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Episode 111: Tommy Wood talks about lifestyle approaches to improve health span and lifespan

Today we have the second of our two-part interview with Dr. Tommy Wood. Ken and Dawn talk to Tommy about his ongoing research into lifestyle approaches that can improve people’s health span, lifespan and physical performance. Tommy also talks about the physiological and metabolic responses to brain injury and how these injuries can have long-term effects on brain health. In part one of our interview, episode 110, Tommy shared his thoughts on the research he has done on the importance of metabolic health as a way to for people to protect themselves from COVID-19. Tommy also talked about his work on developing accessible methods to track human health and longevity and his research on ways to increase the resilience of developing brains. Tommy is a UK-trained physician who is also a colleague of ours here at IHMC. In addition to being a research assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington  in the division of neonatology, Tommy occasionally spends time at IHMC as a visiting research assistant. For a more detailed explanation of Tommy’s background, check out the introduction to part one of our interview, episode 110. We also recommend checking out Tommy’s earlier appearances on STEM-Talk, episodes 47 and 48. Show notes: [00:02:50] Dawn continues our interview with Tommy asking why some people refer to Alzheimer’s as type-3 diabetes. [00:05:00] Dawn refers to a chart that Tommy incorporated into his IHMC lecture in February of this year, which was part of a paper that showed how glucose responds with age. Dawn asks Tommy to walk listeners through what the chart details. [00:06:38] Dawn asks if Tommy agrees with Art De Vany, who in his most recent appearance on STEM-Talk, said that insulin resistance is associated with nearly every major disease that people worry about today. [00:07:38] Tommy talks about the mean amplitude of glycemic excursions and how this is the best predictor of cognitive functions. [00:09:31] Dawn asks about the waffle/fast-food study, and what the results of that paper mean for the effect of the modern American diet on health and cognitive ability. [00:11:00] Dawn asks about the effects of stress on memory and mood. [00:13:39] Dawn posits that we see many a public-service announcement about the dangers of smoking and alcohol consumption, and asks if the case could be made that we should also have public service announcements about the dangers of high blood sugar, as it is even more of a public-health issue than smoking and alcohol consumption. [00:15:42] Tommy transitions to talking about the importance of sleep in regards to brain health. [00:17:01] Ken mentions that in response to the common advice of getting eight hours of sleep, Tommy has made the point that perhaps more important than the number of hours is the quality of those hours of sleep. [00:20:15] Dawn asks Tommy about the use of Tylenol PM, or Ambien before bed for those people who have difficulty getting to, or staying, asleep. [00:22:07] Ken asks if it is true that muscle mass and body composition are exceptionally important in regards to brain robusticity. [00:24:43] Ken asks about Tommy’s favorite paper, “1,026 Experimental Treatments in Acute Stroke,” and why he loves this paper so much. [00:27:31] Tommy gives an overview of what happens as a result of an acute brain injury across the lifespan. [00:29:35] Tommy discusses Creatine, which is a compound derived from amino acids that has been shown to be effective in treating brain injuries. [00:32:56] Dawn asks Tommy what he has learned in terms of the overall therapeutic effects of ketones. [00:40:20] Dawn asks what would be one question that Tommy wishes health experts contemplated more often, in terms of health span, and what would be his answer to said question. [00:42:35] Dawn mentions that Tommy has done a lot of work helping individuals overcome chronic health conditions, and has thought about ways to scale these processes using digital means. Tommy gives advice to people seeking to develop scalable solutions designed to engineer sustained health. [00:45:33] Ken mentions that Tommy espouses an “ancestral” approach to supporting health, referring to the diet and lifestyle of our Paleolithic ancestors, and the influence that geography had on these factors for various populations of ancient people. Ken asks if there is reason to think that genetics influence the relative importance of animal foods and plant foods for brain health. [00:49:30] Dawn asks if the effects that animal husbandry has on climate change, which can contribute negatively on our health, outweigh the benefits that consuming animal products have for our health. [00:52:42] Dawn asks if there are any plant foods that support our brain health. [00:57:05] In regards to pro-longevity pharmaceuticals, which have not been very fruitful, Dawn asks if Tommy thinks that there are other factors regarding diet and lifestyle that can boost the healthspan more, and that people should be paying closer attention to, rather than waiting for a drug to extend their longevity. [01:00:53] Ken asks if Tommy has changed his thinking with respect to lifestyle determinants of health since his first appearance on STEM-Talk. [01:02:54] Ken brings up that Tommy often talks about the fact that the brain is capable of repairing itself and even growing as we age, but in order to do this it requires stimulation. Ken asks what are the best ways for people to stimulate their brains. [01:05:27] Dawn asks Tommy to explain why learning to walk is, cognitively speaking, more difficult than learning biochemistry, and how this relates to the demand-driven decline theory, as well as the grandmother hypothesis. [01:09:28] Dawn asks if Tommy is on his way to becoming a barbecue master, given his wife’s praises about his cooking. [01:10:38] Ken asks if Tommy ever craves fish and chips. [01:11:52] Dawn asks how Elizabeth is doing, now that she and Tommy share a home with two boxers. [01:14:05] Dawn mentions that a little birdy told us that in Tommy’s medical school yearbook, each person was assigned with a fictional disease, and that Tommy’s was the acronym SHHH. Dawn asks what SHHH stands for and if Tommy has changed at all since then. Links: Tommy Wood bio Tommy Wood Researchgate bio Two new papers by Tommy Wood: Variability and sex-dependence of hypothermic neuroprotection in a rat model of neonatal hypoxic–ischaemic brain injury The Future of Shift Work: Circadian Biology Meets Personalised Medicine and Behavioural Science Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 16mins

27 Aug 2020

Rank #1

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Episode 79: Satchin Panda discusses circadian rhythms and time-restricted eating to improve health and even reverse disease

Dr. Satchin Panda is a professor and researcher at the Salk Institute who has become recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on circadian rhythm. In today’s wide-ranging interview, he discusses how the body’s natural day-night cycle can help us improve our health, get a better night’s sleep and lose weight. He also shares how adopting a lifestyle that is aligned with the body’s natural internal clock can even help us prevent and reverse disease. Satchin also has been generating significant attention for his research into the health benefits of time-restricted eating. He is the author of “The Circadian Code” and in today’s interview he shares how listeners can become involved in a research project he and his colleagues are conducting through a smartphone app called My Circadian Clock. In addition to his work at the Salk Institute, Satchin is also a founding executive member of the Center for Circadian Biology at the University of California, San Diego.  Key topics covered in today’s interview include: [00:03:46] How a rapidly evolving modern society disrupts the interconnectedness of our biological rhythms. [00:13:41] How Satchin became interested in circadian rhythms and metabolism. [00:17:11] Satchin’s first mouse study on time-restricting feeding, which so surprised him that he ended up repeating the study three times. [00:21:37] The role of ketosis in time-restricted eating, particularly in regard to weight loss and potential health benefits. [00:25:01] Whether having black coffee signals the beginning of a person’s eating window. [00:27:31] The potential use of caffeine to treat jet lag induced by international time-zone travel. [00:29:31] Satchin’s mouse studies that looked at obesity and type-2 diabetes. [00:30:58] The dangers of shift work and the importance of sleep. [00:45:39] Satchin talks about the importance of darkness when it comes to sleep and our circadian rhythms. [00:48:42] Satchin’s 2017 paper in Aging Research Reviews titled “ Circadian rhythms, time-restricted feeding, and healthy aging.“ [00:51:59] Satchin’s recent paper in Cell Metabolism, “Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock.” [01:00:19] The role of diet in people who lost weight during time-restricted feeding. [01:06:30] “My Circadian Clock,”an app Satchin and his lab at Salk Institute have developed. [01:20:02] Satchin discusses how he convinced his mother to try time-restricted eating. [01:25:32] What Satchin’s diet and eating window looks like on a typical day. Show notes: [00:03:05] Satchin begins the interview talking about being raised in India and his parents’ expectation that he would become a doctor or engineer. [00:03:46] Satchin talks about his book “The Circadian Code,” which is dedicated to his maternal and paternal grandparents. He touches on how a rapidly evolving modern society disrupts the interconnectedness of our biological rhythms. [00:06:14] Satchin shares how when he was a junior in high school, he lost his father in an accident with a truck driver. [00:07:21] Dawn asks Satchin to talk about how going to agricultural school like his father did cemented Satchin’s interest in science. [00:08:44] Dawn asks how Satchin ended up with a research job at a flavor and fragrance manufacturer in India after finishing his master’s degree. [00:10:10] Satchin talks about what led him to Canada and eventually the U.S. [00:11:21] Ken asks Satchin why he decided to pursue at Ph.D. in plant circadian rhythm. [00:13:41] The circadian rhythm field primarily focuses on understanding the timing mechanism in biological systems like plants, fruit flies, mice and humans.  Satchin discusses how he took a different route and became interested in circadian rhythms and metabolism. [00:15:13] Dawn asks what it is like to work at the Salk institute, a place where Nobel laureates such as Francis Crick once worked. [00:17:11] Satchin talks about his first time-restricted feeding mouse study, which so surprised him that he repeated the study three times. [00:19:03] Ken asks Satchin what he was expecting to learn when he started the mouse studies. [00:20:06] Dawn asks about Satchin’s published findings of his experiments in 2012, which raised the question of whether eight hours was the magic number for time-restricted eating. [00:21:37] Knowing that people go into ketosis after 12 to 16 hours without food, Dawn asks if Satchin has looked at the role of ketosis in time-restricted eating, particularly in regard to weight loss and potential health benefits. [00:22:39] In the mouse studies, the mice that followed time-restricted eating also had an endurance benefit. Dawn asks if Satchin thinks this might also be related to ketosis. [00:25:01] Satchin says in his book, “The moment you eat breakfast, or have your first cup of coffee or tea, is the beginning of your eating window.” Dawn points out that Satchin also says in the book that water doesn’t signal the start of the eating window. She then asks about black coffee, which, like water, has no calories. [00:27:31] Ken asks about the potential use of caffeine to treat jet lag induced by international time-zone travel. [00:29:31] Satchin talks about mouse studies his lab did a few years ago that looked at obesity and type-2 diabetes. [00:30:58] Satchin discusses the point he makes in his book about the dangers of shift work and the importance of sleep. [00:35:11] Dawn asks about a study Satchin is currently undertaking looking at firefighters and shift work. [00:38:10] Numerous studies have shown that time restricted feeding schedules may be able to shift the phase of activity in animals such as mice. Ken asks what Satchin thinks the underlying mechanisms of this may be. [00:40:56] In his book, Satchin mentions that chronotypes — the existence of night owls and morning larks — are largely a myth. Ken asks if we really know whether chronotypes exist or not. [00:44:14] Satchin talks about how he responded when, while at a symposium in Stockholm, a well-respected scientist in the area of obesity came up to Satchin after his talk and said there was no data that shift work causes more disease. [00:45:39] Satchin talks about the importance of darkness when it comes to sleep and our circadian rhythm. [00:48:42] Satchin’s 2017 paper in Aging Research Reviews titled “ Circadian rhythms, time-restricted feeding, and healthy aging.“ points out that circadian rhythms optimize physiology and health by temporally coordinating cellular function, tissue function and behavior. Dawn asks how this study found that optimizing the timing of external cues with defined eating patterns could sustain a person’s circadian clock and possibly prevent disease. [00:51:59] Satchin discusses his mouse study that was detailed in his recent paper in Cell Metabolism titled, “Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock.” [00:54:59] Ken asks if the benefits of time-restricted feeding reproduced in different mouse strains and across genders, or if all studies been done on the same mouse strain/gender. [00:56:43] Dawn asks if the experimental models using mice, who are nocturnal animals, are presenting difficulties in terms of translating the effects of time-restricted feeding on humans. [00:58:39] Ken asks Satchin for his thoughts on the findings of Joseph Takahashi’s work. Ken wonders if Takahashi’s findings imply that some of the benefits of caloric restriction in mice may actually be due to time restriction. [01:00:19] In Satchin’s human studies, people who had 8- to 12-hour eating windows also had some health benefits and lost weight. Dawn asks what role a person’s diet played in weight loss. [01:03:03] Satchin discusses his thoughts on the translatability of research examining circadian rhythm and inflammatory mechanisms in mice. [01:06:30] Satchin and his lab at Salk Institute have developed an app called “My Circadian Clock,” which is part of a research project that’s using smartphones to track people’s daily behaviors. Dawn asks Satchin to give an overview of the project and discuss how people can participate in the research. [01:09:53] Satchin briefly talks about any potential efficacy in commercial sleep tracking devices. [01:12:08] Satchin talks about the findings of a National Institute of Aging paper that showed time-restricted eating might increase longevity. [01:14:40] Satchin talks about his work with Dr. Valter Longo, who was the guest on episode 64 of STEM-Talk. [01:16:45] While research on chronopharmacology is encouraging, Satchin discusses what some of the main logistical constraints we face in trying to apply its tenets in the clinic. [01:20:02] Satchin discusses how he convinced his mother to try time-restricted eating. [01:23:01] Commenting on how all of Satchin’s mother’s siblings have some sort of metabolic disease, either high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension or a combination of the three, Dawn asks what is it about the Indian diet that is so unhealthy. [01:25:32] Satchin talks about what his diet and eating window look like on a typical day. [01:26:28] Regarding the symposium Satchin attended in Stockholm. Ken asks how he deals with travel and jet lag in terms of his circadian rhythm. [01:28:27] In terms of the future, Dawn ends the interview asking Satchin what new studies he is considering and what direction he thinks his research will take. Links Salk Institute Dr. Satchin Panda bio “The Circadian Code” My Circadian Clock app Circadian rhythms, time-restricted feeding, and healthy aging Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock Dr. Valter Longo, who was the guest on episode 64 of STEM-Talk. Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 32mins

18 Dec 2018

Rank #2

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Episode 35: Stuart McGill explains the mechanics of back pain and the secrets to a healthy spine

Back pain has become the world’s leading cause of disability. Stuart McGill has been at the forefront of non-surgical approaches to addressing back pain for many years. His 2015 book “Back Mechanic: The Secrets to a Healthy Spine Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You” is a wonderfully accessible account of his methods and perspectives. McGill spent 30 years as a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His laboratory has become a renowned destination for everyday people as well as Olympic and professional athletes from around the world who are struggling with back pain. He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and 3 textbooks that address issues such as lumbar spine function and injury mechanisms, patient assessment, corrective exercise prescription, and performance training. McGill also consults for many medical management groups, governments, corporations, legal firms, and elite sports teams. He has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Volvo Bioengineering Award for Low Back Pain Research. He released his landmark text, “Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation,” in 2002. It changed the way coaches, bodybuilders, athletes and non-athletes approached core training. His new book, “Back Mechanic,” is written for a lay audience and addresses common misperceptions about back pain. It also provides a step-by-step guide of the McGill Method to fix back pain. Backfitpro.com is a web site also geared for a lay audience and is dedicated to providing access to evidence-based information and products that assist in preventing and rehabilitating back pain. Products featured on the website have been tested in McGill’s lab at the University of Waterloo. McGill and his staff have also produced a video, “The Ultimate Back: Enhancing Performance,” that synthesizes McGill’s approaches for avoiding back injury and enhancing athletic and physical performance. It is available for purchase on Vimeo. 4:23: Stuart talks about how he was more interested in becoming a plumber than a scientist until his high school football coach asked him to return to school and earn his high school degree. That led him to college where he met professors who got him excited about mathematics and physics, and eventually the study of spine biomechanics. 7:00: Ken asks Stuart to describe the remarkable research atmosphere Stuart was able to create at the University of Waterloo. 8:08: Stuart explains that he did not go to medical school, but that he learned he had a unique talent of assessing and relating to people with back pain. 11:00: Ken shares his experience of back pain and traveling to Canada to visit Stuart as a patient, which prompts Stuart to describe his process of assessing people. 14:53: Dawn asks Stuart to talk about his motivation for writing “The Back Mechanic.” 19:53: Although back pain is the world’s leading cause of disability, Dawn asks Stuart why back pain is underappreciated by so many people in the medical community. 22:04: Stuart explains some of the most mechanisms for back injury and ways to prevent them. 26:22: Ken asks Stuart to talk about a study he did several years ago on firefighters with the Pensacola Fire Department. 30:36: Stuart talks about how heavy weightlifting will probably shorten the careers of modern golfers like Rory Mcllroy, and how the great golfers of old who had wonderful long careers – Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player – weren’t weightlifters. 33:53: Stuart talks about the great strikers in mixed martial arts and the UFC are the leaner ones who can unleash muscle. The same is true of the great sprinters, the great golfers, and the great home run hitters, who are the ones who can create a very brief muscle power pulse, and let it go. 34:33: Dawn asks Stuart about reports that the rate of back surgery in the U.S. is five times higher than in other developed countries. 39:31: Stuart provides an overview of the how to about a self-assessment of pain triggers. 46:29: Dawn asks Stuart to explain the McGill method to fixing back pain. 55:03: Ken asks about the technique of power breathing and the implications for spinal disability. 57:15: Ken mentions that he and Stuart are fans of kettlebells, and that power breathing is what a a person does when swinging a kettlebell. Ken asks Stuart to talk about the exercises that he sees as most beneficial with kettlebells.  Ken and Stuart discuss the relative benefits of kettlebell swings, farmer’s walks, and bottoms-up carries. 1:06:49: Stuart talks about measuring competitors in the World’s Strongest Man competition, the NFL, heavyweight UFC fighters, and then asks Ken to guess who had the strongest core Stuart had ever measured. Ken says it was probably a kettlebell dude like Pavel. Stuart confirms that yes it was Pavel Tsatsouline. 1:10:29: Dawn asks if it is true the spine is weaker and more vulnerable to injuries in the morning. 1:14:30: Stuart talks about sciatica, which is usually caused by narrowing of the discs and a little bit of arthritic activity in the vertebra. 1:18:35: Stuart talks about what he describes as silly stretches and exercises, which includes sit-ups and crunches. 1:21:19: Ken asks Stuart to run through the McGill Big Three exercises for spinal stability. 1:30:41: In American training culture, Stuart says there’s too much emphasis on time under the bar, and not enough emphasis on pushing heavy stuff around. He goes on to explain how pulling a slid is a tremendously strengthening and athletically enhancing activity. 1:37:35: Ken talks about friends who’ve sustained back injuries, and points out that was often after they had joined certain training programs focused on Olympic style lifts with high reps. She asks Stuart if he is seeing increased number of spinal injuries with the increased popularity of those type of training programs? 1:43:38: Dawns asks if there’s a direct correlation between back pain or injury and a person’s ability to brace. 1:45:29: Ken asks Stuart to comment on a 2016 study showing that taken as a whole young men today have much less grip strength than their fathers. 1:50:39: Stuart talks about the kinds of back injuries that are associated with sex and ways to mitigate spinal pain associated with sex. 1:52:02: Stuart talks about how his lab was the first to measure orgasm. 1:55:16: Ken and Dawn thank Stuart and sign off. Visit backfitpro.com to learn more about the approaches and back pain exercises that can rehabilitate and prevent spine injury.

1hr 57mins

11 Apr 2017

Rank #3

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Episode 20: Dr. Alessio Fasano discusses the gut microbiome and how it affects our health

When Alessio Fasano entered medical school at the University of Naples (Italy) School of Medicine, his goal was to eliminate childhood diarrhea. Working with a mentor who’d studied the physiology of the gut, Fasano decided to focus on the microorganisms that cause diarrhea. That opened up his world to specialize in overall gut health, and Fasano became a leading expert in celiac disease and gluten-related disorders. Following medical school, Fasano spent three years at the Center for Vaccine Development in Baltimore, and later returned to the U.S. to pursue his career. Today the world-renowned gastroenterologist is chair of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment. He is also the director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Fasano was the lead researcher of a seminal 2003 study showing that 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by gluten-induced damage to the small intestine. His book Gluten Freedom http://tinyurl.com/zdbcdkk has been hailed as “the groundbreaking roadmap to a gluten-free lifestyle.” He is also the author of “A Clinical Guide to Gluten-Related Disorders.” http://tinyurl.com/zbhme6j His lectures at IHMC “The Gut is Not Like Las Vegas,” (November 2014) http://tinyurl.com/o83y8xz and “People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone: People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone” http://tinyurl.com/pcssk5j have gotten over 70,000 views on YouTube. Fasano has been featured widely in media, such as NPR, CNN and Bloomberg News. In this episode of STEM-Talk, Fasano talks about his early life as a curious boy in Italy, with a scientist grandfather as his first mentor, the impassioned trajectory of his career, and the underlying importance of gut health in determining our overall health. 00:56: Dawn describes Fasano as “a leading light in the study of the microbiome.” Fifteen years ago, Fasano and his colleagues discovered the pathophysiology of celiac disease and role of the protein zonulin in causing it. 1:10: Ford cites growing evidence that the microbiome content of the intestinal tract influences our metabolism, stress tolerance, immune response, memory and cognitive performance. 2:56: Ford reads five-star iTunes review of STEM-Talk entitled “cognitive satiety:” “Never have all the lobes of your brain been so satisfied. Every episode is fascinating and beautifully orchestrated. The content is interesting and diverse. There’s no room for boredom. The double secret selection committee does a superb job of keeping the listeners educated, engaged and more intelligent with every minute. And the hosts have a linguistic seduction that you wish it would never end. I could listen to STEM-Talk for hours. Thank you, and please keep the talks coming.” 3:51: Dawn introduces Fasano as a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and research scientist. He specializes in treating people with celiac disease, wheat and gluten sensitivities, as well as infants and children with difficult to treat gastro-intestinal problems. 5:15: Dawn welcomes Alessio and Ken to the interview. 5:37: Fasano talks about his childhood in Italy. He was raised largely by his grandfather, a retired physicist who had once worked in Enrico Fermi’s lab. During World War II, Fasano’s grandfather refused to move to Germany as Mussolini had requested, so he ended up teaching high school science. 6:26: “I remember vividly being with him in his lab. [That] sparked an interest in physics and science.” 7:03: Fasano’s initial focus in medical school was eliminating childhood diarrhea— “not a glamorous field to get into.” At that time, five million people died annually from diarrhea, 80 percent of them children. 9:08: On his medical school mentor’s suggestion, Fasano went to the Center for Vaccine development in Baltimore to study micro-organisms in the gut. His two-month term became two years. Afterwards, he went back to Italy for a year and a half, returning to the U.S. in 1993, where he has been ever since. 9:47: Ken points out that Fasano has said that, “Twenty-five hundred years ago, Hippocrates posited all disease begins in gut: emerging understanding of the interplay between gut microbiome, intestinal mucosa and immune and nervous systems seems to support this contention.” 10:05: “Hippocrates was so right, without having all the information that we have right now,” Fasano says. 11:14: Fasano says that his thirty years of studying the gut have boiled down to the past five years, with the emergence of “the perfect storm of knowledge” about the microbiome. 11:50: The intestinal mucosa, a 3,000 square feet interface, negotiates cross-talk between us as human beings, the ecosystem, and our interaction with the environment. 12:30: Besides digesting food, the gut is involved in a continuous discussion with our environment, regulating the friends and foes that enter. The gut is the organ with the most immune cells; it’s also considered the body’s second brain, and has even more neuronal cells than brain itself. 13:28: The gut is a 20-foot-long tube. The epithelial cells interact with various types of immune cells. 16:00: The nervous system cells coordinate the interaction between the immune and epithelial cells, sometimes through messenger cells. 17:17: “Imagine all this decision making,” Fasano says. The epithelial cells have sensors that see who is in the lumen: friends, or if it’s foes, “You have to prepare for war.” 17:50: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience. 18:33: Recent information indicates that the microbiome develops in the womb during the last trimester of pregnancy, but the major imprinting happens in the birth canal. That is why full-term, vaginal births are best for healthy microbiome development. Then other things—breastfeeding, for example—should occur to ensure sustained microbiome health. 22:05: The immune system developed to fight micro-organisms. 22:52: The microbiome teaches the immune system to work in a child’s first 1,000 days. A good, balanced microbiome is one that teaches the immune system to set the bar high for infections. 23:45: An unbalanced microbiome in infancy may be caused by the Western diet, C-section delivery, and infections. These things teach the immune system to have a low threshold for infections, placing infants at risk for chronic inflammatory diseases later in adulthood. 24:50: Fasano comments on the Human Genome Project: As humans, we have 23,000 genes, most of which we share with other animals; 95 percent of our genes are identical to a mouse. Only 400 genes distinguish us from chimpanzees. Other species have many more genes: Worms, for example, have 75,000 genes. 26:07: What are the implications of our relatively shallow gene pool? “We were not supposed to be dominant creatures on earth,” Fasano says. 26:53: Fasano explains his piano player analogy: Our 23,000 genes are like piano keys. There is an infinite combination of notes. The piano player is the microbiome that decides, based on genetic cross-talk, what notes should be played and when—just as genes express or suppress their activities. 28:10: Whereas previously, we were told that having the genes to develop diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and multiple sclerosis determined our fate—that we would get those diseases—we now know that’s not true, Fasano says. “It all depends on our lifestyle; and how that affects our microbiome, which in turn affects which genes are turned on or off…. If I have the genes for Lou Gehrig’s disease, that does not mean I will get it. It depends on how I live my life.” 29:00: Until recently, we thought our disease destiny was determined by our piano player—assumed to be an outside. Now we understand that the piano player—our microbiome—is living inside of us. 29:57: Now the questions that we can ask are: What kind of player is there? What kind of music does he play? What kind of music is playing as we speak? “Doing mathematical modeling, we can predict if playing certain kind of music, you will end up with that kind of clinical outcome.” 30:48: “We cannot manipulate our genes, but we may eventually be able to manipulate our microbiome so we can keep ourselves healthy for a much longer period of time.” This is primary prevention; or precision medicine. 31:34: Ken comments: “This interaction between our genome and the microbiome is the part that I find most interesting and hopeful for the future. It explains the riddle of how a simple genome produces such a highly differentiated and complex animal; and opens up new pathways for medicine and human performance and resilience.” 32:10: “This is the best time to be in science,” Fasano says. “Technology and knowledge are moving so fast.” 33:18: “It’s up to us to keep [our microbiome] in a compatible, friendly discussion with the genome we inherited from our parents.” But the health of our microbiome also boils down to our lifestyle. “The way we live will dictate the destiny we have.” 34:54: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience. 35:30: Two ingredients of auto-immune disease were once thought to be genes and environmental triggers that create inflammation. The question that no one could explain was: “How can these two worlds physically interact to make this happen?” 38:24: Then they stumbled upon zonulin, a protein modulating the permeability of tight junctures between cells in the digestive tract. 39:20: Now zonulin has been linked to a myriad of auto-immune and GI disease such as Crohn’s Disease, as well as multiple sclerosis, cancer, schizophrenia, and autism. 40:12: Larazotide acetate is a promising peptide that blocks zonulin. It is now in in a phase three clinical trial. 44:40: Zonulin negotiates the interaction with the environment when it’s at the forefront of the gut; it also modulates traffic between body compartments, including the blood brain barrier (BBB). 45:00: German scientists have linked the production of zonulin to more advanced stages of glioma; the more compromised the BBB is, the more zonulin is present. 45:30: The microbiome may have a role in autism, since kids with autism have GI upsets. They are trying to understand what the role of the microbiome is in that. Either the activated immune cells create inflammation in the brain; or the microbiome produces metabolites that have a direct effect on the brain. 46:40: The truth of today is the garbage of tomorrow. Science is refurbished every five years. “You need to put yourself in the discussion all the time,” Fasano says. “If you are not open-minded enough, you will go out of business.” 47:35: Fasano’s grandfather told him, “If you want immediate success, science is not your field.” Another attribute of a scientist is humility: you have to question yourself all the time. “Science is a constellation of failures with very few successes, and we live for those. How bored would we be if every experiment that we did was successful?” 49:38: Dawn relays a personal story about scientists’ dedication: As a post-doc, she had a sign in her office that a mentor had given her, which said: “Brick walls are there for a reason. They make you prove how badly you want something.” 50:06: “Science in Italy is a hobby today,” Fasano says. Italy invests less than three percent of its GDP in science. “There’s no way that Italy can keep apace with countries like the U.S. that consider science an investment. Bright people relocate to unleash their creativity and make a difference.” 51:36: He adds, “Italian science has the resources to be at forefront of the story.” 52:47: Fasano recently opened a research institute in his hometown of Salerno called the European Biomedical Research Institute. It is on the site of the first Western medical school, where the first medical school textbook was written; the first diploma to be a doctor was given; and the first female physician practiced. 55:40: This institute is mainly focused on nutritional health. 56:30: Fasano says his biggest adjustment to living in the U.S. has been lifestyle. “Here people live to work.” And of course, the food. “In the beginning I could not adjust to fast food. I am a strong proponent of slow food. Drive-ins in Italy are inconceivable.” 58:00: What he loves about living in the U.S.: “The sky’s is the limit in terms of realizing your potential.” 59:10: Ken wraps up: “We humans appear to be a kind of super organism. Humans and microbes have developed a co-dependency which affects our wellness, including the expression of our genes.” 59:46: Dawn and Ken sign off.


13 Sep 2016

Rank #4

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Episode 24: Doug McGuff talks about resistance training, myokines, strength and health

One could say that Dr. Doug McGuff is one of the pioneers of BMX motocross bike racing in Texas. He built the state’s first race track, having gotten hooked on the sport as a teenager in the 1970s. The sport also triggered a deeper interest in fitness. As McGuff tried strengthen his core for bike racing, he discovered Arthur Jones’ Nautilus training technique and bartered janitorial services for a Nautilus gym membership. McGuff’s interest and aptitude for studying the body led him to pursue medicine at the University of Texas in San Antonio. He specialized in emergency medicine, was chief resident of emergency medicine at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and a staff physician at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Hospital in Ohio. McGuff is currently an ER physician with Blue Ridge Emergency Physicians in Seneca, South Carolina. The other side of McGuff’s career is dedicated to fitness, or as he says—helping people never have to go to the ER. Realizing a lifetime dream, he opened up his own fitness facility in 1997 called Ultimate Exercise. The gym is dedicated to the type of high-intensity fitness training using the Super Slow protocol. In this episode of STEM-Talk, McGuff talks about why this type of exercise is better for the body, safer, and able to prevent age-related conditions such as sarcopenia. McGuff is the author of three books: “Body by Science: A Research-Based Program for Strength Training, Body-building and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week,” http://amzn.to/2fy7vKN (co-authored with John Little), “The Primal Prescription: Surviving the “Sick Care” Sinkhole,” http://amzn.to/2fLTBtl (co-authored with economist Robert Murphy), and “BMX Training: A Scientific Approach.” http://amzn.to/2fUhqPd He is also featured in several YouTube videos on high-intensity training. His recent IHMC lecture, entitled “Strength Training for Health and Longevity,” is available at http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20160929/. 2:03: Dawn reads an an iTunes 5-star review from “Guy who likes Chipotle,” which is entitled “Interesting and just complex enough.” “STEM-Talk does an amazing job of delivering high-level information on a variety of topics, without making it too complex to understand.” 4:21: Dawn introduces Doug and Ken. 4:47: McGuff says that as a young teen, shortly after getting interested in BMX bike racing, he started working out with his brother’s weights, which was transformational. “It is still the closest thing to magic or a miracle that I’ve ever experienced in my life.” 6:44: Also as a teen, Doug McGuff bartered janitorial services for a membership to a Nautilus gym, where he found a copy of a book by Nautilus founder Arthur Jones  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Jones_(inventor)) about training principles. “It was the first book I ever read cover to cover. To say that book changed the course of my life would be a massive understatement.” 8:13: During the summer of 1994, McGuff met Arthur Jones, who greatly influenced his thoughts on exercise resistance training. 12:00: McGuff went into ER medicine because “It was rare to find something that I felt that I had intrinsic talent in. I felt like I functioned very well in that environment.” His career has focused on two things: taking care of people who fall down and get hurt; and trying to prevent it from happening in the first place. 13:00: McGuff talks about being a pioneer of BMX in Texas, as he built the first track there and went back to racing in the late 90s and won the state championship. He also trained some world champion level BMX racers. 14:30: Now he characterizes himself as “a practicing physician so busy with the chronically sick and massively debilitated; the chasm between day to day life and actually thinking about prevention is such a wide chasm that it’s hard to imagine.” 15:00: “I would love to see the day where the commercial says, ‘Ask your doctor if diet and exercise are right for you….’ Instead of whatever pill of the day.” 15:44: McGuff notes the idea of physiologic headroom, which economist Arthur De Vany came up with. “Physiologic headroom is the difference between the least you can do and the most you can do.” See De Vany’s book, “The New Evolution Diet”: http://amzn.to/2ewDOJ8 17:50: “The better part of our lives, in terms of our functional ability, are much less than what they should be.” 18:45: McGuff says that high-intensity interval training is what appears to reverse the biomarkers of aging, according to the literature on the topic. 21:00: In McGuff’s book, “Body by Science,” (http://amzn.to/2fy7vKN), he presents the concept of Super Slow training: lifting and lowering weights very slowly. This protocol emerged out of Nautilus, after Arthur Jones commissioned a University of Florida research study on osteoporosis. Ken Hutchins, an employee of Arthur Jones, was the primary person who defined and popularized the Super Slow form of resistance training exercise. 22:40: The protocol applied to younger subjects resulted in similarly good results. 23:18: More important is the style and intent (of lifting weights). “If your intent is to as intensely and deeply fatigue the muscle as you can…if you start weight-lifting with as gradual a load as possible, and then you just try to lift and lower with high effort, during that initial phase, depriving yourself of initial momentum allows the speed to express itself organically.” In one person, that cadence might be 4 seconds up, 4 down; or 8 up; 8 down. In most people that ends up being 10 seconds up; 10 down. 25:03: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience. 25:23: Ken talks about the importance of avoiding injury when exercising and posits that Super Slow should be good in this respect. 25:48: McGuff says that he opened his gym, Ultimate Exercise, in 1997. They average 100-120 workouts per week. “We’ve never injured anyone in the facility…. That gives some credit to a slow cadence protocol. You can still get hurt [during a slow cadence protocol] if you don’t observe good biomechanics.” 26:40: The mastermind of “congruent exercise” is Bill DeSimone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_DeSimone), which is based on using biomechanics to prevent injury. 27:45: At his gym, McGuff tells his trainers: “train ‘em hard as hell, don’t injure anyone, give them adequate recovery.” 29:00: “When we talk about sarcopenia, the population has it in their head that it’s a natural consequence of aging. And it’s not. Sarcopenia is a natural consequence of aging with our modern Western lifestyle injected into the equation.” McGuff notes this did not happen in hunter gatherer societies. “That doesn’t mean modern tech cannot be exploited to leverage those evolutionary adaptations.” 30:10: Age-related sarcopenia occurs when there is atrophy in the type II muscle fibers. “When you recruit muscle to do work, that happens in an orderly and sequential function.” You start with lower-order muscles to do work. Finally, you recruit higher-order muscles, which produce a lot of force output, but they fatigue very quickly. The latter are hard to get at, so you have to produce fatigue in a disciplined fashion. 32:54: An elderly person loses balance because if you go off the vertical plane (not on bone and bone tower), the only way to right yourself is by activating very powerful muscles to correct that posture deficit. “They fall because they don’t have the fast-twitch IIB fibers to yank them back into corrective posture. That’s why they go down like a tree in the forest.” 34:00: McGuff defines exercise as protocolized strength training; disciplined and aimed at achieving a deep level of fatigue rapidly. You can’t stand more than 12-15 minutes of that intensity. You want the minimal effective dose. 35:07: “Most people think of exercise as directly causing the adaption. The exercise produces the stimulus; your body receives it and makes a physiologic adaption.” 35:40: “I make a clean distinction between exercise and activity.” 36:41: “Once you create this physiologic headroom, you want to use it. It’s like having a Ferrari and being restricted to the school zone. It just doesn’t work. That’s not a bad thing.” 37:30: McGuff talks about muscular failure, a term coined by Arthur Jones meaning lifting and lowering weight, and getting to a point where you are trying to lift weight, but it won’t go. The problem is that failure in and of itself does not necessarily define an adequate stimulus. The desired stimulus is a meaningful depth of fatigue, or a substantial reduction in one’s starting level of strength. In the gym, one may reach muscular failure in a particular exercise without reaching an adequate depth of fatigue. 41:25: Ken notes that the Super Slow protocol, as described in McGuff’s book, is performed exclusively on machines, and asks whether this training transfers to what are sometimes called “real world” functional movements and basic movement patterns (squat, hinge, push, pull, carry). 41:50: “When people talk about functional movements and movement patterns, I find that they are fairly ill-defined. Human movement in a functional sense is inherent to our physiology and anatomy. What is necessary for those to express themselves in real world applications is that you have to have a motor that is able to drive the movements of that appendage.” 43:00: “The notion that you have to recreate those functional movement patterns in the gym under load for those functional movement patterns to be expressed out of the gym is a little bit of a false construct. Some of those natural movement patterns, when done under load, are very joint incongruent.” 44:47: Ken and Doug note that confusing “sport” and “exercise” can be dangerous. 44:55: Dawn asks Doug about low intensity training as typically prescribed for the elderly. 45:15: Exercise recommendations for the elderly are often off-base. People making them don’t understand how to invoke high-intensity and low force at the same time. Being physically active at a low level of intensity is part of our evolutionary and biological background. If you get at those IIB fibers, that type of activity expresses itself organically. 46:40: What happens is that you carry out a type of long-term, low-intensity activity that says: This animal is carrying out chronic low-level activity. This becomes interpreted as a negative thing—the stimulus to lose type IIB muscle fibers rather than gain them. “In the long term, you’ve jettisoned one of largest glucose reservoirs in your body, and you have therefore undermined insulin sensitivity.” This accelerates sarcopenia. 47:20: Ken notes that one often sees this adaptation in marathon runners. McGuff, says, “That is why marathon and ultra-endurance athletes look cachexic … because they delivered a biological stimulus to their organism that says these type-IIB fibers are unnecessary for this activity and we need to get rid of them.” 48:12: Dawn asks about exercise while traveling and without good access to good equipment. 48:30: Doug, replies that “We’ve gotten the notion that weights are a necessary part of the equation, and they really aren’t. Through infimetrics, I can provide an intensity of workout that exceeds one with weights. It’s hard to describe in a podcast, but Google McGuff’s name and timed static contraction protocol or infimitric YouTube videos. 50:00: Ken notes that Blood flow restriction training, such as Kaatsu, increases localized IGF-1 levels and sensitivity via accumulation of metabolites, particularly lactate and H (+) and asks if McGuff thinks this type of training is useful. 51:53: Doug discusses blood-flow restriction training, which can produce equal hypertrophy and strength adaptions using a much lighter weight. The theory is that you are concentrating the by-products of metabolism that occur during exertion locally within the muscle, for example the entrapment of local IGF production. 52:46:  “I think it is of benefit from several standpoints, one is the fact that it requires less resistance to get an equal result — that increases the safety margin and increases the safety margin for extremely strong people.” 53:37: When you use a slower-cadence protocol, that creates a high degree of sustained muscular tension that produces vascular congestion within musculature that traps metabolites in the same way blood flow restriction does. 54:48: Ken says he’s had good results using blood flow restriction (using the Kaatsu system). He particularly appreciates blood flow restriction training for those with painful or compromised joints given the very light weights.  Also, hotels often have a very limited selection of relatively light weights, which are no problem with blood flow restriction. 55:18: Dawn asks whether electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) training might offer promise as a way to safely hit fast-twitch muscle in all age groups and whether McGuff has experience with EMS? 55:40: Doug discusses his experience with EMS and thinks it does let you hit the fast twitch fibers. 57:07: When you lose motor units, body starts to disconnect enervation of motor units. 57:52: Elderly with sarcopenia also have deconstructed this neuro-motor connection to higher-order motor units. “Where EMS is useful as a therapeutic modality is being able to activate type IIB motor units at the end of the set, so when they reach fatigue, that’s not fatigue like a younger person who still has that connection intact. You could invoke EMS at the end of the set to wake back up those type II motor units. The enervation of those motor units wakes up as well.” He says this is a “stop-gap measure to rehabilitate the enervation of higher-order motor units. 58:55: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.  59:20: Ken mentions that Brian Caulfied at University College Dublin has been doing interesting and important work on EMS in both athletic populations and older cohort groups. 1:00:00: Ken says he’s optimistic about the future of EMS as new companies, such as PowerDot are offering systems that run on smart phones, etc. 1:00:39: Doug notes that people often “conflate athleticism and health.” 1:02:26: Ken notes that myokines have both local actions within the muscle tissue but also hormone like effects that target distant organs.  He asks McGuff to discuss the role of myokines in exercise and the adaptations that occur as a result. 1:03:00: Resistance training is much greater than the sum of its parts. 1:04:30: Skeletal muscle is not just a tissue that produces movement. The muscle is the biggest and most active endocrine organ in our body; there’s a whole host of myokines—probably only of which a handful have been discovered. They are signaling locally and remotely—skin, hair, nervous tissue, cardiovascular system. 1:05:27: “The signals are going everywhere, and very few of them have been delineated thus far…. but the health benefits are becoming more and more obvious.” 1:05:46: The cytokines released by muscles have profound anti-inflammatory effects: they are the antithesis of metabolic syndrome and have anti-neoplastic effects. They are protective and reversive of neoplastic changes. “There’s a treasure trove there.” 1:06:30: Dawn asks about the role of myokines in tumor growth/suppression. 1:08:30: Doug says myokines have been found to arrest tumorigenesis for different types of cancer. 1:09:20: Different myokines are invoked by different forms and intensities of exercise. 1:10:35: Dawn asks how insulin sensitivity influences the production and sensitivity of myokines and Doug discusses their interaction. 1:12:11: Ken observed that recently the ketone body acetoacetate has been shown (in an animal model) to serve as a signaling metabolite in mediating muscle cell function and growth.   Specifically, acetoacetate potentiated the stimulatory effect of IGF1 on muscle cell proliferation and antagonized the inhibitory effect of myostatin. Ken asks McGuff whether he sees a role for endogenous (or exogenous) ketone bodies in augmenting myokine-induced hypertrophy. 1:12:47: “The answer is yeah, I think so.  It is just now becoming evident that those two operate by a similar mechanism.” Myostatin is a myokine that acts as a negative regulator of muscle growth. 1:14:00: With a sedentary lifestyle you can develop an overexpression of myostatin, one of the players in sarcopenia. It is upregulated in HIV, and certain cancer cells involved in cachexia. 1:14:18: “Acetoacetate has been shown to blunt its (myostatin) effect.” 1:15:10: Ketosis is when food supply is dwindling, and you tend to hunt and gather. The highest levels of physical output occur during hunting and gathering; it seems natural that ketosis and high level muscular activity would tend to occur/run in tandem. Those two things are running on parallel tracks biochemically. 1:16:17: Ken comments that both exercise induced myokines and ketone bodies appear to inhibit myostatin … yet pharma has spent decades looking for a safe and effective myostatin inhibitor. 1:17:00: McGuff refers to the Simon Melov paper which he found that 196 genes are expressed differently in youth and the elderly; they found an extensive reversal (back to their youthful levels) of gene expression in the elderly after physical training. Link to paper: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000465 1:19:42: Dawn asks Doug about his thoughts on nutrition and to what extent does he see nutrition playing a role in skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise? 1:20:10: McGuff is a proponent of the Paleo diet: “You can never exercise your way out of a bad diet.” 1:22:28: Ken and Doug discuss how obesity is a recent phenomenon and that poor nutrition is at the heart of the problem. 1:28:08: Doug talks about his book, “The Primal Prescription: Surviving the Sick Care Sinkhole,” co-authored with economist Robert Murphy (http://amzn.to/2fLTBtl). It talks about the ER as the de facto safety net in the American healthcare system. 1:31:08: “[Writing the book] has given me a front-row seat to decay and collapse of medical system in this country; how it happened; and how recent attempts to address through ACA have put it on steroids, and made the medical system impossible to navigate.” 1:33:10: Dawn closes out the interview. She mentions McGuff’s lecture, entitled “Strength Training for Health and Longevity,” which can be viewed at: http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20160929/. 1:34:20: Dawn and Ken sign off.

1hr 34mins

8 Nov 2016

Rank #5

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Episode 68: Steve Anton talks about diet, exercise, intermittent fasting and lifestyle interventions to improve health

What’s the best way to eat and the right way to exercise to ensure a healthy lifespan? Our guest today is Dr. Stephen Anton, a psychologist who has spent his career researching how lifestyle factors can influence not only obesity, but also cardiovascular disease and other metabolic conditions. Steve is an associate professor and the chief of the Clinical Research Division in the Department of Aging and Geriatric Research at the University of Florida. In today’s episode, we talk to Steve about his work in developing lifestyle interventions designed to modify people’s eating and exercise behaviors in an effort to improve their healthspan and lifespan. One of Steve’s best-known papers appeared in the Obesity Journal titled “Flipping the Metabolic Switch.” The study looked at intermittent fasting and suggested that the metabolic switch into ketosis represents an evolutionary conserved trigger point that has the potential to improve body composition in overweight individuals. Topics we cover in today’s interview include: The increasing prevalence of metabolic syndrome associated with aging. Why so many hospital health and wellness programs fail. How fasting and intermittent energy restriction promote autophagy. The relationship between muscle quality, body fat and health. How age-related loss of muscle function and mass leads to sarcopenia. Effects, risks and benefits of testosterone supplementation in older men. Optimal exercise methods for long-term health. Therapeutic approaches that potentially can help avert systemic inflammation associated with aging. Steve’s study that looked at the effects of popular diets on weight loss. Controversies surrounded calorie restriction as a strategy to enhance longevity. Show notes: 2:30: Steve talks about growing up in Tampa and playing sports as a kid. 3:53: Dawn asks Steve about his decision to attend Florida State after high school. 4:17: Dawn comments on how Steve bounced between medicine, business, and psychology before finally deciding to major in psychology. She asks if having two parents who were also psychologists played a role in his decision. 5:24: Ken asks about Steven’s experience pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Florida. 6:28: Dawn brings up that Steve became a fellow of behavioral medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. She mentions that Pennington has one of the nation’s premier programs in obesity metabolism and diabetes. She asks if that was the reason he decided on Pennington. 9:33: Dawn asks what prompted Steve to return to the University of Florida. 10:08: Ken asks what is driving the increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome that’s associated with advanced age. 11:19: Dawn brings up how hospitals have tried to promote health and wellness programs for decades, but notes how hospitals are designed to treat people who are sick and injured rather than delivering lifestyle interventions. She asks if Steve can give a summary of what he has learned in looking at ways to deliver interventions. 13:23: Dawn mentions that the traditional treatment and management approaches for type 2 diabetes are relatively ineffective and only reverse the disease in about one percent of the cases. 15:02: Ken mentions that Jeff Volek, STEM-Talk Guest on episode 43, has been a pioneer in researching type 2 diabetes. 16:49: Dawn points out that she and Ken had an in-depth conversation with Dr. Mark Matson about autophagy on episode seven of STEM-Talk. Matson also discussed fasting, and intermittent energy restriction and how it promotes autophagy, which is often described as the body’s innate recycling system. Dawn asks if Steve can elaborate a little on this process. 18:02: Dawn mentions that Steve has written about muscle quality and body composition and the risk of metabolic diseases and functional decline. She asks about the relationship between muscle quality, body fat and health. 19:17: Dawn asks if Steve can talk about how the age-related loss of muscle function and mass often lead to sarcopenia, and how this condition effects the individual and society. 20:31: Ken asks for Steve’s thoughts on the group of people who could be classified as having “pre-sarcopenia.” Ken mentions his interest in this group given that dietary and exercise intervention can still make a huge difference in their lives. 21:35: Dawn brings up the point of how testosterone tends to decline as men age, which is associated with a number of adverse health problems, including: cardiovascular and metabolic disease, sexual dysfunction, and mood disorders. Dawn asks about Steve’s study on the effects of testosterone supplementation in older men, and about the risks and benefits of supplementation. 24:12: Dawn asks if Steve can describe the difference between muscle quality and quantity, and if there is an easy way we can track and measure muscle quality. 25:28: Ken asks how we should be thinking about pharmaceutical therapies in these conditions as the field goes forward; given that so many new pharmaceuticals are in various stages of development, and that many of the currently available pharmaceutical approaches to age-related muscle loss have, to date, been effective at increasing muscle mass but not necessarily function. 26:30: Dawn asks what exercise methods Steve recommends for optimal, long-term health. 27:57: Dawn mentions that in 2016 a team of Spanish and Italian researchers published an article in the prestigious journal, Nature, showing that autophagy is a critical regulator of stem-cell fate and has implications for fostering muscle regeneration and sarcopenia as well as other disorders. She goes on to mention that autophagy typically declines with age, and this may be because stem cells start to lose their “steminess,” and become senescent (the loss of a cell’s power of division and growth). She goes on to ask about fasting and ketogenic diets, and how both interventions increase autophagy and could account for the common benefits we see in both of those interventions. 29:51: Dawn asks about the emerging concept of normal-weight obesity. 31:07: Ken asks about the consequences and challenges of sarcopenic obesity. 33:20: Dawn mentions that a growing body of evidence strongly indicates that chronic systemic low-grade inflammation plays a significant role in contributing to sarcopenia and associated functional decline. She goes on to say that preserving muscle and mobility is essential to maintaining a high quality of life as we age. She asks Steve what promising therapeutic approaches are out there that can potentially help avert systemic inflammation that’s associated with aging. 34:41: Dawn asks what the connection is between body fat and inflammation. 35:52: Dawn asks about the phenomenon that inflammation seems to be central to many lifestyle-related chronic diseases. 36:40: Dawn mentions that exercise has anti-inflammatory effects and asks if we should be considering anti-inflammatory intervention strategies as a starting point. 37:08: Ken mentions that Steve has a paper published in the obesity journal titled “Flipping the Metabolic Switch,” a study which looked at intermittent fasting and suggested that the metabolic switch into ketosis represents an evolutionary conserved trigger point that shifts metabolism to the mobilization of fat through fatty-acid oxidation and fatty-acid derived ketones. This mobilization shows that intermittent fasting regimes that induce ketosis have the potential to improve body composition in overweight individuals. He asks how the review was designed and what was learned. 39:17: Ken comments on how this whole discussion of intermittent fasting and the resulting elevated level of ketone bodies leads one to wonder whether exogenous ketones such as esters would recapitulate some of the effects of fasting or the ketogenic diet. 41:05: Dawn mentions that from religious to medical practices, fasting has been performed for thousands of years, dating back to the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. She asks if Steve could give an overview of the history of fasting and also why so many researchers and scientists today are taking a renewed interest in episodic caloric restriction. 42:30: Ken asks if Steve could talk about the role of resistance training in maintaining muscle mass, function and quality as we age. Ken also asks what Steve has learned in examining exercise-based interventions as well as the combination of exercise and dietary interventions. 45:45: Ken mentions that poor muscle quality and functional decline are associated with the loss of type-two muscle fibers, and increased intramuscular fat. Going on to mention that these same changes are regularly seen in endurance athletes. He asks if these adaptations might become maladaptive as these athletes age. 47:15: Dawn asks if there is an upper limit of benefit, in terms of muscle gain, and a lower limit in terms of optimal body fat, when it comes to longevity. Inquiring as to whether there is a point of diminishing returns or increasing harm when it comes to gaining muscle or losing fat. 49:18: Dawn mentions another one of Steve’s major review studies that looked at the effects of popular diets on weight loss. Steve examined the evidence for the diets that were listed in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the best weight-loss diets, which ranged from the Mediterranean to Atkins to Ornish to the Paleo diets. She goes on to say that the review found the Atkins diet to have the most evidence in producing meaningful short-term and long-term weight loss. 53:00: Dawn asks what Steve’s diet and exercise routine look like. 54:24: Dawn mentions how it is not the lack of knowledge on the biology of disease, and what interventions will be effective for different individuals, but rather the implementation and adherence at a population level. Given his background in psychology, Dawn asks Steve what his thoughts are on ways to help people implement these interventions into their lives. 59:59: Ken mentions how calorie restriction is a controversial strategy to enhance longevity. Some say that it is the only strategy that has worked consistently, across species, to extend lifespan. Ken mentions that there is also evidence from multiple meta-analysis that shows only about 50% of rodent studies result in a longevity benefit. When one accounts for the quality of the food given to primates, the situation becomes even more unclear as to whether or not calorie restriction has a longevity benefit. Ken asks Steve if the same could apply to humans. 1:03:49: Dawn mentions that she understands Steve persuaded his 72-year-old father to try intermittent fasting, and that his father has become a great testimonial for Steve. Links: Dr. Stephen Anton faculty page: http://aging.ufl.edu/profile/anton-steve-phd/ STEM-Talk episode 43, Dr. Jeff Volek: https://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode-43/ STEM-Talk episode 7, Dr. Mark Mattson: https://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode007/ Molecular Inflammation: Underpinnings of Aging and Age-related Diseases: Molecular Inflammation – FINAL Paper Effects of Popular Diets: Popular Diets – Published Article Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Anton_et_al-2017-Obesity

1hr 7mins

17 Jul 2018

Rank #6

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Episode 50: Ken Ford talks about ketosis, optimizing exercise, and the future direction of science, technology, and culture

Today’s episode features the second of Dawn Kernagis’ two-part interview with her STEM-Talk co-host and IHMC Director Ken Ford. This episode marks a milestone for STEM-Talk. It’s our 50th episode and follows Ken’s formal induction into the Florida Inventor’s Hall of Fame. In part one of Dawn’s interview, listeners learned about Ken’s childhood and his years as a rock and roll promoter back in the ‘70s. Ken even shared an interesting story about how he went from being a philosophy major to a computer scientist. He also talked about his work in AI and the creation of IHMC and the pioneering work underway at the institute. If you missed episode 49, be sure to check it out. Part two of Ken’s interview focuses more on his research and personal experience with the ketogenic diet, ketone esters, exercise and ways to extend health span and perhaps longevity. Dawn and Ken also discuss the nature of technical progress As listeners learned in part one, Ken has a varied background. He is a co-founder of IHMC, which has grown into one of the nation’s premier research organizations with world-class scientists and engineers investigating a broad range of topics. He also is the author of hundreds of scientific papers and six books. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Tulane University. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the IEEE Computer Society, and the National Association of Scholars. In 2012, Tulane University named Ford its Outstanding Alumnus in the School of Science and Engineering. The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence named Dr. Ford the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award. Also in 2015, Dr. Ford was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In January 1997, Dr. Ford was asked by NASA to develop and direct its new Center of Excellence in Information Technology at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, where he also served as Associate Center Director. In July 1999, Dr. Ford was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. That same year, Ford returned to private life in Florida and to IHMC. In October 2002, President George W. Bush nominated Dr. Ford to serve on the National Science Board (NSB). In 2005, Dr. Ford was appointed and sworn in as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. In 2007, he became a member of the NASA Advisory Council and on October 16, 2008, Dr. Ford was named as chairman – a capacity in which he served until October 201l. In August 2010, Dr. Ford was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal – the highest honor the agency confers. In February 2012, Dr. Ford was named to a two-year term on the Defense Science Board and in 2013, he became a member of the Advanced Technology Board which supports the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Links: IHMC website: http://www.ihmc.us Ken Ford web page: http://www.ihmc.us/groups/kford/ Florida Inventors Hall of Fame website: http://www.floridainvents.org Outside magazine story on Ken Ford and ketogenic diet: https://www.outsideonline.com/2113406/high-carb-low-fat-ketone-diet Blood Flow Restriction Device. 15% discount code: IHMC https://www.gobstrong.com/what-is-b-strong/ BhB Ketone Ester https://hvmn.com Powerdot Muscle Stimulator https://www.powerdot.com/products/powerdot-muscle-stimulator Papers: Suppression of Oxidative Stress by b-Hydroxybutyrate, an Endogenous Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Verdin_2013.pdf Ketone Bodies as Signaling Metabolites http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/TEM-Ketone-bodies-as-signaling-metabolites-2014.pdf Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Verdin-Ketogenic-Mouse-Longevity-Cell-Metab-9-17-1.pdf A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Ramsey-Mouse-Longevity-Cell-Metab-9-17.pdf Ketone Bodies Mimic the Life Span Extending Properties of Caloric Restriction http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Ketone-bodies-mimic-lifespan-extending-properties-of-CR_Veech_Review_2017.pdf Show notes: 7:06: Dawn begins part two of her interview with Ken by pointing out that some of the work IHMC is doing in terms of human performance is focused on nutritional approaches, including ketogenic diets and ketone esters. Dawn mentions that Ken was an early adopter of the ketogenic diet and that some people even refer to him as “the keto guy.” She then asks him when he first embraced a ketogenic diet and what attracted him to it. 8:06:  Ken Talks about his long experience with the ketogenic diet and its effect on body composition. 10:30: Ken discusses how he became interested in ketone esters. 12:34: Dawn asks about research that seems to show that elevated levels of circulating ketone bodies have the potential to protect people from some of the diseases of aging. 12:47:  Ken discusses healthspan, lifespan, and bending the aging curve. 14:04:  Ken notes that, in his view, it should not be surprising that shifting something as fundamental as the fuel substrate for our metabolism would have widespread effects. 14:19:  Ken talks about the epidemic of insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. 15:20:  Dawn asks Ken to discuss the relatively newly discovered effects of ketone bodies which go well beyond their well-appreciated metabolic roles … and that might have various anti-aging effects. 16:59:  Ken asserts that many of the most exciting effects of ketones are not only those arising from their role as an energy source but also that they play critically important signaling functions.  Ken talks about the research showing that the ketone bodies are HDAC inhibitors and seem to link environmental cues, such as diet, to the regulation of aging. 17:23:  Ken explains how HDACs inhibit BDNF and as mentioned above, ketones inhibit HDACs … thereby increasing BDNF. 18:20: Ken discusses two new papers showing a substantial extension of healthspan and lifespan in adult mice. 20:57: Dawn asks about the effect of the ketogenic diet on the maintenance of muscle and strength as people age. 24:48:  Dawn asks Ken about the ketogenic diet and IGF-1. 26:45:  Dawn notes that stem cells become less effective with age and asks about the implications of this phenomenon for maintenance of muscle. 27:37: Ken explains what the ketogenic diet is. 29:48: Dawn points out the Google search term “ketogenic diet” now outnumbers searches for Paleo diets. She asks Ken if he thought this would be the case back in 2006 when he first returned to a ketogenic diet. 31:18: Dawn asks Ken about what he sees as the primary benefit of blood-flow restriction training and how he uses it in his training. 34:25: Dawn asks Ken about what other exercise methods he employs in his training to optimize muscle mass and minimize potential injury. 34:38:  Ken mentions electrical muscle stimulation (PowerDot), kettlebells, resistance training, Tabata sessions, and hiking in Wyoming and Maine. 35:37:  Ken discusses hierarchical sets as employed in resistance training. 36:27:  Dawn ask Ken if he “goes to failure” when engaged in resistance training. 37:13:  Dawn asks Ken if has any thoughts on eccentric movements when engaged in resistance training. 38:50:  Dawn asks Ken about NASA funded research at IHMC, led by Peter Neuhaus, aimed at developing technology to enable exercise devices for use on long-duration deep space missions. 39:41: Dawn mentions that when she first met Ken that she was doing research on apolipoprotein E in a neurocritical care laboratory. She asks Ken for his take on APOE in athletics and other approaches when it comes to harnessing people’s genetic information for optimized health. 42:03: Dawn asks Ken to describe a typical day and a typical week in the life of Ken Ford, including what his diet looks like and what he typically eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 44:03: Dawn wonders how many expressos, which Ken refers to as the elixir of the mind, he drinks in a day. 45:06: Dawn asks Ken about his time at NASA’s Ames Research Center. 46:06:  She asks Ken to talk about his experience on the National Science Board and whether there were any stories he could share. 48:48:  Dawn asks Ken to discuss his service on the NASA Advisory Council. 50:04: Dawn mentions that Ken has been a member of the National Science Board, NASA Advisory Council, Air Force Science Advisory Board, the Advanced Technology Board for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Defense Science Board. She asks Ken for his takeaways from serving on those boards and councils. 52:10:  Dawn notes that during Apollo, NASA annually accounted for roughly 4% of Federal spending and asks Ken if he knows the percentage currently? 52:55:  Ken laments that public service is becoming increasingly unpleasant … and that the best people invariably leave as a result. 54:05: Dawn asks Ken to talk about the accelerating rate of technological progress and its effects on society and the individual. 54:25:  Ken distinguishes between “technological change” and “progress.” 57:11:  Dawn asks, if taken from a purely technological perspective, are we not advancing faster than ever before? 1:00:54: Dawn plays an audio clip of Ken talking about the zombie apocalypse, which she describes as one of her favorite stories, and asks him to expand upon on it. 1:04:20: Dawn thanks Ken for sitting down for an interview.

1hr 6mins

7 Nov 2017

Rank #7

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Episode 82: Stu Phillips discusses the importance of dietary protein and its role in muscle

Our guest today Dr. Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, who is best known for his research into muscle health and the benefits of dietary protein. Stu is the director of the McMaster Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art exercise research and training center. It is devoted to studying and improving the health and well-being of older adults as well as people with chronic diseases and disabilities. In addition to his work in the kinesiology department at McMaster, Stu is adjunct professor in the university’s School of Medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Nutrition. He received the New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award, and the Young Investigator Award from Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.  In today’s interview we discuss:  [00:08:19] Dawn introduces the importance of dietary protein and its role in muscle health, and tissue regeneration more generally, which makes it one of the only macro nutrients we need on a daily basis. [00:10:59] A recent study (2017) showed that whole eggs promoted a greater amount of muscle protein synthesis than egg whites, suggesting that there may be benefits to the extra nutrients found in the egg yolk. [00:12:53] Why Stu believes the recommended daily allowance for protein is too low. [00:14:06] The differences between animal and plant-based protein. [00:16:31] The phenomenon of muscle synthesis (anabolism) and catabolism. [00:17:54] Highlights of the recent findings coming out of Kevin Tipton’s group which indicates that the dose-response relationship may depend on the amount of muscle tissue that was recruited during exercise, with the ingestion of 40 g protein further increasing muscle protein. [00:20:43]A 2013 paper from Stu’s group titled, “Dose-dependent responses of myofibrillar protein synthesis with beef ingestion are enhanced with resistance exercise in middle-aged men.” [00:27:52] Stu’s thoughts on the recommendation of pre-sleep protein feeding. [00:37:52] An overview of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art, exercise research and training lab at McMaster. [00:43:37] The importance of maintaining healthy functional muscle mass and function as we move into middle and later life. [00:46:56] Stu’s paper,  “Muscle Disuse as a Pivotal Problem in Sarcopenia-Related Muscle Loss and Dysfunction.” [00:50:25] The need to add more protein to our diets as we get older, which is something that Dr. Valter Longo discussed on episode 64 of STEM-Talk. [00:56:24 How fasting affects muscle protein turnover, which were topics covered in episode 7 of STEM-Talk, an interview with Mark Mattson, and episode 79, which was an interview with Satchin Panda, author of the “The Circadian Code.” [00:57:32] Whether a ketogenic diet with sufficient protein would in any way be detrimental to muscle mass. [01:05:47] Stu’s thoughts on a study that was conducted on behalf of the American College of Sports Medicine that found supplementation with HMB failed to enhance body composition to a greater extent than a placebo. Show notes [0:02:51] Stu talks about being born in the UK but growing up in Canada. [00:03:09] Dawn asks about Stu’s passions for all kinds of sports as a kid. [00:03:27] Stu recalls his high school science teacher, who was responsible for getting him interested in biology and chemistry. [00:03:44] Dawn asks what led Stu to choose McMaster University after high school. [00:04:19] Ken brings up that Stu was captain of the Ruby team his senior year, and while it looked as though he was headed to a great season, things didn’t turn out as planned. He asks how that season led to Stu’s decision to focus on nutritional biochemistry. [00:05:16] Stu explains how he ended up at Waterloo University to work on a doctorate in physiology. [00:06:01] Dawn asks Stu why he headed off to Texas after graduating from Waterloo. [00:06:36] Dawn asks if it is true that after three years in Texas, Stu moved back to Canada to get married. [00:07:18] Stu talks about why he went back to McMasters to study protein, exercise, and muscle synthetic versus catabolic dynamics, among other things. [00:08:19] Dawn asks how Stu first became interested in the process by which protein plays a role in regenerating muscle, making it one of the only macro nutrients we need on a daily basis, and to give listeners an overview on the importance of dietary protein. [00:09:49] Dawn asks Stu how much of his work has focused on muscle- protein turnover and if changes in muscle-protein turnover directly correlate with changes in muscle growth. [00:10:59] Ken mentions that many protein-intervention studies use supplementation in the form of whey, which has a clear benefit from a muscle standpoint given its high leucine content and convenience.  He goes on to mention, however, that some researchers are starting to look at interventions with whole food protein. A recent study (2017) showed that whole eggs promoted a greater amount of muscle protein synthesis than egg whites, suggesting that there may be benefits to the extra nutrients found in the egg yolk.Understanding this, Ken asks if it is possible that by taking an isolated supplement like whey, we are missing out on a spectrum of other nutrients found in protein rich whole foods? [00:12:53] Stu explains why he believes that the recommended daily allowance for protein is too low. [00:14:06] Dawn mentions that she is a vegetarian, and by that token has to be more creative about making sure she gets enough protein. She asks Stu to explain the differences between animal and plant-based protein. [00:15:20] Ken asks if it might be helpful for vegans or vegetarians to supplement with essential amino acids, provided that they are vegan approved. [00:16:31] Dawn asks Stu to elaborate on the phenomenon of muscle synthesis and catabolism, which are like a sinusoidal wave going from anabolism to catabolism. Over a 24-hour period, one may see more anabolism, then have a net improvement in muscle mass, and vice versa. [00:17:54] The currently accepted amount of protein required to achieve maximal stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) following resistance exercise is 20–25 g. Ken asks Stu to discuss the recent findings coming out of Kevin Tipton’s group which indicates that the dose-response relationship may depend on the amount of muscle tissue that was recruited during exercise, with the ingestion of 40 g protein further increasing muscle protein. [00:20:43] Dawn explains that aging impairs the sensitivity of skeletal muscle to anabolic stimuli, such as amino acids and resistance exercise. She goes on to bring up a 2013 paper from Stu’s group which reported that, in the context of resistance exercise, “it appears that the MPS “machinery” in older muscles is less responsive to low and modest doses of protein.  The key finding from this study being that in middle-aged men, ingestion of beef promotes a dose–response relation for myofibrillar MPS, with the greatest response occurring with ingestion of 170 g of beef … roughly 6 oz containing 36 g of protein. [00:22:45] Ken asks if given the leucine oxidation responses Stu reported, does it seem reasonable that approximately 170 g of beef is the maximally effective dose, after which additional protein would fail to increase MPS. [00:24:29] Stu discusses the issue of “protein timing” in relation to a bout of resistance training and total protein intake over the course of the day. [00:27:52] Multiple studies coming from Van Loon’s lab suggesting that 40 g of protein ingested before sleep can be beneficial for muscle protein synthesis, especially in older individuals.While consuming protein before bed may provide some benefits, it may also be detrimental from a circadian rhythm perspective. Forty g of protein equates to 7 eggs or 5 cups of milk or a substantial steak. Given the importance of sleep to anabolic and other processes, Ken asks Stu for his thoughts on the recommendation of pre-sleep protein feeding. [00:30:15] Ken asks if the observed benefit of pre-sleep protein could be driven more by topping up of the day’s total protein consumption, or if the timing of protein right before bed matters? [00:31:57] Ken asks for Stu’s thoughts on a 2017 paper published by Robert Wolfe in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, which concluded that the claim that the consumption of dietary BCAAs stimulates muscle protein synthesis or produces an anabolic response in humans is unwarranted. [00:37:52] Stu gives a brief overview of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, more popularly known as the PACE lab, a state-of-the-art, exercise research and training center at McMaster. [00:40:04] Ken brings up that loss of muscle mass, strength, and quality starts earlier in life than many realize, especially in more sedentary individuals, while also accelerating as people age. He asks if there are any warning signs people need to look out for. [00:43:37] Dawn asks why is it so important to maintain healthy functional muscle mass and function as we move into middle and later life. [00:43:37] Dawn asks if sarcopenia progresses the same way in westernized vs non-westernized populations? [00:46:56]Stu talks about one of his papers published in the Journal of Frailty and Aging titled, “Muscle Disuse as a Pivotal Problem in Sarcopenia-Related Muscle Loss and Dysfunction.” [00:48:34] Stu talks about anabolic resistance and whether there is compelling evidence to support low-protein intake for optimal healthspan and longevity. [00:50:25] Stu talks about the need to add more protein to our diets as we get older, which is something that Dr. Valter Longo discussed on episode 64 of STEM-Talk. [00:54:33] Stu talks about the myth that too much protein creates kidney damage. [00:56:24] Mark Mattson discussed intermittent fasting in Episode 7 of STEM-Talk.  More recently, in episode 79, Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute talked about time-restricting eating. Stu gives his thoughts on how fasting affects muscle protein turnover. [00:57:32] Ken asks if a ketogenic diet with sufficient protein would in any way be detrimental to muscle mass. [01:02:13] Dawn brings up that physical inactivity impairs insulin sensitivity and that it is exacerbated with aging. A paper Stu and his colleagues produced examined the impact of two weeks of acute inactivity and recovery on glycemic control, and integrated rates of muscle protein synthesis, in older men and women. [01:04:00] Stu discusses why most of the research on protein has been in relation to males. [01:05:47] Stu discusses a study that was conducted on behalf of the American College of Sports Medicine that found supplementation with HMB failed to enhance body composition to a greater extent than placebo. [01:10:13] Dawn asks if Stu had a $20-mllion budget and could undertake any research project without limitation, what would it be and why? [01:13:05] Dawn ends the interview by mentioning that Stu had to give up rugby in his 40s. She asks what his exercise routine looks like now in his middle age, and if he still plays any sports. Links: Stuart Phillips McMaster faculty page McMaster Physical Activity Centre of Excellence Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 16mins

5 Feb 2019

Rank #8

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Episode 67: Doug Wallace talks about mitochondria, our human origins and the possibility of mitochondria-targeted therapies

Today’s guest is Dr. Douglas Wallace, the director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is internationally known as the founder of mitochondrial genetics. Mitochondria are tiny structures within cells that produce 90 percent of a person’s energy and play an essential role in health and disease. Dr. Wallace’s groundbreaking research in the 1970s defined the genetics of DNA within the mitochondria, as distinct from DNA in a cell’s nucleus. His research has shown that mitochondrial DNA is inherited exclusively from the mother and that genetic alterations in the mitochondrial DNA can result in a wide range of metabolic and degenerative diseases. One of Dr. Wallace’s seminal contributions has been to use a mitochondrial DNA variation to reconstruct human origins and the ancient migrations of women. These studies revealed that humans arose in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, and that women as well as men left Africa about 65,000 years ago to colonize Eurasia. Dr. Wallace was inducted last year into the Italian Academy of Sciences during the academy’s 234th annual meeting in Rome. Founded in 1782, membership in the academy is limited to 40 Italian scientists and 25 foreign members. Over the years, the academy has seen such notable members as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Louis Pasteur and Rita Levi-Montalcini. Links: Dr. Wallace’s Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia bio: https://www.chop.edu/doctors/wallace-douglas-c  Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Human Radiation and Disease Wallace Cell Perspective 9-26-15 Mitochondrial DNA Mutation Associated with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy Wallace LHON 11778 Science 1988 A Mitochondrial Bioenergetic Etiology of Disease Wallace JCI Wallace JAMA Psychiatry2017 Association Between Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Variation and Autism Disorders Chalkia_jamapsychiatry_2017 Maternal Inheritance of Human Mitochondrial DNA Giles Maternal Inheritance 1980 Show notes:  3:32: Dawn opens the interview by mentioning that Doug grew up exploring the woods outside his neighborhood in the suburbs of Annapolis, Maryland. Dawn asks if his time outdoors sparked his interest in science when he was young. 4:14: Dawn asks Doug what led him to attend Cornell University after graduating from high school. 5:15: Doug talks about his decision to focus on genetics in school. 6:21: Dawn asks Doug how he selected Yale for his graduate studies. 7:49: Ken mentions that mitochondria can be considered bacterial “power-pack” organelles that generate the majority of a cell’s energy, as well as much else. He goes on to say that mitochondria account for about 30 percent of our bodyweight, and that there are roughly 500 trillion of them. He finally points out that despite all this that they are surprisingly under attended to and asks Doug to give listeners a brief mitochondria 101. 13:37: Ken mentions how he’s glad Doug answered the question of how mitochondria ended up losing 99 percent of their original genes, considering that mitochondria used to be free living bacteria with roughly 1,500 genes. 15:25: Dawn points out that Doug and his colleagues are credited with founding the field of human mitochondrial genetics more than 40 years ago.  She then asks if anyone else was doing similar research when Doug started working on human mitochondrial genetics during his post-doc. 17:55: Following his post-doc at Yale, Doug spent seven years at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dawn asks Doug about his work during this time. 22:01: Dawn mentions that in 1983 Doug became the professor of biochemistry, anthropology and pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta. During this time, he also was chairperson and senior editor of the Mitochondrial DNA Locus-Specific Database for the Human Genome Organization. Dawn asks what that work entailed. 24:11: Ken asks Doug about accepting a professorship of molecular genetics at the University of California, Irvine where he founded the Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics. 26:25: Dawn mentions that in 2010 Doug moved to Philadelphia to become professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Going on to mention that he also became the founding director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She asks what took Doug to CHOP what sort of work goes on at the center. 28:07: Dawn asks Doug to expand on the work he and his colleagues have done that shows that mitochondrial DNA is inherited exclusively from maternal linage, and that genetic alterations to mitochondrial DNA can result in a wide range of metabolic and degenerative diseases. 31:34: Ken brings up that Doug often talks about how Western medicine has generally approached most diseases from a primarily anatomical and Mendelian perspective, and how it seems that our bioenergetics inheritance has been largely ignored. He asks if this is beginning to change, given the recent attention Doug’s work has gained. 33:53: Ken discusses things from a systems perspective, saying that it stands to reason that as energy availability declinesone would expect to see organ specific symptoms of a systemic defect, asking for Doug to elaborateon this rather sensible perspective when viewed through the lens of energetics. 37:10: Dawn asks Doug to discuss his research into the mutation referred to as, “mtDNA ND6 P25L,” which results in elevated reactive oxygen species production and neurological disease. 45:21: Ken asks Doug to further discuss his work in using mitochondrial DNA variation to trace human migrations and origins. 49:03: Ken mentions how some of his friends submitting genetic material to “23 and Me” and seeing the haplogroups they have inherited from their mother has led to some confusion. 52:23: Dawn asks about the aspect of Doug’s research that suggests that there might have been an ancient European migration to the Americas, a conclusion extrapolated from studying a Native American Tribe in Central North America. 55:49: Dawn mentions the molecular clock, which is essentially the concept that mutations accumulate in a piece of DNA at a roughly constant rate because they occur by chance. She asks about the role of the molecular clock in mapping a population’s history? 58:05: Ken asks if Doug has looked at manipulating cells (when there are some cells with mitochondrial DNA mutations, and some without), to enhance autophagy and thereby get rid of the cells with the mutant mitochondria, and if so, would such interventions like intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet have any benefit in patients. 1:01:23: Ken mentions that interventions such as intermittent fasting inhibit mTOR, asking if this inhibition is sufficient to have a substantial benefit. 1:03:36: Ken asks Doug to dive deeper into the phenomenon of how the high susceptibility of the mitochondrial DNA to mutations, alongside the fact that it is passed only along the maternal lineage, allows for the rapid adaptation to environmental stimuli while also eliminating the majority of detrimental mutations. Ken asks Doug to also talk about how these changes in mitochondrial genes enable animals to adapt swiftly to changing diets and climates. 1:07:18: Shifting gears, Ken asks for Doug’s thoughts on the possibility of life on other planets, and the bacterial basis for mitochondria on earth that allowed for the explosion of complex life on our planet. 1:09:30: Dawn asks Doug to expand on the concept of mitochondrial DNA variations permitting our migrating ancestors to adapt to new environments, and the idea that these adaptations can predispose certain individuals to disease in environments that their mitochondrial DNA isn’t adapted to. 1:12:21: Dawn mentions that Doug and his colleagues at the center are exploring how mitochondrial genes influence adaptation to extremes in our environment, such as artic cold, tropical heat and high altitude. Mentioning thatIHMC does a great deal of work on human performance in extreme conditions, Dawn asks Doug to talk his work in this area. 1:15:00: Ken asks — if it is even possible — if we should attempt to change how coupled we are, given that mitochondrial coupling can affect disease risk. 1:18:05: Dawn asks which haplogroups are at the highest risk for common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. 1:20:02: Dawn asks if people should be testing their haplogroups to see their susceptibility to certain diseases. 1:21:00: Dawn asks if Doug could talk a bit about his research into the association between mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 1:23:18: Dawn asks about Doug’s thoughts on the use of pro-nuclease transfer through three-person IVF, which is a very new and somewhat controversial technique designed to allow mothers with mitochondrial disease to have a baby without passing on that mitochondrial defect. 1:28:49: Ken discusses how mitochondria can no longer be viewed only through the lens of bioenergetics but also as platforms for intracellular signaling, regulators of innate immunity, and modulators of stem cell activity. Each of these properties provides clues as to how mitochondria might regulate aging and age-related diseases. Ken asks Doug to discuss how mitochondria participate in aging and whether a new era of mitochondrial-targeted therapies to potentially slow or reverse the aging process might be in prospect? 1:32:44: Dawn asks if there are any common environmental exposures that are negatively affecting mitochondrial function. 1:34:28: Ken asks Doug if, in addition to exercise, there are any other interventions that he thinks are broadly helpful in regards to improving mitochondrial function. 1:35:49: Dawn discusses how mitochondria produce local electromagnetic fields bymoving electrons as part of their normal function. She asks Doug if he has any thoughts on how external electromagnetic fields, such as those generated by electronics or communication devices, might interfere with mitochondrial function? 1:37:33: Ken mentions that Doug has hypothesized that the Qi and energy fields mentioned and targeted in Chinese medicine may actually be a proxy for mitochondrial phenotype and function. Asking how one might measure these in a human, and how could that affect disease treatment? 1:40:54: Dawn mentions how she is looking forward to seeing what comes out of the institute Doug is working on in China, which is bringing together Western, anatomical perspectives with the concepts found in Chinese Medicine. 1:41:09: Dawn comments on how Doug wasinducted into the Italian Academy of Sciences during the Academy’s 234th annual meeting in Rome. The Academy, founded in 1782, has a mission of encouraging scientific research. With a membership limited to 40 Italian scientists and 25 foreign members, the Academy’s long history, has seen such notable members as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Louis Pasteur and Rita Levi-Montalcini. She closes the interview by mentioning how rewarding that must have been for Doug.

1hr 44mins

3 Jul 2018

Rank #9

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Episode 98: Steven Austad talks about aging and preserving human health

Our guest today is Dr. Steven Austad who studies virtually every aspect of aging. He is a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. In addition to being recognized for his aging and longevity research, Steve is also well-known for his background as a New York City cab driver, newspaper reporter and a lion trainer who then decided to become a biologist. His research today involves developing lifestyle and pharmacological approaches to improving and preserving human health. He is particularly focused on figuring out why different species age at different rates. Steve is the author of more than 190 scientific articles. His book, “Why We Age: What Science Is Discovering about the Body’s Journey Through Life,” has been translated into nine languages. He also writes newspaper columns and has written for publications like Natural History magazine, Scientific American and International Wildlife. Show notes: [00:02:53] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Steve was born in Southern California, but that his family moved around so much, that he ended up attending around 20 grade schools. Steve explains that his father bought a travel trailer and moved the family around the country. [00:03:57] Steve talks about how even though he was shy and introverted as a kid, he found a way to fit in with his classmates. [00:04:40] Ken mentions how Steve’s career went through several reinventions before settling into a career in science. Among the various occupations Steve had were: a newspaper reporter, training lions and tigers for television and movies, and taxi driving. Ken asks Steve how he became a taxi driver. [00:06:01] Steve talks about his time on the West Coast in Portland working as a newspaper reporter for the Oregonian. [00:07:48] Dawn asks how it was that Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith had something to do with Steve becoming a lion trainer. [00:14:39] Ken asks Steve about the suicidal duck whose reckless abandonment nearly resulted in Steve’s death at the hands of one of the lions he was training. [00:19:21] Steve discusses why his fascination with animal behavior lead him to California State University to major in biology. [00:23:24] Dawn asks what took Steve to the University of New Mexico for his postdoc. [00:28:16] Ken asks how Steve landed his job as assistant professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in 1986. [00:29:59] Dawn mentions that Steve discovered that opossums of the predator-free barrier island of Sapelo Island lived 25 percent longer than their cousins on the mainland of Georgia. Steve discusses this and explains how this discovery played a role in his future research. [00:34:13] Dawn points out that Steve left Harvard for the University of Idaho where he became a full professor and then next went the University of Texas. Dawn asks Steve about accepting  a position in 2014 at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. [00:41:32] Steve discusses his research into lifespan and healthspan and longevity and why some species age at different rates, with a particular interest in long-lived organisms like quahogs clams and hydra. He goes on to explain how this research led to what he refers to as the “Longevity Quotient.” [00:48:42] Ken mentions that as a former Rhode Islander, he spent some time digging Quahogs and eating them. [00:53:14] Steve gives an overview of how dietary restriction studies are performed on mice. [00:59:39] Ken mentions that from Steve’s description it seems that modern humans are becoming more and more like laboratory mice. [01:02:53] Ken mentions STEM-Talk episode 79 where Satchin Panda talks about time-restricted eating, and episode 7 where Mark Matson talks about intermittent fasting. Ken goes on to say that Mark made the point that the benefits of time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting is that it puts the organism, particularly the human, in a state of ketosis. [01:04:09] Steve talks about the differences in the maximum lifespans of males and females in both humans and other animals. [01:08:42] Ken recommends STEM-Talk episode 67 with Doug Wallace for listeners interested in hearing more about mitochondria. [01:09:44] Dawn asks about metformin, which is a drug that many people believe has the potential to increase our healthspan and lifespan. She asks why it is that we’re not all taking metformin and if it really has such potential. She further asks about the status of the Targeting Aging With Metformin (TAME) trial. [01:13:39] Ken mentions a recent study coming from the Miller lab, that suggested metformin might inhibit mitochondrial adaptations to exercise in older adults. He goes on to mention an even more recent paper out of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama, Birmingham has reported that metformin blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance exercise training in older adults. Ken also mentions Steve’s continued interest in rapamycin and its effect on the health span of animals. Ken asks what Steve has learned and if rapamycin would still be his first choice for testing for a drug to target aging. [01:20:08] Ken asks about the optimal and most efficacious dose of rapamycin for humans. [01:21:10] Dawn mentions a paper Steve co-authored with Tuck Finch, discussing the role of the different APOE isoforms. Dawn asks about the ancestral isoform and why we see different isoform distributions today compared to hundreds of thousands of years ago. [01:24:59] Dawna asks why we see different isoform distributions between different populations around the globe. [01:26:29] Dawn asks how much of a role lifestyle versus genetics plays in healthspan and lifespan. [01:28:58] Steve talks about of Fauja Singh, who is 108 and didn’t start distance running until he was in his 80s, and who ran a marathon when he was 101. [01:32:17] Ken asks if Steve is still as confident as he was in 2016 when he made a bet with Olshansky over whether there will be one or more 150-year-old human by the year 2150. [01:34:15] Ken asks why we haven’t seen someone exceed Jeanne Calment’s record age of 122 years that she reached in 1997. [01:36:04] Dawn mentions that Steve continues to write articles and columns for newspapers as well as other news outlets. In addition to this Steve also has a website called, “Let’s Talk Science?” where an assortment of his newspaper columns and other writings can be found. [01:37:47] Dawn closes the interview suggesting that Steve might want to explore writing a novel about a young newspaper reporter who ends up driving a Mercedes across California with a lion in the backseat, who then finds himself in a Hollywood mansion living with Tippi Hedrin and Melanie Griffin and watching over the lions and cheetahs that run through the house. Dawn suggests that has the makings of a good book. Links: Austad’s University of Alabama, Birmingham bio Let’s Talk Science Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 40mins

5 Nov 2019

Rank #10

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Episode 87: Dom D’Agostino reflects on his 10 years of research into ketogenic nutrition

Dr. Dominic D’Agostino returns to STEM-Talk to give Ken and Dawn an update on his research into ketogenic nutrition. Dom was the guest on episode 14 back in 2016 when ketogenic diets didn’t even show up on a list of the top-10 diets that people Googled. Since then, the search term “ketogenic diet” has risen to the top of the list. In today’s episode, Dom talks about his past 10 years of research into ketogenic diets and what he is learning about the physiological benefits of nutritional ketosis. Dom is tenured associate professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.He also is a research scientist here at IHMC.Throughout his career, Dom has been a researcher with a diverse background in neuroscience, molecular pharmacology, nutrition and physiology. Show notes: [00:02:55] Dawn begins the interview mentioning that when she and Ken started hosting STEM-Talk, the ketogenic diet wasn’t on the list of the top-10 most Googled diets of 2015. Today, however, Dawn points that ketogenic diet is number one on the list. She asks Dom if he foresaw sudden mass interest in a ketogenic diet coming. [00:04:12] Ken asks Dom for his thoughts on how the ketogenic diet has went from being very obscure to becoming a household term. [00:06:04] Ken comments on the evolutionary component of the ketogenic diet and how our ancestors must have gone in and out of ketosis based on the availability of food. He also comments on the unique aspect of the ketogenic diet, being that it has an objective measurement, and asks Dom to talk about that. [00:06:59] Dawn comments on the cynicism regarding the ketogenic diet, particularly from nutritionists. She asks Dom to address the criticism and pushback that the ketogenic diet receives from so many nutritionists. [00:10:02] Ken mentions that some fields are resistant to change and new science due to the emotion behind established theories. Dom agrees and then talks about how people, even doctors, are resistant to new data and new science. [00:11:13] Dom talks about the most common misconceptions and overrepresentations of the ketogenic diet. [00:12:54] Ken discusses his dissatisfaction with the term “ketogenic diet” since the word diet implies the mandated consumption of certain food items. He goes on to say that if one is in ketosis, then, by definition, they are doing a ketogenic diet, even though they may be in ketosis because they have been fasting and haven’t eaten anything.  Ken and Dom discuss how knowledge about ketogenic nutrition has changed over time and that it is certainly possible to eat an unhealthy ketogenic diet. [00:15:35] Dom and Ken talk about the results of a recent Megan Roberts paper, “A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice,”that showed a 13% increase in the lifespan of the mice along with remarkably improved healthspan. [00:20:26] Dom shares his thoughts on the potential of exogenous ketones in the context of blood glucose regulation. [00:27:07] Ken asks if Dom has been tracking Virta Health, which was founded by Dr. Jeff Volek who was interviewed in STEM-Talk episode 43. Virta Health has been publishing impressive results of its trials that show  people reversing type-2 diabetes via a well-formulated ketogenic diet. [00:29:13] Ken adds that the reported numbers from Virta show 60% to 70% of their patients going off their insulin medication or greatly reducing their insulin levels. [00:30:55] Dawn asks about Dom’s experience going underwater for 10 days in participation of a NASA NEEMO mission. She asks him to talk about his personal experience as well as his background in hyperbaric physiology. [00:32:08] Dom discusses his group’s work replicating the experimental design of his original oxygen toxicity work in aged and obese rats. [00:33:35] Dawn briefly describes what oxygen toxicity is, and asks Dom about the first human studies, on which he is serving as a consultant, that are being conducted at Duke University to assess the effect of nutritional ketosis on oxygen toxicity and seizure risk. She points out that the studies that are being run by Dr. Bruce Derrick. [00:36:36] Dom discusses brain energy metabolism, and cerebral metabolism, in the context of ketone bodies. [00:39:23] Dom talks about his group’s research into kabuki syndrome, an epigenetic disorder that causes altered growth and cognitive dysfunction in children. [00:42:02] Dom elaborates on the difference between ketone esters and ketone salts. [00:44:00] Ken asks if there’s any evidence that people experience medical issues as a result of ketone esters or salts. [00:48:02] Dawn asks about the transition into ketosis for women, which appears to be more difficult than it is for men, and whether the use of exogenous ketones would be a good option for women. [00:49:43] Dawn asks if there are any more resources that have been generated on a vegetarian ketogenic diet, since the last time she and Dom discussed it on STEM-Talk. [00:50:41] Ken asks about the differences between a ketone tolerance test and a glucose tolerance test. [00:53:36] Ken discusses how some research suggests that anaerobic athletes such as wrestlers, boxers, and MMA fighters will experience a dip in performance on a ketogenic diet. He asks what the state of research is on this topic, and how such athletes can modify their fueling to obtain the benefits of the ketogenic diet (such as brain protection) while maximizing their performance. [00:56:57] Dom discusses the ketogenic diet in relation to the gut microbiome, and the resolving of long-term GI issues for people who go on the ketogenic diet, as well as the study coming from the Sonnenberg lab at Stanford. [00:59:58] Dom talks about his group’s exploration of an ecological idea of cancer treatment based on the ecological concept of animal extinction. [01:02:37] Dom talks about his collaborative paper, written with his Ph.D. student, Andrew Koutnik, and Brendan Egan, titled, “Anti-catabolic Effects of Ketone Bodies in Skeletal Muscle.” [01:05:11] Dawn asks about Dom’s research on cancer cachexia, and what spurred his interest in this topic. [01:07:05] Dawn asks what targets people should shoot for on a ketogenic diet with regards to their electrolytes, and to describe the signs and symptoms of inadequate electrolytes. [01:09:31] Ken asks what experiences stick out to Dom, as he reflects on the last 10 years of his scientific journey. [01:12:11] Dawn asks about Dom and his wife’s new dog and their farm. [01:14:15] Ken asks about Dom’s fitness routine now that he no longer goes to a gym. [01:16:05] Dawn ends the interview asking if Dom recommends farming and gardening as a way to stay in shape. Links: Anticatabolic Effects of Ketone Bodies in Skeletal Muscle Dom’s website Dom’s USF website Dom’s IHMC bio Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 22mins

23 Apr 2019

Rank #11

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Episode 43: Jeff Volek explains the power of ketogenic diets to reverse type 2 diabetes

Today’s episode features an important interview with Dr. Jeff Volek, a researcher who has spent the past 20 years studying how humans adapt to carbohydrate-restricted diets.  His most recent work, which is one of the key topics of today’s interview, has focused on the science of ketones and ketogenic diets and their use as a therapeutic tool to manage insulin resistance. In 2014, Volek became a founder and the chief science officer of Virta Health, an online specialty medical clinic dedicated to reversing diabetes, a chronic disease that has become a worldwide epidemic. The company’s ambitious goal is to reverse type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025. Earlier this year, The JMIR Diabetes Journal published a study coordinated by Volek and Virta that showed people with type 2 diabetes can be taught to sustain adequate carbohydrate restriction to achieve nutritional ketosis, thereby improving glycemic control, decreasing medication use, and allowing clinically relevant weight loss. These improvements happened after just 10 weeks on the program that Virta designed for people. In addition to his role at Virta, Volek is a registered dietitian and full professor in the department of human sciences at Ohio State University. He is a co-author of “The New Atkins for a New You,” which came out 2010 and spent 16 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. The book is an updated, easier-to-use version of Dr. Robert Atkins’ original 1972 book, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.” Volek has co-authored four other books, including “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.” Both books are co-authored with and delve somewhat deeper than “The New Atkins” did into the science and application of low-carb diets. Volek received his bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University in 1991. He went on to earn a master’s in exercise physiology and a PhD in kinesiology and nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. He has given more than 200 lectures about his research at scientific and industry conferences in a dozen countries. In addition to his five books, he also has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Although numerous studies have confirmed the validity and safety of low-carb and ketogenic diets, Volek and others who support carbohydrate restriction are often criticized for being so one-sided that their work comes across as more advocacy than science. But in “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living,” Volek writes: “What is the proper response when three decades of debate about carbohydrate restriction have been largely one-sided and driven more by cultural bias than science? Someone needs to stand up and represent the alternate view and science.” As Volek explains in episode 42 of STEM-Talk, this has become his mission. Links: “New Atkins for a New You” — http://amzn.to/2uOjLkF “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living”– http://amzn.to/2hh1W9k “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance” — http://amzn.to/2f2oPMV New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/well/live/tackling-weight-loss-and-diabetes-with-video-chats.html?_r=0 JMIR DIABETES paper: http://assets.virtahealth.com/docs/Virta_Clinic_10-week_outcomes.pdf https://www.virtahealth.com Show notes: 3:016: Ken and Dawn welcome Jeff to the show. 3:32: Dawn asks Jeff when and how he first became interested in science. 5:24: When Jeff was studying to be a dietitian, he was looking at a low-fat, high-carb diet. But when he began to work with diabetics, something did not seem right. Dawn asks Jeff if that is what led him to begin studying low-carb diets. 6:39: Ken comments on how diabetes is perhaps the greatest healthcare challenge we face as a society, which drives costs to more than $300 billion a year. 7:59: Dawn asks Jeff about the effectiveness of traditional treatment and management approaches for people with diabetes. 8:27: Dawn asks Jeff to talk about Virta Health, a company Jeff helped found, and a recent paper and JMIR Diabetes Journal. The paper reported on the results of a study that looked at whether sustained carbohydrate restriction and nutritional ketosis could be part of a comprehensive intervention that would allow people with type 2 diabetes to improve their health. 11.54: Dawn asks Jeff why this approach would work at the cellular level, whether it is the reduction in glucose alone or if the ketone bodies are playing a role. 14:13: Ken asks Jeff why he thinks some patients respond so remarkably and others not as much. 16:27: Dawn discusses how Virta’s mission is to reverse diabetes for 100 million people by 2025. She asks Jeff if this is a realistic number or a stretch goal. 18:28: Ken asks Jeff to briefly talk about the business model of this process and how he sees it shaking out. 20:09: Dawn asks Jeff how he and Sami Inkinen, founder of Trulia and another co-founder of Virta, crossed paths. 22:00: Dawn asks Jeff what his thoughts are on the possible epigenetic effects of the ketogenic diet, with respect to general health and wellness. 25:46: Dawn talks about an athletic friend of hers with Crohn’s disease and how she had positive health outcomes from following a ketogenic diet. She then asks Jeff if anyone has seen improvements to conditions like Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis when considering the inflammatory nature of these diseases processes. 27:54: STEMTALK BLURB 28:23: Dawn comments on how she has been a vegetarian for more than 20 years, and how it is difficult to be on a ketogenic diet with no meat as a fat source. She then discusses how “The New Atkins for a New You,” has a chapter devoted to a low-carb diet for vegetarians and asks Jeff if he has any tips to share for vegetarians or vegans. 29:59: Ken discusses a conversation he had with a woman about the difficulty of a ketogenic diet for someone who is fat-phobic. She has the idea that if she eats fat it will soon be on her. Ken then asks Jeff if this “fat fear” is something that he finds in working with patients. 32:30: Ken comments on how Rob Wolff reports that lipidologists are quite wary of the LDL-P, the particle numbers that they see in some people trying the ketogenic diet. As a result, these people have to increase their carb intake. Ken then asks Jeff what his thoughts on this are. 35:33: Ken discusses how LDL-P is more strongly correlated with heart disease than LDL cholesterol in the literature. 41:02: Dawn asks Jeff if he thinks that someone on a ketogenic diet would need a different amount of fiber per day compared to what has been recommended by the Institute of Medicine. 41:44: Dawn discusses how for decades recreational and competitive athletes have religiously consumed a diet rich in carbohydrates to fuel their performance, and the conventional wisdom has been to avoid fatty foods. However, in recent years these beliefs have been questioned. Dawn asks Jeff to give an overview of this trend. 44:58: Dawn asks Jeff to expand on why he thinks there was no difference in muscle glycogen between the two groups. 47:56: Dawn discusses a recent paper published in The Journal of Physiology where Louise Burke looked at elite race walkers while on the ketogenic diet. The team found that this diet impaired performance in elite endurance athletes “despite a significant improvement in peak aerobic capacity.” Her primary point was that race walkers showed increased oxygen demand for a given speed. Dawn then asks Jeff to share his thoughts on this paper. 49:40: Ken asks Jeff to briefly explain the role of PDH, and whether Jeff looked at this enzyme in his studies on athletes who were keto-adapted. 51:40: Ken discusses how in contrast to endurance sports, some more power-oriented athletes have reported that when on a ketogenic diet they experience low energy levels during the most demanding moments in the sport, but others do not experience this at all. Ken asks Jeff if he has any thoughts on power athletes on a ketogenic diet. 56:29: Dawn discusses how Jeff has spent a good amount of time studying keto-adapted elite ultra-runners, such as the western states 100 record holder, Tim Olson. Dawn asks Jeff what he learned at this event with regards to a low-carb endurance athlete, and how this informs recommendations he would make to athletes when they are fueling for a competition of this kind. 59:07 Dawn asks Jeff if he sees more athletes shifting towards a low-carb diet. 1:00:37: Ken discusses the use of exogenous ketone esters in the Tour de France races. He then asks Jeff for his opinion on this and to briefly address the confusion on this topic 1:04:01: Ken comments on how Jeff wrapped up the confusion nicely. 1:05:14: Ken and Dawn thank Jeff for joining them.

1hr 7mins

1 Aug 2017

Rank #12

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Episode 100: Peter Attia gives an update on his views regarding longevity and health span

Today’s episode marks the 100th episode of STEM-Talk and the return of guest Peter Attia, who Ken and Dawn interviewed for episode one of STEM-Talk back in 2016. Peter is the founder of Attia Medical, a medical practice with offices in San Diego and New York City that focuses on the applied science of longevity. Peter emphasizes nutritional biochemistry, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, lipidology, pharmacology and four-system endocrinology to help people increase their lifespan and health span. Peter is the host of the podcast The Drive. He earned his M.D. from Stanford University and holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics. Show notes: [00:04:44] Dawn opens the interview welcoming Peter back to the show. Dawn mentions that a lot has happened since she and Ken last interviewed Peter and points out that Peter is in the process of writing a book. [00:05:51] Ken asks Peter if it’s true that he does his best writing on long flights. [00:06:21] Dawn mentions that in 2014 Peter created Attia Medical, which is a practice with offices in San Diego and New York City, where he focuses on the applied science of longevity and optimal performance. Peter gives an overview of his practice and how he works to improve people’s healthspan and lifespan. [00:07:29] Ken asks Peter to explain the difference between a strategy and a tactic in the domain of optimization of performance and healthspan. [00:10:35] Dawn mentions that back on episode one of STEM-Talk that Peter talked about his eight drivers of longevity. Dawn asks Peter if his thinking over the past three years has changed in terms of the eight drivers. [00:12:30] Dawn asks what are some of the best lab tests in terms of longevity that people should request from their primary care physician. [00:14:25] Ken asks how Peter goes about determining optimal reference ranges to target in his patients, noting that the guidelines constituting normal are based on a sick overall population. [00:17:26] Dawn talks about how every year a new secret to longevity comes out with the force of hype behind it, but that rarely does the new so-called secret deliver. In contrast, she mentions how Peter encourages people to keep things simple and focus on nutrition, exercise and sleep. Peter explains how these three things can have the biggest impact on a person’s physical health. [00:19:35] Dawn explains that optimizing health span can be expensive, often costing upwards of $100,000 a year in tests and devices and off-label medications. She asks if Peter has any thoughts on if there is becoming a class divide in the world of healthspan and lifespan. [00:21:10] Ken explains that a primary inhibitor of BDNF is HDAC, and BHB is a powerful inhibitor of HDAC, which leads one to think that one of the mechanisms of exercise to increase BDNF is the elevation of BHB. [00:22:21] Ken mentions that the area under the curve for insulin is one of Peter’s favorite longevity markers, and asks him to talk about the concept of insulin area under the curve.  In addition to blood tests and glucose monitoring, Ken asks Peter what would be the next item of greatest interest in terms of longevity markers. [00:24:28] Dawn mentions that Peter wears an Oura Ring to monitor his sleep, and a glucose monitor to measure his blood sugar in real time. Dawn asks Peter to talk about the benefits of continuous monitoring versus short-term use for the purpose of building future behavior. [00:25:54] Dawn asks if Peter uses any other wearables besides the ones she just mentioned. [00:27:45] Dawn points out that Peter traveled to Easter Island with some friends, including David Sabatini, a guest on episode 70 of STEM-Talk. Dawn asks Peter to talk about the trip which was set up to explore first-hand the place where a group of Canadian researchers first discovered rapamycin. [00:29:13] Ken mentions that Peter is on record saying, “For me personally nothing is more interesting than rapamycin.” Peter explains what he has been learning about rapamycin and why it is so fascinating. [00:31:49] Ken says that in one of Peter’s podcasts, Peter mentioned he had been taking 5 mg of rapamycin. Ken asks what it was that informed that choice. Ken also asks Peter how he has been tracking rapamycin’s effects, and if he has any thoughts for listeners considering rapamycin. [00:33:38] Dawn asks if we are any closer to being able to accurately measure biological signals, such as mTOR activity and autophagy, than we were three years ago. [00:36:28] Peter explains his thoughts on muscle loss and fasting, and the amino acids that are important in muscles affected during a fast. [00:38:44] Ken mentions that there are a lot of misconceptions about protein consumption, particularly in the context of ketogenic diets. He mentions Valter Longo’s opinion that a diet high in protein is as bad as smoking. Peter explains his thoughts on the role of protein in health and performance. [00:41:05] Ken makes the point that the strongest viewpoints in science that have the most passion and anger behind them are often the ones with the largest error bars. [00:41:35] Dawn mentions the importance of IGF-1 and its related molecules on metabolism. She asks about the paradox when it comes to IGF-1 in terms of performance and longevity. [00:43:39] Ken mentions that the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that made the point that eating red meat poses minimal health risks. Peter gives his thoughts on this. [00:48:39] Ken states that in addition to rapamycin and fasting, he and Peter share an interest in sauna, a practice with growing evidence for its benefits. Ken asks Peter’s opinion on the difference between infrared and traditional sauna. [00:50:03] Dawn mentions that in 2016 the Dong et al paper in Nature suggested that the limit of human longevity has been reached, and that Barbi et all published a paper in Science in 2018 that said that the mortality curve for humans flattens out once the age of 105 is reached. Peter shares his thoughts on just how long humans can live. [00:53:29] Ken mentions that a recent study from the Miller Lab suggested that metformin might inhibit mitochondrial adaptation in older adults, and that an even more recent paper out of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama reported that metformin significantly blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance training. Peter gives his thoughts on this and why he stopped taking metformin. [00:55:36] Peter shares his concerns about generic metformin, as well as his recent interview with Katherine Eban about the fraud in the generic drug industry. [00:57:15] Ken mentions that Peter is a proponent of fasting, and is involved with the Zero app. Ken asks if the benefits of fasting can be thought of in relationship to ApoB levels. [00:59:18] Ken asks Peter to describe what he sees as the most interesting question he doesn’t yet have an answer to, but believes is eventually possible to know. [01:00:28] Dawn ends the interview by asking Peter if there is one thing that he did not believe three years ago that he now thinks is likely to be true. Links: Peter Attia bio Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 3mins

17 Dec 2019

Rank #13

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Episode 54: Brianna Stubbs talks about ketone esters and their application in sport

Late in 2017, a San Francisco startup company brought one of the commercial ketone esters to market. Today’s episode features an interview with a scientist and world-class athlete who has spent the past year helping develop and rollout HVMN Ketone, an FDA-approved drink that promises increased athletic ability as well as heightened focus and energy. Dr. Brianna Stubbs earned her PhD in biochemical physiology from Oxford University in 2016 where she researched the effects of ketone drinks on elite athletes. During Brianna’s collegiate athletic career, she won two gold medals while representing Great Britain at the World Rowing Championships. She first made international news when as a 12-year-old she became the youngest person ever to row across the British Channel. Brianna graduated from Oxford’s Pembroke College with a BA in preclinical sciences with the idea of becoming an MD.  But after spending a year working as a research assistant helping to investigate the effect of exogenous ketones on human performance, she decided instead to pursue her doctorate in biochemical physiology and investigate how ketone compounds might be applied in a sporting and healthcare setting in the future. While at Oxford, she worked alongside Dr. Kieran Clarke to develop a novel ketone monoester that has been shown to improve exercise performance in endurance athletes. She also was a member of the Great Britain Rowing Team and in 2016 become the World Champion in the lightweight guadruple sculls. Brianna’s time at Oxford gave her a unique opportunity to combine her scientific interest in sports physiology and metabolism while also competing at an international level. Brianna moved to the United States in June of 2017 to work at HVMN and help bring the company’s ketone ester to market. Links: HVMN website: https://hvmn.com/ketone Mark Mattson STEM-Talk: http://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode007/ Wikipedia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNhuJ4JiK40 Mice and ketones cognition: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102124/#!po=10.1064 Owen and Cahill: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6061736 Oxford ketone study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27475046 Glycogen re-synthesi and ketones: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28398950 Ketones, glycogen and mTOR: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440563/ Caryn Zinn: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506682/ Ketone esters vs ketone salts: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670148/ Acetoacetate paper:            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.00806/full HVMN online fasting community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/136348456816447/ Show notes: 3:52: Ken and Dawn welcome Brianna to the show. 4:07: Dawn congratulates Brianna on bringing one of the first ketone esters to the commercial market, and asks Brianna to provide some background that led to the ketone ester launch. 5:31: Ken comments that the HBMN ester has been approved by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. He then asks her to expand on what this means in terms of human use and to expand on the value of the GRAS status. 6:31: Dawn asks Brianna what sparked her interest in science. 7:18: Ken comments that he heard Brianna was seven years old when she ran her first race, and that she ran so hard, she made herself sick. He asks if this is true. 8:16: Ken says that Brianna’s father was the one who got her interested in rowing, and when she was six years old, he signed her up for the first rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean. Ken asks if it’s true that he had never rowed before. 10:21: Dawn comments that Brianna used to run and row with her father as he trained for these races, and then when she was 12 years old she rowed across the English Channel, becoming the youngest person to ever do so. Dawn asks how this came about. 11:59: Dawn asks what Brianna’s mother was doing while she and her father were off rowing across the English Channel. 12:41: Dawn says that Brianna won her first international rowing event when she was 16, and then at 18 she won a silver medal at the junior world championships. She then asks Brianna’s to describe her training schedule as a teenager. 13:44: Ken asks Brianna what it feels like to be the best in the world at something after winning a gold medal in rowing at the 2013 and 2016 world championships. 16:32: Ken says that as a rower, Brianna mainly competed as a lightweight. He then asks what this meant in terms of preparing for competition from both a nutritional and training standpoint. 18:18: Dawn comments that the problems associated with excess training stress and inappropriate energy balance in female athletes were previously called the female athlete triad, but it has now been renamed relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). She then asks if Brianna experienced any physiological issues associated with competing as a lightweight athlete and if she saw this in any of her male colleagues. 20:35: Dawn asks Brianna if she has any thoughts on how coaches, nutritionists, and sports scientists could better support their athletes to prevent these issues. 22:39: Ken says that it was during this time, when Brianna was at Oxford, that there was a study being done on the effects of ketone esters on rowers. He then asks how Brianna became directly involved in the study. 23:51: Dawn asks why Brianna chose to postpone her medical school training to devote more time to researching ketones. 25:04: Dawn says that she understands that the CEO and a team from HVMN visited Oxford and that Brianna sort of invited herself to dinner and convinced them that they needed to hire her to roll out the ketone ester. She then asks if that is how Brianna ended up in San Francisco. 26:52: Dawn asks what Brianna’s first year in the states has been like. 27:40: Dawn says that a bottle of the ketone ester provides 25 grams of beta-hydroxybutyrate, one of the ketone bodies that the body naturally produces during a fast or period of starvation. She then asks Brianna what happens after someone consumes a bottle. 29:32: Ken asks Brianna if she has given any thought to possible consequences of supplementing with only beta-hydroxybutyrate. He then says that it has occurred to him that there might be a reason why the liver produces roughly equal amounts of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. 31:34: Ken says that looking back on the Cahill study, he can’t imagine proposing a study like that to an IRB now. 32:01: Dawn comments that the work Brianna was doing with Dr. Clark suggests that drinking ketones alongside a high-carb meal deliver a powerful performance boost. She then asks Brianna if the carbs are necessary to get the full performance boost of the supplement. 32:56: Ken says that state, where there is high carbohydrate availability and high ketones, does not seem like something that would naturally occur and asks if Brianna has any thoughts on this. 33:47: Ken says that you can imagine sparing the glycogen stores for when you really need them would be a great advantage in many sports, as most sports are both aerobic and anaerobic. 34:18: Dawn asks if ketone esters are best utilized as a training aid, as opposed to being acutely administered before an event. 36:03: Ken says that there is evidence that the HVMN ketone ester improves athletic performance. He then asks Brianna about its effects on cognitive performance. 37:10: Dawn asks Brianna to talk about some of the animal studies that are being conducted on ketone esters and their impact on physical and cognitive performance. 38:37: Dawn asks Brianna to explain the difference between ketone salts and ketone esters, and to also give an overview of what the advantages and disadvantages are for each. 41:56: Ken asks how Brianna envisions people using the ketone esters as part of their nutrition plan for a multi-day race. 42:55: Ken asks Brianna if there has been a study to look at the effects of chronic ketone ester administration on performance. 44:27: Dawn asks Brianna to discuss the study in cell metabolism that was published last year that looked at ketone metabolism in elite athletes. 47:15: Dawn asks how Brianna blinded people to which was the ester and which was not during these studies, since the ester tastes bitter. 48:57: Ken asks if it would be feasible to put the agents into capsules to avert the possible confounding effects of distinguishing the rather unique taste. 49:55:  Brianna believes there are important factors in running a successful and accurate sports science study. 53:00: Brianna discusses where ketones fit in the hierarchy of fuel selection during exercise. 55:53: Ken says that the terminology, ketone and ketone esters, are not synonymous, and asks Brianna to give an overview. 57:06: STEMTALK BLURB 57:31: Dawn asks Brianna if administration of ketone esters in the context of moderate carb intake overcomes the alleged problem of reduced PDH activity associated with ketogenic diets. She then asks Brianna if she has measured PDH activity. 58:06: Ken asks Brianna if you could, by use of the ester for an athlete that was in ketosis, have the best of both worlds. 1:00:07: Dawn says that ketone supplementation has a lot of potential to improve the performance of elite athletes. She then asks Brianna if weekend warriors or average recreational athletes can benefit from ketone supplementation. 1:01:21: Ken discusses a study recently conducted in Australia which reported that an acetoacetate diester slightly decreased performance in elite cyclists. 1:04:16: Ken comments that the authors’ speculated that the observed performance decrement was the result of elevated acetoacetate levels, which he noted, does not make sense.  He also noted that all of the study participants experienced GI distress which could easily have accounted for the performance decrement. 1:06:29: Dawn asks Brianna if she thinks this study will further confuse the topic of ketone supplementation. 1:07:37: Ken says that science and religion are two different things, and that particularly in nutrition science and topics related to nutrition, it is an emotional hot button, and people get all spun up about it. 1:08:54: Ken discusses again how many sports are a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic work. He then asks Brianna how athletes will use exogenous ketones in sports with varying degrees of intensity. 1:12:39: Ken comments that it is where the ketogenic diet will have the largest effect for the aging population, both in terms of general wellness and signaling effects, with respect to avoidance of sarcopenia. 1:12:51: Brianna talks about how athletes who are already on a ketogenic diet will use ketone esters. 1:13:47: Ken discusses the increase in BDNF after exercise and a study by Sleiman et al. that showed that HDACs inhibit the production of BDNF. Also, that beta-hydroxybutyrate inhibits HDACS, which would likely increase the production of BDNF. He then asks Brianna if she has any thoughts on whether exogenous ketone ester, such as the HVMN product, might also elevate BDNF. 1:16:00: Ken says that we know that the endogenous ketones have powerful signaling functions, but one of the most fascinating questions is about which of those the ketone ester will provide equivalent or better. 1:17:50: Ken says that it is possible to have high ketone elevations with the ketogenic diet, but it makes it difficult for the people doing the study. 1:22:41: Dawn says that it was noted in a recent paper from a group at UC Davis that ketones, and specifically beta-hydroxybutyrate, potentiated mTOR-1 signaling in skeletal muscle. She then asks Brianna if there is reason to believe this occurs in other tissues or organs of the body, where a potentiating mTOR might not be welcome. 1:23:20: Ken says that they found that it was tissue specific, so the level in the liver was not elevated in that study. 1:24:55: Brianna talks about the public’s response to the launch of the HVMN ketone ester, and gives a rundown of common questions people have been asking. 1:27:51: Brianna shares what her diet is like now that she has retired from competitive rowing. 1:30:42: Ken comments that Mark Mattson discussed intermittent fasting on STEM-Talk on an earlier episode. 1:31:13: Dawn comments that it seems as though most researchers also have a social media presence today, allowing people to collaborate more. She then asks Brianna if she is active on social media. 1:34:02: Ken and Dawn thank Brianna for the interview.

1hr 35mins

2 Jan 2018

Rank #14

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Episode 11: Kirk Parsley discusses why good sleep is more important than nutrition and exercise

If we could only sell people on the importance of sleep as successfully as we sell them on the pleasures of sex, we’d have a much healthier—and happier bunch. This is one of sleep expert Kirk Parsley’s messages. Parsley calls sleep “the greatest elixir,” and places its importance above that of both exercise and nutrition. Yet, this simple physiological need is hard to satisfy in a society that glorifies business and overworking—and loves its electronics, which don’t exactly prepare the body for sleep. Parsley discusses these and other issues with STEM-Talk host Dawn Kernagis. He talks about how his background as a Navy SEAL led him to a career in medicine, focused on sleep. He also explains why sleep is important—and how you can get more of it. Parsley served as the Naval Special Warfare’s expert on sleep medicine, and has been a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine since 2006. He is also the inventor of the Sleep Cocktail, a supplement designed for the sleep optimization of Navy SEALs: http://www.sleepcocktails.com A much sought-after sleep expert, this podcast marks Parsley’s 100th podcast interview. You can find more information on him at his web site: www.docparsley.com. You can find his TED talk at http://tinyurl.com/pw9h7qz 4:10: Dawn welcomes Kirk. 5:00: Kirk joined the Navy SEALs after high school and stayed for nearly seven years. “I quickly realized that was a young, single man’s job, and I was becoming neither.” 6:09: Kirk volunteered at the San Diego Sports Medicine Center to qualify for physical therapy school, but found the field too limited, so he shadowed doctors and decided to pursue medicine. 7:00: He attended the military’s medical school. “They were going to pay me to go to medical school instead of the other way around…” 9:58: The SEALs came to him for medical advice. “The most palatable way for me to talk about it in the military was through sleep. They didn’t really want me talking about testosterone. Adrenal fatigue is sort of a pseudo-scientific term. So inadvertently I became a sleep guy.” 10:40: “I don’t think there’s any area of your life that isn’t significantly impacted by sleep. Good quality sleep is probably the most important elixir there is.” He places it above both nutrition and exercise. 11:35: Sleep is a hard sell, with the advent of factory jobs and the idea that time is money. 13:55: “My message is the more you sleep, the more work you get done.” 14:58: “The big problem with sleep is …. Once you fall asleep until you wake up, you don’t really have any objective experience of that.” 15:50: Polysomnographs reveal that some people wake up 300 times a night, but say they slept fine. 16:13: You don’t need the same amount of sleep every day. Seven and a half hours is the average amount of sleep we aim for to enhance the immune system. 17:05: Kirk compares proper sleep to taking your daily vitamin. “You can’t really tell the true benefits of proper sleep until you’ve done it for a month or so.” 17:40: Wearable tech gadgets such as Fitbit and Jawbone measure how much you move during sleep and equate that with sleep quantity. “The truth is you could stare at your ceiling, never move, and never sleep, and it would say you got this awesome night of sleep.” 19:00: Some devices also measure heart rate variability; others, placed under your pillow or on your nightstand, record your respiratory rate. Some iPhone apps capture snoring. 19:40: Polysomnographs are the gold standard for determining how much somebody sleeps. 20:00: Everyone has a different sleep metric: mood, athletic performance, project completion rate/satisfaction. 21:12: Sleep deprivation leads to anxiety, which is already a big problem for entrepreneurs and other professionals. 21:20: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience. 22:55: Stage 1 sleep is the decision to get in bed and try to start falling asleep. 23:19: Stage 2 is “pre-sleep”: when you are not quite asleep, but somewhat aware of your environment. 24:10: Stage 3 and 4 sleep is deep sleep. Delta and Theta brainwaves occur. Predominantly the first four hours are deep sleep; the last four hours are REM (rapid eye movement). 24:53: What happens during deep sleep is the opposite of fight or flight. The immune system is at its highest function; you are secreting maximal growth hormones/testosterone. It is the only time the body is repairing itself. 26:00: Some medications and alcohol interfere with deep sleep. 26:55: During REM, you experience the most most vivid dreaming; emotional categorization. 27:20: People who sleep adequately say they dream a lot because they have gotten lots of REM. 28:00: If you wake up during deep sleep, you’re going to feel bad. The adrenals have to ramp up. 29:25: Kirk discusses iPhone apps that measure sleep cycles. 31:00: During sleep, neurotransmitter changes occur in the brain, and a cleansing of the glymphatic system. 32:32: When we are tense, there is a build-up of adenosine; that’s why when we’ve had a hard day, we feel like sleeping. Sleep pressure is driven by adenosine. 33:34: People with intense schedules fall asleep easily because of a lot of sleep pressure: a lot of adrenal hormones are circulating throughout body. As soon as they flush out all of the neurotoxins/adenosine, the adrenal function wakes them up. They often say, “I fall asleep in 30 seconds” as well as, “I sleep for two hours, and I’m wide awake.” 35:24: We are the only animal that sleep deprives ourselves on purpose. The only time other animals don’t sleep is if they are being stalked by a predator or the brain senses famine. 36:42: Chronic sleep deprivation compromises our pre-frontal cortex-executive functioning, which means: our ability to make decisions and solve problems; our reaction time and attention span. 38:00: When the body is sleep-deprived, it is less anabolic; is has to secrete stress hormones to get through the day; that’s why people use stimulants. 39:17: Sleep adaptation studies show that the average person living in the Western industrialized lifestyle settles down at needing 7.5 hours of sleep. 43:05: A genetic variant allows some people to sleep less and not suffer sleep deprivation as badly as the average person. 45:00: “If you were about to have surgery, and while you were reading consent forms, the surgeon has a shot of whiskey, no one would be comfortable with that. If that guys takes a shot every two hours, he’s performing like someone who has been up for 18 hours in a row; and we accept that all the time.” 45:44: We put pilots in air who have been sleep deprived for four nights—especially transcontinental pilots. 49:28: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience. 50:15: Sleep drugs go after the GABA analogues. 52:45: Sleep drugs on average shorten the time it takes to get to sleep by 15 minutes, and lengthen it by 30 minutes; but they fundamentally damage sleep architecture and damage REM sleep by 80 percent. 53:13: Over the counter drugs such as Benadryl block histamines. 53:34: Alcohol affects stages 3 and 4 sleep and REM. 54:32: Sleep drugs are helpful to get back on track if you are jet lagged or confronted with an emotional trauma. But 69 percent of people taking sleep drugs take them every night. 58:28: Kirk encourages engaging in sleep rituals with the same regularity as you might stick to a workout schedule. 1:00:24: Improve your sleep by decreasing stimulation to the brain an hour before bed by doing yoga, meditation, reading. 1:04:20: Melatonin is major hormone involved with sleep. Most people take way too much, decreasing their brain’s sensitivity to melatonin. From the time the sun goes down, your brain will only produce between 3 and 6 micrograms of melatonin. 1:08:18: Kirks discusses the link between sleep deprivation and depression. 1:09:00: Kirk discusses his sleep supplement. It can cross blood brain barrier. It’s low-dose, for sleep initiation. It’s meant to compensate for whatever is sub-optimal about sleep habits. 1:11:19: Mentions web site: www.docparsley.com where you can see other podcasts, read blogs, find more information. Web site is being re-launched: Will have new blog. 1:12:15: His sleep drug, sleep cocktail, will be renamed because a lot of people think it’s an alcoholic drink. 1:13:43: Dawn thanks Kirk. 1:14:09: STEM-Talk’s “double secret selection committee” may invite Kirk back for a second interview as there is much more to discuss. 1:14:23: Dawn and Ken mention that Dr. Parsley will be visiting IHMC and giving a public lecture in the Evening Lecture Series. 1:14:29: Dawn and Ken thank the audience for terrific support during the launch of STEM-Talk and mention that STEM-Talk was immediately featured in iTunes’ New and Noteworthy category and was actually in the top position at one point.  It has pretty consistently been #1 in both the Science & Medicine and Natural Sciences categories. 1:15:02: Dawn invites the audience to visit the the STEM-Talk webpage where one can find the show notes for this episode and all others. 1:15:10: Dawn and Ken sign off.

1hr 15mins

10 May 2016

Rank #15

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Episode 107: Francisco Gonzalez-Lima discusses methylene blue and near-infrared light as therapies for cognitive disorders

Today we have part two of our interview with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, a behavioral neuroscientist at The University of Texas at Austin. Francisco and his colleagues at the Gonzalez-Lima Lab are recognized as world leaders for their research on the relationship between brain energy metabolism, memory and neurobehavioral disorders. Today’s interview focuses on two interventions Francisco has explored with the aim of protecting people against neurodegeneration: low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light. Part one of our interview, episode 106, touched on Francisco’s youth and training as well as his early research into Alzheimer’s disease and brain-metabolic mapping. Over the years, much of Francisco’s brain research has focused on transcranial lasers, memory enhancement, neuroprotection, neurocognitive disorders. Current research in the Gonzalez-Lima Lab focuses on the beneficial neurocognitive and emotional effects of noninvasive human brain stimulation in healthy, aging and mentally ill populations. This research primarily uses transcranial infrared laser stimulation and multimodal imaging. Show notes: Today we have part two of our interview with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, a behavioral neuroscientist at The University of Texas at Austin. Francisco and his colleagues at the Gonzalez-Lima Lab are recognized as world leaders for their research on the relationship between brain energy metabolism, memory and neurobehavioral disorders. Today’s interview focuses on two interventions Francisco has explored with the aim of protecting people against neurodegeneration: low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light. Part one of our interview, episode 106, touched on Francisco’s youth and training as well as his early research into Alzheimer’s disease and brain-metabolic mapping. Over the years, much of Francisco’s brain research has focused on transcranial lasers, memory enhancement, neuroprotection, neurocognitive disorders. Current research in the Gonzalez-Lima Lab focuses on the beneficial neurocognitive and emotional effects of noninvasive human brain stimulation in healthy, aging and mentally ill populations. This research primarily uses transcranial infrared laser stimulation and multimodal imaging. [00:04:15] Ken begins part two of our interview mentioning he would like to talk about low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light. Ken explains that Both of these interventions act by a similar cellular mechanism that targets mitochondrial respiration via the electron transport chain. Ken asks Francisco to describe for listeners what the electron transport chain is and why it is important to the function of the mitochondria. [00:08:22] Dawn asks what the clinical signs and symptoms of unhealthy mitochondrial function are, and what are markers of good mitochondrial health. [00:11:41] Francisco gives an overview of the drug methylene blue, and its mechanism of action. [00:15:02] Ken asks about the origin and history of methylene blue. [00:17:19] Dawn asks about the potential use of methylene blue as treatment for traumatic brain injury. [00:21:10] Ken asks how methylene blue might stimulate neurogenesis. [00:22:42] Dawn mentions that acute brain injury such as stroke and traumatic brain injury involves the upregulation of multiple stress-related responses, she asks how the addition of a hermetic stressor such as methylene blue alters this process. She goes on to ask if there would be an optimal window of time to administer this drug relative to the injury for optimal recovery of function. [00:23:48] Ken asks if methylene blue could be used by an individual before they engage in something that is likely to lead to brain damage, such as boxing, sports, or military operations. [00:26:32] Ken asks about the future of methylene blue in the treatment and prevention of neurodegeneration. [00:29:37] Ken asks if compounding pharmacies are producing oral forms of methylene blue. [00:32:17] Francisco addresses the issue of oral versus intravenous administration of methylene blue, and if there is an optimal mode of administration for brain targeted therapy. [00:36:15] Dawn asks about the potential use of methylene blue to protect against radiation poisoning. [00:38:32] Francisco explains how the beneficial effects of transcranial lasers were discovered. [00:42:11] Ken mentions that transcranial absorption of photon energy up-regulates cortical cytochrome oxidase and enhances oxidative phosphorylation. Low level near-infrared light improves prefrontal cortex-related cognitive functions, such as sustained attention, extinction memory, working memory, and affective state.  Ken asks Francisco to talk about the use of near infrared light as a targeted treatment for cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders. [00:45:37] Dawn mentions that Francisco’s work and that of others suggests that low-level laser therapy stimulates the production of mitochondrial matrix water, which is depleted in deuterium. Dawn asks if this deuterium depletion could result in enhanced genomic stability and epigenetic effects. [00:48:00] Ken asks about the use of methylene blue and ketone esters for performance in elite warfighters. [00:49:08] Dawn brings up the Neurotherapy Effectiveness and Safety Trial (NEST), a clinical trial which successfully used laser therapy to treat acute stroke patients. She goes on to mention that the phase III of the trial was suspended at the half-way point due to lack of significance. Francisco talks about these trials and why they didn’t end up being successful. [00:51:22] Ken asks Francisco how quickly transcranial laser therapy can alter mood or cognition. [00:51:47] Ken asks what Francisco’s thoughts are on whole-body low-level laser therapy, such as Erchonia’s system, for musculoskeletal pain or the NovoTHOR pod. [00:52:29] Ken asks how does one develop a dosing protocol for near-infrared light, and if overuse of commercially available low-level laser therapy units lead to side effects or unfavorable responses. [00:53:31] Dawn asks if there are nutritional, medicinal, or other strategies that could be synergistic with either near infrared light or methylene blue. [00:54:38] Dawn mentions that both methylene blue and various cranial laser therapy devices are available commercially online. She asks if these are comparable with what has been used for research and if these procedures are ready for at-home use by the general public. [00:56:14] Francisco closes the interview explaining why he describes himself as a survivor and someone who is a testament to the American dream. Links: Francisco Gonzalez-Lima bio Gonzalez-Lima Lab Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio


26 May 2020

Rank #16

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Episode 69: David LeMay talks about countering inflammation with SPMs

Dr. David LeMay is a sports medicine and rehabilitation physician who is a consultant for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, which won the Stanley Cup this year, their first in the franchise history. Dave is also a neighbor of ours in Pensacola who has a practice called Lifestyle and Performance Medicine that is located just a few blocks from IHMC. Dave and his practice partner provide personalized preventative care that helps people reduce the effects of stress on the body and mind to maximize function and health. In his practice, Dave works with a lot of athletes as well as retired and active military members, particularly people in special-ops, who have inflammation as a result of persistent injuries and traumas. Dave often recommends specialized pro-resolving mediators, also known as SPMs, which help promote the natural termination of the inflammation process and allow a person to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs. We will especially be talking with Dave about this rather new way of treatment in today’s interview. Some other topics we cover in Dave’s interview: Neuroendocrine dysfunction, especially among military veterans. The role of inflammation in concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Dave’s work with the NFL Players Association Trust. The role of specialized pro-resolving mediators in an aging population. The proper dosage of SPMs for subacute inflammation. Dave’s efforts to improve the diets of former NFL players. The key components of keeping athletes healthy through an entire season. The correlation between heath-rate variability and athletic performance. Proper sideline protocols for players who sustain head injuries. Optimal treatment for people who suffer TBI and concussions. Establishing baselines for a person’s neuroendocrine function. The role of DHA and EPA consumption for maintaining optimal brain health. And much, much more. Show notes: [00:04:18] Dave begins the interview talking about growing up in Reno, Nevada, and playing sports non-stop as a kid. [00:4:35] Dawn comments on how Dave’s love of sports lead to some injuries, including a few broken fingers and torn ligaments, and says she understands that this is how Dave first became interested in science. [00:05:31] Dawn asks Dave about his decision to head to California after high school to attend Azusa Pacific University. [00:06:37] Dawn asks what lead Dave back home to attend med school at the University of Reno. [00:07:13] Ken asks Dave at what point he decided to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. [00:08:33] Dawn mentions that the University of Texas Health Science Center has one of the best physical medicine and rehab programs in the country. She asks Dave if this was the reason he decided to go there for his residency. [00:09:21] Ken comments on how after Dave’s residency, he stayed in Austin for almost a year. But then Dave moved Pensacola and Ken asks how that came about. [00:11:04] Dawn asks about Dave’s private practice, called Lifestyle and Performance Medicine, which he and his partner opened in 2013 after their time at the Andrews Institute. [00:11:27] Ken points out that veterans, and some active-duty folks, particularly those with special operations backgrounds, comprise about half of Dave’s practice. Ken says he understands Dave has seen a great deal of neuroendocrine dysfunction in this group, and asks Dave for his observations. [00:12:56] Ken mentions that Dave is the medical director for a program that is run through the NFL Players Association Trust. He asks Dave to describe the type of rehab that this program provides the former NFL players. [00:14:54] Dawn comments on the concept of inflammation being a unifying component of many diseases that afflict Western Civilization, and how it is also a major contributor to the magnitude and persistence of different sports injuries and traumas. She asks Dave to talk about inflammation, and specifically its role in concussion and TBI, as well as give a brief overview of what inflammation is. [00:17:51] Dawn mentions how Dave has been looking at how targeting inflammation may serve as a therapeutic way to also treat fear- and anxiety-based disorders. [00:20:34] Ken asks if the process of EPA and DHA conversion into SPM’s through an enzymatic process diminishes in its efficiency as one ages. [00:21:18] Ken asks if Dave thinks there is a role for exogenous SPM’s for the aging population. [00:22:13] Ken asks if there is a particular SPM brand, or collection of brands, that Dave finds to be the most interesting or efficacious. [00:23:01] Ken asks what dosage would Dave suggest for subacute inflammation, and what would be proper for an acute inflammation stage. He goes on to ask about those people who experience a constant, mildly inflamed state. [00:24:52] Ken asks how Dave wound up working as a consultant for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, and the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, who won the Stanley cup this year. [00:26:35] Dawn mentions that Dave has been on the Performance Nutrition Advisory Board for EXOS for several years. She points out that one of the things Dave does when working with former NFL players is to walk them through ways to improve their diet. [00:28:19] Dawn asks what are the key components to keep athletes healthy, playing at a peak level throughout an entire season. [00:30:48] Ken asks if Dave ever looks at heart rate variability (HRV) as a way to measure the extent to which people are in a balanced state. [00:31:23] Ken mentions that the Ohio State wrestling team looked at HRV very closely, and that there has been found to be a direct correlation between the performance of the athletes and their HRV. He goes on to mention that in his own life, as well as with the wrestlers at Ohio State, the thing that seems to be the most effective in improving HRV is float tank experience. [00:32:55] Ken asks what the immediate and delayed symptoms of concussion and mild traumatic brain injury are that players experience, and what are the types of treatment that they typically go through? [00:35:15] Ken asks if, after an injury, coaches are still asking players on the sidelines questions like, “Who is the President?” [00:39:12] Ken mentions how he often wonders how much of the benefit of the float tank is from the transdermal magnesium. [00:40:01] Dawn asks if there are any efforts to track TBI in professional hockey, given that concussion is a concern in that sport with its high-speed pace and consequent impacts sustained by players during the game. [00:42:00] Dawn mentions how she appreciates Dave’s approach to TBI and concussion, which is to try to fix the issue from the inside out by getting at the core of the injury. She goes on to mention that Dave has discussed the need for individuals who have been diagnosed with TBI to see someone who practices something along the lines of integrated medicine to have a full system approach to their treatment. She inquires as to what an optimal care plan would look like for someone diagnosed with TBI [00:46:16] Ken mentions that in the Special Ops community, there is a lot of talk about establishing an individual baseline for each person’s neuroendocrine function since these men, prior to service, must have had robust levels of hormones such as testosterone, leading to their exceptional attributes and abilities. Thus the idea of determining their health by comparing their levels to what is considered “normal” for the general population doesn’t seem appropriate for this cohort group. [00:50:42] Dawn asks if Dave thinks that increasing DHA and EPA consumption would be beneficial for TBI patients. [00:52:06] Ken mentions how he once had the opportunity to suggest to a representative of the NFL that they should look at the APOE status for every player, and make the findings known to them. He went on to state that this suggestion was not warmly received. [00:55:13] Dawn comments on how there has been a potential link, suggested by the recent literature, between the uptake of DHA, an SPE precursor, and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia development. She goes on to mention a study done in 2017 that showed grey matter uptake in young adult APOE4 carriers is significantly higher than age-matched APOE4 non-carriers. APOE genotype has been shown to be a significant risk factor for development of Alzheimer’s.  The thought is that increased uptake may be related to increased regional brain activation and higher cognitive abilities observed in young adult APOE4 carriers. As these young adults age, the hypothesis is that this greater uptake of DHA, which yields cognitive benefits at a younger age, also increases susceptibility to greater brain DHA loss due to increased metabolic demands and ultimately brain exhaustion and memory failure with age. Based on these and other recent findings, it has been suggested that APOE4 carriers should increase DHA consumption in order to meet the greater metabolic demand for DHA in the brain, and other clinical trials have reported cognitive benefits from increasing DHA consumption in cognitively healthy APOE4 carriers. Dawns asks Dave for his thoughts on the role of DHA or EPA consumption for maintaining or optimizing brain health?   Or, she adds, would SPMs be more efficacious? [01:01:30] Dawn asks Dave what the role of genotyping will be in optimizing our nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness. [01:07:50] Ken asks what some of the common deficiencies and recommendations are for people who have trouble falling asleep, and also for those who have trouble staying asleep. [01:11:09] Dawn ends the interview asking Dave how he goes about taking care of himself, given his busy schedule, in terms of his diet and fitness routine. Links: Regenesis Performance website Concussion presentation by David LeMay Sports Nutrition presentation by David LeMay DHA brain uptake and APOE4 status Resolution of inflammation is altered in Alzheimer’s disease Infection regulates pro-resolving mediators that lower antibiotic requirements Resolvins, specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators and their potential roles in metabolic diseases Pro-resolving lipid mediators are leads for resolution physiology Specialized pro-resolving mediators from omega-3 fatty acids improve amyloid-b phagocytosis & regulate inflammation in patients with minor cognitive impairment Pro-resolving lipid mediators and mechanisms in the resolution of acute inflammation

1hr 16mins

31 Jul 2018

Rank #17

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Episode 41: Dr. David Diamond talks about the role of fat, cholesterol, and statin drugs in heart disease

Dr. David Diamond is a University of South Florida professor in the departments of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology and director of the USF Neuroscience Collaborative. He is well known for research that looks at the effects of stress on brain, memory and synaptic plasticity. A primary research project over the past few decades has been the study of treatments for combat veterans and civilians with PTSD. Although his academic specialty is neuroscience, recently he has been closely examining the role of fat and cholesterol in heart disease. He began looking into lipids after test results showed his triglycerides were through the roof.  He also launched a critical look into the effectiveness of statins, a class of drugs doctors frequently prescribe to help people lower cholesterol levels in their blood. Dr. Diamond’s findings contradicted the low-fat, high-carb diet that he, as well as many Americans, had been advised to follow. This led him to explore ways for people to optimize their diet for cardiovascular health. He eventually created a graduate and undergraduate seminar entitled, “Myths and Deception in Medical Research.” A lecture he gave at the university entitled “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic” is now a YouTube video with nearly 200,000 views. The lecture focused on how “flawed and deceptive science demonized saturated fats and created the myth that a low-fat, plant-based diet is good for your health.” Dr. Diamond received his B.S. in biology from the University of California, Irvine in the 1980. He continued his post-graduate work at the university and earned a Ph.D. in biology with a specialization in behavioral neuroscience. From 1986 to 1997, Dr. Diamond was an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology in the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. He then moved to University of South Florida and since 2003 has been a professor in the departments of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology. In addition to directing USF’s Neuroscience Collaborative, Dr. Diamond also is the director of the university’s Center for Preclinical and Clinical Research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His research projects at the university have ranged from “The Effects of Stress on Brain, Memory and Synaptic Plasticity” to “The Cognitive and Neurobiological Perspectives on Why Parents Lose Awareness of Children in Cars.” Dr. Diamond has served on federal government study sections and committees evaluating research on the neurobiology of stress and memory and has more than 100 publications, reviews, and book chapters on the brain and memory. He is a fellow in the American Institute of Stress and in 2015 he received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Science from the Riga Diabetes and Obesity World Congress. In 2015, Diamond also received the University of South Florida International Travel Award. Links: USF lecture: “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34 IHMC lecture: “An Update on Demonization and Deception in Research of Saturday Fat, Cholesterol and Heart Disease —http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20170531/ Show notes: 4:31: Ken and Dawn welcome David to the show. 4:42: Dawn comments on how David has always been interested in science and even wanted to be a physician as a child. She also asks him about majoring in biology and receiving his PhD from the University of California, Irvine. 5:41: Dawn asks David about his varied research topics at the University of South Florida, including cognitive and neurobiological perspectives on why parents lose awareness of children in cars. 7:00: Ken asks David what led him to research cardiovascular disease and statins, since he has such an extensive background in memory and PTSD research. 7:46: Dawn mentions David’s lecture he gave at the University South Florida entitled, “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic”. 9:51: Dawn comments on how David and one of his colleagues recently published a review paper showing that statins have failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes, yet so many doctors continue to prescribe this drug. 10:39: Dawn asks David what additional risks he sees with statins. 11:44: Ken asks David to discuss relative risk versus absolute risk calculations, as there is much confusion around that topic. 13:41: Dawn asks David if there are any ongoing trials looking at the degree of cholesterol lowering and clinical outcomes using absolute risk statistics. 14:39: Dawn discusses the two interwoven stories: one of possible statistical deception and describing the putative benefits of statins, and the other issue of whether there are instances where it makes sense for physicians to prescribe statins. Dawn asks David if there are any subsets of patients that he would recommend treating with statins, and asks about patients with hypercholesterolemia. 16:24: Dawn asks David if there are any other subgroups where the use of statins may be defensible. 17:39: Dawn notes that  increased LDL is common in people who start a ketogenic diet while their other biomarkers tend to improve.  She asks David to comment on this observation. 18:45: Ken comments on how cholesterol has been so demonized that a lot of people are not aware that our bodies need cholesterol to synthesize the naturally occurring steroids in our systems. Ken then asks David to give an overview of the role that cholesterol plays in our bodies. 19:42: Dawn asks David to talk about some of the dangers of low LDL. 20:54: Ken comments on how an often overlooked aspect of lipoproteins is their role in the innate immune system. Ken then asks David if the medical community should look at lipoproteins from a bit of a broader perspective than simply looking at them as lipid shuttles and a source of cardiovascular disease risk. 22:24:  Dawn asks David what actually causes heart disease and what people can do to reduce the risk of having a heart attack. 24:44: Dawn asks David what types of diet or exercise approaches would be optimal for improving cardiovascular health. 29:34: Dawn asks David what an ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is in our diets, and whether or not David thinks this is important. 31:03: Dawn comments on how they have discussed David’s diet and personal routine and asks him what else he incorporates into his personal health regimen. 32:13: Ken asks David what kind of pushback he has received in response to his research findings and lectures. 33:37: STEMTALK BLURB 34:06: Dawn discusses the London Daily Telegram’s story about a group of international experts, including David, who claim that cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and how trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time. The story also points out that these experts’ claims drew immediate skepticism from other academics. Dawn then asks David how he thinks the public deals with conflicting messages like this. 36:25: Ken asks David that assuming his analysis is correct, if he has any thoughts on why errors this large and pervasive continue to persist. 37:14: Ken comments on how we do not often see stories like this in other professions, such as engineering. Ken then asks David what it is about medical research that amends itself to this process. 40:16: Ken comments on how doctors have very prescribed standards of care that they are expected to follow. 41:06: Ken asks David if perhaps the modest benefits of statins could be associated with their recently touted anti-inflammatory properties, rather than primarily their cholesterol lowering effects. 43:07: Dawn comments on how people seem conditioned to think that they can find good health in a pill. She then asks David if this is his experience. 44:00: Dawn notes that in the past people did not place great trust in medicine, however this has certainly changed over time. Dawn then asks David to speculate on why he thinks this is. 45:17: Dawn asks David if it is the right approach when people have an illness or a biomarker that seems wrong and they immediately want to tackle that specific symptom instead of looking at what is causing it. 47:09: Ken asks David if there is any evidence that prescribing statins changes people’s perception of their risk of cardiovascular disease, and thereby changes their behavior in ways that might increase their risk. 48:43: Dawn asks David what he would recommend to patients when their physician says that he or she is going to prescribe statins. 50:10: Dawn asks David what his thoughts are on the effects of statins for exercise performance and muscle strength, in particular how it relates to the aging population. 51:24: Dawn discusses how there seems to be a recent trend to take low doses of a statin drug two to three times a week coupled with zetia. Dawn then asks David what his thoughts are on this, in particular regards to a recent study completed by Johns Hopkins. 53:50: Dawn comments on how there is a greater discussion around precision medicine. She then asks David if there are studies that integrate genetic testing prior to the administration of statins. 55:18: Dawn asks about the Ascot LLA study, the results of which have been promoted extensively through advertising. Dawn asks David to talk about what the results of this study demonstrate and why the study was terminated early. 56:58: Dawn asks David to expand on the Jupiter Study that he discusses in his publication. 57:59: Ken discusses a very new paper titled, Statins for Primary Prevention in Physically Active Individuals: Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits? The paper examines the potential benefits and adverse events of statins among physically fit individuals, in particular the association of statin use with beneficial cardiovascular outcomes and adverse effects in active duty military personnel. Ken asks David if he has any comments on this paper and its findings. 1:00:51: Ken comments on the new category of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors. He asks David to talk about this. 1:04:24: Ken asks David to explain how he has been very critical of drug companies in their promotion of statins, yet his neuroscience research has been funded by drug companies. 1:05:25: Dawn asks David what interests he peruses outside of science. 1:06:15: Ken and Dawn thank David for joining them. twttr.conversion.trackPid('nxqww', { tw_sale_amount: 0, tw_order_quantity: 0 });

4 Jul 2017

Rank #18

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Episode 57: Lauren Jackson discusses radiation exposure, including the effects of a nuclear strike

Today’s interview features Dr. Lauren Jackson, a nationally known expert in the field of tumor and normal-tissue radiobiology. She is especially recognized for her expertise in medical countermeasure development for acute radiation sickness and delayed effects of acute radiation exposure. Lauren is the deputy director of the Division of Translational Radiation Sciences within the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Lauren, who also goes by Isabel, received her bachelors in science in microbiology from North Carolina State University in 2006, and her PhD in pathology from Duke University in 2012. She currently is a principal or collaborating investigator on a number of industry and federally sponsored contracts and research grants. She has published extensively on the characterization and refinement of animal models of radiation-induced normal tissue injury that recapitulate the response in humans. Models developed in Lauren’s laboratory have gone on to receive FDA concurrence as appropriate for use in medical countermeasure screens. Lauren is a senior associate editor for Advances in Radiation Oncology, a journal of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, and serves as an ad hoc reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals. She also is the author of several book chapters on normal tissue tolerance to radiation, mechanisms of injury, and potential therapeutic interventions. Links: Jackson’s University of Maryland web page: http://www.medschool.umaryland.edu/profiles/Jackson-Isabel/ Radiation Emergency Medical Management website: https://www.remm.nlm.gov Centers for Disease Control website: https://www.emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/index.asp BARDA website: https://www.phe.gov/about/BARDA/Pages/default.aspx NIAID website: https://www.niaid.nih.gov Show notes: 5:06: Dawn begins interview by asking Lauren about her childhood and if it’s true that she was one of those children who was always asking questions? 5:39: Lauren talks about how she was more interested in history and the humanities in high school and wanted nothing to do with science. 5:59: Dawn asks Lauren about her decision to attend the University of Georgia to major in journalism and political science. 6:28: Ken comments on how even though Lauren was just 18 at the time, she was one of two students picked to represent the University of Georgia at the Center for the Presidency in Washington, D.C. Lauren then talks about how thanks to that experience, she decided journalism and political science weren’t the right majors for her. 7:38: Dawn points out that when Lauren first went to college, she took the minimum number of science classes.  Lauren goes on to talk about how after spending time in D.C., she ended up applying to North Carolina State University and switching her major to microbiology. 8:52: While at N.C. State, Lauren worked for Dr. Hosni Hassan, an expert on Oxidative Stress. Dawn asks Lauren about the focus of her research with Dr. Hassan. 9:58 Dawn talks about how when Lauren was an undergrad at N.C. State, she became interested in tumors and cancer treatment, and found a professor down the road at Duke University who was doing interesting work in that area. Dawn asks Lauren if that’s why she ended up going to Duke for her doctorate. 10:52 Dawn asks Lauren to elaborate on how her background in journalism and political science connected her towards the path of radiation countermeasure research.  11:42 Dawn points out that as a graduate student at Duke, Lauren took part in projects that looked at radiation injury. Dawn asks Lauren to give an overview of what sort of work was involved in the projects.  12:46 Ken asks Lauren to explain the difference between clinical radiation exposure and radiation that someone would experience as a consequence of a nuclear attack. 13:59: Ken shifts the conversation to human space flight, asking Lauren to discuss the radiation astronauts will experience outside the protection of the Earth’s magnetosphere, such as galactic cosmic radiation and solar particle events. He also asks how they relate to the other previously mentioned clinical- and weapons-based radiation. 14:52: Ken asks Lauren to describe what the lifetime limits are for radiation exposure, how they are produced, and what is the biggest source of radiation exposure for the average person. 16:06: Dawn asks if it’s possible to translate the findings in clinical radiation to these other types of radiation exposures, such as nuclear weapons and space radiation. 16:40: Dawn asks if clinical radiation research is playing a role in the work that’s being done in space research as well as research into the effects of nuclear-weapons attack. 17:27: Ken asks Lauren to explain how radiation doses are defined. 18:28: Ken mentions that Lauren’s work has focused on both the acute and chronic effects of radiation exposure, then asks her to give an overview on how the body would respond at the cellular and physiological levels to an acute exposure. 19:56: Dawn mentions how proximity to the event, in the event of a nuclear attack, would be a variable factor as to the level of exposure, then asking what else determines the degree of an acute response. 22:35: Dawn asks if the impact of radiation exposure is different based on different systems in the body, further asking which systems are more or less susceptible and what the different responses are. 24:06: Dawn mentions how Lauren has focused a large part of her research on the effects of radiation exposure to the pulmonary system, then asking her to talk about those chronic and lifetime affects following initial exposure. 25:38: Ken remarks how oxidative stress is a major focus on Lauren’s research, and follows up by asking about the impact of oxidative stress on the tissue, surrounding tissue, and its role in the overall injury response. 26:54: Ken remarks on the evidence that shows that animals fed a diet high in blueberries have some degree of resistance to the inflammatory response due to the blueberry’s antioxidant activity. He asks if antioxidants, more broadly, could play a role in the prevention of radiation injury. 27:46: Dawn asks about genetic susceptibility to radiation injury, and if we know of any individuals who are more or less susceptible to injury based on their genetic makeup. 28:48: Ken wonders if the genetic screening for radiation tolerance were developed adequately, that perhaps it could have an application in the selection process for long-duration missions into deep space. 29:25: Ken inquiries about the counterintuitive fact that smokers have a reduced incidence of radiation-induced lung cancer. 30:07: Dawn asks if gender or age play a role in a person’s susceptibility to radiation injury. 31:13: Dawn mentions how we know that epigenetic modifications (changes with respect to how a gene is expressed) can occur in response to a wide variety of different stressors or environmental influences. She then asks if we are seeing modifications that occur as a result of radiation exposure at the epigenetic level. 31:47: Dawn mentions that Randy Gerald was at Duke at the same time that she and Lauren were at Duke, and that he was the founder of epigenetic modifications. 32:15: Ken asks that in regards to a point-of-care test that could identify individuals who have been exposed to radiation and injured, what are the potential markers that Lauren would look for. 34:01: Dawn asks if markers of tissue injury, such as lung-radiation injury, are found in the blood. 35:44 Ken mentions the importance of timing from the point of injury as being critical with most biomarkers. He then asks that given the temporal nature of radiation injury, is there a time effect on biomarkers of radiation injury. 36:37: Ken asks about the effects of radon. 37:30: Ken notes that some areas are inherently much higher in radon levels than others, such as New England, and parts of Florida. He asks if there is a level that Lauren would consider safe for basements. 38:42: Dawn asks about the current position Lauren holds at the University of Maryland School of Medicine as the Deputy Director of the Division of Translational Research Sciences, and the Department of Radiation Oncology, and her research team that she has there. 40:32: Dawn asks about the different categories of potential countermeasures for radiation injury that Lauren has been looking at. 41:28: Dawn mentions how Lauren also works alongside the FDA, where she serves as a subject-matter expert for the review committees. She asks Lauren to describe her work with the FDA and in particular the FDA animal rule and the role that plays in countermeasure approval for humans. 44:03: Lauren explains the role that the NIAID (National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease) plays in countermeasure development. 45:56: Ken asks if countermeasures that we might develop to limit the damage from a nuclear attack might potentially be used for applications such as clinical radiation or space radiation exposure. 47:12: Dawn asks about a countermeasure drug called Bio300 that Lauren worked on with a company called Humanetics Corporation, asking where it stands with respect to research and potential clinical applications in humans. 48:37: Dawn asks Lauren to talk about the approval process and the specifics of Neupogen and Neulasta, (the first two drugs ever approved as potential countermeasures for acute radiation syndrome) that were approved on the basis of data generated at Lauren’s laboratory. 49:58: Ken notes that Neupogen has demonstrated improved survival in people exposed to lethal radiation doses on Earth, then asks if Neupogen, Neulasta, or some other bone-marrow active medical countermeasures have applications in human space flight. 50:54: Dawn asks if there is a one-size-fits-all drug to target all the physiological systems in response to radiation exposure, or if a patient would need to take an array of countermeasures to cover each of the different systems. 52:22: Dawn notes that after Fukushima, potassium iodine pills were flying off the shelves, and asks if that is a viable option for protection against acute radiation syndrome. 53:32: Ken asks if there are any prophylactic treatments approved or in development for radiation exposure. 54:46: Ken asks Lauren to talk a little more about BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) and the role it plays in radiation injury research and countermeasure development. 56:44: Dawn notes that Lauren has served as the program director for the BARDA Radiological and Nuclear Model Development Program, asking her to talk about that position and what that work entails. 57:25: Lauren talks about how it seemed that no one was interested in radiation after the Cold War, but that recent interest in radiation research has grown significantly. 59:48: Dawn mentions that four or five years ago you couldn’t get any companies interested in looking at ways to improve survival in case of a nuclear attack, but that in just the last two weeks of November that Lauren has had 22 companies reach out to her. 1:01:48: Dawn asks what the current threats of nuclear or radiological terrorism or nuclear attack are. 1:02:18: Ken asks how much protection to radiation exposure, arising from a weapon’s detonation, does a basement offer. 1:03:05: Ken remarks how, in regards to basements, those that do not have windows would be preferable in the context of protecting against radiation exposure. 1:04:13: Ken asks if any of the countermeasures developed thus far could be effective against space radiation, and thereby offer NASA an ability to leverage the BARDA investment. 1:05:26: Ken remarks how he is glad to hear that the federal agencies are wisely leveraging each other’s investments, rather than independently pursuing them. 1:06:31: Ken talks about long-duration missions in deep space and the possibility that astronauts might experience serious cognitive deficits caused by radiation exposure. He also points out the need for a countermeasure against cognitive decline as a result of radiation is not yet met here on Earth, citing that workers who cleaned up the Chernobyl nuclear disaster experienced serious cognitive decline close to ten years after the incident. 1:08:22: Ken asks if potential neurocognitive medical countermeasures exist today or if they may be available in the near future, and would a single agent be effective for both terrestrial exposures and the galactic cosmic radiation found in space. 1:09:18: Dawn wraps up the interview by asking Lauren if she is an N.C. State fan or a Duke fan when it comes to basketball.

1hr 11mins

13 Feb 2018

Rank #19

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Episode 99 : Dave Rabin talks about how psychedelics and wearable devices can help improve people’s lives

Dr. David Rabin is the chief innovation officer and co-founder of Apollo Neuroscience. He also is the co-inventor of Apollo, a wearable device designed to improve focus, sleep and access to meditative states by gently delivering layered vibrations to the skin. Dave is a board-certified psychiatrist and translational neuroscientist who for the past decade has been studying resilience and the impact of chronic stress on humans. He received his MD in medicine and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. He trained in psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dave also has organized the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines and is well-known for his research into MDMA and its potential to treat posttraumatic stress disorder along with other disorders. Show notes [00:03:06] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that David grew up in California and asking him about an insatiable need he had as a child to understand why people were the way that they were. [00:04:18] David talks about how the vivid and frequent dreams he had as a child played a role in his decision to study consciousness and neuroscience. [00:07:33] Dawn mentions that in high school Dave told his father that he wanted to study consciousness; however, Dave’s father suggested that he study something more tangible and quantifiable instead. Dave explains how this led him to spend the summer between his junior and senior year of high school at Rockefeller University. [00:12:08] Ken asks why Dave decided to move across the country to Albany Medical College, where he received his MD in medicine and Ph.D. in Neuroscience. [00:14:01] Dave gives an overview of the research he did, while working on his Ph.D., in emotional salience and how people interpret different stimuli as either threatening or safe. An area of research informed by his reading of evolutionary psychology, and the study of touch as an evolutionarily conserved stimulator of the safety pathway. [00:17:58] Ken asks about how Dave decided to go into psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, where he focused on treatment-resistant mental illnesses. [00:20:47] Dawn mentions Dave’s work with Greg Siegel. Dawn asks about this work and how it led Dave to become serious about studying consciousness, altered states of consciousness, and the potential use of these altered states to facilitate healing. [00:24:26] Ken talks about MDMA, or 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, a psychoactive drug commonly known as ecstasy or molly.  He explains that MDMA has been shown to facilitate the release of oxytocin, which increases levels of empathy and closeness while dampening fear-related amygdala activity. This results in an overall decrease in stress response and social anxiety. Ken asks Dave to talk about MDMA’s potential to treat PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) along with other disorders. [00:27:37] Ken asks if Dave has seen any improvements in heart rate variability (HRV) post MDMA treatments. [00:28:37] Dawn mentions that Dave is part of the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines. She goes on to explain that these medicines, like LSD and MDMA and even psilocybin, which comes from mushrooms, were used to treat mental and emotional trauma from the 1950s to the ‘70s.  Due to the abuses that occurred during this time, the use as well as research on psychedelic medicines in U.S. were shut down. With a shift towards a renewed interest in these medicines, Dawn asks about this study and if Dave could give a background on psychedelic medicine. [00:32:34] Dave talks about the epigenetic trial, being conducted in phase three of the MDMA study, where DNA samples are collected before and after use, to determine the epigenetic regulation of stress-response genes. [00:41:30] Ken asks about psilocybin, which is a naturally occurring psychedelic produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms. Ken asks Dave to explain how psilocybin is different from MDMA, both chemically and experientially. [00:45:45] Dave discusses the use of ecstasy and the debate around the safety of MDMA, and how compared to stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine, addiction to MDMA is very rare. [00:48:47] Dawn explains that psychedelics are, to this day, illegal in the U.S., and further states that STEM-Talk is not advocating the use of these or any illegal substances, before asking Dave about the changing legal status of psychedelics. [00:49:51] Dawn asks about the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for management of symptoms for illnesses such as PTSD and pain-management. [00:54:17] Ken mentions that Dave has spent the last several years developing a technology called Apollo, which is intended to help people make changes more effectively. Given the research and study Dave has done into stress, meditation and athletic performance, and why some people are more resilient than others, Ken asks Dave what he has learned from all this and how it led to the Apollo technology. [00:57:31] Ken asks if the hypervigilance people have to text alerts and emails and phone vibrations and news alerts and the constant bombardment of noise and stimuli is conditioning our bodies to be in a hyper-stressed state all the time. [00:59:26] Ken asks how to retrain the nervous system to become more balanced between our sympathetic and parasympathetic symptoms without the use of psychedelics. [01:02:37] Dawn asks about cognitive patterns and the way people think about their lives, such as the tendency to take challenges personally and think “why me?” while others tend to see challenges as an opportunity for growth. [01:05:35] Dave talks about heart-rate variability (HRV) and why he considers it one of the more important findings about resilience that has been made in the past 15 years. [01:09:19] Dawn asks what a good range for HRV is, or if there is a significant degree of variation across healthy people. [01:10:31] Dave explains the Apollo wearable device in depth, and how and why it works. [01:11:57] Ken asks if there have been pilot studies with children for the Apollo device. [01:14:14] Dawn mentions that Dave’s wife Kathryn was the one who came up with the idea to create the company Apollo Neuroscience. Dave tells the story behind that. [01:15:37] Ken mentions that David and Kathryn are in in the process of launching Apollo, and that the devices will start shipping in January. [01:15:50] Dawn asks, given Dave’s study of stress and the pervasiveness of technology in our modern world and its role in our levels of stress, how he deals with stress on a day-to-day basis. [01:18:12] Dawn mentions that Dave went to work for his wife this last year and asks, aside from their working relationship, what the two of them do for fun. Links: Dave Rabin bio Learn more about IHMC STEM-Talk homepage Ken Ford bio Dawn Kernagis bio

1hr 21mins

26 Nov 2019

Rank #20