#111 – Adaptation and why it’s important to our metabolic health, stress, and trauma (Dr. Casey Means & Dr. Molly Maloof)
Environmental factors can drastically affect our metabolic health. Levels Chief Medical Officer Dr. Casey Means sat down with Levels Advisor Dr. Molly Maloof to talk about how our response to external triggers affects our metabolic health. They talked about how chronic stress and trauma can affect our bodies, how daily habits can help manage our health, and how the gut, liver, hormones, and skin are all connected.
12:13 – Adapting and self-managing in the face of adversity
Health isn’t a singular goal to work toward, but rather many ongoing adjustments to external factors to live at our highest capacity.
As a result of discovering that health is not this picture-perfect moment in your life where you’re like, boom, I’m finally healthy. I discovered in the process of studying health, that health was about adapting and self-managing in the face of adversity. It is the concept of adaptation is why it’s so important not to see health as the WHOs definition — the pie in the sky, complete absence of disease or infirmary, complete mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. That is not reality for humanity because life is going to challenge you and truly, health is all about how do you handle those challenges? How does your body bounce back? How do you become resilient to stress? How does your body not lose its adaptive capacity, its functional capacity? How do you maintain a healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, in the midst of facing challenges?
16:03 – The most important biomarker
Glucose is the best biomarker to track to learn about your diet and sleep, which inform your overall health.
Glucose is the most important marker of your interstitial space because it is literally, how you are adapting to what you eat, how you move, how you sleep, where you live, who you talk to. It responds to everything. It’s such an incredible marker because it’s so dynamic. I was like, wow, this is also a really important marker that seems to go wrong in a lot of people, and it’s an important marker that we don’t have good monitors for, except for diabetics.
23:05 – Moving your body to create energy
Your body stores and spends energy based on how much you move in order to preserve enough energy for tomorrow, but not moving at all leads to metabolic dysfunction.
By the way that you live your life, it sends signals to your cells to adapt to those different demands. Your body’s always trying to predict the next day and prepare you for the next day. Your body’s actually beautifully designed to make the next day, hopefully, more likely to keep you alive. They want to make sure that you’re going to be alive tomorrow, so your body’s like, okay, if I didn’t move my body today, that means I may not need to have as much energy for tomorrow because I’m in a rest mode. That means that I’m going to make less energy. The problem with that is that, if you don’t move your body for a week, your body starts going into, “Oh shit, I’m immobilized. Oh crap.” It actually causes more stress in the body not to move your body than to move your body. There’s what’s called illness behavior or sickness behavior, and it actually will … That’s literally a product of metabolic dysfunction.
24:18 – Adapting beyond genetics
Our bodies evolved to keep us safe, but our modern world poses different stimuli than our ancestors faced and we need to learn to adapt.
Your body’s designed to be healthy based on its genetics. Your genetics are primitive genetics. Your genetics are like, I live on a Savannah and I’m here to move my body all day long, and I’m also here not to eat all day long. It turns out that, we now have this environment of cost of food availability and a lot of sedentary behavior, so the real challenge for most modern humans is, how do I adapt to a life that is totally different than my genetics are designed for? That is the question.
26:29 – Hijacking reward pathways
Food companies and capitalism, more generally, can take advantage of our neurological reward pathways to keep us eating insulin-spiking foods rather than healthy foods.
I was talking to a friend of mine today because I was pointing out that there’s quite a lot of problems in obviously, modern American society right now, and I was trying to explain to him what I thought was actually the root cause of our obesity epidemic. I wrote to him basically, that the real pandemic in bodies, is a state of constant threat that get manipulated by food companies who know the foods that hijack reward pathways, which lessen the threat signaling and contributes to energy imbalances, metabolic disease, and obesity. I’ve been asking myself, why is it that people reach for the cookie instead of the apple? What is the reason why they go for the bad food? We forget that we have these reward pathways that are specifically designed to keep you alive. And food companies have specifically hijacked these reward pathways, so that you turn to those foods to send safety signals to the brain and chronically eating these high pleasure bliss point foods, contributes to maladaptive health. We end up with metabolic diseases.
36:40 – Getting off the grid
Our energy capacity is like a car, and we can either intake energy constantly like a gas-powered vehicle or run cleaner off our own energy supply like a hybrid vehicle.
So one of the fundamental, unfortunate aspects of being a human on earth is that you need to find resources to survive. And so the most original evolutionary adaptation that happened to the creation of mitochondria occurred with bacteria being engulfed by single-celled organisms. And they harnessed the bacteria’s capacity to make energy and gather energy. And that actually enabled human evolution. That was one very important facet of evolution. So we’re all here to figure out how to gather energy and then have enough resources to survive. So when we have a lot of resources, we have a lot of functional capacity, we have more energy than we need to do work. And one of the most beautiful things about the body is that we can work, we can actually run on … Let’s say this is something with sugar in it. We can run on the grid or we can run on our own battery power, which is our [inaudible 00:37:36]. So what’s called flipping the metabolic switch is like, you’re a hybrid vehicle, so you can go from running on the grid to running on your own fuel. But most people have never figured out how to do that because most people are only on the grid. And they’re metabolically inflexible, they cannot gearshift, so they’re basically like a gas-guzzling car.
43:22 – Take care of your mitochondria
Mitochondria are powerful and connected to everything related to energy, making them integral to understanding your metabolic health.
And I look at capacity, actually, as a function of cellular capacitance. So the mitochondria are organelles that basically take in substrates, food, air, and water, and they transform it into energy through what’s called the electron transport chain. Which powers a turbine, which is an electrochemical gradient that creates a battery and a capacitor. So capacitate comes from the differential charge between the and outer membrane of the mitochondria and the inner and outer membrane of the cell. So there’s actually charge differential on membranes. And then, there’s also electrochemical differences, which actually enable a polarity, which enables the cell to be a battery and a capacitor. So your mitochondria are really important to producing energy and storing energy. So when we have dysfunctional mitochondria from a lifestyle that happens to be filled with high fat, high sugar foods, which actually causes metabolic gridlock in the mitochondria, they become dysfunctional. They don’t work normally. They don’t actually handle demands as easily. They can’t even mobilize energy as well as they should. And so, you have to take care of your mitochondria if you want to be a healthy human. And literally, blood sugar is the only way that we can see into mitochondrial function right now. There’s literally no other way that we can actually have any idea what’s going on in the mitochondria unless we have a blood sugar monitor.
45:57 – The holy grail of chronic disease
Working to remove the constant sources of stress and trauma is key to relieving chronic conditions.
Turns out, you can’t actually have a healthy metabolism if you are under constant threat. So what gets us out of threat? What gets us out of threat? This is the literal holy grail of chronic disease medicine. If this gets figured out in our lifetime, then basically we will be able to reverse almost all chronic diseases. But right now, the biggest question is, is how do we get the body out of threat mode? And inflammation, by the way, I look at inflammation … And people are going to argue with me with this all day long. I have friends that are totally obsessed with inflammation. But I’m going to just try to simplify things for the masses. Inflammation is almost like alarm signals going off in your cells en mass. And when there’s alarm signals going off, it’s like there’s a fire alarm in the house. You can’t also have normal operations of the house if the fire alarm is still on and ringing. There’s a problem. And so inflammation is often an end result of metabolic dysfunction. It’s a cause and a consequence of metabolic dysfunction. And so, we have got to figure out how to build more capacity into younger, healthy humans, so that they don’t end up with chronic disease when they’re in midlife.
51:35 – Felt connection
Energy fields are not just woo-woo, but a real phenomenon that impacts how we feel when interacting with someone in-person vs. online.
Well, communication technology, electronic parenting, social media, all of these things enhance social isolation. So there is something that happens when you’re in the presence of someone else. And it’s called felt connection. And felt connection is not something that you can just reproduce through a Zoom call. You have to be present with someone to have truly felt connection. And largely because your brain makes electromagnetic fields around it, and your heart makes electromagnetic fields around it, so there is something to be said about literally being in the presence of someone else and having felt connection with their energetic field. I’m not talking about energetic field in the woo sense, I’m talking about it in the EKG and EEG sense. It’s measurable. So I believe that we were designed for proximity, specifically, proximity engages the system of the brain that turns off the threat signal if the person that we’re with is safe. So if they’re someone that we know, and someone that we trust, being with them physically turns off threat signaling.
01:41:37 – Cooking your skin
Skin health is closely linked to your gut and hormones, so what you eat directly affects how your skin ages.
Eating a lower insulin output diet, with less sugar, less refined starch and less dairy was a huge, huge shift in my skin health. First and foremost. When you don’t glycolate your skin as much also you get less wrinkles and you have more autofluorescence so your skin actually does cause… Let’s see there’s this thing called skin autofluorescence and it’s literally the amount of light that’s coming out of your skin. Right? And they use this as a measurement tool for diabetics and I wanted to buy one of these measurement tools once, but it turns out they’re very expensive. So I discovered that if you want to cause less cooking of your skin, because basically your metabolism is slowly cooking you over time. If you want to cook your skin less, you got to eat less kindling and carbs are kindling, okay? So they burn really fast and then they glycolate your cells and they cause all sorts of oxidative stress bursts, which cause stiffness of your arteries and age you faster.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:00:06):
The secret to health is actually in the relationship you have to yourself and your body, your environment, and to those around you, and being able to take in information and act on that information and actually adapt to different demands, whether it be environmental demands, whether it be work demands, relationship demands, or even physiological demand. For example, bodies break down. How are you going to adapt to those breakdowns? Does your body have enough resources to bounce back? Do you have the capacity to change your behavior, to optimize the chances of your body staying strong and healthy?
Ben Grynol (00:00:45):
I’m Ben Grynol part of the early startup team here at Levels. We’re building tech that helps people to understand their metabolic health and this is your front row seat to everything we do. This is A Whole New Level. Dr. Casey Means and Dr. Molly Maloof. Did you follow the space of health and wellness? Well, you’re not a stranger to either of those names. For Dr. Molly, she’s part of our advisory board, and so she and Casey sat down and talked about everything pertaining to health and wellness. It was a very wide conversation and they covered a range of topics. Here’s Casey with the intro.
Dr. Casey Means (00:01:38):
Hello everyone. This is Dr. Casey Means, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Levels. I am so excited about our guest today. It is Dr. Molly Maloof and she is a Levels advisor, and she just has innovation oozing out of every cell in her body. She’s so incredible. What you need to know about Dr. Molly is that she was actually one of the first people really ever, this is years ago, to understand and spread the message of continuous biofeedback for health optimization, with continuous glucose monitoring. She is really the OG in this topic and we have her to really thank for bringing this into the forefront of the conversation. She does so many different things. She is an author. She’s a physician. She’s a lecturer at Stanford. She is a content creator and writer, and in all of this, she focuses on the science and tools to extend health span, achieve health optimization and scale personalize medicine.
Dr. Casey Means (00:02:45):
She has an amazing course at Stanford that she created called Live Better Longer, Extending Healthspan to Lengthen Lifespan, which I seriously wish I’d had 10 years ago when I was at Stanford, and this class is super popular. It exposes students to evidence based holistic tools for living the longest and healthiest life possible, and so cool to think how planning those seeds will totally, probably change their trajectory if they go into medicine, which is amazing. She’s been a consultant and advisor to over 50 companies in the digital health, consumer health, and biotech industries. She’s the spokesperson of Qualia Skin by Neurohacker. We’re going to talk about skin later in the episode, so stay tuned, and she’s currently writing an amazing book with Harper Wave on female biohacking, and is the founder of Adamo Biosciences, which aims to radically improve health by optimizing the love we can experience in our lives. We have so much to talk about. Welcome to A Whole New Level, Molly.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:03:41):
Thank you so much, Casey. It’s such a pleasure to be here and what a beautiful introduction. I appreciate you so much.
Dr. Casey Means (00:03:47):
Oh, of course. I appreciate you, and I want to jump in, totally not talking about metabolic health, but you literally just arrived back stateside from an amazing trip to Antarctica. So, I would love for you to tell us just a little bit about your trip to Antarctica and what did you learn about yourself and maybe what new things you learned about the earth during this trip?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:04:11):
Yeah. Whoa. Can I just tell you that there’s something that happens when you get to a continent that you have only seen photos of and you realize that this is both the most beautiful experience you’ve had in your entire life, but it’s also the most paradoxically terrifying because you’re watching nature melt in front of you. Literally, when I was there, there was this massive ice shelf collapse. I didn’t see the ice shelf collapse. We did some [inaudible 00:04:45] episodes of Antarctica ice, but essentially, the hottest day recorded was when I was there. There was a part of Antarctica that was like 70 degrees, and we had uncharacteristically beautiful weather. In fact, our guides were like, “We’ve never had a cruise here that had four days of perfect sun. We’ve never seen this many sunsets. Something is definitely not the same about this trip.” So, it was a really unique experience.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:05:15):
Paradoxically, very challenging to get there, but yet when you’re there it’s insanely stunning and beautiful and easy, but getting there is really hard. You have to fly to the very lowest city, Ushuaia, which is the biggest… It’s the lowest city in this hemisphere, and then you have to take this large cruise liner through what’s called, the Drake’s Passage. Drake’s Passage is basically one of the most insane things to do because these waves are like 20 to 30 feet. You are being swayed, right and back forth. People were getting sick. There was actually a dance party that was happening and imagine an entire room of people dancing, swaying back and forth. It was almost like… This trip was interesting. It was a combination of world class DJs and musicians, world class entrepreneurs and investors, really incredible programming. We had Mark Hyman who is an absolute luminary, and I think might be a Levels advisor and so, we had programming, music, parties, and Antarctica.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:06:22):
Putting that all together in a trip makes it… It’s a peak experience times 10, but it’s also, coming back from that, I felt like I was recovering from Burning Man. It was not an easy transition back into normal existence. I had 10 days of basically being offline because it costs like $350 to get 5G, so you really don’t want to be on your computer a lot, because it’s expensive, but I have to say seeing seals and seeing penguins and seeing raw nature in front of you and just being able to put your feet on a continent, that is so remote and foreign is awe inspiring, but it completely made me step back for everything I’m doing in my life and pause because I’m like, oh my God, it’s really hit me. We’re in an environmental crisis. We’re also in a war and there’s a war happening when I’m coming back and there’s going to be a major food crisis and there’s a major health crisis.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:07:25):
And then, there’s all these political crisis happening all at once and I’m coming back and I’m looking at myself thinking, what can I do to make more impact now versus, the current plan I had for my company I was working on was about 10 years, billion dollars it was going to cost, and I actually looked at this plan and I go, what the hell am I thinking? We don’t have enough time to be wasting on things that are going to take that long. I need to be doing things for humanity now. I’ve actually been spending the last five days realigning a lot of my priorities with business and really trying to think through how to start creating more value for consumers now about learning about the science of love and what the neurobiology of love can teach us about healing and safety versus threat.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:08:08):
I think we’re facing so many threats that we need more than ever to find ways to connect. What was so profound for me on this trip was the sense of holy crap, there’s a lot of threats we’re facing. We’re all facing together collectively as humanity, but more than ever, I’m like, oh my God, this is the moment that we all realize we need each other and we need our bonds because our bonds are going to protect us and help us thrive in the midst of adversity. It was a life changing trip. By far the best trip I’ve ever taken, but also so deeply all inspiring and also kind of terrifying because you’re like, oh shit, things are melting, and it’s really happening. You can’t avoid it when you look at it firsthand.
Dr. Casey Means (00:08:52):
Amazing. I think it’s interesting hearing you talk about reframing a little bit and how to bring value as quickly as possible. I think just looking at your work, you, I think bring so much value just every single day by just what you are talking about on social media and on podcasts and helping spread awareness of things that a lot of people are just not aware of, like the relationship between emotional health and physical health, and I think we are basically, all the human impact things that you’re talking about, war, choices that drive climate change, isolation and disconnection, I think one of the ways probably both of us look at this is, this is the product of brains and brains are cellular structures that are basically dictated by hormones and all sorts of things, and food.
Dr. Casey Means (00:09:45):
And so, one of the table stakes things that we have to figure out is how to make that organ and that system, and that within the whole body function properly. I think the way that you think about that is very unique. I’d love for you to just maybe, before we dive super deep into things to just talk about how you personally define and think about health and about what a healthy functioning body and mind actually is. What does that look like? How should it feel and what does it mean to actually be healthy in your framework?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:10:25):
When I was younger, I was like, oh, health is just this goal that we have. We get to this point and we’re like, optimally well, and when I was teenager, I was going through puberty and I had all sorts of hormone dysfunction because I lived in the Midwest. I grew up with a lot of antibiotics. I grew up… Just a little background, it might help people understand why I am the way I am by understanding that I was not always glowing health. I was a sickly child. I was born with a traumatic birth. I ended up having a lot of antibiotics. I was in and out of hospitals. I had pneumonia as a child. I had chronic strep throat. I had my tonsils out. I had gut dysfunction. I had a mood disorder because I had ADHD as a result of the gut brain access being completely thrown off. I had impacted teeth. I had to have surgery in sixth grade to fix my mouth.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:11:15):
And then when I hit puberty, my hair went from straight to curly and I started breaking out all over my back. My feet smelled, I had hormones all over the place and I did not know what the heck was wrong with me. I said to myself, Molly, someday, you’re going to find out how your body works and you’re going to fix all these problems. By the time I was in ninth grade, I was already taking supplements. I was already trying to hack my body. I was already trying to fix things. I was one hundred percent a perfectionist. I was in varsity sports and getting straight A’s and in student government and I was fearless, but I went through patterns in my life where I would just work myself into the ground and burn out. I have these cycles of achievement and burnout and perfectionism and dysfunction in so many different ways, and I just always hoped that there would be a day where I would wake up and everything would be perfect, and it never actually came.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:12:07):
However, what did happen is I committed myself to a life of pursuing health. As a result of discovering that health is not this picture perfect moment in your life where you’re like, boom, I’m finally healthy. I discovered in the process of studying health, that health was about adapting and self-managing in the face of adversity. It is concept of adaptation is why it’s so important not to see health as the WHOs definition, like it’s pie in the sky, complete absence of disease or infirmary, complete mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. That is not reality for humanity because life is going to challenge you and truly, health is all about how do you handle those challenges? How does your body bounce back? How do you become resilient to stress? How does your body not lose its adaptive capacity, its functional capacity? How do you maintain a healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, in the midst of facing challenges?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:13:03):
I really got lucky because I was gifted a very amazingly loving family. I was gifted an ability to stay focused and persistent on a goal of becoming a doctor, and I was also gifted at being basically fearless in pursuing a path of my own desire rather than desires of the society around me or other people who thought I should be a mainstream doctor. As a result, I got to spend 10 years basically doing research and building a practice and working with companies that gave me a platform to basically study health and figure out how to optimize it and because I found a niche in really well paid investors, executives, and entrepreneurs who were happy to plunk down lots of cash to run labs, I was basically offered a golden opportunity, out of my own design. I specifically was like, there have been doctors who’ve taken care of kings in the past, and I will be one of these doctors who takes care of kings of the present, and I did it, but in the process I discovered that money doesn’t buy health.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:14:04):
It certainly can extend life and certainly does make it more possible for you to have health, but really the secret to health is actually in the relationship you have to yourself and your body, your environment, and to those around you, and being able to take in information and act on that information and actually adapt to different demands, whether it be environmental demands, whether it be work demands, relationship demands, or even physiological demands. For example, bodies break down. How are you going to adapt to those breakdowns? Does your body have enough resources to bounce back? Do you have the capacity to change your behavior, to optimize the chances of your body staying strong and healthy? I got interested in this idea of allostasis versus homeostasis. Most of medicine learns that homeostasis is all about vital signs.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:14:58):
You go to your doctor once a year, 15 minutes, you get your labs checked, and that’s a snapshot, but I was like, “That doesn’t seem to be enough information to make really good decisions because if I just took a picture of you one day of the year where you looked really great, that does not tell me about the 375 days of the year where you may not have looked that way. You may not have felt that way. I was like, what would health monitoring look like if it was time course data versus snapshot data, and I was like, okay, I can get wearables. So I got really into wearables. I was like, I can just put wearables on my patients and see what happens to their sleep, their stress, their movement. I was very much a big part of the quantified self movement in the very beginning, but I had been asked to do a consulting project for a company and they were like, we can monitor 21 different biomarkers in interstitial space, but which one should we do and why?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:15:51):
I was like, huh. All right, I’m going to go into the physiology textbooks. I’m going to go into all of the different research papers, and I’m going to figure this question out. I ended up writing countless pages on all the different options you could measure, but I was like, glucose. Glucose is the most important marker of your interstitial space because it is literally, how you are adapting to what you eat, how you move, how you sleep, where you live, who you talk to. It responds to everything. It’s such an incredible marker because it’s so dynamic. I was like, wow, this is also a really important marker that seems to go wrong in a lot of people, and it’s an important marker that we don’t have good monitors for, except for diabetics. This company was working on hardware for the masses.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:16:38):
Turns out that by working with this company, I ended up getting asked to join their team and I worked part-time for them because they needed a head of medical science, and I remember working with them and I was like, “Guys, why are we developing hardware again? Because we’ve built a software product and it works and I found some customers, and we might want to just work on the software.” And they were like, ” No, we’re going to work on hardware,” and the company folded and they ended up selling to another company and I was like, oh my God. My biggest problem, Casey, in my career has been, I’m about five to 10 years ahead of most people, so as a result, it’s really hard to build companies when you’re like, oh crap. I’m literally way too far ahead, and honestly, I remember going to investors at the time and I was like, I think these glucose monitors can be used to make products, and they’re like, “Great idea. This is really useful.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:17:31):
And I didn’t have enough confidence at the time to build a company around it, but honestly, I feel really grateful that I got to be a part of helping stem a movement.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:17:43):
Part of what I’m here to do is be a catalyst. I am 100% the kind of person who, if I enter your life, you’re going to be changed, whether you like it or not. I think that’s what I’m here to do for humanity is to help be a catalyst of change, and the beauty of that is I get to discover new things and then help companies like yours and other companies really transform because what we’re trying to do with what Levels is doing, and what any other company in CGM is trying to do is, actually transform people’s understanding of what health is all about. You cannot really understand health if you don’t understand blood sugar because blood sugar is easily, I think, probably the most important dynamic marker of health that we have.
Dr. Casey Means (00:18:30):
Oh my gosh. Amazing.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:18:31):
Lots to discuss.
Dr. Casey Means (00:18:32):
I think that is-
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:18:33):
Dr. Casey Means (00:18:33):
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:18:35):
Lots to discuss. That’s a long life story.
Dr. Casey Means (00:18:35):
Lots to discuss. I love that. So much of that resonates with me, and I just want to circle back to that amazing definition that you talked about with health, which was the body’s ability to adapt and…
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:18:48):
Dr. Casey Means (00:18:49):
Self-manage in the face of adversity. Is that right?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:18:53):
Dr. Casey Means (00:18:53):
That is so fascinating, and I think that is something that I just want to highlight again, because that’s probably not a definition of health that people have really heard before, but there’s so much embedded in that, that I think both of us think about a lot, which is, the body is this just incredible… It’s like 37 trillion cells, plus all these trillions of bacterial cells changing constantly. Literally every day, we’re taking food and signals from the external world, the environment, putting into our body, rebuilding ourselves, shape shifting changes. We’re a different body second to second and minute to minute, and we don’t have any real insight into what’s happening inside that black box.
Dr. Casey Means (00:19:37):
That’s where I think your insight about bio-wearables and continuous biofeedback is so important because, we’re both trained in medicine, but also just as people, to think of the body as this static entity that, we have a body and then the body’s born and then the body dies and it’s this thing, and it’s not. If we could actually see under a microscope what was going on, we’d see that we’re just this buzzing hive of atoms that’s constantly being recycled with the external world, literally even breathing in and out air, we’re constantly converting things. Without any insight into that process or without even a mental model for understanding that’s actually what the body is, I think it really undermines the idea of habits because habits are about daily consistency, knowing that you’re constantly changing and that the situation is changing and you don’t just get to have one healthy meal once a month and think that, that’s going to make a big difference because we’re constantly rebuilding and constantly adapting.
Dr. Casey Means (00:20:43):
I think that adapt word is so important, and I just think about my own life, different periods of challenge, where there was more adversity and it was so obvious that if I didn’t change what I was doing a little bit, like get more sleep or do more mindfulness or eat particularly anti-inflammatory foods, I would break down because my body had higher needs. Just thinking about after my mom passed away last year, that was a huge psychosocial stressor. I’m sure my stress hormones were much higher. I was probably churning through B vitamins way faster as I was making those stress hormones. If you don’t recognize that and adapt, the body will not be able to do what it needs to do. Similar to if you have an infectious disease, you may need more selenium or whatever to… I think that, that framing that you talk about, there’s just so much built into it that gets us back to thinking about how important it is to both understand what’s going on inside the black box of the body, but also, how important daily habits are for keeping up with things.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:21:54):
Let’s talk a little bit about habits. People forget that the whole purpose of developing health habits is that you can literally offload work of having to think about being healthy into the part of your mind that doesn’t have to think about being healthy. When I wake up in the morning and I go in and just, I have a planned exercise. I don’t always know what I’m going to do in the morning, but I know that I’m going to move my body. It has taken me literally, 10 years to get into a consistent fitness habit. I spent basically part of my twenties sedentary in school and it destroyed my health. Turns out that you need to send signals into your body to make more energy and exercise is the signal to make more energy, and when I figured that out, I was like, well, this is a non-negotiable. If I want to have energy, I have to exercise, duh.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:22:37):
Now that it’s a habit, this is easy for me. I don’t have to think about it. I just have to go and do it. I can go outside and run if I can’t do anything else. Now, the interesting thing about exercise is, I spent a lot of time in the pandemic lifting weights, but then I ended up somewhere where I didn’t have a gym, so I started running and it was fascinating to watch my body go from strong and muscular to lean and light. It was very fast. I lost my butt like that. I burned off that butt fat and my muscles started getting leaner, and it’s fascinating that people don’t realize that literally, by the way that you live your life, it sends signals to your cells to adapt to those different demands. Your body’s always trying to predict the next day and prepare you for the next day. Your body’s actually beautifully designed to make the next day, hopefully, more likely to keep you alive.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:23:27):
They want to make sure that you’re going to be alive tomorrow, so your body’s like, okay, if I didn’t move my body today, that means I may not need to have as much energy for tomorrow because I’m in a rest mode. That means that I’m going to make less energy. The problem with that is that, if you don’t move your body for a week, your body starts going into, oh shit, I’m immobilized. Oh crap. It actually causes more stress in the body not to move your body than to move your body. There’s what’s called illness behavior or sickness behavior, and it actually will…
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:23:55):
That’s literally a product of metabolic dysfunction. Your body will start going into these energy saving modes in order to preserve itself, but in the process, it’s highly maladaptive long term. We need habits in order to not have to think about being healthy all the time, but also, because if we don’t do things habitually, then our body will adapt unfortunately. Your body’s designed to be healthy based on its genetics. Your genetics are primitive genetics. Your genetics are like, I live on a Savannah and I’m here to move my body all day long, and I’m also here not to eat all day long. It turns out that, we now have this environment of cost of food availability and a lot of sedentary behavior, so the real challenge for most modern humans is, how do I adapt to a life that is totally different than my genetics are designed for? That is the question.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:24:47):
We’re really not designed to have constant threat. We’re actually not designed to have constant news on causing psychological threats, and we’re not designed to have constant comparison threat from looking at Instagram and saying, “Oh, this perfect body that’s completely filtered.” We’re designed to actually be mostly peaceful in tribes surrounded by people who could keep us safe and to be occasionally afraid of dangerous neighboring tribes or animals that would come in to attack you. We’re really not designed to be in this constant threat state. Chronic disease, the new model for chronic disease is actually based on chronic threat versus safety, so there’s literally doc… I’ve been talking to this guy, Steven Porges, who’s an absolute visionary thinker, and Sue Carter, who’s also an absolute visionary thinker. They’re so interesting, this couple, because he has figured out the autonomic nervous system’s behavior in threat versus safety. And she has figured out, and by the way, you should look up Polyvagal Theory, if you haven’t heard about it.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:25:44):
She has figured out the neuropeptide biology of love, safety, trust, and bonding versus threat and danger. She figured out the neurobiology of this and he figured out the autonomic nervous system. These two people somehow became a couple. It’s almost like destiny, the way people sometimes come together, and I came to know them because I was trying to ask myself, why do people make the wrong decisions for their food and their lifestyle when we know we should eat better and we know we should exercise more and we know we should stress out less and we know we should sleep more? Why do people not do these things? That was my biggest question. I was like, there’s something missing here on my understanding of humanity.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:26:29):
I was talking to a friend of mine today because I was pointing out that there’s quite a lot of problems in obviously, modern American society right now, and I was trying to explain to him what I thought was actually the root cause of our obesity epidemic. I wrote to him basically, that the real pandemic in bodies, is a state of constant threat that get manipulated by food companies who know the foods that hijack reward pathways, which lessen the threat signaling and contributes to energy imbalances, metabolic disease, and obesity. I’ve been asking myself, why is it that people reach for the cookie instead of the apple? What is the reason why they go for the bad food? We forget that we have these reward pathways that are specifically designed to keep you alive.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:27:18):
And food companies have specifically hijacked these reward pathways, so that you turn to those foods to send safety signals to the brain and chronically eating these high pleasure bliss point foods, contributes to maladaptive health. We end up with metabolic diseases. We end up with high fat, high sugar foods, and fast foods and processed foods cause visceral fat. They cause a tub of fat storage. They cause blood sugar dysregulation. They cause metabolic inflexibility. The bigger global issue is not that these foods are inherently evil. It’s that people are being manipulated by constant threat signaling. It’s not a surprise and if you watch the news, it’s threat signaling and then, what is the commercial? It’s fast food. It’s threat signal and it’s reward pathway. Threat signal, reward pathway. If you don’t notice that this is happening, then you are literally being completely manipulated by companies, by the media, and you cannot blame yourself for being obese and struggling.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:28:21):
I actually look at people who are impoverished and I have completely different perspective on why people are obese because their bodies are literally trying their best to survive, and they don’t realize that they’re being manipulated by these greater powers outside of them that have not… The government has not made it easy for people to eat healthy food. That is not the same case in most countries. Our government has not made it easy for people to eat healthy, first and foremost, by the food policies that we have. We have constant threat signaling in the media, which our government has not stopped and totally supports, and we basically designed a society around cars. So, because we all drive and we don’t walk, we don’t move our bodies-
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:29:04]
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:29:02):
We all drive and we don’t walk. We don’t move our bodies. The outcome of a society designed to hijack pathways that would actually save energy and store energy is too much save-to-store energy, which is unfortunately metabolic dysfunction in a lot of cases. So it’s actually fascinating because if you actually just look at the big picture, you’re like, “Oh, this whole obesity epidemic makes sense. It’s not about the individual, at all.” It has nothing to do with most people, most people actually are not trying to be obese, and blaming them as some sort of moral injury is like actually looking at an addict and saying, “Oh, addicts are just morally inferior.” I now look at addiction as people hijacking their own reward pathways to fulfill the lack of social connection that they cannot find in their relationships. And when you look at every person that … I mean, just go talk to a person who’s an addict, there was some sort of major life breakdown with their relationships that led to them having to turn to addiction.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:29:57):
There was some sort of a relationship breakdown with themselves that led to them feeling worthless. Led to them feeling completely they couldn’t find pleasure in being who they are. And so they turn to drugs that activate these reward pathways and they become stuck. Their body can never get back to that original high, and so, they’re chasing the dragon and then they become disconnected from their families and communities because they are no longer seen as normal people. They’re seen as addicts. They are a different type of person. They are dangerous, they are thieves, they prostitute themselves. And they do all sorts of things that normal people would never do. And so, because they have been disconnected from their families and their communities, drugs are literally the only way that they can get those rewards. So it turns out that relationships, and loving relationships, are the ultimate source of reward, actually. So we get super rewarded by feeling connected and loved.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:30:54):
And this is what everyone is actually searching for, is connection and love and feeling safe. And the ultimate safety molecule is oxytocin. And oxytocin and safety comes from feeling like you have secure attachment with your family members and your parents and your friends. Feeling like people delight in seeing you. Feeling like you have resources to survive. That people can share resources with you to help you survive. Feeling safe, feeling psychologically safe, feeling physically safe. Having a roof over your head and feeling, basically, that you could explore your inner and outer world and it’s okay. So, I’ve really boiled down my health perspectives after spending so long in biology and just laboratory tests and monitoring tools. I was like, “Oh my God, I have to actually take a step back from all of this. There’s actually this much bigger, bigger problem, which is global human disconnection from community and family in ourselves.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:31:51):
And that’s really where the [inaudible 00:31:53] science was born. It was like, “I need to figure out how to help people truly connect because the metaverse is going to cause massive amounts of mental illness.” If we thought that addiction and drugs were bad, just wait until people are addicted to the metaverse, it is going to cause rippling effect, multi-generational downstream effects, on humanity if we are not careful. And yeah, I think we’re at a massive turning point. And I mean, that was a huge lecture, but I’m actually glad we’re on this podcast, because I would really like to get the transcript of this. This is good. Stop.
Dr. Casey Means (00:32:28):
Oh my God, I could literally listen to you talk all day, Molly. And as you were talking, I was like, “Oh, I want that to be a clip. I want that …” It’s just so, so amazing. Your vision about all of this. And so, something I took away from what you just said is that, it’s funny, we talk a lot about root causes to health. I mean, that’s what I think people like you and I and other functional precision medicine people are focused on. What’s the root cause? And a lot of time, we get down to … And that usually gets down to cellular dysfunction, something related to the mitochondria, and how food and what not are hijacking the mitochondria. And I think what I’m hearing you say is that we actually need to go a layer deeper than that, which is actually what’s driving some of the behaviors that lead to that root cause dysfunction.
Dr. Casey Means (00:33:09):
Which comes down to a really primordial screw up in the way we’re living, which is that the thing that keeps us on the better side of the balance between threat and safety, and therefore a sense of survival need, is totally being hijacked by modern culture. And I think one question I have, I’d love your thoughts on is, I think the average person out there is like, we’ve only known modern life. And so we think it’s normal. And so, let’s just think of the average quote/unquote “healthy mid-30 person.” It’s like, they’ve got their iPhone, they’ve got the emails and texts coming in every day, they’ve got the notifications. They’ve got Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, all the things. A million dings, they go in a car, there’s honking, there’s red lights, there’s green lights. There’s people around them. They may not be that tight with their extended family because they live all over the world.
Dr. Casey Means (00:34:09):
You have a good relationship with your family, but see them a few times a year. You’ve got some friends, a lot of your friends you’re talking to online. It’s kind of like that’s … I’m just trying to paint a picture of normal life. And then they might be like, “Yeah, I’ve got great relationships. I’ve got great … I don’t feel threatened. I feel fine.” But how do you look at that modern world and how you think some of that is actually translating into stuff in our brain that we might … I guess what I’m asking is, people may not even be aware where they are on the threat/safety spectrum, because we just think all of this is so normal. So what do you think? Can you talk a little about the neurobiology of what’s happening? Even if we generally feel pretty good, but we are living in normal life, and maybe how to wake up to that? And then how people should be thinking about how to get on top of this.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:35:04):
Yeah. I think the thing that I really want to emphasize, first and foremost, is there’s two main concepts here that I want to get clear. And one is on … And this is actually something that, I guess I want to bring this up because it’s in my mind and I want to bring it up before I talk about the second topic. So the first thing I want to talk about is concept of power and energy and capacity and allostatic load. So that relationship is really important. The second thing I want to talk about with you is this idea of threat versus safety. And because it actually has a lot to do with our allostatic load and has a lot to do with our capacity. So, basically, I really, truly believe that power and energy dynamics underlies so much of life on a microscopic level, on molecular level, and on a macro level.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:35:54):
So, part of the reason why Elon Musk is the richest man in the world is because he figured out how to get us off of the grid in a lot of ways. To get us off of the oil and gas grid and figure out how to create more of an electric life. He figured out how to create electric cars. That is part of the reason why he’s so wealthy, is because this understanding of, oh my God, what if we use battery power instead of oil? That would actually change the way that society looks. It would change the way the environment looks. And he did it. So I actually think that the war in Ukraine and what’s going on with the resource allocation, basically resources, with these large superpowers. If you actually look at almost every major war, it’s almost always a war on resources. And sometimes it’s a war in the name of God, but it’s almost always in the name of resources.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:36:40):
So one of the fundamental, unfortunate aspects of being a human on earth is that you need to find resources to survive. And so the most original evolutionary adaptation that happened to the creation of mitochondria occurred with bacteria being engulfed by single celled organisms. And they harnessed the bacteria’s capacity to make energy and gather energy. And that actually enabled human evolution. That was one very important facet of evolution. So we’re all here to figure out how to gather energy and then have enough resources to survive. So when we have a lot of resources, we have a lot of functional capacity, we have more energy than we need to do work. And one of the most beautiful things about the body is that we can work, we can actually run on … Let’s say this is something with sugar in it. We can run on the grid or we can run on our own battery power, which is our [inaudible 00:37:36].
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:37:35):
So what’s called flipping the metabolic switch is like, you’re a hybrid vehicle, so you can go from running on the grid to running on your own fuel. But most people have never figured out how to do that because most people are only on the grid. And they’re metabolically inflexible, they cannot gearshift, so they’re basically like a gas guzzling car. So I believe that, basically, if we could crack the code of energy metabolism and metabolic flexibility, this is about as important to the future of humanity as it was figuring out how to create electric cars. So this is why your company is so important. And honestly, I need to probably do more work with you guys because I have an entire program on building metabolic flexibility and understanding how to measure metabolic flexibility. But this is a major problem because most people are metabolically inflexible. Most people have too much ectopic fat storage. Most people cannot gear shift. Most people are just …
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:38:27):
Unfortunately the wheat crisis is actually a bigger reflection of the fact that we have a major crisis of people being on the grid to survive. If you don’t eat constant carbs, then you run out of fuel and you bonk. That’s most people. Most people are actually not able to drop in into fat metabolism, so when they stop eating food, they run out of energy and their brains start turning off. I’ve seen this in athletes, I’ve seen this in the obese. So this is really an important facet of health, that the problem that happens if you run out of fuel, is your brain starts going, ” Oh shit, I don’t have any fuel. What am I going to do?” And you start going into, essentially, survival mode and threat mode and you start freaking out. We need to get people metabolically inflexible so that they can be okay for not eating for three days. That is a natural design of a human body, it’s actually totally fine to fast.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:39:18):
If you need to go without food for a week, you’re good. That’s not normal most for most Americans. Most Americans can’t even go a few hours without eating. So this is an important concept that I think is very related to understanding metabolic health and why your company is so important. So basically, that’s one facet of health that I think is worth talking about. Because most people are actually very much threatened by the way that they’re so, so tapped into the grid and the food supply, that they just can’t survive without it. They don’t grow their own food, they can’t tap into their own fat, they couldn’t go a few days without eating. And in a modern world, we actually need to be very resilient and very metabolically inflexible because there may be times in the near future … There’s going to be a massive famine, potentially, if we don’t figure out the Ukraine soon. They don’t plant winter wheat, a hundred million people might starve.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:40:15):
So this is a big, big discussion around metabolism and macroeconomics. And resources, when we have resources, we feel safe. When we don’t have resources, we run out of energy, we start going into panic mode. The body starts going into, “Oh shit, I’m not going to survive.” So survival mode is one mode and then safety resource is another mode. Now, I think the second thing I mentioned talking about was specifically these two modes. So essentially, trauma, chronic isolation, chronic stress, these things are not really normal for humanity. So we’re we’re pack animals, we are designed to live in groups. We evolved genetics to live in groups that would’ve been protective. Loneliness is a primitive hunger signal designed to get you closer to your tribe. And anyone who tells you it’s all these other things is just missing the big picture of evolutionary biology.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:41:11):
So trauma, yes, of course, in primitive times things were occasionally very traumatizing, but it was a different world, different type of trauma. The kind of trauma we have nowadays is all sorts of screwed up. And then chronic stress, we were really designed to … essentially evolved to be in a state of occasional acute stress. We have this perfectly designed system to manage acute stress and it gets very maladaptive in chronically. So what happens in a situation is that it up regulates vasopressin signaling. And vasopressin signaling is actually a lot stronger, naturally, in men. So men actually do a little bit better than women when it comes to … When men are under a threat, they mobilize and they fight. For the most part. There’s basically three ways that your body really wants to respond to a major threat.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:41:59):
It’s fight, flight, or freeze. And Stephen Porcus has basically studied this and freeze means immobilizing in fear. And then fight means, I’m going to go off and fight. And then flight means, I’m just going to turn and run away. So that’s something that’s important to understand. But essentially, in the short term, these behaviors would’ve bee essentially adaptive. But in chronically, chronically activating these stress signals, and these stress systems, and having trauma that puts your body in a state of hyper vigilance, means that you’re basically stuck in threat mode. So everyone who has … Most of my clients who have had chronic fatigue have had, not only chronic stress, but a major life stressor on top of chronic stress that just broke their body and got them stuck into threat mode. Usually there was an infection involved, intercellular infections are pretty bad, so COVID.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:42:53):
And what happens when you have viral infections that become chronic is, and people who get basically long COVID, is their body already had low functional capacity. And then they faced a major physiological threat, and potentially even psychological threats, typically, on top of that. And their body just didn’t have enough capacity to meet the demands. And so when your capacity and your demands are not matched, then your body will break. So your capacity’s too low, your demands are too high, your body just starts to break down. And that’s the rule I’ve learned in health is, you really want to build as much capacity … And I look at capacity, actually, as a function of cellular capacitance. So the mitochondria are organelles that basically take in substrates, food, air, and water, and they transform it into energy through what’s called the electron transport chain. Which powers a turbine, which is an electrochemical gradient that creates a battery and a capacitor.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:43:51):
So capacitate comes from the differential charge between the and outer membrane of the mitochondria and the inner and outer membrane of the cell. So there’s actually charge differential on membranes. And then, there’s also electrochemical differences, which actually enable a polarity, which enables the cell to be a battery and a capacitor. So your mitochondria are really important to producing energy and storing energy. So when we have dysfunctional mitochondria from a lifestyle that happens to be filled with high fat, high sugar foods, which actually causes metabolic gridlock in the mitochondria, they become dysfunctional. They don’t work normally. They don’t actually handle demands as easily. They can’t even mobilize energy as well as they should. And so, you have to take care of your mitochondria if you want to be a healthy human. And literally blood sugar is the only way that we can see into mitochondrial function right now.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:44:41):
There’s literally no other way that we can actually have any idea what’s going on in the mitochondria, unless we have a blood sugar monitor. And so, I would say that continuous stress monitors are also quite important. People don’t realize this, but mitochondria actually modulate the stress system. They actually have enzymes on the outer membrane that create epinephrine and norepinephrine, and they also help produce cortisol, so they’re very important for stress signaling. And they’re very important for blood sugar production, energy production. And so they’re literally sensing and integrating signals from the environment to literally decide where the energy goes. And decide, what am I going to do? Am I going to actually be … Am I in safety right now? Can I reproduce or am I in threat right now? And do I need to defend myself?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:45:27):
So what happened was, Robert Naviaux, this phenomenal researcher, basically figured out that there was a molecular interpretation of the polyvagal theory. That he figured out on his own. And him and Steven are friends, and basically he’s figured out that the cells under chronic threat can actually develop what’s called the cell danger response. And the cell danger response, if it gets stuck … if your cells get stuck in threat mode, you can’t actually have normal metabolism. Turns out, you can’t actually have healthy metabolism if you are under constant threat. So what gets us out of threat? What gets us out of threat? This is the literal holy grail of chronic disease medicine. If this gets gets figured out in our lifetime, then basically we will be able to reverse almost all chronic diseases. But right now, the biggest question is, is how do we get the body out of threat mode? And inflammation, by the way, I look at inflammation … And people are going to argue with me with this all day long. I have friends that are totally obsessed with inflammation. But I’m going to just try to simplify things for the masses. Inflammation is almost like alarm signals going off in your cells en mass. And when there’s alarm signals going off, it’s like there’s a fire alarm in the house. You can’t also have normal operations of the house if the fire alarm is still on and ringing. There’s a problem. And so inflammation is often an end result of metabolic dysfunction. It’s a cause and a consequence of metabolic dysfunction. And so, we have got to figure out how to build more capacity into younger, healthy humans, so that they don’t end up with chronic disease when they’re in midlife. And the problem is, is that most people wait till midlife to do anything about their health. And that is way too late, typically, because you usually have hypertension, high cholesterol, and all these problems.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:47:17):
And so what I’m really interested in, my personal interest, is what is love, in a neurobiological definition, and how does love make us stronger? How does love help us share resources? How does love help us? What is this bond that’s created between people? Why is that bond protective? And why is it that me being around friends and family that make me feel safe somehow enables my body to naturally drop into normal metabolism. Naturally start to lose weight. Naturally start to relax. What is it? And I think the common pathway here, from this mentor of mine, Sue Carter, she’s like, “Molly, the common pathway is oxytocin.” So oxytocin and vasopressin are brother and sister. Vasopressin is all about war, it’s all about threat, it’s all about danger. It’s all about mobilization of resources in order to defend yourself, it’s all about reactivity, it’s all about fight, flight, freeze. And oxytocin is all about basically rest, recover, recuperate, heal, relax.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:48:25):
And essentially, it is the biomarker of social bonds. It is the biomarker of how we … Basically mother and child. When a mother bears a child, what happens is, a massive amount of oxytocin is released to enable new life to be made. Literally the birth is a product of oxytocin release, because you cannot have birth without oxytocin. It literally enables your body to undergo enormous stress and survive it. And also, it causes the bonding of mother and child. It causes the bonding of parent and child. So it’s baked into how we feel safe. And so, anything that messes up that relationship between parent and child, whether it be dysfunctional attachment patterns, because parents were abusive or neglected their children. What happens is the body gets stuck in threat mode. And I got really interested in this specifically because I was interested in sexual dysfunction in women and why sexual trauma causes sexual dysfunction.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:49:26):
And it turns out that when women experience sexual trauma, what is supposed to be a pleasurable, safe experience of sex is a threatening, dangerous experience that upregulates vasopressin signaling and your body actually goes into a state of … If you’re stuck and you’re being raped, you get this thing called immobilization with fear versus immobilization without fear, which is what you need to actually have a healthy sex life. So I basically figured out why rape and trauma causes sexual dysfunction in women, because it changes the neurological settings of the autonomic nervous system. And it makes sex a dangerous experience. So essentially, this threat and safety paradigm is making a lot of the decisions for you. And it’s a paradigm that you can see in a macro level, with war. It’s a paradigm you can see in a community level with resource sharing and resource allocation.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:50:21):
It’s a paradigm you can actually look at cellular level when you look at mitochondria that are constantly sensing, do I have the resources to meet my demands? If I don’t, oh shit, things are going to break. And I haven’t completely been able to figure this out perfectly, a lot of this has literally come to me in the last week, so it’s a great thing that we are doing this podcast because it’s very fresh. But basically, I’m trying to come up with a common, unified theory of root cause health and disease. Because I think that there’s something to these patterns that match multiple levels of existence. And I hope that made sense to you.
Dr. Casey Means (00:51:00):
It does. It’s amazing. Oh, man, there’s so much I want to drill into there I think that is so important. One thing I thought was interesting that you talked about was that the metaverse is not actually going to solve the problems that we think it’s going to solve.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:51:16):
Dr. Casey Means (00:51:16):
And so, I’d love to hear, if it really comes down to connection and feeling a tribe, on the biologic level, why does something like the metaverse or social media or any of our digital communications not suffice?
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:51:35):
Well, communication technology, electronic parenting, social media, all of these things enhance social isolation. So there is something that happens when you’re in the presence of someone else. And it’s called felt connection. And felt connection is not something that you can just reproduce through a Zoom call. You have to be present with someone to have truly felt connection. And largely because your brain makes electromagnetic fields around it, and your heart makes electromagnetic fields around it, so there is something to be said about literally being in the presence of someone else and having felt connection with their energetic field. I’m not talking about energetic field in the woo sense, I’m talking about it in the EKG and EEG sense. It’s measurable. So I believe that we were designed for proximity, specifically proximity engages the system of the brain that turns off the threat signal if the person that we’re with is safe.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:52:38):
So if they’re someone that we know, and someone that we trust, being with them physically turns off threat signaling. So there was actually this … I mean, I guess I can talk about that later, but if you really look at … I was going to talk about the generalized and safety theory of stress. I used to believe that this theory was … I was like, “Oh man, this theory makes so much sense. The brain is on …” The theory is that the brain is on chronic stress as a baseline signal, unless it’s turned off. But I spoke to Stephen, literally at dinner a few days ago, and he goes, “Actually, that theory is flipped upside down.” So we are supposed to be in community and we are supposed to be around people all the time. So in the absence of human connection, the brain is on the chronic threat.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:53:27):
Okay, that is the answer. That is literally why the pandemic caused a 100,000 extra deaths of despair from addiction, because disconnection, physical, social, physiological disconnection, sends threat signaling to the brain. And interestingly, when we get exposed to human connection, physical connection, and it’s nourishing, it’s safe, it’s trusting. What happens is, is that oxytocin interacts with the reward signaling pathways. And those reward signaling pathways are designed to keep you alive. And the two biggest ways that your brain tries to keep you alive is through food and through humans. And through shelter as well, shelter’s important too. But largely, safety comes from people, from food and from resources, and from shelter from the world around us. So if you look at that paradigm, you’re like, “Oh, if we put a screen in front of …”
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:54:22):
I mean, I actually did this today. I was at lunch with my mom and I found myself having a lull in conversation. And I looked at my phone, I was like, “Man, I got a million emails I can be checking right now. I should be checking my email.” And I go, “No, I’m going to be present. And I’m going to force myself to be present. And I’m going to ask questions about her family and her relationship to her sisters. Her relationship to her mom. And I’m just going to see what’s going on in my environment.” I found there was a turtle, it was digging a hole outside of the restaurant. I was by the beach. And I was like, “I’m going to force myself to not freak out that I’m not doing work right now and I’m just going to be present.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:54:58):
And I just could not believe how hard it was for me to just sit still and not look at my phone. We are so conditioned now to spend so much of our time on our phones, that we actually struggle with truly being present with people. And that is only getting worse with children whose parents don’t really know how to handle the amount of work that they have, put food on the table … And so, electronic parenting is basically becoming the norm. Where, if I don’t know what to do with my child right now in this moment, I’m going to put a screen in front of them. And so these kids are being conditioned to believe that this is just the way life is. Life just isn’t about connecting to my loved one. I am more safe by connecting with a screen than I am connecting with a person.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:55:44):
And that is, unfortunately, never going to truly offer the same kind of safety that human connection will offer. So I was with some parents in Antarctica, that brought their kids with them. And I had a conversation with this mom about her daughters, and two of her daughters were really struggling with returning to school, because they had become adapted to mask wearing and isolation. And so they were very nervous and awkward going back to school because they were like, I don’t know how to interact with my peers. I haven’t done this for two years. I’ve been doing online learning for two years. I’ve been doing online learning for two years. I feel safe in online learning. I feel safe with the mask on. And so, we’ve unfortunately programmed children to not know how to actually have social interaction. So if the metaverse becomes the baseline way people interact, then normal life is going to be really hard for people. It’s going to actually make very little sense to people. They’re not going to know how to be able to socialize properly.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:56:42):
And I believe that without … I mean, I believe that if we do not look at this right now, as a culture, then we are going to be heading into a very, very different world. America will not be a super power, we will actually be in the decline. And it could literally mean just mass amounts of mental health problems completely skyrocketing and worsening. And obesity. I mean, come on, let’s talk about not moving your body all day long. I mean, Ready Player One is an incredible movie and book, but the world people live in is terrifying in that movie. The actual world around them is completely falling apart. It’s polluted, it’s disgusting, and they’re in these horrible apartments. And I don’t want that to be reality. I don’t want that to be the world we live in.
Dr. Casey Means (00:57:31):
I think another part of this conversation that I think is interesting is also around the dopamine and serotonin aspect of it too. You mentioned that, and just for people listening, if we had to generalize those, and feel free to correct me and all, but dopamine being our reward circuitry that you’ve been talking about a lot. And that hit of desire and reward. And then serotonin being more of our contentment and happiness and true sense of calm. And unfortunately, it’s a zero sum game where, if you’re hitting the dopamine constantly, it’s very hard to access and be able to really …
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:58:04]
Dr. Casey Means (00:58:03):
… where if you’re hitting the dopamine constantly, it’s very hard to access and be able to really live in that content and true happiness state. And of course, we’re living in a dopamine nation. Ann Lembke from Stanford wrote this amazing book on this. Fortunately, lots of people are talking about this, you, Andrew Huberman, Rob Lustig wrote Hacking of the American Mind. I think one of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot, you mentioned that in a state of threat, our body’s immediately going to look for pleasure and safety, something to get us out of that bad feeling, which could be, it could be anything that really spikes dopamine, like sugar. It could be drugs, opioids, even caffeine, said sugar, alcohol, all these things that tap it immediately, oh my gosh, I feel good for a second. Everything’s okay. But the irony is that the more you do that, the more it makes it difficult to access that feeling. And so you increase that set point and now you’re in the induction cycle of having to need more and more and more to have that feeling. And so a paradigm I’ve been thinking about a lot recently that what you were talking about got me thinking about more, was this idea that… And also getting into the hybrid car and being on the grid or off the grid, is that deprivation in some ways is actually a pathway to happiness and to freedom.
Dr. Molly Maloof (00:59:20):
Oh my God, so true.
Dr. Casey Means (00:59:20):
Yeah. I’ve been thinking about this so much because deprivation means you’re getting off the neuro biological dopamine wheel and actually investing in your ability to create more serotonin and a sense of safety and to also then open up the ability to connect more deeply with people, because, like you said, at lunch with your mom, you’re not just looking for the hit, and so you’re able to have space to be able to invest.
Dr. Casey Means (00:59:49):
You mentioned about the being on the grid thing, I think this all actually feeds back into the mitochondria too, because if you’re constantly overwhelming your body with sugar, which the huge irony here is that it’s the more energy substrate you put into the body, the more difficult it has making actual energy you can use. So it’s like limiting the exposure and the consumption actually improves the machinery. It doesn’t gum it up and you can produce more energy that you can actually use. So it’s almost like you have to give up something to get something, but in our world, in a brain that gets a dopamine hit from having the consumption, that survival aspect of it, unfortunately, we’re just literally cogs in this horrible vicious cycle wheel. And we have to be aware of that, which is why I love this conversation to consciously let our prefrontal cortex overcome that desire, restrict a little bit so that we actually get the outcome that we want.
Dr. Casey Means (01:00:54):
Every time I have a day where I have very few glucose spikes, and I know I’m restricting my over consumption of that substrate, I’m thinking about how my mitochondria are basically able to burn cleaner forms of energy and therefore give me freedom, essentially. Freedom from the grid, freedom from having to be on the teat of the sugar, because my body is actually learning how to burn a cleaner fuel like fat and to use the battery. And just like if you have a battery and you’re not plugged into the wall, that means you can be mobile. That means you can be flexible. That means you can move. I want to be the battery. I want to be the electric car, but that requires some element of deprivation and it requires-
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:01:41):
You want the ability to move the car out of the garage, because if you’re sitting in a car pouring fuel into a car that’s not moving, it’s going to cause a lot of exhaust and it’s not going to be healthy. You could die.
Dr. Casey Means (01:01:52):
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:01:53):
The car is supposed to be moving and you’re not supposed to be pouring fuel to it every day. You’re supposed to use this well.
Dr. Casey Means (01:01:59):
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:02:01):
But going back to your deprivation thing, super important. Meditation has taught me that we are far more, far more powerful than we have ever given ourselves credit for. And the things that you can do with your mind are absolutely astonishing if you can learn to sit. But the problem is that almost all meditation schools that are… they’re all about deprivation to the point of discomfort. And so they’re not really designed for the Western person. So most people will never actually understand the beauty of deprivation because vipassana is really just, it’s way more designed for an Indian person. Just like, ayurveda is more designed for Indian genetics than it is for American genetics.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:02:43):
I stumbled upon this thing called quepasana and everyone’s going to go try to look up quepasana. I’m sorry to say that it’s a private, members only meditation group of badasses who you have to know this one guy, Jorge, in order to get in. However, I am going to figure out how to scale this someday when I have enough money to pay for millions of people to do quepasana. All right. That is my definite goal. If I do become like a very wealthy human, I will 100% be giving away meditation retreats. Because my guru did this. He became very wealthy, started giving away meditation retreats as his… he started designing them.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:03:18):
And the thing I learned was when you could learn to sit still and be with your thoughts and sit with your body and not move and just be present with whatever comes up, you are different than 99.9% of most people. Because most people just can’t do that. Most people just really cannot sit still and be quiet with their thoughts. And if you can learn to be… If you can learn to sit quietly and not be eating and not be using food to make yourself feel safe and calm, you are also different than 99.9% of most people, because most people are constantly seeking movement, monkey mind thoughts, and food in order to feel safe because they just don’t know how to be present in the moment right now.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:04:04):
And that is actually a huge shame because if you can learn this, you can do all sorts of things with your mind that are incredible. You can actually get high off your own brain neurochemistry by just thinking about how drugs feel. I actually have done this. And I have been able to get my brain into a state of MDMA without having taken MDMA. And honestly, I was so busy on drug development for the last year, trying to work on this combination drug that is a really… It’s a real live love drug. It’s a great love drug. But I was so focused on it that I forgot that, actually, we can do this with our own minds.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:04:38):
Our minds are actually able to transform our biology and transform the way we feel. But most people just haven’t harnessed them, harnessed the power in our heads, because they’re under threat all the time. And their bodies are always in reactivity. Threat and reactivity is never going to be a real state of, unfortunately, growth and transformation. It actually is in a state of just trying to survive, which sucks because, man, if we could do one thing for humanity, it would actually just be getting able to sit still and be calm in the moment without having to react.
Dr. Casey Means (01:05:10):
Yeah. Just get off that dopamine hit treadmill and open up all these other parts of the brain that think thinking of it, yeah, like that zero sum game. You kind of can’t have it all. It does change. It’s like, well, what are you investing in then? And so I have a question. Some of these coping things that we have, like drugs, opioids, alcohol, sugar, for sure sugar.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:05:33):
Yeah. Vegetable oil, believe it or not, vegetable oil we need to talk about eventually.
Dr. Casey Means (01:05:37):
We do, yeah.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:05:38):
It has to do with processed food.
Dr. Casey Means (01:05:41):
Porn, sex addiction-
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:05:43):
Dr. Casey Means (01:05:43):
Things like that, if someone’s dealing with any of these, they feel like they need to reach for these things to have a normal day, sugar, alcohol, porn, caffeine. Do you think that if that is a reality, you need these things to have a normal day, there’s some deeper work that people need to do or examine?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:06:04):
Well, the most important thing that most people need to do is actually take a take time away from normal life and pause. The pregnant pause is 100% more valuable than… sometimes not doing is the most valuable thing you can do for yourself. I got back from Antarctica and I was in a mild panic because I was like, “Holy shit, I need to change the entire strategy of my company. I have literally 10 calls with investors next week. I need to figure out how to communicate with them, what I’m going to do.” And I was completely, I had this total moment of panic. And I was laying in my bed and I was trying to meditate and I just started crying. And I was just like, “Molly, just stop everything you’re doing right now. And just stop, just stop. Because you do not have clarity, and if you don’t have clarity, you should not act.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:06:57):
And so the power of pausing, the power of taking a step back from your life and actually looking at how you’re reacting and almost metacognition of your own existence. You have to have metacognition. Metacognition is actually the real thing you need to build. It’s the ability to see the way that you think and examine yourself and the way that you behave and act from a third person’s perspective. So I kind of did this metacognition of my existence and my life. And I was like, “Wow, I am in a moment of change. And in this moment of change, I need to actually cancel as many calls as possible next week. And I need to create some space for just deep thought.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:07:36):
And I’m so glad that we’re on this podcast today because actually talking to people is actually one of the best ways to clarify how you think. Even though I don’t think everything I’ve said today is perfectly clear, there is some shreds of clarity here that are starting to come together into something that’s bigger than, even way bigger than who I am. It’s bigger. It’s actually… What you’re doing at Levels and what I’m trying to do with the theory of love and connection and being able to bring these to the masses, Casey, I get chills when I think about just how important it is for, actually, people to look at how they’re living and ask themselves, what can I do to actually create an assessment of what’s really going on for me right now?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:08:21):
Not everyone’s going to get a doctor like you or I, but what you can do is ask yourself, okay, right now in this moment, what is going on with my physical health? Am I working out consistently? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I circadian… I mean, I have friends that are super optimized humans and they still do not have normal circadian rhythms. And they literally, regularly stay up until 6:00 AM working. And I’m like, that is a big area for improvement for some people. Have I taken a vacation in the last six months? When’s the last time I actually connected with a family or a friend? When’s the last time I put my feet on the ground outside and just looked at the sunrise and the sunset? Okay. Biologically, have I had my labs checked? Do I know what my biomarkers look like? Am I missing something with my hormones? Is there something going on with my gut health? Am I potentially nutrient deficient? Do I need to get my minerals and my nutrients checked?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:09:14):
Let’s just look at the baseline health situation. Right now is my health stable or not stable? Am I craving dopamine because I’m actually tyrosine deficient? A lot of people don’t even know that they’ve been under so much stress for so long that they actually can start down regulating their own production of norepinephrine and dopamine. And you can actually measure this in homovanillic acid and vanillylmandelic acid. I can’t pronounce this things very well. But you can actually measure these things and you can measure your cortisol. These are decent markers for, am I completely burned out or not? Okay. So ask yourself, am I seeking this dopamine because my body’s actually burned out and deficient in what it needs?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:09:57):
I had a client who I put on about a gram of tyrosine because he was super low in these markers. And I put him on something called Zembrin to balance out the dopamine, because you’re going to make more dopamine if you take tyrosine. And he calls me, and we’ve made a bunch of changes in his health, and he goes, “Molly, I feel amazing.” And I was like, “Well, not only that, but we’ve fixed a bunch of imbalances in your health.” And I’ll see, he went through some changes in his relationships. And honestly just, where does your body need to be back brought into balance? What is it in your biology that needs to be brought back into balance?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:10:34):
Second thing I would actually say is, the psychological frameworks. I’m just going to give you a quick class on how I think about the body. It’s a holistic model, but this is how I assess my clients. Where do you have unresolved trauma, if you have any? Have you actually figured out your core wound? Do you know what happened in your childhood that changed everything for you? What was at that moment in your childhood, that everything shifted? How were your relationships with your parents growing up? Was one of your parents absent? Was one of your parents anxious? Was one of your parents mentally ill? Did one of your parents abuse you? Did one of your parents neglect you? Figuring out your attachment style, figuring out your relationship with your parents and your family and your core wound, that changes your entire worldview of your existence. Very importantly, if you need a therapist, you need to start digging into the narrative of your life.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:11:29):
Narrative therapy, internal family systems, so important and so underutilized and so valuable. I read a textbook called Attachment Dysfunction in Adults Comprehensive Repair. I read almost the whole thing. And I really basically came up with a summary of it, but it was like, “oh my God, I can rewrite the scripts I have around my parents. And I can actually change my relationship to how I believe was a problem of my upbringing, which actually in reality was not that bad.” So dealing with your relationship to your family members, your community, your trauma, that is your psychological task. That is your job. You actually need to figure that out, because that’s going to change the way that you react to all of your relationships. It’s going to change the way you date. It’s going to change the way you raise your own children. And if we don’t, as a generation, learn to deal with these attachments and these dysfunctions, then we’re going to be passing them on inter-generationally to our children and to their children.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:12:28):
Third is your spiritual life. A lot of people are atheist, agnostic, or just don’t believe in God. I don’t care if you believe or God at all, you need a sense of purpose. Work provides a sense of purpose for many people, not all people. A lot of people actually find a deep lack of purpose in their work. One of the most interesting things I learned going to Japan was that, it’s a culture where people find value in excellence and in mastery. Whether they are the cleaner of the toilet in the train station or they are creating beautiful, artisanal crafts or the best ramen in the world, most people in this culture really have… A culture is a culture of mastery. You could have purpose.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:13:14):
There’s a really beautiful talk, really beautiful show on Netflix about this barbecue, this woman who does barbecue in Texas and is also the janitor of a high school. And she has just become a master of her craft. She’s also a janitor. And there’s absolutely no shame in not being a CEO of a large tech company. There’s no shame in not being the president of America. There’s no shame in not being successful in the world based on monetary or societal values.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:13:45):
Most people right now are finding purpose and meaning and value in social credit systems, like likes on Instagram, like numbers of publications, like all these different collaborators on different scientific projects, like how much money they raised for their company, like who they’re dating. And even I fell into all of these surrogate purpose success markers that don’t actually, at the end of the day… what do they really do? They actually are markers of how well you feel connected to your social community. These are markers of, do I feel like people value me in my community? Do I feel connected to my community? Do I feel like I am accepted? Do I have esteem?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:14:27):
Esteem needs are part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but they are not necessarily our purpose in life. Our purpose is to be human and connect and live and exist and enjoy our lives and have meaningful work and meaningful relationships. And a lot of people are struggling because there’s a lot of people out of work, without meaningful work, and there’s a lot of people who don’t have meaningful relationships. But spirituality to me has been this breakthrough in my health in the last three years.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:14:56):
I went through a massive spiritual awakening. Be careful asking the universe for a taste of enlightenment, because it might kick you in the face with a awakening. I had a profound, spiritual awakening that literally transformed my entire life, but led me to meditation, because I didn’t know how to handle all the energy that was flowing through me. I was literally, I can’t handle going outside in San Francisco and seeing the pain and suffering of society and not being able to do anything about it. So I actually had to… It was almost like the moment where the Buddha goes outside of his castle and he sees suffering the world and he’s like, “Shit, I can’t be in a castle. I need to go out and help people.” Then he goes out and lives the aesthetic life.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:15:38):
I actually did this whole thing where I just went and started meditating and started… I basically put all my stuff in storage and basically gave up interest in material things. And I started living in Maui and I started just sitting with myself and sitting with my discomfort and sitting with my shadow and sitting with all the parts of myself I didn’t want to see. And I examined my ego and I kind of had to just sit back and ask myself, where are my priorities? Why am I not being fulfilled by, by all means what the world sees as a successful human? And I had to ask myself, well, what is actually success? And why am I always striving for more? And what’s really missing from my life?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:16:16):
And I was lucky to meet this guru who I asked him, “What is your secret to conscious wealth creation?” And he goes, “Molly, the more people you serve, the more money you make.” And I was like, “Oh.” So it’s service actually. It’s service that’s the secret to happiness. It’s service that’s the secret to success. It’s service. It’s actually dedicating yourself to actually serving other people. And I realized I had been serving myself. I had been living for myself. I’d been living a very selfish life, where I wasn’t helping that many people. And I was in this world where I wasn’t being fulfilled, because I wasn’t actually helping enough people, that I didn’t feel like I was helping enough people.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:16:53):
And actually, from what I’m learning now is even beyond this desire to help a lot of people. It’s this desire to be able to witness people for who they are in the moment and not try to change them. So much of real spiritual growth is letting go. And there’s a phenomenal book that I recommend everyone read called Letting Go by Richard Hawkins, I believe. He was a physician who had a spiritual awakening. It’s the last book he wrote, but probably one of the most important books.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:17:19):
Because I discovered the power of letting go when I read the book and I go, “Cool.” About an hour later, I was like, I’m just going to practice this letting go thing. This happened in November of last year. And I go, I’m going to go visit my mom and dad. And I normally try to change them. And I normally try to tell them they need to do all these different things to be healthier. And I’m just going to give that up completely and just try to love them for who they are right now in this moment, and just not try to change that at all. Just send my mom and dad love and just come and see them and just be like, “I’m just going to love them and not try to change them.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:17:52):
And an hour later after I said that intention, I got a call for my mom, who in the 10 years has never ever once done this. And she goes, Molly, “I’ve got some labs back from my doctor. I’d really like your help reviewing them. And I want your help with optimizing my health.” And this is somebody who has been very resistant to any of my advice I’ve ever given her. And I literally, I almost dropped the phone, because I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” This is not my mom. My mom had never asked me for help before. And it was that moment of holy shit. Is there something truly magical about the process of letting go that can enable me to be a happier, more fulfilled person and have better relationships?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:18:33):
And actually so much of the process of helping patients heal is listening to them and having them tell you about their health, and is being curious and not necessarily trying to change them, but just being like, “I’m going to hear what you have to say, and I’m going to do my best to be present for what your experience is. And I’m going to do my best to find you a solution.” I started doing this with my clients and it’s been transformative. I’ve actually had clients literally heal problems without me doing anything for them, by just listening to them and just being present for them and caring about them and helping them and making them feel supported. And that’s when I started getting interested in the placebo response, because I was like, “Wait, holy shit. How come nobody is studying this? How come this isn’t medicine yet?”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:19:16):
I’m going to leave it with that, because I’m actually just now entering this new space with the company and I’m really getting into the research behind this. But there’s so much more power in healing than we realize. And just being able to really understand where is our problem and how do I really start focusing on that one thing that I need, that’s the biggest lever improving my health. And it may be wearing a glucose monitor. It may be dealing with your family trauma. It may be actually examining your own ego and your orientation around what makes you happy.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:19:48):
And if you can find that thing, that area of your health that is so out of balance, that everything else is being a reaction, then you might… Because some people are actually seeking dopamine because their blood sugar is all over the place. And they’re constantly trying to fix the fact that they’re not sure what’s going on internally with their blood sugar. Some people are trying to get that dopamine because they just feel incomplete because they’ve never really had a secure relationship. Some people are seeking that dopamine because their work is not fulfilling and they’re waking up every day having to pop Adderall because they don’t love what they do.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:20:22):
That is a much more complex answer than I think you probably wanted, but this is the reality of health. Health is not that simple. But if you could break it down into its constituent components and really understand what’s your root cause of your habitual behavior and desire for stimulation and reaction, then you can hack it. And that’s that’s biohacking. I mean, that’s the beauty of health hacking. That’s the beauty of a health optimization is, you are a unique person with unique problems and you can figure them out and get help to figure them out, if you know what it is that you need to figure out. That’s really the secret, is figuring out what is your issue underneath your behavior, and focusing on that versus trying to fix the porn addiction. The porn addiction is not the problem. The porn addiction is actually a problem of you not actually probably connecting with the opposite sex regularly and seeking orgasm. I mean honestly, truth be told, everything I know about men who have mastered their sexuality has been watching men who’ve figured out tantra and daoist sexual practices that have everything to do with deprivation. I was talking to Aubrey Marcus and he was like, “I am so much more attracted to my partner when I don’t have an orgasm because I’m in the constant state of desiring. So I often don’t have an orgasm specifically so I can desire more.” And I was like, “Boom.” My brain blew up. I was like, “Dude, you are a genius. Teach that to the men of the world.” You made a really good point on this idea that maybe what people really need is to just sit with their desire and to let it be, instead of react to it and be present for it and just figure out what’s underneath it and then you can move through it.
Dr. Casey Means (01:22:07):
So amazing. When you were talking about… So two things. One thing I just wanted to reiterate that you said that I loved was this idea that our job, our job is to figure out what our core wound is and address it. Because fundamentally we all just by living, the birth process, childhood, just everything under, living in a world where our brains weren’t ready to fully process it, that creates issues for everyone. And I feel like one of the most beautiful journeys of life can be to examine how that showed up in your world and then realize that so much of our maladaptive behavior and reactivity stems from that, and that it’s totally addressable, but is a job to do. And whether it’s therapy or other modalities, there’s so many, therapy being a great one. I just want to reiterate how powerful that process is.
Dr. Casey Means (01:23:08):
And I think for me personally, one of the things that emerged from that work for me was this idea that you also talked about of controlling other people. And I actually think controlling other people, I think there’s a dopamine hit that comes in that, too. Like you were talking about your parents and I’m in the same boat. I think being the type of physicians we are, I think one of the early stages of that journey is that you want to try and help everyone and be like, “I figured this stuff out and I know how you can be better and da, da, da, da.” And then I don’t know if this has been similar for you, but realizing that the more you push, the more it pushes people away and that sometimes that letting go process, exactly like you said, is actually, it’s just so important because you’re giving… That energy of control is toxic and not good for… Waking up to the fact that all the pushing and all the trying to control has never actually led to the outcomes I am deeply desiring. And that maybe flipping the script actually is better for everyone involved because of the different energy. No one wants to be controlled.
Dr. Casey Means (01:24:11):
And I think that it goes back to the whole safety and threat thing. If we are feeling threat or fear, we want to control things. And so again, going back to root cause stuff. Is it the threat and our fear that we’re not addressing that’s actually leading us to have some of these behaviors towards other people. And that’s one thing… Something I’ve thought about a lot is kind of the biggest fear out there I think for most people is the ultimate fear of mortality. We are going to die. And we in the Western world, we kind of ignore that. We don’t have a lot of curiosity about it. We don’t have good frameworks for what that really means or is. And I really think the healthcare system weaponizes our fear of death to basically get us to do anything they want, like take any pill, do any procedure. Because if you can get people super petrified about mortality, you can get them to do anything.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:25:06):
That is a statement that I have never thought personally, but holy shit, that’s a powerful fucking concept. Because my God, that is just… If you look at the system, God, that is just cruel to people.
Dr. Casey Means (01:25:19):
Oh yeah. I think you were talking about jobs to do, I think another job to do that is also deeply related to optimal health is examining death and overcoming our sense of existential fear about it and having radical acceptance for it. Because once you overcome that fear, you actually overcome a lot of other fears. Because even the relational stuff and tribe is ultimately about survival from death.
Dr. Casey Means (01:25:51):
This has gotten me really interested, of course, in there are so many different schools of thought around mortality, from the stoics to the daoist, to the mystics and Sufi thinkers, there’s so many and people have grappled with this. But going down those roads, learning about different conceptions of it, and then of course the psychedelic movement, which I think can… and it’s not like that’s the only path to a different perspective on death, but in some way it accelerates people, I think, having this sense that they’ve never had in their whole life, that they’re not actually just here for this brief moment, that they’re part of a continual eternal flow and process that is very much a different conception than what we’ve thought about of the binary life and death.
Dr. Casey Means (01:26:39):
And all of that is just to go back and say, there’s something about the chronic disease epidemic, which if we have talked about is in very much rooted, I think, in hyper vigilance and toxic fear and lack of relation and chronic loneliness. And then somewhere in there as well is our ultimate fear of mortality. And it’s like, I don’t actually believe we’re going…
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:27:04]
Dr. Casey Means (01:27:03):
Fear of mortality and I don’t actually believe we’re going to fix some of these monumental health issues, if we don’t actually bring some of everything you’re talking about, and some of this also discussion around existential fears into the conversation. Because if you are scared, you are sick. But it’s just so important. So I just, I mean, I just thought.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:27:23):
I have to say that I’m as much as I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of psychedelics, because I have taken pretty big risks with my own experimentation with psychedelics. I’m very, very lucky I have not had a truly bad trip before. Aside from one time at Burning Man was this guy picked me up and shook me and screamed, “I love you!”, and it was really scary. Besides that happening once and I mean, I was wearing a really hot outfit, so I don’t, I kind of, in some ways he was drunk. Can’t really totally blame him, but he shouldn’t really pick you up and shake you. However, I have definitely experienced what’s called ‘Ego Death’ multiple times now. And I would not recommend people just go off and take 5-MeO-DMT or N,N-DMT, or a heroic dose of mushrooms in order to get over their fear of death.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:28:14):
However, it has helped me personally. It’s very dangerous, about five per five to 10% of people who do large doses of psychedelics actually have PTSD from trauma. Not necessarily PTSD, but they actually have a trauma from the experience being like they were unprepared for it. Part of why I’m building this company is I actually think we might be able to figure out how to screen people for these adverse type of experiences and trips. I actually think that there’s a way to establish an understanding of how to create a perfectly safe environment. Safe mindset, and safe drug experience, so that people can experience Ego Death. But right now we’re in the infancy of this movement. And so a lot of people are doing it haphazardly underground with Shamans and fake therapists with that actually aren’t trained. And so they’re going off trying to conquer their fears of death.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:29:10):
They’re trying to heal their trauma and actually there’s a lot of re-traumatization happening to people. So I just want to give a massive disclaimer that even though psychedelics have helped me overcome my own personal fear of death, they most definitely have caused people to have even bigger fears of all sorts of things. So, that it’s really important to have that disclaimer. But that being said, there will be probably a time in our lifetime where we have, I would say it’s not going to be overnight. But there’s going to be a time in our lifetime where you will probably be able to get medicine for helping you come to terms with your fear of death. And there are companies that are studying End of Life anxiety. Turns out that it’s not a diagnosis because it’s not considered a pathology, but it’s almost a per face. The problem is that so many people experience it. So it really can’t be a disease if everybody has it, they say. Now that being said, I do think that psychedelics are not the answer for everybody. For sure. I’ve seen people on death’s door with cancer and psychedelics did not fix their fear of death. And in fact, they still died very much in fear. However, the key to being able to come to terms with death is to actually learn how to live in a way that enables you to actually… Frankly, just this book called ‘Journey to Ixtlan’ by Carlos Castaneda. And if you can look at death as this thing that’s on your peripheral vision to your left. Always in your peripheral vision, if you can actually look at death like it’s always there. Next to you, waiting for you. You become kind of accustomed to the reality that like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to die and death’s right there. Like it could happen, right there.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:31:04):
And that book was something that I think really changed my perspective of death, because I was like, “Oh, so I don’t have to just occasionally be terrified of death”. But I could actually think about it pretty consistently enough that I’m like, “Oh, this is part of my life.” Now, my ‘now’ problem from that is because I’m not afraid of death anymore. I have this deep sense of impatience because I’m like, “Holy shit! I know exactly how much time I have left.” And I have a deep sense I’m probably going to die in my mid nineties. And sadly, that’s just my reality. I’m pretty much know that I’m probably going to go somewhere my mid to late nineties. And so, because of that, I’m like, “Okay, how many years do I have left and what do I need to accomplish in this period of time?”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:31:47):
I was talking to this guy and he is like, “Wow, your biggest fear is that you’re running out of time and it’s not that you’re afraid of death. You’re fine with dying. You’re just not fine with running out of time in this life.” And it’s that is something that I’m working on myself. Is I’m really trying to work with what is this internal impatience about? And what is it that I’m… Why do I feel like there’s such a limited amount of time? And so, one of the consequences of not fearing death is, you just start getting this deep sense of agency that you know you’re going to die. And so you have to spend your life as much as possible, not asleep.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:32:19):
You want to spend your life awake and you want to do… And as a result, I think it’s funny, because this guy was like, “You know you have the desire to accomplish what six people would accomplish in typically their own individual lives. You know?” And I was like, “Yeah, I know.” It’s not necessarily healthy I think to have this sense of running out of time. But I do think that it’s just another area that I could focus on working on letting go. It’s another area that I can just work on. “Okay. So how do I let go of that urgency? How do I let go of that sense of running out of time? How do I…?” I mean it’s really hard if you’re in the startup world, because you’re like, this is the culture of you’re running out of time.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:33:01):
You’ve got deadlines, you’ve got to move faster. However, I do think that I do think that if you can just let yourself kind of think about life in a more gentle way and like, “Okay, I’m going to die. What if I actually realize that I’m going to die tomorrow, potentially tomorrow or in 10 years, how can I live my life differently? What would I be doing differently?” And so, one of the things that really got me motivated around building a company around relationships and health, specifically that interactions of relationships with health is I realized, that healthy relationships could extend my life potentially 12 years. And that social disconnection was a bigger driver of disease than smoking, drinking, sedentary behavior or obesity. And I was like, “Okay! This is something I could sink my teeth into. This is something that could actually be useful to people.”
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:33:49):
And yeah, I think the key to accepting your death is actually while you’re alive, recognizing that you need to make priorities. You actually need to prioritize certain things like your relationships. You actually need to prioritize the things that are going to bring you real joy. And you do need to wake up.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:34:06):
I mean, I had a DMT trip many, many years ago and I basically resigned from my job a month later because I was like, “I can’t work in this environment because I’m not living. I’m living for other people’s desire for me to become a certain person. And that person that I’m becoming is not who I really want to be.” And so you don’t need drugs to come to that conclusion. You can just sit with yourself and ask yourself, “If I were living my life any differently than I am right now, how would I be living it if I was living a life that would bring me true fulfillment? That would bring me real more joy and more meaning, frankly?” And these are personal questions you have to ask yourself.
Dr. Casey Means (01:34:46):
I love that. I think just two things that you were saying while you were talking, I think one is this having death right next to you as this friend that you are kind of curious about. Not this thing that you just don’t think about. And it’s this scary amorphous thing. One thing I loved in medical school, is learning about just the concept that we’re dying every day. And the idea of final death. We were talking about earlier recycling with the environment, and hundreds of millions of cells dying every day. And we don’t even, because we don’t even really learn about biology very well. We don’t even realize that. We don’t even realize that the body we are today has… The body we had 10 years ago has fully died.
Dr. Casey Means (01:35:28):
Literally, I don’t know for a fact that every atom and every cell is gone, but probably the majority of it is. And we literally eat a metric ton of food per year. And where does that go? Well, it goes with waste and death of cells. And one thing that’s crazy is that, I think people don’t even realize is, that from the moment we’re conceived, we’re actually dying. Our hands in utero were paddles and with no fingers and cell death is what caused our fingers. Our ear canals were plugs and cell death leads to an ear canal. So this is just part of life. We’re part of this continual, it’s just at the end. What we’re really scared of, I think is end of consciousness, but we don’t even really have any understanding of that anyways.
Dr. Casey Means (01:36:14):
Something that’s very comforting to me is meditating on the idea that death is absolutely part of everything I’m doing and living. And the second thing I just wanted to comment on, I just finished a great book called ‘Four Thousand Weeks’, which was really good about our short period of time here. If we’re lucky, we have 4,000 weeks and he was saying, you could have two different realities. You could be a type of person who travels to five, 50 different countries and who’s constantly on the move and doing so much stuff. But if you are not present and you are not actually focused on what you’re doing, then it’s not like you actually had any of those experiences at all. And versus if you have a short life, but you are fully awake and experiencing it, who lived more life?
Dr. Casey Means (01:37:07):
And we all know that feeling of having a full day but you were distracted. There were emails, you were on your phone, you were stressed about something, you were anxious, you were thinking about a breakup, whatever, and you’re not there. So that gets to the main point here, which is that presence. Being present and experiencing the life that you’re living is such an antidote to I think the anxiety. Because we can let weeks go by without fully living and so the waking up concept, I think, is that you sort of talked about, I think is kind of the crux of a lot of this. I think we all know that when we’re truly present, the phone is down, we’re actually connecting, even feeling someone else’s energy.
Dr. Casey Means (01:37:54):
Those are the good days. Those are the days that we did something with our body. We felt our body, we all these things. So yeah, God, I would just love to talk about this with you all day, but I want to end on a much lighter note than death, which is to talk a little bit about… Honestly, to just pick your brain about skin, because we know that the body is one big thing. It’s all connected and skin is the largest organ in our body. And very much related to metabolic help. You have the most beautiful radiant skin of literally anyone I’ve ever met in person. And so I know people will love to hear a little bit about your thoughts on how do we have the healthiest, most vibrant, radiant skin? What are the environmental factors that are potentially hurting this?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:38:46):
Funny you mention that, because I went on this trip and I ate… The food was covered in vegetable oil. And I unfortunately have a very sensitive liver, I think, because if I eat just any excess vegetable oil or sugar, I get breakouts on my back. I started breaking out all over my back and I was so embarrassed on this trip because I was like, “Holy crap. What is happening to me?” My face looked okay. I did get a nice zit last week on my head, but I don’t normally break out that bad anymore because I figured out that a lot of it has to do with my digestion and my food and my insulin sensitivity. And so what happened was, is I went on this trip and I went from eating fairly low carb to eating dessert for two to three meals. Literally having dessert at lunch and dinner and…
Dr. Casey Means (01:39:32):
It’s the cruise ship and they just have it everywhere, yeah!
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:39:34):
There’s a Nutella on this really good gluten free bread. There’s this new kind of Nutella that was made by somebody on ‘Stranger Things’, TBH or something. It’s delicious, it’s got less sugar, but it’s still got all grams of sugar for serving. And I’m eating all of this sugar and there’s all vegetable oil and the vegetables. And I’m like, “My skin is breaking out.” And I’m just telling everyone that “You may see this today, but this was not me a week ago. When I had a zit on my face and I had a break out of my back.” And what happens when you eat the wrong fuel is specifically sugar in particular, is it causes insulin spikes.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:40:11):
And not only that, but there’s a fair amount of dairy on this ship. But I don’t really eat a lot of dairy normally and I hadn’t been eating dairy. So I was eating dairy, which causes insulin IGF-1 signaling. And then I was eating sugar, which was causing, actually I believe sugar may lower abid which increases potentially growth signaling in cells. There’s the few pathways that cause this, but basically insulin signaling is enhanced by sugar consumption. And it also contributes to emptor signaling and growth of cells. There’s actually a lot of increased androgen production when you eat a lot of extra sugar. It causes it to be more resistant. So there’s these two pathways, two or three pathways, insulin and Dectin and mTOR signaling that can happen when you eat too much carbohydrate. And I was eating a lot more sugar than I normally eat. And as a result, my skin started to break out like I was a teenager again. And I was like, “This sucks. I’m so embarrassed.” I didn’t want to go in the sauna because I was like, “People are going to see my back broken out and it was really embarrassing.” But I think it’s important for people to realize that if I was wearing a blood sugar monitor, I could have totally seen all this food and what it was doing to me. And instead I was just kind of doing… You got to have fun on vacation, but you got to understand there’s going to be consequences. Especially for a physical system that’s pretty highly tuned. What basically fixed my skin after years of trouble was lowering my insulin.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:41:37):
And so eating a lower insulin output diet, with less sugar, less refined starch and less dairy was a huge, huge shift in my skin health. First and foremost. When you don’t glycolate your skin as much also you get less wrinkles and you have more autofluorescence so your skin actually does cause… Let’s see there’s this thing called skin autofluorescence and it’s literally the amount of light that’s coming out of your skin. Right? And they use this as a measurement tool for diabetics and I wanted to buy one of these measurement tools once, but it turns out they’re very expensive. So I discovered that if you want to cause less cooking of your skin, because basically your metabolism is slowly cooking you over time. If you want to cook your skin less, you got to eat less kindling and carbs are kindling, okay? So they burn really fast and then they glycolate your cells and they cause all sorts of oxidative stress bursts, which cause stiffness of your arteries and age you faster.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:42:32):
So this is one of the biggest things that I learned wearing a glucose monitor since 2014 was like, “Oh, if I eat lots of sugar, I am going to actually cause my skin to break out. I’m going to have less light coming out of my skin and I’m going to have more wrinkles.” So that’s aging right there for you. You’re basically aging yourself by cooking yourself too hot. So, that’s one thing. Another thing that was happening on the ship that I don’t normally do is I was eating all day long. I was eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and large meals for each of them. And that just is a larger insulin output because you’re just eating more food. So if you want to have better skin, you probably as an adult, as a physical adult. Unless you are an athlete and you are burning thousands and thousands of calories a day, you don’t need, especially if you’re sedentary, you don’t need three big meals a day.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:43:16):
You need probably one big meal and two small meals or one or two regular sized meals or… But you don’t need to be eating as much as you’re eating. Okay? Most people are eating just too much fuel. And so their bodies are always metabolizing. And my skin looks best when I don’t eat large amounts of food. I just look healthier. My skin just glows more. Fitness is a big one for me. I look and feel more energetic when I do exercise. And today I rode my bike to the gym, did a 20 minute weightlifting workout and rode my bike back. And that was about six miles of bike riding and 20 minutes of heavy lifting. And it took me about an hour and a half, but I don’t do that workout every day. But man, do I enjoy those workouts?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:43:58):
And if I had been, I was riding with my mom and so I’m visiting her right now. And if I was riding on my own, I would probably get that down to an hour because I could ride real fast. But if you’re with people, sometimes it slows down. Key is that, tomorrow morning I have to get up and I have to be somewhere by nine fifteen and it’s going to take me about an hour to get there. So I have to get up earlier to go to run. I have to just think about my day tomorrow but exercise, when I started doing more cardio on top of weightlifting and doing both. There’s all these people who are like, “Oh, you don’t need to do any cardio if you’re a weight lifter.” Screw that! You’ll look healthier if you get more oxygen into your skin. You just look better.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:44:33):
You got to oxygenate your skin. Oxygen is life. And then there’s always micronutrients. Okay? So very, very, very, very, very important is you got to get your micronutrients styled and your phytonutrients. Micronutrients and phytonutrients. Minerals are important. Vitamins are important. Phytonutrients are important. So you want to get all your minerals and your micronutrients, but you also want to get your vitamins. You want to get all the colors. So I actually became the spokesperson of this company called Neurohacker. They have a product called ‘Quality of Skin’ and they literally hassled me for many, many months. And they were like, “You have to be our spokesperson.” And I was like, “Look guys, I don’t really need your supplement.” And then I started traveling and I started taking the supplement because I was living in a hotel for a few months in Austin and I wasn’t eating enough vegetables.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:45:21):
And I was like, “All right, I will give you guys a chance. I’ll take your supplement for a month and we’ll see what happens.” So I took their supplement and it has a lot of red pigmented fruits in it. And so it’s got pomegranate and it’s got amla fruit and it’s got all these carotenoids rich fruits. And I saw my skin was getting a rosier glow. I was like, “Okay, you guys. I know what you’re doing here. You made a supplement that it increases carotenoids and carotenoids increases rosiness of your skin. And that’s why I look so much younger.” And so I actually had a few slides in one of my lectures on food for my course at Stanford, on how carotenoids actually make you appear more attractive to the opposite sex. And there’s actually research that they give people more carotenoids. Their skin glows more cause they have a rosier glow.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:46:05):
It’s not rocket science. I don’t necessarily think you have to take a supplement to have great skin. In fact, eating red fruits is a great option. But for me I was traveling. I wasn’t getting enough fruits of vegetables while I was living in a hotel. And so sometimes a supplement can actually be a nice surrogate, but it’s definitely obviously it’s an adaptation to a lifestyle that I’ve chosen to be a nomad. I still eat a lot of raspberries. And today I had acai, strawberries and raspberries. And I also love the supplement ‘Quality of Skin’. The reason why it’s also really useful is there’s a lot of minerals in it from koji. So minerals are really important for skin health too, because they modulate hormone production and collagen. You need enough vitamin C for collagen. So, that’s important.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:46:49):
So other important things about skin is exfoliation. You have to exfoliate your top layer of your skin. And I use mitts on my hands for my whole body. And I use topical… A there’s this company called Disco. They make a good mechanical exfoliator, but there’s mechanical and chemical exfoliators. So vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, are going to use acid to remove the top layer of your skin. But then mechanical helps you actually move, move the actual epidermis off. So moisturization is really important and sunscreen’s really important. So I learned the hard way this summer by not wearing enough sunscreen on my body. And I actually aged my body’s skin pretty significantly. Fortunately I’ve reversed a lot of it through large amounts of vitamin C and lots of exfoliation and lots of moisturization.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:47:41):
But the key is you want it to have a turnover. So turnover enables you to have this nice fresh layer of skin exposed. I mean sunscreen, exfoliators, moisturizers, those are really the things that I focus on. I’m not really currently doing retinol right now. I should probably pick it up again, but I’m just have haven’t. So those are really my biggest secrets I’d say is… I don’t use that many skin products, although companies constantly send me skin products. I don’t really use that many. I use sunscreen, moisturizer, eye cream and exfoliator. That’s usually what I use.
Dr. Casey Means (01:48:20):
Ugh, such good tips. I’m of the camp having had dealt with some really bad skin issues. Really bad jawline acne until my mid twenties. That I think that the food and the lifestyle stuff is probably in my mind, personally, 90 to 95% of the battle.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:48:41):
I would say so.
Dr. Casey Means (01:48:41):
What you’re putting in the body, right? And that the skincare is maybe the 5% I see.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:48:45):
Oh for sure.
Dr. Casey Means (01:48:46):
I would take Botox out of that category because I think that does a lot, but I think that in terms of actual skin quality and acne and things like that. For me in my personal life, it’s been 90, 95%, what’s going in my body and lifestyle.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:49:01):
Don’t underestimate the liver, by the way.
Dr. Casey Means (01:49:03):
So the liver.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:49:03):
Don’t underestimate the liver in the gut because so this is really important for travelers. I travel a lot and it causes a lot of gut dysfunction and I regularly have to deal with SIBO issues because I am traveling and I’m disrupting my circadian rhythms and my food. I’m ready to buy a house and just settle down somewhere. I’m actually finally at a point where it’s been almost three years. Nomadic two and a half years. This last year. Well actually I was nomadic, but I was more stable in 2020. 2021, I was full on traveling. And I ended up getting SIBO twice. And it’s like, “You have to understand the gut skin relationship is not to be overlooked.” And if you have a large liver burden and if you have a weak… My liver tends to be a little bit more sluggish than the average person.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:49:51):
Anytime I get on planes and I’m regularly exposed to jet fuel and I get on an improper diet and I’ve got a bigger toxic burden, I get more jawline. I’ll break out on my back. And it’s hormonal because you need to have a healthy gut to have healthy hormones. And most people don’t understand that relationship between the gut, the liver, the hormones and the skin. And that was really one of the biggest breakthroughs. But it’s hard to do that if you’re traveling a lot because you’re getting exposed to chemicals. You’re getting exposed to a lot of jet fuel. Because people don’t realize this when you, every time you bought a plane, you are breathing in all the fumes that are around that plane. Every time you’re driving a cars in big cities, you’re breathing in all these fumes.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:50:32):
So your toxic burden does play a role as well in your skin health. And so a lot of people I see in cities have this pallor. And never will never forget going to Beijing. In Beijing, all these people will just look sick. And I was like, “Wow, this air quality is so disgusting that people cannot breathe. Your skin can’t breathe.” So watch your skin in different environments and notice how it looks in certain environments from the others. Some people are just going to be better adapted to certain environments and others. And personally I do best when I’m in nature.
Dr. Casey Means (01:51:02):
Yes. I mean, for me it’s been removal of dairy, getting insulin and sugar down and tons of fiber and phytonutrients. So exactly what you said. I mean, I’m so sensitive to the dairy and sugar that for, in terms of acne. That if I have a podcast or a media appearance coming up and I know I’m going to have to be publicly facing, for at least 10 days beforehand, I will make sure that there is no dairy in anything that I eat and make sure that my blood sugar spikes are lower because it’s one to one for me.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:51:36):
Oh I will get a zit. [crosstalk 01:51:37] I will get a zit.
Dr. Casey Means (01:51:38):
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:51:38):
Any sugar? Zits.
Dr. Casey Means (01:51:40):
So anyways, that’s the message for me there. If you’re dealing with skin issues and it’s certainly not just acne it’s of course also inflammatory skin conditions. Getting some of the simple stuff dialed in fiber phytonutrients, low sugar, low insulin. And for some people who are sensitive, dairy. Because dairy does drive like you said, IGF-1 and insulin. Both of which, I mean this mechanism, I just always think of so fascinating literally stimulate the cells of the sebaceous gland, the oil producing gland of the hair follicle to make it bigger and produce more oil. But it is just crazy! So.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:52:19):
It’s all science at the end of the day, if you want good skin…
Dr. Casey Means (01:52:20):
It’s all science!
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:52:20):
If you want good skin you need to put up A-levels, blood sugar monitor on. You need to start seeing these blood sugar spikes. Cause if you don’t see them, you don’t really accept that what you’re eating is causing the problem. I actually need to get more sensors because if I don’t see these spikes, I start falling into, “Oh, I’ll just have a little bit of that in my cream in my coffee. I’ll just do a little bit of that dessert.” And before you know it, you become addicted again. And it was amazing how one week on this boat. And I was full on every meal, sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar. And I broke it but then I had to start taking all these herbal antibiotics. It’s funny because I got a UTI for the first time ever. And I was like, “I’m pretty sure this might have been all the sugar I consumed.” Pretty sure.
Dr. Casey Means (01:53:05):
Yes. I mean, I was just telling you before the episode, I have this upper respiratory thing going on, I’ve muted myself several times during this episode and been coughing and it’s no surprise to me. I actually knew it was coming because last week I was in LA for a week, I was at a bunch of events and things like that. Kind of eating the kitchen sink and I’m like, “I’m going to get sick.” None of this is to say that like, ” Some things just happen.” But I think it’s good to remember that a lot of this is in our control and agency.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:53:36):
I remember that, where we are now versus where we were when we were younger, I got sick all the time. I was a sickly child, right? I did not have good skin. I had all sorts of hormone dysfunction. We are who we are today because we decided that we were going to change our lifestyle based on information and science and that science works. Now the challenge is being in an environment that is not actually… That you are different. You’re going to have to be different than most people. But the benefit of being different than most people is you have more radiance. And this girl, I’m friends with this wonderful human, she emails me and she goes, “I just want you to know I had a dream about you and you were literally fluorescent.” And I was like, “Wow, what a cool dream that like people think that I emit that much light, that I’m a fluorescent human now. That’s awesome.”
Dr. Casey Means (01:54:23):
I had to ask you about your skin. You do really glow. And I think that is just a testament to everything you’re doing and thinking about.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:54:30):
Dr. Casey Means (01:54:30):
And you said in the episode that “Service is the secret to happiness”, and I think that you coming on and spending two hours of your time talking publicly about stuff like this is such an incredible form of service. And you’re sharing what you’ve thought about. You had to spend thousands of hours of your life alone, thinking, ruminating, reflecting, writing, synthesizing, and sharing that is such a service. And so I’m so grateful for this conversation.
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:54:56):
Oh thank you.
Dr. Casey Means (01:54:58):
Okay. Last thing. Where can people find you?
Dr. Molly Maloof (01:55:00):
Oh, find me on Instagram at D.R.M.O.L.L.Y.C.O. @ Dr. molly.co. You can also find me www.Drmolly.co. And then I’m on LinkedIn, Molly Malouf MD, Twitter, Molly Malouf MD. And my website is Adomo Bioscience, A D A M O B I O S C I N C E.com. So find me in all those different places, but Instagram is probably the best place, Instagram or Twitter.
Dr. Casey Means (01:55:25):
PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:55:43]