Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr. Frank Shallenberger who is a practicing physician and has been a pioneer in integrative medicine since 1978. He revolutionized the practice of anti-ageing and currently practices at the Nevada Center of Alternate Anti-Ageing Medicine. In this episode, we discuss energy, why we seem to have less when we age, and how to increase overall energy and feel more energetic. Over to Dr. Shallenberger…
Some questions asked during this episode:
- Why do we have less energy as we age?
- What everyday practices could be contributing to fatigue?
- What strategies do you use to increase overall energy production?
Get more of Dr Frank Shallenberger:
If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:
- Dr Steven Gundry – Understanding & Addressing Low Energy
- Dr Brian Brown – How to Beat Burnout & Reclaim Your Health
- Frank Shallenberger – Expert Anti-Ageing Strategies
The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.
Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.au, and take a look.
Okay. Back to the show. This week, I’m excited to w elcome Dr. Frank Shallenberger. Dr. Shallenberger is a practicing physician and has been a pioneer in integrative medicine since 1978. He revolutionized the practice of anti-aging and currently practices at the Nevada Center of Alternate Anti-Aging Medicine. In this episode, we discuss energy, why we seem to have less when we age, and how to increase overall energy and feel more energetic. Over to Dr. Shallenberger. Hey, guys. This is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome back Dr. Frank Shallenberger to the podcast. Dr. Shallenberger. How are you?
I’m great, Stuart. Good to be with you.
Yeah. Look. Much appreciated for you sharing some of your time. But first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.
Well, okay. We’ll just keep that a little bit. But basically, I graduated from medical school in 1973, so I’m an old timer. I’ve been around a long time. Working on 50 years coming up here. Early, I got into medicine because I wanted to help sick people. That’s why I got into medicine. Didn’t take me long to figure out that that shouldn’t really be our primary goal. Our primary goal should be preventing people from getting sick, not waiting until they get sick. I think everybody understands that concept. But back then in the early days, I had to scratch my head and figure out, well, why do people get sick? I finally figured it out and I didn’t figure it out all on my own. There’s tons of science, but nobody actually put the science together to determine why it is that people get sick.
That’s basically, I developed a system to measure what we’re going to be talking about, and then I wrote the book to describe the various things I had learned. So, we can talk a little bit about those kinds of things. But that’s sort of my background. I’ve published papers, I’ve written books, I’ve done lots of stuff. I’m president of things and all that. But the really important deal to understand is that a perfect day for me at the office is when every single person that comes in is a hundred percent healthy and sits down and I say, “Why are you here?” and they say, “I’m healthy. I want to stay that way.”
That’s a perfect day. That’s what doctors ought to really be doing because 90% of the time, the illnesses that I’m seeing in my patients, I’m thinking to myself, that is completely preventable. You did not have to develop this cancer. You did not have to develop this diabetes or whatever it is I’m looking at. That was preventable. So, my mission has always been, well, not always, but for the last 40 years or so has been let’s figure out how to do that.
Fantastic. Yeah. What a noble cause because we always use the adage that prevention is the cure. Oftentimes, a lot of areas in the medical sector are often seen as disease management, which is kind of sad because a lot of the modern day diseases are brought upon by lifestyle. Poor decision is made by lifestyle and diet and things like that. But obviously, you’re the expert on this and I’m really keen then to talk about, and you mentioned the book, so Bursting with Energy, and it’s in its second revision, so I guess you’ve learned or added to with new information.
But energy is a real issue for so many people, and myself included. Our audience at least typically struggle with three roadblocks. One is weight loss, the other is gut health, and the third is energy fatigue. So, they just feel tired all the time. I think that this is going to be some great learnings that we can take away from today’s conversation. But I think before we get into all of the secrets in terms of unlocking energy, I’d be really keen to understand how the body actually makes energy.
Yeah. So, first of all, Stuart, I want to clarify the use of this term energy. In one sense, the way most people use the term is, I feel tired, I’m run down, I don’t have any energy. That’s not primarily what I’m interested in because that doesn’t cause disease. You can have a bad night’s sleep. You don’t have a disease, but you’re tired and you don’t have any energy. So, I’m not talking about that kind of energy. I’m talking about cellular energy. So, what I want to do is take maybe a couple minutes to explain to the audience what cellular energy means and why it’s so critical.
So, you think of your cells and you know that your cells are not going to work so well as things going on in your life. As you get up in your 50s, 60s, 70s, or whatever, there’s going to be a point at which your cells aren’t working very well. So, we don’t want that to happen. So, that’s the essence for me for preventive medicine is to make sure that the cells, when I’m 85 years old, are working as good as they were when I was 25. That’s kind of the concept. So, what we want to do is look at cells and understand that you can take a cell and basically divide it in half. Roughly half of that cell volume-wise only does one thing, and that is it processes oxygen into energy. That’s all it does. Half of the cell, that’s it’s charge, processing oxygen into energy.
It’s the other half of the cell that uses that energy to do what that cell does. So, if it’s a brain cell or a heart cell or muscle cell or whatever the heck the cell is, this is the nature of every cell in the body. Half of it makes energy from oxygen. The other half uses that energy to do whatever it’s going to do. The problem with us as we get older is not the side of the cell that functions. Unless something has gone terribly wrong, which it could be, but unless something’s gone terribly wrong, you can be an 85 year old guy and your cells still have the functional capability they had when you were 20. The problem is the energy producing part of the cell.
That’s what we focus on because as we get older, for all kinds of reasons, and they’re all discussed in the book, but for all kinds of reasons, cells don’t make energy efficiently, and as they don’t make energy efficiently, the part of the cell that would function well if it had enough energy doesn’t function well. In essence, as we get older, our cells become kind of like really good flashlights where the batteries are going out. So, the concept is number one, measure how efficiently your cells are producing energy from oxygen, and two, if it’s really good, fine. That’s what we want. You’re in good shape. Now, you might still be tired. So, this has nothing to do so much with tiredness. It has to do with disease prevention. If we measure your energy producing part of your cell and it’s bad, and it could be bad even in a 35 year old, by the way, if it’s bad, then we know we better do something because if we don’t, that person is going to come down with a disease.
That’s fascinating. So, how do we measure then our cellular energy production? Because I would imagine if I went into my local doctor and said, “Look, I’m really tired. Can you measure my cellular energy production?” they’d probably look at me like I was a fruit loop and show me the door. Is this common practice?
Unfortunately, it’s true. What you just said, it’s true unfortunately because these things that I’m talking about, they’re not my invention. This is thousands and thousands of literally scientific articles, some of which I quote in the book. But just so many articles pointing to this fact that the central cause of all diseases and aging in particular, the central cause is decreased energy production. Yet, ironic as that is, doctors don’t know how to measure it. So, about when I realized this stuff almost 30 years ago, I realized, you know what? There’s no use in me talking about this if I can’t measure it. It’s kind of like treating blood pressure without a blood pressure cuff. If I don’t know what the heck your blood pressure is, how the heck am I going to treat your blood pressure?
I’ve got to measure it.
So, how do you measure it?
Yeah. So, this is where it really gets to be interesting because it’s ridiculously simple. It’s insanely simple. I patented a device, but the actual mechanism behind this is just crazy simple. Here’s how it is. You produce energy from oxygen. If your body is consuming and processing that much oxygen, it’s producing that much energy. If you’re consuming this much oxygen, it’s producing this much energy. So, all I have to do is measure how much oxygen your body is consuming. So, basically, we do this. We put a mask on you, kind of like a scuba mask, and this is connected to a device that’s going to measure two things. One, how much oxygen you’re consuming and two, how much carbon dioxide you’re producing. The reason for the carbon dioxide is as we process oxygen into energy, carbon dioxide gets released. So, we’re going to measure both those parameters.
So, I put you on a bicycle and I make you work progressively harder and harder and harder and harder and harder, and I’m watching how as you work harder, you need more and more energy. So, you’re consuming more and more oxygen to make that energy. But at some point, you’re going to max out. At some point, the amount of oxygen you’re taking, you’re consuming is going to stop. You can’t consume anymore. You’re maxed out. I take that point and I measure it. What I do is I compare it to a database, and if you’re over 40 years old, I’m going to compare you to a database of 40 year old men or women, whatever, your height and weight. So, the idea is I don’t care if you’re 75. I ideally want you to be processing oxygen into energy as good as a 40 year old. That’s my goal.
So, we’re going to take that number, your maximum ability to consume oxygen compared to what’s usual and typical for a 40 year old, and if you meet that criteria, I’m a happy guy. If you don’t meet that criteria, and by the way, you could feel perfectly well, you could feel just great and still have a problem in this area. It’s nothing you’ll necessarily notice. Anyway, I make the analogy kind of like blood pressure. Most people who have high blood pressure and it’s maybe even dangerously high, they don’t notice it. Same with blood sugar. Unless they actually did a measurement, they wouldn’t know they had a problem. So, my goal eventually, Stuart, is to get this so that when you go to see the doctor and you ask him to measure your energy production, he’s going to say, “Sure. Step right in here. We’re going to measure your oxygen consumption and I’m going to tell you whether you’re in good shape or bad shape.”
Fantastic. So, is that similar the same to VO2 max testing the athletes?
It’s Exactly that. So, for the audience, VO2 testing is where you wear this device and you’re measuring how much oxygen the person’s consuming. We call that VO2. The thing that’s unique about what I’m doing here is in with most VO2 testing, there’s a lot of subjectivity to it because you’re going to put somebody on a machine for maybe 15, 20 minutes, get all these VO2s. Some of them are going to be spurious what we call outlying measurements. They’re spurious. The person could cough, could whatever in the middle of the thing, you get all these weird measurements. So, you can’t count those. You got to throw those out. Then you got to look for the basic averages of all these VO2s as they progress over time. That’s very, one, time consuming to do that, and number two, it’s very subjective. So, what I did is I developed a computer program that sorts out all the outliers and objectively determines these numbers. But it is, it’s a form of VO2 testing.
So, if I wanted to get an insight then into my energy production and accessed some equipment to test my VO2 max, how could I cross reference that then with your database, which essentially is the most important piece of the puzzle?
Yeah. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy. The reason is because there’s all kinds of companies, they all make different VO2 analyzers. They’re not the same. You can go to Company One and use their VO2 analyzer and then go to Company Two and you might get different numbers. Also, the technology involved with how they process those numbers can be very, very different. I’ve used a total of four different VO2 analyzers in my career and I finally settled in on one that’s made in Utah that is made in such and such a way it self-calibrates. It doesn’t break down. It’s highly reliable. It’s actually taking samples and measuring the samples directly, whereas so many other VO2 analyzers take snippets and then computerize and then use computer algorithms to determine what the snippets mean. So, I think this particular device is the best. But the other thing is, even if you were to get a VO2 analysis in another piece of equipment, it wouldn’t be able to be sorted out by my program. My program has to work with a certain instrument. It won’t just work with any instrument.
Got it. Got it. Another question just sprung to mind, and this I guess applies to most medical testing when you’re referencing a certain type of age group, population, gender, etc., I’m 50 years old. If I’m going to be compared then to a demographic of 50 year old males, my thoughts are that a very large percentage of those are not going to be that healthy anyway and I’m going to be compared to maybe somebody who smokes and drinks and is carrying too much weight, things like that.
Well, yeah. So, basically where do we get the normals, so to speak?
So, unfortunately, and I have to vent this, that data was actually determined almost 60 years ago.
Oh. Well, there you go. Yeah.
This methodology, although the technology is dramatically better these days, the ability to measure VO2s goes way back to the ’20s and ’30s. So, early on, they used this technology to determine all kinds of things about metabolism and they established various age related, weight related, sex related parameters. So, I formed a database based upon all that, and we can access that database. So, you get compared to the average 40 year old. You don’t get compared to the sick 40 year old. There’s a range for 40 year olds, right?
We take the median and compare you to that median.
Okay. So, let’s say I’ve come to see you, I’ve tested, and you have the data and you’re looking at the data and you’re saying, “Well, look. Your cellular energy production isn’t really where it needs to be and we can do some things to improve that and get you to a better place.” Where would we start and what types of principles and strategies would you implement to improve my energy production?
Yeah. So, a lot of that’s discussed in the book. But the reality is that most people know this intuitively anyway. There’s a few things we’ll talk about that aren’t intuitive. But sleep. You need sleep. How many people are all stressed out and don’t get enough sleep, either deliberately or they have sleep disorders or whatever? Sunshine. You need sunshine. You can’t be cooped up in some room or some basement someplace all the time. Absolutely vital is aerobic fitness. So, what happens to us as we get older? We tend to get fat and out of shape.
Yeah. That’s right.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure this out. It’s not too often, it happens sometimes, but it’s not too often, I have some guy that’s grossly overweight and stressed out, come in and he tests out great. That’s not normally going to happen. It can fool you. You can have some people come in and they look great and then it turns out they got a problem. But yeah. So, sleep, sunshine, water, aerobic fitness. Hey, how about what you eat? We could talk about some interesting things that I’ve learned about diet in this, some things that I think most people probably have no idea about.
I would love to move down that rabbit hole then because our audience is very nutrition centric and we love to know the tips and tricks and strategies to be able to take ourselves to the next level where food is concerned, for sure. So, what did you uncover?
Okay. So I’ll tell you a story. We’ll start with a story. So, way back a long time ago I had developed this device and I was doing it with patients and learning as I’m going along. In comes this guy, he’s 44 years old, he came in from Southern California. The guy is gorgeous. He works in a gym all night long, he eats sprouts, he’s like Mr. Beautiful, and he looks like the absolute epitome of health. I put him on the machine, he stinks on it. It’s horrible.
So, I start asking him, “What’s the deal with you? Are you doing drugs? Are you not getting any sleep? What’s your problem?” He says, “I don’t have any problem.” We start talking. Turns out that he eats two Dairy Queen Blizzards a day. Now, a Dairy Queen Blizzard, for any people who don’t know, that’s kind of like a milkshake with chocolate chip cookies in there or something like that, and he does two a day in between the sprouts. So, I asked him, “Why the hell do you do that? You’re a fitness nut, aren’t you?” He says, “Well, actually, I like them.” So, I thought that was a great answer. That’s why people do stuff like that. They like it.
So, I said, “Look. I can’t find anything wrong with you except your Blizzards. So, I want you to stop eating Blizzards for two weeks and come back and let me retest you.” Now, the reason I said that was because I learned back in some articles that were published in the past where the RERs, and that’s the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen, the RERs on VO2 testing get changed if you eat carbohydrates or sugar. I saw that. Anyhow, he comes back in two weeks, I put him on the machine, he doubled.
His VO2 absolutely doubled. That’s all he did was cut out the sugar.
So, what I’ve learned is that one good way to ruin your mitochondria is to have a high carbohydrate diet, especially the simple junky carbohydrates. That’ll virtually shut your mitochondria down within 24 hours.
That’s fascinating as well because typically, we’re led to believe that if we’re feeling fatigued, we should reach for the energy drink, which is loaded with sugar.
Well, yeah. So, that’s the other type of fatigue or the other type of low energy, which is really adrenal. That’s adrenal energy. So, yeah. The sugar and the caffeine or whatever’s going to pull you out of that. But at the same time, when you drink that sugar, it’s going to shut down your mitochondria.
So, if sugar then is the catalyst for a depletion of cellular energy, what if we went to the other end of the scale and got really extreme and perhaps went to something like a keto diet where we really focused on fat and the elimination of carbohydrates and sugars?
Okay. Here’s another thing I discovered. When oxygen goes into the cell and gets processed into energy, it’s going to get into the mitochondria in there and it’s either going to burn a glucose or sugar molecule or it’s going to burn a fatty acid molecule. It basically gets its choice. I don’t know how the choice is made, but it can decide, I’m going to burn a sugar molecule, I’m going to burn a fat molecule, and really, all the time, it’s burning a little of both. But mitochondria have their own genetics different from the rest of the cell. So, what we know now is that certain people, due to their mitochondrial genetics, do not burn glucose very efficiently in the mitochondria. Other people that are on the other end of the spectrum, they don’t burn fatty acids very efficiently in the mitochondria.
So, if you are a person that doesn’t burn glucose very efficiently in the mitochondria and you’re on a carbohydrate type diet, you’re not going to do well. If you’re a person that doesn’t burn fatty acids very well in the mitochondria, you’re not going to do very well on a high fat diet. You want some carbohydrates. So, I can determine by looking at the numbers whether you’re the type of individual that should be having carbohydrate in their diet or the type of individual that should be having high fats in their diet, like a keto thing. Then there’s these people that are kind of in the middle, and we call them metabolically flexible.
They’re the people everybody wants to be. Those people that can burn sugar and fatty acids equally well. So, it doesn’t matter. They can go out and have a meal that’s high in carbohydrate, they can have a meal that’s high in fats, they’re cool. Everything’s wonderful. People envy these people. But they’re called metabolically flexible. So, you can see which camp you are and I can look at that number and I can tell you you’re metabolically flexible. Eat whatever you want. Eat as long as it’s not horrible processed foods. But in terms of fat and carbohydrate, eat whatever you want. Or I can tell them, look, you need to be on more of a carbo diet or you need to be on more of a fatty acid diet.
Interesting. So, for our listeners then that can’t access the testing and the database, but would like to make some tweaks to their diet, would there be a recommendation for perhaps a standardized diet or type of diet way of eating that you think would be preferential?
Well, yeah. So, there are ways to figure out where you are without doing the testing. So, if you’re the type of person that burns fatty acids very well, but not carbs very well, if you’re that person, and that means you’re the type of person that ought to be on more of a keto type program, if you’re that person, and most people are, by the way, but if you’re that person, you will know it because unless you’re on a keto type program, you’re going to get fat and tired. Fat and tired. So, if you’re skinny and energetic, you’re probably not that person. You’re probably maybe more the carbohydrate guy. But that’s why people, that’s so often they gain weight and their blood sugars go up because they’re people that do not burn sugar well, and yet they eat a whole lot of carbohydrate. They don’t know any better.
Interesting. Interesting. I think personally, I’m the carbohydrate guy.
Yeah. I’m looking at you and I’m assuming you’re very fit. I’m assuming you take very good care of yourself, you look real good, and in all likelihood, you’re the more the carbo guy, and such that for a guy like you, if you were to go on keto, you might feel lousy because you need the carbs.
Yeah, and I have experimented with that and yeah, absolutely, I don’t feel good. I really do need the carbs. I struggle to put on weight, but I just love to be active. I don’t stop.
Yeah. A lot of it has to do, one, with your age. So, people that are, say, under 50 are going to tolerate carbs more than people over 50 as a generality. Two, your fitness level and how much you exercise. If somebody’s a heavy exerciser, they’re going to be able to tolerate carbs vs. somebody who doesn’t exercise at all.
Got it. Yeah. It’s interesting. Wow. Well, yeah. It kind of makes sense when you put it that way, especially when oftentimes, you could intuitively feel what the results of a certain type of exercise or a certain type of diet does to your body and makes you feel. I guess that’s just the body sending signals and shifting you in the right direction. How about supplements in terms of energy production? Because I know that there are so many options out there now for mitochondrial health and a whole heap of other stuff going on. Is there anything out there that you would particularly, or you pay more interest to over the stock standard supplement range?
It’s a great question. When I first got into this game and I started checking people’s mitochondria and found out tha, good grief, just about 75% of the population has horrible mitochondria and they don’t even know it, I’m looking for the holy grail, which is basically give me some kind of pill. All you got to do is take this pill, which is fine. So, I started looking for that pill and I tested all kinds of nutrients. The only thing besides lifestyle stuff, leaving aside lifestyle, but in terms of supplements and/or medications, the only thing that really definitely pans out supplement-wise is B vitamins, particularly niacin and riboflavin, those two in particular. So, if I had somebody come in and they had lousy mitochondrial function and I give them an injection of some B vitamins and bring them back, next day, it could be way better. In terms of the things you would think, like carnitine, CoQ10, Vitamin C, magnesium, they don’t play a big role in terms of turning this around. Now, they probably play a role, but it’s not a definitive big time role like the way B vitamins are.
Interesting. What about supplements for sleep? Because you mentioned before that a lot of us get really trashy sleep, and I think technology has a lot to play in that area as well with the allure of social media at 11:00 at night when we’re shining bright lights in our face, being anything but restful. Would sleep supplements be beneficial to allow us to access that deep restorative sleep?
Well, yeah. If you’re not getting sleep and it’s not one of those things where you’re willfully doing things to ruin your sleep, you just can’t sleep, which is so common in the older group, if you can’t sleep, then you got to do what you got to do and try and figure out, well, what will help you. So, it’s not always easy figuring that out. But the normal cast of characters is nice. An amide can be helpful. Tryptophan, which is related to niacinamide, can be helpful. Theanine if you’re nervous, valerian. You try all the various things you can do. But a lot of the sleep problem’s just self-induced.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, totally. Even lack of movement throughout the day. I guess the more you move, the more tired you are. Right?
Absolutely. You can’t fall asleep? Hey, how about going out and running around the block for a half an hour every day? I’m betting you’re going to sleep better that night.
Yeah. That’s true. That would normally do the trick. So, on that topic then, exercise, and again, like diet, there are a myriad of different ways that we can exercise. I have friends who are ultra endurance athletes and I have friends who are high intensity Crossfit style athletes as well, and they’re both proclaiming that their form of exercise is superior for whatever reason. Where do you sit on wanting to access optimum cellular energy production and enjoy a long lasting healthy life? How should we exercise?
Yeah. The answer is you should exercise in a way that makes your mitochondrial function good. Now, that’s an answer that doesn’t really tell you anything, but it’s true. I have seen people who have great mitochondrial function don’t exercise at all. I’ve seen the people you’re talking about, the high echelon athletes, who just knock the ball right out of the park. They’re crazy. Then there’s so many other variations. But I will tell you, as a rule, all you need to do is interval training for about 15 minutes three times a week as a general rule. So, that’s where I start people on. When you do the VO2 testing, as you probably know, you can get some good heart rates. I can tell you what your heart rate at anaerobic threshold is and what your recovery heart rate is, and that’s going to be individual from person to person. So, I can use that data to establish an interval program.
But typically, it’s going to be something like you go for about two minutes at your AT, at your anaerobic threshold heart rate, which will be fairly easy for people, and then you go into a 30 second sprint and you set the machine such that the resistance is such that by the time you hit 30 seconds, you’re toast. You can’t maintain that pace. At that point, your heart rate’s extremely high, you’re way out of breath, and you say, “Hey, I got to stop.” So, then you get off the machine, sit in a chair, look out the window for about five minutes, and let everything calm down to your recovery zone. Once you’re in that recovery zone, get back and repeat that. That’s all you do. Do that three times a week. For most people, that will cover it.
Yeah. It’s certainly becoming very popular, the high intensity interval training as well. The key, I think, for that then is really just to get the heart racing for a short period of time and then let it rest over perhaps just jogging easily, like a fast walk for hours.
Look, look, if I want my bicep to get stronger, I’m not going to pick up a pencil and start doing [inaudible 00:34:04]. Okay? I can already do that.
Yeah. That’s it.
I want it to get stronger. I want it to be able to pick up big weights and be able to do that. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to find a weight such that when I lift that thing, say, 15 to 20 times, I’m toast. I can’t move it anymore. So, what I’m doing is I’m basically torturing my muscle, and I’m torturing it in a controlled fashion. So, I’m not going to injure it because I’m going to let it recover. But I’m torturing it in a way that over time, it’s going to start adapting. So, you’ve got to torture. You’ve got to torture that … So, what we’re doing with this interval type mechanism is we’re torturing the mitochondria. We’re telling those mitochondria, “I want this much energy,” and the mitochondria’s saying, “Sorry, dude. You’re only getting this much.”
I come right back and say, “Nope, I want this much,” and it’s going to say “No, I can only give you this much.” Now, after I do that for about six weeks, the mitochondria is going to say, “You know what? I’m getting sick and tired of this. I’m going to start adapting to what he’s doing to me.” Then people will notice this. They’ll notice they set that resistance at such, they crap out at 30 seconds on that resistance, then 12 weeks later, they got to start cranking up the resistance. It’s starting to get too easy for them. That’s because they’re adapting. The mitochondria have now adapted to the pressure that’s been put on them.
Fascinating. So, we’ve spoken about diet, supplements, sleep, and nutrition. What else might we expect from the book in terms of this roadmap to take us to a more energetic life?
Yeah. One thing I can say is that, and I found this to be true, just as a doctor working with patients, patients are not likely to do what a doc … We call this compliance. Patients are not likely to do what a doctor tells them to do unless the doctor explains to them why they need to do this. The days when the patient goes in, the doctor says, “Take this pill or go out and stand on your head,” or whatever, the patient, “Why? What am I going to get out of that? What do I need?”
So, a lot of what I do is explaining to people why sunshine is good, why you need sunshine. I’ll pick on that because a lot of people are scared of sunshine, especially down in Australia probably. A lot of people are scared of sunshine and they shouldn’t be. It’s your friend. Without sunshine, you die. End of story. So, I tell them, “I want you to go out and get some sun exposure every day, ideally,” but they’re not going to do that if I don’t explain to them why. They’re not going to do it. So, I got a chapter on sunshine.
The gist of the book is it’s stuff you already know. Don’t eat crap, get some sleep, get some exercise. It’s stuff your mother could tell you. Right? Maybe the supplement thing’s a little different, the hormone thing’s a little different. But the basics of this stuff is what I’ve learned over time is it’s really the basics that make the difference. It’s not necessarily that magic hormone or that magic peptide or whatever it is. Sure, those things can be helpful. But without the foundation, the basic foundation, lifestyle foundation, it’s not going to work. People need to know why it works, how it works, and how they should do it, and that’s what the book gets into. It explains to them why it’s no good eating Twinkies and drinking Coke. So, I explain that to them so they understand what it’s doing. It’s poison to them. But I can’t just tell them it’s poison. I got to show them the data. I got to explain to them why it’s poison. Then they’ll be more compliant.
If we’ve covered all of our bases with nutrition and exercise and sunshine and supplementation and everything that we’ve spoken about, we get great sleep, but we want to take it to the next level, I’m just thinking about a lot of the practices now that are becoming more commonplace, and things like heat and cold. So, saunas and ice baths. Would that be beneficial from a standpoint of trying to get to that next level for energy?
One of the nice things or really important things about this measuring device that I’ve been talking about is that you can use it in research. So, okay. Near infrared saunas, far infrared saunas. What’s the best. Are they even good at all? So, one way to assess that is what are they doing to your mitochondria? If they’re improving your mitochondria, they’re pretty darn good. If they’re not, they’re maybe good, but they’re not as good as I want it to be. So, it’s a good research tool, and I have done that over the years. I’ve been using this thing for a long time. So, I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to improve your mitochondrial function and what’s not.
One thing, so let’s say somebody comes in and I test their mitochondrial function and is great. But they may come back to me and at that point, I say, “Look, dude. Whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it and I’ll see you in a year.” I don’t have a lot to do unless they tell me they got a rash on their butt or something, in which case, I’ll take care of that. But in terms of their overall health and preventing them from getting sick, they’re already on it. Now, they know it. But that’s kind of important too. So, here you are. Some guy is out doing all this stuff. He’s eating sprouts, he’s taking this vitamin, he’s going to bed early, he’s doing all this stuff. He would like to know that, in fact, it’s working.
What if it’s not working? What if I’m taking all these supplements and this hormone and it’s not doing me any good? It’s kind of nice to come get tested and then the test says, “Oh, you’re great.” So, he can leave the office thinking, all right, all that stuff I’m doing is really paying the dividends just as advertised. But let’s say that guy comes in and he’s testing out great. He might want to take it to the next level, like you just talked about. That is, how can I even be better? So, now we’re going to get into the areas of peptides, hormones, telomeres, DNA methylations. Now, we’re going to get into some really interesting, very fun stuff that takes it to the next level.
But at least he’s reached that first crucial level. He’s not going to get sick. I can tell him that. You’re not going to get sick. Now, how long you live. That’s another thing and we could take that to the next level at that point.
Fascinating. Fascinating. Yeah. I love it. I think everybody listening to this will want to at least ensure that they are covering their bases. Oftentimes, and you rightly picked up on sunshine, I live in Australia and many people, through whatever reason, are quite phobic of the sun. I need to cover up, I need to slap on the sunscreen, put a shirt on and a hat and stay out of the sun at all costs. But of course, there are costs there that are very beneficial in terms of what the sunlight does to vitamin synthesis, and we don’t want to be avoiding that, I think, at all costs. So, I think it’s great for people to realize that you really got to tick off the basics and get that foundation right for you to even consider being the best version.
They’ve done experiments on this, and I talk about this in the book, and the experiments on sunlight are just so fascinating. But they’ll basically take an animal, and in some experiments, people, and put them in a absolute black space for two, three, four days. With the animal, sometimes four weeks, whatever. Everything goes to hell. They sleep the same, they eat the same, they drink the same. Everything’s controlled for. The only thing they’re not getting is sunlight. Human beings without sunlight in pure blackness, they get pretty goofy after about seven to 10 days. Even though everything else is taken, it doesn’t take long. There’s something in sun. I don’t know that we know what it is just yet. It’s more than Vitamin D, by the way. There’s something in sun, and that is crucial to mitochondrial health.
They’ve done these experiments. Your mitochondrial function will go down fairly rapidly if you don’t get sunlight, and artificial light ain’t cutting it.
It’s got to be sunlight.
Well, I’m willing to risk a few wrinkles around the eyes for a life full of energy. That’s for sure.
You know what? You don’t have to get it on your face. You don’t really need the sun on your face. You just need it on your body. So, yeah. You can cover your face up. That’s cool. But you definitely want to get some sunlight in there. They’ve done some experiments, which are just fascinating, where all they do is expose, say, your arm, a chunk on your left arm, for example. They’ll expose that to sunlight and find that stuff happens in your right arm-
… as a result of the exposure of the sun on your left arm.
It’s a systemic effect.
Yes. Yeah. Boy. [inaudible 00:44:08].
It’s quite fascinating. At the turn of the last century, the pictures are amazing, and I put some of them in the book, but they’re amazing. Back then, tuberculosis was a bad thing and so was another disease called eriocephalus. These are infectious diseases, and this was before antibiotics and all that kind of stuff. They would literally cure these people by having them sunbathe. Now, what the heck was going on? We know from experiments that sun activates the immune aspect of immune cells. That’s from all kinds of experiments that have been done. We don’t know the mechanism of action. But back in the early 1900s, they’d have people that were sicker than heck with TB completely cured with nothing but sunbathing for about six to nine months.
Yeah. Absolutely right. Just be responsible, but enjoy sunlight. It’s important. It’s critical, by the sounds of it. So, we’re coming kind of up on time and I’m again conscious of your time as well, and one of the questions that I like to ask my guests is more personal, in terms of yourself. You obviously have a huge lifetime’s worth of knowledge on strategies and things that you need to ensure that you do every day to become the best version of yourself, to crush your day. So, I’m intrigued as to what perhaps some of your daily non-negotiables may be to feel your best every day. Like you just mentioned, it may be a walk in the sunshine, it could be some exercise, it might be a nice meal, things like that. What would they be?
So, what I could do is I could tell you a story. So, I’ve been doing this a long time. So, I’m 76 years old now. I’ve been doing this since I’ve been about 50. I’ll check myself every six months or every 12 months for 30 years. So, I’ve followed my mitochondria along. Back in the early days, I used to race bikes and I used to spend maybe 18 hours a week in training, and my mitochondrial numbers were sky high, as you can imagine. Then at some point, I decided, I’m tired of doing this. I’m too much involved with my business, blah, blah, blah. So, I cut that out. My numbers fell dramatically. So, then I figured, I got to figure something out here. This isn’t working. So, I found a way to exercise, but not to the point where I was a competitive racer. I wasn’t looking for that. I was just looking to try and keep my head above the water.
I found a nice little system. Well, somewhere around the age of 66, I’m doing my annual test and it’s in the tank. At the time, I guess I didn’t feel so good anyway. I looked at it and I said, “For real? That’s me?” Then I started to reflect. “Yeah, dude. You’ve been drinking too much, you’ve been stressing out too much, you’ve been working too hard, and your lifestyle is not what it used to be.” That’s probably what the problem was. So, I went and engineered and fixed all that stuff, and I got back and the numbers are better now. But what I learned was, one, I’m metabolically flexible.
So, as long as my diet is nutritious and good, it can be geared towards fat and protein or it can be geared towards carbohydrate, I’m good either way. I’m the guy that can get away with this okay. The other thing I’ve learned is that in order for me to have good youthful mitochondrial function, I don’t need to exercise like crazy like I did when I was racing bikes. Kind of similar to what I’m talking to you about, I probably do a little bit more than that. I probably spend maybe 45 minutes three times a week exercising. I’ll do the intervals for about 15 minutes and I’m usually lifting weights and stuff like that for the resistant type stuff. I’ll do that three times a week.
My diet is just clean, but it’s not geared towards keto or anything like that. It’s just a clean diet. No crap. I have one or two alcohol drinks a day is a rule. I can get away with alcohol. I don’t have a problem with alcohol. Some people do. I can do coffee. I’ll maybe do a cup of coffee a day. I can do coffee. I don’t have a problem with that. But we’re all individual. So, I’m not saying to everybody, “You should have be like me.” All I’m saying is when you figure out your thing, just get tested to see if it’s working for you. But that’s what I do. I’m real good about sleep. [inaudible 00:49:20] sleep. I’m real good about getting to bed early. I want to get to bed early and wake up early. I’m kind of a believer in that circadian rhythm that we see with the body, that it’s not so good to go to bed at 1:00 AM and wake up at 9:00 AM. You got to sync with your environment.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I’m obsessed with sleep and I love tracking sleep and I like to push the numbers in the right direction because you just feel so good the next day. That’s the goal. That’s the goal to feel-
I’ll tell you something else I do, Stuart, is I learned a lot of people have low thyroid function over the age of 50. I would venture to say that probably 50% of people over the age of 50 need thyroid help. I’m one of them. But it’s so common and the function of mitochondria is so critically involved with thyroid. In fact, you could say that thyroid is a rate limiting hormone for mitochondrial function. So, if you’re low on thyroid, and the tests are normal, so my tests are normal, but my thyroid is not. So, I have to take some thyroid supplementation. At my age, I’m also doing hormones and I’m throwing some peptides in there.
I obviously take my B vitamins, and there’s a few other little odds and ends. I like to do ozone therapy. So, I’ll do ozone therapy. Yeah.
Oh, boy. I think I’m probably going to be talking to you then in 40 years time as we record our next podcast. You’ll be telling me how you’re getting younger. No, that’s been fantastic. I really enjoyed this conversation and keen to point our listeners to the best place if they want to find out more about you, your practice, your content, and purchase a copy of your book, Bursting with Energy. Where could I send them?
Okay. So, for the book, you can go to Amazon. I think Barnes & Noble too. For information on what we do in the clinic and all that kind of stuff. The website is antiagingmedicine.com. So, it’s pretty easy to remember, antiagingmedicine.com.
To learn about who’s doing this test, and unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anybody in Australia doing it, so you’d have to travel, but I have people come from all over the world drop in once a year because they can. Not everybody can do that. But they drop in once a year to get themselves tested or once every two years or something. But you can go to bioenergytesting, that’s what I call it, bioenergytesting.com and you can find a list of doctors around the world that are offering this kind of measurement to people so you can find out where you’re at.
Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, we’ll put all those links in the show notes and direct as many people to information as possible. But it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable conversation and I’m keen to learn more. But thank you so much, Dr. Shallenberger. I really appreciate your time.
Great to be with you, Stuart. Anytime.
Thank you. Take care.