Paleo Part 101: Top 3 Lab Markers for Going Paleo
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
There are major lab tests you need to do if you’re starting with a poor diet and transitioning to a Paleo diet. In part 1 of this two-part series, I’m going to discuss the lab tests you need to be checking and the results you need to be aiming for in order to be successful with your Paleo diet. Part 2 of the series will cover roadblocks to your success and what those underlying barriers might be that are preventing you from getting to the next level. First, I’m going to discuss the Paleo diet, or as I like to call it—the Paleo template.
The Paleo Template
I don’t like the word diet, so while that may be the more common word, I like to use the word template instead. A template is less constricting and provides more flexibility. It also gives us the ability to adjust our macronutrients, which are proteins, fats, and carbs (PFC). So then we can adjust our template according to our energy levels and our metabolic needs.
Some patients are insulin-resistant and have blood sugar issues. They may really do well on a ketogenic style of Paleo template. Some are CrossFit types and may already be pretty healthy, meaning their body is able to process and handle blood sugar and insulin normally. So they could possibly handle a little more carbs. Their Paleo template can adjust to this.
When we talk about a Paleo template (or diet), really what we’re talking about is anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, low-toxin foods. Foods that we’ve had enough time to evolutionarily adapt to. However, our standard American diet today consists of grains and a lot of refined sugar (non-Paleo foods). So our goal is to go from pre-Paleo to post-Paleo. This is where we’re really one or two months in to our Paleo template and we’re seeing significant benefits, whether its energy, less inflammation, relief with joint pain, less brain fog, and so on.
We only started to consume grains about ten thousand years ago. So if you look at the start of the Paleo era, about 2 million years ago, we’ve been consuming grains for a very small percentage of that time. We’ve evolved away from hunter-gatherer societies, which consumed lots of meat and bone marrow, starchy tubers, and fruit and vegetable carbohydrates (not grain-based). But the evolution to grain-based diets has been at a rapid pace, which is highly problematic because our bodies haven’t had enough time to adapt to those things. Some people can handle it better than others, but in my opinion, for people who are sick or inflamed, grains are going to be their dietary kryptonite. A Paleo template will bring your body back in-line with its evolutionary expectations.
The Top 3 Lab Markers for Going Paleo
As my patients prepare for or begin a Paleo template, I will run lab tests to check for 3 key markers: inflammation, blood sugar, and lipids.
1. Inflammation Markers
Inflammation is just a sign that your body is breaking down faster than it’s building up because of some type of physical, chemical, or emotional stressor. These can include the following:
- Gluten in the diet
- Sleep deprivation
- Excessive exercise
- Toxin exposure (pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, fungicides)
- Hidden infections
- Consuming high-glycemic index foods (lots of sugar and grain carbs)
When we cut these things out, we go Paleo and we put an emphasis on food quality. The toxins mentioned above have only been around for 40 to 80 years. Grains have been around for 10,000 years, and flour only for 200 years. People think organic food is a fad thing, but if you look at beyond 50 or 60 years ago, everything was organic. We didn’t douse our foods in pesticides. There was no GMO. So cutting out toxic foods will significantly help improve inflammatory markers.
When looking for inflammation markers through lab testing, I like to see:
- C-reactive protein (CRP): below 1
- Homocysteine: Agood sign of vascular integrity and vascular inflammation is below 7.5–8.
- B vitamins: Folate, B12, B6—can have a big effect on homocysteine. Inability to methylate, which is important for detoxification and brain health, and gut absorption issues can also impact homocysteine levels.
- Fibrinogen: It is a measure of our clotting factor, and elevations of it can make our cells “sticky” and cause occlusions and blockages. So the healthier and less inflamed we are, the smoother our blood flows. Also, the less chance of blockages and heart attacks, one of the great benefits of going Paleo.
2. Blood Sugar Markers
A lab test I like to look at for blood sugar markers are:
- A1C: A 90-day window of how our blood sugar fluctuates. When we are on the Paleo template, our blood cells get healthier because they’re exposed to fewer toxins. So we may see slightly high A1Cs, 5.6–5.7, though we may still be eating healthy. Maybe with a little bit of low-sugar fruit, so A1C isn’t the be all or end all, but keep an eye on it.
- Fasting insulin: It should be below 5. Insulin basically opens the door for blood sugar to come into the cell. And the more we spit out sugar, the more we spit out insulin and the more numb to insulin we get. This is called insulin resistance. There’s a strong relationship between high levels of insulin and tumors and cancer. We also see it in a lot of hormonal disorders like elevations in testosterone and androgens for women.When fasting insulin is below 5, it means our body is very sensitive to sugar. Then it’s more likely to take that sugar into the muscle and be able to burn it instead of storing it in fat. So when we are more sensitive to insulin, we make less fat and we burn our sugar for fuel.
- Fasting glucose: Below 100 is ideal, and some even say below 95 or even 90. This really depends on our stress levels and cortisol levels—glucose can go higher because cortisol can increase glucose. It may not necessarily be a bad thing if you have a healthy stress response in the morning, but we can even do what’s called a functional glucose tolerance. We would measure one to three hours after our regular meal and see how we do in those various intervals; ideally below 140 within an hour, 120 within two, and back below 100 within three hours is a pretty good measurement.
3. Lipid Markers
- Triglyceride-to-HDL: This is a really good marker of insulin resistance. Basically our triglycerides go high when we consume too much carbohydrate. Our HDLs go up when we’re consuming healthy quality fats, like fish oils, and good clean saturated fats, like coconut oil and butter. So as HDLs go up and triglycerides come down because we’re not consuming excess sugar, that’s a really good ratio. Ideally we like a 1:1 or so, but I’ll settle for a 2:1 ratio. This would be, for example, triglycerides at 100 and HDL at 50.
- Total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio: It should be around 4:1. So if your HDL is at 60, your total cholesterol should be under 240. Total cholesterol by itself is not that important when we look at inflammation markers like CRP and homocysteine and fibrinogen. If inflammation levels are low, but cholesterol’s on the higher side, 250–260, it may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially if we see something called LDL particle size.
- Particle size A (large) is good, and particle size B (small) is bad: The larger and fluffier and more buoyant our particle size is, the less likely it’s going to stick into the endothelial fissures and create various blockages and occlusions. We get more large particles with the healthy fats and by restricting a lot of the refined sugars and carbohydrates and grains and inflammatory foods.
To be successful on the Paleo template, it’s important to avoid the foods that humans have had less time to adapt to and eat the foods that we’ve had more time to adapt to, are going to be low in toxicity, drive less inflammation, and essentially have higher levels of nutrient density. Anything you can get in vegetables and meat and low sugar berries and starchy tubers, you’re going to be able to get every single nutrient in those food items that you would in grains and other refined products.
People may say, “You can’t cut out a food group,” but don’t look at your food as a category; look at it by the nutrients it contains. Ask yourself, “Can I get that from something else?” And if you can get that nutrient from another food without taking on the inflammatory compounds, like those you get with the gluten for example, then that’s a win-win in my book.
Are You Making These Common Paleo Mistakes – Podcast #58
Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand share valuable information about not burning fat when insulin is high and other important things to consider when reaching for Paleo treats. They share their favorite treats which are healthier compared to what others are snacking on with the least amount of sugar and the least amount of damaging stuff in them. Find out if you should eat meals before or after eating treats and gain some good knowledge about how you eat, when you eat, and what you should eat it with..
Dr. Justin also explains the correlation between healthy skin and healthy gut during this interview. Also he talks about the difference between listening to discussions coming from a clinical foundation versus from a theoretical foundation. Also listen and discover how eating fats can be a good thing.
In this episode, topics include:
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Dr. J here. Evan, what’s going on?
Evan Brand: Not too much. Lookin’ at the clouds. Hopefully these things will break up. I don’t know–don’t want winter to be here yet. It’s–it’s freaking me out.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I hear you. What’s the weather up in Louisville?
Evan Brand: Well, it was kinda rainy this morning. I’d say it’s like mid-70s now. It’s a little bit too cool to be August when we’re recording this. So we’ll see what’s going on.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Nice. Do you live up by that–the plant that makes all that–the baseball bats up there?
Evan Brand: Yeah, it’s–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Louisville Sluggers?
Evan Brand: Downtown. Yeah, it’s maybe a 15-minute drive from here.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s pretty cool.
Evan Brand: Yeah, it’s a neat place. It’s something worth seeing at least once.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very cool. Next time I come up to see you, I’ll have to check it out.
Evan Brand: Sounds good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So what was your breakfast this morning?
Evan Brand: Let’s see, I had some chicken. I had a rotisserie chicken that I got last night and I did that with some broccoli. So literally a dinner for breakfast and it was amazing though, I feel good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Nice. Yeah, I did some coffee, MCT, and grass-fed butter unsalted, all blended up and I did 4 raw eggs, Rocky-style if you will. They were great.
Evan Brand: Did you put them in the blender? And then–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh no! That would destroy the coffee.
Evan Brand: No, not in the coffee, no. Like in a cup? Or what–how? What did you do? You just open the eggs in a cup and then drink ‘em or did you like stir ‘em up or–?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s it. Put ‘em right in the coffee mug, 4 in there, and just tip it high and drink it dry. That’s it.
Evan Brand: That’s great.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it was good. So I’m feeling good. Again, like these are real easy meals to just kinda stabilize my blood sugar, have a good morning, get me ready so my brain’s ready to go. Good fats, so I’m in a ketogenic type of state, relying on lots of ketones this morning.
Evan Brand: Yeah, definitely good for the brain to get you not distracted, keep you focused.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. And we talked before the show, that we decided we were gonna talk about common Paleo mistakes, because we see lots of patients and you know, one of the main–one the main kind of approaches that we’re utilizing is a Paleo template. And you notice how we didn’t say a diet, because diet kind of involves short-term strategy. It’s kinda dogmatic, a lot of times it may not be sustainable and such. So we’re really looking at a Paleo template. So with that template in mind, what’s one of the big mistakes you see with a Paleo template with some of your patients, Evan?
Evan Brand: Oh, gosh! It’s the Paleo treats.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, yeah.
Evan Brand: All the almond flour, coconut flour, the Paleo pancakes, Paleo waffles, Paleo bagels, Paleo bread. It’s like that’s still processed refined carbs. It’s still gonna be doing the same thing if not worse things to your blood sugar, because some of those alternative flour spike your blood sugar even more. So I think that’s probably the number one starting place for me.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, that makes sense. Now I look at Paleo treats, they should be in your 10-20%. So if you’re gonna be cheating a little bit in your 10-20%, that may be a better treat for you than going and having gluten or having a pizza with cheese and–and a whole bunch of flour in there. So again depending on how sick you are, some of my severe autoimmune patients where they’re out for a couple of days or they have crazy symptoms, that treat may just may not be worth it. So when you’re doing a treat, you gotta figure out, you know, like what’s your kryptonite? And if your kryptonite like puts you on your knees for a couple of days and really affects your mood and how you perform, you may wanna just think about bypassing a treat like that. But for myself, you know, my 10-20%, I will have like, you know, some coconut macaroons with some almond flour in there, but that’s in my 10-20%. It’s maybe 2-3 x a week, typically it’s after I’ve eaten a meal so my blood sugar is already stabilized so I’m not creating a blood sugar rollercoaster and I’ve already eaten some really good meals that day. We just gotta make sure it’s not part of a staple. We don’t wanna say, “Well, hey, I’m on this Paleo kick, so this is gonna be part of my diet,” and it should not be part of the, kind of the core part of your diet.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I like how you said you’re blood sugar would be stabilized first because what I’ve seen when I’m looking at food journals is that people will just count the Paleo treat as a meal.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Like they’ll get the sugar craving or they’ll get this high from the compounds in dark chocolate, say for example–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hmm.
Evan Brand: So they’ll just go nosh on dark chocolate and count that as a snack, but there’s nothing else really there to support that blood sugar, and then, you know, I’ve even done that to myself here now my blood sugar’s crashing and I feel worse than I ever did.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. So like some of the things, like not all treats are created equal, right? So I like the–the Hail Mary tarts, those are my fave.
Evan Brand: Oh, my gosh.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I like ‘em, but again if you look at them, right? The chocolate one has I think 10 grams of carbs or sugar in it versus I think the lemon or the lime or the–the vanilla one has 28. So just by looking at them, there’s a variation of like 2-3 times of sugar, depending on what flavor you choose. So sometimes the flavors matter because you can get 2-3 times the amount of sugar. Also chocolate for instance, I do like the 90% dark chocolate, GMO-free, you know, organic, all that good stuff, gluten-free. But if you did the 70%, you get twice, maybe even 3 times the amount of sugar. So you have to look at it from the perspective of, you know, how much sugar are you getting and is there a treat that you could cut down the amount of sugar 60 or 70%? That may be a better option for you.
Evan Brand: Yeah, the Miracle tarts. Those are my–my favorite treats.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Fave.
Evan Brand: Oh–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I heart them.
Evan Brand: The almond butter one is the greatest one.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely.
Evan Brand: It’s got the–it’s the raw almond butter inside. If people haven’t checked them out, check ‘em out. They’re at several different grocery stores. They’re all over Texas because they’re out of Dallas.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, yeah. Oh, they are, huh! Yeah, that makes sense.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I love ‘em. But some other treats that I’ll do is I’ll whip up some organic pasture-fed cream and I’ll just have that whipped up, maybe add 1 drop of Stevia in it and have it with some nice organic blueberries. That’s a real nice treat or I’ll do some of the–
Evan Brand: That does sound good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s really good. And I’ll do the coconuts ice cream, the one with Stevia. It’s got the blue top on and not the one with the _____. So it’s only got a couple grams of sugar and we’ll do that, sometimes with some good organic food on top. Those could be nice treats that aren’t gonna derail your blood sugar and just give you a whole bunch of extra sugar that may cause you to go to fat.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Because that sugar just pumps the insulin up which gets drive in to your triglycerides and your fat cells.
Evan Brand: And you can’t burn fat when that insulin’s high, so if you’re constantly doing these Paleo snacks throughout the day or if it’s a habit, then that could explain why you’re “doing Paleo” and nothing’s changing. That may be the little hidden piece of the puzzle you forgot to take a closer look at.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So like for my dark chocolate, I do the Endangered Species brand with the Cougar on it, the 88%.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I’ll do the–the Lindt 90%. Those are some good chocolate bars that I’ll do. And I’ll do like 2 or 3 rows, you know, maybe a couple nights a week, but–
The Visible and Invisible Stress Connection – Podcast #50
Meet Evan Brand, the new new guest co-host of Dr. Justin Marchegiani for Beyond Wellness Radio. Today’s topic is all about stress and how to handle it. Find out what Shinrin-yoku aka “forest bathing” is all about and what adaptogens help with relieving stress significantly. This podcast discusses about the Paleo template, power poses and how posture can impact your hormones, as well as other lifestyle recommendations.
Evan Brand is the creator of Not Just Paleo who shares great advice on taking control of your own health, happiness, and vitality. Learn more about the different kinds of Ginseng depending on where they’re grown and the kinds of mushrooms you can take as supplements. Listen and discover how to find good quality herbs and what types of blends are recommended.
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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, there! It’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani and welcome to another awesome episode of Beyond Wellness Radio. We now have full podcast transcriptions over at JustInHealth.com. Head over to JustInHealth.com, click on the Podcast button and you’ll be able to access all shows forward and past. And while you’re there, feel free and sign up for the Thyroid and Hormone Video Series. Some great information there for everyone and while you’re there, you can also sign up for the Podcast Newsletter where you’ll get access to these podcasts right in your inbox before anyone else. While you’re there, you can also schedule a consult with myself, if you wanna dive in to any other functional medicine or health issues.
Again, stay tuned for the show and if you’re enjoying it, please feel free and share it. Sharing is caring. Think of one person that could benefit from this show and share it. And also, feel free and head over to BeyondWellnessRadio.com/iTunes and send us a review. We really appreciate it. Thanks and enjoy the show!
Hey, this is Dr. Justin Marchegiani here with Beyond Wellness Radio and I am super stoked that we have our new guest co-host here Evan Brand from notjustpaleo.com?
Evan Brand: Yup, that’s right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome, Evan. Great! So today we’re gonna be chatting a little bit about stress and–and things you can do to help reduce stress. But again, feel free and check out JustInHealth.com and BeyondWellnessRadio.com. We have all of the podcasts up for full transcriptions and you can subscribe to the YouTube channel to also get the podcast as well. And a lot of nice freebies on the website like our Thyroid and Female Hormone Video Course as well. Evan, what’s going on with you today, man?
Evan Brand: Oh, not much. I’m staring at the clouds hoping they’ll break up so I can get outside and play in the woods later today. But I’m excited to talk about stress today, man, just because it’s such a timely subject for myself trying to multitask 20 different things at the same time without burning myself out. So I’m sure other people are in the same scenario.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and how can people find your podcast?
Evan Brand: They could just search notjustpaleo or I–I’m that cool now that if you just Google Evan Brand, you’ll find me that way, too, and all my podcasts.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Good, awesome! I figured it maybe Russel Brand would come up there in the search, too. But–you out–outbid him.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s good. Very cool! It’s good to have your own brand, right?
Evan Brand: Yup, definitely.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Pun intended.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, yeah, let’s talk about stress. Why don’t you go first?
Evan Brand: Sure, so I guess it’s helpful to talk about my first realization of stress. You know, I’m a pretty relaxed guy overall and I didn’t really get my first taste of stress until I moved down to Austin a couple of years ago and had a–a big, big cool desk job career and all of that and moved down there with my–my now wife, and we got our own place and paying all the big bills, you know, growing up, becoming a man, and–and moving thousands of miles away to–to chase my dream. And I started to have all these weird symptoms like insomnia. I was just laying in bed staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t figure out what was going on because I was exercising, I was eating Paleo, I mean it’s like–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Come–come on, I mean, I’m doing everything right. What’s going on? And so it slowly became harder for me to adjust to stress. I was becoming easily startled. I mean, if I heard a loud boom, I would kinda jump when I used to not jump. So I figured that some–some nervous system taxation was happening and I needed to figure out how to recover it. So I basically just began researching adaptogens at that point and relied heavily on them as a–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: As a stepping stone or maybe a crutch if you will for the time being, and then long story short, I ended up writing the Stress Solutions book, which I still don’t think I’ve given you a paperback copy of, but I basically tried to boil everything that I was going through down–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Into an actionable plan so that other people could apply it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great. I mean, stress is one of those, you know, things that people just kinda think about emotional stress as being stress, right? As stressful. They don’t think about, “Hey, I’m sitting all day or I have low blood sugar or I have reactive hypoglycemia or maybe I have low stomach acid.” We don’t think of those things as being stressful. And I think with functional medicine, we really wanna highlight the underlying chemical stressors that people forget about, because those are like the–the hidden energy zap of your adrenals, of your body’s reserve, and–and the lower your adrenals are, typically the lower ability that you have to adapt to stress. Because it’s really all about adaptation and that’s one of the cool things that, you know, mean you’re both really passionately about is adaptogenic herbs because they really help your body deal with stress. We just gotta make sure the–the diet component is down because that’s such a–a big factor as you talked about to–to just being the foundation of helping to deal with stress. Having those good meals, having that good sleep. That really sets the foundation throughout the day so you can deal with more stress.
Evan Brand: Yeah, well, I think the–the part you’ve kind of alluded to where people mess themselves up with stress is that they get so busy, right? They’re trying to be so productive that they forget to eat. I mean, you and I are probably are guilty of this ourselves sometimes we’re–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.
Evan Brand: Sitting on the computer and you look and, “Holy crap! It’s–it’s 2 PM and I haven’t eaten lunch yet,” and the blood sugar issues. I mean, you’ve even hounded me before, “Evan, you gotta get that blood sugar in check, man.” And it–it’s a huge deal for general stress. It’s a stress to the adrenals, you’re having to produce cortisol to raise up your blood sugar levels and people that–people may be familiar with cortisol and how it’s–it’s not always evil, you know, it has a place in your body.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It does.
Evan Brand: Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to–to get up and–and do your work in the morning when you get hopefully, you get bright light exposure outdoors. But you know, the cortisol picture when it comes to food was a–was a huge deal for me and I had to become more regimented in eating my meals. So if you’re trying to get a take away from this, it would be to eat regular meals. Try not skip meals, intermittent fasting and things like that have a great place but if you’re the type of person that’s listening and you feel like you’re recovering slowly from cuts and wounds and your sleep is messed up and you’re relying on the cups of coffee to keep you fueled up, then you may be–you may want to look at that diet picture and make sure you’re getting enough food but that you’re getting it in somewhat regular frequency, wouldn’t you say?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think so, too. And having a Paleo template, I don’t like the word diet, I like the word template because it allows the individuality of what your macronutrients may be best for you. Again, my default is always to a lower carb Paleo template because lower carb tends to emphasize more on the vegetables and less on the starch and–and sugar or fruit so to speak. Again, there’s a place for starch, there’s a place for fruit. But anyone that has weight gain as a complaint in their top 5, emphasizing the lower carb is a starting point for their low carb Paleo template. I think it’s a really good place to start with.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I think, 1 pat p2, sorry to cut you off there, is there are a lot in the Paleo community and this really drives me nuts where they make the exception the rule. Where they may be able to eat something or they may be able to fast all day or they may be able to do that and then they go on and blog and talk about their–them being the exception and this is the rule and recommend it for everyone. And I’m in a unique position because I’m in the trenches dealing with 40+ functional medicine patients a week from all over the world and I get to see the common trends in why and–why and what these people who are sick are doing. And it’s a common trend of blood sugar stability being a major issue as a common trend of skipping meals and not eating breakfast, and there’s a lot of–when these issues are addressed from a–a diet and lifestyle perspective, people see an improvement. So not everyone may be able to fast and do intermittent fasting. Not everyone can skip breakfast. People really have to be more diligent with their meals, the more broken or stressed their physiology is.
Evan Brand: Yeah. A man–a woman I was actually working with yesterday, she said, “Evan, I’ve read all the Mark’s Daily Apple Success Stories and I’ve done everything they’ve done, but yet I’m not losing weight,” and it’s–it’s so simple to see that and you see what works for someone so everybody does all of this self-diagnosing and self-treating and I think that’s a really good part about the Internet is that people are allowed to empower themselves but–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: I think that’s where the role of you and I really come in because people have tried to fix themselves and it just doesn’t work because they’re basing themselves off of someone else’s unique bio-individuality and you’re destined to fail that way.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean it’s like if you get summons to court. Let’s say something happened. You’re called to court. I mean do you go online and just try to figure out the hacks so you can do good in court? I mean, 9 times out of 10, the people that represent themselves in court, unless they’re a lawyer themselves, they don’t do too well. So it’s like you get the lawyer because it’s worth it in the end because if you don’t, you know, a lot of bad things could happen. And same thing in functional medicine and the functional nutritional world is that you can waste a lot more time because, you know, you only have your m=1 to go from. You only have just your experience and it’s hard to connect the dots when you haven’t seen a lot of different experienced and–and then connect the commonalties.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm. And I wanted to talk a little more about the lifestyle part of stress and something that’s really cool in the research lately and that’s Shinrin-yoku, aka “forest bathing”. I think I may have talked–talked to you about it before–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: But for people that–that don’t know, it’s called Shinrin-yoku by the Japanese and when you’re looking in PubMed if you’re, you know, a physician listening and you wanna research it yourself, type in Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, and you’ll see the results these Japanese researchers have taken. There was one particular study that took 420 individuals out into the woods, several different forests and they took them–some out–were out there for a few days and some were out there for just 15 minutes and then the control group were people that were walking down the sidewalk in the city and they took salivary cortisol measures before and after this. And there was a significant reduction, I don’t remember the exact percentage, but–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wow.
Evan Brand: A significant reduction in reduction in cortisol levels after just 15 minutes in the forest but even more interesting is that their NK killer cells, they’re immune cells were boosted not only for that day, but even 1 month after. I do remember this percentage, 23% boost in NK killer cells, 1 month after a hike in the woods. So–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Whoa!
Evan Brand: If you have the opportunity to take a trip to the woods or if you have maybe a trail behind you–when I was in Austin on the southwest side of town there was a pretty good patch of woods back there and I would go walk through there at the end of a stressful day and I felt significantly better. Obviously the peace and quiet, not having to hear car alarms and sirens and things like that is helpful in itself but it kinda boils down to the airborne chemicals; they call them the–the phytoncides I believe it is. It’s these airborne chemicals that trees and plants put off. Of course, your body’s gonna benefit from those. That’s what we’ve naturally been exposed to for a million years at this point. So I just wanted to kinda throw that piece of research out there and encourage people to get outdoors. If you’re stressed out at your desk, there is a reason. Get off your desk and go out there and just try to get a change of environment.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And that’s really important to get out there, get your Vitamin D, do some grounding, lots of good benefits and I love having some of the physiology, some of the objective markers behind it. Because you hear some of these things and you’ll like, “Oh, you’re just a hippie or whatever.” It’s cool to have the science behind it because you’re like, “Oh, wow! This is–this is legit. This isn’t just like, you know, some hippie telling me what to do.”
Evan Brand: Exactly. Totally. I know it definitely helps my credibility.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and there’s another cool thing because, you know, frankly we’re not gonna–we’re gonna spend more time inside, most of us. That’s just the way it is. So what can we do to help with that? I’ve invested in my office at home and my office at work to have stand desk where I can have my desk literally go up or down. And I’m sitting right now as you can see on the feed here, but I’ve been standing most of the day and I will stand most of the day. And that makes a huge difference for me, the standing, being able to move around and posture is so important. Amy Cuddy did a TED talk and she again let’s take some of the objective markers here. She took people that were in this kinda slouched over posture and she ran salivary cortisol and she had them stand up and pull their shoulders back, and they went to this power pose with their arms up reaching overhead, kinda like maybe they’re running back when they score a touchdown or Stallone in the Rocky movies once he gets to the top of those steps and he puts his arms up. And she had people literally just take their arms, put them above their head and hold them there for 2 minutes. And she ran salivary cortisol and testosterone and she saw a 20% reduction in cortisol, that stress hormone and an improvement in testosterone just with a postural change for 2 minutes.
Evan Brand: That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, and I–I write some stuff like that on my lifestyle recommendations when I’ll make a plan. I’ll tell people, “Look, I want you to stand with your hands on your hips and–“
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.
Evan Brand: “Put your chest up,” and I do feel a bit like a hippie when I’m telling people that, but I’m glad that there’s more verification there.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, she ran salivary cortisols, salivary hormones, and you know, we do that in our practice with our patients and it’s great to see simple things like posture. And when I got to the gym I do like foundation training exercises which is like Eric Goodman’s work or I’ll do work where I’ll sit up against the wall, ankles, butt, shoulders and head, and I’ll keep my jaw level with the–with the ground. Then I’ll pull my head back into that postural position and really work on strengthening the deep cervical flexors in front by the neck and stretching those back posterior cervical extensors and really work on good posture because we know posture is so important even to your hormones.
Evan Brand: That’s cool. So, I mean, that all does tie into stress because you–when you are stressed, you’re more likely to curl up in a ball–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You are.
Evan Brand: And just feel depressed, and I mean, there’s no better word, depressed. Your–your physiology is depressed, your posture, I mean, everything about you is exuding depression and stress. So I mean, if you are feeling stressed this may be a time for you to stand up while you’re listening to this podcast and–and try out some of these poses. When I’m out in nature, expressing, and I like to put arms out and put my palms up and just, “Ahhh” just open up like, “I’m powerful!” You know? And it’s goofy but–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: It makes you feel better.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, my wife caught one time in the office, me doing the power pose reaching the arms overhead, and she’s like, “What are you doing?” And I’m like, “Ahh, power poses. Trying to decrease my cortisol.” And–and she gets it though. So, yeah, those power poses are coo, maybe play a little Eye of The Tiger and you know, get in that position, you know, and get–get pumped throughout the day. So, yeah. I agree. Posture is a–is a big one and it can really help your hormones.
Evan Brand: Definitely. Well, what–what’s the next topic of–of stress? Or what’s the next facet of stress you think that we’ve hit on? We’ve hit on the lifestyle a little bit. We’ve hit on the diet. What am I missing?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So I think the diet and the lifestyle stuff, that’s the foundation. Don’t do anything else until you have that mastered because that’s gonna be your best bang for your buck. But you know, we’re big fans of adaptogens. I know you’ve worked at–on it for a bit, designing some of these custom blends and I have some blends in the work here that I use with my patients with various adaptogens. I’m a huge fan of them because, I mean, everyone should be on an adaptogen in my opinion.
Evan Brand: I agree. Yeah. I took my adaptogens this morning. I actually have been experimenting. I don’t have any affiliation with them but I’ve been experimenting with the Organic India Joy! blend–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it’s a–
Evan Brand: And it’s Ashwagandha, Shankpushpi, Gotu Kola, and one– Bacopa.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bacopa. Ooh, that’s a nice one.
Evan Brand: It’s an awesome stack. I mean, when–actually I didn’t take it this morning. I should have for this podcast but I end up with a perma-grin for a few hours afterwards.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, wow! That’s good. I’m gonna have to give you one Paleo to merit today for not taking your adaptogens.
Evan Brand: Well–well, no, I did take–I did take Ashwagandha and I take a–a mushroom complex as well. So I’m on some adaptogens but not that one yet.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Nice. Nice. Yeah, I’m on about 800 mg of Eleuthero and also about 600 mg of Rhodiola today.
Evan Brand: That’s great.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So it’s just a Rhodiola-Eleuthero day and I’m feeling good. My wife, she forgot to take her adaptogens for the last couple of weeks, just kind of got into that–that stress routine and I could see, like there was a big difference in her mood, and we just got her up on the adaptogens in which she came home from work, her mood was just a thousand times better and you know, she’s–you know, an executive of a really big Internet company so she has a lot of stress on her and–and adaptogens for her make a massive difference–
Evan Brand: That’s so cool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: In how she performs.
Evan Brand: Talk–talk about her stack a little bit. I’m sure people are curious about–if she is taking capsules, tinctures, etc.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so for her, we have her on some female hormone tincture blends to help with hormones and keeping her cycle optimized. And then she is on a similar stack as me right now because I create her regimens and programs, so it’s easier for her just to kinda piggyback on what I’m doing. So we use some of the same adaptogens, but typically I go back and forth between Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, I’ll mix in some Panax Ginseng or Red Root Ginseng, and we’ll even do some Holy Basil at night and those are the big ones that I–I tend to go for. Yeah, for adaptogen in qualities.
Evan Brand: So Eleuthero, that’s the same thing as–that’s the Siberian version of Ginseng, right?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so Ginseng is typically or made up of where they’re–where they’re grown, right? The phyto signature in the soil makes up a huge difference. So for instance, with Eleuthero, that’s kinda more the Siberian-Russia area, okay? And then you have the Maca which is more of your Peruvian Ginseng. You have your Ashwagandha which is more of your Indian Ginseng. Your Panax Ginseng is more of the American Ginseng, American soil. You have the Red Root Ginseng which is more your Korean Ginseng. And then you have herbs like Tribulus which tend to have a better phyto signature growing in Bulgarian soils, so etc. These herbs are really important. You talk to any master herbalist, the quality of the soil is just as much to do with the quality of the herb. So I like, you know, wild crafted, meaning you get guys that go out there and–and pick them up by their hands and–and you get really good quality and you don’t have like, you know, cheap herbs grown in countries where the soil isn’t good and, you know, you get bad soil so maybe there’s some heavy metals in the soil, like grown in industrial Chinese areas and then you get crappy herbs with a whole bunch of metals.
Evan Brand: Yeah, that’s an important distinction you made. If you’re concerned about that, you know, you can look for the organic. You can look for the wild crafted certification and things like that, and always I mean, I go super geeky sometimes and contact the manufacturer or the company themselves and just say, “Hey, do you have heavy metal testing?” Most of the time, I mean, generally speaking, if a company is reputable, they’re gonna have that testing available and they’re gonna have it done. They’re not gonna have it on the shelves but I’m sure there’s some–there’s some shady adaptogens you can find in a little store on a corner somewhere.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and you know, I always recommend companies that are third-party independently tested as well. Because if a person’s–if a company is willing to go to that extreme that means they’re very, very confident because independent tests don’t lie and–but patients will either choose an adaptogenic herb or will use a blend, a combination blend, and I’m–I’m gonna have some in the works right now that I’m creating in my private line for my patients.
Evan Brand: That’s exciting. I can’t wait to get a batch. You have to send me the–the first bottle that comes off the line.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely and I know you’ve worked on blends with on it. What are some of the blends you’ve worked on?
Evan Brand: Yeah, there’s one that I don’t even know if it’s gonna hit the shelf. I’m–I’m still kind of anxiously waiting to see and one was, basically, it was a workout supplement for women but what I did was is I basically added some adaptogenic support to this workout supplement but also a little bit of blood sugar support, too. Because I’m guessing that women, they’re gonna be busy, it’s a fast-paced woman who wants to work out right after–right after she, you know, gets out of the office, things like that. So what I did is I created a combination of some blood sugar support like some 7-keto but then I also added in some Ashwagandha and some Rhodiola and then I added just a little bit of Cordyceps to give the more oxygen utilization side of things. It was too big. I ended just having so much fun combining the blend. It was–it was too big to fit in 2 capsules. It’d be like 10 capsules or something ridiculous so it would have had to end up becoming a powder and then of course, the whole issue becomes how are you gonna make it taste decent with Stevia and can you get true natural flavors and things like that. So I basically came up with all the ingredients and then sent it over to Aubrey, the CEO, and said, “Hey, here’s what I got.” And then he goes to his stepmom who’s a doctor and she verifies and tells me whether I know what I’m talking about or not, and then it would go onward to, you know, the flavoring department and things like that. So that was probably my biggest and most fun project. But then I just worked on some of the science, too, behind the other pages of–like the Alpha BRAIN for example, the Shroom TECH Sport, the Vira Tech, it was like a vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid, immune-boosting type supplement, making sure that the science was there to support the use of lysine to balance out your arginine and things like that. I did a–a lot of the behind the scenes stuff, but if I see that product hit the shelves with a–with a label, I’ll be sure to–to have it framed or something like that in a little special box.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great, and I saw that you put out some affiliate codes for the–for the some of the Onnit products this morning.
Evan Brand: Yeah, finally.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Daily now.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I finally got a–a 10% code for people. So if you wanna check that out, they can just go to notjustpaleo.com/supplements and then I have my little built-in code where you get 10% off because who likes to pay full price for supplements if you can get a discount, you know?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great. Very cool. And you also mentioned Cordyceps, too. And Cordyceps are a mushroom, they’re not necessarily an herb but they have adaptogenic qualities which is cool. They really support the adrenals. They help with glutathione production and they boost up DHEA which is that sex hormone precursor that tends to be depleted with chronic stress.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I take Cordyceps every day. Actually right now, I’m using Lucky’s Market. They have just a store brand of organic mushroom blend. I mean, it has everything. You would love it. It has Maitake, the Shitake, the Reishi, the Cordyceps. I’ve been feeling so good. I told Hannah my wife yesterday, I said, “Babe, I’ve been feeling so good lately because I’ve just added in a couple new combinations of nutrients to my stack, and I–I’ve been on fire.” I mean, I’ve been really feeling good. So if I mean, if someone’s questioning, “Do I really need this stuff?” To me, it’s a 21st century pre-requisite to have a good stack on hand. I mean, life is stressful. You’re pulled in 50 directions. You’ve gotta have some sort of solid basis of nutrients that are going in. Of course, diet–that diet’s the first part. But you know, assuming that you and I are following something like Dr. Justin and I, supplements or that thing that takes you to the next level and separates you from the competition.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and I had a patient that, you know, asked me like, “Do I really need this?” And I say, “Well, would you describe your life at all stressful?” She’s like, “Yeah, I have this and–,” and even though it’s like this person wasn’t a full-time, you know, in the corporate world, they were a full-time mom which a lot of times is even more stressful and it’s like, unless you can tell me that your life is stress-free and is relatively easy, you’re gonna benefit with some level of adaptogenic support and/or nutrient support because when we’re stressed we also burn through B vitamins. So I also add in some extra B vitamins and in my patients at some level we do organic acid testing and we’ll look at the B vitamins because they’ll burn through those suckers pretty fast with extra stress. So some level I–I have an adaptogenic herb or two in my protocol. I’ll have extra stress nutrients. Nutrients that go down or should say drop with stress or we’ll be burned up with stress and then a mushroom is great. I’m a huge fan or Reishi just because of the fact of its immune-modulating effect that’s called the Ten-Thousand-Year mushroom so it’s been around longer than any, you know, any supplements so to speak and you know, it’s amazing you hear some of the people in the pharmaceutical industry saying, “Well, some of these supplements or herbs that are untested.” They’ve been around so long, some of them––it’s not even funny. The question is, do we have good quality? And again 95% are crap so we just have to know the right places to get it from.
Evan Brand: Totally. Yeah, I–I love you mentioned that. I mean, some of these drugs will come out and they’ll be out on the market for 2 years and 1 rat study for 6 months or something just proves that it’s safe and then you have ancient Chinese wisdom or something that’s been written in books on hemp and papyrus–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: And that’s–that’s the real stuff that we’re really starting to respect and the science keeps continuing to back up the, you know, the evidence and the great value in these things so–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Keep an open mind really.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, especially with stress. I mean, you could–some of these scientific journals in these oriental countries, I mean, you have like Reishi being used as a first line therapy in cancer. They’re using Cordyceps mushrooms for kidney transplants. I mean, this is crazy, like–
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: People in the United States have no idea. Just go on to PubMed and punch some of these things in and you get lots of scientific journals in other countries that are researching this stuff and it just doesn’t make its way over here and it’s sad because, you know, medicine is pretty much co-opted by the drug industry so unless a drug company has billions of dollars behind something, it’s not really gonna get out to the everyday person just because it’s so expensive to bring something to market. It’s hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars and if you can’t patent it, you’re not gonna get the money back. So other countries they’re–they’re laws are more lax and it’s easier to bring things to market so it’s–it’s easier, and you know, the US–I think the US and I think New Zealand–it’s either New Zealand or Australia are the only 2 countries that actually market their drugs to the consumer on TV.
Evan Brand: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I’ve–I’ve actually had some friends that have come from overseas and they see a drug commercial and are like, “Holy crap! You can do that?”
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Ask your doctor? What do you mean, ask the doctor? I thought the doctor was supposed to tell you? Nope, you’re asking your doctor these days, you know. So that’s just–that’s a whole another podcast.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, yeah. And it’s 70 to 80–the research is clear. 70-80 percent–70-80 percent of the time when the patient goes into the doctor and request the drug because they saw it on TV, they get the prescription. It is a major effect on influence and the doctor.
Evan Brand: That’s incredible.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So kinda tie in this back to stress, I’m a big fan of mushrooms. Alright, huge, huge fan. Helps with stress. I like Cordyceps and I like Reishi and also if you’re dealing with any chronic immune stuff like cancer, Coriolus is another awesome mushroom typically using that in conjunction with Reishi works phenomenal. Love it.
Evan Brand: Sweet. Well, I think–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I take these mushrooms individually, too. Like I don’t use a lot of blends because I wanna get 3 grams of Reishi, I wanna get 4 grams of Reishi. When you look at these blends, I mean, you’re lucky to get maybe 100 or 300 mg.
Evan Brand: That’s a good point. I probably am fairy dusting myself–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.
Evan Brand: With some of these.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think it’s good to just have like just a straight Cordyceps, a straight Reishi, and just kinda mix it that way. That can be a good way to do it. Just mix the whole herb straight in.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm. I think we only got a couple minutes left but man, we could probably spend 3 hours on this topic. This is–I didn’t realize how–how enjoyable both–both you and I would–would dig in this today.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I’m really happy we have this extra, you know, once or twice a month, we’re gonna be having these conversations and really diving in deep and it’s great because I get to bring my clinical experience working with thousands with patients and you get to bring your clinical experience working with lots of patients as well, and we get to kinda share it with the listeners which is awesome.
Evan Brand: It’s a blast.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Well, anything else you wanna add today, Evan?
Evan Brand: Not really. If people are interested in, you know, they can check out my podcast as well. Dr. Justin, he’s been on there, and I’m still getting emails like, “Wow! That Dr. Justin guy kicks ass.” So check out that episode if you need a good place to start but there’s plenty more where that came from, and you know, 99% of the stuff that Dr. Justin and I both put out is free. So there is hope, stay confident, and stay positive. Take baby steps in the right direction every day and I guarantee you’ll get massive results.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and if you listen to these podcasts or read some of our blogs and posts and you feel like, “Well, I don’t know where to start.” You know, this is kind of the best step, is to reach out to either me or Evan and we can kinda help guide you in the first couple of steps to take because you know, you’re always gonna do better with, you know, with a trail guide that’s already hiked the mountain a few times, that can help navigate all the pitfalls.
Evan Brand: Definitely.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, Evan, hey, it was great talking today, man.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Likewise.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Have a good one!
Evan Brand: You, too.