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As summer comes to an end and we enter the fall season we connect the dots in health news. We will discuss Iron - what is iron overload? Can high levels of iron contribute to disease? Also we will look at brown and white fat, what's the difference? Is one better than the other when it comes to wellness and disease prevention? New research has come to light about chronic inflammation fanning the flames of depression, can our diet really effect our mental state? And finally 'think before you ink', are there hidden health risks when it comes to tattoos?

Zoya joins us with another interesting pet health segment: 'Happiness and suffering. How to deal with daily struggles. And why we should choose our suffering and be happy about it.'

Running Time: 01:50:02

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health and Wellness Show everybody. Today is Friday, September 29th. My name is Jonathan. I'll be your host for today. Joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Erica, Tiffany, Doug and Elliot. Hey guys.

All: Hellos.

Erica: Good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon.

Jonathan: We are missing Gaby today so we wish her well and hope to see her next week. So today we're going to connect some dots with our topic - iron, brown fat, depression and tattoo. So if those things sound unrelated, they are not, albeit loosely related, but we are going to run through those topics. We wanted to talk about iron overload because that's a very little-discussed health risk that I think a lot of people don't know about, as well as brown fat versus white fat, what the difference is and how you can understand how to increase brown fat.

It may not even be something that you've heard of before. For people who have been into cold therapy I'm sure that you've heard of brown fat but I don't think it's commonly understood.

Then tattoos. We had a couple of articles that came out the last couple of weeks about tattoos so we wanted to cover that as well.

Tiffany: Our challenge for today's show is whoever comes up with the most creative segue to join all these topics together wins a prize.

Doug: What's the prize?

Jonathan: A stick-on tattoo.

Doug: A stick-on tattoo of brown fat made of iron that causes depression.

Jonathan: Let's get into iron because that's one that I think is interesting. I have to be completely honest, I have never paid attention to iron levels in my body and I would assume that most people are like, "What? What are you talking about?" You understand that you have iron in your body but you still don't think of it as being something that could hurt you.

Doug: Or if people do think about it they probably tend to think of low iron.

Erica: Anaemia.

Doug: Yeah, anaemia. That seems to be the more popularized thing about iron, that some people are not having enough. But it turns out that iron overload is actually a much bigger problem than too little iron, which is probably surprising for a lot of people because there's are some doctors out there who recognize this fact and are very critical of the mainstream medical community for not recognizing the dangers of iron overload.

Iron is thought of as this innocuous thing where if you're low you just take a supplement of it. They've put it into foods to fortify foods. It's in pretty much every multi-vitamin out there except for ones specifically made without iron. Men's multi-vitamins tend to not have iron in there. But they throw it into everything willy-nilly and say "Get your iron!" The fact is it could be quite dangerous.

Jonathan: If you have specifically hemochromatosis, which is an iron overload, simplistically put, it can interact with vitamin C, right?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Elliot: If you think of an iron bar, what would happen if you left it outside in the rain? Fairly quickly it would rust and that is how reactive iron is with oxygen. It's such a reactive thing that it is responsible for creating lots of havoc in the human body. And it's a big problem if you're a person who tends to accumulate iron because it depends on how well you can excrete it. Some people can excrete it really well. Other people can't.

I think if you're someone who tends towards constipation then you're probably more likely to hold onto that iron. We'll talk about all of the genetic polymorphisms and things that come with that, but it kind of comes down to your genes as well because many of us have hemochromatosis genes, whether it's the full set of genes or just one allele or something. This unfortunately predisposes a lot of us to accumulate excess iron when it doesn't really need to be there.

Tiffany: And it's more common in adult men and postmenopausal women. So premenopausal women have their monthly period so they can discharge a lot of iron in their menstrual blood. But if you don't menstruate every month then you're at risk of having iron overload. There were some source I have read where they said that iron cannot be excreted but it's not quite the case. There's phlebotomy where you can have blood donations a few times a year and get rid of some excess iron but there's also detoxification. I think curcumin, oral EDTA or activated charcoal can also be used to get rid of excess iron.

Doug: DMSA works as well.

Jonathan: Bentonite clay too.

Doug: So there are a few different detox methods. A lot of the things that actually are used to remove heavy metals from the body in detox protocols will also remove iron. That's actually a platform on which some mainstream people will say metal detoxes are dangerous because they actually will pull iron out as well. Well, in a lot of cases that's actually a good thing.

Jonathan: So you could say you'd rather err on the side of anemia?

Doug: I don't know if I'd go that far.

Elliot: There is a couple of things about anemia. It's something that people commonly hear about, iron deficiency anemia. Well a lot of times the anemia may not actually be iron deficiency related. It may be diagnosed as iron deficiency anemia but sometimes the way that they diagnose that is simply by an examination of the red blood cells. There are lots of different things that can affect whether someone is producing healthy red blood cells. It could be folate, it could be vitamin B12, it could be thyroid.

It could be any number of things that affect how well you produce well-formed oxygenated blood cells. So if someone is not producing these cells then they may get diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia and put on an iron supplement. I know of several people who have actually been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia and who have been put on iron supplements and nothing gets better. They don't miraculously cure their anemia because it's not necessarily iron that they're deficient in. It's the fact that they can't make the blood cells. They can't incorporate it into the blood cells. So this is another thing with the whole iron deficiency stuff. I think it's probably so much less common than anyone would think.

Tiffany: And that happens frequently because I've seen doctors diagnose someone with iron deficiency anemia just by looking at their red blood cell count and they just say "Oh tell them to take 325 mg of iron a day" and that's it. And they don't follow up at all.

Doug: Well when I was working in a health food store I'd have usually women coming in, looking for iron supplements and I would always ask "Did you get a diagnosis for low iron?", even though I knew that that wasn't necessarily a gold standard or anything like that, I was like "Let's just make sure here". But there are numbers of people who say "Well I'm low in energy so my friend told me that I should take iron".

It's like "No!! Don't do that! That's a terrible idea!" I would always explain to them, "Listen, you have to find out why you're low in energy. You can't just start taking substances, especially iron." There are some innocuous substances that are supplements that you could take that wouldn't be a big deal, but definitely not iron. You don't want to take that just because you heard it from a friend.

Erica: Especially in a health food store, you would have all the vegetarians, right? So they're chronically anemic.

Doug: Yeah. And that's more likely due to B12 deficiency or even folate.

Erica: Yeah. I always used to just take blackstrap molasses for iron. Do you guys know if that's good? Because I was anemic for a long time when I was a vegetarian. But I never took the supplements because they did cause massive constipation.

Jonathan: I would think the only issue there would be the glycemic index of molasses. It's lower but it's still there, right?

Erica: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah, that's true.

Jonathan: So do we know what general percentage of these iron overload cases actually turn out to be either fatal or extremely damaging or do you think the statistics are skewed because it's not so well understood? Somebody might diagnose with something else when they may have iron overload.

Erica: Well some of the statistics on the hemochromatosis, which Jonathan mentioned, was one in every three, 100 million people. I don't know if that's just in the US or worldwide.

Jonathan: I guess what I mean, to put it simply, is how dangerous is it. That's what I'm wondering. I know that it has dangerous side-effects, but it's something that more want to be careful about and less super afraid of or concerned with. Do you know what I mean?

Doug: If it's left untreated it can contribute to all kinds of things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, gouty arthritis. There's lots of different problems that it can cause. The problem is that it's masked. If anybody's undergoing any kind of treatment for cancer, heart disease, etc., in very, very rare cases would somebody actually think to check iron. So unfortunately it's left up to the individual to test their own iron levels to find out how they're doing.

What you want to do is a test for serum ferritin levels and correlate that with something called a GGT (gamma-glutamyltransferase) which is a liver enzyme that's correlated with iron toxicity. There's actually a pretty good article by Mercola that's up on SOTT called Serum Ferritin and GGT: Two Important Markers of Iron and Liver Toxicity. In that article he goes into a description of why these tests are important and what the numbers mean.

Jonathan: Is this something you can do? You can order a blood panel or something?

Elliot: Yeah. It's just on any basic blood panel. If you just get a full blood count it will test for your iron which usually is made up of serum ferritin and iron. So you get two different markers there. Then when it tests your liver enzymes it will test the basic ones like ALP or AST.

Tiffany: ALT and ASP.

Elliot: Yeah. Then it will also test this GGT. GGT stands for gamma-glutamyltransferase. This is an enzyme which is used when glutathione stores are low so it's a measure of how much glutathione is being used up in your body. When you've got high GGT it's a good measure that a lot of your glutathione stores are being used up fighting off free radicals. So high GGT means high free radical damage. Of course it's correlated with things like liver toxicity and iron toxicity and all of this stuff. Ideally you would want low GGT levels because that would mean that you've got plentiful glutathione stores and you're not deficient in any way.

Of course it's a bit more nuanced than that, but that's a fair measure. I wasn't aware of this connection so I read this article that we're talking about on Mercola and he talks about the optimal GGT levels. I think he said optimal is between 14 and 17 or something like that. So I checked mine out and mine are 20, so I was kind of happy about that. I was thinking, yeah, that's not too bad. Some people are up to 70 and that's considered normal.

Just to give some background, the normal GGT levels, like what a doctor would read and think "Oh this is okay" is 70 UL, so units per litre. So if you go get a blood test and you see that your GGT is 70, that's probably not good but it's still considered normal whereas he says the optimal level is less than 16. You can test that out and then you can correlate that with other markers of your blood. He says that if you've got high serum ferritin and then you've got high GGT then the chances are that you've got iron overload. I think that's what he was saying.

Doug: If you've got high GGT? Or high serum ferritin?

Elliot: High GGT and high serum ferritin. Is that right?

Tiffany: Right.

Doug: Yeah.

Elliot: So I checked my ferritin out as well and it's not particularly high so I'm in the clear. But it's worth checking out.

Doug: Something else is happening with your glutathione.

Elliot: Yeah, there's funny other things probably. But you should be able to go to a doctor and just get the test. It's fairly basic.

Jonathan: Is supplementing glutathione one of those things like GABA, where if you take the capsule it doesn't really do that much for you?

Tiffany: I haven't heard anything bad about supplementing glutathione. I've taken it myself and haven't really noticed anything.

Jonathan: Same here.

Doug: The form is very important. I know that. There was controversy for a while that when people were taking glutathione as a supplement it wasn't doing anything because your stomach would just break it down or your digestive system would just break it down so you weren't getting actual glutathione into the system.

But you're still getting all the constituent parts for glutathione. A lot of that I think came from people who are making the liposomal glutathione. Because it's in the liposomal form, which is a fat soluble form, it was getting through the digestive tract whole so you're getting exact glutathione right into the system.

Jonathan: Liposomal anything is better, right?

Doug: Well yeah. The idea is that it's much more absorbable that way. But I don't think that that necessarily means that non-liposomal glutathione is useless.

Elliot: Because you do find glutathione in foods as well but ultimately like Doug said, glutathione is a tripeptide which means it's made up of three different amino acids. One is glycine, the other is glutamine and the third is cysteine. So technically if you consume glutathione you're going to break down that substance into its amino acids and then you will absorb those amino acids and then hopefully you would then be able to re-synthesize the glutathione.

Doug: It's the same thing like taking N-Acetyl Cysteine, the constituent parts of glutathione.

Jonathan: Like precursors, right?

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: For dopamine you want to take L-tyrosine which is a precursor, so it'll stimulate your body to make dopamine.

Doug: Yeah. With the glutathione, if you take N-Acetyl Cysteine it's like making sure your body has the raw materials to make glutathione.

Jonathan: Tiff, what were you going to say?

Tiffany: Does anybody know anybody who actually has hemochromatosis?

Jonathan: I don't.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: How do they look?

Doug: Well because they're addressing it they look okay. I know several people who have gone to get tested, just to make sure. I know a few people who weren't super high but they were borderline so they said "Maybe I'll give blood a couple of times and keep it under control".

Tiffany: Back when we were first reading about hemochromatosis and iron overload, I had a patient who actually had it and it was shocking to see. He looked so bad! Of course he was an alcoholic and he was recently rehomed after being homeless for a number of years, but he was so - I can't even describe it. They call it like a bronze-type of skin colour. He was so bronze it was just shocking to see. He looked awful, not that he was that good looking of a person to begin with, but his skin was just awful. I talked to his doctor and recommended phlebotomy regularly and they wouldn't do it!

Doug: Really?!

Elliot: Wow.

Doug: That just comes back to how the medical community just doesn't recognize this.

Jonathan: Did they even ask you why?

Tiffany: They knew that he had this and they didn't know that that was something that could be done. Maybe they just didn't because he was an alcoholic.

Jonathan: That's not going to help either. Is that a thing that you find, that doctors are generally dismissive of nurses' opinions?

Tiffany: The arrogant ones, but the good doctors always pay attention to what the nurses say because we are with the patients more than they are.

Jonathan: I wonder if Trump has hemochromatosis.

Doug: Well funnily enough, I was reading that alcohol actually will increase the absorption of iron, so if you're having a steak dinner and you have a glass of red wine with it, you're actually increasing the amount of iron that you're taking in. So I wonder if it's more common among alcoholics.

Jonathan: And if you're an alcoholic for real, then it would be off the charts because you're consuming every day.

Elliot: Chronic consumption of alcohol also depletes you of so many different cofactors that you need to protect the iron stores in your body anyway. It depletes you of all sorts of B vitamins, specifically B6 I think. So if you consider that and then you look at the antioxidant system you take into consideration that iron is a real strong pro-oxygen, it's really susceptible to oxidation in the body, and then you look at the fact that alcohol depletes you of all of the cofactors that you need to make antioxidants then it's no wonder why alcohol can be so damaging when it's taken in such large quantities over a period of time.

Erica: Is that why you also see that psoriasis of the liver...

Tiffany: Cirrhosis.

Erica: Cirrhosis, thank you.

Jonathan: Cirrhosis, yeah. Well psoriasis too to a certain extent because if you over-consume beer or wine then you're going to give yourself an internal yeast infection and get skin problems and stuff. I've seen that.

Tiffany: Well when your skin has to take over detoxing jobs from the liver that's not a very good sign.

Jonathan: Right. From a layman's perspective all of this is intimidating. That's why most people take the opinion of their doctor because either they don't have the time to or are intimidated by doing the research and finding out some facts themselves that they can either bring to their doctor or change their habits to achieve a certain end.

But I think for most people, when you bring up the fact that iron overload can hurt you and now you need to do some nebulous things that you don't understand, like if you tell somebody to get a blood panel, I could see them saying, "What? How do I do that?" So it's interesting because it's one of those conditions where not only is it not well understood but people in general are probably not going to be self-motivated to learn more about it, especially when you have giant things like cancer that people are worrying about, even though that's connected.

Tiffany: Yeah, they find high amounts of iron in cancerous breasts.

Doug: I know what you mean though Jonathan. It is kind of a tricky one. I haven't had a blood panel done and I know that I should. It is daunting in a certain way, especially for somebody who's a holistic practitioner. "I'm not going to go to the medical system to get testing done and all the bullshit."

Jonathan: Right.

Doug: Not that I ever thought it was bullshit, but anyway, it's just not on my radar. I know it is something that I should do and something that I plan to do in the future but it's tricky, especially if somebody doesn't have anything apparently wrong with them. "Well why would I do that? I'm healthy."

But the thing about this is, if you do have hemochromatosis, which is a genetic tendency to absorb too much iron or not be able to excrete that iron, it can really sneak up on you. It's not something that you're necessarily going to notice. There's the story of the person who's totally healthy and then all of a sudden one day has a heart attack. Well that could be from having iron overload and just not recognizing it.

Tiffany: Fatigue, depression, arthritis, irregular heart rate, increased blood sugar level or diabetes, shortness of breath, swelling in your abdomen, feet and ankles, jaundice, increased sex drive, premature menopause, decreased body hair, shriveled testicles, hypothyroid and redness in your palms. All of those things can be attributed to other things so it's not like if you have any of those you're going to automatically think "Oh, I have too much iron".

Doug: Yeah, that's true. "I have swollen ankles, well I guess that's just my thing."

Erica: Especially if, like you said Tiffany, if the doctors aren't recognizing it or even addressing it.

Jonathan: Exactly. Doug I think you brought up an important point about the appearance. It makes me think of Jim Fixx who wrote the Runner's Encyclopedia who was a very famous runner and he was super healthy but he dropped dead running in Central Park.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: And they found that his arteries were just clogged shut completely. I think he was also a vegetarian or a vegan and an active runner.: So things like that. You would see that guy on the street and think he looks great.

Doug: Actually held up as a model of healthiness.

Jonathan: Right.

Tiffany: Long distance runners don't look very healthy to me though.

Doug: No, it's true because they're catabolizing all their muscle mass in order to get the energy to keep on running. You see the pictures floating around where they compare the body of a sprinter to the body of a marathon runner. The marathon runner is a skeleton with a bag of skin over it and the sprinters are just absolutely ripped, huge. Which type of exercise would you think is healthier?

Jonathan: I've been recently reading some stuff from a guy named Cameron Hanes, who you may or may not have heard of. He is a big guy in the bowhunting world but he also is a fitness guy and he runs ultra- marathons, like 200 miles. No joke, for real. He actually runs a marathon a day to train.

Doug: Oh my god!!

Tiffany: Why would he want to do that?!

Jonathan: He looks like a heavy lifter. He's a big guy.

Doug: Is he keto?

Jonathan: And he looks super healthy and he's keto, yes.

Doug: Yeah, keto, that's the difference right there. Isn't he the guy who's won the ultra-marathon for the last three years running or something? This might have been a while ago actually, but they interviewed him on...

Tiffany: The Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show?

Doug: That's it. With Jimmy what's-his-name.

Tiffany: Moore.

Doug: Thank you. He's full keto and has won the ultra-marathon three years running. If you've got yourself in fat metabolism then it's kind of like a whole new ballgame. It's not the same thing at all.

Tiffany: I wonder how much brown fat this guy has.

Doug: Good segue Tiff!!!

Jonathan: Whoa! That was great.

Erica: Yay!

Elliot: Before we move on to that...

Doug: Oh no!

Elliot: Oh, I'm sorry.

Doug: Denied!

Elliot: I'm sorry guys.

Doug: No, go ahead.

Jonathan: No, go with it.

Elliot: There are a couple of ways, even if you're not diagnosed with hemochromatosis and your blood levels come back normal, there's a good way to check whether your predisposed to that. If you've done genetic testing before, then you can just go onto your 23andMe account or whoever you've done your genetics with, there are a couple of different genes that you can look for. One is on the C282Y position.

I'll post up the link on the chat. It's on the HFE gene. It will tell you if you've got any sort of polymorphism or mutation in this gene. I looked at my own and it turns out I actually do have it. I have half of it so I'm predisposed. The same for a lot of people of northern European ancestry. So if your family come from Ireland or somewhere, there's a very good possibility that you are a carrier. It may not necessarily affect you but you are very likely a carrier, like I am myself. So even if you don't have the full-blown polymorphism, then it still means that you can develop hemochromatosis-like symptoms and you do have a tendency to accumulate more than ordinary people.

So if you do that, there are a couple of steps that you should probably take, which are to limit the amount of vitamin C that you're eating with iron-rich foods. So vitamin C does increase the absorption of iron. So if you're going to have a bowl of spinach, don't drink it with a glass of vitamin C or orange juice because you would be absorbing so much more iron.

Another thing that I do in the morning, drink a big cup of coffee with my breakfast, 20 minutes before. If you drink coffee, just don't have vitamin C with it, but drink it with your breakfast and that prevents the absorption of the iron. So that's a good preventative measure that you could do. If you get the blood tests and you do have high iron levels, then go once or twice a year to donate your blood. There's studies coming out that suggesting that that is a healthy thing to do anyway, even if you don't have iron overload it's good to get things recycled in the system. There are a couple of recommendations, if that helps.

Doug: Yeah, it does.

Erica: What about cooking in cast iron? Is that something that shouldn't be practiced if you have iron overload? Using cast iron pans?

Doug: You can get iron from cast iron pans and maybe if you are in a really serious iron overload situation you would want to avoid that, at least for awhile until you can get it under control, but the best advice I read about it is that you shouldn't really try and control for your iron consumption, except obviously not taking iron supplements and things like that. Of course you wouldn't want to do that.

It's really better to deal with the iron overload in other ways, either through detox methods or phlebotomies or something like that because it's a really difficult thing to control for. Yeah, cooking in a cast iron pan might give you a little bit more iron, not a hell of a lot but a little bit more, and you could avoid red meat, spinach and all those kinds of things, but it's actually an easier thing to do to just deal with it in other ways, keep an eye on it, that sort of thing.

Elliot: Also I'd just like to add a couple of thoughts I've been having on this recently. One or two of the articles that we were reading for this show were talking about the prevalence of iron overload or iron toxicity symptoms have been gradually increasing and I've been thinking if my ancestors have always had this polymorphism, this mutation which means that they accumulate more iron, then was this such a problem for them or was it some sort of adaptation and for what reason is that and I can't answer that question.

I've been trying to get my head around it but I can't find anything that would indicate why that would be the case. However I've been thinking about why it's so damaging now, these days. If you look at what iron does in the body, it depletes vitamin E and it depletes loads of other antioxidants because it is such a pro-oxidant substance. When it's oxidized by something it will cause something called a free radical cascade which goes around stealing all sorts of electrons from all sorts of molecules in your body and just causing havoc. One of the main things that iron targets when it's oxidized is polyunsaturated fats. When it attacks these polyunsaturated fats it produced lipid peroxides. This means that you need so much more vitamin E to counteract the damage that is being caused.

So one of the only things that has changed in our recent history is that we've suddenly been producing all of these vegetable oils and feeding our animals grain products and so our amount of polyunsaturated fat consumption has just flown through the roof. When you consume polyunsaturated fats they are incorporated into your tissues so when you store that belly fat, a lot of that is going to be unsaturated. So when you are consuming iron and a little bit goes astray, then it's got lots of material to break down and cause lots of damage.

So I tend towards thinking that maybe one of the reasons why iron overload is really becoming such a problem for people nowadays is because of all the polyunsaturated fats that are stored in the tissues. So there are a couple of recommendations if someone does have iron overload. And in fact I do this myself anyway because most of my life I consumed loads of vegetable oils. One of them is just to consume a low dose vitamin E and that's because polyunsaturated fats and iron overload do increase your need for vitamin E to protect against the damaging effects. So that might also be something to consider for a lot of people. Even though I don't have iron overload, I still do low dose vitamin E. So that might help.

Jonathan: Cool.

Doug: Elliot you were mentioning why would this adaptation have shown up. Maybe this is going a bit out on a limb here but that made me think about the changing solar environment and the different kinds of light that we're exposed to now because as I was reading it, apparently far infrared and near infrared will actually help to detox iron from the body, actually help to get it out in some way.

I don't know the exact mechanism behind that but I wonder if the changing light environment might have had something to do with it. Maybe if we were exposed to more infrared in the past, maybe we needed more iron or those in that particular climate needed more iron and that's why. Saying it out loud makes you realize that this may be going right out on a limb here but I guess maybe it's a possibility.

Elliot: I think that's a great suggestion. When you've got these polymorphisms you've got MTHFR and hemochromatosis and all these different things, I can't imagine that they just happen by random chance. Something in me doesn't like that idea. It just thinks, okay I think this was probably beneficial for someone at some point in time as an adaptation but now it's no longer useful.

Jonathan: Yeah. Let's give due credit to Tiffany's amazing segue.

Tiffany: Let me try another segue. You should check for iron overload if you are a male who has a hard time putting on weight. And speaking of males who have a hard time putting on weight, they probably have more brown fat.

Jonathan: That was good too.

Doug: I think your other one was better.

Tiffany: I tried to hard?

Jonathan: I was going to say in regards to your first one, we were talking about Cameron Hanes being keto, there is an NIH study "Ketogenic Diet Increases Brown Adipose Tissue, Mitochondrial Proteins, in mice of course.

Tiffany: A lot of the studies are of mice.

Jonathan: But it does make sense. I suppose we should talk about what brown fat is because people may not necessarily be aware. My rough interpretation of it is that white fat stores stuff and brown fat produces energy. Is that too simple?

Doug: I think that's the general gist of it. For so long they've been saying fat is bad, fat is bad, you don't want to accumulate any fat on your body - well not any. Well actually listening to the way the media talks about it, that is the impression given. But it turns out that it has a lot more to do with the type of fat and even the location of fat but I don't think we're going to get into that too much.

Tiffany: As opposed to white fat, brown fat has smaller droplets of the lipids versus a big droplet in white fat cells, so they say but I haven't looked at any under a microscope. And they say they have greater numbers of mitochondria. So it was generally thought that people lose their brown fat as they get old. It's been known that babies have a lot of brown fat around their neck and shoulder area and it helps to keep them warm. But they're finding that even adults have brown fat but the key is that it has to be activated in order to reap any weight loss benefits or things like that.

Jonathan: One way to do that is cold therapy.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Like Wim Hof.

Erica: What about the jiggly machine?

Tiffany: I don't think the jiggly machine is going to cut it.

Jonathan: Well I think guys like Wim Hof are entirely made of brown fat, he doesn't even have muscle tissue anymore.

Doug: No bones, nothing. He's just a big lump of brown fat.

Tiffany: And how much of that is just pure willpower and nuttiness versus the amount of brown fat that he has?

Doug: Good question.

Jonathan: It's a hard one. I've done the cold baths and the showers but I have to be honest and say I've never done it on a regular basis so I can't front and say that I really know personally. I feel great when I do it, despite the suffering, when you're done you feel incredible.

Tiffany: When we were all experimenting with keto, when we were actually in ketosis, not just eating keto-friendly foods, did you notice that you felt a lot warmer? Usually I'm super, super cold, so I've been experimenting recently with going back into keto. Usually I complain that the air conditioning is on but I didn't really complain about that this year and I notice that I get warm, especially around my trunk area and I get hot at night, at some point during the night and have to take the blankets off. And the same thing happened when I was doing cold therapy. So I think they are correct when they say that brown fat generates heat; not that I noticed any weight loss from it but I was nice and warm and snuggly.

Jonathan: I wonder if that could be an explanation for adaptation because they say if you live in a cold climate you're going to get adapted to the cold. That makes logical sense, but when you ask why do you adapt, that could be an explanation for that; you increase your brown fat, activate it and that keeps you warmer and that's what creates the adaptation.

Elliot: On the topic of adaptation to cold environments, it's not only dependent on the degree of brown fat but it's also all of the mitochondria in the body as well because you have different types of mitochondria. These are hereditary adaptations. You have ones which are referred to as more uncoupled. People from colder climates like northern Europe, Russia, these sorts of haplotypes they call them, the people with these genes are more uncoupled. Uncoupled means that when you produce energy in the mitochondria you take electrons from food and you make ATP. But what happens when you uncouple mitochondrial respiration, you take electrons from food but you don't produce ATP, you produce heat instead.

This is really important for people living in cold climates because all of the food that they eat, they don't want it to turn into energy, they want some of it or more of it to turn into heat. So typically white people will have more uncoupled mitochondria whereas people whose ancestry comes from more temperate conditions will have more tightly coupled mitochondria, which means that they don't produce as much heat. This is just as a general rule. Of course it's very individual but it comes down to this being loosely coupled or tightly coupled. So the interesting thing about brown fat is that it contains a protein called thermogenin which is called an uncoupling protein. What it means is that brown fat, when its mitochondria are working, is taking all of the energy that's stored in the body and it's producing loads of heat. It barely produces any ATP whatsoever.

So when you take this into consideration you think of how people want to lose weight, uncoupling is the best way that you can lose weight because you're taking all of the energy from food and you're burning it at a much faster rate to produce loads of heat. This is probably why cold therapy is so good for weight loss, because it uses up so much energy and you don't store any of it.

Doug: It also might help to explain why cold therapy seems to benefit people regardless of what diet they're on, to a certain extent anyway. Apparently the brown fat is drawing triglycerides from the blood, sugar from the blood. It can fuel itself on anything. I can see how the benefits of cold therapy, if we can attribute some of those at least to increase in brown fat of the uncoupled mitochondria, then maybe that's why cold therapy seems to be good across the board.

Elliot: I think it works in a similar way to calorie restriction as well. One of the reasons why mitochondria outside of the brown fat tissue, sometimes when there's too much energy coming in and there are too many reactive oxygen species being produced, what happens is that it has two options. It can either keep producing ATP and produce loads of reactive oxygen species and essentially kill the whole cell, or it can trigger these uncoupling proteins and start producing all this heat energy without producing any reactive oxygen species whatsoever. So it's like a protective mechanism.

But a similar thing happens in calorie restriction. There's all this information about intermittent fasting and calorie restriction and why going a couple of days without food has such a beneficial effect. It's because the body is given time to adapt to a situation where there is not a lot of reactive oxygen species produced and so it can regenerate, if that makes any sense.

Doug: One of our chatters has asked how you can consume brown fat. What meats may contain it? I think it's important to point out that it's not really that you are consuming brown fat, it's that you are producing it. So the fat that you're getting from meats and stuff like that, it generally isn't brown fat, I wouldn't think. But it's more about finding ways to promote its production in your own body.

Jonathan: Brown fat doesn't live in a mammal where you would take cuts of meat, generally.

Tiffany: I've never heard of getting the brown fat slice off of a cow.

Doug: No. I don't know the answer to that. I know in humans that brown fat tends to accumulate around the back between the shoulder blades and on the shoulders and the chest I think as well.

Tiffany: Besides, human and mouse studies I have never seen any studies concerning brown fat in other animals.

Doug: And I don't know that there would necessarily be any benefit to consuming it either.

Tiffany: Maybe we need to ask a cannibal.

Doug: Clearly.

Erica: One of the articles we read had suggested that consuming the sleep hormone melatonin may control weight gain by stimulating what they called beige fat.

Doug: Beige fat is a little bit different from brown fat. I'm not 100% sure what the difference is.

Erica: Intermediary, between the two?

Doug: Yeah, it's not white fat, it's not brown fat but it's somewhere in between and it's not as beneficial as the brown fat itself.

Tiffany: But it still has metabolic advantages.

Doug: Yes.

Tiffany: I hope that cleared it up.

Jonathan: I'm not being cheeky here, but would it be fair to say that a spectrum of fat, between white fat and brown fat, kind of like with water, where we have this transitionary stage of EZ water?

Doug: No, I think there's only three very clearly delineated types. I don't actually know. That makes sense actually Jonathan. It's probably the case.

Erica: The question, start cold therapy would be a good way to start.

Doug: Go ketogenic.

Tiffany: There are some other cheats.

Doug: Yeah, there's a couple of cheats out there.

Erica: Intermittent fasting.

Doug: That's not really cheating because it's hard.

Tiffany: We're talking about pills here.

Doug: Yeah, pills.

Doug: There's actually a drug that actually an overactive bladder drug that has also been found to activate brown fat. They did a study, I think it was only 12 participants, where they measured their brown fat, gave them this drug once and then measured it again and their resting metabolic rate was burning 203 more calories per day. It's kind of like a super pill.

Erica: A side effect super pill.

Doug: Maybe.

Tiffany: I'm sure it has side effects.

Tiffany: It probably dries you out or something like all the other bladder drugs do.

Elliot: I know there's a couple of other things. I don't know if they necessarily increase brown fat but they do increase something that does give you the same thing as brown fat, which is uncouple the mitochondria. One of those is nicotine. Another one is I think caffeine.

Doug: Wow! Keep the coffee coming.

Elliot: Another one is...

Doug: Chocolate.

Elliot: Possible. Aspirin is one. That uncouples the mitochondria. We said melatonin. And another is exercise. Exercise does this. You get really hot when you exercise. But on the subject of melatonin, I think the studies were people who took exogenous melatonin, so they actually took it in pill form, but I would say that if you want to maximize melatonin just sleep properly because there are so many research studies coming out about how a lack of sleep leads to obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, a lot. So when you understand melatonin is just so important, it's a potent antioxidant and we've just seen that increases brown fat as well, just get to sleep.

Tiffany: Yeah, make sure you get sunlight during the day and you're not exposing yourself to blue light at night.

Jonathan: That early morning sunlight in your eyes is important to stimulate melatonin.

Tiffany: To turn on the ocular melatonin.

Jonathan: So this is my new excuse for going fishing in the morning. I need to increase my melatonin.

Tiffany: There's also something called ursolic acid and it's found in apple peels. I guess you can get it in supplement form, and it increases brown fat production and it increases muscle mass, so they say.

Doug: It's another miracle supplement.

Tiffany: But you have to try it for yourself to really believe. But think you have to take it for up to eight weeks before you notice anything.

Doug: And how many pounds of apple peels a day do you think you'd have to eat to get the effect?

Erica: I was just going to say, can you eat apple peels and not the apple?

Tiffany: Apparently body builders swear by it, but they swear by a lot of things.

Doug: That's true.

Jonathan: One quick note on the cold therapy to that chatter, if it's something that you want to try but if it's too shocking or you're nervous about it, you can start slowly by getting a bowl, like a foot-and-a-half in diameter or something like that and then put ice water in it, cold water and ice, and then submerge your face in the water. You have so many nerve ending in your face that that exposure to the cold is like a primer for the rest of your body.

You won't be able to do it for very long at first unless you're different. I tried this and at first blush it was 10 or 15 seconds and I had to pull it out, like "UGH!" But after a few times you get to leave it in there essentially as long as you can hold your breath and at that point you can be confident that you can take a cold bath and not be as shocked as you would be before.

Erica: Or turn the shower to cold for a few minutes.

Jonathan: But that's so shocking because the impact of the water on your skin is what's really awful about that I think.

Erica: Yeah.

Jonathan: It makes it worse, in my mind.

Tiffany: Well some people swear by that gradual approach. They'll start with a hot shower and then gradually turn the hot down until it gets more and more cold. I think that's just prolonging the agony. But when I first started out doing the cold baths I would sit in the empty bathtub first and then turn on the cold water and let it slowly rise up my body and then I was like forget all that. Just fill up the tub and get in.

Doug: Jump in and start the timer, jump out.

Jonathan: You have an opportunity to work on your breathing when you jump in.

Tiffany: I don't jump in.

Jonathan: We used to do that, not so much as I used to because I live by Lake Superior, which is a consistent 42 to 48 degrees, give or take. You can jump in there and it's a shocker. I'm surprised that none of us ever got a heart attack from doing that.

Tiffany: It's because you were young and robust more likely.

Jonathan: Exactly. But it's like the polar bear challenge where they cut a hole in the ice. The Russians do that, right?

Doug: God!

Elliot: Just be careful with the cold baths or just don't put ice in the bath because I experienced two weeks of urticaria on the chest because I got in the bath and put a couple of kilograms of ice in there and was in a lot of pain for two weeks.

Jonathan: Wow.

Elliot: So I think you have to go slowly on it.

Tiffany: I've done that too but it didn't last for two weeks. But the thing is you can't feel it because your body goes so numb from the cold you can't feel that there's an ice cube sitting on your skin.

Jonathan: What was the condition you mentioned Elliot?

Elliot: Urticaria. It's like a rash. I think my skin was numb for a couple of days after that. I couldn't feel anything.

Tiffany: Mine too.

Elliot: Like Tiff said, you can't feel it, the pain and then it just disappears and you're like "Oh yeah, I'm cold adapted" then you realize a couple of hours later that you probably just did yourself some real harm.

Jonathan: Did you find that that lasted at all? Is all your feeling back or do you have a little bit less?

Elliot: Yeah, the feeling's okay, from what I can feel now. I've got my fingers on my chest and it feels pretty sturdy. So I can feel everything, but just take it easy.

Jonathan: It would be like nerve damage, right?

Elliot: Possible, yeah, I guess. I think that's what happens if you just jump into things. Always research it first.

Tiffany: They have those cryoscope things that women go to, to freeze off fat on different parts of their body and I think it actually freezes or damages the fat cells in some way and they have a problem with numbness for a while and it goes away and allegedly the part of the body they treated actually decreases in its fat content. I'm not 100% sure what the mechanism is but it does something damaging to the fat cells and I guess it just takes a while for the body to clear out all the debris, hence the time recuperating.

Doug: Speaking of body sculpting...

Elliot: Wait there, wait there.

Doug: No, you're going on.

Elliot: No, I was just going to add...

Doug: Go ahead! Go ahead!

Elliot: I'm sorry.

Doug: What a surprise!

Elliot: I'm sorry Doug. It was on the previous thing. I was going to add it in before. I was just going to say I've got some good news for everyone, and that is that chocolate does increase uncoupling the mitochondria.

Doug: Really?!

Elliot: Yeah. There's a research study here that says there's a section of cocoa powder which is called flavan-3-ol and it increases mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle in mice and it also increases uncoupling. So, yeah.

Tiffany: Just in mice.

Jonathan: Sweet.

Doug: So cigarettes, coffee and chocolate. That's my new diet!

Tiffany: I wonder if it depends on the quality of the chocolate. We're not talking about a Hershey's bar here are we?

Jonathan: We're talking about cocoa specifically.

Doug: That's awesome. So speaking of chocolate, shit! How about those tattoos?

Tiffany: If somebody loves chocolate so much they might be tempted to get a chocolate tattoo.

Doug: There you go. Good segue. So some of the articles we looked into this week were the dangers of tattooing. One of them in particular was talking about how apparently the ink from tattoos will actually collect in the lymph nodes and colour those lymph nodes. This is something they've known for a while now. It isn't new but what is new is that they've also found that the lymph nodes tend to expand when they've taken this ink in.

The lymphatic system is a waste removal system for the body so I guess it makes sense that the ink from the tattoos, over time, would be slowly fed into the body as your body is breaking down cells and reproducing cells and that stuff has to go somewhere. So the fact that it's collecting in the lymphatic tissue is not really that surprising but the fact that it could have such a negative effect, maybe is surprising.

Jonathan: There's a danger of toxicity from heavy metals in some of the inks. To be clear, there are forms of black ink that are not as bad for you. They're not packed with heavy metals. We're more concerned with bright colours. I'm concerned with that. I have a tattoo that I got years ago that has some bright colours in it so I wonder about it. But try to stay on top of things, detoxing and immediate health and stuff like that.

Doug: Apparently some black ink contains iron oxides, so that's a connection for the iron we were talking about before. So if you're trying to keep your iron levels low, you should avoid getting black ink that has iron oxides in it.

Jonathan: Sure.

Doug: Do I win the prize?

Jonathan: I remember when we were talking about the show beforehand I think you had mentioned Doug, Asian gang members, Chinese or Japanese gang members who get the full body tattoos from top to bottom have been known to die of liver failure. That's a common thing.

Doug: Wow! That wasn't me that mentioned that.

Jonathan: Okay. Somebody mentioned that, that it contributed to that. But I would imagine that at a certain point, there are levels. If you have a little sunflower tattoo on your ankle, it's not like being covered from head to toe.

Doug: Is that what your tattoo is Jonathan?

Jonathan: No. I have a few actually.

Erica: If you think about it, the skin is constantly needing to detoxify so it would seem like with the ink that it's blocking those pathways. It was actually me that said that Jonathan, about the tattoos.

Jonathan: Ah.

Erica: There's hepatitis and then ultimate death by liver failure. But it would seem like the body has to work extra hard to excrete through the skin if there's ink in there. They were even saying in one of the articles about nanoparticles in the inks as well and travelling through the lymph. So that may be why. We have a picture on the show description of somebody who's completely tattooed from head-to-toe and it would seem that their body has to work much harder to detoxify because the skin is no longer open to let out toxins.

Jonathan: I think this is something that's important to point out too, on the levels of things of 'pretty sure they'll kill you' versus other things. There are a lot of older people who have tattoos, maybe not covered head-to-toe. I'm just saying for example, war veterans who have tattoos over their forearms that live into their 80's and 90's, the point being that it's going to make your health harder to maintain over time.

Doug: Yeah. It's adding to the overall burden that your body has to deal with on a daily basis. If you've got slow leaching of heavy metals and titanium dioxide and other kinds of crap from the ink in your tattoo, it's just another nail in the coffin.

Jonathan: Another thing to deal with.

Tiffany: I wonder if these people who are covered from head-to-toe with ink have trouble properly absorbing sunlight.

Jonathan: Could be.

Elliot: I think I remember reading something about that, something Jack Kruse posted on Facebook I think. I can't remember what it was. The thing that concerns me, especially with the nanoparticles is it's not the same, but it reminds me of vaccines. You're introducing this foreign substances that's bypassing the natural defences, the digestive tract and the lungs. Okay, say you cut yourself in the wild, you would get mud and stuff in it, but are there nanoparticles of aluminium and metals and things in mud?

Probably not. So what sort of effect is this going to have. I think the point about the overall toxic burden is really important as well because we're not living in the same environment as we were, even in the 80s and 90s. It's just getting worse and worse and worse and worse, maybe even the inks and stuff that they're using now. I tried to think what they could potentially be contaminated with when you consider all of the toxins that are in our environment, whether it be glyphosate or anything, all of these man made things, BPA and stuff, perhaps 30 or 40 ago maybe the ink that was used may not have been as bad as it possibly is today. I don't know, that really speculative but overall, it's just concerning.

Jonathan: The old style of tapping tattoos with sharp sticks on a lever that you would tap with your hand over time so you're doing what a laboratory tattoo gun does but tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, like that. They use wood ash for the ink in those.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: And other roots.

Jonathan: Oh, and other roots?

Erica: The Polynesians have been doing it for a long time and they use bone to do it. That's where the word tattoo comes from, it's tatau, so it's the tapping. This has been going on for hundreds of years and it has a very different significance and we won't get into the discussion of tattoos' significance, but they fade because it's a natural earth substance that turns lighter over years.

Elliot: And the body knows how to get rid of a lot of these things. In the bone it's calcium and phosphorus and these are just basic minerals that the body uses every single day. So it knows how to process these things, but all of the man made stuff like the glyphosate and the BPA and all the different things we've spoken about in previous shows, the body doesn't know what to do with those. It's overburdened.

Doug: Yeah, I think that's very true. So is there any valid reason to get a tattoo?

Jonathan: Well it depends on how you define valid I guess.

Doug: I guess it does.

Jonathan: Coming from a person who has tattoos and also understanding their nature, I know that I have increased the burden on my body. I wouldn't argue any of them, like "I had to get this". That doesn't even come into it. It's completely a personal preference, personal symbolism. For some people it's aesthetic, they just want to look cool so you get a cool flame, that kind of thing. But if you define valid as something that's necessary, I don't think there's any argument for that at all.

Doug: Well I guess so. Maybe it wasn't well put. I'm just thinking that given that there is this risk of toxicity - and I just remembered that I found out this week that one of the Allman brothers actually died from getting a tattoo. I don't think that's common but nonetheless there is some risk involved. But on the other hand...

Erica: And he had hepatitis too. It was hepatitis.

Doug: I think the hepatitis came from the tattoo, didn't it?

Erica: Yeah. Are you talking about Greg Allman?

Doug: Yes. I guess on the other hand you've got the super-huge rise in the popularity of tattoos. Obviously you average person going out and getting a tattoo is probably not considering at all that it might be harmful to them in some way as far as toxic burden goes or something along those lines.

Jonathan: No.

Doug: They're probably not even thinking about possible pathogens. I think most tattoo parlours are pretty clean these days. They've worked on that. But nonetheless, given the risk, what's the reward?

Tiffany: Looking cool.

Erica: Not that it really matters, but the FDA doesn't regulate it at all either, so there's no research into what's going into it, if it's safe, if it's clean.

Tiffany: There are some things that are just approved for cosmetic use, not for injecting into the skin.

Jonathan: With that I think ink is a big issue. I wouldn't worry about hygiene, honestly, getting a modern tattoo, if you go to a shop. They have to be a certified medical facility in order to do that legally anyway.

Doug: Right.

Jonathan: But as far as the inks themselves, that's a big concern.

Doug: I was trying to get more into the psychological aspect of tattoos.

Jonathan: I don't want to fall into trying to defend myself. I feel like a lot of it is completely self-serving; either I think this looks cool and I want other people to see it so they think I'm cool, or a meaning that I want to remind myself of and I like that implementation of reminding myself with a tattoo. And that is also completely self-serving.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: If you boil it down.

Doug: And I don't want to try and come across like I was pointing at you specifically Jonathan.

Jonathan: Yeah, I get it.

Doug: I was talking more in general.

Jonathan: I'm not offended at all. I feel like I can draw on my experience with that and having thought through it. I have the V mask on my calf with the Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici quote around the edge of it and part of that was I really like that message but I also thought it looked really cool. So there you have it.

Doug: I guess there is a lot of that identifying in a certain way, announcing to the world, the same way you would have something written on your T-shirt but it's a little bit more hardcore and permanent. But it's for group identification to a certain extent I think. I know that peer pressure probably comes into that, not that anybody's necessarily saying "You have to get a tattoo or you're out of our group" but it's a little bit more subtle than that and people want to identify. It's usually an anti-establishment message or it often is.

But it's interesting because we had an article that we looked into called The Psychology of Tattoos Acquisition and it was talking about a study but it was a very loose study. There was only a small number of participants. It was done as an interview, talking to people about their tattoos, why they got them, what their early childhood life was like. What came up was the idea that tattoos are almost armouring in a way, that people by getting these tattoos...

Erica: Something like a mask.

Doug: Yes. I think they even used that term. It's a way of protecting. "I've done this to myself so that's what I want to put out there. I don't want to put out there..."

Tiffany: Yeah, "Don't judge me for the abuse that I suffered. Judge me for the abuse that I've caused myself" was one of the things that they said in the article.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: They also said that it was kind of like a presentation of the false self to protect the wounded self. So a lot of these people, even though it was a very small study, they have divorce, separation, one of their parents died, or there was abuse or neglect in their childhood, just a lot of traumatic events, but that doesn't explain it. A lot of people have traumatic events in their childhood and they don't get tattoos.

Doug: But lots of people do get tattoos.

Tiffany: That is true, but there is also a difference between a tattoo somebody gets, say a sunflower on their ankle or something, that you could argue "That's just for my personal enjoyment". But then there are people whose whole body is covered in tattoos and when I see that I think "What's wrong with them? What's going on there?"

Doug: Yeah. I think that too. There's only so far that a person would go if they are a normal functioning individual to just go for group identification. I'm sure that in some cases it's just a matter of one-upmanship and it's like "My buddy got this tattoo so I'll get a bigger tattoo" and then "I'm going to get another tattoo", etc., etc., etc.

I know there's actually an addictive quality to it as well. So many people I know who have tattoos have talked about how once they got one they wanted another and then they wanted another. It seems to escalate in some way. In fact in this article they even said that all the people they talked to said that they didn't plan on stopping getting tattoos and that until they ran out of skin they'd keep going.

Jonathan: There's definitely people who are overboard with it too. I certainly don't ever intend to get a neck tattoo or anything like the backs of my hands, that kind of thing. I want to be able to retain the ability to put on some nice clothes and look like a professional.

Doug: Right.

Tiffany: In one of the articles that we looked at about tattoos, the author was saying that one of the reasons why people find excessive tattooing repellent is because it's narcissistic, attention-seeking, 'hey, look at me, make a comment on how I look' kind of thing.

Jonathan: Yeah, totally.

Tiffany: And I think in a certain way that could be true.

Doug: I have come across a lot of people too, who would get these very - I don't know the right word - I was going to say ostentatious but I don't think that's really the right word - just very dramatic tattoos, things that you can't help but see. As soon as they walk into the room it's the first thing you're going to notice.

Tiffany: Like they want someone to comment.

Doug: But at the same time I've known several people who didn't like being questioned about their tattoos. It's like walking into some place in a duck costume or something like that and "Don't ask me about the costume!" It's a passive/aggressive kind of thing. It just seemed kind of weird.

Jonathan: I wonder if it plays into some of the radical progressive thinking, in which case you can proudly display your identification with something, anything, that nobody's allowed to ask you about.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: So it seems almost like a little cognitive dissonance.

Doug: That's a good point.

Jonathan: Aside from the obvious health risks that we've discussed, the psychological aspect of it comes into the whole spectrum of different types of people. Like you said, there are people who get them for "look at me, look at me" all day long. I see they're popular with younger women now is a strap shirt like a tank top with full chest and sleeves of tattoos and that's their identity.

Elliot: On the topic, it was mentioned before how it was kind of like an anti-establishment thing. When you see some of them nowadays and it's like death and destruction and weird goblin baby things with axes in their heads and stuff it's like "What?!?" I personally don't understand it. It's completely anti-all I guess you would say...

Tiffany: It's ugly!

Elliot: Yeah! If a Christian saw it they would say that it was Satanism because it's very similar to what is known by Christians as Satanistic or whatever you call it.

Erica: Satanic.

Elliot: Satanic, that's the word. Yeah, I tend to think of it from a really speculative level, but I think, what kind of information does that carry with it? If you're looking at this every day and this is imprinted on your body then what energy does that carry with it? What sort of thing does that draw to you? There are so many things that you could think about. It can't really be proven necessarily but it's things that I think are important to consider.

Jonathan: Yeah, to a point...

Tiffany: It's interesting that you say that because symbols are very powerful. If we're practicing Reiki there's the Reiki symbols and you're actually transferring that energy into somebody when they get attuned. So just imagine if you're actually imprinting an evil-looking symbol onto your body! What does that mean?

Doug: Yeah, it makes me think of the experiments that Dr. Masaru Emoto did where he wrote the messages on the container with the water and then examined the structure under a microscope.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: And you think of how much of the body is actually composed of water. So putting a symbol on a body, it seems like it would carry a lot of information.

Jonathan: Totally. Elliot, addressing your point about that, I think that it's really important, and I feel bad too when I see people who have done that to the detriment of their own world view, if that makes any sense; where they might have thought they identified with it at one point and then changed their minds later. If you are going to get a tattoo I think it's really important to take a long time, at least a year, at least, and think about the meaning of it, understand what it means to the rest of your life. Is that something that you want to embrace?

It's super important. The whole Christian thing is interesting because I grew up in a really heavily protestant Christian family and tattoos were not necessarily seen as evil. Bad looking tattoos would have been of a devil face or something, but in general it was just part of the world over here, that you didn't want to get into. My first tattoo was our family coat of arms and that was fun discussion because it was something they couldn't morally or ethically argue with, but then we discussed "Do you really want that on you?" "Yes, I want to see this. I want to remember this, that I'm part of my family, where history comes from."

So it can be, I think, valid in certain cases. Again, aside from the obvious toxic burden you're putting on your body, but purely psychologically. But then it can easily be taken too far; the classic example of a girlfriend's name who you were with for six months.

Doug: I actually have a friend who always looked a bit older than he was and ended up getting all these tattoos when he was 14 years old and it was all zombies coming out of graves and flaming skulls and all this kind of stuff and oh my god, does he regret them!

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Now he's a social worker and has to cover them all up, always wearing long-sleeved shirts.

Jonathan: If I may do a quick aside. I'll try to do a long story short. There's this group that people may or may not have heard of in the US called The Proud Boys. They're wrapped up in the whole social justice war right now. A lot of people call them Alt Right. I don't know. I'm agnostic about whatever their views are, but I heard a story that I thought was interesting. One of their main founders is an African-American guy.

They are seen as being racists but they're not 100% but this guy became uncomfortable with the levels of racism that did get included in the group and there were people who were legitimately racist who were being brought into the group. Part of being a "Proud Boy" is that you have to get a tattoo that says "Proud Boy". So he got one and now in this interview, he was like "I need this thing removed. I've got to get it taken off because I'm just not with them."
So that's an interesting case too. You might ideologically identify with something and then realize that it's not the direction you want to go.

Doug: Which I think is one of the dangers of tattoos, aside from all the physical stuff. We are beings who are constantly changing, all the time. So to get something permanently etched on your body seems so short-sighted. I think that's actually one of the things that saved me from ever getting a tattoo, even when it was cool and I had friends who were getting them. I never could think of anything that was universal enough that I would want it on my body for the rest of my life. I just couldn't think of anything. I don't know. I could see how much I had changed in my short life and I thought "When I'm 60, am I still going to feel the same way about this?" And it's like "No, I don't think I will."

Tiffany: How cool is that tattoo on your buff bicep going to look when you're 70 years old and all flabby.

Elliot: And it goes green and faded and it just looks like someone's taken a paint brush and just put it on your arm. There was a question in the chat room and it was "What effect would metallic ink have on the human biomagnetic field.?" I thought that's a really good question. Hard to say, but I can't imagine that it doesn't have an effect. I think Jack Kruse has spoken about heavy metal toxicity being like an antenna for the EMFs so when you're exposed to things like wifi and stuff, even though it's non-ionizing radiation, it still energizes atoms of metal, like for instance, when you put a metal fork into a microwave you'll see sparks.

So he likens it to that and he says that he thinks it probably does have lots of effects; maybe even that's one of the reasons why EMF is so harmful, because the body contains loads of metal ions and it's potentially interacting with those. So I can't imagine it has a good effect on the biomagnetic field.

Jonathan: I had heard that once about piercings too but this was years ago and it was in the context of an energy worker who may or may not have been woo-woo about their work. But it stuck in my mind. "You shouldn't have earrings in your ears because it throws off your energy field."

Doug: I've heard similar things from acupuncturists and others.

Jonathan: Do you think that tattoos can be emblematic of any underlying depression that people might have. Another segue. Not that great.

Tiffany: That was a good one.

Erica: It was.

Jonathan: In my case I would say personally, no, even when I look back on them, the ones that I got. I really don't think so but I think that it can happen for sure. I know a guy, who of course will remain anonymous, who has the word "broke" tattooed across his neck in the front. "You can't have been feeling super happy when that went down!"

Doug: If it really does carry any kind of weight - which I think that it probably does - I think having that written on yourself, you're confirming it to yourself, constantly, all the time.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Tiffany: Or even worse, what if his neck literally breaks?

Doug: There you go. You just blew my mind.

Jonathan: If we do want to talk about depression a little bit, one of our articles I thought was interesting was chronic inflammation, fanning the flames of depression. I suppose you could connect that with tattoos because if you had a ton of tattoos, especially with some high visibility colour inks, that probably would 100% contribute to inflammation.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: I don't know what the levels would have to be. If you have one, is that contributing .00008 percent or something like that?

Doug: Yeah, but if that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Jonathan: Exactly. But I find it interesting because I definitely have experienced this in my own life, more so cognizantly after I changed my diet the first time and then have since lapsed a number of times and had that experience of eating crappy food and knowing what it feels like to feel good, that it's a no-brainer connection. If you're eating high sugar and high refined carbohydrates, processed foods, it's even more so if you're not exercising, you're just going to feel bad and you're more prone to anxiety, depression. It's totally true and that always, as our listeners have imagined, causes some chronic inflammation. If you're putting crap in your body, it's just going to continue to be inflamed all over, all the tissue, the brain, everything.

Doug: It's funny because it is controversial. To us it isn't because it's like, of course, inflammation can be the cause of any number of different problems, so why not mood? It just makes sense, but to mainstream psychiatry or something like that it's "No, no, no. It's a brain imbalance and you need to take this medication to correct that imbalance. It has nothing to do with inflammation or anything."

But even in herbal medicine, St. John's Wort is something that's often used for depression and apparently scientists have been looking into this for a long time and they can't get out of the box of serotonin deficiency; "Oh yeah, depression is caused by a lack of serotonin." They're looking for the mechanism by which St. John's Wort actually increases serotonin and they can't find it. But the thing is, St. John's Wort is a powerful anti-inflammatory, particularly to the nervous system. So that is more likely the mechanism of action than actually causing serotonin to increase.

Elliot: The question is, would you even want to increase serotonin because there's some research which suggests that a lot of the benefits of taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac, are not the increase in serotonin but actually the body's response to the excess serotonin.

Doug: Oh!

Elliot: So what you find is you see massive increases as a response of something called allopregnanolone and this is in the brain and this is a protective steroid hormone. It protects against all types of stress. There was one paper which plainly said that no, it cannot be the increase in serotonin which increases mood, it's the allopregnanolone which quells down the inflammation. So he was saying it's an inflammatory thing, it's not serotonin and he was actually saying that serotonin is really not that good whatsoever.

It produces similar symptoms to cocaine. It might make you very alert or something but it's certainly not responsible for a good mood. It's so reductionistic to say that one neurotransmitter is responsible for preventing depression. I think it's ludicrous because quite frankly we don't understand neurotransmitters. To say "Oh yeah, you should increase one of them and you'll feel better" is completely blind-sighted. But yeah, there's just that piece of interesting information as well.

Jonathan: Euphoria is not necessarily mood, right? That would be a different classification. I know the SSRIs don't necessarily induce euphoria but when you think about drugs like MDMA that suck all the serotonin out of the body and pump it through your brain, that causes a feeling...(audio problems)

Doug: Okay, can you guys hear us?

Tiffany: Is anyone there?

Jonathan: Should be. Can our chatters hear us now? Let's see.

Doug: Oh, they can hear us.

Elliot: Yes!

Doug: Okay, good, good.

Tiffany: Our internet connection just dropped.

Erica: Like last week.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Jonathan: That was bad last week. To this thing about serotonin, I think it's pretty fascinating, just what you said alone, that they're not so sure that it's even good. SSRIs are the basis for our entire modern psychiatric industry, psychiatrists being the ones who prescribe and psychologists are the ones who have discussions.

Tiffany: Well it's based on...

Erica: I think that's why this topic hasn't really caught on too because like we've said many times on this show, if you can change your diet to deal with your depression, then you don't need all those drugs.

Tiffany: Not that the drugs work anyway.

Erica: Exactly.

Tiffany: And it's not that there are any tests, like you go into a psychiatrist's office and you say "Oh, I'm depressed" and they say "Okay, let's take you to the lab and we're going to drop your levels of dopamine and serotonin and see if they fall within the normal range."

Jonathan: Right.

Tiffany: They don't know what the normal range is for a group of people let alone an individual! My regular level of serotonin might be different than everybody else's. So it's all just a big joke. It's all just guesswork.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: I can say that I have found, for me, notable mental health benefits from supplementing 5 HTP, tyrosine and originally GABA but then I stopped doing that because I learned that it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier. But I've certainly noticed big benefits from 5 HTP and tyrosine.

Doug: I don't think you're the only one either. I think that there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence out there for taking those kind of supplements. It's theorized that the reason is because you're giving your body what it needs to make those neurotransmitters and that might actually be true but again, we're kind of shooting in the dark here.

Tiffany: I've taken them before and sometimes they make me groggy during the day or they interfere with my sleep at night so I don't bother taking those anymore. If I'm sad, I just like to be sad.

Elliot: I may be wrong, but I know that tryptophan is the amino acid that is used to produce serotonin, but tryptophan can also be used to make niacin. I'm not sure whether 5HTP can convert to niacin in the body but I'm not sure how much 5 HTP is converted to serotonin. I think that depends on each individual. One thing to consider also is, like Tiff said, different people might have different levels of this so it's so hard to generalize and say "this amount is good for everyone" or "this amount is bad for everyone".

Some people may benefit from more serotonin, some people may benefit from less. All I know for sure is that the picture that is painted by psychiatry is completely bogus. There was a really good article by Dr. Kelly Brogan. She's quite a well known psychiatrist who tries to use food and natural supplements to treat psychiatric conditions. She wrote an amazing article on debunking the whole serotonin myth and she goes through the same thing, that depression is essentially an inflammatory condition as is bipolar, schizophrenia and all of these different things.

But I think here it's also really important to clarify or define what is depression as well because it's a broad term that people will use willy-nilly. I don't think I've ever experienced proper depression but I think there's maybe a genuine state of depression which is just a natural part of human experience; suffering to help us learn and grow as individuals. But then I think there's also this chronic inflammatory state which I personally have never felt but I'm sure many people do feel. I think it's important that we separate those two terms, separate the meanings of those two things and try to identify which one is the case because the natural depression is really important but then the inflammatory depression, we don't need it.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Elliot: So how does someone determine when they have that.

Doug: That's a very good point.

Jonathan: I think in those cases, like you said natural depression, where there are depressing things that happen every day and in everybody's life but I think of what you might refer to as clinical depression is a deficiency in neurotransmitters, nutrient deficiency, but in my mind more so what that results in is the inability to think critically about what you're experiencing. It's the inability to not identify emotionally with it and that's what causes the spiral because the world is bleak and there's no way out. Yes, that is actually true, but you can be aware of that and still live your life in kind of a normal, well-adjusted way. But when you get sucked into it and you're nutrient deficient and your brain is not working properly you can't think your way out of it and that's where people...

Tiffany: So a feeling of hopelessness in other words.

Jonathan: Yeah, but inescapable hopelessness. Or it feels inescapable.

Tiffany: That's quite different from situational sadness, that you're grieving because a loved one died or there's some life change that's going on. But the clinical depression, to my mind, I think that it is present and persistent through different situations that are going on in your life, this inability to experience joy no matter what.

Jonathan: And then, if you want to refer to it as bipolar or whatever, but leaving the classification aside for a moment, there are people who have this transition between periods of extreme depression and periods of extreme mania and if any of our listeners have experience with that or have lived with somebody who experiences that, it can be incredibly difficult because you go from that state of utter hopelessness to a state of mania, pure insanity. There's no logic, it's just impulse, like total reptilian brain - go, go, go.

I don't mean to offend anybody but I think what makes me sad about that for people who have that condition or have perhaps given themselves that condition, albeit unintentionally, is the amount of stress being put on the brain must be incredible and just the imbalances there shooting back and forth. It's like a boat that's lilting to one side 65 degrees and then back to the other side, it's happening in your mind.

Tiffany: And to compound that with all these horrendous psychiatric drugs.

Jonathan: Yeah. And on the other hand I've known one person who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had fairly bad episodes who is now stable, got married, has kids, living normally. So it can be worked out.

Doug: So do you think that pets ever get depression?

Jonathan: Good one.

Tiffany: Do pets suffer?

Jonathan: Anybody who's owned a dog knows that they can get depressed, for sure.

Erica: There's definitely a rise in the medicating of dogs with Prozac.

Jonathan: Oh no! Really?

Erica: Yeah.

Jonathan: I didn't know about that.

Doug: That's unbelievable actually.

Jonathan: Yeah. I guess if I were to be super-analytical about it I would say that dogs exhibit behaviour which implies that they're depressed; put a human construct on it.

Erica: What about cats?

Jonathan: Cats are just like "Forget that! I don't care." Cats are too arrogant to be depressed.

Tiffany: No, they can. Poor kitties.

Erica: Caged birds.

Tiffany: Oh!

Jonathan: Yeah, for sure.

Doug: So should we go to the pet health segment then, after that masterful segue.

Jonathan: Yeah, let's do that.

Doug: Okay, here's Zoya.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. My name is Zoya and today I would like to share with you a segment of a talk by Dr. Andrew Roark. It's very important, and you could say personal talk because it gives you a glimpse into daily struggles and inner trepidations veterinarians and clients have to deal with. But it's not all bad. Far from it! What Dr. Andy Roark says applies to all of us, no matter our profession or way of life. He talks about happiness and about suffering and how we can choose our suffering and be happy about it. Sounds like something more appropriate to a show we had on another topic some time ago, right? Well as it happens, I stumbled upon it now and it appears to be very important, relevant and worth sharing. So here it is. Have a great weekend and don't forget to hug your pets.
Dr. Roark: We struggle with pet owners because we confuse joy and happiness. We think that they're the same thing. We think about those puppies and kittens that come in and the dogs that chew at our ears and the families that are so thrilled because this is their first pet. We think about the pictures we put on Facebook of us doing our job. We think about the surgery that went so smoothly and so wonderfully and we thought we were going to lose this pet and we didn't because it came back. It was wonderful! That's joy. Those are glimpses and moments and they're great.

But we've lost sight of the fact that that's joy. It's meant to be a glimpse. If we look and think that we should be snuggling puppies and kittens all day, we're always going to feel like our lives are not where they should be. We are blessed to feel this joy but this is not a sustainable state for us to be in.

Happiness is a long-term process and it has ups and downs. And guys, happiness is full of pain and I don't think our modern society looks at that or feels that. We look at Facebook and we see people celebrating all the time and if we're not celebrating we feel like we're missing something. But that's misguided.

Buddhist philosophy says that life is suffering. That seems so morbid but it's not! It's liberating. Life is about pain and that's fine. The best thing that we can do is choose how we suffer. I'm going to try to tell you a story. I apologize if my voice cracks. Until 10 days ago I was the owner of the best dog in the history of the world. His name was Phoenix. He was 15-and-a-half years old. He was with me when I got married, when I went to vet school, when I went to grad school, both of my kids, my first job, my second job, my third job, the conference I started. Everything, he's been with me. He's my best friend.

I put him to sleep. It was time, it was just time. It was the quality of life thing. Man it hurts! You know that feeling, right? You guys have been there. Here's the thing. Life is suffering. I will take the pain. I will absolutely take the pain of losing him. You know why? I got 16 years of joy of being with him, right!! Now I could have chosen to suffer differently. I could have not had this dog and every day there would have been that small amount of pain when I came home to an empty house. Itty-bitty. But I will take this pain over that pain any day! That's the price of admission. That's what I choose to accept.

We think about our dogs and we think about the great parts and we think about all the bad parts, right? The crappy parts, the people that are angry, the people that complain about their bill, arguing with someone over a seven dollar nail trim. We think about that. How do you want to suffer? Do you want to suffer with that headache or do you want to suffer with the headache that you would have doing something else? Because think about that! I was flying to come here and the person at the check-in counter next to me at Delta was raising hell because she didn't want to pay the $25.00 bag check fee. She said "No, I have the credit card. I'm getting to check my bag" and the woman behind the counter was very patient and said "But you did get to check your bag for free" and she said "Well he didn't!" And she said "Yes, well it's good for one bag" and she said "Well that's one bag each." The woman behind the Delta counter was like no, it's just one bag. And she said "I want to talk to the manager!" And then she wanted to talk to another manager. When I left there was a hoard of Delta people and the CEO was chauffeuring in to talk to this woman.

I think about that poor airline representative and how often this must happen to her and she has to fight and argue with these people and no one brings her cookies! And she does not get to snuggle a cat or a dog or anything, right? She just gets all the crap stuff.
We get a hard time from pet owners because what we do is so darn important. That's why. So how do you want to suffer? Do you want to be unimportant to the point that people don't care or do you want to be important to the point that they do care and we deal with the fallout from people caring; from us doing something that is valuable and meaningful and useful in the world, that people care deeply about? That's happiness, understanding that it's not all joy and kisses and puppy breath. But that's a part of it. So let's hold onto the beautiful parts.

So how do you want to suffer? I think this is a pretty good way. It's meaningful and purposeful and it matters!
Jonathan: Happy goats.

Tiffany: Suffering goats.

Jonathan: Well-adjusted goats.

Doug: Not inflamed goats.

Jonathan: Well thank you Zoya very much for that. I think if you guys are ready we'll just wrap up for the day. I'd like to thank everybody for tuning in, to our chat participants and be sure to tune in to the SOTT Radio Show on Sunday at noon eastern time. Go to So thank you everybody.

All: Good-byes.