Episode 342: Longevity, Depression, Monk Fruit, Natural Vanilla, Ketone False Positives, Fatty Liver, Getting Family To Fast, Liver, Heart & Brain Health With Fasting, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Nov 05

Welcome to Episode 342 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Vanessa Spina, author of Keto Essentials: 150 Ketogenic Recipes to Revitalize, Heal, and Shed Weight.

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10 tips to live to be 100: ‘Far more than wishful thinking,' say longevity experts

7 healthy lifestyle changes that could help reduce risk of depression, says study: ‘Enormous benefits’

10 simple tips to help you reach 100, according to experts

Listener Q&A: Rob - Thank You

Intermittent fasting may protect the heart by controlling inflammation 

Improvement in coronary heart disease risk factors during an intermittent fasting/calorie restriction regimen: Relationship to adipokine modulations  

Intermittent Fasting as Possible Treatment for Heart Failure 

Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain Metabolism

Intermittent fasting contributes to aligned circadian rhythms through interactions with the gut microbiome

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Our content does not constitute an attempt to practice medicine and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 342 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat, not what you eat, with no calorie counting, then this show is for you. I'm Melanie Avalon, biohacker, author of What When Wine and creator of the supplement line AvalonX. And I'm here with my cohost, Vanessa Spina, sports nutrition specialist, author of Keto Essentials and creator of the Tone Breath Ketone Analyzer and Tone LUX Red Light Therapy panels. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and ketogenicgirl.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment. To be featured on the show, email us your questions to questions@ifpodcast.com. We would love to hear from you. So, pour yourself a mug of black coffee, a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine if it's that time and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. 

Hi, everybody, and welcome. This is episode number 342 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Vanessa Spina. 

Vanessa Spina: Hello, everyone. 

Melanie Avalon: How are you today, Vanessa? 

Vanessa Spina: I'm doing amazing. How are you? 

Melanie Avalon: I'm good. I have sparkly things to share. It's been a sparkly whirlwind of a week last week. 

Vanessa Spina: I feel you. Yeah, I'm feeling sparkly too. Could you tell us what all the sparkles are about?

Melanie Avalon: All the sparkles-- well, first of all, not that the first thing I check when I wake up is Instagram, but it sort of is Peter Attia, did you see his post today? 

Vanessa Spina: No. 

Melanie Avalon: He posted about how seeing the Taylor Swift concert has ruined all other concerts for him.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, that's amazing. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: I was like, my life is complete. My life is complete, but even more sparkly. So, I know you've seen this, but I don't know why the Fox Health Editor, like the official Fox Health Editor has decided that she thinks I'm an expert in longevity related topics, but she has, and she's so amazing, and so back-to-back last week and it was a really fast turnaround, but basically she asked for a lot of questions about my tips on longevity, and it was crazy because I had so much going on anyways, and then I got that, I had to work on that all day because she wanted it that night. So, we submitted it that night, and then the next day-- that morning at like 04:00 A.M., so essentially the next day, she published this huge article on Fox Health about longevity and heavily featured me. So, the title, if people would like to look it up, is 10 tips to live to be 100 "Far more than wishful thinking," say longevity experts. The far more than wishful thinking is from my quote, which is crazy. And then that quote actually opens up the story. And then she lists these ten different tips, and I think I talk about three of them. I think I'm the source for three of them. I talk about intermittent fasting, which is very exciting for longevity, and then I talk about preventing cardiovascular disease, which I learned mostly from Peter Attia. So, I talked about sort of nonconventional testing, so testing ApoB, which is something that InsideTracker tests, by the way, as well as Lp(a), which I learned about with Dr. Kahn. What's the third thing--? Oh, no, I gave her three things and I think she featured those two. 

But then what's even crazier is so that published and then she was like, "Oh, I'm writing another article tonight if you want to submit for that as well." So right after that, she had these questions about lifestyle health tips for depression. So, I gave her a lot of information, and then that published the next day, and it was called “7 healthy lifestyle changes that could help reduce risk of depression,” says study enormous benefits. And what's really crazy about that is, honestly, half of the article is my quotes which is crazy. And then what was kind of exciting to see was she like-- in one of the sections I talked about-- answers I gave her, I included more about wine and polyphenols and studies on that and depression, but she mostly just included the part about the alcohol and depression. But what's interesting, she sort of pitted me against another expert in the study, which felt like-- it felt exciting. 

And then what also happened which was kind of cool in the in between was the first study, the “10 tips to live to be 100,” the one where, like I said talked about intermittent fasting. So, the intermittent fasting part that I talked about. So, her tip number five was consider intermittent fasting. And she says caloric restriction is the only dietary approach shown in animal studies to extend lifespan, Avalon noted, Ahh that's me. And then she quotes me saying that time-restricted eating, also known as intermittent fasting, may be a formidable alternative especially in humans. The article talks about how there are different types of intermittent fasting. And then she quotes me again and I have a story about this quote, but she quotes me saying these include improved metabolic function, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced levels of inflammation, activation of the AMPK pathway, a chain of cellular proteins that regulates many biological processes, and the stimulation of autophagy, a sort of cellular cleanup process, Avalon said.

Okay, two things about this quote, and I need your opinion, Vanessa. So, one, when she originally published this quote, she actually misquoted me and put in MAPK, which is like a different thing. My publicist reached out to her and had her fix it, but not before the New York Post took the article and turned it into their own article. And in that article, they quoted me quoting to Fox, which was kind of exciting to see, but then they misquoted me. So, then the MAPK was in two major online news publication sources. So, I was having this freak out moment where I was like, people are going to think I'm not intelligent, but thankfully my publicist was able to get in touch with both editors and get it fixed. But what I don't know, because she actually inserted the definition for AMPK, and I think she was defining MAPK, not AMPK, but the weird thing is the definition could still sort of fit AMPK, but I'm not sure. So, hearing that definition activation of the AMPK pathway, a chain of cellular proteins that regulates many biological processes, do you think she was defining AMPK or MAPK with that? 

Vanessa Spina: Can you say it again? 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, a chain of cellular proteins that regulates many biological processes. 

Vanessa Spina: Well, they both kind of are that. I mean, I'm more familiar with AMPK, which is like an enzymatic pathway, so I guess it could be classified as that. But I've heard people talk about MAPK, I just don’t-- and that pathway. I'm looking it up right now, mitogen activated protein kinase. It's also a family of enzymes, so it sounds like you could really define both of them that way. 

Melanie Avalon: Okay, that's what I was thinking. I just think it's funny because I think she was talking about MAPK, because I would put the biological processes with that. If it had been AMPK, I think it would have been more about energy sensing, like you said. So, it's funny. I was talking to my publicist, I was like, can we get her to change the definition? And he was like, do we really need to? And I was like, I guess it's technically true. So that was just like a whirlwind. And it was all back-to-back, and then with the New York Post jumping in there and quoting me, so not only was it really exciting. Three things were really exciting, B I'm just so grateful that this health editor at Fox is just so kind and so nice and writing all of these stories about longevity and biohacking. She's actually the one who wrote the first article that I had in Fox about biohacking specifically. So, in any case, it's really exciting for a few different reasons. One, I'm just so grateful that the editor at Fox Health is writing all these stories about longevity and biohacking, and it's just really really exciting. And she said she wants to continue, including my insights, so I'm just so grateful for that. That's my week. So, how was your week, Vanessa? 

Vanessa Spina: It's been really good. I'm so excited for you. I think that's just super amazing and it's so great when you form a relationship with a journalist because it's such a symbiotic relationship like they help us out, we help them out, and it's just like they're always looking for great content and authors, and sometimes you develop a really good relationship, and you could have a relationship with this journalist for decades. So, it's really amazing to cultivate those and amazing that she put you in so many huge articles back-to-back, and you're now a bona fide longevity expert, so that's amazing. 


Melanie Avalon: I was like, oh--, well, it was kind of funny because talking about impostor syndrome and stuff because she defines me in the articles as certain words, like as a biohacker or an influencer or like all these different words that I'm. She never calls me a podcaster, interestingly enough. But words I was struggling to fully embrace, I think. Well, maybe biohacker works for me. Yeah, it's very exciting. And like you said, yeah, I think the long-term relationship is nice. So, we shall see how it continues. 

Vanessa Spina: That's amazing. 

Melanie Avalon: Thank you. And thank you for the support. It actually what it feels like. I was talking with my acting friend. I was like, this feels like casting directors with acting and then getting the auditions the night before, and then they need it right then, and forming relationships and realizing that you are kind of helping them because they're really trying to fill a role. Oftentimes, casting directors on TV shows that are turning over fast and things like that, they need the people. And so, it's really helpful for them to find actors they know can do the parts really quick. And so, I feel like I'm becoming one of her resources for that, which is very exciting. So, I told her, I was like, I will talk, I will comment on anything and everything, you just said and she-- and I go, like, way overboard. So, she asked for a very simple answer, and I send her pages and pages with cited resources so it's probably helpful. 

Vanessa Spina: Very helpful. Yeah, that's amazing. 

Melanie Avalon: So how is your week going? 

Vanessa Spina: It's been really good. I have a funny story to tell you. 

Melanie Avalon: I forgot about this. I'm so excited. Okay, I'm ready. 

Vanessa Spina: So, Scott from MD Logic, both of our supplement partner, he had been sending me the latest samples of Tone Protein and I was testing them out this week. I tested them out on two different, two or three—three days in total. Like, I had just done them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And this is the final, final, final version. So, I was super excited to try them. And they have a sweetener in it called monk fruit, which a lot of people are probably familiar with, which I like. We had been trying different sweeteners, like with Stevia and Erythritol and like some, we're trying to find sweeteners that are not banned anywhere, like Europe. Monk fruit looks like it's not fully approved here yet, but it's going to be just like allulose. So, Stevia and Erythritol might be in the European version. But anyway, we kind of settled on monk fruit, which is something that I have never had any issues with, always liked it as a sweetener.

So, I tested out the versions and I kind of compartmentalized that as something separate. And I started having what I thought were some really big issues with the Tone Device, which is my breath ketone analyzer, which is getting ready, we're in the final days of preparing the last units and getting ready to do the final inspection, ship everything out, like really in the final days. And I've been so excited about how incredibly sensitive and accurate this new second generation is. As you know, Melanie Avalon, and as probably some listeners by now know. And it started really acting up on me and I started to get very concerned that there was like a huge issue, because it wasn't just one of them, it was both of them. They were giving me these really high numbers in the morning when I knew that I wasn't in ketosis and I could tell from the blood, and you know we talked about the ratios, and so I was like, maybe it's like something weird happening with a pregnancy where my ratios of beta hydroxybutyrate and breath acetone ketones are decoupling because of the pregnancy. I was like, I don't know what it is, but it was really really worrying me. So, then--

Melanie Avalon: Were you like just not testing any ketones? 

Vanessa Spina: So, in the morning, I usually have 0.2, 0.3 blood ketones and the Tone Device is the same. It's like 2 or 3. So, I'm used to seeing the same thing every day, and suddenly it was showing me 26, 27, 29. And I'm like, these are really high numbers, like, equivalent to 2.7, 2.9, or 3 millimolar ketone, right? Like, ten times more, like, deep, deep in ketosis. But the blood was still showing me 0.2, so I was really concerned. So, second morning, it happened again. I asked Luca if he could test Tone Devices, which he loves playing with, you know, it's like a fun toy, like it counts down, you blow into it makes a beep and everything. 

Melanie Avalon: So cute. Oh, my gosh. You're using your child. Oh, my gosh. 

Vanessa Spina: So, Luca tested for me in the morning and he gets a 4 and a 6. And I'm like--

Melanie Avalon: To get paid.

Vanessa Spina: [laughs] No, he's my unpaid intern. So, he gets a 4 and a 6. And I'm like, that lines up because babies and toddlers are going in and out of ketosis all the time and it was the morning time. And he doesn't eat like a high-carb, high-processed diet. So, I was like, okay, that tracks. So, then I asked Pete to test and he gets a 0 and a 1 every time because he doesn't eat low carb. He does intermittent fasting, but he eats donuts at night. He's having mochas with sugar, he's just not eating low carb. There's a whole other story with that and why he can eat high carb and he can do great with it. But anyway--

Melanie Avalon: Oh, teaser. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, 0 and 1, okay, perfect. So, mine are still like through the roof, and I'm just like what is going on? It must be me, because I have two units. They're both testing the same numbers, showing 27, 28, 29, and they're showing consistently accurate results for Luca and for Pete. So, I keep going this way for like three days, and I'm just like, messaging my rep at the factory, and I'm just like, I'm really worried like something bad is happening with the Tones, there's just something is going on at the sensor, I don't know what it is. I'm trying to get to the bottom of it.

So, anyway, I'm like, what have I done differently this week? The only thing was Tone Protein. So, I'm like, "Okay, it must be the monk fruit." So, I start going down these rabbit holes of like monk fruit. I'm like, "Okay, so it's this luo han guo, it's like a Chinese fruit," maybe it's having one of those weird reactions, right? Like We talked about with sometimes like cabbage, it'll have some sugars in it, like raffinose that'll give these crazy high false positives. So, I'm like, it must be the monk fruit. I am writing to Scott, I'm like, "This version is not going to work. We have to go back to the drawing board. No monk fruit, it's totally messing with my Tone Device. And whenever that happens, I get worried because I don't want the sensor to get damaged." So he's like, man, that sucks. 

Melanie Avalon: Wait, the sensor to get damaged, can it be damaged by?

Vanessa Spina: So, there's certain things that like-- that's why I'm always saying test in the fasted state, is if you are like, you say someone is testing after they brush their teeth, the mint or after they use mouthwash, the mint or the alcohol on there can mess with the sensor if it's done repeatedly. So, this was like a few days that I was using it and I'm like, I don't want the sensor to get damaged here, so I was really upset. 

We have to go back to the drawing board on Tone Protein. It's going to be like huge delay. We have to figure out a different sweetener. We can't use monk fruit. And Scott's just like, "Oh man, that's brutal, I can't believe the monk fruit is doing that." And then he goes, "Wait, it's not the monk fruit." And I'm like on the edge of my seat just watching the bubbles of the three dots like what does he think it is? What does he think it is? 

Melanie Avalon: It's such a vibe. 

Vanessa Spina: And I'm like, what is it? what is it? And it's like 11 at night for me, which is really late for me, I'm just like,--

Melanie Avalon: Wait, I'm okay, I'm--

Vanessa Spina: So, he's like, the vanilla, because it's whey protein isolate, like super pure vanilla and monk fruit. The vanilla had alcohol in it. And that's a very common thing, is like when vanilla is processed and sold as like an extract or as an additive, it has alcohol in it. And I remembered like--

Melanie Avalon: The dried vanilla, doesn't it? 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, the one that they're using had-- it's a natural vanilla. They were trying to get the most natural vanilla. So, this natural vanilla had alcohol in it to bind it or something. And I remember so many times being at the store buying vanilla and having to try really hard to find one without alcohol in it because most of them just say vanilla extract. But then when you look at the ingredients, there's alcohol. Sometimes, like, soya sauce has that too, it's very common. It's not a lot, but apparently Scott said there was enough in the one sample that I had to be like a tenth of a glass of wine. And nothing messes with the Tone Device more than alcohol in terms of getting false positives. Because as were talking about, if you are in ketosis and you get pulled over, you can blow like a false positive on a breathalyzer. So, alcohol looks very similar to the ketone to acetone in the breath, which is why you can't use mouthwash because it has alcohol in it. And then anything like really really strong, like mint and toothpaste will also have a similar effect. So, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, you figured it out." Because that's exactly what the readings would be if I had had a tenth of a glass of wine. It would be like showing around 27, 28, 29. So I had mentioned to him that alcohol messes with the device, but he figured out what it was and we’re like, "Oh, my gosh, here we go, it's not the monk fruit, we don't have to start over." And I could-- I was so relieved that the Tone Device is totally fine.

It takes about 36 hours for your body to metabolize alcohol fully. I'm not an expert on alcohol like you are, but I knew that it would take a day and a half, maybe more, and by Saturday afternoon, it was back to totally accurate readings, giving me the exact numbers that I was expecting to get and no more of the 27, 28, 29. So, I was like messaging factory. I was like, "Don't worry, everything's fine." It was just so many things happening that I was like, "Oh, my gosh, we're going to have to go back to the drawing board of the protein, we're going to have to do some major fixes with the Tone Device." And thankfully, it was neither, so I was super relieved and just really happy that Scott figured out it was the alcohol because I never would have thought that there was alcohol in there. 

And then I was like, well, I don't want to be testing these [laughs] samples anymore, they have alcohol. And I also don't want alcohol in Tone Protein. So, it was kind of a great thing that we caught it because I would have been not very happy if we'd gone to the final steps and I had seen alcohol in there. So now Scott's been doing research all week on finding a vanilla that is not artificial, is pure, and I sent him some information on this powdered vanilla bourbon. He's like, it doesn't alcohol? and I'm like no, no, it's just called bourbon vanilla or vanilla bourbon, and it's just pure vanilla from Madagascar. So, I'm trying to get that in it instead. But I'm really glad that there's not going to be any alcohol in it. I'm so relieved. It was not the Tone Devices, it was just the alcohol. And yeah, it was a crazy few days of being super panicked and then very, very, very relieved. 

Melanie Avalon: Wow, that's crazy. I did not know-- I always thought alcohol burned out when it was-- you know it cooks out or when it's dry, I didn't realize it could still be there.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, yeah, I mean I don't know how much they cook it or I don't really know much about the vanilla that we were using in the sample other than the fact that it was natural, but [laughs] yeah, I never would have thought that it had alcohol in it and even though I've seen so many commercial preparations of vanilla that have alcohol. And you know Scott didn't realize that that was important to me either. I'm just trying to make sure that Tone Protein has few ingredients as possible. I'm like, I just want whey protein isolate-- pure whey protein isolate, and basically vanilla and leucine that we're adding the leucine, vanilla and a healthy sweetener, So, yeah, it was a crazy roller coaster moment. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Wow, wow. I'm excited though for you that they figured it out. And that'll be a really big I don't like using the word "selling point." That's a really nice thing to share with listeners about, just the purity of the ingredients and the quality and vanilla is-- There's like a whole vanilla world, like vanilla-- you know people look for really high-quality vanilla. So, when you find the vanilla that you'll be using, that'll be something really important or something great to share about the protein.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, I was like, Scott, this may have been like a stressful few days, but I have a great story to share on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast and on my podcast. It was so funny that happened to really be connected to both of them, but yeah, that's my story, I was really excited to tell you about it. 


Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I can imagine that moment of thinking that you have to start over. 

Vanessa Spina: With both my products that I'm so excited on. 


Melanie Avalon: Oh, my God. Oh, you're right. Ahh wow, wow. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, but thankfully it's all good, so yeah that's how my week's been going with this. That was last week, so this week is amazing and Luca said I love you to me for the first time about an hour ago.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, whoa. 

Vanessa Spina: We were having dinner. 

Melanie Avalon: Wait, it is like moment, hold on. 

Vanessa Spina: I know, I know. We were just sitting there having dinner and he said, mima. And he calls me mima. He calls me mommy sometimes. He said mima and he just gave me this big smile, and I looked at him and I said, I love you, and he said, I love you. Peter and I were both like oh, my gosh, he said I love you. There're just so many firsts like that right now. But he's just the sweetest kid. He's also been doing this thing at night when we put him to bed, he has to give us both forehead kisses, and it feels like a small little bird is like going over and kissing your forehead. He's got like this tiny little mouth you know so he's just like [smacks tongue] he goes back and forth. 

Melanie Avalon: It's like butterfly kisses? 

Vanessa Spina: Yes, butterfly kisses. He goes back and forth between the two of us and we both just look at each other and we're both just, like, melting. Yeah, yeah, it's been-- I'm like, you made my entire day. I was already excited because it was our recording day, which always makes me happy all day, but yeah that put things over the top. 

Melanie Avalon: It's a magical night, you got to write this down. Wait, September. Yes, the same day for us, September 19th, 2023. I got to ask my parents if they remember the first time I said I love you. That's funny because I never-- because I think-- when you think about that romantically like the first time a person says I love you, but I've never thought about it in that context, that's so cute. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. I mean, he's just starting to talk so much, and he's just saying the cutest things and repeating everything. But I've said I love you to him many times and I think he knows what it means. Like, just the way he smiled and looked at me and said it was just like I melted into a puddle. But yeah, feeling really great about life and everything. And I'm so thankful to be here and excited to be here. Excited to answer listener questions too.

Melanie Avalon: Life is so magical. It really is. Even when it's not, it is. 

Vanessa Spina: I was so excited earlier this week about our podcast together. My interview on your podcast hitting really high on the charts. I think it was above 20 on the US charts on nutrition. But it was just fun to see it getting such a great response, and I was really excited about that too, and sharing it with you. Just love doing this podcast with you, doing other episodes with you, and it's all just so awesome and wonderful.

Melanie Avalon: No, I feel the exact same way. I was so excited to air that and then the responses from people have just been so wonderful. It's been really great. And I've been personally-- you actually-- I didn't realize that my social media manager was-- I did realize, but I didn't really realize that he was adding Taylor Swift music to my post. And so, Vanessa I was like, "The Taylor Swift song," and I was like, "the Taylor Swift Song." 


Wait, Vanessa Spina, so now guess what I am doing. I just had an email conversation with like I was like, "Okay, so going forward, I'm going to send over for every post the exact Taylor Swift song I want and the exact lyric, and the exact section because I want it to match up the content." So, now my Instagram will be optimized for-- so when I post this week, the posts about you, I picked out that specific Taylor Swift part, although he kind of didn't do the right part yesterday, so that's okay, though, it kind of came off a little bit how do I say this G-rated.


See because I wanted to do, it was a post about breath ketones and so I wanted to do something from Taylor Swift's song Dress because she makes a lot of breathy sounds in it. So, I had a section picked out that has a lot of breathy sounds and I told him which part to use, but he used the wrong breathy sound part of the song. I think the lyric is like, "I only bought this dress so you could take it off." So that was not like not like what I was going for.


Vanessa Spina: That's amazing. That's so funny. 

Melanie Avalon: But then I brought it back because I was like, well, actually, this post is about burning fat and so maybe that's the vibe. But I'm not saying, “Vanessa, I only bought this dress so you could take it off. “


Vanessa Spina: Oye my stomach hurts. And I laughed too much right now. Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, it's so funny, so funny. I feel like at the end of the day, I'd be like, "Let me just do it, because I just can't, that's just too much."

Melanie Avalon: I know, I know. 

Vanessa Spina: it would just annoy me, but eventually I'm sure he'll get the hang of it. 

Melanie Avalon: Well, because the problem is. So, with Instagram stories, when you pick the song, you flip through the lyrics and you pick the lyrics, so it's easy. But with the post, there're no lyrics that pop up, you just drag the slider, so you have to find the section of the song without seeing any lyrics. So, last night I spent literally probably 20 minutes deciding all of the songs for Farmer Lee Jones and sent him the timestamp and the lyrics, so we'll see how that goes, but I don't know. And I'm sitting there, I'm like, "Melanie Avalon, is this a good use of your time? I'm like, yeah, but then I'm like, yes, it is." So, aww, we'll see how that goes. On that note, shall we answer some listener questions?

Vanessa Spina: Excited to get into these. 

Melanie Avalon: Would you like to read the first one from Rob? 

Vanessa Spina: So, the first question is from Rob and the subject is, “Thank you. Hello ladies, I love the podcast, I want to thank the both of you for spreading the word about intermittent fasting. I have been IF-ing since January and I have lost 25 pounds with a 16 to 20-hour fasting window. I got my father to fast as well. He lost more weight than I have and his health has gotten better of course. I was thinking the other day while listening to your podcast. Your podcast has not only helped many listeners lose weight, but you are literally saving lives. I cannot thank you enough. I will enjoy many more healthy years with my father,” aww, I'm going to cry “with my father because I started listening to you two wonderful ladies, thank you.” 

“Thank you. I do not have a question, but a suggestion for the podcast. I recently found out that I have fatty liver. I think that it would be a great idea if you could go over the impact that intermittent fasting has on organs. Ladies, keep doing what you're doing.” Aww, wow, that was so beautiful. Thank you so much, Rob. Really really such kind and sincere words and I just appreciate that so much. And I feel what you're feeling of getting those years back with your dad like it’s seriously going to make me cry, so thanks for sharing all that. 

Melanie Avalon: I know I was sitting there just like taking that in. I mean, we read all of these wonderful messages and I have social media interactions, but I think we forget that these are like real people, maybe I do. I don't want to speak for you. I'm just visualizing that this is real people listening, making these lifestyle changes and experiencing the benefits and it's just so incredible and wonderful. 

Vanessa Spina: I think it's hard sometimes because our audience are kind of like faceless, like except, for like you said, when we interact on Instagram, and it's why I love interacting on Instagram and Facebook because people have photos, you can actually put a face to the listeners, to the community because it's hard to visualize sometimes who's out there listening, like you know-- you see the numbers, but you don't necessarily have a visual idea of what that is so, yeah. I totally get it and when people personalize it, I always say, if you just tell me what you're doing when you're listening, when you tag me in a post you're like take a story of you, out for a walk or a hike or wherever you are, It just fills my heart so much to see where people are, what they're doing, they're driving in the car, or I'll just get a photo of the dashboard with the podcast playing, and I'm like, that's amazing like you're listening while you're driving to work or whatever. Yeah, it's amazing, but to hear your personal story and I applaud you, Rob, for getting your dad into intermittent fasting, and you're the one who's really helping him, so that's amazing. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, no, it's so exciting when the family jumps on board as well. Yeah, none of my family has jumped on board, I don't think. Nope, just me, just me. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. I've had some people definitely interested and have tried things here and there, but I have part of our extended family on Pete's side that was already into paleo and all the stuff, so that was kind of cool. But I feel like you can't really get people into it, and it's hard to when they're your family, because they're just like-- they're always going to be like little Melanie or little Vanessa or whatever. You're never going to come across as like an authority to them. But I think it's when you do what Rob's doing, you go out and do it, you lose 25 pounds, feeling great, getting these great results, and then your family or your friends come and go like, "Hey, what are you doing? I'd love to do that too." That's the best scenario as opposed to being like, "I did this, I love it, now I'm going to make everyone in my family and friends do it because they won't, they will not." 

Melanie Avalon: No. Yeah, actually to comment on that. And that's how I ended my Newsweek piece that came out where I shared my story about my diet history and coming to fasting and biohacking and all the things. The way I ended that story and this is why I genuinely, truly believe, I don't have any goal to change anybody, I just want to experience things for myself and then share. And because it has such a profound effect on me, like with intermittent fasting, share it with others, I don't want to force it upon anybody. So, I actually have that-- I think that's a really good, so like with my family, I never try to convert them or anything because I think especially a lot of people can fall into profound dietary changes. It will have such an effect on their life and so they just want to tell everybody and they want everybody to do it, but I think people only listen if they're ready, so I just wait until people come to me asking questions, and then I provide my answer, but that I'm aware of-- I really don't I don't really ever walk up and try to tell somebody to change what they're doing.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. It's not effective. I really believe you have to inspire people and they have to feel like it's their idea. And anytime you deliberately try to influence someone as opposed to inspiring them, it just doesn't work like people just-- My favorite thing is nobody likes unsolicited advice, nobody. No, you know It's just a losing game to play, whereas if you just do what you're doing and people are inspired by you then it's so much more effective. 

Melanie Avalon: It's so true. And actually, that happened with my, I'm thinking, my mom has probably before-- my mom will come and ask me health-related questions, she will for sure. My sister will occasionally; brother, nope, dad, nope, and then sister-in-law, she actually reached out for preparing for her wedding and was curious my thoughts on different diets and things. So, Rob. 

Vanessa Spina: Way to go, Rob. 

Melanie Avalon: I know. Thank you for that and very happy for you and your dad. Yeah, that's absolutely incredible. And this was a great suggestion and I went down the rabbit hole-- Okay, well, first of all when he says he would love to hear about the impact that IF has on organs. I had never really contemplated the definition of organs. Almost everything in your body is an organ besides the water. But even your eye-- like within your eye there're different organs, so I was like, "Oh, this is basically your whole body." Because especially people will even make the argument that your skin is an organ. So, I decided to focus on, I think the main things people think of. And since Rob was talking about fatty liver, so I focused on the liver and the heart and the brain with a bonus of the pancreas. 

So, what's interesting about all of this is-- So I individually researched each of these three organs, there was so much overlap in that intermittent fasting would create these conditions that would benefit each of these things. For example, like the anti-inflammatory effect was huge for a lot of them, actually all of them. And it is sort of like, I would say third party, but it's three things, so fourth party factor that really seemed to influence a lot of this was actually the gut, like the effect that intermittent fasting would have on the gut microbiome and then how that would affect the liver or how that would affect the brain. But to go through them one by one. 

So, the heart, and I thought this was really important, especially like I was talking about with that Fox article about longevity, which by the way, we will put links to those articles in the show notes. When she asked me for my tips for longevity, it was so hard because I was like there're so many things, what should I talk about? And the first thing that really obviously came to mind was intermittent fasting, which is why I talked to her about that. And then the second thing, like I mentioned earlier, was cardiovascular health, because ischemic heart disease is the number one cause of mortality. The more I read specifically Peter Attia's book Outlive, the more and more I learned about just the importance of trying to prevent cardiovascular disease risk and-- By the way, Vanessa, do you have thoughts? He is so pro statin use. Even last night, the podcast I was listening to, he was saying that to paraphrase something about how if you want to avoid cardiovascular disease, you're really going to have to be on pharmaceuticals like a statin. Even if you-- even if you like, that's like almost a direct quote from him. 

Vanessa Spina: I couldn't agree less. I mean, after studying physiology and biochemistry and seeing how many drugs like statins and proton-pump inhibitors are interfering with the body's physiology, it's similar to me, the reasoning behind cutting out your gallbladder or cutting out your appendix unless it's exploded or exploding. Cutting out vital organs that are there for good reason, I just don't understand, and statins really mess with hormones. Proton-pump inhibitors have so many downstream negative side effects because you're messing with basic physiology. And I say that with no qualifications whatsoever as a medical professional, I am nothing of the sort, but it's just my personal opinion. I know there're probably some situations where pharmaceutical drugs can be helpful and needed, but I'm really surprised that he has that opinion.

Melanie Avalon: I don't know. I am really interested in PCSK9 inhibitors, which are the newer therapeutic pharmaceutical target for cardiovascular disease. I think his argument is, I don't want to get this wrong, but basically it's that if genetically your liver is in a situation where it just creates more cholesterol or-- I was listening to another episode and there's like three different things that can happen with LDL receptors in the liver that can create problematic lipid levels, leading to potentially cardiovascular disease, and a lot of it is genetic, and so there's not much diet modification that you can do to affect it. Like, you can affect it a little bit, but it's hard to go all the way, I guess. And so, I guess his argument is that that's just something that you would have to do if you want to completely abolish cardiovascular disease risk. 

What's interesting then, though, as well, especially after interviewing Dr. Kahn and learning all about Lp(a), which I also talk about in that Fox article, if you have, from what I read in that book, the latest on Lp(a) is if you have that genetic tendency, diet and lifestyle don't really-- Oh, wait, so diet and lifestyle barely affect it and statins may not affect it either. So, yeah, I don't know, that's a whole rabbit hole.

Back to intermittent fasting's effects on the heart. So, there are quite a few studies on the potential beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on cardiovascular disease risk. And oh, so I mentioned earlier that there's a common factor affecting all of these things, obesity. So, the metabolic state of obesity is highly correlated to different other diseases in the body. So visceral adipose tissue, which is the really detrimental type of body fat. So, we have different types of body fat; subcutaneous fat is the type of fat that you can see and pinch under your skin, and it's relatively benign compared to visceral adipose tissue, which is around your organs, and it's actually inflammatory.

And so, it releases inflammatory adipokines, basically inflammatory signals that can have a negative effect. And it's probably that inflammatory state created by that fat tissue, which is encouraging these other disease processes. So, anything that is going to reduce visceral adipose tissue specifically will likely beneficial for not only disease states, but our organs in general. And intermittent fasting has been shown to specifically benefit visceral adipose tissue. And then by benefit it, I mean reduce it. And then on top of that, super interesting, there are studies on how intermittent fasting can promote the browning of white adipose tissue. So basically, turning white adipose tissue, which is the storage inflammatory form, into brown adipose tissue, which is metabolically active and actually burns calories, and that can potentially have a beneficial effect on the heart as well as the liver, which is super cool. 

And then studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have favorable effects on lipid panels, so those cholesterol panels, although I will add the caveat that they can be complicated to interpret, which I also talk about in the Fox article. And then I also found some more specific things related to the heart-- Oh, actually, before that, the heart actually can be fueled pretty well on ketones as well, so that is a benefit there. And so, I found one study, and it talked about intermittent fasting protecting the heart by controlling inflammation and they actually found that intermittent fasting raised levels in a trial of 67 people called Galectin-3. So, it actually can help reduce inflammation. It's been linked to-- levels of it have been linked to heart failure, high levels are protective basically against heart failure, so that is very cool. And then another study by the same author. So that author was Dr. Benjamin Horne. They had a paper published in 2020 as well as a paper in 2017, and they found that intermittent fasting could beneficial for the heart and lower the risk of developing heart failure. 

So, long story short, lots of potentially beneficial effects on the heart including specifically the heart organ itself with the ketones and the anti-inflammatory markers, as well as the cholesterol lipid situation of the body, which would be affecting the potential for cardiovascular disease, so that's the heart. 

So, the liver, which is what Rob asked about. I find it so interesting, the history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Vanessa are you familiar with it? How basically it like wasn't a thing and so doctors would think that-- well, it was a thing, but it wasn't a realized thing, so doctors for a while, a lot of doctors would think that patients were just lying about not drinking. 

Vanessa Spina: No, I didn't know that was a thing. That's absolutely hilarious. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh okay, so I'm glad-- not that I'm glad that you didn't know that. 

Vanessa Spina: Story time. 


Melanie Avalon: I know. Not that I'm glad you didn't know that. But when I was saying it, I was like, I feel like everybody knows this. Not to say that it's bad that you didn't know. It just I'm glad you didn't know it. Okay, so because basically, the primary cause of liver failure and psoriasis historically was always alcoholic liver disease. And patients started coming in with markers of psoriasis, but they would say they weren't drinking. And so, I know this is a thing because I've just read this so many different places and Peter talks about it in his book seeing it, that the doctors would just think the patients were lying like, clearly they are drinking because they have psoriasis. But what it ended up being was nonalcoholic fatty liver disease which is why that word is defined in the negative, because they're saying, "Oh, it's not alcoholic fatty liver disease. It's just fatty liver disease, not from alcohol." And it's from fatty liver from our diet today honestly.

And nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is actually the primary cause leading to liver failure and the need for a liver transplant. So, it's a huge issue. And a sad thing about it is that it's relatively silent. You wouldn't know-- You know compared to things like brain issues like we'll talk about with memory loss and dementia and cognition or even like blood sugar issues with cravings and things like that, like fatty liver you're not going to know if you have a fatty liver unless you really check for it. So, the best way really to address nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is to lose weight and clear that liver of fat. And so intermittent fasting can be a great path to that to help reduce the fat levels in the liver. 

And so, there're a lot of different ways. I found an article called The Role of Intermittent Fasting in the Management of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, a Narrative Review. They listed quite a few ways, potential mechanisms for how intermittent fasting can benefit those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. So, some things I already mentioned was the visceral adipose tissue. So that's associated with developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and intermittent fasting can help reduce that. They found that specifically having a hormonal profile with low leptin and high adiponectin is protective against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And so, there are some studies in intermittent fasting showing that exact profile of low leptin and high adiponectin. That said, some of the studies show just low leptin without the adiponectin effect. So, it might be a little bit nuanced, but there could be something hormonal going on there.

So going back to the gut, like I mentioned earlier, so gut dysbiosis can actually affect how we process choline as well as how we release bile and those effects can have a potentially negative effect leading to or encouraging nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and intermittent fasting can help address that. And in one study, true story, they had mice with gut dysbiosis, it was studying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and they found that the mice that could not-- this is so fascinating. So, in addition to the visceral adipose tissue affecting nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the aforementioned white adipose tissue turning to brown fat, so white fat turning to brown fat can potentially be protective against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

They found in a study that they had mice with gut dysbiosis. They had some mice that were resistant to intermittent fasting. So, the ones that could not do intermittent fasting, their white adipose tissue would not turn into brown fat. This is still fascinating, this is multilayered. So, their white adipose tissue would not turn into brown fat when they could not do intermittent fasting until they did a fecal transplant and then they could. So, that's kind of crazy. So, there's probably a lot going on with both fasting, the gut microbiome, white adipose tissue, brown adipose tissue, and fatty liver. And then just as a little bow on everything. Some studies have found that alternate-day fasting reduces liver enzymes, which are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. So, lot of potential benefits for the liver.

And then the brain. Oh, my goodness, how am I just at the brain? Okay, so fascinating, fun fact about the brain, it represents 2% of our body weight, but accounts for 25% of our resting metabolic rate, which is kind of crazy to think about because we think about all the time, like, "I want to burn more calories," and we really just think about that as, like physical activity, but a quarter of your resting metabolic rate is likely your brain. So, I find that really interesting. So, our brain neurons, they actually have all of the enzymes that aren't required to use ketones to produce energy. So, our brain does require glucose. Our brain cannot only work on ketones. It cannot only work on fatty acids, but it can when glucose is down, it can use ketones as an alternative substrate.

And also, something that's really interesting is, even though the brain accounts for 25%, like I said of our resting metabolic rate, it's really interesting in that it doesn't store any of its own energy. So, like our muscles for example, they store with inside of them energy for that movement. So when you're doing a bicep curl or a tricep curl, your muscle, it's got its energy within the muscle to fuel that movement, which is actually why people think that you have to completely deplete glycogen levels throughout your whole body to enter ketosis, no that's not accurate. You just have to deplete your liver glycogen. Your muscles still have glycogen within them.

The brain does not store any energy, so it's got to rely on what it gets from the blood stream which is partly being determined by your liver, which is why it is important to keep your liver in tip-top shape, so when glucose is down, it can switch to ketones and fuel pretty well on them. So, ketones and BHB specifically, in addition to being a great fuel for the brain, they also have a signaling effect on the brain and they can produce something known as BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and that is a super important nerve growth factor family in the brain, and so its involved in helping the neurons survive and synopsis functioning and hippocampus neurogenesis, so creating new brain cells there. It's involved in learning, it's involved in memory, it's really really important basically. So, fasting has been shown to up regulate BDNF levels which is great for the brain, we definitely want to encourage that.

Fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation which has beneficial effect on the brain. It has been shown to increase something called PGC-1 alpha which regulates mitochondrial biogenesis, so what that means is that it is in charge creating new mitochondria or I don’t know if it creates it, but it’s in charge of regulating the process of new mitochondria in our brain cells which are basically the energy creating part of the cells, so intermittent fasting encourages that. It encourages something called SIRT3. You guys might have heard me talk about sirtuins and how they relate to longevity, especially if you have listened to any of my episodes with David Sinclair. SIRT3 specifically is neuroprotective. Fasting has been shown to upregulate that. Fasting has been shown as we talk a lot about autophagy on this show, which is the breakdown of problematic proteins in the body and it really helps counteract these damaged and misfolded proteins and that's something that's highly associated with neurodegenerative disease. Although again, huge caveat that there're a lot of debates in that world about cause and-effect, causation, correlation. 

Regardless, fasting-- the autophagy process in fasting, quoting from a study, "Can potentially exert a protective role in neurodegenerative diseases." I will note though that study then went on to talk about how fasted mice-- basically they had an increase of autophagy in their neurons, in their brain cells, but it was not enough to degrade the beta amyloid, which actually increased from fasting due to the enhanced uptake from the, "extracellular space." I read that, literally-- I read that over and over and I was like, I think that's a big deal because it didn't really comment on it beyond that. So, then I went and asked ChatGPT to break it down for me. Not that I really trust ChatGPT very much anymore, but I wouldn't be scared though by that idea, because in general, that study and everything I've read has talked about how the autophagy process tends to beneficial and something that we want. 

Okay, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase GABA, which is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in our brains. So, it's involved in processing information and our excitability factor and also neuroplasticity. So, the ability for our brain to change beneficially and grow and learn, and create new things, it's also involved in learning and memory. And so fasting has been shown to upregulate that. And then to bring it all full circle about at the beginning how I was saying that there are these common effects and everything. So, the effects on the gut microbiome can actually potentially, probably affect the brain, so intermittent fasting has an effect there, as well as-- this is interesting, so more than 80% of patients with Alzheimer's actually have type 2 diabetes or altered fasting blood glucose levels. So, there's probably a huge connection between metabolic health and neurodegenerative disease. Fasting, as we've talked about so much, can have a really really beneficial effect on blood glucose levels. 

And then there've been myriad of studies looking at IF and cognition and a lot of them find increases in cognition, benefits on memory. I have quite a few here, so I'll put a link to them in the show notes. And then just to wrap it all up with a bow-- So, when we think of circadian rhythms, we think of sleep, like, that's what most people think of. But actually, we have peripheral circadian rhythms, so every single organ-- I don't know if every single organ, I should probably fact check that they might. A lot of organs in our body have inherent circadian rhythms within themselves and when those get messed up and not in line with our environment, they can encourage disease processes. That was actually one of the very first things I read when I sat down to research this was how circadian dis-alignment related to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and how intermittent fasting might benefit that circadian rhythm and benefit nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that way.

But in any case, to tie it all together, intermittent fasting can help with the rhythms-- the circadian rhythms within our organs and help align them so that they will be lined up, essentially, which is really important to ward off disease processes. Ahh, that is all I have to say about that and that's just three organs. Oh, then I was going to say the pancreas. My bonus point for the pancreas was that we know that people hit type 2 diabetes. They get basically-- the pancreas gets worn out from overproducing insulin and so the effects of intermittent fasting to reduce blood sugar levels, reduce insulin levels, I think understandably, can have a profound effect on the pancreas, the health of the pancreas. Now I'm done. Thoughts? 

Vanessa Spina: Wow. I'm like absolutely speechless. That was the most comprehensive overview. I think that was a lot more than Rob was bargaining for. What is his question? Because he was just noting that maybe you should look into it or maybe we should look into it. But boy, did you look into it, because that was absolutely incredible. Thank you for sharing all of that. I learned so much. It was so amazing. I think for me, you went through almost every organ, especially the most important ones. With fatty liver, I first got really interested in fasting and fatty liver by Dr. Jason Fung. He had these amazing blogs, I'm sure they're still up there, and articles where he would talk about how you can reverse fatty liver and basically metabolic disease, metabolic syndrome with fasting. And he just explains it so well, but it completely makes sense. I think it's helpful sometimes to hear it from a physician's perspective, especially like a nephrologist or kidney specialist who has so much knowledge and expertise on those organs, so I would definitely point you there if you want to read up more about fasting and fatty liver because he just covers it so so well. But I don't think you're going to need anything else after the way that Melanie just answered that question. So, yeah, that was absolutely amazing. 

Melanie Avalon: No, thank you. And thank you for pointing that out. We should do a deep dive on the kidneys. I feel like they're so underappreciated. And I find it really interesting that a lot of the doctors that I really really respect are nephrologists like Dr. Fung, Rick Johnson. And I just feel like people don't talk about the kidneys that much. But those doctors, they learn so much about-- I feel like they realize things, like Dr. Fung and Rick. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. And it's just always so refreshing to hear traditionally or conventionally trained MD's talk about these alternatives that we're super into, like time restricted eating, intermittent fasting. Of course, there's so much research supporting it as well now, but not every single doctor is open to it, to these kinds of things, so it's always refreshing when someone as brilliant as Dr. Rick Johnson or Dr. Jason Fung. They explain it so well and they're both so good at explaining things and making them easy to grasp. So, yeah, some more great resources there. Because sometimes, especially family members, need to see things written by a doctor to fully-- Also, because they explain things so well, but that's just another resource there.

But I agree with you. I mean, the whole body-- it really comes down to the whole body because I think of our body as trillions of cells and then those cells making up different tissues, and those tissues are organs, and that's what we're made of. So, it's interesting how it can affect organs individually, especially organs that are not at homeostasis. But the body has this incredible program which is homeostasis and oftentimes not in every situation of course, there's definitely genetic conditions, as you mentioned earlier, and disease conditions, pathologies. There're definitely situations where you need pharmaceuticals, medical intervention, conventional medical care, especially with acute injuries and pain. I'm so thankful that we have the medical care that we do.

But there're also situations where if the disease is or the pathological state like nonalcoholic fatty liver is caused by lifestyle, that a lifestyle approach can help reverse it and can help just restore homeostasis just by us getting out of the body's way and fasting. To me, there's no better way of doing that than with fasting. You're literally just getting out of your body's way and letting it heal and go back to homeostasis, which is its prime directive and we often take it off course with different approaches, so I think fasting is such a powerful restorative tool and intermittent fasting especially. So, thank you for that comprehensive overview. 

Melanie Avalon: No, thank you. Thank you for listening. It was very long and that's just like the--

Vanessa Spina: Tip of the iceberg. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, there's so much that's just like what I found briefly. So, yeah, thank you for the question, Rob, and this has been absolutely wonderful. So, a few things for listeners before we go. If you would like to submit your own questions for the show, you can directly email question@ifpodcast.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. And the show notes will be at ifpodcast.com/episode342. They will have a full transcript as well as links to everything that we talked about, so definitely check that out. And then you can follow us on Instagram, we are @ifpodcast. I am @melanieavalon, Vanessa is @ketogenicgirl.

And oh, I did launch an Instagram account for my AvalonX supplement line and I'm going to do fun giveaways and things like that on there. I actually like-- by the time this airs, it'll be way long gone, but I actually right now have a giveaway on it. MD Logic is releasing a vitamin D capsule supplement and so I'm doing a promotion, giving away 10 bottles of that before it launches. So that was on the Instagram, so hopefully you're following that. And so that handle is @avalonxsupplements because AvalonX was taken. So, yes, I think that's all the things. Anything from you, Vanessa before we go? 

Vanessa Spina: I think that's everything. I'm excited for the next episode and more wonderful questions from listeners. 

Melanie Avalon: Same. Although one last question. We talked all about your protein. How can people get on the email list or get the protein depending on when this airs? 

Vanessa Spina: Yes. Thank you. So, for Tone Protein, you just go toneprotein.com. And for the Tone Device, you can go to tonedevice.com. So, both of those are pretty easy, self-explanatory, but you can sign up to get the exclusive launch discounts on both Tone Protein and the Tone Device. 

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, we will put all of that in the show notes. And this has been absolutely magical and I will talk to you next week. 

Vanessa Spina: Sounds great. Talk to you next week. 

Melanie Avalon: Bye 

Vanessa Spina: bBye. 

Melanie Avalon: Thank you so much for listening to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember everything we discussed on this show does not constitute medical advice and no patient-doctor relationship is formed. If you enjoyed the show, please consider writing a review on iTunes. We couldn't do this without our amazing team. Administration by Sharon Merriman, editing by podcast doctors, show notes and artwork by Brianna Joyner, transcripts by SpeechDocs and original theme composed by Leland Cox and recomposed by Steve Saunders. See you next week. 

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