#1054 – Dr. Rhonda Patrick on The Joe Rogan Experience

Products Mentioned

Rhonda’s Recent Pregnancy

  • Your lifestyle while pregnant affects the child’s neurocognitive development
  • DHA – the omega 3 fatty acid predominantly found in fatty fish
    • 1% of a fish’s DHA is in the phospholipid form
    • In the roe of a fish (aka fish eggs) – 40-70% of the DHA is found in the phospholipid form
    • DHA in the phospholipid form gets into the developing fetal brain 10x better than DHA in non-phospholipid form
    • While pregnant, Rhonda ate Wild Alasakan Salmon Roe from Vital Choice on top of an avocado, with lemon juice and hot sauce
  • Epigenetics – changing how much a gene is activated or not activated
    • In one study, obesity was looked at in fathers
      • Sperm DNA was collected from males that were obese and males that were lean. About 300 different genes were different in how they were/were not activated in the sperm DNA of the obese men. A lot of the genes had to do with learning memory, cognition, and metabolism. When the obese men underwent bariatric surgery (this reduces the size of the stomach to facilitate weight loss), the sperm DNA collected a year later, looked like that of the lean people.
    • Therefore, it’s important to consider the health of the father when trying to reproduce.
  • Breastfeeding during pregnancy
    • In breast milk, oligosaccharhides are very plentiful
      • They can’t be digested by the inflants digestive system, and are there solely to feed the infant’s gut microbiome, specifically increasing the species bifidobacterium infantis
      • This sets up the child’s immune system
      • Children that are not breast fed lack 4 different species of gut bacteria, and have a 3 fold increased risk of developing allergies and autoimmune related diseases
      • The stem cells in breast milk get digested, and go to into the bloodstream, and travel to different organs to further development
  • Acetaminophen
    • There’s links to pregnant woman consuming acetaminophen (an active ingredient in Tylenol) and negative consequences for children, one Norwegian study links it to ADHD
  • Postpartum Depression
    • During pregnancy, estrogen levels are around 100 fold higher
    • Estrogen has been shown to increase expression of a gene called tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (TPH2), which produces serotonin from tryptophan
    • After you have the baby, this effect decreases, making a lot of mothers feel sad
    • Also adding to the postpartum depression, new moms don’t get enough light, and sleep is drastically altered
    • Exercise increases the production of serotonin, and beta-endorphins. New neurons are also produced through BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor), which has also been shown to alleviate depressive symptoms.
      • Certain studies have shown that in people who exercise, the left part of their hippocampus doesn’t atrophy like in people who do not exercise
      • Exercise helps Rhonda reduce anxiety, and increases her mental clarity
  • Vaccination
    • Joe thinks that there’s merit in the idea that giving babies so many vaccinations right after birth, might have some sort of negative consequence
      • The CDC website says some of these vaccines can cause epileptic seizures in infants
    • For this reason, Rhonda is going to vaccinate her son, but she plans to to do the vaccinations in single doses. “You don’t really know how a child”s immune system is going to react.”
      • When you’re not giving so many vaccines at once, the immune response isn’t as strong
    • There needs to be more reserach into how vaccinations react with the immune system
    • To be clear, both Rhonda and Joe are pro vaccination
    • Just like people have adverse reactions to certain foods, people will certainly have adverse reactions to some vaccines. Vaccines are essentially alive bacteria, given with the hope of administering an immune response, so it makes sense.
      • People have different glucose responses to certain foods based on their genes and microbiome makeup. Someone can have a high glucose response to fat – people are different.


  • Once you hit 25, your aerobic capacity decreases 10% per decade (or 1% per year)
    • Once study had a group do 24 high intensity interval cycling classes within 8 weeks – at the end of the 8 weeks, average VO2 max was improved 12%
  • Rhonda recalls one study in which people got more benefits (pshycological and health) from walking within nature compared to on a treadmill
  • A woman’s VO2 max has been shown to increase after pregnancy, due to carrying around the extra weight

Head Injury

  • People with one allele of the ApoE4 gene, can have a 10-20x fold increased risk for CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) resulting from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)


  • ApoE4
    • Rhonda has this gene, you can test for it with 23andme
    • Some effects – this predisposes a person to Alzheimer’s disease. Cholesterol also doesn’t get recycled very well in people with this gene (so someone with an APOE4 gene will have more circulating cholesterol at any given point).
  • Refined Sugar
    • Almost everything has sugar in it, if you go into a grocery store and pick up a random item, more likely that not there will be sugar in it
    • Has been shown to increase inflammatory biomarkers and increases the small dense LDL particle number – which is bad
    • There is not that much difference between drinking a large glass of orange juice and a large glass of soda
    • Saturated fat increases large LDL particle number, which isn’t that bad, but when eaten in combination with refined sugar, some of these large LDL particles can be converted to small LDL particles
    • Peter Attia has a series on cholesterol that explains a lot of this, HIGHLY recommend
    • You can’t gage someones risk for heart disease just by looking at LDL cholesterol number, you have to look at LDL size too
    • Refined sugar decreases testosterone
    • The easiest thing you could do, to have the biggest impact on their health, would be to cut out refined sugar
  • True Health Diagnostics does a good LDL panel, WellnessFX also
  • The PPAR-Alpha Gene and the Ketogenic Diet
    • Involved in fatty acid metabolism
    • If you don’t have this gene, your body won’t be very good at producing ketone bodies from fats
    • So the ketogenic diet may in fact be detrimental to someone who doesn’t have this, a high fat diet would lead to more free fatty acids in the blood stream, making someone more insulin insensitive, inflammatory biomarkers would also increase
    • If done right, the ketogenic diet, more specifically the BHB (a type of ketone) circulating in the blood, has an anti aging effect
    • Rhonda doesn’t follow a ketogenic diet due to the fact that she really likes to get a lot prebiotic fiber for the microbiome, it’s hard to do this on a ketogenic diet, although it’s doable
    • We still really don’t know how the ketogenic diet effects the microbiome (my gut biome diversity has gone down on a ketogenic diet)
  • Microbiome
    • Bacteria in the microbiome eat the fermentable fiber we don’t digest (from plants, seeds, nuts, legumes)
    • If you don’t eat enough of the fermentable fiber, the bacteria in the microbiome start eating the carbohydrate lining in the gut, called mucin,which separates the immune cells in the gut from the bacteria
    • Rhonda has concern that people don’t get enough fermentable fiber on a ketogenic diet


  • Similar to ATP, used as an energetic currency throughout the body, used for etabolism
  • Also used to repair damage
  • NAD levels in tissues that are energetically demanding can deplete
    • In chronically inflamed tissues for example, NAD is used to treat the inflammation, so metabolism in turn suffers
  • You can supplement with a precursor to NAD – Nicatinomide Ryboside, which in turn increases NAD levels
    • Improves physical performance, cognitive performance
    • Kevin Rose also talked about this supplement, in these notes
    • Rhonda bought the supplement but isn’t currently taking it
    • For us at Podcast Notes, based on their unmatched quality standards and our personal experience, we strongly recommend Elysium Basis (use the code “podcast10” at checkout to receive 10% off)

Take All Factors Into Account

  • One study came out showing higher protein consumption from meat was associated with a higher all cause and cancer mortality
    • When the data was sub analyzed, if someone had one other unhealthy lifestyle factor (obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol comsumption) then the finding was true. However, if they had/possessed none of these, they had the same all cause/cancer mortality that the non-meat eaters had.
    • You have to take into account ALL factors when examining studies
  • Saturated fat along with refined sugar has a negative synergistic effect
    • When the American Heart Association recently made a statement saying saturated fat led to heart disease, they didn’t take this into account
    • Note from Rhonda – in animal studies in which animals were fed a high fat diet, it’s almost always high fat AND high sugar
  • Excessive Protein
    • When eaten in large quantities, the protein increases the production of the growth factor IGF-1, which can allow damaged cells to not die (basically allowing precancerous cells to form a tumor)
      • If you’re eating a good diet, and not causing as much damage in the first place, then having that much IGF-1 isn’t as big of deal due to lack of damaged cells
    • When you exercise in addition to eating a lot of protein, the IGF-1 goes into muscles to help repair damaged muscle tissue, as well as into the brain to grow new neurons


  • Carcinogens are in charred meat (from the heterocyclinc amines – HCAs – that are formed)
    • Our bodies have genes that can inactivate/detoxify these HCAs (through detoxification enzymes), people can do this to varying degrees
    • Cruciferous vegetables can also inactive these HCAs
      • Broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts
  • The Ames Test, created by Rhonda’s mentor Bruce Ames, tests whether something is a carcinogen


  • All animals/meat differ in their amino acid makeup and micronutrient concentrations, so it’s good to eat a diverse array of animal protein
  • 22% of the enzymes in your body require a micronutrient as a cofactor in order to work
  • A low folate diet causes damaged DNA
    • One good source of folate – leafy greens.

Other Micronutrients

  • Lutein – present in kale
    • Leads to better learning and memory
  • PQQ – Rhonda supplements with this (20mg a day), made by bacteria in the soil, plants take it up from the soil
    • Has been shown to improve mitochondrial function, lowers markers of inflammation
    • Has 20,000x times the effect of ascorbic acid, so it’s a really powerful antioxidant
    • Really concentrated in breast milk
    • Rhonda thinks everyone should take this


Where to get started in living a healthier lifestyle

  • Find a good primary care doctor
  • Measure small dense LDL, total LDL, triglycerides, high sensitivity C reactive protein, and HBA1C (marker of long term fasting blood glucose)
  • Organic Acid Test by Genova Diagnostics – measures how your body metabolizes carbohydrates, aminino acids, and fatty acids (you have to get your primary care physician to order this test)

The Microbiome

  • Many healthy older people in their 90s, have microbiomes that look very much like that of a younger person in their 30s
    • This makes a case for microbiome transplants, like fecal transplants
  • The microbiome regulates the immune system
  • There are correlations between gut microbiome and chilldren with Autism and Asbergers, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Some of the short chain fatty acids that certain species of bacteria in the microbiome make increase the production of natural killer T cells
    • In studies in which animals were injected with human tumors, and the animals took a large dose of probiotics which can make those short chain fatty acids, the killer T cells produced were found to kill cancer cells almost as good as the chemotherapy
  • “The gut is so important, it’s the major source of inflammation in the body”
  • Stevia
    • Non-nutritive sweetener (not like sucralose, aspertame (found in Diet Coke), and sacrine which can all mess up the microbiome – it changes the composition so the bacteria that are really good at harvesting glucose increase in number, causing people to become obese)
    • Some studies have shown it improves insulin sensitivity
    • We haven’t really seen negative health consequences, but Rhonda didn’t consume any during pregnancy
  • Probiotics
    • For probiotics to work, you either have to take them constantly or their needs to be space in your gut for them to take residence
    • So, you can’t eat a shitty diet, then take probiotics
    • Rhonda takes VSL#3 and VisBiome occasionally
    • Some studies show probiotics improve anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Xantham gum isn’t that bad, but other emulsifiers in hot sauces for example, can disrupt the gut microbiome

Inflammatory Foods and Pregnancy

  • Eating a pro-inflammatory diet will have an adverse effect on your offspring
  • Higher rates of Type I diabetes in offspring, lower cognition scores
  • It’s hard to do causal studies showing this (in which you would feed someone high inflammatory foods during pregnancy, as it’s unethical), so all the scientific data is from animal studies, or looking specifically at obese mothers who are thought to have eaten badly during pregnancy

Maternal/Paternal Age and Diet

  • Paternal age (the father’s age) has been linked to autism, also smoking
  • Maternal Age has been linked to Down’ Syndrome
  • In male mice fed a high fat and high sugar diet, in which they become obese, and their offspring are fed a normal diet, the offspring have a higher rate of Type I Diabetes 
    • The obesity changes genes that regulate pancreatic beta cell insulin production in their sperm DNA, which is passed on to the offspring


  • Rhonda is doing a lot of high intensity spin training
  • She also did a lot of walking during her pregnancy
  • She wants to incorporate more strength training – there’s been studies showing people who do strength training have a 23% lower all cause mortality and 30% lower cancer related mortality
  • Leg strength has been linked to massive improvements in cognitive function – maybe it’s related to high blood flow to the brain?
  • Joe recommends Rhonda start doing Hindu Squats
  • Nike changed the way people run
    • When running, you’re supposed to land on the ball of your foot
    • Nike started putting large heels in the back of sneakers, so people started running on their heels
  • Joe uses Vibram running shoes, he also has a pair of Merrells
    • He says his feet have become stronger, and his arches have improved
  • The next podcast with Rhonda and Joe will be recorded in the sauna
  • Joe uses an Ourdoorsman Atlas Trainer to condition him for backpack hunting

Where Can You Find Rhonda

Found My Fitness - Rhonda Patrick : , , , , ,
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