Tim Ferriss: Injury, Lyme Disease & Filming The Tim Ferriss Experiment – #215
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Dave Asprey: Everyone it’s Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s call fact of the day is that a disease whose name I actually don’t know how to pronounce but I bet Tim Ferris knows how to pronounce is called Urbach-Wiethe, which looks German. Anyhow this is a disease that’s incredibly rare and is caused by a mutation of chrome 1 and it causes weird symptoms in it’s victims but one of the symptoms is calcification of the amygdala, which makes patients unable to feel fear even when they’re at gunpoint. So maybe that’s an interesting mutation that could be useful for some people some of the time. All right if you haven’t guessed, today’s guest is Tim Ferriss who I think everyone already knows, Four Hour Work Week guy. He is coming out with a really cool new T.V. show but did I say, Tim Urbach-Wiethe.
Tim: Correct. It sounds like some type of West African witchcraft Hex. I don’t know actually off headed I think it’s perhaps that I need more caffeine but I can’t identify what language that is immediately offhand. I would say it sounded fantastic in my opinion.
Dave Asprey: I speak five or eight languages now so coming from you that’s a compliment given that I speak like English and a little bit of Spanish when I’m prompted so, respect.
Tim: Yeah well I do my best. I’m running on ketones at the moment so I’ll blame anything good or bad on that.
Dave Asprey: It’s always nice to have a scapegoat. I’ve never used the ketones as a scapegoat but I’m absolutely going to borrow that from now on.
Tim: Yeah, definitely.
Dave Asprey: one of the reasons I wanted to have you on is that you are making a new T.V. show and it’s probably one of the most … It sounds like, I haven’t seen it but it sounds like one of the most worthwhile T.V. shows that I can think of. I’m pretty excited about it and I wanted to ask you about what your plans are for that and just talk about a bunch of others stuff that I think both of our audiences are interested in.
First out, you’re going to have a T.V. show about hacking human performance without having to change your genes, which is kind of cool. What’s up with the show? Tell me about it because I think a lot of people are going to be excited.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely it’s basically a visual incarnation of all of the ridiculous but hopefully productive and sometimes dangerous experiments that I’ve done on myself starting with I suppose the foreign body for most people, although I’ve been doing it for a lot longer than that. The show is called the Tim Ferris Experiment and all the shows are done. We have a full season and I was an executive producer and host. It meant that I worked on everything from choosing the teachers to the skills to the locations to going over rough cuts and the I had said no to a lot of television before, as I’m sure you have.
Dave Asprey: Yeah.
Tim: Then I had the chance to actually cherry pick the people that I wanted to work with and I ended up working with Zero Point Zero who does all the Anthony Bourdain work. I just asked myself what T.V. do I actually enjoy watching and let me go look at the people who make that and it turned out that the gritty cinematic style of ,say the New Reservations were parts unknown is done by this gang out of New York called ZPZ and so I partnered with them as well as Turner Broadcasting and made the show. It was just a brutal … The making of the show itself is a really incredible story because we did 13 weeks of shooting in about I want to say 16 weeks. It was the most the most brutal schedule I’ve ever experienced and I’ll be the first one to say if you want a four-hour work week, filming T.V. in that fashion is not the way to do it. We probably did 12 to 16 hours a day of filming or my days were at least 12-16 because I was doing a lot of review at the same time but the premise of the show is and I know we’re on the same page here; is that you don’t need to be super human to get super human results. You just need a better toolkit and for most of the episodes, I was using myself as a guinea pig.
I would say have a week to learn the drums with Stewart Copeland, the founding drummer of the Police is considered one of the top ten drummers of all time. I would have a week and usually a week meant three to four days to then go on stage with Foreigner and play to a sold out show live or I would have …
Dave Asprey: No pressure.
Tim: No pressure, no pressure or I would have say a handful of days, four days I think it was to go from zero to golug, which is Filipino to being interviewed live on Filipino television for six minutes, which is a long time. It’s a very, very long and but then there’s all sorts of stuff. Parkour, so trying to be a ninja which ended up … Not all these end up with me hitting home runs. Some of them end up with me face planting and getting really, really injured. There was surfing with Laird Hamilton who is considered the undisputed king of big wave surfing.
Dave Asprey: I love him He’s a friend.
Tim: Oh yeah, Laird is awesome. Laird is an amazing guy, an incredible athlete and poker, professional poker and the list goes on and on. Every episode is different skill and then for I think two of the episodes, I worked with students, so I was one of the teachers and that was to just demonstrate that this is a tool kit. It’s not me. It’s that limited or inherent to my abilities. It’s really just a set of checklists and approaches and questions that allow you to do this. We took students and made them appear to be superhuman themselves, which was really fun.
Dave Asprey: What did you do during the filming because I know the schedule to some extent. I filmed for six weeks this year I did a documentary on hidden kryptonite in our environment and the number one source I know of is this water damaged buildings. It’s affecting probably a hundred million people. I’m like, I’ll do a documentary about this and it creates bio-aerosols that make people cranky and weak and can do other weird things.
I’m flying all around and interviewing all these people and I did it in broken up things but it kicked my ass, to be perfectly honest. I was using all the Bulletproof style bio hacks but what did you do during those 16 weeks of filming when you were working 12-16 hours a day, not an hour a day in order to stay strong and focused and to look good on camera because you don’t look like a zombie right. How do you do it?
Tim: Yeah that was that was a challenge because if you’re doing say a book launch and you’re looking haggard and like Al Pacino after a five-day bender in Vegas, you don’t necessarily have to have your face on camera every day, much less be performing these ridiculous feats on camera but in my particular case, I traveled with basically a suitcase full of gear, which got bigger and bigger and more packed more packed as I accumulated more injuries. I had I had an ultrasound device. I had a real shot kit, really. I had a Mark Pro, which is the electrical stim device.
Dave Asprey: There’s one right over there.
Tim: Yeah, exactly and basically a TENS unit for different types of injuries and recovery and lymph clearance and so on. I also traveled with a combination of creams and man potions like D.M.S.O. I think it is Dimethyl sulfoxide, also injuries but it acts as a solvent so you can do some very interesting things. If you want to push other substances through the skin and I did consume a lot of fats. The fats were super key and I was I was consuming typically tea with all sorts of different fats, whether they be NTT’s or just straight coconut oil or butter or some combination of all of them .Yeah it was really fun.
You have experienced this for a lot longer than I have but when people watch you make something like that, especially when I’m doing kind of … I’m not going to call it a hack job but it’s a rushed hotel job of doing this and I did have a Bullet blender, just a tiny little travel sized blunders but I was I was oftentimes in charge of handling so many other things I was like, “Screw it” and I would just drop three or four dollops of stuff in my coffee or not coffee but in this case my tea usually and people would be like, “What is floating in your coffee? That looks terrible” but it would really keep me going for the first hour or two of the day because what I didn’t want to do is have a really large meal immediately upon waking up and then have to be on camera 45 minutes or an hour later and I have my senses dulled.
I would I would very typically … And it’s not quite intermittent fasting but I would abstain from large meals until lunch very frequently. Then there were a number of things I consumed that for me and I’m not saying this works for everyone but would appear to help bolster the immune system so different types of whey protein. I had a selection of whey protein that I found historically and again this doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone but for me to really bolster the immune system. I would take that twice a day during all of my book launches and I did that during this as well and then L. lysine. You know it’s sort of a caustic companion.
Dave Asprey: You do that at night. How much do you take?
Tim: I’m typically taking … It depends on if I feel any onset ups of symptoms or not but I’m usually taking I’d say 1.5 grams a day in divided doses. How much do you take?
Dave Asprey: I take 2 grams at bedtime, more for sleep. I don’t get cold sores or anything like that, so I’m not looking at symptoms or there could be other symptoms. There are all sorts of things it helps with but I just found that improves the quality and there are a couple things for inflammation out there, so it seems like a good stack. I do that and 2.5 grams of Gaba at night and that just helps my sleep rock.
Tim: Yeah, that will knock you out and then there’s a whole host of stuff. Pre-workout, for instance I would take. There’s a company that blanking on the moment but I get fresh amino acids from one or two places and then a handful of other ad hoc sort of use as needed types of prescription drugs and whatnot depending on how beaten up I was because I had … Check this out. You will like this. The quadriceps in the leg is four muscles, as you would imagine. In the first episode we filmed Parkour first and it was not finished first because we were like, “Oh my God, what are we going to do with this episode?” I tore three of the four quadriceps in both legs. I basically tore but I had severe subpatellar tendinitis. I tore my infraspinatus in the left shoulder. I tore muscles in my forearm, so if you watch the drumming episode you’ll notice which was the second we filed, you’ll notice that I’m wearing a compression band on my arm and some people have seen and they’re like, “What’s up with the funny fashion” and I don’t think I ever explain it in the drum episodes because I’ve got to know in what order these are going to be finished. I didn’t want to create confusion.
The infraspinatus is involved in a lot of things but it’s part of the rotator cuff musculature and it’s involved in say decelerating a pitch. Okay, so this type of movement and then I went straight to drumming of all things. I just accumulated these injuries and I had some of the stuff that say NFL players used to get through games just in case I needed it.
Dave Asprey: Cortisol kind of stuff?
Tim: Not cortisol. What is it called, Tramadol and I’m not a doctor. I think it was Tramadol. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet but I don’t like that stuff. I really don’t like pain killers and opiate derivatives. I just don’t do well on them at all. I actually did not take that stuff but in the jujitsu episode, I was in New York and training with Marcello Garcia and his team. Marcello Garcia is kind of the Michael Jordan of the jujitsu world or if you were to combine you know Mike Tyson, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan, he’s the equivalent of that combination. He’s just and amazing athlete, a six time world champion and I just got slaughtered. I mean just destroyed on the first day they wanted to establish my baseline and this beast just plowed into me and tackled me and landed with like the play of a shoulder right my floating rib and it was like …
I had to keep on training for the another four or five days with what felt like a broken floating rib, which is surprisingly hard to diagnose it turns out even if you get even if you get x-rays and whatnot but in a case like that, I’m doing travel with a foam roller different types of mobility tools. I had two, at the time lacrosse balls tied together or taped together with athletic tape.
Dave Asprey: You should have called Kelly Star. He would have given you something.
Tim: Oh, I did. Kelly gave me some tips and tricks as I was trying to work my way through all these injuries and the Voodoo Floss band actually helped a lot with the knees. For those people who were not familiar this is from a mobility WOD, that’s Kelly’s company but Voodoo Floss, it’s a very tight band that you wrap around and in this particular case you basically almost tourniquet or turnakay for you, the Commonwealth. You tourniquet your leg from say six inches above the knee or eight inches above the knee to an equivalent below the knee and then you do deep knee bends or something like that. It is excruciating. It doesn’t feel good but that alleviated my knee and joint capsule pain in the leg more than anything else and then ice baths and all the other crap that I do but it was a lot.
I had to throw everything in the kitchen sink at this schedule because what I realized and I’m sure you’ve probably looked into this and realized the same thing that I filmed nonfiction television and I say non-fiction because “reality television” is not it’s not real at all and those guys film for like a day and they’re done with an episode. We were filming; I kid you not cameras on for probably 12 plus hours a day for five or six hours, which gets cut down to 21-22 minutes. It’s a ton of work for everyone including, as you can imagine the editors and so on so people just don’t film that way. They just do not and if you’re wondering for proof of that, look at any reality T.V. show that involves a family or a house and people are always having discussions or debates in the kitchen standing up and there’s always someone mixing something random. It’s total crap. It’s just made up. The whole thing is staged.
To do real non-fiction T.V. is hard. It is really hard and man I’m not sure I have it in me in my body to do it quite this way again but the putting the stuff on in the visual medium though I think is just so fascinating and it affects people in a different way than say pure audio and or certainly the printed page and text. I think it’ll be a great gateway drug for people who are looking for additional accelerated learning tools but who are also intimidated, not prone or too busy to sit down with a really thick tome of a book to try to pull their way through that. We’ll see, we’ll see but so far so good.
Dave Asprey: It looks like you’ll be successful. I mean you’ve got really cool things to tackle, gun fighting, high stakes poker. You’ve done a good job of picking things that have large niche audiences and I’m sure that was entirely accidental.
Dave Asprey: I was going to say it kind of looks like you read Emergency by Neil Strauss but you actually met with Neil Strauss. I’m a fan of that book in particular. I’ve done Urban Escape and Evasion class he talks about in there is because it’s really cool. I mean how did you pick all these topics?
Tim: I basically went down through my mental bucket list and just said, “Whether this T.V. show succeeds or fails how can I check a bunch of things off of my personal bucket list?” I’ll be excited about it because if I’m excited about it and I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well, if you try to feign excitement about something that you’re writing about or talking about, it doesn’t work, t least for me. It doesn’t work. I’m not an actor. I wanted to make people … I wanted to make the show infectiously exciting for people and the only way to do that is for me to be really excited or if I want to make people nervous, the easiest way to do that is to do something that will make me really nervous.
For instance, with Neil Strauss, oh my God. People ask me what was the scariest thing you did? Was it running around with tactical gun fighting with real shotguns and R15’s and handguns and swapping between them and racing for time or was it surfing with Laird or was it fill in the blank, a physically punishing thing? I’m like, “No the scariest thing I did and the most nerve-racking thing I did probably was going to the Ferry Building in San Francisco with Neil Strauss who also wrote the game for those people who don’t know and having him force me to do cold approaches on women.” I am so bad, oh God so, so, so bad. If you if you really want to see something hilarious, the dating episode, sort of the dating game where I look at trying to hack online dating and I actually bring in a very well known computer hacker to find out what he does and then a matchmaker and then Neal with the cold approaches on the street and that was brutal. That was really brutal to my ego more than my body but oh Lord am I bad at that stuff.
You get to see me they can make an ass of myself quite a fair amount in the show as well.
Dave Asprey: This is going to be worth watching. I’m sure but I don’t watch a lot of T.V. I tend to watch everything back to back on Netflix or something. How are you releasing yours?
Tim: Yeah that’s a perfect segue because I’m also a binge watcher. I will wait for shows to finish and then I’ll be like, “Look I don’t want to do the appointment viewing. I just want to sit down and really get into it and watch.” The way I watch Game of Thrones was the entire season one or two a night and I will just smash through it and I actually enjoy it more that way. This show, you’ll be able to do the same thing and you can do the same thing. By the time people are hearing this or watching it, all 13 episodes will be up on iTunes.
Dave Asprey: Itunes, cool.
Tim: Yeah and I may put them somewhere else later but for the time being all 13 episodes are going to be on iTunes simultaneously and people can just smash through as many as they want whenever they want. It will be thirteen episodes and I think if you buy all 13, you get like 40 or 50% off for the season pass, something like that. I actually encourage people to watch them in groups because each one basically gives you a handful of techniques and the portfolio, like the entire toolkit is represented by the season. When you watch a couple of them in a row, you’re like oh I see what is happening there. Tim always does that. Okay, okay, I see this very, very common thing that happens to Tim where he has like a nervous breakdown on the night of day two, which basically happened in drumming. That was oh my God. It’s giving me like PTSD just thinking about it but that’s the way it’s being released and I thought very, very hard about it. I looked at a bunch of different options an I may explore some of those options ranging from say Vessel, which is brand new to YouTube to platforms like VHX where you can sell directly to your audiences, for instance and I think the split is a bit better to the creator on say VHS. Itunes is a fascinating ecosystem and we don’t have to delve too deeply into this right now unless you want to but I’ve been doing so much with audio. I have just got very familiar with iTunes and it just seemed like the right medium and the right partner for this launch so that’s the way that’s where we’re doing it.
Dave Asprey: I should be more quantitative. There are the majority of people who listen to this and it’ll probably be one hundred thousand plus there about in the next little while will mostly listen on iTunes but I don’t actually know how many of them are watching video from iTunes and I don’t charge for either one but then there’s also our YouTube site. I probably should do my stats but I know that the majority of people are driving while they listen to it.
A T.V. show like yours it will be very different but I like it that it’s on iTunes because I can download it and watch it on airplanes, which is when I do most of my watching.
Tim: Yeah exactly and actually some of my friends make fun of me but I’m so excited to have the phablet, the phone-tablet. I ended up getting the six plus.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, me too.
Tim: There you go. I have a very, very thin logic tech Logitech keyboard that I can actually stick inside a book, it’s so thin. It’s incredible. It’s Bluetooth but I can travel and just take this thing and lean it against a glass of water on a table and do almost everything I need to do. It’s been great but this … I will give people a tip also; if you’re going to buy say a phone and you want to movies on it, get the phone with the black on the front of the phone because that will blend into the outer edges of the movie as you watch it.
Dave Asprey: Exactly, the same reason I did it. I love your advice. It’s just totally what I would do.
Tim: Yeah, it makes a big difference.
Dave Asprey: The other thing is look at the anti-glare screen protectors because when you’re on an airplane when you’re getting those bright window lights coming in, it glares and it’s really hard to watch.
Tim: Yeah that’s a good point.
Dave Asprey: I put the plug here pretty obviously since just said it was a plug. I put the Zen Tech screen projector on mine, which cuts glare a little bit but it’s one that filters out the melatonin-suppressing frequencies so that if I’m watching on an airplane in the evening, it’s not going to mess with me versus staring at a bright sunlight on a screen at midnight on an airplane is probably not good for your corneal gland.
Tim: Yeah probably not going to put you to the la la land, facilitate the process. Yeah for sure.
Dave Asprey: Well, let’s change gears here a bit because there’s a couple things that I know people are hoping that I’m going to ask about.
Dave Asprey: One of them is even pretty public on Facebook about Lyme disease. You had a bout with that.
Tim: I have.
Dave Asprey: Are you up for chatting about it?
Tm: Yeah, happy to talk about it.
Dave Asprey: All right so how did you get it and what to do about it?
Tim: I can answer both of those. Whether I have fixed it or not is a subject of great debate. How did I get it is for me very straightforward and I do think a lot of people self-diagnose incorrectly that they have Lyme disease and primarily because the symptoms of Lyme disease, let’s just achiness, memory loss in some cases and fatigue are symptoms that map to many different conditions and many different issues, including depression and other chronic auto immune problems. In my case though, most doctors if you go to a very top say an infectious disease specialist at Stanford, for instance if you come in and say that you have Lyme disease, the first thing they’ll do is kind of nod politely and go, “Uh-huh and where do you get Lyme disease?” They’ll pull up the Center for Disease Control map and look at the likelihood of you having been bitten by a tick. If you have been traveling to say where I grew up which is Eastern Long Island, so I was out at the very end towards Montauk on Eastern Long Island and if you look at the CDC map, Lyme is from Lyme, Connecticut. That’s where it was named and if you look at say certain parts of Connecticut, Upstate New York, Hudson Valley and then Eastern Long Island in particular, it has the highest density of Lyme-carrying deer ticks on the face of the planet, as far as I know.
Every one of my family is that Lyme disease. If you go into a walk-in center, as I did, a walk-in clinic, they have posters that say in my case, “Would you like a $50 Amazon gift card? Please allow us to test your blood and send it to research for Lyme disease.” In fact it’s that common. I mean thousands and thousands of people every year. I got it because I was bitten by six deer ticks in the span of about two weeks and the reason that I didn’t catch it early and I think this is very important and by the way for those people who are wondering, deer ticks look very different from say the big fat kind a grape-sized dog ticks that you might have pulled off your dog. Deer ticks the size of say a poppy seed. They’re tiny. They’re so hard to see and for that reason you oftentimes don’t spot them in till you’re taking a shower and you rub your arm or something like that and you feel what appears to be just a tiny little skin flap and it turns out to be a tick. That’s how I caught it and I did not exhibit the telltale bull’s eye rash. A lot of people look for the bull’s eye rash and it turns out I found out later that something like say 20% of the people who contract Lyme, they’re asymptomatic topically and I was in that camp.
I just I kept on brushing it off and assuming that the increasing levels of fatigue and the lack of mental acuity the decreasing capabilities, the swollen joints were caused by some combination of exercise, not enough sleep, too much coffee and whatever might have been. It got to the point where I was forgetting very close friends’ names and my knees were so swollen that I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. It took me five to ten minutes to get up and walking around and at that point, my close friends and my assistant basically said, “Look I know that when you’re on you’re on and when you’re off you’re off. I’ve seen you push yourself to the limit. I’ve seen you fatigued. I have seen you sick. I’ve seen you this and I’ve seen you that. This is none of those things. You need to go see a doctor” and I talked to my parents and they’re like, “Yeah you have Lyme disease. This is the big mystery so go to the doctor.” I went to the doctor and was prescribed doxycycline. Right off the bat they’re like, “Yeah we’ll test you but you have Lyme disease. This is pretty straightforward. We see this every day, so here we go. doxycycline.” I did I think it was maybe somewhere between nine and 12 weeks of doxycycline and as you know because we spoke about this some length, it didn’t seem to do the trick entirely and I’m very conflicted about this topic. I will tell you right now I’m very conflicted because there are so many qualified people with diametrically opposed perspectives on Lyme disease.
I will just say, just to throw it out there, I think that many of the problems that people label as chronic Lyme are not actually related to the Lyme causing spirochete itself but instead are residual effects of having destroyed their gut flora. That I felt very confident that is an under discussed aspect of what people call chronic Lyme is the fact that it could be in fact chronic micro biome depletion and what I’ve noticed, for instance I’ve been using all sorts of pre and probiotics, you name it. I know it’s a very good microbiologists, some people who specialize in this stuff and I’m an investor in a company U-Bio with a U in the beginning, which actually does gut bio testing.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, we had those guys on the show. They were at the first Bulletproof conference. I totally love U-Bio. I didn’t know you were an investor though. Thanks for doing that, that’s awesome.
Tim: Yeah, yeah for sure. They are great team and it is looking at my GI testing, my gastrointestinal testing and fecal matter tests and so on, it’s really, really hard to completely and properly repopulate your gut. It’s very challenging. I’ve had great difficulty with that and have noticed my symptoms or lack of symptoms seems to correlate to my intake of these probiotics because they’re not seeding. In other words, the environment in my gut for whatever reason is not acting as a good host to repopulation of a lot of the desirable bacteria.
Dave Asprey: I would encourage you to look at the other side of the micro biome, which hasn’t been well explored which is the fungal biome in the gut which is at least as complex as the bacteria one but really only recently acknowledged and a lot of people with Lyme, by the way, I had Lyme for years, validated by every kind of test including a company my wife and I started that actually did live white blood cell proliferation testing for different strains of Lyme. Was this European Lyme or American Lyme because they’re slightly different genetics and we could tease out whether you had an active infection, so that in Western Blot and all these things. I was like, “I’m going to dig deep on the stuff” but a lot of people get better when they do a 30-day course of anti-fungal agent called fluconazole. It’s really interesting. You do that and all of a sudden then the bacteria that had been disseminated in our gut can then start to move in to where they want to go and there’s a whole other set of like fat soluble neurotoxins that recirculate after Lyme.
It’s a fascinating thing because you felt the brain fog and a lack of memory and in fact, you get the same almost identical lipophoric toxins from environmental molds, like in a water-damaged building. You get that brain fog effect and you’re like, “What was my friend’s name? Why did I open the refrigerator? Why am I at the store? I can’t remember what I was going to buy.” Yeah, I used to live with that and it was horrible but Daniel Emon, in movies, you can lose fifteen I.Q. points just from exposure to water damaged building. That slowness, it is maddening, right?
Tim: Oh yeah it’s infuriating. Not to interrupt but what was so scary to me because I have Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s on both sides my family and I was like, “Wow this must be, I would imagine the closest thing to dementia that I’ve ever felt: and I was like, “How maddening must it be to start to lose your mental faculties and to be fully aware of the fact that you are losing your mental faculties.” God I mean it just it really made me want to dig into those types of neurodegenerative diseases and preventative measures all the more so as well, just as a side note.
Dave Asprey: I dealt with this when I was 26. My career doing this and my brain started doing what you felt and yeah there’s a reason I know so much about all these things because you really want to understand. That brings us to the next subject here, which is you and I are some of the most public people about a smart drugs. Yeah, we use nootropics, used them for a long time, the usual suspects like hydrazine and gas suppressant and all those sorts of things. What are the latest things that you’ve been experimenting with or now experimenting with smart drugs?
Tim: Yeah, smart drugs so you know I am, I am not going to say reformed but I will say I have been trying to improve my mental and physical performance through as many whole Ffoods as possible and trying to minimize some of the smart drug use which is, of course always there. It’s waiting in the wings. It’s always available and I know what they can do. It’s a very it’s a very tempting collection of tools. I would say … Let me think about this. Have I been pushing the envelope with anything in particular?
Let me take a step back and just say to folks that I would view as a smart drug anything that you ingest, apply topically or inject that improves your cognitive performance, so anything that improves your cognitive performance.
Dave Asprey: Do you mean supplements and drug drugs when you say that?
Tim: I mean anything, anything that you put in your body that has a biological consequence of including improving mental performance. I’ve been consuming sodium and calcium beta hydroxybutyrate, synthetic ketones.
Dave Asprey: It’s first thing that happens after you take brain octane, it turns into BHP, right?
Tim: Yeah, I’ve been consuming a supplemental form of ketones directly and it tastes kind of like lime aid but I’ve been playing with that and certainly been playing with different oils. I would say right now because I am in ketosis, that’s where my energy is focused, I’ve been very fascinated by looking at the different approaches to increasing circulating ketones and there are many different ways to do that, obviously. There are dietary ways to do that. There are supplemental ways to do that .You can do with exercise. You can do with fasting. You can do it with a combination of all those things and as far as the pills and potions go, if I use anything, I’m tending to select them based on the amount of longitudinal data available.
Hydrogen does great things for me. Again this is just a personal use statement. I’m not recommending other people do it. It can be very powerful drug but Hydrogene has a lot of data behind it and has been studied for a very, very long time so I. I find that to be quite fascinating but the last time I used Hydrogene would have to be more than six months ago.
I’d say that’s that’s basically where I am and doing a lot of blood testing. I’m definitely back in full testing mode, so I’ve been testing my glucose and ketones levels with a device called the Precision Extra from Abbott Labs probably four times a day and I’m going to be doing …
Dave Asprey: Does it look like that?
Tim: That’s the one.
Dave Asprey: I had it sitting on my desk. I kind of do the same thing.
Tim: Yeah, yeah that’s the one.
Dave Asprey: Is Mark Cuban total wuss because he recommended that we test only four times a year and he got savaged in the media for that just like two weeks ago. I’m like, “Only four? Come on Mark, step it up, man.” You do it four times a day?
Tim: Oh yeah, I’m doing four times a day for some variables and doing blood testing right now on a weekly basis. That’s expensive.
Dave Asprey: On a weekly basis?
Tim: Yeah, a weekly basis.
Dave Asprey: Usually it’s six or eight grand a month.
Tim: I’m spending a lot, yeah, spending a lot of money but I’m doing it hopefully so that other people don’t have to replicate that type of silliness. I’ll spend that money because I’m trying to compare not only different variables but different labs. It’s actually even more expensive, which is insane but I’m doing … Next week for instance, I’ll be doing two consecutive blood draws at two different labs to see how the results compare.
Dave Asprey: Oh man I think if I know what you’re going to find.
Tim: Yeah I’m sure they’ll be very wildly divergent but I’ll be curious to see because ultimately when you’re looking at blood tests, you’re looking for among other things directional data, not just absolute numbers. In other words, when people say, “Oh my God, I looked at my labs and this is in range. This is out of range. The doctor wants to prescribe this drug” before you talk to a doctor but one of the most important things I convey to people if they take one thing away from this is that if you are mildly out of range or even significantly out of range on a variable and your doctor says, “Okay, great we’re going to prescribe X” and you’re only getting blood tests once a year, that could mean you get put on say allopurinol for higher acid levels but if you were to go in a week later, you might have perfectly normal uric acid levels.
Dave Asprey: Especially if you don’t have a high fructose breakfast which is going to raise uric acid any way. What you just had that day before can change everything.
Tim: Or if you haven’t been eating very well or you’ve been sick and you’ve lost a bunch of muscular weight, which happened to me when I was fasting, not surprisingly. The point being if you have that type of result ,before you commit to going on a prescription drug for a year that could not only have side effects but also is going to cost you a good chunk of money or at least eat up all of your insurance deductible, get a second blood test and confirm. I really think it’s very important before making these large medical decisions to try to get a second opinion and the way you get a second opinion objectively as you get a second test and you should try to get those tests so that they are comparable ideally on the same day of the week in the same time of day.
If you’re comparing say sex hormones, somebody can walk in and “Oh my God, I have really low testosterone compared to my last test” but the last test was on a Wednesday and this test was on a Monday after two days of heavy drinking. It’s like well you’re not really comparing apples to apples. Those are just a few thoughts on just general health tracking and when I say not absolute, also directional. You want to be able to look at where your values are headed.
Dave Asprey: Yeah.
Tim: Not just the snapshot in time and assessing those results independently. You want to be able to graph your data and I think Thoroughness is doing some interesting work in that arena.
Dave Asprey: Huge. What about a Wellness Effect? You and I are both advisors of Wellness Effect. Are you still using them?
Tim: Yeah, Wellness Effects I still use. They were acquired and I have used Wellness Effects on a number of occasions. I am doing such weird stuff right now that I’m getting into some pretty esoteric territory, so doing some supplemental tests that might not be available through Wellness.
Dave Asprey: Yeah I do the same thing. I have high end anti-aging kind of guys in different states. I’ll go see them and get strange panels that you’re just never going to find on Wellness Effects but I like my statistical and process control for the variables because I have this historical graph from Wellness Effects.
Tim: Oh definitely.
Dave Asprey: That is pretty cool but one of my favorite guys is a guy who has been doing it aging since before they called it that. I think exams are Phil Lee Miller in Los Gatos and one of the things I like about him is that he thinks the same way you do about are these labs different? He’s so picky that when you get stuff tested, he will actually tell you, “Okay, you have to your blood drawn at one of these locations but it has to go to this facility because the lab techs from this lab company who do it here in California, they know what they’re doing but that was in Chicago, they’ll give you different results for the same data.” Even from the same company, there is inter lab variability and it could be like 20% or something.
All of a sudden, you’re in a safe zone or not safe zone and you can make all these decisions based on these little things. I’m with you there. Get another test from somewhere else and if they don’t match, then you know you can always try changing your lifestyle specifically to change that variable. Thank you Google. We can probably figure how to do that for most variables these days and do something dramatic and if you don’t see a shift the now you can really ask yourself some questions but these are all controllable if you’re motivated and you have the knowledge.
Tim: Definitely yeah, absolutely and I think the enter labs stuff makes me insane and keep in mind I’ll give people sort of the good news but the bad news is it’s not just it’s not just the labs to these different companies that process. It’s not just the lab techs. It could be the people doing the draw itself and how they label things. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle but really in the last, surprisingly perhaps people I think is surprising because Lyme has been so challenging for me and I’m not convinced it was all Lyme but that was that was the primary diagnosis. I’ve become even more convinced that people can fix themselves by paying attention to, among other things just really focusing on trying to load the nutrients into their whole food diet. You can’t see it. I’m looking over the top of my laptop but I have I have a lot of supplements. Let’s call a spade a spade. I am a pill popper.
Dave Asprey: You see that cabinet behind me right there? Yeah that’s my vitamin warehouse.
Tim: Yeah, I’m a walking pharmacy on some level but I really feel like there is there’s a tendency sometimes for people to use supplements as primary sources of nutrition and supplements are supplements. That’s why there are labeled as such and I just feel like if people were to take more responsibility for consuming, just trying to consume a spectrum of colors in their diet, I think is a very easy way to go about this. Try to consume a wide spectrum of colors in your diet. You’re going to consume nutrients that include things we haven’t identified yet and I think that that’s kind of the big pink elephant in the room that some people haven’t identified is that we’re going to look back at what we know now in 50 years and it’ll be like bloodletting to relieve people of bad demons.
I think the gaps in our knowledge are going to be so astonishing when we look back. Forget 50 years, in ten years if you look at just where we are with the micro biome and where we were ten years ago, oh my God. I’ve become even more so a huge proponent of really asking yourself how do you optimize your whole your whole food consumption for a wide variety of nutrients.
Dave Asprey: It’s funny, something kind of simple like Sanidin, and the dark coloring and purple berries like blueberries or cabbage or something, it has direct antioxidant effects but it’s not considered a vitamin. The regulatory agencies that say whether something can be a vitamin, don’t call it a vitamin but it’s certainly important but we don’t even know if it’s important because of direct effects or because it changes your gut biome So you have more bacteroidetes and less fumicutes.
Dave Asprey: Like coffee and chocolate and other things like all the high polyphenol things do but that one specifically has all these other almost medical affects that just that one purple color. At what point is something a vitamin, versus it’s really useful at all sorts of things in your body and like everything in food that’s not bad for you is probably a vitamin, other than the basic calorie unit that you’re going to burn for fuel. Everything else in there is either useful or not useful. If it’s not useful, I try to minimize it. It is useful, you take more, right?
Tim: Yeah, I think that that the nutrition world and certainly a lot of folks that I’ve bumped into in the last year trying to fix Lyme, they think they know more than they know as it relates to the totality of the nutritional profiles of different foods just like you said. Nosin Taleb would call sort of epistemological arrogance, right? You hold up a piece of spinach or you hold up a piece of steak and it’s like, what is in this? What is in this and you might have someone look at it and they are like, “Well you know you’ve got some creatine in the in the steak. You’ve got this and you’ve got some that, you’ve got some B this and B that. You have protein. You have roughly this macronutrient split.” It’s like, “Is that all that’s in here?” What else do we have? Do we have any conjugated CLA? Do we have any blah, blah, blah. I was like, “Who knows at the end of the day?”
The answer is we don’t know and I think that it’s very exciting to be. Like you mentioned, the sort of fungal micro biome. I’m really excited about what we’re going to be able to do when we have very large data sets of full genomes and that’s coming very, very, very soon.
Dave Asprey: Are you signed up for HLI with Craig Ventor?
Tim: I’m going to do HLI for sure.
Dave Asprey: I’m signed up already. I can’t wait to get myself sequenced. It’s going to be amazing. I did that through Peter Diamandis. He’s a member of his group there and they had a special deal on it and how could I not do that? My wife and I are both getting our full genome sequenced as soon as we can.
Tim: Yeah, they’re going to do amazing things.
Dave Asprey: You said something about the steak and the spinach kind of thing and the part of me that is a systems thinker, before you answer what is in either of those things, you have to say what soil was it grown in? That is not high-iron spinach unless the soil is high in iron because the spinach can’t magically turn a non-iron element into iron because of iron. That meat, if you exactly what it ate and what soil that grew in, you don’t know what’s in the meat. It all comes down to soil and that’s one the reasons why I’m on a 32-acres, soon to be organic farm. We turned a gravel pit into a grassland that we’re using to either grow berries or feed horses or actually to feed cattle that we’re going to then eat but that whole sort of thing there is like you’ve got to get the soil right and once that starts, part of my goal in all the work that I do is to just create demand for stuff that comes from healthy soils so we will start making it instead of spraying an antibiotic on soil, round ups and antibiotics. It affects bacteria in a negative way.
The whole system of everything that feeds us getting jacked up because our market biome in our gut is directly tied to the one in the soil and that’s been broken. That kind of stuff just pissed me off, to be honest.
Tim: Yeah, I agree. I agree. I mean if you don’t know what you ate, ate then you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth and that’s why I’m very fortunate to live in the Bay Area so I have access to say very, very well raised cattle and other animals if I want to consume animal protein but I like it lectured buy someone who’s eating salmon that came from some horrible … Not all farms are horrible but it could come from some horrible farming condition where it’s being fed God knows what, Fruity Pebbles and I’ll get a sanctimonious lecture because I’m eating something from say Marinson farms, which produces amazing meat. I’m like, “Well not so fast. It’s not quite as simple as you think because your salmon is eating Fruity Pebbles and my cow was eating grass in Marin. I’ll take the cow. It’s a multi variable problem for sure.
Dave Asprey: It is and Im opening the Bulletproof coffee shop in Santa Monica probably within days of when your T.V. show goes on the air, I think May 27.
Tim: April 27.
Dave Asprey: I got the month wrong but the day, April 27, so the end of April is when we are planning to open.
Tim: Awesome, awesome. Well I’ll be spending more time in L.A. and I’ll probably be spending more time with Arnie also after interviewing him and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the podcast so I will try to have some coffee and I’ll go upstairs and see if I can convince people to let me hold the Conan the Barbarian sword.
Dave Asprey: That makes great sense. I actually love that episode. That was hilarious.
Tim: Yeah he is an amazing character.
Dave Asprey: Well, let’s see here. There’s a question that you’ve already answered on the show about the top three recommendations for people who want to perform better. Since you’ve already answered it, I’m going to modify I think for the first time in the show’s history, 200+ episodes, I’m going to ask you what are your top three recommendations for learning a new skill?
Tim: That’s a good one. Top recommendations for learning a new skill. Number one would be to look for performers who are good who shouldn’t be good. In other words, ask yourself what is a top performer? What does a top performer; say in swimming look like or in ultra durance running? What do they look like? They look like a spider. Can you find and you can ask people, you can Google this also. Can you find a 300-pound ultra endurance runner or can you find a 250-pound ultra endurance runner who’s beefy and not spindly and that will allow you to separate trait dependent performance from skill dependent performance. You want to find someone who’s overcoming traits that are bad for their skill by using better training and you can find this, right?
f you want to find say a chef who has tongue cancer. You could find a drummer who only has one arm. These people all exist and it doesn’t have to be that exaggerated. The first would be to look for people who are good at it or who shouldn’t be or instead of looking for say the Michael Phelps of swimming, who someone went from zero to hero in the shortest period of time possible? Who can I find who made the most progress possible in six months and in swimming that would turn out to be some Japanese guy named Shinji Takahuche and it doesn’t take a lot of digging online to figure this out. He’s a proponent of something called Total Immersion.
Dave Asprey: Yeah.
Tim: In fact one of the episodes of the T.V. shows trying to get a woman who couldn’t swim one lap in a pool to swimming open water in the ocean in 50 feet of water for almost a half mile. We had about three and a half days to do that. That’s an exciting episode. People can check it out. The other two things I would say is number one what I what I mentioned number two would be deconstructing the skill and if you haven’t seen the Four-Hour Chef, you can just do a search I’m sure for DISSS, which stands for deconstruction selection sequencing and stakes creating consequences, in other words for succeeding or failure in different ways.
The last would be pick something that really gets you excited. Have at least one skill you’re trying to tackle that gets you really excited, not just something that you think you should learn and by having one of them in the mix that transfers to other things that maybe are obliged to learn. I would say follow your excitement.
Dave Asprey: Awesome, awesome advice. All right, Tim, I don’t know if you need to drop the URL that you use because everyone who listens and started knows it but if you want to you can or maybe just tell people the name of your show on iTunes again so we can put in the show notes and runners drive you can pull over and over and type it because we all pull over.
Tim: Yeah for sure. On iTunes, it’s just the Tim Ferris Experiment. You might be able you might find it on iTunes just itunes.com/Tim Ferris with two R’s and two S’s. That might take you to the podcast but either way you’ll be able to track it down or you can just go to fourhourworkweek.com/TV, which includes all of the bonus footage and the extended interviews and all sorts of crazy outtakes that we couldn’t put in the show and that will also have links to the T.V. show, so fourhourworkweek.com/TV all spelled out will get you everything you need.
Dave Asprey: Awesome, Tim. Thanks again for being on the show.
Tim: Yeah my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Dave Asprey: If you join today’s episode, please do me a favor and head on over to iTunes and click like and while you are at it, check out Tim’s new show because it’s going to be cool.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
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