Episode 293: Holiday Feasting, Liquid Chlorophyll, Iron Supplementation, Anti-Inflammatory Foods, Sauna, Signs of Ketosis, And More!
Welcome to Episode 293 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 Cynthia Thurlow, author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging.
Today's episode of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast is brought to you by:
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18:50 - FEALS: Go To feals.com/ifpodcast To Become A Member And Get 50% Off Your First Order, With Free Shipping!
21:30 - Listener Q&A: Kasi - Liquid Chlorophyll during fast // Window Flexibility // Anti-Inflammatory Foods
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46:55 - Listener Q&A: Bruce - Thanks for all you do
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57:30 - Listener Q&A: Justine - signs of ketosis
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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 health care provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.
Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 293 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 and author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. And I'm here with my cohost, Cynthia Thurlow, Nurse Practitioner and author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: A 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and cynthiathurlow.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. 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.
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Hi everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 293 of the Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia Thurlow: Hey, Melanie, how are you?
Melanie Avalon: I'm good, I just checked when this is going to air. I wish I could ask you, how was your Thanksgiving but it has not happened as of right now. But I am super curious since this is the Intermittent Fasting Podcast. How do you tackle Thanksgiving with fasting?
Cynthia Thurlow: This year is a good example of--it's just the four of us, which I'm super excited about because it's really only the second holiday we've spent in our new home. I don't alter a whole lot to be honest with you, we eat earlier in the day, we usually eat by 3 or 4 o'clock. My teenagers will go back for seconds a few hours later, but I'm generally not hungry. I may have like a light meal to break my fast and then really lean into protein and veggies and that's one of the few times in the year I will enjoy pie like I make a really good apple pie. And there's something about even gluten-free crust that I love which is why I don't normally eat pie, but I will allow myself to enjoy and savor every single bite.
I think that I don't treat Thanksgiving any differently than really any other day because I don't alter the way I eat too much. And it's not to say that I can't, I just don't feel good when I eat certain types of foods. So, my kids get a lot of the starchy stuff like stuffing and potatoes and I'm the one that leans into like Brussel sprouts and other things that we might have alongside, the last couple of years we've been doing tenderloin and not turkey but ButcherBox very nicely sent me a lovely turkey. So, we will be having some turkey and some tenderloin for Thanksgiving.
But it's also the one holiday that my husband gets really into and wants to make everything himself. All these women listening, they're like, "Oh my gosh, I wish my husband would do that." He gets a little controlling about his kitchen on Thanksgiving, I really play an ancillary role on Thanksgiving and I'm completely fine with that because he's a really good cook. But it's sometimes an odd dynamic because I think we're kind of conditioned as a society that it's the woman in the kitchen all day long. And actually, it's my husband like up early for the bird and he's all about making the stuffing. And every year he perfects his stuffing and he makes this is horrible, Chex Mix. And so, Chex Mix is like a crack in our house, my husband and my kids will eat it till it is gone. But I jokingly tell them, they need a feed bag just to put the strap on over the back of their neck and just let them eat it all day long, and they could not be happier. There's a lot of feasting in our house. It's usually a pretty relaxed day. How about you?
Melanie Avalon: Similar to you, I personally don't really adjust much. Because doing my one-meal-a-day approach that I do. I literally am feasting already every single day. And, for example, it was my birthday this week, and a friend came in town and we went to dinner. And I got two entrees. It was because I wanted to-- I couldn't decide, I wanted both steak and fish, so he was like just get both. But I was like, "Okay, I'll have like a bite of the steak and eat the fish, but I ate all of it." [laughs] which was fabulous. And that's an addition to the appetizers and all of that. But the point being is, I am so accustomed to eating large amounts of meat at night and protein, so on Thanksgiving nothing really changes much because the foods I want to eat what you were saying about, the foods that make you feel good and the foods that don't, I would like to eat a lot of other different foods that would also taste good, but they would also make me feel not so well. Or I can eat the foods that taste just as good to me but make me feel great. On Thanksgiving, I would still do my one-meal-a-day type thing and just eat a ton of Turkey as my meat.
Cynthia Thurlow: And I think it's interesting because for me personally, this is what my life has evolved into. And I'm completely happy in the space. But I do know, when we have like family or friend's events, people always kind of look at me and they're like, "Well, you're not going to have this and you're not going to have that? And I'm like, "No, because I actually don't feel good when I eat X or Y. And I'm totally fine with you eating X or Y. It's just not what I'm leaning into. I think it's also like being respectful. Sometimes it can be very triggering when people see you eat a particular way, then I always say there's no judgment, I just know that I'm at a stage in my life where it's not worth it for me to eat foods that make me feel badly. Like if I were to have a couple of glasses of wine, guess what my sleep is going to be terrible. I'm going to get hot sweats, night sweats, and I'm going to wake up in the morning and my Oura Ring is going to be barking at me.
From my perspective, it's a cost-benefit, like what makes me feel good, what allows me to wake up on the day after Thanksgiving, and whether we're doing a 5k, we try to do things that are active, and you're asking what the prevailing strategy is, move my body, try to lift if not on Thanksgiving, the day before or the day after, stay really well hydrated, and then choose the things that you want to splurge on and typically mine is apple pie. [laughs] I love apple pie, I love apples in general. But I love, I make a really good apple pie. It's very basic, but it's really good, and my kids laugh because I'll stand there at the counter, and I'm just eating the crust. Like I wouldn't normally eat crust I am like, "Oh, this is good."
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, one of the things I really like about fasting though, in general, with the holidays, like before fasting, I would have a lot of fear. I would love the holidays and I would love the food, but I would have a lot of dread or concern about overeating, weight gain, overindulging, and it was this weird blend of the pure excitement and joy of the food and also dreading the aftermath. And now I never really experience that, like holidays I just genuinely look forward to the whole food experience with minimal, I mean really honestly, no negative effects.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I mean, to me, especially because I have teenagers and I recognize that time is fleeting with them. I've always loved our nuclear family and prior to the pandemic, we always spent holidays with our extended family. And now things have changed a little bit and that's okay. But for me, it's really the joy of having conversations with my kids because as teenagers they spend a lot of time connecting with their friends or disconnecting from their parents. And so, for me we get into these discussions of "Are we going to do like a Harry Potter marathon, are we going to do Lord of the Rings, which that usually sends my kids into orbit?" Trying to find ways that we can connect after eating, "Are we going to play football or am I going to watch them play football?" By just finding things that we can do to connect together that don't per se disconnect us more, because I think it's very easy in our culture to be around other humans but be so disconnected like people that are on their phones constantly. And I'm certainly not perfect. I'm not by any means am I suggesting that, but I really try on holidays to be very connected and very present. And that to me is something I'm much more cognizant of now than maybe I was 10 years ago with my kids.
Melanie Avalon: Have you ever used one of those phone jail things?
Cynthia Thurlow: Not per se, although the other day, interestingly enough, my 15-year-old who is my more challenging child I will say, came home from some team practice. I know his blood sugar was low because he was hangry, he was just really grumpy. I had asked him to help take the dogs out and I got a rash of reaction to that. And because he was so disrespectful, I just said, "Well, I have your phone, and so I hid his phone for two days." So yes, we do have phone jail but said child is pretty clever and so he found his phone in the midst of phone jail and took it. And then he got another day added on to not having a phone. So, yes, we do Institute phone jail but not per se at the table. Usually, phone jail is when an infraction has been incurred and I'm trying to think of what will hurt him the most, [laughter] what is going to be the most unpleasant punishment I can give him. I'll just take your phone, and he feels like he's lost an appendage.
Melanie Avalon: I was going to talk about one other thing, but instead I'll save it for next week. And instead, I have to comment on the phone. When I was driving to dinner--Has your phone SIM card ever decided it's not there? Like your phone is like "can't find SIM card?"
Cynthia Thurlow: No.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. It's crazy. Basically, your phone loses all capability, it can't be a phone, it can't make calls, it can't find the internet, and I was driving and I just realized how dependent we are on our phones because I was all dressed up and had all my stuff. And I was halfway to Midtown Atlanta. And my phone was not getting the internet. And I was like, "I don't know how to find this hotel." I don't know how to get there [laughs]. I was like what am I going to do? Pull off to a gas station and be like, how do I get to [laughs] Four Seasons, it was crazy, it made me realize just how reliant we are and then I just felt so useless that I was not going to be able to navigate, somewhere where I had gone before multiple times.
Cynthia Thurlow: I will just interject that. My mom lives in a rural part of Maryland on a beautiful lake and when I was coming back most recently, the way that I come from Western Maryland to get back to Virginia, I have to go through West Virginia for a brief scooch amount of time. Well, I went from having ways to having no ways, and then not knowing where I was because I had only gone this route once before. And at one point, I was driving for an hour with no ways, no Wi-Fi, no nothing.
Melanie Avalon: Did you feel naked? I felt so naked. "Oh, I felt naked."
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I was like contemplating how do I find a police station and talk to them about the fact that I didn't think to print out directions because why would I have needed them? You start to realize how dependent we are on technology for sure.
Melanie Avalon: It's the craziest feeling and I was like, "Oh, this is what it was like back in the day." I bet people were a lot better with keeping appointments. Because if you don't show up, I was like "They're going to think I'm dead."
Cynthia Thurlow: No, I was explaining to my kids, we used to have MapQuest or we used to have these little Garmin's in our cars, and you would update them periodically, and my kids were like, what? And I was like, "Yes, you had to print things out or write them out." I was like, "That's how old school mom and dad are?
Melanie Avalon: When I was growing up had to print out from MapQuest. So good times.
Cynthia Thurlow: I'm glad to know you recall MapQuest.
Melanie Avalon: I was right on the cusp.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. We represent many generations on this podcast.
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Melanie Avalon: Would you like to jump into everything for today?
Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely.
Melanie Avalon: To start things off, we have some questions actually four questions that we can do rapid fire and they are from Casey. The subject is "Liquid chlorophyll during the fast, window flexibility, anti-inflammatory foods." And Casey says, "I have a few questions shared here." Number one, can I consume liquid chlorophyll in my water while in a fasted state or is this a no, no?"
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, well, I mean it's a plant. I think it depends on how it's processed because chlorophyll does not taste good and most chlorophyll that I have used with patients has some sugar, dextrose, etc., in it to make it palatable. In most instances, if you're looking at an ingredient list, it very likely has sweeteners in it and therefore I would not recommend that for a clean fast. Do you have an opinion?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, especially after interviewing. I know you are friends with Teri Cochrane, she's wonderful. She wrote a book called, is it Wildatarian?
Cynthia Thurlow: Wildatarian? Yep.
Melanie Avalon: I had her on The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. You've probably had her on your show as well, I'm guessing?
Cynthia Thurlow: I have, twice.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. She has fascinating thoughts on chlorophyll supplementation. I searched high and low to find a chlorophyll-- like a liquid chlorophyll supplement that didn't have lot of additives. The closest I could find was, it's mostly pure chlorophyll but has glycerin. It doesn't taste sweet. It tastes very grassy actually. But to be on the safe side, I would always just kind of have it to open my window. The chlorophyll itself is not a problem. But like Cynthia said, it's hard to find-- maybe I should make a chlorophyll. "Oh, my goodness." Okay, friends, stay tuned. I do think it's really wonderful. I would err on the side of keeping it in your eating window unless you can find a pure version, which, good luck.
Cynthia Thurlow: It's hard to find and it doesn't taste good. That's actually why oftentimes it is sweetened. I oftentimes will recommend chlorophyll for constipation.
Melanie Avalon: Hmm, nice. Teri recommends it for actually iron levels.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes, I love Teri. I've had her on the podcast twice. And she always brings such a unique lens to looking at health and wellness, really a unique lens, like the Cochrane Method is her trademarked method and I've learned so much through her.
Melanie Avalon: She's really wonderful. Because she's the one who talks about the amyloid formation in conventional agriculture. I bring this up every time I interview somebody in the-- I don't know what words to use, I just brought it up the other day, interviewing the founders of regenerative pastures, which is kind of like a ButcherBox system, but they're US based only and they have a lot of really amazing options. But actually, that interview was amazing, but anytime I've interviewed somebody where we're talking about like conventional agriculture versus regenerative and holistic, I bring up Teri's theory, which basically is that the stress levels of the raising conditions create these truncated proteins and conventional meat that has a very inflammatory potential, which nobody else is talking about. So, I find that very cool.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, and she's not a big fan of chicken and a few other things, but chicken is, I think the basis of a lot of people's diets, and by no means am I telling everyone to panic and stop eating chicken. But just to give it some pause and think that has a lot to do with her desire to encourage people to eat more wildatarian proteins, she certainly has had a huge influence on us. We got very creative during the pandemic.
Melanie Avalon: She's amazing. Okay, so much for rapid fire. Casey's, second question, she has some questions about supplements taken in the fasted state or during the eating window. We can just go through these, D3, B12, iron, so D3?
Cynthia Thurlow: Fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A, D, E, and K, I generally recommend that you take with a meal so that they can slow the absorption, B12 provided that it's clean. That to me is benign. Iron, I generally like people to take with food for a variety of reasons. But I understand why people ask these questions because they are trying to simplify their lives, but I would say iron and D3 taken in a fed state, B12 or B vitamins I think are fine provided that they're clean taken in a non-fed state. What do you think?
Melanie Avalon: Agreed, the only caveat I would provide B12 similar to chlorophyll, it is water soluble, so it can be taken completely fasted but it can also be hard to find versions without the additives, they're usually always flavored, and also with B12, it can be really important, especially given your MTHFR status to get a properly methylated form, so Methylcobalamin version. And then my iron caveat would be-- and I struggle with iron regulation, really bad, I just don't seem to make ferritin, I do but there's just some issue there with my conversion, I think. I am very in tune with iron supplementation. I personally will use desiccated spleen as well as kidney which has some iron, I use ancestral supplements, I do have a code for them. If you go to melanieavalon.com/ancestral, the code AVALON10 will get you 10% off. I take their kidney every night, I take their spleen a few times a week and I take that with food. I don't take the spleen every day because I found-- researched this and I've talked with my hematologist about it. If you take iron supplements constantly trying to up your iron level, your iron actually has an iron regulation system where it downregulates its absorption if you're taking in a lot consistently. On the contrary, if you're not taking a lot, it will upregulate its iron absorption. It can be nice to do a punctuated approach.
Another option is chelated Iron because iron can be very constipating. I love Elle Russ-- I'm actually having her on my show for the third time coming up soon and I was just recently on her show The Elle Russ Show. She is very in tune with iron supplementation because it can really relate to thyroid issues. And she's a big fan of Chelated Iron by Bluebonnet and that has to be taken on an empty stomach. The reviews for that are very, very positive for people saying they are able to raise their iron and don't get constipated. So, that's another option, but that would be on an empty stomach.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, the Chelated Iron is really key. I think for many years I was on Chelated Iron and there's nothing worse than being put on iron. And then if you're not constipated, then all of a sudden you can't go to the bathroom. So, Chelated Iron tends to be much easier on the gut. And I would agree with you that anemia in general and low ferritin levels, low iron levels can be very confounding. And it's not at all uncommon for women really at any stage of life to have issues surrounding this, so a commonly recommended supplement.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, the iron issues are one of the banes of my existence? I'm really excited actually because I'm going to be interviewing Morley Robbins for his book, Cu-RE Your Fatigue, The Root Cause and How To Fix it On Your Own. And apparently, it's mostly about iron regulation. I'm excited to see what I learn about that.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, it's interesting, your podcast about glutathione came out today. And I was like, "Oh," I'm knee-deep in podcast prep for two podcasts next week. But I was like, I really need to listen to that.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, it's so good. I was on the fence about glutathione IVs and glutathione pushes. Now I'm fairly convinced they're a waste. It's just in and out of your body and it doesn't even get absorbed really. I don't know if he's a doctor, I think he's just a researcher and a pharmacist, not just? But I think he's a researcher and a pharmacist. He wrote a book called The Glutathione Revolution. He does have his own proprietary topical glutathione where they have studies showing how it is absorbed in the half-life in the body. I've been using that every single day and night since reading the book and interviewing him, I'm sold. I think glutathione is so important, supporting it naturally, and then if you supplement using his version, I feel like I'm just giving all the codes. But his version that I've been using is melanieavalon.com/auro A-U-R-O is his brand, and then the code MELANIEAVALON should get you a discount.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, it's interesting because Teri Cochrane is not a fan of IV pushes or IV glutathione drips. As we keep plugging Teri Cochrane that's definitely really aligned with my conversations I've had with her. But I'll definitely have to dive into that podcast.
Melanie Avalon: Let me know what you think. I think I wanted to believe it, because, you want to think, "Oh, I can get some glutathione IVs or pushes and do some good," but it's really like I said, in and out. And then after reading it, I reached out to my friend James Clement, he wrote a book called The Switch, and he's a dear friend. And I really, really respect him. And I really feel like I can always get a very unbiased perspective because he does have a book, but he's not selling anything. He runs a lab that studies longevity. I asked him and he's like, yeah, there's no point in taking glutathione, it was when I was actually feeling really sick. And I was texting him. I was like, "What do I do? Try to get NAD." I was like, "I'm going to go get glutathione" and he's like, "Don't get the glutathione, it's not going to help." So, tangents.
Okay, and then another question from Casey, she said, "She's considering a window of 12 to 8 o'clock, but she feels on a Saturday or weekend that she might need more flexibility due to long runs or social engagements." So you have recommendations on timing to make the weekends work?
Cynthia Thurlow: One of the key aspects of intermittent fasting is flexibility. I'd really encourage you to experiment, maybe you're going to have a wider feeding window on a weekend, maybe you'll have a shorter fasting window on a weekend. I think that the key is really kind of leaning into what makes the most sense for you. I know that pre-pandemic I definitely was much more flexible in the weekends, because we were oftentimes going out or had events, and I couldn't per se time when I was eating or when I wasn't eating, it was oftentimes dependent on other people's schedules. I would say experiment to see what feels good, maybe if you're doing longer runs, you're going to want to break your fast earlier. Maybe if you're going out to dinner, you are going to have a wider feeding window. And that's completely fine and I do encourage people to change up what they're doing. Our bodies get very accustomed to eating the same foods, having the same fasting windows. And so, I do like variety. How about you? Do you have any different ways of doing things on the weekend?
Melanie Avalon: Well, first of all, I love your answer. And that's the answer is basically going to suggest which is just-- I think it's actually-- Especially if you have a regimented window during the week, it's a great time to have some flexibility, and actually, you said change things up, keep your body guessing. Well, I do a completely different window. If I was doing her window, I probably would adjust it a little bit where I might just open it a little bit later and keep it open later. Assuming that you're having social engagements at night dinners, things like that. For me personally, I really honestly do the same window every single night. I don't need to adjust because it literally fits in almost every situation.
The only time it wouldn't fit would be if I had to go to an early dinner. And then honestly, I probably just wouldn't eat. If there's one thing I won't do, I don't eat if I'm not hungry, I don't eat just to be social, I don't enjoy it. So, if that's the case, I usually would just drink and then eat later which interestingly, another tangent, this might be controversial, but they'll often say to have alcohol with food to slow the absorption and have a better effect on your body. I find the only time I'm really drinking with food is when I am having dinner out because normally, I drink before eating. And I find that I do a lot better that way drinking before because I feel like my body processes the alcohol completely and then it's not impeding or competing with the dinner. And I find when I have wine with food, I feel like the alcohol lasts longer in my system. So, just a random thought.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I'm definitely one of those people that I had to drink with food because if I didn't, I would feel the effects pretty strongly. [laughs] I would be the person who would be like, "Uh-oh," I don't feel so great.
Melanie Avalon: Actually, maybe that's why I like it more not because I like feeling crazy, I can drink less and have the drinking experience compared to if I'm having it with food, I would maybe drink more.
Cynthia Thurlow: You know, what's interesting is that I always assumed that because I was the type of person, I could never really drink a lot. What's unique about my body, I don't make enough alcohol dehydrogenase to break this down properly or are my detoxification pathways just not optimized? I mean those are the things I used to spend time thinking about. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: I've done my genetic data and one of the systems that I ran it through, I know I've said this on the podcast before, but I don't know if I've said it when I was with you. It basically looked at your, "Oh, I think it was the SelfDecode report. It was the food one," and it showed you like all these different food options, like carbs, I don't know, there was like four food-related things, and there was alcohol, I was bad with everything food related and great with alcohol. Alcohol was like green and then everything else food related was like red, red, red. [laughs]
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, it's interesting because I did do genetic testing over the summer with Kristina Hess and that's an area of nutrigenomics, that's her area of expertise. Things that were consistent, and validating were things like, "Do you like lean meat or fatty meat?" I was like, "Oh, lean meat all the way. I don't feel good when I eat fatty meat." And we were going through the report and she was like, "I can see where that is, I can see where you're very athletic, I can see that you're someone that actually would tolerate a little bit of dairy, you can actually tolerate a little bit of alcohol." And I was like, "That's interesting," because it hasn't been my own experience. But we can't consider the fact that or we need to consider why bio-individuality is such an important aspect of whether we're leading into this next question talking about inflammatory foods. For each one of us that could look very different and I know I don't think I ever perceived the foods I no longer consume now were bothersome even 15 or 20 years ago. And so, just understanding that there's the genetics piece plus exposure piece, and they can all play a role in how we feel when we eat certain foods.
Melanie Avalon: I think that's so key and speaking to that it's so interesting when you do pay more attention and "Clean up what you're eating," how you do notice, "Well, I don't really eat foods that bother me now." But if I were too, I really notice and I just look back at my old self and I think about everything that I was eating and how I didn't even notice because I think it was an overall systemic inflammation. So, you didn't really pick up on any one signal from food. But yeah, so Casey's last question which you hinted at. She says, "What are some of your top anti-inflammatory foods? What are the foods you'd recommend avoiding that are most inflammatory?"
Cynthia Thurlow: When I think about top anti-inflammatory foods, I really think about phytonutrient dense foods. When you hear the term eat the rainbow, I think about green leafy vegetables, I think about berries, especially blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. I think a great deal about medicinal mushrooms, and no I'm not talking about mushrooms that are psychedelic. I think about curcumin which is a component of turmeric. I think a great deal about polyphenols that you get in green tea and bitter teas and black coffee, preferably mold-free. The most inflammatory foods in my estimation are seed oils and highly processed hyperpalatable foods, gluten, dairy, in particular people that are susceptible to that, sometimes grains, processed sugars, alcohol, soy, so it really depends, just like Melanie was saying she feels differently when she has alcohol on an empty stomach versus in a fed state. Bio-individuality but seed oils are the most inflammatory foods worth eliminating if you do nothing else. Read labels, ask when you go to restaurants, I think seed oils down to a cellular level the most damaging food like substances that most of us consume unknowingly in many ways. How about you?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, we have very similar lists. So actually, my big one for anti-inflammatory isn't so much a specific food as it is an approach to the amino acid profiles of foods. In particular, because there are nine essential amino acids and some of those are more growth-promoting and can be inflammatory in high amounts, particularly things like methionine, which is really high in muscle meats, compared to "more anti-inflammatory amino acids," things like glycine. So, fish, for example, tends to be a more and I'm using quotes because inflammation itself is so complicated and nuanced and in a way, it's hard to really deconstruct what is inflammatory and what's anti-inflammatory, but in general, the amino acid profile of fish tends to be a "more anti-inflammatory amino acid profile" than something like muscle meat and then the amino acid profile of more gelatinous cuts of red meat tend to be more anti-inflammatory. That is actually a large reason that I make shellfish and fish basically the foundation of my protein, it's the reason I eat so many scallops because I read this one study that looked at the inflammatory potential, I think it looked at like liver enzymes or the effect on the liver in particular and it looked at chicken, cod which is fish, scallops and then one more, I'll have to find the study and put this in the show notes. But the effect of scallops, like the anti-inflammatory potential was insane. After I read that I'm eating scallops all the time.
Cynthia Thurlow: You want to know, it's one of the few foods my husband hates. So like, "I can only really eat scallops when I'm in restaurants because he dislikes them that much, but I actually really enjoy them."
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I love those scallops as you guys know. Yeah, having scallops, for example, would be a pretty anti-inflammatory protein. And then it's not just the amino acids as a benefit of fish, also the omega-3, omega-6 ratio. And this is another thing where it's not so much take omega-3 because it's anti-inflammatory, I think what's more important is the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 because we need both. And we just want the ratio to be more in favor of the omega-3 side. I've seen different amounts when they say hunter-gatherers ate omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of between 1:1 to I think between 4:1, which, sorry omega-3 to omega-6, yes, 4:1, or wait it'd be another way around? Probably the other way around. In any case, today, the ratio tends to be I think it can be like 20 or 30:1, it's crazy.
And again, a lot of people will go the route of like, "Oh, well, high dose the fish oil, eat all the salmon." I think it's more about the ratio, I don't think we necessarily need a huge amount of these omega-3s and omega-6s in our diets, but we want that ratio to be more ant-inflammatory than inflammatory. Although if you want a really nuanced conversation on this, which is going to add a lot of caveats, listen to my interview with Chris Masterjohn, because we dive deep into this and he actually has a much more complicated view, which contradicts a little bit about what I said, but it still stands that the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio I think is important.
And then on top of that some things that Cynthia mentioned, a lot of spices can be really anti-inflammatory. She mentioned curcumin that's found in turmeric, I eat so much turmeric every single night. I eat a lot of ginger.
Cynthia Thurlow: I love ginger.
Melanie Avalon: I love ginger, I love turmeric and ginger. They are the two "spices" because I know ginger is a root. I just gravitate towards them like none other and then they always come up in the list of the go-to anti-inflammatory spices. I like to high dose those, ate a lot of that. Everybody knows I went through my pineapple phase. Pineapple can be really anti-inflammatory because of the bromelain, which is a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down proteins, kind of like serrapeptase except serrapeptase, you're taking in a fasted state and pineapple is a food and can help with digesting your food. The main reason I want to get back to pineapple and the reason I haven't is for some reason intuitively, it just feels too sweet to me now, but when I was eating that the reductions in inflammations I just saw personally in myself were amazing. And then for the inflammatory side of things, trans fats, yes, they've been banned, but they are still there, seed oils, that's what I had written down for sure like Cynthia was saying I do think that is huge, especially the processed ones, the refined seed oils, and they're just rampant. I think Cate Shanahan, her book, The Fatburn Fix talks a lot about this, and there's like the three S's, canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, soy, sesame?
Cynthia Thurlow: Sunflower.
Melanie Avalon: Sunflower. Yeah, so definitely looking for those. Gluten, I think can be very inflammatory for a lot of people. Those were the three main ones I wrote down and then just in general, I think the most inflammatory thing, well "processed foods," just processed foods, and then just eating too much like the energy toxicity of overindulging can have a very inflammatory effect compared to a calorie-restricted diet or fasting, which ultimately tends to create calorie restriction or allows for that fasting time can be anti-inflammatory. But the eating process is inflammatory just by its nature.
Cynthia Thurlow: It's all good.
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Shall we go on to Bruce's question?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes, this is the subject, "Thanks for all you do. I recently listened to all of the episodes on your podcast, and I would like to thank both of you for your dedicated work. I'm wondering if you've seen anything on sauna sessions and fasting. I have a sauna that I built a few years ago and use it four times a week. I have recently started using the red lights that are part of the lighting system that came with the heater control package because Melanie saying red lights were beneficial. Love Bruce." I cannot think of a more Melaniesque appropriate question."
Melanie Avalon: Bruce, thank you so much for your question. I do love the red lights, so I'm glad you're on that board as well as the sauna. I googled sauna and fasting and I didn't really find any studies per se. But I can speak to my personal experience and I found a very wonderful blog post written by Siim Land who I've had on my show twice.
Cynthia Thurlow: Me too, he's awesome.
Melanie Avalon: He's wonderful. Although I was thinking, I feel like he hasn't been posting. I feel like I haven't seen much from him recently.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, he's been quieter. I don't know, he might be writing a book. He's like a proliferative writer.
Melanie Avalon: He's just so smart.
Cynthia Thurlow: Mm-hmm and he doesn't have-- one of those things for me, I really am oftentimes fascinated/humbled when people that don't have traditional research or medical training are just able to grasp such complicated concepts, much like you Melanie, you can grasp such complicated subjects and really understand it at a level that even for myself, sometimes I'm like, "Wow, I had never thought about that." So, he's one of those young protegees of the science community.
Melanie Avalon: Well, first of all, thank you for saying that. And yeah, he's younger than me.
Cynthia Thurlow: I guess he's like, 25. [laughs] He's a young buck.
Melanie Avalon: I'm thinking maybe because he is so young maybe he had some life development career-wise.
Cynthia Thurlow: No, I think he's just smart and curious snd I think that has served him well.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I know he's amazing. I found a blog post by him called Why Combine Sauna and Fasting. I'll put a link to that in the show notes. But I will give you the takeaways from that blog post. This is all the work of Siim Land, not myself. But he makes the case that both sauna and fasting have a lot of similar benefits as far as anti-aging, longevity, and supporting the immune system. And sauna has some benefits that fasting does not automatically provide. For example, the cardiovascular workout equivalent of a sauna session, you're not going to get that from fasting. And then on the flipside, I guess you could say there are things that fasting would provide that sauna wouldn't necessarily.
But he says that they work really well symbiotically for something that, I would have never come up with this and I don't think I would have ever come up with this. But he talks about the importance of autophagy in both fasting and sauna, so both sauna sessions and fasting instigate autophagy, which is basically a cellular cleanup process in the body. It's really linked to longevity, anti-aging, disease prevention, so many things. What's interesting is one of the main benefits of sauna comes from heat shock proteins that are activated when you do a sauna session. And there are some studies on heat shock proteins in rodents and they found that the autophagy process is actually required to experience the benefit from the heat shock proteins. And the autophagy in part possibly mitigates some of the actual stress or the detrimental effects of heat shock proteins. It's possible that by really ramping up your autophagy, which would happen with a fasted state that you will get more benefits from the sauna, and you'll get a more-- to use that word anti-inflammatory response, you're going to get the benefits either way, and it's not something to be worried about. But basically, the fasting during the sauna session, he said, it's basically like better quality control when your body is doing that cleanup process and inactivation with the heat shock proteins, keeping the healthy cells and getting rid of the negative cells.
And then something else, I actually did think about this, he mentioned this, but I think I would have thought about this too. He talks about how both fasting and sauna increase human growth hormone. And he thinks doing sauna while fasting can further increase that human growth hormone and mitigate any potential catabolic effects of fasting. The reason I think I would have thought about that was because I interviewed Wendy Myers recently, she pointed out something in her book that blew my mind. I read it. I don't know if I mentioned this on the show already. I read it, I was like, "Oh, that can't be." I was like because somebody would have told me that, I actually didn't believe it. And then I went to find a study and it's true. Did you know, in order to release human growth hormone from exercise, it's from the heat created from the exercise, like it requires heat.
Cynthia Thurlow: Interesting. I guess that's why it's important to sweat and raise that core temperature.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that blew my mind. I was like, "No, surely exercise releases human growth hormone by some other mechanism." But no, it actually requires heat, if you're like working out, and you never raise your core body temperature, you actually might not be getting some of the benefits.
Cynthia Thurlow: It's interesting because I do Pilates every week and this morning it was a different type format of Pilates, and it's not my favorite. And I was laughing with the instructor who I love. I just take her classes because she really challenges me. And I was laughing and saying, "Okay, it takes me about five minutes of doing Pilates, we're lifting or whatever I'm doing to warm up enough that I take off whatever shirt I have on." And I was saying to her what we were doing this morning was so much more intense that within like two minutes I was sweating. And so, I think it makes sense and you have to exert yourself hard enough because we're really looking for some degree of hormesis. We want a beneficial stressor to the body, so that would make sense although I don't think I've per se thought about it that way before.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it really blew my mind. But yeah, that word hormesis. I think basically the case that Siim Land makes with a sauna is that you will get a more beneficial hormetic response from sauna use if you're fasting during it. And then I just know for me personally that you could not pay me to go in a sauna with food in me, that experience feels very unpleasant. Because there's something about like the detox and the sweating and letting it all out like to be digesting food and to have all of that and yet at the same time would just feel like "Oof," it would feel " Oof." It'd just not feel good. I do have a sauna recommendation if people would like a recommendation. I personally use the Sunlighten Solo unit every single night of my life. I cannot even express my obsession with this creation. I would love to have a cabin unit which Sunlighten also makes cabin units. But I live in an apartment that's not going to happen and their solo unit is this really cool contraption that you actually lay down inside of. It's kind of like, I don't want to say a coffin, it's a dome.
Cynthia Thurlow: It does not look like a coffin. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: It does not, it looks like, I don't even know how to describe it. And it lights up, it has chromotherapy lights. And what's really wonderful about it, especially for me is your head is outside of it. I attach-- I've come up with this whole-- You can get one of those bendy arms that holds your phone and I attach that too because I put the solo unit on top of a twin frame, metal frame from Amazon that I got, so I can put a link to that in the show notes. I attach an arm and then it holds my phone over me so I can lay in there, my head is out of it, and I can read my books, and do my research, and do emails and it's just the most wonderful experience. They also have their products tested for EMF which is amazing. I recommend that solo unit. I also recommend obviously they're cabin units if you do have the space for that as well. If you tell them I sent you, they will give you a really good discount. That's at Sunlighten. But, Cynthia, do you have a sauna?
Cynthia Thurlow: We do not yet and that has something to do with the fact that we are putting a pool in next year and we're going to create an exterior structure. And I am envisioning that the exterior structure will have our infrared sauna in it, as opposed to it would have to reside in our garage. Even though the Sunlighten people have assured me it's completely fine. The area of the country I live in is very humid in the summer. And the thought of [laughs] being in a steaming garage with an infrared sauna is not really of interest to me. Right now, I have a sauna blanket. And yes, I'm working with the fact this is a temporary solution by HigherDOSE and so it's a sauna blanket that you get inside of and you sweat like crazy. And then I get on my PEMF mat, and I'm just so happy, I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the PEMF mat, I fall asleep on it, it's so relaxing, there are different settings, I have no affiliation with HigherDOSE, I just recommend that mat to everyone. But if you are space-constrained, Sunlighten makes apartment and small space-appropriate options as well as HigherDOSE, coming from a very large house that we had in Northern Virginia with a very large basement to a slightly smaller house with no basement has meant that we've had to get very creative. So, when that exterior structure is created, I'm excited because it's going to have like a little gym area inside that I can work out in.
Melanie Avalon: It's very exciting. Yeah, I can't wait for you to get the experience that you were sharing about just how good PEMF makes you feel. That's the way I feel after my sauna session each night.
Cynthia Thurlow: And I think it's important to find things that make you feel good. For me, I fell asleep on it every night this week, and I was like, Okay, "I cannot fall asleep on it because and I can't fall asleep in my normal time." So, now I have to do shorter episodes because you can change the settings and certain settings are impacting you more for relaxation and pre-sleep mode versus stimulating. And there's nothing better than lying on this warm mat. It's just glorious. Makes me feel so good.
Melanie Avalon: It's amazing. All right, shall we answer one more question?
Cynthia Thurlow: Sure.
Melanie Avalon: We have one last question; this is from Justine. And Justine says, "Hi guys, love the podcast, I've been listening at work, and I feel like I've learned a lot already. I'm relatively new to intermittent fasting, but I've had a good experience and results so far. You've talked previously about the science you feel when you are in ketosis, metallic taste in the mouth increased or different energy. Could you go over the signs to look for as a new intermittent faster, I am anxiously awaiting a sign that I am in ketosis but I'm not sure what to look for. Thanks, from Ottawa, Canada."
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, Justine, welcome to the intermittent fasting world. Typically, when patients or clients are asking these kinds of questions, we're really looking for signs of metabolic flexibility if we're able to effectively utilize stored fats or glucose or create ketones. And so, I think about being able to go longer in between meals. If you can go four to five hours in between meals and have good amounts of energy, you're not having energy slumps after eating, you are able to regulate your weight, part of metabolic flexibility is having the ability to lose weight more effectively. But I think about the brain cognition piece being a big one, if you're able to effectively create ketones and specific ones can diffuse across the blood-brain barrier. So, mental clarity, energy sustained from meal to meal, not getting hangry, effectively being able to lose weight. Those are probably the big ones that I think about what about you, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so those are really good for the signs, I guess the only thing I would add is as far as if you actually wanted to confirm or measure and we've talked about this at length multiple times on the show, but just to briefly go through it, you can measure ketones, there are caveats and nuances to all of it. If you're brand new to intermittent fasting, urine keto strips can be great because you will likely see that shift when you actually start generating ketones and a large portion of those ketones. Your body doesn't know how to use them in the beginning, so it like gets rid of a lot of them through your urine. The issue with urine sticks ongoing is that as your body becomes more used to using ketones, you don't excrete as many through the urine. It's not a really good long-term way to monitor ketosis or you can also monitor blood and breath. Monitoring your blood, there also can be a little bit of that effect where you might see more in the beginning and then as you become better at using it, you might see lower levels on your blood ketone meter. That said, you should always see them, you're not going to be in ketosis and not see ketones on your blood ketone meter. So, that can be a good thing to monitor. I really like Keto-Mojo's brand of their ketone meter. And then you can also measure the breath. So, the breath is also a byproduct of when we burn ketones. Interestingly, Dominic D'Agostino has talked about this, he's made the case that breath ketones are likely more a product of when you're actually burning fat compared to like dietary fat, which I thought was pretty cool just because of the whole metabolic process and what would create those breath ketones, so you can get a Biosense meter for that if you want to measure breath ketones, and I do have a code. You can actually join my Facebook group has a long name, Lumen, Biosense & CGMs: Carbs, Fat, Ketones & Blood Sugar and then (Melanie Avalon) basically if you type in Melanie Avalon Facebook Group, I have three groups and this one will come up. You can get $20 off of Biosense. If you go to melanieavalon.com/biosense and use the coupon AVALON20. What are your thoughts? Cynthia on measuring all of these different ketone options?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I think they're nice. Certainly, Dr. Anna Cabeca talks a lot about urine ketones and when you're new to being in ketosis that can be valuable. But those kinds of things add up. That's why, I typically start with-- these are signs and then you can get further validation. I do like Keto-Mojo, I really, really enjoy the owners. I think that they're delightful and they're really trying to help change the narrative especially about insulin resistance and diabetes, and just making people more aware of the net impact of food choices and lifestyle on our blood sugar. I think those are certainly really great options. I'm not as familiar with Biosense, but obviously I know that you've done your due diligence, but I think the devices to me are secondary to actually getting to a point where you start recognizing the signs that demonstrate that you're becoming more metabolically flexible. And just remember, it's a very small percentage of the population here in the United States, right now, it's about 7% to 8% are metabolically flexible. So, really important for everyone to lean into that.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, I agree, I think that's so important, it's a fine line. I just wish everybody could have the full knowledge of ketones before engaging with these devices so that they have the healthiest relationship with the device and what they're learning from it.
Cynthia Thurlow: I totally agree.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because you don't want it to be something that is a hurdle to something that you're doing that's good in your body because you feel like you're not creating enough ketones. I think it can just become an issue. I actually never measure my ketones ever. And we actually have a question that we didn't get to today, maybe we'll get to it next week, about our diets and if we're getting into ketosis or not, and I'll say this again when I answer that question, but I might not be, I don't know, I might not be getting into ketosis, you can burn fat without getting into ketosis. Surprise, well, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. You can get all the stuff that we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike although I have it on my to-do list, I really need to get that page updated. And you can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast. I am @melanieavalon, Cynthia is @cynthia_thurlow_ and I think that is all the things. Anything from you before we go?
Cynthia Thurlow: No. I'm just looking forward to our next recording and I promise that our first question won't take quite so long.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, well, it was lots of questions.
Cynthia Thurlow: it was, very nuanced, but all good information that I think is applicable to most people that are listening.
Melanie Avalon: Yep. All right, well, this has been absolutely wonderful and I will talk to you next week.
Cynthia Thurlow: Sounds good.
Melanie Avalon: Bye.
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 your 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 re-composed by Steve Saunders. See you next week.
[Transcript provided by SpeechDocs Podcast Transcription]
STUFF WE LIKE
Check out the Stuff We Like page for links to any of the books/supplements/products etc. mentioned on the podcast that we like!
Melanie's What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine
Cynthia's Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging
More on Melanie: MelanieAvalon.com
More on Cynthia: cynthiathurlow.com
Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com
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