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News topic du jour:
1. DNA Testing For Ideal Diet/Exercise [12:01]
Dear Robb and Nicki,
I really enjoy your podcast. I’ve gone from only listening when the topic looked interesting to listening to every episode because there’s always something good or interesting. I appreciate your alls’ free thinking mindset and news topics. I’ve also bought a big ol’ box of LMNT and really like the Watermelon flavor.
My question is about DNA testing. Do you think there’s any value to having this done to determine ideal diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle cues? Or is trial and error a better route? If you think testing is valuable, is there a company you can recommend?
2. Body Composition Scales [20:21]
Are any of the scales on the market that claim to measure your body composition worth looking into or are they all pretty much bullshit
3. Nitrates/Nitrites [24:44]
I’ve been thinking about my Nitrate/Nitrite consumption lately. The ideas around Nitrate/Nitrite seems to be a bit confusing because it’s present in natural foods but also added to processed foods. I eat a fair bit of Kimchi, some deli meat, condiments like Sriracha – in addition to loving things like beets, spinach, celery..etc. I don’t appear to have any adverse reactions to Nitrate/Nitrite consumption, so with that said, would it be better for my overall health to cut out those more processed foods?
4. Calcium Intake [29:04]
Hi Robb and Nicki, I love your show! I had a question regarding getting adequate calcium when not eating dairy. I eat a whole food diet, no processed foods (no gluten, dairy, soy, or corn). I eat lots of grass fed beef, organic chicken thighs, wild shrimp, and wild scallops. I do not eat sardines or fish bones though. Is it possible to get enough calcium when not consuming dairy products or fish bones? Thanks for your time! Megan
5. What is “Normal” Blood Pressure? [33:02]
So I went to donate blood today and was refused because my blood pressure was too low. Eek! I usually run about 90-something over 60-something, which I realize is already pretty low. Today, I was 88/55, as measured by a machine and not manually by the lab tech. (Don’t know if that makes it more or less accurate.) So it was what we might call “freakishly low,” but the thing is, I FELT FINE. Physical energy was good, mental outlook was all right — no issues. Nothing about how I felt all day would suggest that my BP was “too low.” (I went to donate around 12pm.)
So my question is, for a mostly low-carbing, very fit 35-year-old woman, what is a “normal” blood pressure, and more important, is BP another parameter we should add to blood glucose, HbA1C, triglycerides, and other markers whose “normal” ranges are based on the sedentary, sick, and inflamed masses and therefore reflect what’s *common* more than what’s normal/optimal?
(I’m reminded of how Robb’s wife’s ob/gyn was surprised at what a relatively “easy” pregnancy she had. Well, yeah, compared to all the walking, talking chronic disease bags he/she normally sees, Nikki’s health was off the charts. *Of course* she had a better time of it.)
I do realize that when it comes to BP, there *is* such a thing as too low, but I’m wondering what that is, as long as someone feels no adverse effects. (Kind of like glucose…I’ve tested and seen myself in the mid-to-high 60s and felt FINE. Yay, fat adaptation.)
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Nicki: It’s time to make your health an act of rebellion. We’re tackling personalized nutrition, metabolic flexibility, resilient aging, and answering your diet and lifestyle questions. This is the only show with the bold aim to help 1,000,000 people liberate themselves from the sick care system. You’re listening to The Healthy Rebellion Radio. Contents of this show are for entertainment and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast should be considered medical advice. Please consult your licensed and credentialed functional medicine practitioner before embarking on any health, dietary or fitness change. Warning, when Rob gets passionate he’s been known to use the occasional expletive. If foul language is not your thing, if it gets your britches in a bunch, well, there’s always Disney+.
Robb: We doing this thing?
Nicki: We’re doing it. We’re doing it today, instead of yesterday. Yesterday was, I think what people would call it, is a veritable shit show.
Robb: Do you want to flesh out what happened?
Nicki: A literal shit show. Well, I shall. I woke up yesterday morning. I heard Zoe on the stairs talking to the dog and I come out and I’m like, “Zoe, go back to bed.” And she’s like, “Dutch just threw up in my bed.” I was like, “Oh, okay. Just…” And it’s like 4:45 in the morning. So I said, “Okay, go climb in bed, go climb in my bed.”
Robb: Because I was sleeping on the floor because my back got tweaked, again.
Nicki: His back is still… Yeah, not doing great. So anyway, I go upstairs to take the sheets off the bed and I’m like, “This doesn’t really look like throw up.” It was sort of like a brown smear. So I grab the sheets and bring them downstairs. And then I turn on the light and I notice that apparently Dutch had some diarrhea in the night and proceeded to walk and dribble all around the house.
Robb: Hither, nither, and yawn. And Dutch usually sleeps through the night pretty well. But he was-
Nicki: Like a rock. But he was like nasal whining through his nose, that like… if you, if I ever had a dog that like… Yeah. But he didn’t want out. He wasn’t tapping on the door like he wanted out. And so sometimes he does that when he was sleeping out in the living room. Normally he sleeps in our bedroom, but I was so tired and I didn’t-
Robb: If there’s an animal outside he’ll usually get a little squirrelly.
Nicki: Yeah, and I was so tired and sometimes he’ll do that if he hears something. And so I’m like, “I’m not letting you out. There’s grizzlies and mountain lions outside. And I don’t want to deal with that in the middle of the night. And I’m tired and I’m going to sleep.” So I’m just ignoring him. So consequently, I slept terribly because I kept hearing my dog nasal whine all night long. And then I woke up to the shit show.
Robb: To a code brown throughout the whole house. And we had our good friends showing up who have four kids later in the day. And so we were pulling up carpet.
Nicki: So I made use of the carpet cleaner and the box fan that I-
Robb: That Nicki hates.
Nicki: That I loathe. But it works when you have wet carpet that needs drying.
Robb: It works for a multitude of applications, which is why I love them.
Nicki: Yeah. So anyway… So needless to say, we did not record this episode on the day we were intending to. And so it is today. That’s a long preamble to this.
Robb: This is like the worst fucking intro to a show ever.
Nicki: Okay. You’re driving today though. You don’t need to give me the mouse. So I can’t… Go up. Go up.
Robb: Oh man, man. Oh, geez. Yeah. We’re really…
Nicki: You’re ruining my mojo here.
Nicki: Okay. Anyway, I think we can just jump right in today to our news topic and just move it on down the road.
Robb: Try to salvage this as best we can.
Robb: Okay. For people seeing this we’re in a new office. Nicki’s dad was here for several weeks helping to convert part of our third bay of our garage into an office. So we’re getting moved in and I’m super stoked about that. My office door has this thing called a lock, which is incredible.
Nicki: Which means when the kids are being loud and Rob has work to do, he can lock himself in and be in… My dad insulated it very thoroughly.
Robb: It’s the best insulated part of the house. Yes.
Nicki: So, the sound proofing should be good.
Robb: Yeah. So, news topic today… Pretty cool newsie article, after being dismissed by doctors, a mom of a child with down syndrome makes a discovery. And it’s basically this mom noticed that her daughter with down syndrome really was having failure to thrive. Couldn’t pick her head up. Wasn’t making any of the normal milestone progressions that kids have in general, but even within the down syndrome community. And she started doing more and more poking around. And there were maybe about 10% of parents of children with down syndrome reported this. And nobody had really looked into what was going on. And with some pretty routine blood work, they discovered that her daughter was suffering from a situation of high ketones and low blood sugar, both at the same time. And when she mentioned this to her doctors, initially they just dismissed it out of hand.
Robb: They’re like, “It’s got nothing to do with anything.” But being a good tenacious mom, she kept digging. And there was…and this circles back to our access to freedom stuff really, really quickly, people online were comparing notes about this topic. And so she kept digging and digging and digging, managed to get an appointment with a metabolic geneticist. And the metabolic geneticist was like, “Oh yeah, this is well known within our circles,” which there’s like four of these people on the planet, that some individuals with down syndrome have this tendency to experience both very, very low blood glucose levels, but also very high ketone levels.
Robb: And so I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to say about this. One is that you’d hard pressed to find somebody more excited about ketosis than I am. I think it’s amazing. It’s a very underutilized, metabolic therapeutic, and it is not the solution for everybody under all circumstances. Like for whatever reason, the genetic polymorphisms that this young girl has, ketones don’t bridge the gap with what she needs. And what they found actually helped her was a type of cornstarch because it’s fairly low releasing. And so they give her a cornstarch with each meal and it keeps her on an even blood glucose level. And when they started doing this, her daughter immediately was able to pick her head up, started the progress to crawling and then standing and is developing at a much normal pace.
Robb: And I’m just throwing this out there. Goddammit, I didn’t say that cornstarch fixed down syndrome. What I said is the child started hitting expected developmental milestones much more reasonably and her quality of life dramatically improved and whatnot. So ketosis is awesome. Ketosis is not the solution for everything. This mom found this by poking around online and talking to other parents who had compared notes about this stuff.
Robb: And if we censor every fucking thing that isn’t a randomized controlled trial, then this process stops. This is a news piece that’s actually getting a lot of attention. And it’s thought that a huge number of children with down syndrome, a big cross-section of the developmental hurdles that they face, maybe a metabolic problem. If just simply administering cornstarch with each one of their meals and making sure that they have a normal blood glucose level, they may end up having markedly better cognitive function, physical function. And again, this would have never been discovered, had people not been able to just compare notes and eventually lead into the more rigorous science that occurs later.
Robb: So it’s a cool story. And again, it makes this case, there was a time when social media blogs and things like that were incredibly powerful for people being able to compare notes and a number of studies that have happened within paleo and keto and auto-immune research occurred because of people comparing notes, getting some attention, being worthwhile enough in the volume that was occurring for somebody to put some funding in it, to discover if there’s really something here.
Robb: Sometimes nothing comes of these things. That’s part of what science is too. Not every group of people on the internet, comparing notes on something ultimately manifests in, “Oh, we have a new therapeutic at hand.” But again, this just makes this case that the people should be tenacious both with their own healthcare and the healthcare of their family members. Sometimes doctors are 100% on point with saying, “Okay, I don’t think that there’s anything here.” And sometimes they’re not. People are fallible and we don’t yet know everything. The science is not settled. That is the most ridiculous statement in the world because, until we are able to predict the quantum state of one electron on one side of the universe and its implications for every other molecule throughout the rest of the universe and be able to predict what those outcomes are, we still have shit to learn. So there you have that.
Nicki: There you have it. It is a super cool story. Let’s see here. Our T-shirt review winner this week goes to the Muddy Lake Guy. He says, “This is a great show for the curious mind that has questions about science-based health choices. There’s a lot of answers that contain technical scientific terms. And they’re always supplemented with explanations and more accessible language, as well as what this means for your everyday routines and diet. While this might be enough, the show opens with charming banter between two people who clearly love each other. And if you listen long enough, you realize these are genuine hosts who, while having their opinions, aren’t selling any dogma or so set in their ways that they can’t look at things from a fresh perspective. PSA, you need to be able to hear about people’s poop.”
Robb: You do. Even dogs occasionally.
Nicki: Yes. Even a whole intro on dog poop. Okay. Muddy Lake Guy. Thank you so much for that review. Send us an email to [email protected] with your T-shirt size and mailing address. And we’ll send you a Healthy Rebellion Radio T-shirt.
Robb: And we promise it will be poop free.
Nicki: Yes, we do. We can make that promise.
Nicki: All right. The Healthy Rebellion Radio is sponsored by our salty AF electrolyte company LMNT. And if it’s hot where you live… It’s been extremely hot here in Montana these last few-
Robb: -Relative for Montana.
Nicki: Relative for Montana. If you work in a hot or humid environment, if you train or do any type of athletics, then LMNT needs to be a part of your life. And if you care about the amount of sugar in your diet, LLMNT is doubly for you. And I wanted to read a customer testimonial. I know last time we mentioned some things about the common sports drink and here’s another great one. This is from Laurie. There’s more to life than Gatorade. I’ve been trying to get my teenage athlete off the Gatorade for a while, and he never likes the taste of the low sugar sports drinks that he’s tried. Amazingly he loved the taste of LMNT raspberry salt. Yay. No more sugary Gatorade. And then he also said it’s more satisfying for his post practice thirst.
Nicki: So that’s super, super cool. If you haven’t yet tried LMNT, you can grab a 12 count variety pack and try all of the flavors to figure out the ones you like best. And then once you’ve got your favorite flavors dialed, you can grab a value bundle where you buy three boxes and get the fourth box free. And you can do that drinkLMNT.com/robb. That’s drink L-M-N-T .com slash R-O-B-B.
Robb: It’s all so very reasonable.
Nicki: All right. Question numero uno for this semana is from Trevor. DNA testing for ideal diet and exercise. “Dear Robb and Nicki, I’m really enjoying the podcast. Have gone from only listening when the topic looked interesting to listening to every episode, because there’s always something good or interesting,” which is a really nice compliment. “I appreciate y’all’s freethinking mindset and news topics. I also bought a big old box of LMNT, and really like the watermelon flavor. My question is about DNA testing. Do you think there’s any value to having this done, to determine ideal diet exercise and overall lifestyle cues, or is trial and error a better route? If you think testing is valuable, is there a company you can recommend?”
Robb: There is a company… So a couple of things here. I smart or dumbly did 23andMe, so the Chinese own my genetic data at this point, or somebody does. And it was interesting. It definitely verified my celiac likelihood, but it recommended that I should eat a low fat, high fiber, high carbohydrate diet, which I don’t even know that within their algorithm they have anything else than that. So I was kind of like, “Eh.” And then I went through DNA Fit, which I believe is a UK based genetic testing company. And they definitely seem to have much more of an athlete performance orientation. And what came back from that was that I would likely do better on a lower carb diet. They recommended a maximum of about 15% carbohydrate for me. They also picked up the potential polymorphisms around celiac.
Robb: It was interesting though, that it suggested that I, although I’m APOE33 which shouldn’t be as concerning from either cardiovascular disease or neurodegenerative disease, some of my testing did suggest that I might do better on monounsaturated fats versus saturated fats. I definitely am that person that dairy fat seems to push my lipoproteins up. And so, there seemed to be some good stuff there. It picked up and suggested that I’m a mixed fiber type, which is kind of interesting. Like my upper body, I’m a little bit fast twitch, my lower body I’m moderate to slower twitch. I’m definitely not an Olympic sprinter, which that is pretty obvious within the activities that I’ve done. So that was cool. And if I hadn’t done years of tinkering with my training, years of tinkering my nutrition, this might’ve been helpful.
Robb: If I just had somebody starting from a dead stop and… Because somebody who is predominantly slow twitch, let’s say that their goal was maximizing muscle mass. They typically do better on a very high volume kind of classic bodybuilder type program where somebody who’s faster twitch, although they benefit from a mix of rep and loading ranges, they tend to do better from a muscle gain perspective, being a little bit on the heavier side, more of that like 75 to 90% of one rep max within a given set. So can be informative that way. And this testing really isn’t that expensive these days. But the only one that I’ve seen that’s fairly credible with is DNA Fit. And I have no affiliation, not even an affiliate code. But I honestly also haven’t gone out and tried 10 different offerings and compared what they are recommending.
Robb: I had one other thought around this, which is just… It’s interesting. I remember when I did youth sports, football specifically, one of the first things that the coaches did, they would warm us up. But at the beginning of each season, they would get us warmed up and everything. And then we would do 50 yard sprints. And that determined who was a quarterback. Now you need to be able to throw the football and stuff like that. But based off of how people played out on that 50 yard sprint, determined who was a linebacker versus a fullback versus a lineman and all that type of stuff. And if you were bigger-
Nicki: Versus a wide receiver.
Robb: That kind of… Versus a wide receiver and all that type of jive. So some of this stuff too, just very simple physical testing, just tells you an enormous amount. The counter arm swing vertical leap test tells you a lot about how fast twitch an individual is. And then that said, even if you aren’t super fast twitch, if you really love power athletics, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change your epigenetic profile to some degree and become more explosive.
Robb: I had trained in a way for years. I had found Fred Hatfield’s training methodology a long time ago. And what he said is that every movement you do should be done explosively and not uncontrolled, but when you’re moving the weight, you should move it as rapidly as you can. And if you go up a flight of stairs, you explode up the flight of stairs. And at five foot nine, when I was high school, I could stand under a basketball hoop and flatfoot jump and dunk a tennis ball.
Robb: I couldn’t, to save my life, dribble a basketball and run up and do a dunk, because I didn’t have the coordination for that. But I’m not inherently super fast twitch. We have a friend of ours, John Fragoso, who’s an amazing chiropractor in the Chico area. He’s married to Sarah Fragoso. And John is super fucking fast twitch. Like he, I don’t think has a slow twitch fiber in his colon. You know? I mean, it’s like everything about that guy is super fast, super explosive. And so there is kind of a reality, if I were to be paired up against John and some sort of a power athletics scenario, I could train and train and train and train and train, and I’m probably never going to beat the guy at much of anything in power athletics. And if he applied himself really hard with training, which he has and does, then it’s just like that that spread is going to be that much greater. I know I’m just rambling and making this thing super long here, but…
Nicki: I think his main question… I mean, you went into a very athletic performance training realm. And I think his question is mainly ideal diet and lifestyle.
Robb: Even on that diet side, like I said within 23andMe, it was very milk toast. You know, it’s like high carb, low fat.
Nicki: Which, based on his question, you could sort of do the trial and error route and figure that out.
Nicki: If you can… I don’t know how old you are, Trevor, but you probably already have a good sense of if you tolerate carbohydrates-
Robb: Dairy. Yeah.
Nicki: Or dairy and you can get a little more granular with that stuff, doing things like the seven day carb test and just really experimenting. But if there’s some of these other markers that are revealed when you do these DNA tests, if that’s really, really interesting to you, then-
Nicki: Then go for it.
Nicki: But I don’t think you have to. I’ve not done one of those. I’m sort of curmudgeonly in that regard.
Robb: Yeah. Yeah. So, that’s a good way to wrap that up. Yeah. So I guess to put a bow on that, it can be valuable, could be insightful. For me, it was just basically kind of confirmation bias. Because I had the one test that really didn’t comport with what I either wanted or what I felt reflected my constitution. And then the other one did. So of course I settled on the one that played to my confirmation bias.
Nicki: Well, but you also know that if you ate the way that the first one told you would feel like shit.
Robb: I would be sick as hell. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Nicki: Okay. Our next question is from Danny and he wants to know, “Are any of the scales on the market that claim to measure your body composition worth looking into or are they all pretty much bullshit?”
Robb: They’re mainly BS. And the way that they’re generally calibrated is for folks that have fairly high body fat percentage already, and they’re wildly inaccurate, depending on how hydrated you are. If you’re dehydrated one day, it will give you a shockingly different reading than if you’re you’re properly hydrated. So I kind of hate the body composition scales. I guess it’s like if you’re in a very consistent routine and you’re going to buy a scale and it just happens to have the bioelectrical impedance and it gives you kind of a feedback or a reading, I guess that’s fine. But just keep in mind that there’s way more error in those things than good signal.
Nicki: And if you can get yourself to a place to do a DEXA scan, that’s probably the better option.
Nicki: And you maybe do that every six months or I don’t know, what’s the-
Robb: Yeah. Bod Pod, DEXA, something like that. And also just our crazy old, take a picture of yourself, a pair of pants, our tight pants tests. Like when folks go through the reset in The Rebellion, I can’t tell you how many people… It seemed goofy when we kind of put them… But this is stuff that we started doing when we ran the gym. And one day I had somebody that was really frustrated with the scale weight. And I’m like, “But you just told me that you’re wearing a pair of pants that you haven’t been able to wear from high school.” And this person was like mid thirties or something. She was like, “You know, that’s true.” I’m like, “Well, we should call that the tight pants test.” Most of the stuff we didn’t just pull out of our backside. It was actually…
Robb: And it’s kind of funny. I think that that situation happened maybe half a dozen times before I was like, “Oh, there might actually be a diagnostic tool here, you know?” And it is so gratifying for people when at the beginning of a reset, they try putting on a pair of pants and they can’t get it over their thighs. They can’t button it or whatever it is.
Nicki: Or they get it over or they can’t zip them.
Robb: Yeah, whatever the deal is. But you have a really good sense for how that feels. And then you motor along and maybe the scale change is blase, but you’re jumping right into those pants and they look great and they feel really good. And so you get that great feedback. So we do tend to steer people more towards these somewhat more subjective elements. Although I don’t know how subjective a tight pair of pants are. Like they kind of-
Nicki: Right. And the photos. I mean, if any of you have taken the Keto masterclass that you know, that there’s an image in there of a gal who weighs 185 pounds in both pictures, but the first one she’s carrying a lot of excess body fat. And the second one she’s been lifting and training for several months and it’s amazing.
Robb: It’s stunning, the difference.
Nicki: You wouldn’t even think it was the same person physically when you’re looking at these pictures, but the scale weight is identical. Identical. And so this is just a drum that we beat all the time. Clearly it’s hard because it’s been sort of imbued into our psyches that there’s a certain number that you should weigh if you’re a certain height, but really what you want is the most capable, strong physique that you can attain for what you want to do with your life. And so it’s not about the scale, obviously body composition matters. And so to Danny’s question, he wants to measure body composition, like taking pictures at regular intervals, front facing in the mirror, side, if you can find somebody to take a picture of your back, or you can kind of do that in the mirror as well. And just, put a memo in your calendar to do that once a month. And then over time you can look back and really, really see visually the difference.
Robb: And I think Ted Naiman uses the height to waist ratio, which ends up being within like two or three percentage points on body fat. Like it’s shockingly-
Nicki: Height to weight?
Robb: Yeah. Height to weight, I believe. Something like that. Yeah.
Nicki: Okay. Our next question is from McKinsey on nitrates and nitrites. She says, “I’ve been thinking about my nitrate and nitrite consumption lately. And the ideas seem to be a bit confusing because it’s present in natural foods, but also added to processed foods. I eat a fair bit of kimchi, some deli meat, condiments, like sriracha in addition to loving things like beets, spinach, celery, et cetera. I don’t appear to have any adverse reactions to nitrates and nitrites. So with that said, would it be better for my overall health to cut out those more processed foods?”
Robb: This is one of these things where I feel like a little bit of a crazy person saying this. And I am so underwhelmed by the strength of the research connecting say like processed meat consumption and things like colon cancer. There was just another report that came out, another study that one serving a week of processed meat increases your likelihood of cancer, cardiovascular disease. I mean, the list was huge and it was this huge association, but it’s all these food frequency questionnaires and on and on and on. The nitrate nitrite stuff looks kind of scary when you look at cell culture, but then when you consider what actually happens when these things are processed by our gut bacteria and what actually makes it into our system, it’s a really different story. And as McKinsey pointed out, we have all these naturally occurring nitrate, nitrate foods like beets and whatnot.
Robb: And it appears that some of the cardiovascular benefit of things like beets is from the nitrate nitrite components. And so does that mean that salami is exactly the same as beets? Well, maybe not, but I’m just so underwhelmed by the connection here. And when we think about this within the bigger picture of a generally healthy diet and lifestyle, and I’ve got to admit, we’ve been busy enough that the notion of cooking a lunch is just like, “Oh my God, I can’t, I can’t do it.” We do a good breakfast. We do a good dinner, but lunch of late has basically been like cheese and salami and stuff like that. And the girls love it. We love it.
Robb: And so I guess it’s that thing that for me, if we’re answering the question, should you remove it for health? I don’t think so. But even if we were to give the full benefit of the doubt to these really poorly performed studies, when I think about how much less stress I have… I don’t have to cook. My cleanup is minimal. You know? So just for me personally, to say nothing of the kids, how much health benefit am I getting? Because I’m not stressed out about like, “Oh God, how am I going to cook another meal?” And, and you know, woe is me. It’s a first world problem. We have food. We have a place to cook our food. There’s all kinds of gratitude I should have in there, exculpatory clauses galore, but I’m just really unmoved by the scariness of nitrate and nitrite containing foods.
Nicki: There you have it.
Nicki: Gato. It’s time for The Healthy Rebellion Radio trivia. The Healthy Rebellion Radio sponsor drink LMNT is giving a box of LMNT recharge electrolytes to three lucky winners selected at random who answer the following question correctly? Robb, what is your predicted first day of snow for the Flathead Valley?
Robb: October 22nd.
Nicki: The day after my birthday.
Nicki: Okay. We will see. We’ll have to mark that down and see how Nostradamus-y you are. Go to Robbwolf.com/trivia to enter your answer. And we’ll randomly select three people to win a box of electrolytes from Drink LMNT. The cutoff to answer this week’s trivia and be eligible to win is Thursday, August 12th at midnight. And we’ll notify winners via email and announced on Instagram as well. This is open to residents of the US only.
Nicki: Okay. Our fourth question this week is on calcium intake. Megan is asking, “Hi Robb and Nicki. I love your show. I had a question regarding getting adequate calcium when not eating dairy. I eat a whole foods diet, no processed foods, no gluten, dairy, soy, or corn. I eat lots of grass fed beef, organic chicken thighs, wild shrimp, and wild scallops. I do not eat sardines or fish bones though. Is it possible to get enough calcium when not consuming dairy products or fish bones?”
Robb: The short answer is yes, you can. And a lot of this story is not as much how much calcium you take in, but how much calcium you retain. So adequate levels of vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, and ironically sodium also, because if people are deficient in sodium, we will pull sodium out of the bones. And when we pull the sodium out of the bones, we also pull calcium with it. So inadequate sodium intake is one of these kind of hidden in plain sight causes of osteoporosis, osteopenia. And what do we recommend all of our older folks do?
Nicki: Cut out salt.
Robb: Reduce sodium intake and all that type of stuff. So, this is something where doing a bone mineral scan once every five years or what have you, once every 10 years wouldn’t be a bad thing, or at least get a baseline. But resistance training, adequate protein intake enhances calcium retention, adequate sodium, adequate magnesium, and then being on point with D3 and K2 definitely is a big deal in this whole story.
Nicki: Do you think this could be like a measurable thing? Like if you did a bone mineral scan and then started adding… Maybe they were already resistance training, maybe it’s somebody like Megan, who’s eating a really clean, great diet. Let’s assume that she also is active and does resistance training. She could test her bone mineral density, then start supplementing with sodium and you could see improvement?
Robb: Possibly. Possibly. I mean, if she was chronically deficient in sodium, such that her body was leaching sodium out of the bones and so also leaching calcium, then possibly. It would be very situationally dependent.
Nicki: That would be interesting to put some people together and do that study.
Robb: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of different factors that go into bone mineral density. And so…
Nicki: It might be hard to control for all those.
Robb: You would need to control for a lot of different stuff. What would be cool is to take a group of people, in my opinion… because I’m way more fired up about beneficial outcomes. And so why don’t we take a group of people that are osteoporotic, osteopenic, strength training, increase their protein, make sure they get adequate sodium, tick some boxes on adequate levels of dietary calcium. Some nuts and seeds are okay sources, but we could play around with some other sources besides just fish bones and stuff like that. The vitamin D and K2, and see what three months of that protocol does.
Robb: And folks will throw their hands up and they’re like, “Well, we don’t know what one thing was really the most impactful.” And it’s like, “No, we don’t.” But assuming that we really improve the muscle and the bone density of these people, what we did is we dramatically improve their quality of life. And it’s a cheap, easy way to tackle things. And we don’t know specifically which thing is going to be the most impactful for one person. So why not a holistic approach to it and just play to that outcome?
Nicki: I like it. Okay. Our fifth question this week is on normal… What is normal blood pressure? And this is from Amy. She said, “So I went to donate blood today and I was refused because my blood pressure was too low. I usually run about 90 something over 60 something, which I realize is already pretty low. But today I was 88 over 55 as measured by a machine and not manually by the lab tech. I don’t know if that makes it more or less accurate. So it was what we might call freakishly low. But the thing is, I felt fine. Physical energy was good. Mental outlook was all right, no issues. Nothing about how I felt all day would suggest that my blood pressure was too low. And I went to donate around noon.
Nicki: So my question is for a mostly low carbing, very fit 35 year old woman, what is a normal blood pressure and more important, is blood pressure another parameter we should add to the blood glucose, HBA, A1C, triglycerides, and other markers whose normal ranges are based on the sedentary, sick and inflamed masses, and therefore reflect what’s common more than what is normal or optimal? I do realize that when it comes to blood pressure, there is such a thing as too low, but I’m wondering what that is, as long as someone feels no adverse effects? Kind of like glucose. I’ve tested and seen myself in the mid to high sixties and felt fine. Yay. For fat adaptation.
Robb: Yeah, it’s a good question. I have a link to a paper, Hunter Gatherers has models in public health. Herman Pontzer did that one and he looks at a bunch of different parameters, blood glucose, obesity, more globally blood pressure, lipids. And when we look at the blood pressure ranges within pastoralists, horticulturalists, hunter gatherers, it’s usually somewhere around that 120 to 130, over 70 to two low 80s. It’s not typically below that. Not typically much above that. There is some variation within this. I think that this is where we see within a population, a really remarkable spread. And for most people, I think most people with the blood pressure she cited like the 90 over… 88 over 55, that’s like crash cart type stuff. Like, “We’re losing them.” But Amy’s motoring along fine with that.
Robb: It would be really interesting, does she experience any lightheadedness seated to standing or anything like that? I would be really curious with that. So, I don’t know that normal blood pressure has adjusted upward quite the way that normal testosterone has adjusted downward and normal body weight has adjusted upward and whatnot over time. But I do like looking at that pre westernized society as a place to look for these numbers. And you know, that that spread I think is generally pretty accepted as being healthy.
Robb: I’m trying to think of anything else. The big factor there is too high of blood pressure is almost certainly causing non laminar flow that can damage the vascular endothelium, whatever part of the cholesterol cardiovascular disease story. It’s crystal clear that damage to the vascular endothelium is a bad thing. So, keeping blood pressure within good parameters is definitely great. I do want to say that folks with exceptionally low blood pressure tend to almost never get cardiovascular disease. It’d be really interesting if there was examples of a homozygous, familial hypercholesterolemia with blood pressure, normally like this, do those folks still get cardiovascular disease? That would be an interesting thing, but… yeah.
Nicki: Okay. Folks, that was our fifth question for this week. If you want to submit a question for the podcast, you can do that at robbwolf.com from the contact page. And you can choose podcast question from the dropdown there. So if you have questions you’d like to submit, do that. Please check out our show sponsor LMNT. Remember you can either try the variety pack, 12 count variety pack, or if you already know the flavors that you love, grab the value bundle. It’s the best bang for your buck, as they say. Buy three boxes, get the fourth box free. Go to drinkLMNT.com/robb. That’s drink L-M-N-T .com slash R-O-B-B. Anything else, hubs?
Robb: I got nothing.
Nicki: I got nothing. All right, folks. Have a fabulous weekend and we’ll talk to you next week.
Robb: Bye, everybody.
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