Dr. Christine Schaffner sits down with the father of “Biohacking,” Dave Asprey, to discuss how we look at our health and why healing doesn’t have to be so tricky using the art and science of biohacking as well as controlling your biology. They also take a deep dive into Dave’s book, Fast This Way: Burn Fat, Heal Inflammation, and Eat Like the High-Performing Human You Were Meant to Be.
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TRANSCRIPT: Biohacking Your Body Electric with Dave Asprey and Dr. Christine Schaffner
Dr. Schaffner: Hi everyone, welcome to the Spectrum of Health podcast. I’m Dr. Christine Schaffner, and today I’m speaking with Dave Asprey about his new book, Fast This Way. We’ll be talking about biohacking and fasting. For those of you who don’t know Dave, Dave Asprey is the founder and chairman of Bulletproof. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling science author, host of the Webby award winning podcast, Bulletproof Radio, and he has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the New York Times, Dr. Oz, and more. I hope you enjoy this podcast.
Dave, your talk on the Body Electric Summit 2.0 was really popular, and we learned a lot from you. So I’m so excited to have you back.
Dave: It’s my pleasure, Christine. There’s so much interesting stuff going on in the world right now.
Dr. Schaffner: To say the least, right?
Dave: I’m talking about the world of biohacking and medicine and advancement. I don’t mean weird political stuff. That stuff’s always going on. It’s just we pay more attention at some times versus others.
Dr. Schaffner: Yeah. And you’ve been really a pioneer for this really wave of this future of medicine that I really…the goal in my heart on doing something like this in the summit and bringing all these experts together is to really share this complete shift in a paradigm of how we can look at health and healing, and how healing doesn’t have to be so hard, either. And when we employ these principles of understanding our body-electric nature, that we can see the results you and I both want for all of those who are listening.
So we can take this conversation in so many different directions. And I know you have a new book launching, and I definitely want to spend time on that. But before we dive into that, Dave, you said that the world is exciting in this realm and there’s so many advances. So what is on your heart when we talk about the body electric that you want to share with the audience today?
Dave: Well, we’ve known for a very long time that the body is electrical and it’s chemical and it’s magnetic. Oh, and it’s light-based, all at the same time. And when I say “we’ve known,” I mean as a species. So there’s a reason you go to remote parts of Tibet. And we’re up there, and they’re doing light offerings. And you go to traditional Chinese medicine and they’ve been using magnets for a long time. In one of my books, in the acknowledgements I acknowledge Pliny the Elder from ancient Greece, who was the first person to use electric eels to treat migraines.
So this isn’t new. But what is new is that we have the ability to see and manipulate and measure all of those things in ways that we dreamed of forever, and we just didn’t have the technology there to be able to manipulate them. So today, we have the ability to not just do something called a Rife machine, which some people may be familiar with, but Tesla stole a lot of his research from Royal Rife a hundred-plus years ago. And both of them were working on health.
In fact, I have one of…a book from the early 1970s, which has a bunch of Tesla’s stuff in it that’s out of print and things like that. And you look back, Tesla was as much of a biohacker as he was working on electrical systems. It’s just that, in about the 1930s, there was a war between is the body electric and is the body actually chemical.
And when I say there was a war, the founder of the American Medical Association tried to buy Royal Rife’s electric technology for the body. And when Rife wouldn’t sell it to him, he used the power of censorship and oppression to literally send…to label Rife as a quack. Remember, he tried to buy Rife’s technology. When he couldn’t buy it, he destroyed it, and they burned a lot of his research. They destroyed a lot of his gear, and he died broke. But there are still people using some of the original Rife machines.
But now we have technology. We have computers. They didn’t have that back there. So I have a device now that actually lets me control the wave forms very, very carefully for electromagnetic frequencies. And you sit in front of this thing and there’s sparks coming out the top of it, and it looks like something straight out of a great Dr. Who episode, except that people who are total skeptics and don’t believe any of this is possible, they sit next to it for five minutes and go, “Oh, my God. I feel so good. What is going on with this thing?” like that’s not possible.
And, see, in the past, what we’ve done is we’ve fallen for this chemical side of medicine–which is valid and works–but it’s not by itself. And we fall into this idea that, oh, that can’t be; therefore, it isn’t, which is the religion of science. It is a logical fallacy, because when you see something that can’t be, a real scientist says, “Wait a minute. What’s going on here?” and asks questions.
So the summary of our progress on electrical medicine has been people looking around, going, “Well, I believed that can’t be, but this appears that it is. Let me measure and study it.” And really, starting in the ’70s, we had enough EEG machines, we had enough other abilities to start looking at these old people who meditated in caves and these old lineages and saying, “Wait a minute. There is such a thing as chi. You can rub your hands together. There’s something going on here.”
When I was a young man, anyone who would go to an acupuncturist was an idiot, because they were just like completely not connected to reality because acupuncture can’t work. Except that it does. And now we can actually see with technology the meridians that they’ve talked about for thousands of years that they could sense but they couldn’t measure. But now we can measure.
So this is the renaissance time for electromedicine. And one of the other most convincing things of all, a lot of people have heard of the Karolinska Institute, the medical school in Stockholm where the Nobel Prize is awarded. My wife did her medical training there. And very interestingly, the head of Karolinska wrote a book that came out in 1984. And it is one of the densest books–it costs $800 to buy a copy–and he wouldn’t publish the book on electrical medicine until he retired.
And he says in the forward, “I’m publishing this book now because for the last 25 years I’ve been accumulating this knowledge”…and it’s full of diagrams and pictures and electrical things. It’s a very dense medical book talking about the current of injury and what happens inside a cell when it divides–electrically happens–and he says, “I just couldn’t say this, because it’s not in the paradigm of what we trained. They would have just kicked me out of the school. But now I can say it.” And that was 40 years ago.
These are the people who are in charge, but they know, “I could lose my license if I go too far out here, even though I’m seeing results.” So what we’re seeing now, though, because of social media–the one good thing it can do– and because of our ability to connect with other people, no one has to go out and do what I did when I weighed 300 pounds, when I had Lyme disease that was caused by toxic mold exposure, when I had probably Bartonella, certainly the chronic fatigue syndrome, all sorts of stuff…arthritis, the diseases of aging in my 20s.
Well, I didn’t have access to this knowledge. There wasn’t much of it on the internet. I had to go find it from the people, and it cost a million dollars. And I spent all kinds of money that I didn’t need to spend, because I didn’t know where to go and because I couldn’t find the other 10,000 people like me who were working on that. It turns out it’s way more than that, because we were all isolated and all of our doctors had told us we were crazy.
At the same time, a few rare doctors are saying, “I’m just going to work on this,” like the work you’re doing, Christine. So you’re saying, “I’m going to incorporate subtle energetics, the idea that you can heal, and that you can use nutritional substances.” You can use medical drugs, but you can also use light, magnets, ozone, and things that we’ve used for at least a hundred years and sometimes way more than that. And it’s okay to–this is going to sound really, really radical–to choose the best combination of tools for the job.
That combination idea, it flies in the face of what you learned in medical school, which is one symptom, one drug. And the assumption that only one thing is the cause is a flawed assumption that has never been proven. In fact, what made me well was saying, “What do I want to fix?” or “What do I want to improve that isn’t even broken? Well, let me just do everything that might work that doesn’t work against each other. I’m going to throw everything in there and see what sticks.” And then I get the results, and go , “Wow. I’m not in pain anymore. This is great.” Or, “My brain works and I don’t forget words, ever. And if I do, it’s like, oh, I know exactly what I did wrong. It’s now tunable.”
Now, is it possible that of the 20 things I did to get that result that only six of them were necessary? It’s not only possible, it’s likely. Is it possible that I have the most expensive pee on the planet because I took supplements I didn’t need? Yeah, it is. But that’s okay, because my life is awesome, and now I can stop doing some of those things and see if it comes back. So that is actually the algorithm for healing someone and the algorithm for just improving your conditions.
And it is not about trying one thing, then another thing. Because if you just wanted to try the vitamin supplements on the market now for one month each to see which one works, you could do it every month of your life until you die and you’d hit five percent of what’s available. You just can’t do it. And the body doesn’t work that way, anyway.
Imagine this, Christine. You hire some scientists, and you say, “Okay. I want you to see if bread exists.” Like, okay. I tested the yeast. I tested the flour, and I tested the water. I baked each of them. I mixed them up separately. There’s no such thing as bread. Because they didn’t mix them together in the right portions and do them at the same time and let them sit for a certain amount of time while it rises. The body’s the same way.
And it’s awesome to be able to say, “My leg is broken,” or, “I’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake, I’m going to the ER.” And we need that. I have a raging bacterial infection, you know what? IV antibiotics are awesome. You know what? IV ozone is awesome too. You might want to do both. You might want to do only one that’s less harmful and see if it works and wait six hours before you do the others.
[9:55] Now, as an example, with ozone, which is one of those electrical medicines, my son had a scratch on his leg that got infected and started spreading. You’d see the little red things going along the veins. Doctors know what that means. My wife, being an emergency room doctor, knows what that means. We said, well, it would suck to have to use antibiotics, especially intravenously, on our son, but of course we would do that.
But we did something called “ozone bagging.” So we put his leg inside a trash bag and filled it with ozone gas. And, magically, it stopped growing. And then we did it again, and magically it shrunk. And we did it again, and it went away entirely. No drugs required. Were we willing to? Yes. Did we take any risk with him? No, because we were tracking whether it progressed. So that was an example of trying one thing that was less harmful but maintaining a safety margin to go for the big guns when we needed it.
This is how medicine is supposed to be practiced. But guess who made the money from the ozone? Well, I did use the oxygen, which came from an oxygen supplier. It was like 50 bucks for the tank of oxygen. I used approximately .001 percent of my oxygen on that. And the ozone machine manufacturer made about 1,500 bucks, but that machine will last me for 20 years and can treat my entire community. Not that I treat people other than my family, because I’m no doctor, but it could, if there was, I don’t know, a pandemic or something and there was lack of access to medical care. I can’t imagine that ever happening in the modern world, because that could…wait a minute. Never mind. [Laughter]
But that’s how it works, right? So the profit thing wasn’t really there, but what was there is my son’s healthy and still has a good gut bacteria. So that means we didn’t have to knock it all out. That’s how it’s supposed to be, and that’s using electromedicine, and that’s using all this. It’s gone to the point where I started a company called Upgrade Labs around human recovery, and we have it at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. We have it in Santa Monica. We’re opening one in Victoria. And it’s a collection of technologies that cause you to recover or grow faster than mother nature intended.
And, Christine, the big finding there from really all human progress–at least human progress biologically–is that the body responds to the environment around us. It’s in the definition of biohacking when I first wrote it when I was creating that field and that community, and it was the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you so that you have full control of your own biology.
Now that means that your body listens to you, but it also listens to everything around you. But the body doesn’t do well when, let’s say, you want to exercise. Well, if you decide you want to become a long-distance runner, or you want to sit on a bike and spin for long periods of time, get ready to buy new hips in 20 years, but it doesn’t cause beneficial changes the way you want. When you do chronic cardio, that long-distance stuff, it teaches the heart to, instead of becoming powerful and healthy…and a powerful, healthy heart can go from normal beating to, in one heartbeat, moving three times more blood. It’s something called the ejection fraction of the heart.
And when you do long-distance, chronic, steady-state cardio, you actually teach the heart to instead of doing that to be tired. And what it does instead is, “I’ll just beat faster and I’ll go spit, spit, spit, spit, and I’ll just put little bits of blood through.” So it turns out you can get more cardiovascular benefit in studies connected at the University of Colorado if you do, in seven minutes, you do two 20-second high-intensity intervals will cause more cardiovascular benefits than 45 minutes of riding a bike.
Dr. Schaffner: Oh. Mm-hmm.
Dave: So what’s different on that? Well, what’s different is it’s called the slope of the curve. So the body doesn’t like constant, chronic stress, but it’s totally good with, “Oh, my God, there’s a tiger. Run, run, run, run, run! Chill.” And it’s how fast can you ramp up and then how fast can you ramp back down. And that’s what causes beneficial changes for almost everything. And that’s why I wrote a book…this will likely be my fourth New York Times bestseller. It’s called Fast This Way.
I’ve incorporated fasting in the Bulletproof Diet, which was one of my first big books, 10 years ago. I said, look, intermittent fasting really matters, and you can have certain things during a fast and still get the vast majority of the benefits of fasting. And in that 10 years, people have lost a million pounds on the Bulletproof Diet. It works, and it’s been published all over the planet, and it’s a thing that’s stood the test of 10 years of time and still going strong.
So why would I write a book about fasting, specifically? It’s because fasting doesn’t mean just not eating. What fasting means is going without. And when you expose the body to brief periods of going without, that’s when you get that, wait a minute. You mean I need to be strong enough to do this? That’s what causes changes in the body. So the cool thing is, when you’re manipulating your food, and you’re saying, “Okay. I’m going to skip breakfast…” whoa. Intermittent fasting is a lot sexier of a word than skipping breakfast. Well it turns out skipping breakfast is the most common form of intermittent fasting.
But even that, most people have a hard time with high intensity interval training, which is that running for 20 seconds like something’s chasing you and then just chilling, because it doesn’t feel good. And the idea of fasting, to me when I weighed 300 pounds, and I knew that if I didn’t eat six hours–or, sorry, I didn’t eat six times a day–that I would go into starvation mode and I would feel like crap, and I just couldn’t handle it and it was abhorrent.
Well, I can go 24 hours without eating, just because it’s more convenient. And I don’t lose anything and I don’t suffer. So I wrote Fast This Way to talk about how do you feel safe and reduce the stress response so you just teach the body, hey. It’s your job to handle brief periods of going without, and that includes–and there’s a little section on here–on breathing. Breath exercises. Manipulating oxygen in the body. Learning to empty your lungs all the way and just keep them empty for 10 seconds. Most people get a big stress response.
But it’s about turning off the stress response and allowing the body to say, you know what? You’re going to need to be able to function in environments without oxygen for brief periods. And when you learn how to do this with adding some other technologies that are part of electromedicine, like EWOT, or what I do with the Upgrade Labs, it’s called intermittent hypoxic therapy. You briefly exercise when you’re breathing air that has no oxygen in it. And suddenly, the whole body is like, wait a minute. You mean I need to be better at moving oxygen around because occasionally there might be a stressor? Okay, I’ll do that. And the rest of the time when you have normal air, things work better. So it’s all about that.
And Fast This Way is just, how do you teach the body and teach yourself to do these things so that they are easy and they don’t cause pain and they don’t cause suffering, and you don’t yell at people and you don’t fall asleep at work. Because that’s what happens when most people start fasting. But the more important thing there is that there’s another side to all this that is missing, and it’s what I call “spiritual fasting.”
So in order to write Fast This Way, years ago I decided that my biggest issues were that I was actually afraid of being alone. And I didn’t know this until I was a young man, because it’s just how it always was. And I was afraid of being hungry, because I was a 300-pound guy whose metabolism didn’t work. So I did the rational thing, which was I hired a shaman. She dropped me off in a cave in the middle of the desert with no food and no people for 10 miles in any direction. And I sat there for four days facing that stuff, and I use that experience, including what went on in my head, what went on in my body, to write Fast This Way.
And ultimately, just teaching yourself to be able to go without things you think you need for brief periods of time will cause huge amounts of strength in the body. And that’s a principle. But then you take it to electrical medicine. What if you were to introduce ozone, like we talked about with my son? Well, what ozone does, it says, “Hey, body. You might need to be able to handle this really high amount of reactive oxygen species.” And when that happens, the body goes, “Oh, okay. That’s a signal that I might need to do that. Maybe I’ll re-architect my mitochondria so they’re better at making glutathione and they’re better at making something called SOD.”
And suddenly now, because you did a high-intensity interval, or you fasted from a low-oxidation state–whatever you want to call it–but you’ve sent the signal that said, “Be ready.” And when you do that, the body says, “I will re- architect myself for your benefit.” That’s the benefit of biohacking. Change the environment inside of you so that you have full control over your own biology.
In my case, I wanted to turn up my cells’ respiration so I would have healthy, young energy production. And I was having an old person’s energy production when I was young. And because I’ve run an anti-aging nonprofit group for 20 years, I know people in their 80s who have more energy than I had in my 20s because they have done the same kinds of things. It is part of anti-aging.
So that’s why I wrote Fast This Way, and I wanted people to not just say, “Oh, I could do it, but I’m never going to because it’s too…because it sucks…” to say, look, there’s a couple things you can do so you don’t feel any pain at all when you do these things. You’re like, “Oh, I got it.”
And maybe one day you’ll sit down and say, “This weekend I’m actually going to fast, and I’m going to feel…I’m going to do the things that make it more uncomfortable so I can sit with my discomfort and I can become stronger and more resilient. The rest of the time, I just wanted to be thin and having a working metabolism and a working brain and working immune system. And then I’ll deal with the emotional stuff later.” But it’s the emotional stuff that’s blocking most people from doing the healing that they can do.
Dr. Schaffner: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So much great information, Dave. And I love that you put a lot of this into a book that I will be reading and sharing with my patients. And you mentioned resilience. And I often, when I talk to my patients, it’s like what are we…what is our goal here? And our goal is not only to recover from a chronic illness but health is resilience, right?
Because life is always going to be whatever it is, and it’s how our body can change and adapt. And it’s just a more empowering way to look at health and to experience health, when we look at the laundry list of things that we’re up against in our modern environment. So I’m a big believer of supporting our terrain and changing our terrain so our body can get into that…our body is inherently…knows how to self-regulate and heal.
Dr. Schaffner: And biological medicine is something I studied, and biohacking, so you’re just upgrading that approach. I wanted to pick your brain and a few pearls in your new book, but something that I’ve been digesting and exploring with my understanding of the body electric is the idea of collagen not only as a structural protein…it’s the most abundant protein in the body.
And through the work of Jerry Pollack and Mae-Wan Ho, there’s this organized water that surrounds collagen, or structured water, fourth phase of water…and then there’s been insights in that collagen is this semiconductor, or it might even be this fiber optics system in the body where biophotons can basically travel. You popularized collagen–
Dave: It’s a health supplement because of the work I did at Bulletproof. Yeah. Created the category.
Dr. Schaffner: Yeah. Right. Yeah. So I just wondered, in your research and your insight, did you ever think about collagen that not only you’re improving…giving people a protein source, improving structural integrity, looking better, but did you see this as also a way to enhance our body electric?
Dave: I have a very interesting background, to get into what I do. I was a computer hacker, and in another life I was the first person to sell anything over the internet. And I spent about the first 15, maybe 20 years of my career building the systems that became our modern cloud computing today. The first data center company when there were two guys, and a server was Google. The company that I helped to co-found a part of held their first servers.
So I studied how do we build networks of millions of computers when they all can’t talk to each other all at the same time because there’s too many? In my undergraduate degree, I had a concentration in a field of artificial intelligence. It turns out that the networking algorithms that we’ve pioneered to make the internet work today–the ones that allow us to communicate right now over Zoom–they have a startling resemblance to the communications that are happening inside the body.
I interview Leeman Baird from Carnegie Mellon on my podcast on Bulletproof Radio, who’s created an algorithm for bitcoin type of transactions in the crypto world. The algorithm is almost certainly identical to the mitochondrial quorum sensing that happens in the body, because these little power plants inside the cells are also environmental sensors more than the power plants. They only make power if they get the right signal from the environment.
And how do you coordinate a quadrillion little individual sensors in your body? Well, you need an information plane to do it, and it’s not the nervous system. It is likely collagen. And collagen has weird electrical properties. I don’t know if collagen carries biophotons, other than that all cells that have DNA…DNA makes one biophoton about every 40 seconds. So there’s probably some light stuff going on in collagen. There’s certainly the fact that when you expose collagen to ultraviolet light it gets thicker. Does that mean sunshine’s good for you? It depends on the dose.
So in traditional Chinese medicine, when you look at things like qigong and neigong, which is a much less known form of it, there’s different things you train. You can train the muscles, and it turns out that’s relatively easy to do, but training the…what they would call sinew is much more important, and this is the connective tissues in the body.
And we’ve all seen those kung-fu or Shaolin monks. They are not walls of muscle, and they can do things that are impossible if you believe that muscles do everything, because they just don’t have enough muscle to bend the way they do under load, and to break bricks and to stand on one finger, and all this crazy stuff. What’s going on there is they’ve trained their collagen, their connective tissues, to do it. They’ve also trained a part of the body that we’ve only recently discovered in Western medicine. It’s what they call the “huang.” And this is the interstitial area of the body.
And about two years ago, there was a big splash in the media for about a week, where it said, “A scientist discovered a new organ in the body,” because they just figured out how to look at the microstructures in the body with a microscope while the body’s alive. Until then, what we would do is we’d basically fry the tissues and preserve them and put them in an electron microscope. It’s like drying a fruit to see what a peach looks like. You probably would have a hard time knowing what it really was.
Well, it turns out there was another guy who had the ability to look at living tissues with a ultra-high resolution microscope. His name was Royal Rife, the guy we talked about earlier. He started his career as an optician for Zeiss Optics and ended up discovering that you could look…if you hit the right radio frequencies…electrical medicine, he was using that to illuminate things, because he was looking at things so small inside living tissues that they were smaller than the wavelength of light.
He was like, “I’ll just use radio frequencies to eliminate these, and then I’ll amplify those.” And when he did that, he found certain radio frequencies blew stuff up. So he’s the kind of guy who could look at collagen and tell you exactly what was going on. But this organ that we discovered–or rediscovered, more likely, given the Chinese have worked with it for many, many thousands of years–is this space in the body, it can also be trained, and probably also has information properties.
So is collagen, especially the fascia inside the body, an information plane? Almost certainly it is. And we’re now in the process of understanding how do we decode the information on that network in the body? How do we even measure it? And do we measure light? Do we measure magnetism, or do we measure electricity? And the electricity and magnetism are linked, but the light part of it is very difficult to do, using something called a SQUID sensor, which we use for astronomy.
So we’re getting there, and the thing that’s making this such an exciting time is that there’s probably enough complexity that our little brains can’t do it, but with machine learning, we can start to see things that we couldn’t see before. These patterns that took thousands of years of people sitting in caves and noting these things, we can do that much faster now. So collagen, yes, it’s terribly important.
I’ve gone through processes where you talk to ancient Russian healers, and they’ll go through and they’ll say, “Oh, your fascia. No good.” And they’ll take a drumstick and they’ll stick it in and it makes Rolfing look like child’s play. And you’re going like, “I’m gonna die here!” and they’re pulling muscles off of bones and shaking them around, and then they walk on you afterwards.
Well, what I did, Christine, is I took some unusual electrical currents, a mixed-wave form that was pioneered in Eastern Germany for the Olympics. What they’d do is they’d knock someone out, they’d anesthetize them, and run these currents over their muscles to cause them to get stronger. Well, it turns out if you use two wave forms, you don’t have to knock people out.
So I went through and I found everywhere in my fascia that was an adhesion and used the electricity to break the adhesions. So when I met these Russian healers, they had the older master, 70-something years old, barely speaks English, and he’s here with an American who’s helping to spread that work in the world, guy’s name is Dan Sykes.
And what they would do is, they’d go through and they’d look, and they’d go, “There no adhesion. Body like sand.” And it was really interesting to see what did electricity do for my collagen that had these guys come in and say, “We haven’t seen a body like this.” And I’m not saying that my body doesn’t have work to do. I’m always working to improve it, and I’m really, really healthy. But everything isn’t perfect yet. There’s more levels, I’m sure, and I’m continuously improving it. But I’m just saying, electricity on my collagen in specific spots where something wasn’t working right, that’s what did it.
And the crazy thing, Christine, you can actually take an electrode and rub it across your arm, and with a ray of electricity, like, wow, right here it hurts. Okay. That’s pretty crazy, and that’s where you have an adhesion. But what’s more crazy is that if I’m doing that for someone else, I can hold the electrode, and I get my fingers wet and I rub my fingers over it, and I will feel the pain. They won’t. And I can say, “You have a spot right there, ’cause I can feel it.” What the heck is going on there? That has to be collagen. It’s not just nerves.
Dr. Schaffner: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. No, thank you for taking us through that tour. Yeah. I feel like health is intimately related to our fascia, the interstitium, the lymphatic system, the living matrix, we’ll call it. And I think there’s just so much more to be explored in this plane, and the therapies that work are the therapies that address these things. I truly believe that.
Dr. Schaffner: You were ahead of the curve. You’re getting this into mainstream science. And not to take us down this tour, because Dr. Seneff is going to be on the summit as well, but I think part of the reason why we’re seeing a lot of modern illnesses is how glyphosate can disrupt our collagen and can disrupt our communication network.
And that can be part of one of many reasons. I often tell patients if there was one thing, you wouldn’t be so sick. So I’m in full agreement with you. But I think there’s a lot of insults to our collagen and this fabric that makes us who we are in this communication network, and that’s part of the rise in modern- day chronic illnesses.
Dave: Yeah. You are so dead on there. And something that isn’t in a lot of people’s awareness about collagen is that the half-life of collagen in the body is about seven years. And what that means is that if you do like I have, I’ve been…because I’ve been a pioneer in this space and I put collagen on the market with Bulletproof, I’ve been taking 20 to 60 grams of collagen a day for 10 years.
Dr. Schaffner: Wow.
Dave: Well, that means that half the collagen in my body is now made with collagen that had appropriate building blocks. Collagen without glyphosate and collagen that had all the amino acids and all the co-factors present. And that means that in another 10 years, that I will have replaced 75 percent of my collagen. And for me it was important. I grew up in a house with toxic mold, and I’ve had three knee surgeries before I was 23, and I had chronic joint pain throughout my body. So maybe my collagen needed more work. And, in fact, you’ve seen them because I’ve visited you in your clinic. I still have stretch marks from when I was a teenager, which is also a sign of a problem with collagen, right?
So I do believe that we must eat collagen, and this is why a vegan diet is just not a safe diet over time. And when I studied aging and I wrote my Superhuman book–which is how I’m planning to live till at least 180, and I just talked about all the signs that this is possible and all the technologies and brought them together into a book–one of the parts in the book was looking at what is our collagen loss as we age? And it’s very meaningful. In fact, when I’m going to be 180, if I maintained normal collagen-loss levels, I would have something like 12 percent of the collagen left in my skin. And I would look like one of those frogs where you can see through them and you can see their organs.
Dr. Schaffner: Right.
Dave: I am actively managing my collagen by making it thicker using sound, using light therapy…one of my companies, TrueLight, actually makes light therapy devices like that. And I do everything I can nutritionally and from external stimulus to have healthy skin and healthy collagen inside the rest of my body, because it is such an important part of the equation and it’s missing from a lot of our discussions in the world of medicine.
Dr. Schaffner: Mm-hmm. Love this. We’re going to have to study your body when you’re 100 percent Bulletproof collagen, right?
Dave: Exactly. I’ll just be a walking cube of Jell-o.
Dr. Schaffner: Oh, no. No, I’m appreciating this conversation as I reflect more…we make things complicated in medicine. And when I have a patient who has so many variables and so many directions to go, there is still wisdom in supporting this foundational aspect of our being. And I think, as you mentioned for all the reasons this is…you were really on to something and have continued to be with this is a foundational part of health and healing and having a body electric that communicates well.
So, no, I appreciate you doing all this legwork for us to get really awesome collagen to put in our bodies. So, no, thank you. I guess, Dave, I know that you have to go. I would love to hear, maybe in wrapping up, how do you use collagen in intermittent fasting? And then people just need to buy your book.
Dave: Let’s go a couple more minutes, and there’s two things. I’m going to talk about collagen and intermittent fasting, but you mentioned exclusions on water, and that deserves a little bit of a conversation, Christine, if you’re okay to go there, and then talk about the collagen use.
Dr. Schaffner: Yes.
Dave: Well, I funded some research with Gerald Pollack, and I donated $50,000 to the university and said, “Could you do more work on basic water chemistry and help to figure out the mystery of the exclusions on water?” And I collaborated with him on how would we design an experiment to do this.
And he had a theory that…I don’t know if he talked about this in the interview here, but a theory that different kinds of fat could create different kinds of exclusion zones in water, because water forms an exclusion zone when it’s up against a lipid membrane, up against a drop of fat. So I even donated the MCT oil that bulletproof manufactures and the ghee that we manufacture.
And he actually showed me microscopic pictures of, look at this crazy exclusion zone that you can see with your own eyes. So this takes away the mystery. And people say, “Oh, it doesn’t exist,” I’m like, “Well, if it doesn’t exist, you explain these pictures.” So what he found was that when you have butter fat, or the MCT oils, they make this exclusion zone in water. Now that’s awesome, so we know how to do it.
It solved a mystery that has been vexing me for years. The way that I discovered Bulletproof coffee is I was in Tibet on the side of Mount Kailash at 18,000 feet elevation, feeling like crap, and a little Tibetan blended with a butter churn some butter into some tea, and I drank it, and I felt, oh, my God, like my brain turned back on. I can’t believe I feel this good. I should be feeling like garbage at this attitude, but I just…I hadn’t felt that good in years.
And I came back and I started blending different types of butter–only grass- fed butter works, by the way, and I tried all sorts of different stuff in coffee to, first in tea and then in coffee to figure it out–and eventually I found out that if I blended grass-fed butter and MCT oil into coffee without mold, it reliably produced this amazing amount of energy. But I’m like, I’m a rational scientist. Wouldn’t it just be easy if I just ate as tick of butter like a candy bar and took a couple shots of espresso and went about my business? Wouldn’t I save a lot of time? So I would do that, and it just doesn’t work. Like you don’t feel good when you do that. And it drove me nuts.
So Gerald Pollack’s work explained this. What the Tibetans had figured out, without microscopes, without modern science…they live in an environment where there’s not very much food and there’s not very much air. So, normally what we do is we drink water, we eat food, and then we use the food to make electrons to turn on heat. And that 1200 nanometer infrared heat helps to convert the bulk water into exclusion zone water.
Well, the Tibetans are like, “We don’t have enough heat. We don’t have enough of any of this stuff. What if we made the water into exclusion zone water and then we drank it? We wouldn’t have to make the heat. We could just use the energy.” Well, that’s why yak butter tea is a thing at high altitude. Now we know this. We didn’t know it. The Tibetans didn’t know why. They didn’t need to. They just know that it works.
Well, now I have a reason that I tell people you have to blend it for 20 seconds or it doesn’t work. What you’re doing is you’re forming exclusion zone water in the coffee. And because it’s hot, you’re getting even more of this. And then you drink it. You go, “What just happened?” Well, what just happened is you gave yourself water that you didn’t have to convert first, and you gave yourself extra energy from the MCT oils.
But now we understand it, and that is a critical thing that is all about electrical medicine. It’s all about the body electric. What we’re doing is we were cutting off some of the electrical steps that we do every day that we didn’t know about. And the important thing there, I was able to choose the one kind of MCT oil that works. Five years after I put it on the market and I talked about it in my books, research came out of the University of California saying, “Oh, this one kind of MCT oil, the eight-chain molecule, it actually makes ketones four times better than the most common MCT oil.”
Now, I didn’t have the research, but I could test one versus the other and I could feel the difference. And I just want to stress that for people watching this right now. You can detect a difference, even if we don’t have a good reason. And this is missing from a lot of medicine. They’ll say, “If there isn’t a reason, it can’t happen.” And I got so frustrated with a certain skeptical kind of doctors. I’m like, “You need a reason for it to work? Here’s a reason. Leprechauns. There. Now you have a reason. Can you see if it works or not?” Because the pioneers are going to say “I notice something. Let’s decode it.” And the skeptics are going to say, “You can’t have noticed that, because we don’t have an explanation.” And we just have to get passed that.
And then the same thing goes for collagen. Well, there’s a rational reason for taking collagen, because we’re made out of it and I believe you should eat the things that you’re made out of so you have building blocks to make more healthy tissues. Well, how do you use collagen, then, in that same dynamic? Well, you could feel what works.
And what works and what is generally accepted now is you want about 20 grams a day, and you want grass-fed collagen so it doesn’t have glyphosate and because it supports soil development. If you’re eating corn-fed anything right now, you’re contributing to the destruction of the earth, because you’re destroying soil, which is our largest carbon sink. So don’t worry about being carbon neutral if you eat industrial meat. Sorry, that’s just how it works.
[40:00]Dr. Schaffner: That’s right.
Dave: What ends up happening when you get that clean collagen…you can just eat the skin and cartilage of an animal, like you would in China, chicken feed and stuff like that, or you could process it with enzymes and keep the di- and tri-peptides intact, which is what I do when I formulate the collagen we do. And the way I normally take it is…because it has no flavor when it’s done right. A lot of collagen tastes like sweat socks, like it’s got a pretty gnarly smell. When it’s made properly with enzymes from properly treated animals, it should have very little flavor. So you can take it and you can put it in hot water and just chug it, or, what I do is I put it in coffee, and you can’t tell it’s there. So Bulletproof coffee has collagen in it.
Like the canned stuff that we’re selling. Even now in 7-11 you can get it, but it’s got your dose of collagen. We put eight grams in there, in a normal-sized little can of cold-brew coffee. But you drink that and you’re getting roughly 40 percent of the collagen that I like to get every day. And I’ll sprinkle it…anything that I’m going to bake and any other food. I’m going to have vegetables with some kind of a sauce, you put it in the sauce. So it just gets built into the diet as a flavorless protein that doesn’t make things thick and gloppy.
So you just literally have a canister in your kitchen. You say, :Oh, could I throw some collagen in there?” Yes. “Could I throw it in there?” Yes. “Can it go in my smoothie?” Yes. And when you do that, especially when you eat meat, which is good for you–but not too much–when you take collagen with your meat, it changes the ratio of glycine to the other amino acids in meat. More glycine, the amino acid, reduces inflammation in the body. So you want to get that ratio down.
So if I’m going to eat a steak, I’ll eat maybe four, six ounces of steak, but I’ll also have a scoop of collagen at some time during that meal, which reduces the inflammatory effect of meat. That inflammatory effect is not bad. Meat increases mTOR. That’s how you keep from losing muscle as you age. You need a certain amount of that. But if you take that collagen with it, you’re getting the best of both worlds.
Dr. Schaffner: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I love that. I haven’t thought of putting…cooking with the collagen. I love that. And then, Dave, I guess in wrapping up, does that Bulletproof coffee with collagen, does that break your intermittent fast, or is that part of your intermittent fasting?
Dave: If you do Bulletproof coffee with only fat, it maintains your fast. And there are some fasting purists who get so mad when I say that. And they’re following mouse studies where the mice could only have water. Fasting is about going without, and this is going to sound totally crazy. You can fast from carbs. It’s called the keto diet. And you can fast from protein. It’s called the vegan diet. And these are valid forms of fasting. You can fast from cooked food, which is called the raw diet. By the way, that’ll screw you up if you do it for very long. I was a raw vegan. I only know from experience.
Dave: But it might be great to go vegan for a month. I would support anyone doing that, as long as you’re not going to eat the inflammatory seed oils and be a fried Cheetos or whatever else kind of vegan, but if you were to eat non-inflammatory plants and very low protein for a month, you’ll just turn on more autophagy and all that. You do it for a long period of time, you’re going to screw up your cell membranes.
So you can go vegan and then carnivore, if you want to, and still remain within the sphere of the Bulletproof roadmap. But if you were to say, “I’m going to eat a whole bunch of grains and a whole bunch of seed oils and a whole bunch of sugar”–by the way, all of those are vegan–you’re not going to like your life. So it’s that idea.
What works best for most people is you have Bulletproof coffee in the morning without the collagen protein, and then if you have another one later in the day, you put the collagen in there. Also for women, there’s a whole chapter in Fast This Way on fasting for women, which is really important, because women are more susceptible to the biological stress of fasting. Fasting is a stressor.
And you see some people, like I used to do, “Well, if some of it’s good, all of it must be better.” So if you say, “I’m going to do a 24-hour fast. I’m only going to have dinner every day for the rest of my life,” you probably will turn up your stress. Women, you go keto, and don’t cycle the way I’ve been recommending for 10 years, after making these mistakes myself. And women who do intermittent fasting every morning with just water or with nothing at all, they tend to get hormonal problems and lose their sleep quality after about six weeks.
So for women, I say, “Look. Don’t have carbs in the morning, because that usually is not a good plan for you. But you can do intermittent fasting with Bulletproof coffee with the butter and the MCT oil. And if you do that one day, and then the next day, do that with collagen, you’re going to like how your skin looks, how your hair looks.” I’ve had some women complain, “I have a problem. I have to dye my hair more frequently because it’s growing so much.” So it’s not really a problem, but it’s noticeable.
So I really like that for women. Collagen and coffee or tea in the morning, some mornings, and other mornings, you could have just coffee or tea with nothing, or you could have it with the MCT oil and the butter. If you want to feel the full experience of, “Okay, I’m used to just being a little less focused, but I’m really going to deal with this,” don’t have the butter. But when you put the butter and the MCT oil in your coffee, you can get the benefits of fasting, but you have full brain power the whole time and you’re not going to yell at your kids, you’re not going to yell at your boss, you’re not going to yell at your employees. And you’re generally nicer.
And especially for people who are a little bit heavy, starting out with some protein and some fat in the morning is a good thing for the first 30, even 45 days, to help get their leptin and ghrelin levels back so they’re more sensitive to it. And then you start saying, “I’m just going to do fat in the morning,” and sometimes you do nothing in the morning. But it shouldn’t hurt. It shouldn’t be any emotional pain when you do that. These are the nuances of fasting that’s missing from the common books on fasting, along with the emotional side, the spiritual side, the “Why do I not want to do this?” Where’s that voice mainly coming from, and how do I control it? That’s why I wrote Fast This Way.
Dr. Schaffner: Mm-hmm. Love this. And I guess my last question for you, Dave, is, how long do you fast each day? How many hours?
Dave: I totally change it around. Most of the time, I don’t eat until 2:00 in the afternoon, and some mornings, I just do black coffee. I do the mold-free Bulletproof stuff. Some mornings I do a full Bulletproof coffee in the morning. Today, I’ve had only black coffee, and I will probably…so it’s about 11:00 right now. So I had my last meal yesterday around 6:00, so I’m going into whatever that is…6:00 to 6:00 plus…about 16 hours of fasting right now.
So in another couple of hours I’ll probably have a Bulletproof coffee for lunch because I have a day of interviews. And then that’s all I have to do. I just don’t worry about food. It saved me time. It saved me money. But tomorrow, I might have some bacon with my Bulletproof coffee in the morning, because I want to be social with my kids and it’s the day off school for them. So it’s not about every day, Christine, it’s about what do I know is coming this day? How do I have a body where I know that I have more than enough energy to handle whatever the world brings my way?
And I’m going to tune my energy intake and I’m going to tune my fasting according to that. And if I was feeling like I was getting sick or I had a rough night last night or whatever else, then I probably would just have some protein in the morning. It’s okay, and it’s to lose the judgment around fasting. So you don’t have to do it the same way every day. Just do it most of the time, and you’ll be fine.
Dr. Schaffner: I love that, and that gives people a lot more psychological freedom that they have to do everything perfect and be a purist.
Dr. Schaffner: That’s just not life or reality.
Dave: No. You can’t fail at fasting. I will promise you that if you say, “I’m going to fast for 24 hours tomorrow and I’ve never fasted.” You probably have a 50 percent chance of actually doing it. And if at 3:00 in the afternoon it suddenly…it occurs to you, “It’s a really good idea for me to break my fast early because…” and then you eat whatever was appealing to you, the chocolate or the doughnut or whatever, and then you go, “Oh, I’m such a bad person.” No, you’re not. You’re actually just a human, because we’re wired to do that, and your…the voice in your head, your biological voice, was like, “You’re gonna die.” You aren’t going to die, but it got the better of you. Still, okay, you only did 17 hours, not 24. You still win. It’s okay.
Dr. Schaffner: Yeah. Yeah. Freedom in that, right?
Dr. Schaffner: Well, thank you, Dave. I really appreciate your time and all your knowledge, and I could talk to you all day. This is really inspiring on a lot of levels, and I love that you put this knowledge in a book. And can you share for the audience where people can find out more about you and your book?
Dave: Yes. You can go to fastthisway.com. And when you pick up a copy of the book…I’ve decided to step up my job as an author. It’s not enough just to write a book. I’m actually going to teach the book to you as a teacher. So when you send me your receipt for the book that shows you bought it, I will lead people through a two-week fast, where I teach you how to do intermittent fasting. I teach you how to do a 24-hour fast.
And on the final weekend, I’ll teach you how to do a spiritual fast, where you’re actually doing the hard part of it. But it’s a gentle immersion into fasting, led by me every day. Just go to fastthisway.com and order your book wherever you like to order books. Order it right now. You can send the receipt in on the website, and I will spend two weeks teaching you how to do it right.
Dr. Schaffner: Awesome, awesome. Well, I so appreciate knowing you and your time, and thank you for all the beautiful work that you’re doing in the world. You’re making a difference, so thank you.
Dave: Aw, thanks, Christine. Likewise.
Dr. Schaffner: Thank you for listening to the Spectrum of Health podcast. I hope you enjoyed my conversation today with Dave Asprey. If you are enjoying these podcasts, we’d be so honored if you would leave a review on Apple podcasts so other people can find this information. If you want to check out Dave’s book, Fast This Way, it is out and linked in the show notes. Thank you so much, and have a beautiful day.