How This Clinical Nutritionist Changes Lives with Hunger | Mike Mutzel on Health Theory

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Key Takeaways

  • One of the best things you can do for your health is to implement some form of fasting into your routine
    • Mike recommends a 24 hour fast once per week
  • One of the main benefits of prolonged fasting is autophagy activation through the suppression of mTOR
  • “If someone’s struggling mentally, the first thing I’d recommend for them is to go workout” – Tom
    • “Sitting there and looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself is probably not a bad start, but it’s never gonna get you there. If you don’t do something you actually respect, you’re not going to develop self-respect.”
  • A calorie is not a calorie
    • Your cells are made of what you consume – the source of your calories matter
  • Try to eat what’s in season
    • “The only diet humans could eat before the advent of electricity, gas, and refrigeration was what was available to them locally”
  • Don’t be so quick to dismiss the carnivore diet
  • “Right now in 2019, people are microdosing psilocybin and LSD… I think in two years people are going to be microdosing rapamycin” 
    • Rapamycin is an immune suppressant drug given to organ transplant patients which also seems to suppress mTOR (just as fasting does)

Products and Supplements Mentioned

  • Mike supplements with exogenous ketones on days that require airplane travel
    • Why? – Travelling is fairly stressful on the body (due to the recycled air and presence of EMFs). Ketones mitigate some of the oxidative stress.
      • If you’re exposed to harmful chemicals during the workday (i.e., if you’re a hair stylist or are frequently around cleaning chemicals) exogenous ketones can help mitigate some of the oxidative damage
  • Calorie restriction mimetics increase AMPK (which is essentially the opposite of mTOR – it stimulates the recycling/breakdown of damaged cell components/proteins)
    • Examples of calorie restriction mimetics include metformin (a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes) and berberine, which Mike currently supplements with (500 mg 3 days a week)

Intro

The Benefits of Fasting

  • At the time of this recording, Mike was 24 hours into a fast 
    • He prefers to do his podcast interviews in a fasted state due to the boost in mental clarity (Mike attributes it to an increase in his blood ketone levels)
      • He’s tried supplementing with exogenous ketones and has experience similar mental benefits
  • “A lot of us have this ball and chain when it comes to food. We eat at breakfast, we eat at lunch… we take up so much of our mental bandwidth that can be used for productivity, relationships, and self-development.”
  • One of the reasons Mike does a 24 hour fast once per week is because he has an elevated tumor biomarker (Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP))
  • Fasting lowers your glucose and insulin levels – cancer cells utilize both of these to thrive
    • Insulin activates mTOR – the driver for cancer cell growth
      • “mTOR is like a light switch  in your home. It’s not good or bad, it’s the context that matters.”
  • Fasting also enhances mitochondrial function
    • Mitochondria play a key roll in helping us think clearly and make energy
    • Mitochondrial dysfunction seems to lead to various disease – myocognitive impairment, blood sugar issues, and low energy/fatigue
  • The biggest benefit of fasting – it enhances autophagy
    • Autophagy is the process by which cells eat themselves – the dysfunctional cells (like cancer cells) eat themselves first
  • During a fast, heart rate variability increases – this is a proxy for parasympathetic tone
    • This can be measured with something like the Oura Ring (purchase a ring using this link for a $50 discount applied at checkout)

Mike’s Mindset Shift

  • Negative self-talk used to run rampant in Mike’s head
    • One of the primary drivers was his childhood – Mike was first exposed to drugs and alcohol at the age of 9 and was arrested twice before the age of 15 (once for shoplifting and once for drug possession) 
      • “I didn’t think I had a problem… People smoke pot and drink all the time… I didn’t realize how behind in school I was. I didn’t realize how stunted emotionally I was. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t effectively communicate with people because I hid behind the substances.”
      • Mike eventually went to an out-patient rehab clinic – “It was the best decision ever. It changed my life.”
  • When Mike first discovered he had elevated AFP levels, his mind immediately went to the thought of cancer
    • This served as a bit of a wake up call and drove Mike to discover his life’s mission – “We always think we’re going to have time, but the fact of the matter is you may not have the time you think you do”

Fitness

  • Mike soon found his way into the world of fitness/weight lifting
    • “I realized that if I could change my body, I could probably do the same thing to my mind. The weights gave me a lot of self-confidence.”
      • This self-confidence carried over into the classroom – Mike eventually went on to study pre-med and take the MCATs
  • An actionable tip – do quantifiable exercise
    • Like resistance training (it’s easy to measure progress)
    • If you’re going to use something like an elliptical, measure progress by tracking your power output
  • Tom adds – “If someone’s struggling mentally, the first thing I’d recommend for them is to go workout”
    • “Sitting there and looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself is probably not a bad start, but it’s never gonna get you there. If you don’t do something you actually respect, you’re not going to develop self-respect.”
    • Simply put – when you look better, you feel better
  • There will always be days you don’t feel like going to the gym – push through it
    • “Those days when I’m really dog-tired and don’t want to go to the gym but I do… I feel so much better”

Supplementing with Exogenous Ketones During Travel

  • Mike takes exogenous ketones when travelling on airplanes
    • Why? – Travelling is fairly stressful on the body (due to the recycled air and presence of EMFs). Ketones mitigate some of the oxidative stress.
    • Ketones affect gene signaling and have DNA-protective properties (by acting on HDACs
      • HDACs are common targets for various chemotherapy drugs
        • They’re also upregulated during a fast, during exercise, and while in ketosis (and when taking drugs like metformin or rapamycin)
  • If you’re exposed to harmful chemicals during the workday (i.e., if you’re a hair stylist or are frequently around cleaning chemicals) exogenous ketones can help mitigate some of the oxidative damage

A Calorie is Not a Calorie

  • Your cells are made of what you consume – the source of your calories matter
    • “There’s more than just the calorimetry reading of a food item that you need to take into consideration” – Tom
    • The nutrients in food affect signaling pathways, gene expression, and microbiome composition
    • “Food can’t be relegated to carbs. fats, protein, DNA. and water” – you can’t forget the other nutrient constituents
  • You could theoretically get lean by eating just Twinkies every day as long as you’re in a calorie deficit, but not without a whole host of other nutrient deficiencies

The Ketogenic Diet

  • If you’re trying to put on muscle and size, the ketogenic diet probably isn’t for you
  • Tom has noticed that following a ketogenic diet changes his relationship to hunger
    • He fasts, on average. for ~20 hours every day

Mike’s Diet

  • Choose a diet based on what you’re trying to optimize for
  • Mike follows a “targeted, cyclical, ketogenic style diet”
    • It’s a mix between optimizing for brain health and physical performance
    • If Mike is traveling, he won’t consume many carbs – he’ll either fast or eat low-carb/ketogenic
      • In general – “Have the carbohydrates you eat commensurate with your activity levels

The Microbiome

  • Food diversity affects microbiome diversity
    • Microbiome diversity matters because it translates into stability 
      • “Stability in any ecosystem is resilient”
  • Try to eat what’s in season
    • “The only diet humans could eat before the advent of electricity, gas, and refrigeration was what was available to them locally”
  • Kids that receive antibiotics within the first year of life tend to have higher incidences of autoimmune disease, allergies, and obesity
    • Other things that influence the gut microbiome of children in a negative way include being born by c-section and not being breastfed

The Carnivore Diet

  • What is it? – You only eat meat
  • Many people report reversing autoimmune issues by following a carnivore diet
  • Mike has tried it (but ate eggs and chicken as well)
    • A few notes:
      • His HA1C increased by 5/10ths of a point
      • His iron and feratin levels increased (which shouldn’t be all that surprising if you’re eating a lot of red meat)
  • It’s an easy diet to dismiss, but…
    • If you have digestive issues, it might be worth giving the carnivore diet a shot
    • A good time to try experimenting with the carnivore diet would be during the winter months (when many fruits/vegetables are out of season)

The Production of Glucose without Eating It

  • There are certain cells/tissues (like red blood cells and various central nervous system cells in the brain) that absolutely need glucose
    • Your body can convert protein to glucose via a process known as gluconeogenesis
  • The process of liberating stored body fat and converting it to ketones also produces a small amount of glucose as a side effect
    • This is why, when fasting for a longer period of time, your glucose levels will eventually reach a steady state and not drop to 0 mg/dL

Manipulating mTOR, AMPK and Autophagy

  • mTOR inhibits autophagy and stimulates cellular growth
  • One of the main benefits of fasting for longer durations is that you suppress mTOR
    • Chronic mTOR expression is linked with pre-mature aging and a variety of diseases
  • Rapamycin, an immune suppressant drug given to organ transplant patients, also seems to suppress mTOR
    • “Right now in 2019, people are microdosing psilocybin and LSD… I think in two years people are going to be microdosing rapamycin” (or other mTOR inhibitors/calorie restriction mimetics)
  • Calorie restriction mimetics increase AMPK (which is essentially the opposite of mTOR – it stimulates the recycling/breakdown of damaged cell components/proteins)
    • Examples of calorie restriction mimetics include metformin (a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes) and berberine, which Mike currently supplements with (500 mg 3 days a week)
      • “Metformin is probably one of the safest drugs you could take”
  • There’s also a ton of data present which indicates that exercise increases autophagy

How should the average person eat to optimize for longevity?

  • Avoid processed food
  • Find a local farmer and buy animal products you feel comfortable consuming
  • Eat at the same times every day to optimize your circadian rhythm, preferably within a confined window
    • Food, in addition to blue light exposure, affects our circadian biology
    • Eating earlier is generally better – avoid late night snacks. Mike thinks it’s best to cut food off after 7 PM.
    • If you had no concerns about having a social life, the optimal eating window would probably be ~ 10 AM – 4 PM

Additional Notes

  • The best thing you can do for your overall health – prioritize your sleep
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