this episode of the show, Align Podcast host Aaron Alexander and I talk about everything from the mingling worlds of technology, health, and wellness to movement—particularly why so many people are having knee and lower back problems (including me)—to digestive health to touching and why so many of us are starving for oxytocin.

There's a Nap for That


Kicking off our conversation, Aaron wins the hearts of naturists worldwide when he says fewer clothes correlate to greater health and that he personally tends to feel better when he spends more time (and with more skin) exposed to the sun. Meanwhile, I'm told by certain members of my audience that I need to assemble a less revealing wardrobe if I want to be taken more seriously. So it goes.

While Aaron admits that hormone levels and other labile biomarkers associated with "better" might not be quantifiable without further technical scrutiny, there are drawbacks to relying too much on technology for feedback about what our instincts are already trying to tell us.

"I think having those time slices and having some sort of structure and awareness and being able to check back at what you're doing through periods of change is important," says Aaron. "I think it's also really important to be able to just introspect and look in and be flexing that muscle—and really looking into how do you actually feel as opposed to always looking at your ring on your finger or your necklace or whatever to determine if you feel okay."

We look to apps to tell us how we'll we've slept when maybe we should be looking toward naps if we're feeling drowsier than usual. An app could be spitting out virtual miles of incorrect data if it's in need of an update or some other unknown variable enters the picture. The worst thing a nap is liable to do is make you miss a few hours of questionable daytime television.

Where the Sun Don't (Usually) Shine


Naturists will be further encouraged by Tao of Sexology author Dr. Stephen Thomas Chang's advice to regularly expose the perineum to the sun, but Aaron has some practical advice for those of us who want to maintain this more delicate part of the anatomy without the risk of scorching.

"You can be strengthening and balancing that space—that pelvic floor—just with the way that we're sitting," says Aaron. "Oftentimes we end up being folded over in hunched over positions that end up putting our pelvic floors in a state of compensation, and those muscles are crucially important. It's the foundation of our visceral system—the foundation of our organs."

Being able to contract and engage these muscles keeps our organs functioning properly, allows us to use the restroom on our own timetable, and gives us greater control over sexual function. Enlightened men and women may already be familiar with the benefits of Kegel exercises in strengthening the pelvic floor, but Aaron stresses the importance of proper posture when engaging in them.

"Kegel exercises can actually be deleterious for you if you're in a compromised position," Aaron says.

For instance, if you're on your morning commute and hunched over the steering wheel of your car, or sitting at your computer reading these podcast show notes, doing Kegel exercises can actually strengthen this dysfunctional position. Aaron recommends yoga postures—like sukhasana (easy) or padmasana (full lotus)—as great ways to ensure we're properly aligned before engaging in these exercises.

"Just sitting down, people can pull their butt cheeks back and get yourself on the front edge of your sit bones—the ischial tuberosities—and then from there you'll feel your lower back and your whole spine starts to be able to stack on top of your pelvis," Aaron says. "From that position, now you're safe to do any kind of Kegel."

Similarly, deep squats help increase range of motion and pressure regulation.

The Stigma Behind Human Contact


The health benefits of regular human contact are numerous, but often swept under the rug by societal hangups tying such contact to sex. Being hugged and supported or using massage to work the pain out of trouble areas shouldn't automatically signify lascivious intent.

"When people end up having pain in a certain part of their body, they literally create disassociation around that part," says Aaron. "So they have trouble being able to visualize that place. They won't be able to draw a picture of the place in their body that they have pain because they create a separation. So that disassociation—that's a lot like what we do with emotional trauma…'That was super painful; I don't think I have the tools to address that. Let's just chop it out.' But you didn't chop it out. It's still there. You're just carrying it as baggage. And it slowly accrues—accumulates...until at some point, you pop."

Listen to this full episode to learn more about how Aaron feels about solar-powered testosterone generation, the permanent damage Aaron suffered by bodybuilding to cope with trauma as a teenager, becoming aware of patterns we've each exhibited, what it's like to bond in a desert sweat lodge, the importance of challenging our own narratives, the most common complaints of people seeking body work, the potentially physiological origins of anxiety a lot of us experience, hot yoga versus meditation, the baggage we carry when we can't forgive, how labels only serve to separate and disconnect us, religion as spiritual scaffolding, the silent epidemic of modern lower back pain, ways we can overcome gluteal amnesia and other dysfunctional positions we acquire over time, and lots more.

Resources from this episode:

Align Therapy

Align Podcast

Aaron at Facebook

Aaron at Instagram

Aaron at YouTube

Aaron at Twitter

Align Podcast 161: Max Lugavere II: Genius Foods, Power Language, Nutritional Psychiatry (My appearance on Aaron's podcast)

How do you say labile?

The Tao of Sexology: The Book of Infinite Wisdom by Stephen Thomas Chang

Kegel Exercises: Benefits, Goals, and Cautions, Healthline

How to Do the Yoga Easy Posture (Sukhasana) by Larry Payne and Georg Feuerstein, Yoga for Dummies

How to Do the Yoga Full Lotus Posture (Padmasana) Correctly by Doug Swenson and David Swenson, Power Yoga for Dummies

Massage: Get in Touch with Its Many Benefits, Mayo Clinic

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate


After Sweat Lodge Deaths, Fewer Tourists with Spiritual Needs by Marc Lacey, The New Yorker

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic

The Brain-Gut Connection, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Why Do People Even Like Hot Yoga? by Amy Marturana, Self

12 Ways to Be Happier

Dr. John Demartini

Alan Watts

Jiddu Krishnamurti

One Love by Bob Marley

When to Worry about Low Back Pain—and When Not To! What's Bark and What's Bite? by Paul Ingraham,

Ancient Ruins of Tiwanacu and PumaPunku, World Mysteries Blog

Get Stronger By Greasing the Groove by Brett McKay, The Art of Manliness

What is Gluteal Amnesia? by Cathe Friedrich

Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy, TED Talk

5 Blue Zones Where People Live the Longest, Healthiest Lives by Jamie Ducharme, Time

Physics of Poo: Why It Takes You and an Elephant the Same Amount of Time by David Hu and Patricia Yang, The Conversation

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!



The Genius Life 13: The Power of Time-Restricted Eating aka Intermittent Fasting | Satchin Panda


The Genius Life 13: The Power of Time-Restricted Eating aka Intermittent Fasting | Satchin Panda

Satchin Panda is a professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory—aka Panda Lab—at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. His research concerns understanding the molecular mechanism of the biological clock and the part it plays in overall health, as detailed in his book The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health from Morning to Midnight.

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • Dr. Panda's research supports what intermittent fasting proponents have been saying for years: when we eat may be every bit as important to our well-being as what we eat.

  • The negative effects on our health we risk by not sleeping enough, and how we can live a lifestyle that supports ideal, genetically governed circadian rhythms for optimal wellness.

  • The practical implications of time-restricted feeding and why it may be smarter to skew your feeding window earlier in the day.

  • What could explain a recent food hangover I had recently the morning after consuming a late meal.

  • The potential benefits of exercising at a moderate intensity before eating in the morning.

  • And much more!

This podcast is sponsored by my friends at Genuine Health, a Toronto-based supplement company committed to helping others achieve optimum health—naturally. Check out what they can do for you here!

Resources from this episode:


The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health from Morning to Midnight by Satchin Panda

Panda Lab

Satchin at Twitter

myCircadianClock App

Diurnal Transcriptome Atlas of a Primate Across Major Neural and Peripheral Tissues

by S. Panda et al., Science

Salk Institute Honored with Historic Gift from Family of the Late Francis Crick, Salk News

Simulated Night Shift Work Induces Circadian Misalignment of the Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Transcriptome by Laura Kervezee et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The Emerging Roles of Melanopsin in Behavioral Adaptation to Light by Megumi Hatori and Satchidananda Panda, Trends in Molecular Medicine

Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep? by Jessica Schmerler, Scientific American

Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan by Valter D. Longo and Satchidananda Panda, Cell Metabolism

A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight by Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times Magazine

National Sleep Foundation's Updated Sleep Duration Recommendations: Final Report by Max Hirshkowitz et al., Sleep Health

Meal Timing by Rebecca Shern, Minimal Wellness

A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide to the Ketogenic Diet, Ruled.Me

High Carbohydrate Diets and Alzheimer’s Disease by Samuel T. Henderson, Medical Hypotheses

7 Ways a Keto Diet Is Perfect for Menopause by Anna Cabeca, Dr. Axe

Exercise Before Breakfast 'is Better than after a Meal,' Finds Study by Hilary Duncanson, The Independent

How to Break Your Daily Caffeine Habit and Use Coffee Strategically by Kevin Purdy, Fast Company

Circadian Variation in Gastric Vagal Afferent Mechanosensitivity by Amanda J. Page et al., Journal of Neuroscience

Ghrelin: Much More than a Hunger Hormone by Geetali Pradhan et al., Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care

LEAP2 Is an Endogenous Antagonist of the Ghrelin Receptor by Xuecai Ge at al., Cell Metabolism

The Role of Leptin and Ghrelin in the Regulation of Food Intake and Body Weight in Humans: A Review by MD Klok et al., Obesity Reviews

Time-Restricted Feeding Study Shows Promise in Helping People Shed Body Fat by Adam Pope, University of Alabama at Birmingham News

The Case for a Breakfast Feast by Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times

Effects of Caffeine on the Human Circadian Clock in Vivo and in Vitro by Kenneth P. Wright Jr. et al., Science Translational Medicine

NFL Teams Play Better at Night, Study Suggests, Because Of Circadian Rhythms by Ben Renner, StudyFinds

Seasonal Variations in Serum Vitamin D According to Age and Sex by Behzad Heidari and Maryam Beygom Haji Mirghassemi, Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine

Another Case Against the Midnight Snack, Salk News

Frequent Extreme Cold Exposure and Brown Fat and Cold-Induced Thermogenesis: A Study in a Monozygotic Twin by Maarten J. Vosselman et al., PLOS One

Cold Exposure as a Potential Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes, Medical News Bulletin

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!



The Genius Life 12: How to Use Mushrooms for Better Health | Tero Isokauppila


The Genius Life 12: How to Use Mushrooms for Better Health | Tero Isokauppila

Tero Isokauppila is a Finnish foraging expert, self-experimenter, founder of medicinal mushroom company Four Sigmatic, and one of the smartest cacao experts I know. He is also the author of Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health.

What I discuss with Tero in this episode:

  • Mushrooms have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries, and there are likely thousands of undiscovered species that could provide us with yet-untold benefits.

  • Tero Isokauppila didn't start medicinal mushroom company Four Sigmatic as a fad -- he comes from a multi-generational line of mushroom foragers. He's got fungi in his blood!

  • The three criteria of adaptogens and how they were discovered by the Cold War era Soviet Union looking for an edge in optimizing human performance.

  • The mysterious properties of not-quite-plant, not-quite-animal fungi.

  • Why coffee and chocolate work well in combination with mushrooms.

  • And much more!

This podcast is sponsored by my friends at Genuine Health, a Toronto-based supplement company committed to helping others achieve optimum health—naturally. Check out what they can do for you here!

I've been a fan of mushrooms my whole life—from big portobellos that my family and I would throw on the grill every summer drenched in salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil to the raw, sliced mushrooms I drop into a salad. They have a flavor and texture that are at once highly amenable to whatever they're being eaten with, but also retain a delectable taste all their own.

The research on the health benefits of mushrooms is just as compelling. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a large family of organisms from the fungi kingdom, distinct from the animal and plant kingdoms but just as wide and diverse. In fact, there are 22,000 mushroom species that we know of, but it's estimated there are likely 140,000 distinct species on Earth. Of the known mushrooms, about five percent are of either culinary or medicinal use to humans, but if that proportion holds true for the vast number of unexplored mushrooms, this implies there are 6,000 mushrooms out there that could provide us with yet-untold benefits.

On this episode of the show, I'm joined by someone who knows a lot about the medicinal power of mushrooms: Four Sigmatic founder Tero Isokauppila, author of Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health.

Why Mushrooms?

Four Sigmatic (discount code MAX gets you 15% off!) is well-known for making mushroom coffee, mushroom tea, mushroom superfood blends, mushroom hot cacao, and even mushroom lemonade with charcoal and chaga. Which might lead some less enamored of such fungal splendor to wonder: what's the obsession with mushrooms?

"I first fell in love with normal, good old culinary mushrooms," says Tero. "I grew up in Finland. My mom took me out foraging. My mom taught physiology and anatomy and taught me about nutrition in general. [We've had] a family farm for quite a few generations, and my great-great grandfather started an environmental school where we also forage for mushrooms.

"As I was playing soccer and running, I got into all kinds of performance-boosting things beyond just your classic creatine and whey protein that worked, but I wondered 'What's the next level? And the next next level? And the next, next, next level!' And I discovered this mushroom called cordyceps that is shown to improve the maximum oxygen intake, and there's also pretty fascinating studies on ATP production that it can improve 18 percent or more of just how we produce energy in our cells and the mitochondria, so that got me deeper into the world of medicinal mushrooms."

Other benefits of cordyceps include fatigue reduction and up to 10 percent increase in lactic acid threshold in the body—especially helpful during high-intensity workouts. Cordyceps are also the only fungi in a category of herbs known as adaptogens.

What Are Adaptogens and Beta-Glucans?

"Adaptogens" is a word that gets thrown around a lot on the herbal medicine market today, but Tero defines them by these three criteria:

  1. They are safe and non-addictive.

  2. They are non-specific—meaning they'll work in multiple parts of the body.

  3. They have the ability to modulate—that is, they'll help normalize bodily parameters against pathological conditions.

In the 1940s, the Soviet Union became the first nation to understand the role adaptogens can play in stress reduction thanks to the work of Dr. Nikolai Vasilievich Lazarev. While adaptogens may not have helped the Soviets win the Cold War, they're a great way to bolster the body's own ability to heal.

Beta-Glucans are immunity-boosting complex carbohydrates that are found in many bacteria, plants, and fungi—reishi being one reliable source.

"Most of the research is around cancer, autoimmune [diseases], and diabetes," says Tero, "because those are the big problems in our society. But I think just for general health, I look at them like chlorophyll. You want to have greens in some form every day. You want to have polysaccharides in one form or the other every day. You don't need a lot—it's a really important building block and something our body's very quick to handle."

Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms

Not quite plant and not quite animal, mushrooms occupy a pretty unique place in the biosphere. Sometimes even scientists can't help but wax poetic on their qualities, as we see from the opening to this paper from Shu Ting Chang and Solomon P. Wasser in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms:

"Mushrooms are part of fungal biota characterized by wonder. They rise up from lignocellulosic wastes: yet they become so bountiful and nourishing. Mushrooms are environmentally friendly. They biosynthesize their own food from agricultural crop residues, which would otherwise cause health hazards."

When was the last time you saw a scientist use the phrase "characterized by wonder" in a paper? I can't help but think Amber Rae would approve.

While fungi are less studied than the other kingdoms, it's understandable: they're bountiful almost beyond comprehension. "If you think of all the varieties of plants," says Tero, "there's six times more fungi than there are plants."

While some mushrooms overlap the boundary between culinary and medicinal categories, it's helpful to know the difference.

"Culinary mushrooms are good for fiber, some level of iron, copper, potassium, B vitamins, D vitamins -- pretty much the only non-animal based source of vitamin D is in mushrooms because they share a lot of the DNA with animals, so they have the same way of getting it from the sun. So mushrooms build vitamin D in their skin the same way humans do.

"Medicinal mushrooms have a lot of those same properties, but they also have this intelligence—ninja skills—very specific compounds that can potentially help penetrate the blood-brain barrier or they could help ATP production. They could help improve the gut biome. They have these stronger skills. They tend to be more bitter; they tend to grow on trees, whereas culinary mushrooms tend to grow on the ground. A lot of the benefits of the medicinal mushrooms come from the trees themselves."

Give your ears a listen to this entire episode to learn more about Tero's top seven mushrooms, why Otzi the Iceman (the well-preserved mummy of a man who was murdered 5,300 years ago) was probably carrying medicinal mushrooms at the time of his death, why coffee and chocolate are ideal candidates to combine with mushrooms, fungi Tero recommends avoiding, why Tero prefers wild mushrooms over cultivated mushrooms, and much more.

Resources from this episode:

Tero's website

Four Sigmatic (15% off discount code automatically applied!)

Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health by Tero Isokauppila and Four Sigmatic

Mushroom Academy

Facebook 'Shroom Club

Tero at Instagram

The Genius Life 4: Fat Loss and Inflammation Hacks | Crosby Tailor

The Green Dawn of Adaptogens: Performance Herbs from Back in the USSR, Supplements in Review

Effects of Beta-Glucans on the Immune System by Dalia Akramiene et al., Medicina

The Role of Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms on Human Welfare with a Pyramid Model for Human Health by Shu Ting Chang and Solomon P. Wasser, International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms

The Genius Life 11: How to Quiet the Inner Critic and Experience More Wonder | Amber Rae

The Maitake Mushroom: A Powerful and Promising Medicinal, Mushroom Appreciation

5 Surprising Facts About Otzi the Iceman by James Owen, National Geographic

Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science by Paul Stamets and Heather Zwickey, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal

How to Make a Decoction, WikiHow

Guide to Making Tinctures, Mountain Rose Herbs

The Ghrelin Gremlin, or Why You Can’t Always Trust the Body’s Wisdom by Kelly McGonigal, Psychology Today

What Is Candida and What Does It Have to Do with Toxic Mold Exposure?, Surviving Toxic Mold

Mushrooms Are Full of Antioxidants That May Have Anti-Aging Potential by Matt Swayne, Penn State

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!



The Genius Life 11: How to Quiet the Inner Critic and Experience More Wonder | Amber Rae


The Genius Life 11: How to Quiet the Inner Critic and Experience More Wonder | Amber Rae

Amber Rae is is an author, artist, and speaker who has been described by mindbodygreen as "The Brené Brown of wonder." Her new book is Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential, and I personally think it would look beautiful on your coffee table after you've absorbed its life-changing insights.

What I discuss with Amber in this episode:

  • How we can use wonder rather than fear as a guide to extract what worry is trying to tell us.

  • The three steps for pushing past fear.

  • Amber's method for conversing with the many faces of worry.

  • Why Amber's process for writing a book may widely differ from that of most other authors.

  • How we can change our own narratives to overwrite the negative conditioning of external forces—like the advertising industry that preys on our sense of "not enough."

  • And much more!

This podcast is sponsored by my friends at Genuine Health, a Toronto-based supplement company committed to helping others achieve optimum health—naturally. Check out what they can do for you here!

As human beings, we second guess ourselves constantly. Whether we're creators exposing our chosen form of expression to criticism from the world at large or accountants quadruple-checking receipts for missed deductions at tax time, self-doubt just seems to be part of our DNA. Unexamined, this self-doubt amounts to worrying that stifles us from doing our best work and living our best lives.

But what if worry exists for a reason? What might we learn from it if we dig deeper and let wonder, rather than fear, be our guide? Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential author Amber Ray introduces us to the many faces this worry wears and helps us understand how to confront them constructively and make use of what they're trying to tell us—without being dissuaded from what we really want to accomplish in life.

Worry vs. Wonder

It's no secret that growth to any degree comes from stepping outside whatever we perceive as the comfort zone, and the biggest obstacle to taking this step usually comes from within—in the form of worrying. Everybody knows what it's like to ponder getting better acquainted with the unfamiliar only to hear the nagging voice in the back of our head warning us of what awaits if we fail.

The initial voice of curiosity urging us to ponder the possible is what Amber calls wonder. The inner-ruminating, anxious, and fearful voice begging us to reconsider is worry.

"I remember I walked into an art gallery in lower Manhattan," says Amber. "And when I looked at the mixed media art lining the walls, there was this voice inside of me that said, "It's time to make some art." That was wonder. And then very quickly, another voice said, "Art? Who the hell are you to make art? You didn't go to art school! Like, are you kidding yourself? Come on. Art doesn't make money.

"And you know it took me a while to realize that because often we think, okay, worry is bad, fear's bad, let's make it go away. But that's actually not the aim. It's how do we have a relationship with it? And so what I realized later was that worry, even in that art gallery, was trying to protect me and keep me safe. That seemed unknown, scary, dangerous, unlikely to lead to me being a thriving human, and so worry was chiming in to say, 'Hey! Alert! Danger! I don't know how I feel about this!' But the invitation is that we get to know the two voices and we learn how to work with them and have a relationship with these various internal emotions."

Three Steps for Initiating a Relationship with Worry

"[Worry and fear] are here to keep us safe," says Amber. "We've evolved with them in our brain to protect us from danger. But any time we're doing something new, novel, meaningful, interesting—something that is unknown—it's going to trigger some of those emotional sensations or those voices."

Having a relationship with these emotions rather than letting them boss us around is key—but where do we begin? Amber recommends these three steps.

  1. Name it. Psychotherapist Dr. Dan Siegel coined the term name it to tame it, and that's what Amber considers the first step. It's specifying what kind of worry has shown up and giving it a label to pinpoint the problem it's trying to solve. In herself, Amber identified 27 different kinds of worry, including The Perfectionist, Envy, Shame, and Not Enoughness. Amber jokes that her friend calls this "Multiples of Personality Order."

  2. Talk to it. Amber demonstrates: "As I was writing this book, so many times The Perfectionist would come up and be like, 'Hey, this isn't very good. People aren't going to like this. People are going to judge you.' And I would then talk to that voice. I'd say, 'Okay. Hey, Perfectionist. I see you hanging out here. What is it that you want me to know?' And The Perfectionist would be like, 'Well, you know, I just want this to be really good. And I want a really high-quality end product.' And I'm like, 'Great! Me, too.
    We have the same goal! Amazing!"

  3. Make a request. This is the part where you recognize the validity of what the named worry is trying to tell you, and you politely request that it buzzes off to let you solve the problem. Here's how Amber might make such a request: "'I need to get really messy and create a lot of shitty first drafts before I get to high-quality work. Can you go get a massage while I get back to work?' And then perfectionism sort of releases its grip."

Amber stresses that this is a process she does with pen and paper and not out loud in public.

Rewriting the Narrative

We all have some idea of who we are and how we fit into the world, and we may even believe we have sole authorship of this narrative. But as much as we might hate to admit it, large chapters of the story were created by others before we even knew there was a story being written. Parents, teachers, friends, significant others, and bosses are just a few who, if they don't have entire chapters dedicated to them in your narrative, have at least scribbled significant notes in the margins. Sometimes the narrative even comes with irritating advertisements that fall on the floor every time you turn a page.

"I started my career in the advertising industry," says Amber, "and I remember one meeting where the CEO called us in and there was this new product for men to shine their shoes. And he's like, 'So, let's make men feel insecure about their shoes and then they'll buy the product.'

"So everything is around 'how do we tap into people's insecurities or sense of not enoughness in order to design products so that they buy them?'"

Becoming aware of an undesirable part of our narrative is an important first step in overwriting it. The second step is to question it and try to identify where it came from. Once we understand its origin story, we can decide if it's something that should remain in place or be torn out entirely and replaced with something better.

It might seem excruciating to sort through our narrative and deal with the emotions that will inevitably get stirred up in the process, but it's actually a shorter option than letting them linger and affect the entirety of our story.

As neuroanatomist and My Stroke of Insight author Jill Bolte Taylor discovered, it only takes 90 seconds to really feel the physiological impact of an emotion, examine it in the moment, and decide if it's something you need to keep reliving, or if it's something you can let go.

"It's like 90 seconds versus 10 years," says Amber. "It's not what happens and what we feel; it's the story we create about what we feel that prolongs."

Listen to this entire episode to learn more about ways to cultivate wonder, what it means to be a wonder junkie, the effect wonder can have on our physiology, how Amber's writing process probably differs from that of other authors you may recognize, how Reese's Peanut Butter Cups got smeared across the pages of my own narrative, and much more.

Resources from this episode:

Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential by Amber Rae

Amber's website

Amber at Instagram

Amber at Twitter


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Dan Siegel: Name it to Tame it

Contact by Carl Sagan

The Evangelist Behind Seth Godin's Speedy Publishing by Tim Donnelly, Inc.

The Genius Life 10: How to Become a World-Changing Innovator | Melissa Schilling

Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World by Melissa A. Schilling

The Strategies That Helped Me Write 3 Books in 3 Years by Ryan Holiday

5 Life Lessons from the Book Journey by Amber Rae

This Yoga Nidra Routine Will Make You Feel Like You Got a Full Night's Sleep by Julie Hand, Bulletproof Blog

Headspace: Meditation and Mindfulness Made Simple

The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist

The Life-Changing 90-Second Secret by Alex Myles, Elephant Journal

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!



The Genius Life 10: How to Become a World-Changing Innovator | Melissa Schilling

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The Genius Life 10: How to Become a World-Changing Innovator | Melissa Schilling

Melissa A. Schilling is the John Herzog Chair Professor of Management at New York University Stern School of Business, a world-renowned expert in innovation strategy, and author of Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World.

What I discuss with Melissa in this episode:

  • The commonalities that unite world-shifting innovators like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein.

  • How we can embody these traits into our own lives to be more effective in achieving our goals—even if we don't consider ourselves to be "geniuses."

  • Why the list of innovators from Melissa's study isn't as diverse as she would have preferred.

  • The common innovator trait Thomas Edison did not possess (perhaps because he possessed twice as much of another trait).

  • The role of chronically elevated insulin and the ideology of Alzheimer's disease.

  • And much more!

This podcast is sponsored by my friends at Genuine Health, a Toronto-based supplement company committed to helping others achieve optimum health—naturally. Check out what they can do for you here!

If I'd chosen to name this podcast The Einstein Life or my New York Times Best Seller Edison Foods, you'd have gotten the general idea: the names of these innovators have become synonymous with "genius." Our society elevates such geniuses to positions of high esteem when they help us see the world and its possibilities in a new light, which causes some of us to wonder: what makes world-changing innovators so different from the rest of us?

Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World author Melissa A. Schilling joins us to discuss what sets innovators apart from most of us, what we can learn from their commonalities, how we can jump start our own capacity to innovate (even if we don't think of ourselves as "geniuses"), what an innovation strategy professor knows about the link between Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, and lots more.   

Not a Textbook Question

Management professor Melissa A. Schilling is so immersed in the science and data behind innovation strategy that she literally wrote the textbook for Strategic Management of Technological Innovation (now in its fifth edition). But an interesting thing happened back in 2010 when it became clear to the public that Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO and the company's public face of innovation, was in the late stages of a terminal illness. Melissa's students started asking her questions like: What's going to happen? If we lose Steve Jobs, will Apple not be innovative anymore? How much of that innovation comes from him as a man, and how much of it is myth? Can it be handed down? Can I learn it? Can I be innovative like that?

"I was really surprised," says Melissa," when I realized that we just didn't have the answer to that question. And in large part it's because our field is not well-structured to study people. I'm in a management school; we tend to study organizations and teams, but we don't tend to study individuals a lot. It's hard for us to publish that kind of work. And even in psychology, it's quite hard to do work on outliers—on creative geniuses—because it just sort of violates the standards of being able to do what we call rigorous research, meaning we want to run statistics on large samples. We want to have carefully controlled experiments. And you're not going to get Elon Musk or Steve Jobs into the laboratory to run an experiment on them!"

A Multiple Case Study for Innovation

Melissa found the questions surrounding the legacy of Steve Jobs—and what it means to be innovative—too fundamentally interesting to ignore. As an academic, she did what came naturally: she took a year-long sabbatical to study everything she could find on the subject of Steve Jobs until she felt like she "knew him as a person."

"And then at some point I recognized something really odd," says Melissa, "and that is that he had all these commonalities with this other inventor that I'd already written about, which is Dean Kamen...that's when I got the inspiration to do what we in my field would call a multiple case study research program, where you assemble a set of cases and you take yourself out of the case selection process as much as possible. You want something else—some kind of protocol—to select the cases. You don't want to select them yourself, because you might be creating bias somewhere. Then you do a full case development on each one—it's kind of like a biography on each one in this case—and you do what we call pairwise didactic comparison. So you take every pair and you find everything in common about them, and everything different about them. You look for themes and you try to discount the themes. You try to see which themes you can reject. And then what you're left with is pretty solid."

Addressing the Lack of Diversity

Aside from Steve Jobs and Dean Kamen, the other cases included for this study included Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Marie Curie. If you've noticed a glaring lack of diversity in that lineup, you're not alone.

"One of the things that people have pushed back on a lot with this list is that fact that it's mostly male, and it's all what you think of as white—which is a bummer," says Melissa. "That's just history creating that. There's an incredible lack of access to science for people of color and even for women. A huge lack of access to science. When we studied Marie Curie's story, it's so inspirational and so sad at the same time. You can see how much she had to overcome. She had to overcome all of the same things that all of the other innovators had to overcome, and then so much more because she was a woman—and women just weren't welcomed into science."

When selecting from the cases available, Melissa had to make sure to draw from well-known innovators and inventors who had bountiful information about their lives available, like multiple biographies and first-hand contact materials such as direct correspondence. Unfortunately, this results in a fairly homogeneous candidate pool.

"If you...look at the last 300 years, throughout most of that period, women weren't even allowed in college," says Melissa. "Black people weren't allowed in college. Jews weren't allowed in a lot of colleges. So you had a huge access barrier there."

And while Marie Curie's father-in-law essentially raised her children while she single-mindedly focused on her scientific research and went on to become the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, it was frowned upon by society at the time. Women were expected to take on the responsibility of caring for their family's children, so most simply didn't have the option to pursue the sciences; there's no telling how many generations of would-be innovators could have been included on the above list had they been given the choice.

"All the innovators, when you study them really closely, you realize that they...feel sort of separate from the crowd," says Melissa. "They don't belong. They don't feel like its rules apply to them. And one of the ways it becomes manifest is that they're a little bit...disagreeable. They're not going to go along to get along. They're not going to do what you expect them to do. They're going to challenge your rules and your assumptions, and they're going to stick with things even when you say it's not the right path. That's hugely important for being a breakthrough innovator, and I would say that women have always—and still to this day—pay a much higher penalty for being disagreeable."

The Unique Traits of Innovators

Over the course of her multiple case study, these are the traits Melissa found in common among most of these innovators:

Separateness. While Melissa was expecting to find diverse social networks that nurtured the minds of introverts, what she found instead was a tendency for these introverts to be loners to some degree and separate from the crowd. Nikola Tesla spent much of his childhood sick. Marie Curie battled depression. "There are various things that can lead to separateness," says Melissa. "But in all cases, what it did was made them feel like the norms that apply to you just don't apply to [them]..." Important to note: not the same as introversion.

Self-Efficacy. This can be defined as task-related self-confidence. "It's when you have a high faith in your ability to overcome obstacles to achieve your goals," says Melissa. Rather than being discouraged by failure, innovators will rally, double down, and try harder next time.

Idealism. An intrinsic motivator demonstrated by everyone on the list with the notable exception of Edison—who considered himself practical and decidedly not idealistic. "They were seeking some grand cause," says Melissa. "They were working for something much bigger than themselves. And because it was bigger than themselves, it didn't matter whether they made money at it. It didn't matter if they suffered. Sometimes they sacrificed their families and their health and certainly their leisure." Idealism also works as an ego defense against criticisms hurled at the innovator's work and rallies others to their cause.

Love of Work. If Edison didn't consider himself an idealist, he might proudly consider himself the figurehead of this trait. Hard work put Edison in a state of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow," in which a pursuit is its own reward—providing the right levels of engagement and challenge to make the person enraptured by such a pursuit feel good. "You lose all sense of time, space, responsibility," says Melissa. "You are in the moment."

Self-Education. Not all innovators ever make it through the echelons of higher education—and in fact many reject its structure entirely. But they do possess an intellectual curiosity that drives them to understand the mysteries of the world on their own terms, and they tend to be voracious readers. "They were autodidacts," says Melissa. "They liked to learn and think about the stuff they wanted to learn and think about."

Listen to this full episode to learn more about what border collies can teach us about intrinsic motivation and flow, how nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) works (and how it may have been responsible for Edison's famous restlessness), why an innovator's separateness might work in the favor of his or her ideas remaining truly innovative, why many innovators prove to be mediocre students when held to the standards of someone else's educational pace, the resource seemingly least important to most innovators, how we can become innovative even if we don't consider ourselves outstanding in the IQ department, how the data collection for innovation strategy informed Melissa's paper about the correlation between Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, and much more.

Resources from this episode:

Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World by Melissa A. Schilling

Melissa at Twitter

Melissa at NYU

Melissa's website

Unraveling Alzheimer's: Making Sense of the Relationship between Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease by Melissa A. Schilling, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

Strategic Management of Technological Innovation by Melissa A. Schilling

The Emotion Behind Invention by Dean Kamen at TEDMED 2009

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Code Name Ginger: The Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World by Steve Kemper

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World by Randall E. Stross

Albert Einstein: The Biography of a Genius Who Changed Science and World History by Adam Brown

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie and Vincent Sheean

Why Women Are Rarely Serial Innovators by Melissa Schilling, The Wall Street Journal

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: What's the Difference? by Sophia Bernazzani, HubSpot

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Environment and Biology by James A. Levine, American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism


Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!

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The Genius Life 9: The Foods That Can Improve Your Smile | Steven Lin, DDS


The Genius Life 9: The Foods That Can Improve Your Smile | Steven Lin, DDS

Steven Lin is a passionate health educator applying functional dentistry to help people achieve whole body health, a TEDx speaker, and author of The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health.

What I discuss with Steven in this episode:

  • How an obscure tome first published in 1939 sparked Steven's interest in understanding ways to prevent oral afflictions with proper nutrition as a preference to the mainstream tendency to wait for problems to arise before fixing them.

  • Why are crooked teeth such a common sight today when they were relatively rare prior to the Industrial Revolution?

  • The value of fat soluble nutrients—like vitamin K2—seemingly absent from the modern supermarket.

  • How vitamin D deficiency can be passed from mothers to their children and the potential health problems that accompany this inheritance.

  • Teeth are living organs that can change throughout our adult years—for better or worse—depending on what we eat.

  • And much more!

This podcast is sponsored by my friends at Genuine Health, a Toronto-based supplement company committed to helping others achieve optimum health—naturally—with a line of fermented gut health and protein powders. Check out what they can do for you here!

If you're like most people, you probably think about your teeth as being the most steadfast part of your mouth's topography, fixed in place and composition from an early age—built to last, but destined to suffer inevitable degradation over time. Only the luckiest among us who make it to the village elder stage of life do so with a full set of chompers, due in no small part to daily diligence toward brushing and flossing.

But what if we regarded our teeth not as lifeless utensils, but the living organs they are? Then we could nurture them accordingly with the proper diet and care we afford to the rest of the body and enjoy their use well beyond the popularly misguided perception of a "natural" expiration date. The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health author Steven Lin, DDS is an aptly described "interior designer for mouths" who shows us how we can treat our teeth with the respect they deserve by understanding the role they play in our overall health and providing them with everything they need to prosper.

A Modern Fixation on Fixing

Years of dental school taught Steven how to fix teeth. But it wasn't until, on a backpacking trip across Europe, he stumbled across a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price that he started to understand how a lot of the mouth ailments he was seeing as a practicing dentist were happening in the first place—not as inevitable degradation, but as a direct result of the modern diet's influence on dental health.

"Modern" is relative, considering this book was published for the first time in 1939. But it introduced ideas that Steven had never heard of in seven years of dental school, which made him initially skeptical.

"I picked it up, I looked at it, and I was like, 'Ah, this is a load of baloney! It's all outdated!' There were 15,000 photos in there, but they're black and white, so you kind of think in terms of our modern context we've moved past that. So I put the book in my backpack and I discounted it. I went away and then went back to practice and it kept bothering me. I kept thinking about it and eventually I picked it up again; I realized that I didn't understand it.

"What he was talking about—the development of jaws and crooked teeth and why kids need braces today, and tooth decay—it is all a problem with food nutrient deficiencies. They're a screaming message from our body that we're not eating the right things. So that led me down the path of thinking anthropologically about the mouth and the context of dental disease and digging into the science of how we understand the mouth and the oral cavity as a model for whole-body health."

Forbidden Knowledge Vindicated

Steven's book is the result of his own 21st century observations and explorations sparked by ideas presented in what may as well have been a tome of forbidden knowledge from the better side of a century ago, randomly accessed on a personal voyage of self-discovery. Why this information took such a roundabout way to reach a greater audience instead of being taught in dental school for the past few generations is anybody's guess. But research conducted today is constantly confirming what Weston Price tried to tell us nearly 80 years ago.

Even the importance of vitamins K and K2—especially to oral health—is only now being understood, though Weston Price and a few of his contemporaries had already speculated on their efficacy in providing protection from tooth decay and chronic disease by the early 20th century.

And just as it took scientists until the mid-'90s to realize that our brains are constantly changing and regenerating rather than being fixed by a certain age, Steven is trying to get the word out that our teeth are similarly in a constant state of flux dependent on how we choose to take care of ourselves.

Every Bite You Take

"Our bodies are listening to every bite that we take, nutritionally," says Steven. "The teeth, I think, are one of the first signs of how we're eating the wrong or the right foods. Teeth are living organs; we've known this. We know that teeth have a blood supply, they have a nerve supply. We're taught this in dental school, but we're not taught how to feed them so they actually can function properly.

"We have living cells inside our teeth called odontoblasts that are waiting for a set of nutrients called the fat soluble vitamins—of which vitamin K2 is one; they're activated especially by vitamin A and vitamin D—so without those nutrients, you don't activate these defender cells. What they do is they release an immune reaction inside your teeth to potential harmful bacteria."

Listen to this full episode to learn more about what Weston's studies found to be the greatest differentiator between modern and traditional diets, why braces are ubiquitous among developing children today (while crooked teeth were a rarity until recent history), how vitamin D deficiency is passed from mother to child and what traditional diets did to prevent this, the foods we should be eating for optimal dental health, the foods we should be avoiding, the cholesterol connection to dental health, what the Fibonacci Sequence tells us about the human smile, mouth breathing versus nose breathing, why some of us grind our teeth when we sleep, why regular use of mouthwash could be hazardous to your health, and much more.

Resources from this episode:

The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health by Steven Lin

Steven's website

Steven at Instagram

Steven at Twitter

The Power of a Smile with Steven Lin at TEDx Macquarie University

There's an original version of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price posted online courtesy of Project Gutenberg Australia for free here, or a more modern paperback 8th edition can be found on Amazon here.

Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by Kate Rheaume-Bleue

A Decade Of Discovery Yields a Shock About the Brain by Sandra Blakeslee, The New York Times

Odontoblasts: Specialized Hard-Tissue-Forming Cells in the Dentin-Pulp Complex by Nobuyuki Kawashima and Takashi Okiji, Congenital Anomalies

Vitamins Are Important For Your Teeth with Dr. Steven Lin, Hay House Australia

Fat soluble vitamins mentioned by Steven

Are You Ready to Eat Your Natto? by Richard Schiffman, The New York Times

Occlusal Variation in a Rural Kentucky Community by Robert S. Corruccinni and L.Darrell Whitley, American Journal of Orthodontics

Your Sweet Tooth, the Oral Microbiome, and Tooth Decay by Steven Lin, I Quit Sugar

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan M.D.

The Truth about Cholesterol with Mike Mutzel and Max Lugavere (Full interview here.)

Taking a Statin Drug? Here Are 3 Nutrients That May Be Depleted by Colin O'Brien, ND

The Fibonacci Sequence: Nature's Code with Hank Green, SciShow

Sleep Strips by SomniFix (to promote nose breathing)

Is Mouth Breathing Bad for Your Health? by Steven Lin

Twice-Daily Mouthwash Use Could Increase Risk of Type 2 Diabetes by Jack Woodfield,

How Your Gut Microbiome Links to a Healthy Mouth by Steven Lin

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!





The Genius Life 8: How Fasting Can Rebuild Your Immune System | Valter Longo, PhD

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The Genius Life 8: How Fasting Can Rebuild Your Immune System | Valter Longo, PhD

Valter Longo is a professor of gerontology and biological science at USC and Director of the USC Longevity Institute. He is one of the foremost researchers studying fasting—developing what he calls the Fasting Mimicking Diet—and is the author of The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight.

What I discuss with Valter in this episode:

  • What Valter's mentor, the late Roy Walford, learned about the benefits—and drawbacks—of near-starvation during his two years sealed off from the rest of the world in Biosphere 2.

  • How a carefully controlled cycle of fasting and refeeding has proven effective in targeting cancer while minimizing collateral damage to normal cells during chemotherapy.

  • The regenerative effects of fasting and refeeding on the immune system, and the strides being made toward potentially miraculous MS and diabetes treatments.

  • How the Fasting Mimicking Diet works and how often it should be observed.

  • What Valter thinks of intermittent fasting and the true purpose of ketones.

  • And much more!


While fasting, in its many forms, has been used around the world over the centuries for everything from religious observance to political protest, current research is proving it to be effective in promoting a seemingly countless number of health benefits under properly controlled circumstances.

Spearheading some of the most groundbreaking research in fasting is USC professor Dr. Valter Longo, PhD, author of The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight. In addition to metabolism boost and weight loss long associated with fasting, Valter's research suggests that fasting can “reset” the immune system to potentially treat conditions like multiple sclerosis and type one diabetes, and even significantly increase longevity.

From Song to Science

As a music student in Texas, Valter Longo didn't want to direct the college marching band; he wanted to rock. But there were vexing lifelong questions that even rock and roll couldn't answer.

"I was in the room when my grandfather died," says Valter. "I was five years old or something like that. Probably that was in my head very clearly. Like 9/11, you have those events that you might not think about all the time, but they're in your head. I think that maybe I always wanted to figure out 'Why did he die when I was so young?' And I think he also died [40 or 50 years] before he had to. He only had a hernia, and because it was left untreated, it ended up killing him way before his time."

On the other hand, his neighbor, who lived a similar lifestyle and ate a similar diet, lived to be 110.

So Valter decided to pursue science perhaps as a way to understand the mechanics of mortality and what might be done to help people enjoy a longer, healthier life on the planet.

Starvation Lessons from a Biosphere 2 Pioneer

One of Valter's mentors was a gerontologist named Roy Walford, who spent two years with seven other people sealed off from the rest of the world in the self-contained Biosphere 2 just outside Tucson in the early '90s. While there, the group soon discovered they were unable to grow enough food to sustain a normal diet, so Roy put them on a severely calorie-restricted diet that would keep them from starving—but just barely.

Years later, Roy's 2004 Los Angeles Times obituary would recount:

They didn't exactly flourish, but they did get healthier. Men lost nearly 20% of their body weight and women about 10%. Their blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels all fell by at least 20% to extremely healthy levels. The team members also exhibited an increased capacity to fight off illnesses, such as colds and flu.

Valter was impressed with the possibilities his mentor's experiment presented, but recognized its imperfections and looked toward ways it might be improved.

"I thought, well, I need to go back to bacteria and yeast and simple organisms to figure out the fundamentals," says Valter. "And that was the right track."

This course of experimentation allowed Valter and his team to identify key genes that regulate longevity, and they were surprised to find that introducing the organisms to starvation counterintuitively shielded them from damage and allowed them to lead longer lives.

Getting the Drop on Cancer and Resetting the Immune System

Taking what they learned from their yeast studies, Valter and his colleagues scaled up to mice and discovered that not only would starvation before chemotherapy greatly protect the normal cells from damage, but it would simultaneously make cancer cells more susceptible to the treatment.

"From there we moved to many more studies in mice, and then eventually humans," says Valter.

Further trials found that observing cycles of fasting and refeeding would prompt stem cells in compromised immune systems to pump out new white blood cells and recycle damaged, old, and inefficient cells.

Fasting Mimicking Diet and Embryonic-Like Rebirth

Further studies still have determined that Valter's Fasting Mimicking Diet, as featured in his new book, shows promise in fighting the ravages of multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as rebuilding the diabetic pancreas. As in earlier tests, a cycle of fasting and feeding triggers a regenerative process that promotes vastly marked improvements.

"I think that the most striking example is our type 1 diabetes paper where we show in the pancreas that you can almost completely destroy the beta cells of the pancreas, and then you start the cycles of fasting mimicking dietary feeding and you see the insulin generation going back to normal and the glucose coming back to almost normal levels. So it's very powerful in activating what I call an embryonic-like program. If you look at the genes that are expressed, they're very similar to the genes that you see expressed in fetal development."

Listen to this full episode to learn more about why Valter believes the term "intermittent fasting" is commonly misused to the point of being meaningless, what really qualifies as fasting to Valter, how he regards ketones, how the average person should approach fasting and the Fasting Mimicking Diet, where the Longevity Diet fits in, weighing the efficacy of a diet to the average person's ability to stick to it over time, two debunked nutrition notions that commonly move people off the path to health, the cardiovascular risks of skipping breakfast, and lots more.

Resources from this episode:

The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight by Valter Longo

Valter at USC

Valter at Facebook

Valter Longo Foundation

USC Longevity Institute

The Fasting Mimicking Diet

Roy Walford, 79; Eccentric UCLA Scientist Touted Food Restriction by Thomas H. Maugh II, The Los Angeles Times

Biosphere 2

Dietary Restriction, Growth Factors and Aging: From Yeast to Humans by Valter D. Longo et al., Science

Starvation-dependent Differential Stress Resistance Protects Normal but Not Cancer Cells Against High-dose Chemotherapy by Valter D. Longo et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Fasting for Three Days Can Regenerate Entire Immune System, Study Finds by Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph

A Diet Mimicking Fasting Promotes Regeneration and Reduces Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms by Valter D. Longo et al., Cell Report

Fasting-mimicking Diet Shows Promise Against MS by Catharine Paddock, Medical News Today

Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven Beta-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes by Valter D. Longo et al., Cell

Fasting Diet 'Regenerates Diabetic Pancreas'  by James Gallagher, BBC News

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!


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The Genius Life 7: Why You Probably Need to Eat More Salt | James DiNicolantonio, PharmD

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The Genius Life 7: Why You Probably Need to Eat More Salt | James DiNicolantonio, PharmD

James DiNicolantonio is a doctor of pharmacy, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, the associate editor of British Medical Journal's (BMJ) Open Heart, and author of The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong—and How Eating More Might Save Your Life.

What I discuss with James in this episode:

  • What are the symptoms of salt deficiency?

  • Who should be on a salt-restricted diet?

  • Why might someone on a ketogenic diet notice an increased craving for salt?

  • With so many options now available, what's the healthiest salt you can buy?

  • How much is too much salt?

  • And much more!

Salt has been demonized and blamed for many of the Western world's medical ailments—from hypertension to heart failure—existing in such ubiquitous abundance that, we've long been told, we could all afford to do with less of it. But what if, like an urban legend that captivates popular imagination without any basis in fact, the reality is actually the opposite of what we've been led to believe? What if, as a society, we're not getting enough salt?

In this episode, we get to pick the brain of a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy who some might consider a devil's advocate on the topic of salt: Dr. James DiNicolantonio, author of The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong—and How Eating More Might Save Your Life. He'll explain how salt become demonized in recent history, why too little sodium is far worse for us than too much, symptoms of salt deficiency, and a whole lot more.

Salt: How Low Can You Go?

As a research scientist for Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, James has published more than 200 papers on nutrition and how it relates to cardiovascular health. When he was a community pharmacist, he noticed an influx of patients who complained of dizziness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, and high heart rates.

What they had in common was high blood pressure, a doctor-prescribed low-salt diet, and overwhelming sadness from eating exclusively flavorless food.


As a high school athlete, James knew his physical performance suffered if he didn't ingest enough salt, so he recommended these patients revisit the doctor to get their sodium levels checked. Of no surprise to James, it turned out they were low.

And so began James' quest to discover if, rather than being a society overfed on salt, we might in fact be a society suffering from an epidemic of salt depletion.

The Demonization of an Unappreciated Nutrient

"You talk to anyone back in the '50s, '60s, '70s, it was really well known in athletic performance that you take a salt tablet," says James. "After we demonized salt [in 1977's Dietary Goals for the American People], virtually no one that I've talked to in the athletic world really understands the benefits of salt, and that really was something very eye opening in my research."

According to James, this demonization came about from an oversimplified test.

"Basically, just like with dietary fat—how we oversimplify the LDL cholesterol leading to heart disease type of pathway—we oversimplified it with salt. We took one surrogate marker blood pressure and we fell at the feet of was a very simple hypothesis that if you consume more salt, you are going to raise your sodium levels, you're going to activate thirst, you're going to drink more water to dilute those higher sodium levels, so that's going to raise blood volume and lead to high blood pressure. We based these low salt guidelines on complete hypothesis."

A hypothesis that James believes causes more damage than taking the exact opposite action of the one prescribed.


"If we don't get enough salt, so many other harms outweigh any type of potential benefit and in the book I show that even if you get a reduction in blood pressure when you cut your salt intake, you're just volume depleting yourself and raising your heart rate."

Hyponatraemia and Cognitive Impairment

Sodium is crucial to many human biological functions, not the least of which is the transport and absorption of vitamin C into the brain, our bones, and the intestinal tract. Hyponatremia—caused by abnormally low sodium levels in the blood—can result in a number of dangerous disorders on a cellular level. Not surprisingly, cognitive impairment is just one of the symptoms observed from this type of sodium deficiency as vitamin C is instrumental in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.

"There's actually studies showing that if you induce low sodium levels in animals, you can actually cause cognitive impairment and memory impairment," says James. "Literally, they can't follow through the maze as well..."

Listen to this full episode to learn more about the difficulties in gauging ideal—but ever-fluctuating—blood sodium levels, how greater quantities of salt counterintuitively ensure we remain hydrated, how overtraining syndrome and headaches during a workout are tied to salt deficiency of the tissues, what a Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) marker can tell you about your sodium levels, if there are people who actually shouldn't be taking in more salt, how caffeine affects our sodium levels, why James believes people with type two diabetes should be eating more salt rather than the recommended less, why people observing a ketogenic diet especially crave salt, the salt James himself uses, and lots more.

Resources from this episode:

The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong—and How Eating More Might Save Your Life by Dr. James DiNicolantonio

James' website

James at Twitter

James at Facebook

James at Instagram

History of Dietary Guidance Development in the United States and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Association between Antidepressant Drug Use and Hyponatraemia: A Case-Control Study by Kris L.L. Movig et al., British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

Association between Dietary Sodium Intake and Cognitive Function in Older Adults by Toni M. Rush et al., The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging

Hyponatremia: Symptoms and Causes, The Mayo Clinic

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): What It Is and Why Is Yours High (or Low) by Jade Teta, Metabolic Effect

A Low-Salt Diet May Be Bad for the Heart by Nicholas Bakalar, The New York Times

Salt: The Prize Jewel Of Keto by Anita Aldridge, Ketovangelist

Ancient Lakes Magnesium-Infused Salt

Redmond Real Salt

Could So-Called 'Healthy' Vegetable And Seed Oils Be Making Us Fat And Sick? by James J. DiNicolantonio and Sean C. Lucan, Forbes

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!


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The Genius Life 6: The Crazy Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer's | Amy Berger


The Genius Life 6: The Crazy Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer's | Amy Berger

Amy Berger is a certified nutrition specialist and nutritional therapy practitioner who holds a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and is the author of The Alzheimer's Antidote: Using a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Loss, and Cognitive Decline.

What I discuss with Amy in this episode:

  • Why the prevailing hypothesis behind Alzheimer's disease doesn't seem to add up—and what Amy and I believe is a more plausible explanation.

  • What a ketogenic diet in tandem with exogenous ketones can do to fight back against the advance of Alzheimer's disease.

  • How a caregiver can help a patient with dementia who is resistant to a change in diet.

  • What young people can do right now to proactively reduce the chances of picking up Alzheimer's disease later in life.

  • Supplements Amy recommends for targeted brain health.

  • And much more!

While there are multiple hypotheses as to why Alzheimer's disease develops, the prevailing wisdom of the past few decades has aligned with the amyloid hypothesis—that Alzheimer's is caused by plaque buildup in the brain. Unfortunately, amyloid hypothesis-directed drug trials for Alzheimer's disease treatment have a 99.6 percent fail rate.

On the other hand, there's a growing number of both researchers and clinicians who believe that Alzheimer's disease is a form of diabetes of the brain that is metabolic in origin. This is the camp where I find myself, and I'm in good company with Amy Berger, author of The Alzheimer's Antidote: Using a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Loss, and Cognitive Decline.

A Late Start

Amy's journey into nutrition—and specifically how it relates to Alzheimer's disease—started later in life.

"Like so many people out there, I was overweight—despite doing what I believed were all the right things," says Amy. "I ate a low-fat diet, lots of good, whole grains, whole wheat bread, cereals, skim milk. I exercised a lot—I was not afraid of a hard workout. And yet I was still carrying all this extra weight. At the time I was young enough that I didn't really have any health problems, but I could not understand why I could not lose weight no matter what I did.

"There were people around me, friends and family who ate far worse than I did—wouldn't know a barbell from a jingle bell—and they looked better than I did!"

But around 1999, Amy came across an early copy of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and it changed everything.

"Having realized that I could actually lose weight and be healthy—and feel great—eating things like steak and blue cheese and coconut oil and butter and fatty pork chops and bacon—you name it—how could I not want to share that with other people who were struggling, too?" says Amy.

This prompted Amy to change careers and return to school to study nutrition. Now she specializes in low-carb, ketogenic, and paleo-style diets not only to help others with weight loss, but also for managing blood sugar, hormone imbalances, and other medical conditions improved by a change in nutrition.

"Just Because We Don't Know Everything Doesn't Mean We Don't Know Something."

Like Dr. Atkins himself, Amy knows what it's like to hold opinions that run counter to those promoted by the mainstream—and how maddening it can be when abundant evidence supports what she finds to be obvious. One of these obvious positions is the connection between Alzheimer's disease, glucose, and insulin, which she examined in great detail in the course of writing her thesis.

"When I started looking for scientific papers, I was blown away by what I found. It is everywhere in the scientific literature. Alzheimer's disease is regularly referred to as 'type 3 diabetes,' 'diabetes of the brain,' sometimes they call it 'brain insulin resistance.' If people out there have heard of metabolic syndrome, they also call Alzheimer's 'metabolic cognitive syndrome.' I mean, this is everywhere! How did I never hear of it? As someone who's actually really interested in low-carb and interested in insulin issues and ketones, how did I not come across this before a book? Not hearing it from a doctor, not hearing it from a specialist, but hearing it from a journalist [Gary Taubes] who wrote a book [Good Calories, Bad Calories] about low-carbohydrate diets.

"I wrote the thesis, did the research, and having learned what I learned, I couldn't imagine keeping it to's overwhelming to me that we're being told there's nothing you can do about Alzheimer's; you just have to accept your fate and prepare for the worst. Granted, there's a lot of unanswered questions. There are a lot of things we don't know. But just because we don't know everything doesn't mean we don't know something. It doesn't mean we have no actionable information right now."

Fueling the Brain with Ketones

Neurons in patients afflicted with Alzheimer's disease show a reduced ability to derive fuel from glucose—they starve to death and atrophy, which can be detected in scans as a loss of matter in the brain.

"The synapses, the connect neurons go away; communication between these neurons breaks down," says Amy. "The obvious result is memory loss, behavioral changes, and personality changes. The bottom line: whatever else is going on in Alzheimer's, in my opinion, the number one thing we can do is nourish these starving brain cells. And there's a lot of other things we need to do, but to me, that's step one."

Amy believes the best way to nourish these starving brain cells is by observing the ketogenic diet, which provides ketones as a fuel alternative to glucose. Additionally, supplementing with exogenous ketones can help further improve cognitive function—but shouldn't be seen as a substitute for the diet.

"Exogenous ketones are a great short-term way to manage symptoms," says Amy. "They do improve cognitive function, but they do nothing to actually reverse or slow the disease process. And I think a ketogenic diet can."

In cases where a patient is resistant to a change in diet (particularly if advanced dementia is present), Amy recommends caregivers introduce MCT oil or coconut oil as good sources of fat that readily convert to ketones in the body.

Listen to this full episode to learn more about the benefits of low-carb and ketogenic diets for young people proactively looking to reduce their chances of picking up Alzheimer's disease later in life (and positive cognitive effects they may even experience right away), metabolic flexibility, the diet Amy recommends to someone seeking to optimize cognitive performance, supplements Amy recommends for targeted brain health, nutrition recommendations for ApoE4 carriers, Amy's take on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, and lots more.  

Resources from this episode:

The Alzheimer's Antidote: Using a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Loss, and Cognitive Decline by Amy Berger

Tuit Nutrition

Amy at Twitter

Is the Alzheimer's "Amyloid Hypothesis" Wrong? by Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic

Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins


Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes

Alzheimer's Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes—Evidence Reviewed by Suzanne M. de la Monte et al., Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology

Diabetes of the Brain by Alissa Sauer,

Demonstrated Brain Insulin Resistance in Alzheimer's Disease Patients Is Associated with IGF-1 Resistance, IRS-1 Dysregulation, and Cognitive Decline by Konrad Talbot et al., The Journal of Clinical Investigation

Metabolic-Cognitive Syndrome: A Cross-Talk between Metabolic Syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease by Vincenza Frisardi et al., Ageing Research Reviews

Are Exogenous Ketones Right for You? by Marty Kendall, Optimising Nutrition

What Is Metabolic Flexibility, and Why Is It Important? J. Stanton,

Supplements Amy mentions:

The Empowering Neurologist—David Perlmutter, MD, and Max Lugavere

Scientists Reveal Why People with the ApoE4 Gene Are More Susceptible to Alzheimer's Disease, Salk Institute

Dr. Gundry's Protocol

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!





The Genius Life 5: Blueberries and Ketosis For A Better Brain | Robert Krikorian, PhD


The Genius Life 5: Blueberries and Ketosis For A Better Brain | Robert Krikorian, PhD

Robert Krikorian is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and the director of the Cognitive Aging Program at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. He is one of the lead researchers exploring ketogenic diet as an intervention for people with cognitive impairment, and on the impact of anthocyanins (antioxidants found in blueberries and other pigmented fruits and vegetables) on cognitive aging. 

What I discuss with Robert in this episode:

  • How an aspiring psychotherapist with no family history of neurodegeneration became one of the leading researchers in dietary methods of fighting cognitive impairment and aging.
  • What Robert believes is the most potent factor in influencing our health and longevity.
  • What happened to a group with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who observed the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
  • The implications of these findings for young people seeking to entirely prevent cognitive impairment with the benefit of early awareness.
  • The impact of the humble blueberry (and related pigmented fruits and vegetables) on cognitive aging.
  • And much more!

The cost of treatment for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's can be high, and the emotional toll on those affected—from the afflicted to those caring for the afflicted—is even higher. But what if non-pharmaceutical interventions during or before the early stages could stall or halt their progress entirely? In this case, an ounce of prevention would surely be worth, at the very least, a pound of cure. 

University of Cincinnati professor Robert Krikorian, PhD joins us to discuss his research into the positive effects of the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet on patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and how anthocyanins (antioxidants found in blueberries and other pigmented fruits and vegetables) may stall the effects of cognitive aging.

Treatment with the Tools at Hand

With scholarly interests ranging from astronomy to philosophy and a career path that initially seemed destined toward psychotherapy, it's perhaps surprising Dr. Robert Krikorian became one of the leading researchers in nutritional methods—namely the ketogenic diet and use of anthocyanin-rich foods like blueberries—to forestall neurodegeneration.

"I have a clinic and we see patients from age seven through old age. I would guess about eight years ago, maybe 10 years ago, we started to see more people who are middle-aged and older with age-related memory changes. The typical patient was sort of dysthymic—had a little bit of depression and increased anxiety—and starting to have some cognitive changes. I noticed some things about them in terms of simple observations about the other health conditions they had, like typically hypertension and sometimes type two diabetes. They seemed to be overweight as a group, and it just occurred to me that this was going to become a major issue in the population as a whole."

While he has no family history of neurodegeneration, Robert recognized the societal implications of this growing segment of the populace and began to examine its causes and ways it might be countered. But there were limitations to how he could proceed.

"I'm not a physician; I'm a PhD, and so I don't have access to medications as treatment tools," says Robert. "I was focused on nutrition, stress control, and exercise...with those tools, I thought that diet or nutrition was the most potent way to approach this, and I really felt strongly that prevention was much prefered relative to cure."

The Ketogenic Diet vs. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) 

The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet has been used to treat a number of ailments—from epilepsy to diabetes to obesity—for more than a century. In a nutshell, it creates the conditions for your body to burn fat, rather than sugar, as a fuel. It improves triglyceride and cholesterol levels, lowers blood sugar levels, and it optimizes insulin to name a few of its proven benefits. 

During a six-week intervention (preceded by a three-week pre-pilot phase), patients exhibiting mild cognitive impairment (MCI)—a group at risk for later development of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia—were instructed to observe a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet. And while weight loss typical to such a diet predictably occured, a significant improvement in cognition was also noted.

"Many people over the age of 55-60 in our culture are hyperinsulinemic," says Robert. "They're not yet diabetic, but they're sort of on that path, generally speaking. And they have elevated levels of insulin, but the glucose is not high enough yet to meet standards for treatment as diabetics. But I think damage is still being done in that phase, and that phase can be very long...but in any case, we lowered insulin into the reference range and it was just at the upper limit of the reference I thought part of it was the correction of hyperinsulinemia, but I thought that there was another component which might have been an energetic component—that is, we were improving mitochondrial energy production in the brain."

A smaller extension study under similar conditions included brain imaging; cognition improvements were once again verified, with significant increase in neurochemicals like myo-inositol and trends for increases in N-acetylaspartate, creatine, and phosphocreatine after six weeks on the ketogenic regimen.   

This is Your Brain on Blueberries

Robert was particularly inspired by a 1999 study done by James A. Joseph of Tufts University in which middle-aged rats given strawberry, spinach, and blueberry supplements were able to perform mental tasks as well as rats belonging to a younger group. Its conclusion: These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging.

"Blueberries, in particular, contain five of the six major anthocyanins [antioxidants found in blueberries and many other purple-hued fruits and vegetables]...they seem to have a lot of benefits for us with respect to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, but also they do some of the things we talked about with ketone metabolism."

Robert mentions that, additionally, they seem to improve glucose disposal independent of the level of insulin that the body produces.

Another curious observation is that the metabolic processes triggered by the introduction of anthocyanins seem to linger long after the anthocyanins themselves have been digested.

"The question becomes: is it the metabolic process? Is it what the organism is doing with the anthocyanins that's switching on the signals and producing the benefit, or is it the acute consumption of the parent—the food form compounds? The data we have from these two studies...suggest that it's the acute consumption. It's the parent compounds that the cognitive benefits seem to be associated with."

Listen to this full episode to learn more about the details behind how Robert believes (and research suggests) ketosis facilitates cognitive improvement, how young people might use this information to prevent cognitive impairment early on, Robert's take on the use of MCT oil and exogenous ketones, Robert's aspirations to compare the benefits of blueberry supplementation against ketogenic diet for cognitive improvement, what Robert's own diet looks like, and lots more. 

Resources from this episode:

Robert Krikorian at University of Cincinnati's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

Cognitive Aging Program , University of Cincinnati 

Dietary Ketosis Enhances Memory in Mild Cognitive Impairment by Robert Krikorian et al., Neurobiology of Aging

What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment? National Institute on Aging

What is the Ketogenic Diet? A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide,

Enhanced Cerebral Bioenergetics with Dietary Ketosis in Mild Cognitive Impairment by Robert Krikorian et al., Nutrition and Aging

Scientists Reveal Why People with the ApoE4 Gene Are More Susceptible to Alzheimer's Disease, Salk Institute

What is Myo-inositol?

What is N-acetylaspartate?

What is Creatine?

What is Autophagy? by Ananya Mandal, News-Medical.Net

A Ketogenic Diet Reduces Amyloid Beta 40 and 42 in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease by Ingrid Van der Auwera et al., Nutrition & Metabolism

Exercise Promotes the Expression of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) through the Action of the Ketone Body Beta-Hydroxybutyrate by Sama F Sleiman et al., eLife

Can Ketones Help Rescue Brain Fuel Supply in Later Life? Implications for Cognitive Health during Aging and the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease by Stephen Cunnane, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience

Reversals of Age-Related Declines in Neuronal Signal Transduction, Cognitive, and Motor Behavioral Deficits with Blueberry, Spinach, or Strawberry Dietary Supplementation by James A. Joseph et al., The Journal of Neuroscience

What Are Anthocyanins and Why Are Purple Foods So Healthy? by Sarah Lienard, BBC

Neuroprotective Effect of Anthocyanins on Acetylcholinesterase Activity and Attenuation of Scopolamine-Induced Amnesia in Rats by JM Gutierres et al., International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience

Blueberry Extract Enhances Survival of Intraocular Hippocampal Transplants by L. Willis et al., Cell Transplant

Impact of Diet on Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis by Doris Stangl and Sandrine Thuret, Genes & Nutrition

Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults by Robert Krikorian et al., Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Cognitive Improving Effects by Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium Crymbosum L.) Vinegar on Scopolamine-Induced Amnesia Mice Model by SM Hong et al., Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

ORAC Values: Antioxidant Values of Foods & Beverages, Superfoodly

Nutritional Dangers of Acid Reflux Medications by Kimmi Le,

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!


The Genius Life 4: Fat Loss and Inflammation Hacks | Crosby Tailor

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The Genius Life 4: Fat Loss and Inflammation Hacks | Crosby Tailor

Crosby Tailor is a model, certified personal trainer, and chef known for his phenomenal ketogenic cookies and superfood desserts. I consider him one of my go-to experts when it comes to fat loss and exercise physiology; by the end of this episode, I'm confident you'll understand why.

What I discuss with Crosby in this episode:

  • What Crosby learned from his own nutritional odyssey and how yours may differ.
  • The myths of the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) fitness trend.
  • While some might be blessed with the genetics for a trouble-free physique, Crosby isn't one of them. What hard work goes into his model-body regimen?
  • Could your diet benefit from bartering with the Amish?
  • How Crosby developed sensitivity to the signs of inflammation and what he does to keep it in check.
  • And much more!

Fitness is complicated. What works for the goals of one person may not work for another, and sometimes what seems like a common sense health regimen actually works counter to our reasonable expectations. Add misguided Instagram models with lucky genetics to the mix telling us we can get beach-perfect bodies on a diet of Big Macs and Skittles and it's no wonder there's more confusion than clarity on the subject.

Tailord Life's Crosby Tailor is a model (he doesn't just play one on Instagram), a certified personal trainer, and a butter-loving chef known for his ketogenic dessert baking skills who joins us to talk about his own fitness odyssey—what's worked for him and what hasn't—and how we might integrate what he knows about fat loss and exercise physiology into our own routine.

Nutritional Trial and Error

As a college football player who trained four to six hours a day, Crosby Tailor could eat whatever he wanted.

"Hormones are raging and I could drink chocolate milk at night with a Snickers bar and still look a certain way and perform a certain way the next day," Crosby says. "After that, it was really understanding, well, I'm not going to be working out like this. I need to get the reins on my nutrition and understand what I should be putting in my body on a regular basis because everything's going to start changing."

Also changing was his career: going from football player to model, he wanted his body to look less like a bulky wall designed to repel enemy invaders and more like a lean and picturesque leopard. This is when his study of nutrition began in earnest.

"That's when I started to dive into understanding even what gluten was," says Crosby. "Then I moved into grain-free and I finally started to figure out the sugar-free thing. But even then, I was still eating sandwiches—they were just gluten-free bread and I was still eating lots of pasta—but it was gluten-free pasta. It's been kind of a trial and error thing with me when it comes to nutrition and understanding what happens to the body eating certain foods, how you're training, what happens to the body and what can be toxic and what can't be for each individual."

From experimenting with Chinese herbs to using his time at Erewhon Natural Foods to concoct the desserts for which he's famous, Crosby has left no stone unturned in his quest to find the right balance for himself.

"Tailord Life is [about] having all of these experiences and getting to a place where I am today where I really feel great about my health; I feel great about what I'm putting in my body [and] getting people to understand that that can be their path, too, as opposed to latching on to another diet fad."

If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) Myths

Crosby and I both agree that, while it's possible to lose weight purely by eating whatever you like as long as you maintain a calorie deficit as espoused by the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) crowd, it's important not to confuse the aesthetics of weight loss with health.

"I think that people need to get away from this whole calorie idea in general," says Crosby, "and start to just really laser focus in on nutrient-dense foods, organic, whole foods and not [say], 'Just because it's a certain calorie and it fits the carb-to-fat-to-protein ratio that I'm looking for in this meal, that it's okay to eat this processed food that really isn't even food.'"

Sure, the occasional dalliance in a "forbidden" food feels good from time to time when it's an exception to the rule. But there's no way you're going to convince either of us that making room in your daily diet for a Big Mac just because it fits your macros is going to serve your health goals in the long term!

Crosby also points out that a lot of Instagram models who incessantly post pictures of their perfectly shredded beach bodies and brag about eating nothing but fast food and Skittles may have genetics on their side for how they look on the surface, but their blood work probably tells a less appealing story.

Fat as Fuel and Amish Butter Bartering

Crosby admits his own genetics don't bless him with a trouble-free physique, but thanks to his own fitness odyssey, he knows what works for him.

"I wouldn't call it a super crazy regimen," says Crosby, "but I have just dialed myself into things that I really enjoy. It's not a job for me. Eating isn't a job—I actually enjoy it. The things that might be very toxic, I actually don't want to eat. I don't enjoy going to certain fast food places just to get off on one of those meals every once in a while. It's just not my thing. I'd rather cheat with my own dessert.

"On a regular basis, I really love eating in a way to where I'm getting good amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein pretty much every meal, some fiber—cooked green vegetables—and just highly mineralizing my body on a regular basis. Staying hydrated. I don't really get any sugars in my diet, but I don't get a lot of carbs. A couple times a week, I like to eat certain things like sweet potatoes and white rice, but on a regular basis, my carbs are coming from cruciferous vegetables.

"In doing this, the one thing I know my body releases a lot of is sodium and salt; my mineral content gets drained a lot of the time in this higher fat diet. The one thing I had to understand in this trial and error was that I had to start salting everything—good pink Himalayan salt and taking mineral dropper supplements. I started to really pay attention to cellular hydration and I feel like that was maybe my missing pillar for a long time, because I had the fats dialed in.

"I really love my grass-fed raw butter and ghee. Olive oil—which is one of your genius foods—I've definitely been getting a lot more. Avocado is something I can't really have a ton of all the time because my body for some reason doesn't digest it the best, but I do implement it on a regular basis. MCT oil, coconut oil—those are my main fats other than what I'm getting from foods. Omega-3s from wild fish—salmon and sardines. Grass-fed beef...don't fear this macro! This macro is probably the most essential one in your diet!"

And while my own nutritional regimen doesn't call for much butter, Crosby gives us a whole litany of reasons he's found it effective in his—which further reminds us that there's no one-size-fits-all diet for everyone. But honestly, couldn't your diet use more interaction with the Amish?

Listen to this complete episode to learn more about how fat works as fuel in Crosby's diet, how Crosby knows when the trial of a nutritional path leads to error, the case against senna tea, how overconsumption—even of "healthy" foods like nuts and seeds—can lead to inflammation, why the blueberry is a genius food, Crosby's favorite antioxidant, the countless benefits of molecular hydrogen, how Crosby developed sensitivity to the signs of inflammation and what he does to keep it in check, why eating the "right" foods and running every day made Crosby miserable in his early days of modeling, the herbs and supplements Crosby recommends, how stress affects fat retention, where music and meditation fit into Crosby's routine, and lots more.

Resources from this episode:

Tailord Life

Crosby at Instagram

Crosby at Twitter

Erewhon Natural Foods

Dave Asprey, Founder and CEO of Bulletproof

Dr. Axe Health and Fitness News, Recipes, Natural Remedies

Dr. Joseph Mercola

Dr. Mark Hyman

If It Fits Your Macros by Brian Williamson, Ketovangelist

Hyperinsulinemia: Is It Diabetes? The Mayo Clinic

Top 5 Fat Burning Foods and Supplements by Crosby Tailor, Tailord Life

Vital Choice

Neuroprotective Effects of Berry Fruits on Neurodegenerative Diseases by Selvaraju Subash et al., Neural Regeneration Research

Life Extension Tart Cherry Extract

Trusii Molecular Hydrogen (H2)

Top 10 Reasons to Use Carnitine, Poliquin Group

Crosby Tailor on Chinese Herbs and Healthy Desserts by Ryan Munsey, Natural Stacks

Model Behavior: Crosby Tailor's 12 Hardcore Healthy Pantry Staples by Crosby Tailor, The Chalkboard

Jarrow Formulas Astaxanthin

Torkom Ji's Bandcamp Page (with 432 Hz music)

The Wildfire Initiative at Instagram

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!

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The Genius Life 3: The Antidepressant Foods | Felice Jacka, PhD


The Genius Life 3: The Antidepressant Foods | Felice Jacka, PhD

Felice Jacka is the director of Deakin University's Food and Mood Centre and founder and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR). She is an expert in the role of nutrition in mental health and has led studies confirming the benefits of dietary improvement on depression.

What I discuss with Felice in this episode:

  • What a controlled trial concluded about the efficacy of dietary improvement in treating major depressive episodes.
  • How eating too much—or too little—lean red meat can double the chances of experiencing episodes of depression or anxiety.
  • How a modern tsunami of chronic physical as well as mental diseases can be correlated with nutritionally poor diet on a global scale.
  • The foods Felice's trials have best proven to function as antidepressants.
  • The possibilities Felice sees for the future of nutritional psychiatry.
  • And much more!

While "you are what you eat" is an adage probably as old as the first mother's attempted introduction of broccoli to her skeptical toddler, nutritional psychiatry is a fairly new field of research that seeks to understand the role diet and nutrition play on mental health.

Joining me for this episode is nutritional psychiatry pioneer Felice Jacka, the director of Deakin University's Food and Mood Centre. Felice and her team conduct research aiming to prove and publicize the correlation between diet and mental health in order to treat and ultimately prevent the occurrence of diet-based mental disorders—a mission very near and dear to my heart.

The Nascence of Nutritional Psychiatry

When Felice pursued her degree in psychology during the early aughts, she was fascinated by research being done at UCLA that focused on modulating nerve cells in the brain using dietary approaches.

The researchers discovered that they could predictably regulate hippocampus production of neurotrophins (proteins responsible for creating, developing, and maintaining neurons) in mice by altering diet.

"So that was saying foods have a direct impact on this really key part of the brain that's important for mental health and brain power," says Felice.

Of particular interest to Felice was a hypothesis that depression was a function of the immune system.

"In the way that a dysregulated immune system—or what they call systemic inflammation—contributes to heart disease and to cancer and to other chronic diseases, there was starting to be pretty good evidence that this was also the case with clinical depression, Felice says. "And of course the things that influence this immune dysfunction—this low-level inflammation—are all the things we know are not great for us: not getting enough sleep, not having enough vitamin D, not exercising, being overweight (because the fat tissue actually releases these proinflammatory molecules). But diet, of course, is a major influence on the immune system.

"I'd always had a really strong interest in diet. I love food! But I've also very much always felt that nutrition was really the foundation. It's like the petrol you put in your engine. If you put rubbish in the engine, you're going to get rubbish out. But I couldn't  quite believe when I started hanging out with all these researchers and psychiatrists that no one was looking at diet in relation to mental health and in depression in particular."

A Tsunami of Chronic Disease

"To put it in context, depression is one of the leading contributors to the global burden of disease," says Felice. "Mental disorders and substance disorders in general account for the leading global burden of disability. That means years of life not lives to their fullest because you are not able to fully engage with the community or has a major impact.

"We're also now knowing—and this was true 10-12 years ago—that our diets, globally, have changed really for the worse, really profoundly. Obviously we see that reflected in the obesity epidemic, but it's also reflected in the huge tsunami of chronic disease: type two diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cancer. All of these sorts of diseases related to unhealthy diet."

While she was stunned to find there wasn't much data at this time to support a correlation between nutrition and mental health, it made sense to Felice that mental health disorders could also be identified within this very same tsunami. All that was left was to prove it, and thus began her path to a PhD and a life's calling.

Listen to this complete episode to learn more about what Felice's colleagues initially thought about her hypothesis connecting mental health with nutrition, the details of Felice's research that support this hypothesis, how improving diet in test subjects effectively reversed depression to an extent that even surprised Felice, what Felice sees for the future of her research and what she hopes she can change about the way mental disorders are treated, the relationship between hippocampus size and diet, the foods Felice's trials have best proven to function as antidepressants, and lots more.

Resources from this episode:

Felice at Twitter

Food and Mood Centre

Food and Mood Centre at Twitter

Food and Mood Centre at Instagram

Food and Mood Centre at Facebook

International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR)

A Randomised Controlled Trial of Dietary Improvement for Adults with Major Depression (The 'SMILES' Trial) by Felice Jacka et al., BMC Medicine

World's First Clinical Trial Shows Diet Fights Depression by Max Lugavere

Red Meat Halves Risk of Depression, The Telegraph

Brain Foods: The Effects of Nutrients on Brain Function by Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Nature

Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect by Irving Kirsch, Z Psychol

Vegetarian Diets and Depressive Symptoms among Men by Joseph R. Hibbeln et al., Journal of Affective Disorders

Personalized Nutrition Project

How to Eat: Diet Secrets from Michael Pollan (and Your Great-Grandma), Houston Chronicle

Nutritional Psychiatry: Where to Next? by Felice N. Jacka, EBioMedicine

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet by Ramón Estruch et al., New England Journal of Medicine

Healthy Eating Pyramid, Nutrition Australia

The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Ketogenic Diets for Psychiatric Disorders: A New 2017 Review by Georgia Ede, Psychology Today

A1 vs. A2 Milk—Does it Matter? by Atli Arnarson, Healthline

Nutritional Medicine as Mainstream in Psychiatry by Jerome Sarris et al., The Lancet Psychiatry

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!


The Genius Life 2: The 1 Hack That Changes Your Life | Sarah Anne Stewart


The Genius Life 2: The 1 Hack That Changes Your Life | Sarah Anne Stewart

Sarah Anne Stewart is a certified holistic health coach who connects people from all walks of life, strives to end body insecurity, and shows us how we can achieve the body we desire without shame or frustration by nurturing the mind.

What I discuss with Sarah in this episode:

  • Even someone growing up in a healthy, holistic household with the looks to make it in the world of modeling can develop body insecurity and life-threatening eating disorders.
  • The number one way Sarah believes we can reprogram the way we think about food.
  • Nutrition is just a fraction of the holistic equation to wellness.
  • Why high-strung entrepreneurs should seek balance now before it's too late to buy health back (and how it will actually make them better entrepreneurs in the here and now).
  • The quantifiable benefits of meditation and mindfulness on overall health—from decreased anxiety and depression to weight loss. 
  • And much more!

Most of us have experienced some form of dissatisfaction with the bodies we were given at birth. Many of us hang our heads in shame over how we've mistreated these same bodies or failed to hammer them into some idealized picture of perfection no matter how many diets we've tried or exercise fads we've bought into. Whether we curse divine forces for passing down flawed genes or ourselves for just not trying hard enough, the result often turns out the same: we hate ourselves in some way, which perpetuates the unhealthy cycles that got us here in the first place.

Despite entering the world of modeling at age 15 and growing up in a household that encouraged holistic health, my good friend Sarah Anne Stewart knows these cycles all too well. After overcoming life-threatening eating disorders and coping with the guilt and shame around how she felt about her own body, she now guides others through the holistic practices—including meditation and mindfulness—that rescued her from the brink of self-destruction.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Though she had witnessed firsthand the healing power of proper nutrition on her father's kidney cancer, Sarah's relationship with food was somewhat damaged. 

"I had this tennis match going on in my head of 'food heals' and 'food also kills' and I had to, through meditation and mindfulness, reprogram subconscious patterns and really find my way back to body love and self-esteem and self-worth and all the things that we forget when we're being programmed by media and social conditioning," says Sarah. "So years later, that's what I teach today: meditation and mindfulness, which I believe is the number one thing that can really help reprogram that thinking around food."

Find a Doctor Who Listens to You

Even when a doctor runs endless tests and still can't find anything physically wrong with you, the stress and anxiety that direct your actions may not show up on any medical charts to indicate cause for concern.

"You can still have symptoms and sometimes tests don't tell us what symptoms do," says Sarah. "So it's really important to have a doctor that's going to listen to your symptoms. My symptoms were still exhaustion, brain fog, adrenal fatigue—all these things that they just weren't seeing in the tests. So I had to find my way back through the physical side, which was the nutrition, and I started juicing again. I started eating really clean. I took out all gluten, all dairy, all diet soda—all the things that I would never touch in a million years now."

While this nutritional diligence was a step in the right direction, it still didn't complete Sarah's passage to wellness. Something else was missing—something that didn't show up on the medical charts.

Mind and Body

While the doctors were telling Sarah her physical health was improving, she was still an emotional wreck. It was only when she ran into a meditation teacher who helped her bound these emotional hurdles that she felt like she was making real progress. It quickly became clear that nurturing the body was only part of the equation; the mind needed tender loving care as well.

"You have to focus on the mind and you have to also focus on the body and you have to determine what's your why," says Sarah. "Why are you doing this work, and what's going to help motivate you every day to continue to choose health over fast food and lack of movement and stress and worry and all these things that come with really chronic sickness?"

Listen to this complete episode to learn more about the quantifiable benefits of meditation on overall health (from decreased anxiety and depression to weight loss), how making healthy choices empowers us to nudge our very culture in the right direction, why diets cause more problems than they solve, how we can start practicing meditation today, finding a sustainable motive for inspiration that aligns with self-love, how we can resist the marketers who tempt us to make unhealthy choices, where exercise falls into Sarah's regimen, when social media can be useful in spurring positive change (and when we should probably take a break from it), and how to handle haters with compassion

Resources from this episode:

Sarah's website

Sarah on Facebook

Sarah on Instagram

Sarah on Twitter

TGL 4: Fat Loss and Inflammation Hacks | Crosby Tailor

Emily Fletcher's Ziva Online (10 years of meditation training packed into 15 days.)

Headspace: Meditation and Mindfulness Made Simple

Calm: Relieve Anxiety, Learn to Relax, Meditate & Overcome Stress

Chandresh Bhardwaj's Break the Norms

The Four Types of Meditation with Dina Kaplan of The Path

After 'The Biggest Loser,' Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight by Gina Kolata, The New York Times

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.

Join my mailing list and get access to the free PDF of 11 supplements that can help boost your brain function!


The Genius Life 1: How to Meal Prep Like a Boss | Amanda Meixner

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The Genius Life 1: How to Meal Prep Like a Boss | Amanda Meixner

Amanda Meixner (@meowmeix on Instagram) is a widely popular meal prep and fitness fanatic who knows her way around an Instant Pot, doesn't shy away from egg controversy, understands that occasional indulgence in pizza is good for the soul, and may in fact be part squirrel.

What I discuss with Amanda in this episode:

  • How meal prepping once a week keeps Amanda eating healthy and well even on a busy, full-time schedule.

  • Healthy eating is not about eating less; it's about eating right (and can even be downright indulgent in proper balance).

  • Calorie density vs. nutrient density.

  • Amanda's tips for anyone trying to gain more exposure on social media.

  • The seemingly science-violating kitchen sorcery of the Instant Pot.

  • And much more!

When you're busy working a full-time job, fitness goals can easily fall by the wayside. But setting aside a few hours to prep meals for the week ahead can ensure your diet doesn't take ugly fast food detours for the sake of convenience.

Celebrated food prepper Amanda Meixner—followed by over half a million as @meowmeix on Instagram—joins us to share how she began her meal prepping journey, what she's learned along the way, and how we can incorporate her strategies and secrets into our routines to be happier and healthier.

The Benefits of Meal Prep

Though Amanda had been conscious of maintaining a healthy diet and fitness regimen after struggling with an eating disorder in high school, she found that entering the working world upon graduating from college presented a new set of challenges to her routine. On the job from 9-6 every Monday through Friday, she quickly realized that buying lunch every day—even when it was a Trader Joe's salad and not a Whopper—simply wasn't practical.

Amanda started setting aside some time on Sunday to prepare snacks and lunches for the week ahead, and then realized she could just as easily prepare all of her meals in advance. By sharing this journey on her blog and Instagram, she began amassing followers who marveled at the spectacle of a week's worth of meals, the time saved by preparing meals this way, and the health benefits of knowing exactly what every bite contained—and didn't contain.

"It is a little impressive having five days of prepped meals," says Amanda. "It looks like a lot! Coming from a place when I was younger, where I thought healthy eating was more about eating less...luckily I was able to turn that around...realizing it's not about eating less, it's about eating the right foods, it's about the right exercising, and combining that all together to fit your schedule."

There's No One-Size-Fits-All Fitness Routine

The fact there's no one-size-fits-all diet and exercise routine that works for everyone was initially a surprise to Amanda, but she's learned what works for her. She knows how the occasional indulgence can be scheduled into her diet in a way that doesn't disrupt the entire program and send her into an emotional spiral of shame and despair. This may involve periods of calorie counting depending on what Amanda's trying to accomplish with her fitness goals, but she admits she's hardly militant about it.

For my part, I know that when I eat quality food my hunger levels self-regulate, so counting calories isn't part of my routine. We're all different. But Amanda and I agree that working out regularly and focusing on weights over cardio (more muscle carried amounts to a higher basal metabolic rate)—and reaching for proteins first when hungry—help regulate a sustainable  fitness balance.

Growing Social Media Presence

With 602k followers on Instagram, Amanda knows a few things about growing a presence on social media.

"Pick your niche, and then just think about what kind of value you can share with people," says Amanda. "But the tricky part on social media is you can't just be providing value—you kind of have to make it pretty; make it easy to read. Look at the trendier formats that are out there. Look at the experts in your niche and then you'll see the trendier formats and what subjects people are really attracted to. Based off that, you can kind of change your value proposition towards those formats."  

Amanda stresses that while social media niches can be competitive, coming from a good place and paying attention to what people need will take you far.

For instance, my audience seems well-served by infographics that visually provide data in an easily digestible format. Amanda's Instagram posts tend to feature excellent comparisons and contrasts in fitness and nutrition. Your audience may thrive on something completely different.

Amanda also stresses the importance of engaging with your audience and understanding that sustainable communication on social media is a two-way street.

"You're not just blasting things out; you're responding to people, you're replying to DMs, you're listening to them...having that two-way connection," says Amanda.

Listen to this complete episode to learn more about Amanda's love of controversy (particularly when eggs and meat are involved), how Amanda takes her eggs, why we want to expand our messages beyond the paleosphere, Amanda's favorite meal prep tips, the best way to avoid overindulging in processed food, what we both like about 85% dark chocolate, the hyperpalatable potential of bee pollen and almond butter, the science-violating kitchen sorcery of the Instant Pot, what Amanda wishes she knew about food prepping when she was just getting started, and lots more.

Resources from this episode:

MeowMeix: Meal Prep Tips, Healthy Recipes, and Weekly Meal Plans (Amanda's blog)

Amanda at Instagram

Amanda demonstrates the difference between 1700 calories of fast food and 1700 calories of whole food.

One example of my Healthy Swaps infographics.

The Egg: Myths vs. Reality

Fit Flavor spices

Flavor God

What is the difference between biltong and beef jerky?

Instant Pot


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