Biohacking Your Mitochondria To Better Health with Shawn Wells: Rational Wellness Podcast 207

Shawn Wells discusses Biohacking Your Mitochondria to Better Health with Dr. Ben Weitz.

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Podcast Highlights

1:19  Shawn Wells had a series of health challenges that he was able to overcome largely with diet and supplements, including having Epstein-Barr virus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto’s all at once.  He was in bed for six months and thought his life was over and had suicidal thoughts and severe depression.  His weight had also gone up to 300 lbs and then down to 150 lbs and anorexia and up to 220 lbs with orthorexia.  He stumbled upon the keto diet and nutritional supplements and he was able to find his way to overcome autoimmune disease, his weight and his other health challenges. Then about 8 years ago he ended up with a brain tumor. He explored exogenous ketones and C8 MCTs and different Racetams and fish oils. Shawn feels that this suffering is what has given him his passion for studying nutritional supplements and wanting to help people.  His story has connected him to many people who have also had health challenges. He said:  “my broken is my beautiful.”  It has been his hero’s journey.

7:45  Shawn’s book, The ENERGY Formula, ENERGY is an acronym that Experiment, Nutrition, Exercise, Routines, Growth and Your tribe and these are six topics covered in this book. Experiment, which is the first chapter revolves around epigenetics, blood work, bio individuality.  A supplement that works for someone might not work for someone else.  We need to look at genetics, lab work, and our intuition to see which supplements, diet, exercise routines will work for which clients.  Nutrition. Shawn is a big believer in eating a whole foods diet, whether it is keto, paleo, vegan, carnivore, Mediterranean, and everything in between. Exercise is super important and high intensity interval training is better than low intensity steady state in terms of results.  There are some hacks for getting faster results like intra-set stretching and blood flow restriction.  Routines is about respecting your natural circadian rhythm and the sleep wake cycle.  You want to eat during the daylight window, according to researchers like Dr. Satchin Panda.  Your bedroom should be a sleep fortress and you should have a good sleep routine. And there is the crucial morning routine where you can take 10 minutes and do some breath work, some gratitude and affirmations, some light stretching, and grab some water.  In those 10 minutes you can transform your day and feel like you own the day instead of just stumbling into it and rushing through it. With growth, Shawn gets into a stoic mindset and talks about resilience and both intermittent and extended fasting.  The last section is on your tribe, which is the connection that you have with others that is important for longevity and you see this in the Blue Zones where people live the longest.

14:00  Mitochondrial health.  Shawn explained that he has lived much of his life without energy, so he has spent a lot of time exploring mitochondrial health.  The keto diet can be a great way to optimize mitochondria, because if you are metabolically dysfunctional and insulin resistant, this a good way to provide fat as an alternative fuel source rather than glucose.  For those who are overweight and insulin resistant, keto can be like turning the lights on for them.  Intermittent fasting can also help to raise ketones and promote mitochondrial biogenesis. It also stimulates autophagy, which is a form of cellular detox, cleaning up those cells, and mitophagy, which refers to cleaning up the mitochondria. 

16:15  Ketogenic diet. Keto is just a set of macronutrient ratios (70% of calories from fat, 25% calories from protein and 5% from carbohydrates) and there are different versions of keto.  You can be vegan and keto. You can have plenty of low carb vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, lettuce, kale and spinach.  You have to avoid the starchier veggies like peas, carrots, corn, and potatoes.



Shawn Wells is a nutritional biochemist and expert on health optimization.  Shawn has a masters in public health, he is a licensed dietary nutritionist, and an expert at formulating nutritional supplements as well as on health optimization. Shawn has a new book, The Energy Formula, which was recently released. This book is about biohacking, mitochondrial support, keto, Paleo, cold plunges, red light saunas, fasting, meditation, breathwork and supplements, incl. nootropics, CBD, MCTs and a ton more.  

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss and also athletic performance, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111. Dr. Weitz is also available for video or phone consultations.


Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz:    Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz, host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field, to bring you the latest in cutting edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates. And to learn more, check out my website, doctorweitz.com. Thanks for joining me, and let’s jump into the podcast.

Hello, Rational Wellness Podcasters. Today we will be interviewing Shawn Wells and I’m very excited about this conversation. And he is a nutritional biochemist, an expert on health optimization. Shawn has a Master’s in Public Health. He’s a licensed dietary nutritionist, and an expert in formulating nutritional supplements, as well as on health optimization. And Shawn has a fantastic new book, The Energy Formula, which has just been released. This book is about bio hacking, mitochondrial support, keto, cold plunges, fasting, meditation, supplements, and a ton more really cool stuff. So Shawn, thank you so much for joining us today.

Shawn:   Thanks for having me on, Ben. I appreciate it.

Dr. Weitz:   Excellent. So perhaps you can tell us about your personal health journey, and some of the health challenges that have brought you to where you are today.

Shawn:   Man, and I think this is the case with anyone that’s an expert at what they do, and they’ve had the hero’s journey, if you will. And for me, that’s definitely the case. I’ve been through a lot health wise. I had one point where I had Epstein-Barr virus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto’s all at once. My body was just shutting down. I was in bed for about six months in pain, inflamed thinking that my life was over. This was in the midst of me getting my master’s at UNC Chapel Hill in nutritional biochemistry. And I literally thought about committing suicide, because I thought all the stuff that I had been studying and working on would be pointless. That if I was in bed the rest of my life.  And that’s when I stumbled into keto. That’s when I actually was interested in sports nutrition supplements and performance. At the time, I was working out a lot. I had transformed my body from being morbidly obese, and even having disordered eating where I went from really morbid obesity to anorexia, going from 300 pounds to 150 pounds to orthorexic at 220 pounds. So I went through it. It was a heck of a journey. But after I went through this autoimmune stuff, I stumbled into keto, stumbled into different supplements for very different purposes than sports, nutrition and performance, which was my passion. That’s when I discovered all these things. And it really helped transform me and get me out of bed, out of the pain, out of the inflammation. And get me back into class.

And I had faith in supplements and nutrition before because again, I had lost so much weight and started to see my sports performance and strength improved pretty dramatically. But when I felt like I was dying to come back from that, that’s when I got a lot more serious in a different way. And that’s when I started really wanting to help people on a deeper level. And then about eight years ago, I had a brain tumor that changed a lot of things too. And that’s when I started to dig into mental health much more deeply, and explored exogenous ketones and C8 MCTs, and different Racetams and fish oils, and all these kinds of things for people that have been through not only brain tumors, but depression like I had suffered. And how that works and what supplements and diet can do there. Those are some of the big things that I’ve been through. And it’s been-

Dr. Weitz:   Those are enough challenges for five people definitely.

Shawn:       Yeah, exactly. But like I said in a presentation a couple years when I came forward about my depression that I have suffered for most of my life and even suicidal thoughts. Was that my broken is my beautiful. It’s what connects me to people. It’s what’s given me my hero’s journey. It’s what’s given me my passion for my area of study. And I feel like other people have connected pretty deeply with it as well. I was very reluctant at one conference when I really opened up about telling my story and getting really deep into it, because I thought they’d only want to hear about science and supplements. And it was just the opposite. It was people just coming up to me and drove after saying like, “Thank you for saying that. I’ve been suffering too.”

That really was cathartic for me to bare my soul because up until that point, I felt like as a health influencer, a dietitian, all these things, I need to show the perfect image. And for me to show that I’ve fought obesity and disordered eating, that I’ve fought anorexia, I’ve had all these immune system issues and brain tumors, and I still fight depression even now. I thought that I would be rejected for that. And to not only not be rejected, but for the most part people really lift me up for it. That’s been powerful in my journey of really changing the feel of my brand, and making it more me instead of just trying to do whatever I think will connect with them.

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah. No, that’s a really powerful, powerful concept. And I think there’s no doubt that when you can connect with people on an emotional level, I know it’s a struggle for me because I’m very, very focused on science. And I got a philosophy degree, and rigorous logical thought. And yet when you can connect with people on an emotional level, it means so much more. I was watching this trial that’s going on, on TV right now. And the first day or so, they had all these emotional discussions about this person and what he meant to people. And the jury was riveted. And then they started into all these slide presentations and showing charts, and the jury was nodding. So there’s no doubt that when you can connect with people on an emotional level, it means so much more.

Shawn:       Yeah, for sure.

Dr. Weitz:   So let’s dig into your book. And I know that we can only touch on a small amount in the next 50 minutes or so that we have. But I definitely would like to hit some of the supplements stuff, because you’re such a great resource on that. And I’m really fascinated with that. But the subtitle of your book is the six foundational pillars to cultivate a more caring, compassionate, connected, unified and purpose-filled life. So maybe you can go into these foundational pillars a little bit.

Shawn:      Yeah, so The ENERGY Formula, ENERGY is an acronym. And it means Experiment, Nutrition, Exercise, Routines, Growth and Your tribe. So that’s the ENERGY. And so those are six letters and six topics in the book. And it’s organized in such a way that it has that flow that I think really goes from the most scientific. So what you want, if you will. If you’re someone that’s a bio hacker, but by the end it’ll also give you what you need. And so we can go through that. So experiment, the first chapter really revolves around epigenetics, blood work, bio individuality. Meaning it’s not one-size-fits-all. And I get into that pretty deeply that a supplement that works for someone might not work for you. And having that data through genetics, through blood work, but also through your own intuition is really important.

And doing one thing at a time is part of that, so that you can delineate and give yourself that intuition. You can say what am I feeling in my body? What is this doing for me? Whether it’s exercise, diets, supplements, whatever it is that you’re adding in? How do you know that it’s actually working for you? Having metrics, trusting your intuition, that’s really important. So we get into that in experiment. And then nutrition. We get into keto, paleo, vegan, carnivore, Mediterranean, all these different diets. And explain which one might be the best fit for you because of again, bio individuality. I don’t oversell anything. I do keto, but that’s not necessarily the best fit for everyone.

The one thing that I do consistently sell is the idea of using whole foods, and getting away from ultra processed foods. Such should be something whether you’re a vegan, you’re carnivore, you’re Mediterranean, or anything in between, we should all agree on whole Foods without a doubt. And so the next chapter is exercise. A lot of cool shortcuts there for getting faster results for recovery, for hypertrophy, for strength. Whatever it is you’re working on. I get into why high intensity interval training is better than low intensity steady state in terms of results at least. And then some other hacks like intra-set stretching and blood flow restriction. Really cool data backed hacks to get more results in less time.

And then the next chapter is routines. So getting into circadian rhythm here in the sleep wake cycle. The optimal eating windows, according to researchers like Dr. Satchin Panda, you want to eat during the daylight window. And then covering what sleep fortresses look like in terms of making your bedroom a sleep fortress that’s meant for purely sleep. And of course, secondarily sex. But that’s it, is just those things. It’s not meant for TVs, for long discussions, for a bunch of devices for an office. A bedroom needs to be a sleep fortress. And then getting into sleep hygiene, what a good schedule looks like to go to sleep. And then also that morning routine, and how critical that is, and what that can look like.

Just 10 minutes I get into can be a game changer where you do some breath work as you wake up, do some gratitude and affirmations. Do some light stretching and grab some water. I mean those things, that’s 10 minutes and you can really transform your day and you feeling like you own the day instead of just stumbling into it and rushing through it. Then moving into growth, I get into stoic mindset. The obstacles, the way type thinking, the resilient type thinking. And resilience is really a through line throughout the book. And then I also cover extended and intermittent fasting, which ties in well to the routines and that circadian rhythm discussion, again with Dr. Satchin Panda. And having your eating window again during the daylight hours, and your restricted feeding time being during the dark hours, if you will.

And then lastly, moving into your tribe, which is if you look at the Blue Zones, where people are super centenarians. They live past 100, what are the things they have in common? They have connection and community. And then even the longest study of all time, the greatest study of all time, the Harvard study that’s over 80 years running. Multiple generations, thousands of people they’ve examined for longevity. And the number one predictor of longevity is quality of relationships. And so you get into all that in your tribe, and how important these things are. And that you’re the product of the five people closest to you. So that is the book in summation. There’s so much in there. There’s over 60 … the whole thing is full color front to back. So that’s why the hard cover is 39.99. It cost me 39.80 to make it.  You can get the ebook for $1.99. And we now have the audible, which I read myself. But there’s 60 full color diagrams. There’s surveys to assess your progress. Chapter summaries, if you just don’t want to read everything. There’s formulators corners that gets into all the supplements, the brands, the doses. Resource hacks that covers the techniques, the tips, the apps that you need to get going on. The devices, all that stuff. So it’s chuck-full of information. And yeah, I’d love to discuss whatever you’re interested in here, Ben.

Dr. Weitz:   Okay. So I picked a few things out. So based on energy, one of the important factors is mitochondrial health. So maybe we could talk a little bit about how do we promote and optimize mitochondrial health?

Shawn:       Yeah, that’s a great question. And something that I’m super passionate about, because I’ve lived most of my life without energy because when I was younger, I was bullied. And I ate a lot of junk food and I was obese. And then I dealt with the autoimmune stuff, and even the brain tumor. And I know what it’s like to just be struggling for energy. And so I’ve explored mitochondrial health quite a bit. The ketogenic diet obviously, if you’re someone that’s metabolically dysfunctional. If you’re insulin resistant, this is going to be a powerful tool. It’s different than just weight loss, because you are providing an alternate fuel source when you’re in states of insufficient cellular energy.

And if you’re insulin resistant, you’re just not getting enough glucose into the cell to use as fuel. So that’s why some people that are overweight or insulin resistant that keto can be like turning the lights on for them. It just feels like a boom of energy. And for some people it’s not. But for people that are metabolically dysfunctional, it can be quite powerful. And then adding to that, which will raise ketones further and is almost like the Holy Trinity when you do paleo, keto and intermittent fasting, that can be really powerful because again, you’re raising ketones. You’re also getting control of your snacking. And it’s been shown that period of fasting will promote mitochondrial biogenesis, meaning create more mitochondria.

And it will also initiate autophagy, which means that cellular detox, cleaning up those cells. And even something called mitophagy, cleaning up the mitochondria. So fasting is a powerful tool for helping mitochondrial energy. And then getting into some supplements that I discuss in the book.

Dr. Weitz:   Hang on a second. Let’s hit on the keto diet for a minute.

Shawn:       Yeah, sure.

Dr. Weitz:   It’s not a program that works best for me, but I’ve guided some clients through a keto program. And some of the challenges I have found is making sure that they get enough diversity of vegetables, because vegetables often get left out of that keto program. And then how do you get enough fat without just slathering on butter? It’s really hard to get enough from what I found, healthy fat on a keto program.

Shawn:      Yeah, so that’s an interesting question. And this is going to vary from person to person. But know that the ketogenic diet for all that happens with people saying it’s bacon, and it’s burgers and it’s this and it’s that. Keto is a set of macronutrient ratios. You can be vegan and be keto. You can be carnivore and be keto. You can be Mediterranean and keto. It’s just macronutrient ratios. So how you execute on that is up to you. I mean there can be what’s called lazy keto or dirty keto, where you’re eating a lot of desserts and processed foods and things like that. That’s probably not ideal. It may help with some weight loss, but long term that’s probably not an ideal lifestyle.

Dr. Weitz:   Your ideal keto ratio is what on the macros?

Shawn:       Yeah, it’s probably something like 70% of calories from fats, 25% calories from protein, and then zero to 5% coming from carbohydrate. And mostly fiber from the vegetables.

Dr. Weitz:   So yeah, that’s the tricky part is how do you have enough calories left to get your vegetables in? And then how do you get that much fat, and still make it healthy?

Shawn:      Well, there’s a couple things there. So with the vegetables I get plenty in, especially if it’s the high fiber, low glycemic, low carb vegetables. Think things like cauliflower and broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts. Obviously lettuce and kale and spinach, things like that, that are nutrient dense, but low calorie and certainly low carb. Ones that you can run into some problems are the ones that are the traditional American vegetables, because they’re a high sugar, high starch that really aren’t as healthy as you’d think. Because of that, they’re high glycemic. And so things like peas, carrots, corn. Those might be a little less keto friendly. So there’s plenty of vegetables that you can have.

And then to your point, I think I’ve talked to Dr. Daniel Stickler, who’s a doctor I work with out of Austin. And he feels like the most powerful diet right now in terms of data would be something like a Mediterranean keto diet. So keto is powerful. Using fats for fuel is a powerful tool. And limiting the amount of certainly processed or high glycemic carbohydrate can be powerful as well, especially if again you’re insulin resistant. But getting in plenty of the monounsaturated fats like olive oil can be extremely healthy. So yeah, it takes some planning, but that’s what I would look at. I would look at some of the tenets of paleo, the most important would be from paleo is dropping allergens and eating whole food.

The tenets of keto is getting away from high carbohydrates, potentially that’s high glycemic. And then getting adapted to using fat for fuel, and at least being metabolically flexible, where you can use glucose or fat for fuel. And then lastly would be the components of Mediterranean, where you’re eating some of these healthy meats, especially fish. You’re having a lot of fresh vegetables, and you’re having things like olive oil in a high amount. And that would be a pretty powerful trinity. And then add to that maybe some intermittent fasting like a 16 and eight. And that would really be the ultimate combination to me.

Dr. Weitz:   Let’s not forget the red wine.

Shawn:       Yeah, exactly. I’m a big fan of that. Just around one glass and sipping it with a meal and having … what’s important is I think with red wine when you think about Mediterranean, yes there’s benefits to having this polyphenol, the resveratrol. And yes, there’s actually benefits to one to two glasses of alcohol a day in terms of it’s a hormetic stress to the mitochondria. It’s a positive stress in a good way that actually stimulates the mitochondria to be stronger. And it also has a vasodilation effect on your arteries. So a small amount of alcohol can be healthy. It’s just we tend to blame it, and we tend to drink too much and it becomes unhealthy. But another factor in this is the way that they drink it.

And again, going back to these Blue Zones, like Sardinia, Italy, that is Mediterranean, they have the community and the connection. And they eat meals for a couple hours, and they prepare those meals themselves. And they’re sitting with 10 people. And so when they’re drinking wine, it’s a different experience with that wine drinking than it might be for us when we just might pound it, and maybe we’re alone. And it’s very different things. So that’s something that has to be factored in as well.

Dr. Weitz:            Interesting. I’ve really been enjoying this discussion, but I’d like to take a minute to tell you about a new product that I’m very excited about. I’d like to tell you about a new wearable called the Apollo. This is a device that can be worn on the wrist or the ankle, and it uses vibrations to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This device has amazing benefits in terms of getting you out of that stressed out sympathetic nervous system and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. It has a number of different functions, especially helping you to relax, to focus, to concentrate, get into a deeper meditative state, even to help you sleep, and there’s even a mode to help you wake up. This all occurs through the scientific use of subtle vibrations.

                                For those of you who might be interested in getting the Apollo for yourself to help you reset your nervous system, go to apolloneuro.com and use the affiliate code, Weitz10. That’s my last name, WEITZ10. Now, back to the discussion.




Dr. Weitz:   Let’s get into some of the nutraceutical ways to reinforce mitochondrial health.

Shawn:       Yeah. So that’s very exciting for me for sure. So the electron transport chain is part of this whole process. And you probably heard of CoQ10. Coenzyme Q10. And that does support that. And it depletes as we age, and especially in the mitochondria dense, more energy intensive cells like heart cells. Heart cells can have up to 5,000 mitochondria per cell. And so they need a lot of energy.

Dr. Weitz:   Ubiquinone versus ubiquinol?

Shawn:       Yeah, so that’s a great question. Yeah, the ubiquinol is the reduced form. And that’s its more active form. As we age, we have a harder and harder time converting the ubiquinone into ubiquinol. So I would definitely say if you’re past 40 and certainly past 50, do invest in the more expensive ubiquinol form. If you’re young, you actually can convert it pretty well. So you don’t need to spend the extra money. But it’s something to be mindful of as you age, is to probably invest in the better form. And then another nutrient that supports CoQ10 that at one point was being studied for vitamin status is PQQ. So that’s one to get as well and take. With ubiquinol, ubiquinone I would look to take anywhere from 100 to 200 milligrams a day.

And then PQQ, 10 to 20 milligrams a day. And then moving into things that boost NAD levels, which is important in that Krebs cycle, and we’ve found is associated with being more resilient, keeping your telomeres longer, producing more cellular energy, helping with mitochondrial health overall and biogenesis. Activating your sirtuin genes, which are associated with anti aging. So boosting NAD is critical. And as we age, we make less NAD and we consume more of it faster. So it’s a double whammy. And so getting something like NMN nicotinamide mononucleotide as a supplement of around a gram a day or more, would be ideal to boost NAD levels.  Probably the best way is to go do IV NAD, but that does get expensive. And you have to sit there for about three hours, and you feel a little nauseous sometimes when you’re doing it. So it’s not fun, but that is something that’s very effective. But the best supplement that I’ve seen is the NMN.

Dr. Weitz:   And what about the NR?

Shawn:       Yeah, and that’s one that I feel less strong about. There’s a bigger backing of it, because of we’ll say patents and the people that have been hired around it, and the marketing machine around it. But I’m a bigger fan from the data I’ve seen of NMN. And Dr. Peter Attia, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Dr. David Sinclair would all agree with what I’m saying. So I lean towards NMN. And then with-

Dr. Weitz:   What by the way is your particular brand of NMN that you like?

Shawn:        Yeah. Look for ones that talk about they’re stabilized, because light and heat and moisture can actually convert it into essentially niacin. So you want to be careful whether you’re using NR or NMN to get a stabilized form. And then also, it’s probably ideal to get it in a black container, and maybe even keep it in the fridge. That would be ideal. And there is a company that I like. It’s reasonably priced called Toniq. T-O-N-I-Q on Amazon. Probably they have the best price and they test out consistently. So that would be one that I would look to use.

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah, I just got one from NOW, but it’s only 125 milligrams per tablets.

Shawn:       Yeah, so it’s expensive. And it’s only been recently that we’ve been exploring more animal data, and extrapolating out of what these doses would really be. And it’s in that one to two gram range, which is very expensive. And much higher doses per capsule than most people are putting out there.

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah, we need to try to find somebody to produce it in a powder.

Shawn:       Yeah, exactly. And then to support that NMN, what would be really ideal is certain polyphenols. And like you were mentioning before, trans resveratrol in red wine and a grape polyphenols associated with anti-aging. But probably my two favorite ones right now, I’ll mention a third too. There is 10 of them tested in a recent study, and fisetin, which is from strawberries tested out to be the most potent at raising NAD levels and supporting NAD. So that would be one I’d look for. There’s some supplements-

Dr. Weitz:   What’s their dosage for fisetin?

Shawn:        Yeah, it’s F-I-S-E-T-I-N and it’s around 100 milligrams is a good dose. And then, on the other side of this like I was mentioning before, boosting NAD levels. But the other side that would be really effective is if you inhibit what’s called CD38, or it’s an enzyme also called NADAse. And that’s the enzyme that’s breaking NAD down more quickly as we age. So if we can inhibit that, you’ll keep NAD hanging around longer. So there’s one polyphenol in particular that’s been shown to be super effective at this, and it’s called apigenin. And it comes from parsley. And there’s some supplements starting to come out to the market.

But one cool one in lieu of those two, it’s a little less powerful in both categories. But you can actually increase the bioavailability by getting a liposomal form is quercetin. Quercetin comes from onions and apples. And it actually works, what’s cool is on both sides of this NAD thing. Of boosting NAD and inhibiting NADase. So that’s a good one too. I you can’t find the others, that might be one to look at.

Dr. Weitz:   Also serves as a zincionafor as well.

Shawn:       Yes, yes, exactly. And for people that have histamine issues like Hashimoto’s, it’s been found to be helpful with. Allergy issues it’s been found to be helpful with. So yeah, quercetin can be a winner on several fronts.

Dr. Weitz:   What about pterostilbene? Is that one-

Shawn:        Yeah, yeah. So there’s tons of really good polyphenols that are out in the world. And that one is found in blueberries and EGCG, and green tea, and chlorogenic acid, and coffee. And so a lot of these things that we consider our most important food or beverages have these powerful anti-aging compounds in them. And it’s definitely cacao is another one, why we love chocolate. There’s catechins that are in cacao. So a lot of these foods that are legendary foods and beverages have these powerful anti-aging compounds in them.

Dr. Weitz:   In your book, you mentioned something called ergothioneine, which I-

Shawn:       Yeah, so that’s a really cool new one. I’m glad you brought that up. That one is being considered for vitamin status, because we do not make it. And it’s such a small dose that we need, maybe five to 10 milligrams a day of this unique amino acid. But you can only find it in mushrooms, certain beans, and certain organ meats. But what’s really interesting is our body has its own transport system in the body called the ETT the ergothioneine transport. Yeah, and it’s called the ETT. And what’s really cool is there’s also a unique storage system for it that your body can pull from as the mitochondria need health, need to be protected, need to be healed. It can pull this ergothioneine as needed.  So really cool, almost like the way creatine works where your muscle builds up creatine stores. And it’s amazing for mitochondrial health. And I think it’s something that we’re going to be discussing more and more. So yeah, getting anywhere from five to 20 milligrams a day of this amino acid would be amazing.

Dr. Weitz:   It’s an interesting concept being considered for a new vitamin. It’s like being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize or something. What was the last time we had a new vitamin?

Shawn:       It’s been a while.

Dr. Weitz:   So is there anything that’s going to be designated as a new vitamin?

Shawn:       I mean, this is it like PQQ was probably about 15 years ago was getting considered. And ergothioneine is the most recent one I know of. So very interesting stuff that’s happening. Yeah.

Dr. Weitz:   How do we assess mitochondrial health or function?

Shawn:       So there are some tests that are coming out that look at this very closely-

Dr. Weitz:   [inaudible 00:34:12] with that Mitoswab test?

Shawn:       Yeah, exactly. I talk about in the book. I haven’t had it yet. That’s very new, very new. It’s something I’m looking to do in the next few months, because of this technology and they’re patenting it and all that stuff. But more straightforward to me, it’s a little bit of a one off is just looking at your metabolic health by looking at three simple labs. You’re going to look at inflammation, glycation and oxidation. So with inflammation, you’re looking at C-reactive protein, CRP. With glycation, you’re looking at hemoglobin A1c, which is blood sugar damage by the way. And then oxidation, you’re looking at oxidized LDL. All of these labs together would cost about 100 bucks.

And to me, if we were looking at these say every six months, I think we could transform medicine pretty radically. It’s insane to me that we only look at CRP after you’ve had a heart attack. We look at hemoglobin A1c after you’re diabetic. And it’s only once you’ve had disease onset that we look at these things. Whereas if we’re looking at them earlier, I could essentially tell how you’re biologically aging over chronologically aging. I could tell you your likelihood towards 99% of diseases, since 99% of disease is metabolic and not genetic. There’s very few diseases that we’re born with. Most of these diseases have everything to do with your metabolic health. And largely that ties into insulin resistance, and then mitochondrial dysfunction.

Dr. Weitz:   I measure those markers all the time in myself and in my patients. And they really should be the standard as a lot of things should be unfortunately, what determines lab testing in our insurance based healthcare system unfortunately, is labs that insurance companies have decided they want to pay for.

Shawn:       Yeah, exactly. It’s frustrating. It’s super frustrating. And we could be so much more proactive with our health if we were mapping this out. You could say what’s going on here, and they might say, “I changed my diet. I’m going through a divorce. I just lost my job.” And it’s like you could jump on that ahead of time. But so many people, it’s after they’ve had the heart attack, after they have full blown diabetes and are about to lose a foot or losing their eyesight, or-

Dr. Weitz:   As for the [inaudible 00:36:51] ICU with the viral infection, if we’d assess their vitamin D levels, and their zinc status, and their metabolic function, and had something about their obesity and uncontrolled blood sugar and your uncontrolled oxidation. If we had even considered any of that.

Shawn:       100%. Yeah, that’s so frustrating.

Dr. Weitz:   It’s too bad that right now is not a wake up call to start focusing on all of those things.

Shawn:       I agree. I mean, it’s sad to me, to your point that we send out checks to every household in America, but we didn’t send out bottles of vitamin D.

Dr. Weitz:   Absolutely.

Shawn:       It’s so cheap and so effective, and so correlated to COVID and influenza and a number of these viruses is just to not … you don’t even have to send them out. You can just subsidize it government wise where any family can go get X amount of bottles. And it’s so cheap. Vitamin D is so cheap. And what you mentioned, zinc and vitamin C, and some of these compounds that are highly correlated to being anti COVID are so cheap and so easy to access. And we’re not talking about them. We’re talking about the vaccine, and all of these kinds of things. And it is frustrating to me, very much.

Dr. Weitz:   And levels of obesity.

Shawn:       Exactly.

Dr. Weitz:   It’s just embarrassing.

Shawn:        Exactly. There’s no discussion around like how much your risk dramatically precipitously drops when you lose weight. When you change from a insulin resistant promoting diet of ultra processed foods of high glycemic carbohydrates. We’re not talking about those things that like hey, fasting could be a powerful tool right now.

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah, that’s because healthcare is not really about health.

Shawn:       Exactly.

Dr. Weitz:   So many other supplements you mentioned for mitochondrial support are curcumin, which is one of my favorite supplements. And there are like 9,000 different forms of curcumin, and everybody is claiming that their form is the best form.

Shawn:       Yeah, so that’s definitely … so now addressing the inflammation, glycation, oxidation head on that would be ideal too. So that’s going to help with inflammation modulation is the curcumin. And you’re absolutely right. There’s a lot of bioavailability issues. So if you’re having turmeric with a meal using that spice, then that’s great. And use it as much as you want like Indian food. And then have it with a fatty meal, with plenty of oil and black pepper will help improve its bioavailability along with that oil/the fatty meal. But if you’re taking it as a supplement, my favorite form that I’ve seen for research is CurcuWin if you’re dealing with curcumin directly. And that one is just optimized to be about 50 times better bioavailability. There’s a new form that I’ve worked on-

Dr. Weitz:   That’s curcumin mixed with something else, or what?

Shawn:        Yeah, it’s essentially like a liposome and it’s called CurcuWIN. There is a form called Meriva. That’s-

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah, that’s the one we’ve been using most. And then there’s integrative has a specialized form as well.

Shawn:       Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I found that the CurcuWIN is even better still than the Meriva. And then there’s a new form that I’ve been working on called tetrahydrate curcumin. That’s like the next metabolite down, and it solves a lot of the bioavailability issues. And what’s really nice is it’s a white powder and doesn’t stain everything like curcumin. Curcumin can be a mess. If you’ve ever had it break in your pan, it’s just a complete mess.

Dr. Weitz:   I remember being at a seminar one day and I had a shake. I think it was about Metagenics seminar and add a shake with the UltraInflamX that had turmeric in it. I spilled it on my khaki pants and-

Shawn:       Yeah, that’s a mess. Then the next one for blood sugar, my favorite compound. And then again, I have a downstream metabolite I’ve worked on that I can mention, but berberine is the most powerful thing I’ve seen. It actually outperforms the most powerful drug we know of as a glucose disposal agent Metformin. And Metformin has tons of research on anti-aging. Not just with diabetes, but healthy people and anti-aging. There is one study where they took I believe it is actually zinc DHEA growth hormone and Metformin. And the people lived on average of what would be like two years longer over 90 days, which is just insane what that correlates out to. And I feel-

Dr. Weitz:   Two-year reversal in one year intervention.

Shawn:       So yeah, exactly. So that’s incredible. And I feel like Metformin was driving the majority of that. But-

Dr. Weitz:   By the way, they also included vitamin D and zinc in that paper. It’s not often highlighted, but.

Shawn:       Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, those are powerful too. But berberine outperformed Metformin head to head in a study that was done. And what’s cool is berberine and Metformin both can have issues with GI distress, can potentially deplete B12. And Metformin was actually recalled from the market last year for being tainted. So there are some issues with that. But dihydroberberine is the active form. It’s been coming out to the market, and it’s about five to 10 times more bioavailable. So you can use much lower doses. It lasts about twice as long in the plasma, so you take it less frequently. Doesn’t have the B12 issues, doesn’t have the GI distress issues. So really cool ingredient. And to me is the most powerful anti-aging tool that we have, even ahead of berberine and Metformin.

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah, the form just for clarification, the form of Metformin that was recalled was the extended release form.

Shawn:       Yeah. Thank you for clarifying that. Yeah.

Dr. Weitz:   So to support glutathione, is it best to use glutathione, NAC or both?

Shawn:       Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m on the fence with oral glutathione. Maybe I think if you’re taking a liposomal glutathione, then-

Dr. Weitz:   It’s pretty much all using a liposomal form these days.

Shawn:       Yeah. But otherwise, if you don’t have a lot of money and you don’t like the way it tastes and all that kind of stuff, then NAC, N-acetyl cysteine is great at boosting glutathione levels. So that would be it’s a much cheaper way. Especially if you’re on a budget, I would say then then use NAC. But if your budget is a little bit better, then maybe is the liposomal glutathione.

Dr. Weitz:   Is there a dosage of NAC you think is optimal? Is there a dosage that is-

Shawn:       It’s fairly high. So the studies of NAC is fairly high. It’s 600 milligrams, I believe three times a day. So that’s-

Dr. Weitz:   So 1,800.

Shawn:       Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Weitz:   Okay. And what do you think is the best way to assess biological aging to see if our anti-aging strategies are working?

Shawn:       Yeah. Besides the labs that I mentioned that I feel like there’s no correlation of those labs and a direct analysis to, you are X age biologically. But I do think those labs are powerful, and you can do that yourself. But there are ways to do this with TeloYears, and then there’s the DNA aging with the methylation.

Dr. Weitz:   Yeah. I just did that test. The TruAge through Tru

Diagnostics. Yeah.

Shawn:        Yeah, exactly. And those are interesting. I do think there’s a strong correlation there. I think it’s going to be almost like doing a bioimpedance for your weight … or sorry, for your body fat levels. It’s not necessarily fully accurate, but it’s kind of accurate to itself, if that makes sense. So I think if you’re consistently doing this true age, the DNA methylation, then you can see it change and what’s changing it. Like with your diet, with stress reduction, with exercise, all these different things. But I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s accurate. Like are you biologically this age accurately? Not necessarily, but to use it as a metric to compare itself against over time, pretty accurate. So that’s the way I would look at it. Something like that. It’s a tool.

Dr. Weitz:   Right. So you mentioned berberine. What are some of the other strategies for controlling glycation in blood sugar control?

Shawn:       Yeah. So some other ingredients that are very effective there and again, if you’re not doing keto, doing low carb at times, or doing a low glycemic diet will be helpful. Obviously, exercise. What’s called a postprandial stroll, just taking a 10-minute walk after you eat, will activate that glute for translocation pulling blood sugar into the cell. Very powerful to just take a 10-minute walk after you eat.

Dr. Weitz:   Postprandial stroll. I like that.

Shawn:       Yeah. And then beyond that there are some really powerful compounds that are out there, besides the berberine or dihydroberberine. Cinnamon is one. But just be aware that most cinnamon, both in supplements and the cinnamon that you’re using on your food is actually not true cinnamon. So what you want to get is Ceylon cinnamon, and it’s C-E-Y-L-O-N. That’s the more effective cinnamon. That’s the powerful cinnamon that you want to use on your foods and as a supplement. Beyond that, there’s a really-

Dr. Weitz:   Lately like Whole Foods, all they’re selling is Vietnamese cinnamon.

Shawn:       Yeah, that’s the cheap stuff. Yeah, exactly. That’s the kind of loophole. The Ceylon cinnamon is much more expensive, but honestly it tastes better. And it’s certainly-

Dr. Weitz:   Where do you get it from, or do you order it online?

Shawn:       Yeah, I order it online. I’ve seen it at times in some stores like Whole Foods, but it’s harder to find. But yes, it’s easy to get on Amazon. Again, both as a supplement and as a bulk powder. But be aware, it’s probably about 10 times more expensive. But then again, how much cinnamon are you really going to … So I think it’s worth investing in and it tastes better, it works better. You’ll see your blood sugar numbers improve. You do get some benefit from that Vietnamese one in terms of blood sugar, it’s just not as potent. The last one that I’ll mention for blood sugar is a really powerful one. Well, there’s two maybe.  There’s bitter melon, is a really good herb. And then another one that comes from banaba leaf that has corosolic acid, is what its standardized form. Both of those are pretty powerful at lowering blood sugar. And then obviously, making sure you’re getting enough chromium. We went through a phase in the ’80s and ’90s, where people were taking tons and tons and tons of chromium. And that’s not necessarily healthy. But making sure that you’re getting enough chromium is-

Dr. Weitz:   How do we know how much chromium is enough?

Shawn:       Well, doing blood work would be the best place to start. But I think the 50 to 200 microgram range is ideal. I’m not going above that. It was very common in the ’80s and ’90s. People were taking many milligrams of this stuff thinking that more is better, and it’s just not a case where that’s true.

Dr. Weitz:   So the best measure of chromium, is it serum chromium or?

Shawn:       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Weitz:   What was I going to say? What about lipoic acid for blood sugar?

Shawn:       Yeah, lipoic acid is really an interesting compound. It’s insinuated in a lot of antioxidant processes in the body, detoxification processes in the body. The problem with it is it doesn’t have great stability as a supplement. So I think a lot of that just straight alpha-lipoic acid supplements I would not invest in. If it’s in the salt form, so like alpha-lipoic acid sodium is going to be better. And then especially if it’s in the oral form, which is the active isomer. So oral alpha-lipoic acid sodium is going to be stable and more biologically active. And again, that’s going to be more expensive. But if you want to explore that for its benefits, both with blood sugar and then similar to glutathione for detoxification and antioxidant benefits, then use that form.

Dr. Weitz:   Do you have a company that makes that particular form?

Shawn:       I think it’s Geronova, is the company that has the patent on it. But yeah, look up lipoic acid sodium and I think you should find something. Yeah.

Dr. Weitz:   So how do we know what’s a quality nutritional supplement?

Shawn:       Man, great question. One is going to be, I feel like that the companies that have been around 20 plus years doesn’t mean that the companies that are new aren’t legit. But there’s a decent chance they are. They’re coming into the fray. They haven’t had their processes examined to that degree, scrutinized to that degree. But you can trust the companies like NOW, Jarrow, Doctor’s Best, Thorne, Carlson, Barlean’s. These companies that have been around, even in sports nutrition, the Optimum Nutrition, Dymatize. These companies that have been around a long time, they’ve had to go through many rounds of scrutiny of FDA issues, of legal action of different things. And they’re here because they’ve got their stuff squared away.

And I’ve seen the results on all those companies, and they consistently test out. They have good quality control. So definitely picking a company that’s has an established reputation like that would be ideal. Certainly looking at reviews on Amazon, but knowing that those can be manipulated. So positive reviews aren’t necessarily the most powerful thing, but negative reviews is definitely something to look at. So sometimes I go straight away to the negative reviews, and see what’s being said there because maybe there’s going to be a stability issue, a taste issue. Something like that, that you want to look at.  Also, looking at proprietary blends. This is probably one of my most important things is I typically avoid proprietary blends. I like full disclosure, I like transparency in labeling. You should be-

Dr. Weitz:   So proprietary blends, just for clarification is where they don’t list the exact amount of each ingredient?

Shawn:       Exactly. And so what can happen is let’s say if it’s the 700 milligram strength and power blend, that’s what it says is this proprietary blend. There’s 17 ingredients in it, and you could have 699 milligrams be the first ingredient, creatine let’s say. And then the other 16 ingredients be one milligram. And so that’s very disreputable, disingenuous to me and I don’t like that. So I like seeing each ingredient laid out one by one. I like seeing the plant part, the genus and species, what it’s standardized for. So if it’s like Panax ginseng, standardized for the root and standardized for 5% ginseng side a 200 milligrams. Okay, cool.

Now I know everything that’s here. Everything is very clear I can go to examine.com, or someplace like that. I can look up studies on it and understand is this the right dose, the right form, Because another thing for example with like ginseng, you get disreputable companies that just list ginseng. And they could be using whole plants, which doesn’t have really any of the active, but they’re listing ginseng. And obviously that’s one tenth the price and super cheap. We want to be getting the root. So it’s just things to look for. And again, the reputable companies aren’t going to be doing this to you. And most of the reputable companies have switched away from proprietary blends. But I would continue to support the companies that are doing things the hard way, and the more expensive way and supporting them-

Dr. Weitz:    This reminds me of like you, I was immersed in the bodybuilding world at one time. And I remember, I’m drawing a blank on the name, but they came out with this new protein powder. And this protein powder was so special. It was designed by this doctor, only to use on burn victims in a hospital.

Shawn:         Matrix.

Dr. Weitz:    Exactly. And then they were like, “This is just an amazing product. And you get these two canisters, and you have to mix a third of one and two thirds and the other.” Something like that. You’d run out of one, and they never said what was in it. But it was this anti catabolic product. It was just amazing. It was just this amazing product. And when he finally analyzed it, it was just whey protein or something no different.

Shawn:       Yeah. And I took tons of it. So I fell into those traps early on too, all the marketing hype.

Dr. Weitz:   They did a great job with that.

Shawn:       Yeah, that’s why I’m so driven to educate on this, on the marketing issues that you’re talking about. And speaking of that, probably my last one that I’ll throw at you is just the idea of just crazy claims. When you say 880%, more strength or 700% more testosterone or whatever. Then know that study data can be manipulated, so that you have like the intervention arm, the one that’s getting the supplement. Maybe they have 0.1% change. And then the placebo arm had point 0.1% change. So it’s 10 times bigger difference. But both of them basically didn’t change at all. But then you can say 10 times the muscle mass, or 10 times the testosterone.   Stuff like that is ridiculous. Tell us what actually happened in the study with real, measurable outcomes that are clear. Again, it’s all about transparency. So claims that are too good to be true, typically they are in the FDA will often crack down on those. So I wouldn’t trust a company that’s using manipulative data like that.

Dr. Weitz:   All right. I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, the same thing occurs in drugs too. Some of the data on stat and so if I double the decreased risk of a heart attack. And they may go okay, out of 100,000 people, two people had a heart attack instead of one or something. So technically, they’re correct, but it’s really distorting the data.

Shawn:       For sure. Yeah, I agree 100%.

Dr. Weitz:   Okay. Shawn, we’re getting towards the end here. So I really appreciate some of the information you provided, very fascinating. There’s a million different things we could talk about. And maybe at some point in the future, we can take another crack at some of the important topics like exercise and other things in your book. But thank you so much for spending some time with us. And how can our listeners and viewers find out more about you and about your book? And do you have products available or?

Shawn:     Yeah, those are great questions. shawnwells.com is my site where there’s a lot more about me, and there’s free guides. S-H-A-W-N-W-E-L-L-S. And then my book, which is doing extremely well right now that we’re talking about ENERGY formula. And if you go to the site energyformula.com you also get bonuses, a free fasting for energy guide. A hidden chapter on natural movements, some Q&As. I have a recipe book, all that stuff is free if you go through energyformula.com to get ENERGY formula, the book. And then I’m on Instagram @shawnwells. Again, S-H-A-W-N. And then I’m on Clubhouse at bio hacking. I’m doing a lot of talks there. And I think that’s most of it. And then as far as supplements, there’s a bunch I have out there. But there’s hundreds, so I don’t really want to promote one over the other. I try and stay away from that. But yeah, it’s been a blessing to formulate for so many companies.

Dr. Weitz:   Awesome. Thank you, Shawn.

Shawn:       Yeah, thank you for having me on, Ben. Have a great day. Appreciate it.

Dr. Weitz:

Thank you listeners for making it all the way through this episode of the Rational Wellness Podcast. Please take a few minutes and go to Apple podcasts, and give us a five star ratings and review. That would really help us so more people can find us in our listing of health podcasts. I’d also like to let everybody know that I now have a few openings for new clients for nutritional consultations. If you’re interested, please call my office in Santa Monica at 310-395-3111. That’s 310-395-3111 and take one of the few openings we have now for a individual consultation for nutrition with Dr. Ben Weitz. Thank you, and see you next week.


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