The Art of Manliness: Dr. Rhonda Patrick on How to Optimize Your Body With Micronutrients, Genetic Nutrition, and Intentional Stress

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  • Food is full of micronutrients, and most people are deficient in some
  • Check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s website, follow her on Twitter


  • There are between 30-40 micronutrients
  • Recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are set by making animals deficient in a certain micronutrient, and once a certain deficiency level causes an animal to die, the RDA is set a few standard deviations above that
    • Thus, you can’t really go by the RDAs
    • We don’t really know what levels are needed to stave off disease and aging
  • Magnesium – found in leafy green plants
    • Serves as a cofactor for enzymes
    • Enzymes require certain cofactors to make sure they run properly
    • Magnesium is a required cofactor for an enzyme which repairs damaged DNA
    • DNA damage is a precursor to mutations that can lead to cancer and accelerate the aging process
    • Magnesium is also required for making and using energy
  • Folate – also found in leafy green vegetables
    • Folate is needed to make a precursor which is required to make new DNA
      • This is important when you’re making new cells, and thus need new DNA
    • A deficiency in folate is equivalent to standing under ionizing radiation due to the DNA damage
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
    • People with the highest omega 3 fatty acid intake, have a 9% reduced all cause mortality
  • Vitamin D
    • We are more vitamin D deficient that ever
    • About 5% of the human genome is regulated by vitamin D

Micronutient Deficiencies

  • About 70% of the US population doesn’t have adequate levels of Vitamin D
    • Adequate levels of vitamin D are considered to be between 40-60 ng/mL
    • Generally 1,000 IU of vitamin D will raise blood levels by 5 ng/mL
  • 60% don’t have adequate levels of vitamin E (found in nuts, avacados, olive oil)
  • 45% of the US population has inadequate levels of magnesium
  • 35% have inadequate levels of vitamin k (found in leafy greens)
  • People that are obese/overweight have the most micronutrient deficiencies
  • Multivitamins should serve as insurance
    • Most micronutrients should come from food
  • You can have too much of a micronutrient
    • Especially the fat soluble vitamins (D and A)
  • Triage Theory – metabolic processes that are required for short term survival will get their share of the micronutrients first
    • The metabolic processes more concerned with long term maintenance would get neglected


  • Nutrigenomics – The interaction between genetics and nutrition
  • 23andMe works great for genetic testing
  • Example – how your body responds to saturated fat (found in dairy products, butter, and fatty cuts of meat) and in turn how that effects cholesterol
    • APOE – a gene important for recycling cholesterol
    • About 25% of the population has a version of this gene, APOE4, that can predispose them to very high LDL cholesterol levels
      • People with this gene have a high risk of developing heart and Alzheimer’s disease
  • There are a variety of different genes that regulate how the body metabolizes saturated fat
    • FTO, PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma
    • If you have variations of these genes, and have a high saturated fat + low polyunsaturated fat/monounsaturated fat intake – you will be at an increased risk of obesity, and more likely to have higher triglyceride levels
    • So – it IS possible, if you have certain genes, to eat fat and have your blood glucose levels rise
      • If you decide to go on a ketogenic diet – monitor blood glucose and cholesterol levels before and after switching
  • Example – The conversion of ALA into EPA
    • There are 3 different versions of Omega 3 – One of these is the plant version, alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA)
    • This can be converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which is usually found in fish, which can then be converted into Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (also found in fish)
    • There are variations in the gene that is responsible for converting ALA into EPA, some people do it less efficiently than others
      • This is really important to consider for vegetarians, as they rely solely on plant omega 3s
  • Some people don’t convert vitamin D into it’s active form (a steroid hormone) very well
    • These people may need to take a higher dose if supplementing

Hormetic Stressors

  • Exposing the body to small amounts of stress, which trigger cellular responses that exceed what is atcually needed to compensate for that little bit of stress you exposed your body to
  • Includes exercise, heat stress (sauna), cold stress (ice bath), and fasting

The Benefits of Heat Stress

  • Men that use the sauna 2-3x a week have a 27% reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, 24% lower all cause mortality, and a 20% lower risk of developing Allzheimer’s disease – compared to men who only use the sauna once a week
  • If you raise these numbers to 4-7 times a week – those men have a 50% reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a 40% lower all cause mortality, and a 66% lower risk of developing dementia/Alzheimer’s disease
  • Heat stress increase plasma blood flow and takes work off the heart, it lowers cardiovascular strain
  • Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) are activated when the body is exposed to heat
    • These have been shown to prevent proteins from forming aggregates/plaques in your arteries and brain
    • Sitting in a 163 °F sauna for 30 minutes increases HSP production 50% – this effect lasts for 2 days
    • There are variations in genes that increase HSP production
  • Sauna use is similar to moderate exercise as it raises your heart rate

The Benefits of Cold Stress

  • A large release of norepinepherine from the brain
    • This is important for focus and attention
    • It also improves mood
    • Just 20 seconds of exposure to 40 °F water, can increase norepinepherine levels 2-3 fold over baseline
  • An increase in mitochondrial biogenesis (a growth of new mitochondria)
  • The UCP1 gene – people with certain variations of this gene are able to tolerate cold better
    • They can ramp up their metabolism more, and generate more heat to stay warm
    • People with this variation also burn more fat in the cold

The Benefits of Prolonged Fasting

  • Prolonged fasts cause whole organs to shrink, and then regrow after the fast
  • Fasting causes many cells that are damaged to die
  • In healthy cells – more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules are made
  • Stem cells are activated, and during the refeeding phase, the stem cells make new cells to replenish cells that were lost
  • There are benefits to intermittent fasting (for say 14 hours every day)
    • This has been shown to improve metabolism, but won’t really increase stem cell production/allow for the clearing away of damaged cells
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