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Enhance Wellness through Light and Mitochondria | Insights with Dr. Alexis Cowan

Episode 104, duration 1 hrs 41 mins
Episode 104

Enhance Wellness through Light and Mitochondria | Insights with Dr. Alexis Cowan

Ever wondered how red and infrared light enhance your health and vitality? Join Dr. Alexis Cowan as she dives deep into the fascinating world of photobiomodulation, mitochondrial health, and the profound impact of natural light on our biology. From debunking myths about UV exposure to exploring the synergy between cold exposure and sunlight, this enlightening conversation offers practical insights for optimizing your daily environment to support overall well-being. Discover the secrets of harnessing sunlight and cold therapy to boost energy, improve sleep, and promote resilience.

Whether you're curious about biohacking through light and nature or seeking evidence-based insights to improve your health, this conversation offers profound insights and evidence-based strategies to support your wellness journey.

Don't miss out on these essential tips for unlocking your body's full potential!

In this episode we discuss:
– Secrets of harnessing sunlight and cold therapy to boost energy, improve sleep, and promote resilience
– Debunking myths about UV exposure to exploring the synergy between cold exposure and sunlight
– Profound insights and evidence-based strategies to support your wellness journey

00:00:00 – Introduction to Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show and Guest Dr. Alexis Cowen

00:11:31 – Impact of Light on Metabolism and Health

00:22:26 – Understanding Different Wavelengths of Light and Their Biological Effects

00:34:05 – Role of Light in Regulating Circadian Rhythms and Sleep

00:45:00 – Practical Tips for Optimizing Light Exposure for Health

00:55:46 – Light’s Influence on Performance, Weight Management, and Sleep

01:07:00 – Building a Solar Callus: Gradual Sun Exposure for Skin Health

01:18:27 – Cold Exposure and Its Synergy with Light for Health Benefits

01:29:25 – Top Tips for Leveraging Light and Environment for Optimal Health


Dr. Alexis Cowan, welcome to the show. You are a repeat guest. I am. Hopefully people will get sick of me. We’re going to be talking about new things today, though, so I think it’ll be exciting. Yes, no one could ever get sick of you. And I just want to give people a little bit of background as to our friendship. So you and I met through Dr. Tracy Anthony and Dr. Josh Anthony, both of whom are incredible scientists and trained under Dr. Donald Lehman as well. And you and I met while you were still finishing your PhD at Princeton. And then went on to do a postdoc at Penn. You and I collaborate on many projects. I’m so grateful.

And today you are bringing us light, mitochondria, and something you called bio harmonizing. I did. Yes. I mean, the term biohacking is common, but I prefer the term bio harmonizing because we’re not trying to hack our biology. We’re trying to find out how our biology is working and work with that instead of trying to cut corners. Let’s say I love that. And you and I, again, you and I are friends. We talk all the time. I asked you what is new? What are you really interested in?

And you said light and light biology. That’s right. Why? And by the way, you have been a guest who is staying in our house. I find you in the morning outside sitting on grass, seemingly very productive. This is my favorite time of day. It’s the best way to start your day. Why light? Great question. So I went down the rabbit hole in light about 14 months ago. After hearing a podcast with Rick Rubin and Jack Cruz, who’s like a quantum biologist, light biologist, also a neurosurgeon. And Andrew Hiberman was also in that conversation. It was on Rick’s podcast last year. And as Jack was explaining this story and kind of unfolding it, I was just having, I mean, ironically, light bulbs are going off in my head. Like, I can’t believe I missed this. Like, this is crucial because prior to that, I was really thinking a lot about the gut and the microbiome. And I was like, this is the most important thing. This is what I need to focus on. And then right when I started hearing this story unfold, I was like, basically back to the drawing board because I realized that this was actually the most foundational piece that almost everybody is missing and nobody’s talking about, that if we can get it right, it’s going to improve our health in literally every arena of health and every organ system and our cognition and our mood and our relationship quality and our ability to critically think it’s so fundamental that I’m just like all about it now. And I just can’t stop talking about it. And it’s interesting to hear you say that you had a light bulb moment because you’re a very well trained PhD, which is why, number one, why I have you on the show, but also I really appreciate the way in which your brain works as a friend and as a human. Do you remember the moment? Do you remember the moment where, and again, you had been focusing a lot on gut, gut muscle access, you and I talk about that frequently, but why the light, there had to have been something. I can appreciate the conversation. But again, you are trained at Princeton postdoc at Penn. There must have been something. Yeah. Well, I mean, circadian biology was on my radar when I was in grad school and in my postdoc, but it didn’t really occur to me. I thought, you know, it’s important, but I didn’t realize how important it was and how that interfaces those processes interface with light until after hearing this podcast and then doing my own deep dives into the research and understanding the science behind this.

And so, I mean, the biggest moment for me was probably just reflecting on the differences between the ancestral environment and the modern environment. So a lot of people will think, you know, it’s the food, we’re eating a lot of processed foods, or maybe, you know, it’s living outside of a natural environment. Maybe, you know, we’re living indoors. That’s kind of a new thing for our species. But, you know, light isn’t something that people think a lot about just because, at least for all generations alive now, we all grew up with just having artificial light in our lives and also being propagandized with information about the sun being toxic and bad. And so it’s something that kind of just gets ingrained from a very young age and doesn’t really elicit a second thought. But I started thinking twice about it. I started thinking twice about it and going into the research and understanding just how nuanced and how specific different wavelengths of light have these differential effects on our biology and what they’re doing to regulate our mitochondrial function and regulate our neurochemistry and our hormonal milieu. And once I started going into that research, it became very apparent to me that this is a crucial piece that almost everybody is getting wrong because we just don’t even have this isn’t even on our radar as like a culture. Do you think that it’s that we’re getting it wrong? Or is it that so it so I think about my dad, my dad lives in Ecuador, he spends most of the time outside, you’ve met my dad, he’s pretty unusual and unique in his behavior patterns, spends a lot of time outside walks, if it is going to take three hours or less, he’ll walk it. But I wonder from what you’re saying, is it that being outside would not necessarily be optimization, but would be almost standard operating procedure for the body versus being deficient? So for example, does my dad have better health because he’s outside? Maybe do people that are outside working in the field or if this is part of their life, do they have better health? Because they’re moving, they’re doing those things. Or on the flip side, is it the deficiency of light that’s the problem? So this is why I really like thinking about light as the specific wavelengths of light as like essential nutrients. Because if we think about it in that way, we can very clearly see that depending on how we’re living our lives, we may be very deficient in certain wavelengths of light, and we may have an excess of other other kinds of light. And the three wavelengths of light that I really like to focus on in this conversation, as it relates to regulating our biology are red and infrared light, which is a very long wavelength light, blue light, which is a shorter wavelength light, and UV light, which is perhaps the most important of the three and yet also the most demonized. And so those are kind of the three pillars of light that I like to think about because if we’re seeing an indoor, you know, artificially lit environment, we’re virtually getting zero red and infrared light because all energy efficient modern light sources, including our device screens, fluorescent LED bulbs, they’re highly enriched in blue light and completely devoid of red and infrared light. And that’s because like they’re energy efficient, quote unquote, infrared light is just another word for heat. And so if a bulb gives off heat gives off heat, it’s thought to be like a waste of energy. Meanwhile, there’s a disconnect between not understanding that that heat that infrared light is actually really important, let’s say, nutrient for ourselves. And so by eliminating it from artificial light sources, we’re actually doing our biology a disservice, even though it’s, you know, more energy efficient when it comes to like the electrical bills, let’s say. So there’s a major disconnect there. With regards to tech development, and like pushing technology forward, and at the same time, not building tech that actually respects the way that human biology functions.

And where would someone so there’s red, a blue and UV light? Where would someone in nature get red and infrared light naturally? Would that be from the sun? Yep, great question. So I mean, if you think about it, in the ancestral environment, we weren’t really living indoors. We were primarily living an outdoor lifestyle, and we would have encountered sun throughout different times of the day. So if you’re outside around sunrise, you’re encountering primarily red and infrared light. That’s why it looks like a reddish hue on the horizon. It’s because sunlight at the horizon has to pass through more atmosphere. And that means the shorter wavelengths of light are basically being scattered because they’re not able to penetrate through the atmosphere. So the red and infrared light gets through along with, you know, maybe some yellow, orange, etc. So then as the sun rises up towards the center of the sky, we’re getting more penetrance of the short wavelength light, which includes the blue, UVA and UVB, which maxes out around solar noon. And then as the sun settles towards the west, we’re starting to again, re enrich that red and infrared light, and kind of deplete out the blue and UV light. And but importantly, though, midday sunlight is still over 50% red and infrared light. And that’s actually the reason why sun feels warm on your skin. It’s the infrared light that’s literally vibrating your tissues to generate heat. So the sun itself isn’t actually, you know, if it doesn’t interact with matter, it’s not going to feel warm. It’s the interaction between sunlight, the infrared light and matter that actually generates heat through by vibration. That’s really interesting how long so if there’s sunrise sunset, does the length of time do you think that there’s a natural cadence with our biology the length of time that it takes for sun to rise? Meaning, again, I don’t know this answer, that it is sunrise red infrared, and then eventually, that light source changes. From what I’m hearing you say, the time it takes from rise, what that might be what 10 minutes. So it’s actually a really interesting question, and also is highly dependent on the latitude at which you’re living. So if you live really close to the equator, there’s a very short window of time of about 15 minutes, let’s say like, as you come towards the summer months, it’s pretty like stable there throughout the year, but a 15 minute window where you’re going to get primarily red and infrared light in the sunrise time. But then very quickly, the UVA light starts penetrating. And so if you download this app called the circadian app, you can look at the UVA and UVB rise for your latitude. And so it will tell you so this time if you’re in New Jersey, where I’m living, and I’m just visiting here in Houston 24 North latitude, I’m coming from 40 North latitude. How does she know that? What’s it called the circadian app? We gotta try that. Now we gotta try that the circadian app. We’re on it. Okay, so in New Jersey, if I look at my app, you know, sunrise is around 630, let’s say, by seven o’clock, UVA is already starting to enter into the wavelength, wavelengths of light that are present there. UVB doesn’t come up until roughly 45 minutes to an hour later, because UVA is slightly longer wavelength than UVB. So it’s able to penetrate more efficiently earlier in the day. And it’s actually really interesting because we have specific photo receptors on our surfaces, on our eyes, on our skin, and actually deeper in our body to which we can get into about muscle. So actually, that’s a good question. I’m not sure if these receptors are present on muscle, we’ll have to look into it. But there’s three receptors, maybe four that we could get into ones called melanopsin. It’s a blue light detector. It’s present on the skin, it’s present on the cornea, and it’s also present in the retina. And its job is essentially to relay information about the blue light in your environment to the master clock in your brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or the SCN, which is the master circadian clock. And so blue light is the primary input that’s regulating our body’s interpretation of what time of day it is. So, you know, if you think about this in the context of the modern environment, it can become abundantly clear why being under artificial lights at inappropriate times of day is detrimental because we’re putting in the signal that it’s the middle of the day, roughly, because blue light is highest around solar noon, even if it’s, you know, the evening time, and we’re just working, you know, out of sync with natural light rhythms, because we’re you know, productive modern humans. One would argue though, that maybe that would make us more productive. Well, so it does increase alertness and awakeness. But the problem with that is that when your body is out of sync with nature’s rhythms, now, you know, it’s kind of, you know, I think that is regulated, maybe. Yeah, it’s highly dysregulated. And I think, you know, our bodies, as it relates to nature as like a part of nature, we’re not separate from it, although our frontal lobes make us think that we are that we’re somehow above it. When we extract ourselves from nature, I think we see the consequences of that in the modern day with just the incredible rise in chronic diseases. And we can also see and as we’ll explore with the different wavelengths of light and how they’re interacting with our biology to, let’s say, stave off some of these diseases, including diabetes, obesity, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, including depression and mental health problems, and multiple types of cancers as well, all through just optimizing the light environment. And so we can unpack some mechanisms of that. But just to circle back to the photoreceptors really quick. So we talked about melanopsin. We also have neuropsin. So neuropsin is a UVA light detector that’s present on the skin and the eyes, the cornea. And so in that morning light, you know, you’re outside, you’re getting your red and infrared light, that red and infrared light is actually penetrating into your body, it can penetrate multiple centimeters into the body. And it directly stimulates mitochondrial function, it interacts with cytochrome c oxidase, which is complex four of the electron transport chain, directly stimulating ATP production and improving mitochondrial function. So the way that I kind of think about this is that we don’t need receptors for long wavelength light because it’s able to just penetrate in. But with the short wavelength light, the UV in the blue, it’s not able to penetrate very deeply. And so we need receptors on our surface in order to actually relay that information to, you know, deeper parts of our systems. And that’s UVA light that’s able to penetrate directly. No, you so red and infrared can penetrate directly UVA is interacting with neuropsin, which is a light detector on our surfaces. So we have melanopsin, we have neuropsin. We also have one called encephalopsin, which is another blue light sensor, it’s also called pen opsin. So we have a couple of different ways for our bodies to sense short wavelength light in our environment, which, you know, as Jack Cruz says, like, does nature make mistakes, if we have receptors for these wavelengths of light, clearly they’re really important for regulating some aspect of our bodies. And it’s our job to figure out what it’s doing. And there is an abundance of research that actually is unpacking this. And I’m, I’m guessing that you would say spend as much time as you can outside. So, yes, not good. Well, I would say as much time as you can, that doesn’t mean you have to be in direct sun the whole time. So depending on your skin type, you know, some people have more or less melanin is kind of dictating where your ancestors came from, right. So for me, like I mixed my dad side is black, my mom’s side is Scandinavian. So my mitochondrial genes, my maternal genes are from Scandinavia. So I’m used to getting essentially, you know, mitochondrally speaking, cold in the winter and then better quality sun in the summer versus somebody who has maternal mitochondrial genes from more equatorial regions will be more accustomed to getting high quality sun year round. And that’s why they also is associated with more darker skin because you have to be able to assimilate that light so that it’s not actually damaging your skin. And so that’s really the purpose of melanin is to help absorb that especially short wavelength light so that it’s not creating DNA damage and other things. But even pale skinned Fitzpatrick type one skin individuals can make melanin. It is a human birthright, but there’s a lot of things that we’re doing as a species in the modern day that’s going to block melanin production, which is problematic if we’re trying to, you know, prevent sunburn and skin cancers as an example.

Actually, you mentioned something earlier about outdoor workers and like, you know, whether or not they’re more healthy, there’s actually really cool research showing that if you’re an outdoor worker, you’re less prone to developing melanoma than indoor workers. And I think we should at some point talk about melanoma because I think there’s a lot of propaganda around it. Yeah.

And is it I definitely want to come back to that because I’m curious is are they just more diligent? Are they seeing more covered up? Could that be the reason that they’re more resistant as opposed to just overall exposure? Yeah, so I mean, one really important aspect for melanoma that we need to just like address head on is that low vitamin D status is highly associated with melanoma. Now vitamin D, we didn’t supplement with vitamin D in our ancestry, you know, in antiquity, we were getting primarily our vitamin D from UVB light exposure specifically UVB light when it interacts with seven dehydrocholesterol in the skin produces pre vitamin D three that gets processed in the liver and the kidneys to the final active form that the 125 hydroxy vitamin

Um, obviously, you know, today we have access to vitamin D supplements, but the research actually suggests that vitamin D supplementation has next to no benefit for health other than preventing or reversing rickets. So at the very, very low deficient status of vitamin D, you can improve and like protect against rickets or reverse rickets. But outside of that, you’re not getting any improvements on cancer incidents, for example, or diabetes, which are linked with vitamin D status. But we would say that there is so there are vitamin D receptors on skeletal muscle. And we would say that those with low vitamin D status are at fall risk, it seems that those individuals suffer more from falls. So potentially vitamin D supplementation, if you are very low, that definitely would impact that. So this is this is a really important point. And I want to really now frame vitamin D as a biomarker for your time spent outside. And so if you’re thinking about vitamin D is like, it’s low, I just need to supplement, it’s going to solve my problems, I don’t think that’s true. I think, especially once we unpack all the other benefits of UVB light, it’s going to become increasingly apparent that supplementing with vitamin D is going to be a very, very myopic way to approach the problem. And I think that a lot of the interactions and associations we see with low vitamin D status are really a reflection of not being in outdoor environments, not encountering UVB light regularly and routinely. Because think about it, people are going outside, they’re putting on sunscreen, they think that’s what they’re supposed to do to protect themselves. They think, you know, that they’re going to get melanoma if they don’t put sunscreen on. But it’s actually really, there’s really striking evidence to show that yes, sun exposure might increase your risk of squamous cell or basal cell carcinomas. That is a link that’s shown, but the mortality rate of these cancers is extremely low. Meanwhile, there’s evidence on the same token that vitamin D and sun exposure actually can decrease your risk of a whole host of other cancers that have a much higher mortality, including colorectal, prostate and breast cancers.

There’s actually some quotes I’d like to read at some point. Yeah, I would love because I’m curious, you know, when we’re talking about cancer, our dear friend, Dr. Joe Zondal, you guys should definitely give him a follow.

He will always question me and say, okay, well, if you think that what’s the mechanism? So what would be the mechanism behind vitamin D and sun exposure helping with colorectal cancer?

Great question. What do you do? You got some, you got some quotes for us? I’ll take it. Okay, yeah, I’ll just read the quotes really quick. So here’s a quote from a study. There’s like PM IDs, we can look at the show notes if people are interested. So it says studies in the past decade indicate that insufficient sun exposure may be responsible for 340,000 deaths in the US and 480,000 deaths in Europe per year, and an increased incidence of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, asthma, type one diabetes and myopia.

I actually thought all those things were due for to red meat. Oh, I know, right? That’s what you would be allowed to think in this in this culture, right? We also have another quote here, frequent regular sun exposure acts to cause cancers that have a point 3% death rate with 2000 US fatalities per year. This is the SEC and the BCC skin cancers I mentioned, and acts to prevent cancers that have death rates from 20 to 65% with 138,000 US fatalities per year. That’s the breast colon and blood cancers primarily. And my understanding is the reason that you’re pointing this out is because we’ve been told a lot to stay out of the sun. We do spend a ton of time indoors. I’m curious as to what the numbers are. And potentially that is doing us a tremendous amount of harm. And so then we are told to go outside, put sunscreen in and I can appreciate what you’re saying from that perspective that we’re not getting enough sunlight. But it’s more complicated than that, isn’t it? Well, so I would really, as it relates to mechanisms of like cancer and sun exposure, I’d like to unpack another part of the story. Maybe briefly to wrap up the vitamin D side of the story when UVB light hits your skin, it’s not only that pre vitamin D that’s made, there’s also over a dozen other vitamin D like molecules that are made in response to UVB light. So if you’re supplementing with vitamin D, you’re not you’re missing out, you’re getting a very narrow spectrum result. But if someone couldn’t get outside, let’s say they’re institutionalized, or in the hospital, they have limited exposure to sunlight, what could someone do? Would they have to change your light bulbs? What would be an opportunity for change? So I mean, I think this is one reason why this story has not really been popularized, because there’s a lot of implications as to actually how we’re living our lives, how people are being led to think in a certain type of way. And actually an inability to critically think due to a lack of sunlight, which we will talk about very soon. But you know, if you can’t get access to sunlight, there are light devices that you can use indoors. So for example, red and infrared light devices, they can that can re engineer that red and infrared that long wavelength light back into your indoor life, which is largely not present due to modern light sources. There’s also UVB lights available. So spurdy is a brand that makes UVB panels, they also make UVA panels. And we use that actually for skin for eczema psoriasis, it’s used for eczema. And then the red light we use bond charge, I’ll put a link there for you guys. Yep, yep. So red panels can be great. If you’re not accessing outdoor light, and you want to re engineer some of that light back into your, you know, indoor lifestyle, you can absolutely do that. The UVB panels are great, I would just recommend that people try to time the use of them at the right time, like to make it so that it’s kind of concordant with when you would have those exposures outside. So if you’re going to be having UVB and UVA light, that should probably more around like solar noon time, like middle of the day, because those receptors, especially like the nuropsin is going to be telling your body like this is the signal coming in. That means it’s midday. But before you move on from that, you’d mentioned that there are skin receptors. Does someone need to sit in front of the light naked? Do they have to not wear glasses? What what are what should they be doing? And for how long? Okay, so really important. By the way, Dr. Alexis said our house we walked down, we’re why are you making front of the right panel? No, that did not actually happen. But it was close. I know, right. I mean, hey, I was trying to wear crop top outside. I’m always in crop tops, shorts, producers, you guys are in trouble. Okay. Right. So for how long and in what kind of capacity? Yes. So there’s another really important part of the story that we didn’t mention that’s also related to UVB light. And that is a molecule that’s a pro hormone called Pro Opio Melanocortin or POMC. So POMC is produced in the skin and in the brain in response to UVB light. And POMC is cleaved into 10 distinct hormonal products. Three of those are alpha, beta and gamma MSH or melanocyte stimulating hormone. So if you’re not getting alpha, beta and gamma MSH stimulated in your skin and in your brain, you’re not going to effectively tan in response to UVB light, you’re going to burn. So this becomes, you know, it becomes very clear that if you’re wearing contacts, sunglasses or prescription glasses outside, and you’re blocking the ability of UVB light to get into your eyes, that doesn’t mean stare at the sun, it just means getting ambient light into your eyes, you’re not going to effectively stimulate your melanocytes to make melanin, which is tanning. Same with your skin. If you’re blocking that UVB light with sunscreen, you’re not going to be able to generate that melanin. And melanin is really interesting actually, because melanin is to mammals as chlorophyll is to plants, which is something a lot of people don’t know, but chlorophyll light comes in, interacts with chlorophyll, chlorophyll can split water molecules into molecular hydrogen, molecular oxygen, and to free electrons. Melanin actually does the same thing and the papers that show this are quite old, this has been known for quite some time. And so when we’re developing melanin in our skin, and interacting with sunlight, we’re actually able to cultivate more free energy. So it’s a way of actually eating by just being outside. It’s a way of cultivating and releasing liberating electrons into our system. Same with grounding.

Wait, what do you mean eating? Do you mean we’re just leveraging ATP utilization? ATP utilization is happening because we’re not actually eating food per se. Well, I’m glad you asked because I think it’s really important to think about a light diet and a food diet as being you guys heard it here first. This is very fringe-esque. Matt, my producer is laughing, but you have to understand before ideas come into the mainstream, they typically come from very intelligent people that are thinking about things that are very well steeped in the literature. So this is what my listeners are experiencing from you. So it’s amazing. It will make perfect sense in just about one minute as I explained. No, no, 10 years. You guys will get this in 10 years, along with myself.

When you eat food, your mitochondria don’t see carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Mine do. They see electrons. No, no, mine definitely are like, this was steak.

I know, right? Ground beef, steak, salmon, good stuff. But so when you’re extracting, you’re when you’re breaking down assimilating nutrients, the whole purpose of eating is to extract electrons from macronutrients so that those electrons can enter into the electron transport chain and support ATP production in mitochondria. So anywhere that you get electrons is food technically. So you can get free electrons from eating. So by extracting those electrons from food, that’s powering your mitochondria ATP production. You can also get free electrons from grounding. So getting your bare feet on the earth gives you free electrons from the earth.

There’s plenty of research to show this also to show that grounding reduces inflammatory response and inflammation within the body, which is related to mitochondrial function.

We also get free electrons from having sun interacting with melanin. So they’re all different ways of getting access to electrons. Your mitochondria to access with electrons. They’re all equally important. And they’re all equally accessed within the ancestral environment too. We would always encounter all of those things. We weren’t wearing rubber soled shoes outside. We’re in contact with the earth. We’re getting sun on our skin. If we weren’t getting high quality sun on our skin, we were getting cold because that’s just how nature works. If you don’t have high quality sun year round, you’re going to get cold in the winter. That’s interesting.

Pause there. I’d love to hear more about that. Basically, what you’re saying is there’s an interface. If it is warm, you’re going to have less clothes on, hypothetically speaking, you’re going to be outside. That makes a lot of sense. But if it’s not, if it was cold, we would obviously be covered. I’ve never thought about that. Matt, have you thought about that? It’s almost like that show Naked and Afraid, but different. The less exposure on your skin to sun, the colder you should be. Is that what you’re saying? Yeah, because cold actually has a lot of reciprocal effects on the body that sun does. I mean, think about it in ancestral environment. If you live in a northern latitude, you’re encountering high quality sun for part of the year. In the other part of the year, it’s wintertime. You’re getting poor quality sun.

There’s not much UV light. The earth tilted away from the sun.

You’re getting cold because it’s wintertime. That cold is very, very potent medicine for our mitochondria. It upregulates mitochondrial biogenesis. It increases mitochondrial ATP production, mitochondrial density, mitochondrial function in general. Also, increases mitochondrial light production. We make infrared light. We make heat in our bodies. If you look at somebody on an infrared camera, you can see them because they’re literally making light in their mitochondria.

There’s actually also some evidence that mitochondria can make their own UV light as well. It stems back to the 1920s. That must have blown your mind and you probably couldn’t sleep that night. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s really important too because UV and infrared light, they’re outside the visible spectrum. We can’t see it with our eyes. I think that’s probably by design. I think nature probably didn’t want us to see it because then we would muck around and mess it up. It’s probably quantized to our system, meaning that we need infrared and UV light in order to actually function internally. We can either get it from outside in or we can make it internally. It has to come from one direction or the other. We see basically all chronic disease are rooted in dysfunction of mitochondria. I think that’s honestly rooted at a failure to produce light that’s actually regulating so many of the biological functions in our tissues and our cells.

You would say that if they weren’t able to get light, they have to spend a lot of time being cold. Yeah, exactly. This does really bring up major challenges for living in an environment that is going to support what I’m hearing you say mitochondria. I’m sure that there are other lifestyle factors that one could layer on like exercise, aerobic exercise, resistance training. Why did you care about the mitochondria? It’s kind of the connection between light and mitochondria. Yeah, I mean, mitochondria is something I’ve thought a lot about for a long time. My PhD was in Robinowitz lab at Princeton, a very metabolically centered lab. And for you guys listening, so I know these answers to the questions that I’m asking about her, but I want you all to get a perspective of where her training comes from. Robinowitz is a world renowned PhD and researcher. Yeah, and actually, I’m dying to go back and give a talk on this topic to them because I know it’s not on the radar right now. Maybe somebody in the lab will listen to this podcast and be like, “Yep, this is really cool. We need to study this.” But there’s no, my dream is actually to make a sunlight research lab. Do you think that it has changed the outcome of results because of the light that the studies in mitochondria are under? Yes, exactly. Dr. Jack Cruz talks about this a lot. There’s no light controls in our translational research. So on one hand, that is kind of consistent with the modern environment because everybody’s under blue light, artificial light all the time. That makes me feel better. That’s true. But on the other hand, we’re not actually understanding how biology is working because we’re looking at it in a weakened state due to artificial light being the predominant light source. And I also, as a little bit of an aside, I really think it’s funny that if, so when I was at Princeton, I was working a lot with rodents. And if you wanted to go into the mouse room at night, it was pitch black. You had to go in, you had to turn on the red lights. You could go inside. It was only red light because they know that red light is going to be far less disruptive to circadian biology and to how that mouse’s biology is happening. And then I do whatever I have to do in the mouse room at night, red light. And I go back to my lab that’s blasted with fluorescent lights. And we’re just totally not putting the pieces together that on one hand, we understand the role of light in regulating the mouse physiology metabolism. And we’re being sure to not disrupt that. And that’s because in all fairness, they’re nocturnal creatures. It’s not because of that. So I mean, if you they’re on different light cycles.

So yes, they’re nocturnal. But we’re as diurnal mammals, we require light to regulate our physiology. They’re sleeping during the day, they still have a requirement for light exposure. But at nighttime, they become active. And they know that it’s time to become active when the light goes away. We are no we know how to become active when the light comes out. But if we’re never in sufficiently bright light, so also if you look at indoor lighting, it’s very, very dim compared to the power of the sun. And bright light is also important for stimulating alertness, cognition, focus. And then of course, the blue light component, the UV light component that comes out mid day is also serving to stimulate those circadian pathways to tell your body it’s the middle of the day. So you know, if you’re getting artificial light in your eyes during middle of the day, it’s not the end of the world because you’re supposed to be getting some of that blue stimulus. Though I would argue that it’s problematic because the blue light that’s coming from these, you know, lamps, let’s say, or whatever lights you’re exposed to is devoid of red and infrared light. And we talked about the power of red and infrared light to support mitochondria. Blue light actually has the opposite effect on cytochrome c oxidase, it actually inhibits cytochrome c oxidase on our surfaces, our eyes, proximal brain regions and our skin. So if we’re encountering blue light in the absence of red and infrared light, we’re actually going to be harming our mitochondria because we’re not encountering that balancing force of the long wavelength red light. My question is, these lights all exist together, red light, infrared light, blue light, and there’s a third light UV UV light. We are supposed to have them together, and they are just going to be in different ratios.

And that is the way in which we were designed to experience light. Now we’ve come into a very unnatural environment, whereas the ratios are different, the amount, if any, especially now because how often are people even outside? And what you’re saying is these have, these situations have significant impact on our overall health. And what we’ve heard you say so far is everything and anything related to mitochondria. I would love for us to, for you to teach us all the wavelengths that we should be looking at if we had to design a life around modern living. Yes, we want to be outside as much as possible. But what are the wavelengths that we’re looking for? What are the things that we’re going to do? I use a red light easily three times a week. Actually, probably more. We were sitting here working. We’re working on a, again, we have a few projects coming up. We were sitting here working and being exposed to the red light. I’m not sure if that’s going to balance these overhead blue lights. Yeah, so I would love for you to take us through that. Yeah, so depending on the time of day, I will preface this by saying, if you can get outside, that is the best solution for how long? So for some, okay, let me also contextualize this, it would depend on your health status. If you’re very sick, you need to kind of go all out, because your biology is very dysregulated at that point. If you have cancer, if you have diabetes, if you’re very, very sick, you have autoimmunity, you want to kind of go gung ho. But if you’re well, and you just want to stay that way, you can get away with maybe 15 minutes rising with the sun trying to see the sunrise, because then you’re getting that red infrared. And then you’re also getting the rise of UVA, which stimulates that nyropsin, it kind of turns your circadian biology on, not to the full extent, because the blue light needs to come up as well. So you’re getting some blue and UV that’s rising as the sun rises. That’s going to help turn your brain on, turn your bodily functions on, there’s over 3000 genes regulated by in a circadian fashion. Is that also in the acute immediate?

Yeah, yeah, I would say so. I mean, the acute immediate is primarily like an endocrine story. But there are knock on effects, of course, to the right, like the regulation of gene expression as well. And actually, that reminds me to circle back to POMC. At some point, if you want to bring us back there, there’s many other important things we need to talk about there, as it relates to obesity, and also, well, we have to talk about we have to talk about light and body composition. Yes, that’s gonna come into that story. Wonderful. Okay, yes. So if you’re, you know, trying to re engineer light into your life in a more circadian fashion, you want to get red in the morning, then you can add some UVA, you can get UVA bulbs for your room. UVA light is actually extremely important. It’s a major liberator of nitric oxide in your well, it forms in your skin, and then it can actually diffuse into your blood vessels. So nitric oxide is what’s required for regulation of blood pressure. It’s required for vasodilation for reaching of blood vessels into tissues to deliver nutrients and oxygen. And one of the major problems with modern living is we’re not really getting UVA light. If we’re living indoors, we’re not getting it. And so we’re going to have higher blood pressure, we’re going to have issues with hypoxia too, because we’re not getting that proper perfusion into the tissues. So obviously, there’s other things that impact that as well, like like arginine, you guys need to get enough dietary protein so you can make enough to arginine nasal breathing. It’s a big one. If you’re breathing through your mouth a lot, not only is it going to push you into a more sympathetic state, but you’re also not going to be producing nitric oxide, which you can get through nasal breathing. And friends, it will make sure that you remain single if you’ve ever seen a mouth breather. So reason that’s an insult, mouth breather.

So take me back to you before we move on. Red light wavelength, wavelengths. What again, we use Boncharge. You have a company that you love. There’s so many red light devices that are sold for skin, for hair. What are the wavelengths that people are looking for? Yeah, so there’s been research on a handful of them. In contrast, if you think about sunlight, you’re getting a full spectrum. Because if you look at the curve of sunlight spectrum, it’s like it peaks somewhere kind of closer to the red side. And then it kind of goes down, but it’s like a full curve. So you’re getting every wavelength in between. And you get some far infrared too, which it kind of like goes down at the IRA near infrared, and then it comes back up in the far infrared around 3000 nanometers. But you’re basically getting all the wavelengths in between. In the devices, we’re getting kind of these targeted wavelengths. So we have like 630, we have 660 or 670. We also have like closer to 1000, which would be like the near infrared, some wavelengths in there. And each of them are kind of going to have a little bit of a different effect on mitochondria. And I think that’s why it’s… Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. Basically, what you’re saying is there are a lot more different wavelengths that we have access to. Oh, yeah. So it would almost be the equivalent of taking vitamin D, but there are so many different forms or, you know, metabolites. Is that am I understanding that right? Yeah, I actually posted a meme on my Instagram a couple of weeks ago that was like, I don’t know if you’ve seen like the very intricately drawn horse butt part, and then it goes to like a stick figure head of a horse. And that’s like the vitamin D supplement and the beautifully drawn other side of the horse is like the sunlight exposure. But basically, it’s like a fact simile kind of. Got it. It’s not going to be a perfect representation. But there was research, of course, conducted to understand like, okay, which wavelengths of light are interacting the most with cytochrome C oxidase, for example. So 670 nanometer lights are really good ones. 630 is also good. Those are like in the deep red part of the spectrum. And actually, there was a paper that came out, I believe in January that showed that if you get about 15 minutes of this deep red light exposure, 45 minutes before a meal, well, they didn’t oral glucose tolerance test, but you could kind of translate that to like a carbohydrate rich meal, that your total glucose spike over, you know, the course of processing that carbohydrate input was 30 about 30% less. So that’s just showing the power of when you support your mitochondria, you’re going to be able to clear those nutrients from your system better because you’re going to have higher flux state or higher clearance rate of those nutrients within mitochondria. So if you just take your meals outside, if that’s possible, you don’t have to buy a red light device, you can just you know, eat your lunch, eat your breakfast, or someone could even try it again, this is kind of complicated because in order to figure out an exact reproducible steady state, it would require you to have a consistent diet before. But if someone wanted to try it, oh, yeah, they could try themselves, you could eat, watch your blood sugar, eat the same, you know, get on the same track for a week, eat the same meal outside. I think that’d be awesome. Yeah, I mean, you could easily you could easily wear a continuous glucose monitor, eat your meal inside under artificial lights on your device screen, and then do the same meal the next day outside under the sun and see the difference. You can see for yourself. I personally have done that. I know it works for me. And there’s research now showing that it also works for other people too. So I would I would encourage people to try themselves to an individual who can’t get outside can use artificial quote red light if they need it near infrared. If you know, you carry devices, you use devices, what wavelength are you looking for? Or do you? Yes, I’m looking for at least a couple red and a couple near infrared to have somewhat of a false, it’s like a broad spectrum, not full spectrum. So the device I brought on the plane, I was eating steak at the airport before I came here with my red light on me and enjoying myself. Everybody probably thought it was crazy. It’s a good conversation starter, though. Definitely not. How long would someone want to use a red light 20 minutes a day? Yeah, so to counterbalance, I guess what I’m asking is, how do we create an environment where we can counterbalance to give ourselves the best opportunity to get in this flow of proper light, because we do have to talk about performance and weight management and sleep as it relates to light. Yes, absolutely. So I mean, first of all, you can get full spectrum bulbs that have red infrared in them. That’s probably your best option for the house. Everyone should get full spectrum bulbs. Yep. So if you come to my house, we have full spectrum bulbs inside, but we also have red bulbs. So if you come to my house around sunset, everything is red. Every room is red. There’s no white light in my house. We have we filter all of our screens, our computers, we use like this IRA program called iris filters out flicker filters out blue light. Why do you care about flicker? Flicker is very activated sympathetic nervous system. It’s also completely unnatural. There’s no flicker. Give me the flicker. I’m going to develop a flicker special. Oh, yeah. It’s gonna be cracked out like me on coffee. That’s a great practical thing for someone to do is to just get full spectrum. Is there a brand that you like? Do you? So chroma makes a sky portal, which is cool, because it’s essentially clamps onto your desk, and then it kind of comes up pretty high and angles down at you. And it has a knob that you can turn depending on the time of day. So you can have it on the full white that’s also has red infrared. And you can gradually turn it to being almost entirely red and infrared by the nighttime. And it’s also coming from the upper angle down, which tends to be more stimulating to the central nervous system. So if you need to focus more during the day in your office, having that light that white light that’s coming down at you from above is going to be more supportive to your cognition and focus. Would there be any negative to running a red light all day long? So I would say from a therapeutic standpoint, you would want to be in front of the right right in front of the red light, as opposed to having it coming down or on the side for like the red light panels, those are really meant to interface directly with your body. And so you want to reduce your distance from them in order to get the biggest dose essentially, four inches how? Yeah, I would say within a foot. Do you do you remember who Charles Poliquin was? Okay, so Charles was a mentor of mine before he passed away. And this was prior he was always talking about athletes. He was talking about these Olympians that he was training. And he was so excited. When the red light first came out, he would get these huge panels and put these athletes in this, in this spot where they were surrounded by Rethite. And he was like, Gabrielle, you won’t believe this is it’s almost too good to even share with the world. And you know, anyone that knows Charles or new Charles, he’s a little wacky.

But brilliant and amazing in so many ways. And now we’re seeing a lot more of it. Yeah, so I mean, if if you want to use red light therapeutically, I would stand right in front of it. But I also if I’m if I have to work inside, you don’t have to actually because the long wavelength light can penetrate through clothing, you will get a higher dose if your skin is directly exposed. And dose also decreases as you move farther away. So you want to get closer and have more skin exposed if you need a higher dose for you know, whatever you’re dealing with, if you’re trying to improve your skin quality or rehab an injury or reduce inflammation, you probably want to maximize your dose. And I would say maybe you could do a 20 minutes, you could do it once or twice a day. But just for increasing the red and infrared light in your ambient environment throughout the day, I like to run my red and infrared light panel just in the background. So it’s kind of just in my sphere, but it’s not like directly in front of me or like right next to me because I don’t necessarily want the therapeutic dose, I really just want like the ambient light to be more balanced. And the mechanism of that are, that’s a whole host. I mean, you named three light receptors. Is there more, especially when it comes to mitochondria? Yeah, I mean, I’m sure there is. I think this field is in its infancy in a lot of ways. So I think as I mean, hopefully this conversation stimulates some bright minds out there to want to look into these things more. I don’t think there’s red and infrared light receptors in our body, like I mentioned earlier, I think because the long wavelength light can penetrate in, we don’t need to sense it on the outside, we can just directly interface with it in our, you know, in our deeper parts of our body. But I’m, you know, I would not be surprised whatsoever if there’s other light receptors out there that are playing an important role in regulating our physiology and metabolism response to the light environment. Pomsey, tell me about that, you know, because again, what are practical things that people can think about leveraging so that they can become better and why? Yes, so this is like one of my favorite parts of the story. So, Pomsey, we talked about earlier, it cleaves into 10 different products, three of those were alpha, beta and gamma MSH, melanocyte stimulating hormone. Now, outside of stimulating melanin, alpha and beta MSH, specifically the alpha we’ll talk about first, is one of the most tightly associated gene products with obesity. We know alpha MSH is dysregulated in obesity. And as it turns out, both alpha and beta MSH directly suppress appetite, they work in the hypothalamus, they suppress appetite and they increase energy expenditure. So imagine how powerful that is, if let’s say, you know, you’re trying to lose weight, the holy grail is being able to eat less and just burn more calories at rest, which it’s like the opposite of what happens if you’re dieting, and you’re not leveraging the system. As you diet and restrict calories, your basal metabolic rate goes down because your body is trying to be thrifty and hold on to what it has, because it thinks it’s going into like some sort of starvation mode. The leptin story also comes into this, and we can come back to that. But just by exposing your skin and your eyes to UVB light specifically, you’re going to get activation and synthesis of this POMC molecule and cleavage. And where is it? Where is the POMC located? The POMC is going to, well, it’s made in a lot of different types of cells, made in immune cells, it’s made in the skin. It’s made in the brain, different parts of the brain region, different parts of the hypothalamus. And basically, that’s going to influence your brain chemistry largely to not only help to suppress appetite and increase your basal metabolic rate, there’s also influences on lipolysis, so being able to liberate more fatty acids from adipose tissue, and also a link to your muscles ability to burn fat as well. This POMC cleavage, these cleavage products also influence that ability to burn fat and mitochondria of muscle. Someone sees light, they view light, they get light exposure, light exposure activates POMC in various locations. And then it cleaves to alpha and beta subunits of MSH. What you’re saying is that can become dysregulated. Yeah, absolutely. If you’re not exposing yourself to this light, you’re not going to… So you can access POMC in certain brain regions in response to leptin, but you will never produce POMC in your skin unless you’re exposed to UVB light. And we’re meant to, in the ancestral environment, encounter UVB light on our eyes and our skin simultaneously. And together, that’s like a concerted force that’s going to enhance the response on our bodies. So simply by leveraging that UVB light and getting more of it in your life, you can dramatically suppress your appetite, especially if you’re highly dysregulated and have leptin resistance, that’s a real problem, because your fat isn’t properly communicating with your brain about how much of it there is. So your brain’s always kind of thinking it’s running on empty, so it’s constantly trying to fill up. It’s constantly trying to have you eat more because it can’t sense how much fat is actually present. Do we have data on that? Yeah, so that’s what Jeffrey Friedman’s lab in New York, I don’t remember what university is that. I have a friend that is doing a postdoc there, but he discovered leptin back in the 90s. And they are largely working on leptin resistance now. For light, so I’m curious about for obesity, do we know that those that do better with light exposure are going to lose more weight? We need to do some studies. We haven’t done them. We know axiomatically that this is the cascade that happens. Anecdotally, I think a lot of people will attest to if you’re outside, let’s say you’re on the beach all day, you don’t tend to feel hungry. You kind of just feel fine. And on one hand, that’s because you’re getting like maximal grounding effect, you’re getting electrons from the earth because salt water is basically like a soup of electrons.

And you’re getting direct access with, you know, sand, water, salt, that’s kind of supercharging the grounding effect plus the sun, it’s like a perfect marriage of inputs. So all of those inputs are basically telling your system like we’re good, we don’t need to eat food, we have electrons coming from elsewhere. And yeah, I think ultimately, my dream is to build a sunlight research lab so that I can answer these questions definitively that I already know to be true for myself, I want to provide the evidence that’s going to convince everybody in the field and in science that this is actually really important. And that, and I think it’s also very hopeful too, because it’s not like we just can’t use technology and we can’t live modern lives, we can just do it in a more thoughtful and thoughtful way that’s going to be more coherent with our biology. I don’t think it has to be like world ending, it’s just going to be shifting the paradigm in which we’re building new technology. Do you think that we could give people recommendations, there would be a minimum amount of time that they should be outside? Would it be four hours? I love this question and this is why I love thinking about vitamin D as a biomarker, because we know at minimum you need about 40 nanograms per mil vitamin D in order to fully suppress parathyroid hormone, which is the hormone that kind of kicks on in response to insufficient vitamin D. So minimum 40 nanograms per mil from the sun. If we’re doing it from supplementation, we’re not going to be able to see how much we’re actually making from the sun, which is the most important thing, because then we’re going to be activating POMC cascade, we’re going to be activating vitamin D and all the other vitamin D like. So POMC is not activated by vitamin D alone? No. Both are activated and synthesized in response to UVB light, that’s what they share in common. So if we’re using vitamin D as a biomarker for our sun exposure, then it becomes really easy to dose our unique requirements for sun. So 40 nanograms per mil minimum, but we know if you’re leading a more outdoor lifestyle and also trying to optimize health, that you’re going to be closer to 60 nanograms per mil, maybe even a little bit higher. And so if you’re able to do that, track your vitamin D in response to sun exposure, that’s going to be the best way for you to dose your individual sun needs. And that’s going to take into account how melanated your skin is, because if you have more melanin in your skin, you need more sun. If you have less, you need less. That would be interesting for people to do stop. Listen, I’m not your doctor for some of you I am. But if you were to stop your vitamin D supplementation, see where you’re at, give it how long would you give it three months? How long? For like a washout? Yeah, I would say probably at least six weeks maybe washout. And then, I mean, obviously don’t avoid going out in the sun during that time, but just stop maybe, you know, cease taking the supplement, go outside, get some of that midday sun. We’ll talk about strategies to prevent sun burning too, because it’s really important in order to like fully harness UVB light without the drawbacks. And then, you know, track your vitamin D maybe check it again three months later, after you’ve been in the sun, the summer’s coming up and you’re gonna have access to high quality sun. Do we know how fast it changes? I mean, yeah, I don’t know, actually, it’s going to somewhat depend on probably polymorphisms in the genes that are responsible for making the enzymes in the kidneys and liver that actually make that conversion. I know some individuals also if you maybe your kidney function or liver function is impaired in some way, your body’s not going to prioritize that conversion. Also nutrient deficiencies and things like boron and magnesium also affect that conversion efficiency. So there will be some variability. What we do know is that when UVB light hits your skin, that conversion to 70 hydro cholesterol, assuming that that’s present in the skin, I think there’s some evidence to suggest that if you’re very if you’re living in like a city environment, you have a lot of non native emfs in your environment, that could prevent non native emf. So natural emfs would be like sunlight, like the Schumann resonance, which is like the magnetic field of the earth 7.83 hertz. Non native emfs would be things that are powered by the AC power grid, essentially the alternating current power grid, which was incepted at the World’s Fair in 1893. Before that, we did not have electricity indoors. People didn’t have light bulbs, they were using fire if they wanted to have light at night. But 1893, everything changed within, you know, 1015 years, the power grid was up and going and people were, you know, increasing their productivity, they were working at times that they never worked before. We had, you know, the industrialization happening factories and all of these things were happening that were pushing us away from our roots as a species. And so I mean, if you think about that, it’s only been, you know, less than 150 years that our species has been encountering this. And AC power grid, it runs on alternating current, which is not congruent with the kind of power that our bodies use, our bodies use a DC power, direct current, our mitochondria, essentially our bio batteries, they make energy through separating charge, they separate protons from electrons, then when those protons come back into the inner part of the mitochondria, that powers ATP production. So our mitochondria are literally batteries that are creating DC power, they’re creating direct current power, AC power grids, that’s not, that’s completely something different. The EMFs that come from these things, you know, for plugging anything into a wall and going into the grid that’s running on AC power, it gives off EMFs also are things like Bluetooth, Wi Fi, 5G, 4G, 3G, all these things that we’re encountering in the past, let’s say like 20 years or so, 30 years, are novel, they’re running on frequencies that are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. But they’re not frequencies that we encounter here on earth because our atmosphere blocks almost all of them, so the radio frequencies, for example. And would you say being outside helps mitigate some of these effects? Absolutely, it makes your biology so much more resilient. Also because melanin, we talked about earlier, melanin is really cool, it can split water. Melanin also absorbs all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, including EMFs. So if you are building melanin on your surfaces, on your skin, that means you’re going to be mitigating the exposure of your tissues to these frequencies because your melanin is able to actually absorb it instead. Would you say that people should be tanning? Yeah, absolutely, you just shouldn’t be burning. I think that’s the problem and maybe this is a good segue to talking about how to avoid burning. Yes. And I just made a post on this yesterday on my Instagram, people want to check it out. So number one would be to not wear sunglasses because if we’re not making the alpha, beta, and gamma MSH in our brains, we’re not going to be effectively stimulating melanin production in our skin. So we need to expose both our skin and our eyes to sun in order to effectively tan. Wait a second. That means that if you’re at the beach wearing sunglasses, you’re more likely to burn if you weren’t wearing sunglasses. Yes. But what if your eyes were just closed and you were sleeping? That’s fine. You can close your eyes. I mean, you’re still getting penetration of light through your eyes, obviously. Through the lid. Yeah, through the lid. But not through the glasses. Well, yes, the glasses are blocking UV light, specifically some blue light. They’re going to be blocking some red light as well. If your, you know, your eyes are closed, you’re getting red light in red light. But do you think that’s fair to say that someone would, if they had glasses on, they would burn more? Yeah. And honestly, if you want to hear my really hot take, I think the right, I’m putting Matt, Matt is going to now sit outside with sunglasses. Let’s just see if he burns. Matt, for the first time listener is my producer. We’re going to work on getting him a camera on a mic because he’s just hilarious. My really hot take is that the rise in skin cancers is largely due to sunglasses, contacts, and prescription lenses being worn outside constantly. We’re never exposing our eyes to UV light. What? Okay. All right. Well, we can’t say that that is convincingly science, but that is Dr. Alexis. Somebody needs to go study it. Eventually, I would like to.

No, we need you for muscle studies. Okay, how does someone not burn? So don’t wear, don’t wear glasses. Don’t, and you guys probably don’t stare at the sun. Don’t stare directly at the sun. Come on, guys. No, you don’t need to do that. You can get just ambient light in your eyes. No need to, it’s going to harm your retina if you do that. So don’t do that. Outside of that, the foods we eat influence our burning risk. Tell me more. So in the ancestral environment, we were eating a ratio of omega 3 to omega 6, let’s say 6 to 3 of about 1 to 1 to 3 to 1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. The modern day intake. Tell us what that is though. Tell us omega 6 versus omega 3. Where are we finding omega 6 versus omega 3? So why was that ratio like that? So largely the omega 6 ratio, which is now 20 to 1 to omega 3, has increased because of the industrialization of food production. So we’re using a lot of processed oils. We’re using the corn, soy, sunflower, you know, all of these oils are very enriched in omega 6s and like kind of devoid in omega 3s. Any omega 3s that are in these oils, like let’s say flax or chia seeds or something like that, is in the ALA form. It’s not in the form that our body is actually used to support, you know, function and anti-inflammation. We need the EPA and specifically we need the DHA, which is the longest chain omega 3 in order to actually facilitate anti-inflammation and convey actually one of the major roles of DHA is in the eye and it’s used to actually help penetrate light into our brains. It is a conductor of electrons, essentially. And so DHA and EPA you can only get from animal foods. You can take it like an algal oil, but there’s actually research to suggest that the vegan algal oil sources of these EPA and DHA omega 3s are less bioavailable because they have their double bonds at the wrong position.

And that would probably go in line with the conversion of plant sources of ALA. Yeah, exactly. And well another problem of consuming your omega 3s in ALA form is that, so let’s say you’re consuming only ALA, you’re only going to convert about 5 to 10 percent of that to EPA, about 0 to 5 percent of that to DHA, so very low conversion rate. On top of that, the machinery that’s used to convert omega 6 linoleic acid LA and ALA, which is alpha linoleic acid for the listener, alpha linoleic acid is the plant form of omega 3. The same machinery is used to elongate both of them. And so if you’re consuming a lot of omega 6s and not so much of omega 3s, you’re going to be out competing that machinery and you’re going to be preferentially converting the the LA, the omega 6s, into the longer chains. And one of those longer chain fats is arachidonic acid, which is an inflammatory precursor that our immune system uses to essentially incite inflammation. So if we’re consuming a lot of omega 6s relative to omega 3s, we’re going to be more prone to an inflammatory response in general. That’s also true at the level of the skin. The skin barrier can be weakened. The skin will be more prone to burning. With the consumption of an unbalanced omega 6 to 3 ratio, where in the blood work would you like to see it? Yeah, so that’s like the omega quant test will tell you the ratios between them. I think that’s a good way to go about checking. And I would shoot personally for a more ancestral ratio of about a four to one max. I would say that would be a good goal to have. And if you’re getting your omega 3s in, I would try to get those from fatty fish or shellfish. That’s going to be the most bioavailable, the most concentrated sources. And of course, if you can’t use can supplement, I don’t need a ton of fish. I just don’t really like the way it tastes. So I end up supplementing. What about other foods that are rich in beta carotene for burning things of that nature, or certain polyphenols?

Yeah, so acetaxanthin would probably be the most validated antioxidant to use to help prevent burning. Basically just helps to also absorb some of that light that melanin will also do. So I don’t think that’s a bad approach at all. I think that’s a pretty good way to go about it. With regards to burning, I’m trying to think, actually, let me just check what my post said because I was very thorough here. So we have, okay, Dr. Jack Cruz talks about building a solar callus, which basically means you want to gradually increase your sun exposure, you don’t want to just go zero to 100. So that means midday sun, maybe start with just 10 minutes, see how your skin responds, gradually increase over time. If it’s the summer months, you know, you may want to gradually increase even more slowly, depending on how pale your skin is. But you can make melanin, even if you’re super pale, it is possible for you, it’s just going to take a little bit more time to adjust. And by the way, have you ever looked into any of the peptides, for example, melanotan? So yes, but I personally subscribe to the notion that if possible, we shouldn’t exogenously take something that we can endogenously produce, because it tends to decouple the system and like the regulation that’s in place. So obviously, there’s a place for like hormone replacement therapy, things like this, maybe even vitamin D supplementation, if you’re very deficient. But if you or if you’re my patient, no, just kidding. But what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. Yeah, if you can do it naturally, then I would leverage that first, because then your natural regulatory mechanisms will be in place to make sure that system is running as smoothly as it can. We mentioned the sunglasses, but that’s also relevant for the contacts, prescription lenses, and sunscreen, because all of those are going to be blocking UV light UVB light. What about if someone is driving in front of a window, what kind of light penetration do we have? Yeah, so we’re basically getting everything but the UV, we’re gonna, we’re gonna get some about 40% of red light will be blocked, and infrared a light will be blocked by the window. So it is creating like this alien sun spectrum if we’re behind a window. Even if you’re, you know, in your home, you have good natural light, it’s not actually natural light unless you open up that window, because the glass itself is going to be filtering the light and making it, let’s say unnatural or alien to our biology. There is actually a type of glass that will allow UV light to penetrate through. It’s called quartz glass. It’s very expensive. Not practical at this point. But hey, maybe this podcast will also inspire somebody to go make a glass company of quartz glass windows. I mean, not a bad idea. What about body composition in sunlight and training outside and sun’s effect on skeletal muscle? You and I have talked again, my interest is in skeletal muscle about muscle clock genes. We certainly don’t have to talk about that here. But I am curious as to the interface between training outside. And does that make muscle more efficient, more effective? Does it allow us to, you know, increase power or strength? Maybe it doesn’t even work on those domains, please. Yeah, so I love this question. I also think there’s just a dearth of research in this area, we need more research in this area. But having said that, just on first principles like axiomatic presuppositions to understanding this light interaction with biology, we know red and infrared light can penetrate into the body and support mitochondria. So doesn’t it just make perfect sense that if you’re working out outside, you are demanding energy production from your muscles? Well, what better way to support that than actually getting red and infrared light on your skin, penetrating into your body that’s going to support that muscles energy production capabilities. So I mean, I personally have noticed that doing my workouts outside, I’m virtually not sore at all. And actually, I had a gym membership that was frozen unfroze, like a month ago, I went to the gym. It’s now thawed. It’s thawed now. I went in, I did my normal, you know, wasn’t anything crazy. I was like crippled for four days after that workout. And prior to that, I had been almost exclusively working out outside. Or if I was working out indoors, I had my red and infrared light panels on. Why do you think that is? Yeah, so I think it’s you’re putting more stress on your muscle. And it’s not in like an adaptive way necessarily either. It’s just in a way that like your muscles not able to optimally respond to the signals that you’re demanding from it through like sustained contraction or, you know, weight, whether it’s weightlifting or cardiovascular exercise, your muscles need to produce energy. Obviously, if you’re doing like very glycolytic exercise, like, you know, let’s say sprints or lifting, there’s less of a role for mitochondria. But there is still a role for sure. Because even the most glycolytic muscle still has mitochondria, it’s just not as dense as some of the more red muscles. And do you think that that definitely played a role in your recovery and soreness? I personally feel that and I think it would be an easy enough question to ask scientifically, we can easily do this. So, again, something I would love to study personally.

What about behaviors and timeframes of doing things training, in the morning training late in the afternoon? Do you believe that there’s a certain timeframe to do various activities? Yeah, so I would say, based on my understanding of the current state of the research and these biology interactions that probably a more intense workout is better to do, let’s say in the late afternoon, I think if you’re doing it too early in the morning, it may compound the stress response that you just naturally get when you’re waking up. Obviously, for those of you don’t know, cortisol spikes in the morning, actually in accordance with bright lights. So that’s why it’s really important to get ideally natural light into your eyes as soon as possible after waking up. It helps to optimize that cortisol response, which is actually really important for mobilizing fat and glucose so that your tissues and your and your brain have energy to be able to kind of turn on for the day and get you going for the day. So we want to be able to optimize that cortisol response. But if we’re also like mainlining caffeine and exercising first thing, I think that creates an excess of stress that’s not necessary. Like we could just simply, if it’s possible, retime that exercise to be at a point in the day that’s maybe more slow for us. So typically in the like the mid to late afternoon, people kind of get that slump. Part of that is because their light environment is not optimized and their kind of their cognition is kind of declining because maybe you know, they eat a carb rich lunch and they’re getting a sugar crash or whatever it is. But part of that is also a natural rhythm of a biology kind of getting more quiescent during that time of day. So if you want to work out during that time of day, it could be a good idea because you can like kind of turn your system back on and combat that slump that some people will experience during that time. Have you looked at any data regarding female specific information, female fertility as it relates to sunlight? I know that that’s a very odd question, but we definitely see more rise and more rates of infertility. We see more challenges with peri-postmenopausal experiences for people. Where do you think light and some of this bio harmony plays a role regarding environment? So something that a lot of people might not know is that leptin is actually responsible for initiating puberty in girls. So that leptin system goes far beyond just you know, a thermostat for how much body fat we have. It’s tightly regulated with the pituitary gland, the interaction between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. We know there’s like the HPT and HPA axes. They’re all communicating with each other. And so the leptin story is very far reaching in its implications with regards to fertility and hormone production and regulation of hormone production. Redden and Fred Leiter actually, they help to turn on sex hormone production. And that’s also why it’s really good to get, it’s through the the leptin melanocortin pathway. So leptin interacts with, we talked about the alpha, beta, and gamma MSH. These are involved in the melanocortin pathway as well. These interactions between leptin and the brain is also very tightly tied in with this light story. And again, I think we need more targeted research on these questions too that are frankly very easy to answer. We just haven’t been asking the right questions with regards to this topic. But at the same time, there’s also some research to suggest that UV light actually will turn down sex hormone production.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just about a timing mechanism. Like there’s certain times of day where you should be producing your sex hormones. And largely that’s going to be in the morning and in the evening, which is when you encounter sunrise and sunset light that’s red and infrared dominant. And so I think those are probably the rhythms that nature kind of intended for our hormone pulses to occur. And we’re not really encountering that red and infrared light in modern day, modern lifestyles. And I think we’re paying the price for that in a lot of different ways. And one of them I think is the fertility problem. Obviously, there’s things like endocrine disruptors. And you know, we’ll talk about sleep because that has major implications with the hormonal system and brain function and neurochemistry and all these things.

As it relates to circadian biology, but there’s lots of inputs that are affecting these phenomena, these crises of infertility and hormone disturbances. But I think light is certainly one of them.

Where would you first of all, that’s fascinating to think that light has any role in sex hormones, and any role in relation to when puberty starts, when it doesn’t. Again, these may not be direct relationships, but certainly with the influence of leptin. That’s fascinating. I have to say, I don’t know much about that, but I’m sure we’re going to start to hear more about it. As we become increasingly aware of the environment and the environment’s impact on us from a health entirety standpoint, you mentioned sleep. How important is light to sleep? It’s the most important. You know, it’s funny, you and I have known each other for years. And I’ve watched you think about a lot of different aspects and you’re always increasing the layers to the depth of your knowledge. And it’s fascinating that light has become such an interest. Because again, your background is in human metabolism, nutrition, exercise. And now you’re getting involved in the more external environment, which is just fascinating. It creates a much bigger picture. We all know that sleep is important. I could do a lot better job at it personally. So I’m not telling you guys to do anything that I don’t do because I don’t sleep much, unfortunately.

How would one who wants to be able to get to sleep early feel energized, leverage light?

So you can probably attest to this. I used to be a night owl. I know it’s terrible. I woke up with the sun today. This is just awful. It’s awful because unfortunately for me, I seem to work close to around the clock. Now you are no longer available at 1130 at night when I’m asking you a question about mortality and whatever it is. Terrible. Yeah. Well, see, this is the power because when I started delving into this, I realized how much I was personally doing that was out of alignment with just biological constraints. And I started seeing changes immediately. So I’d always been a night owl. I’d never really paid attention much to like blue light at night or light at night or like not watching TV in bed or whatever like that. And as soon as I started learning all this stuff, I was like, I’ve got to change everything that I’m doing. But it’s also pretty small stuff. It’s not like life altering things. It’s pretty small changes. So for example, using red light at night, if you can, that’s a really simple change that you can make that’s not going to provide that blue light signal that’s telling your body it’s the middle of the day, that’s going to allow your system to naturally produce melatonin. We know that red light, red light, produce melatonin, or this suppression of blue light allows for the absence of blue light allows melatonin to come up. We know that blue light specifically is what’s called melanopic light. It suppresses melatonin secretion. But I have a quick question. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just not have light?

Because would the red light stimulate mitochondria? Should we just be actually sitting in a dark room? So ideally, yeah. But in some cases, that’s just not going to be possible. Whatever, definitely not whatever responsibilities people have. So there’s kind of two features of light that are that could be disruptive to melatonin. It’s both blue light content and brightness. So if you’re going to use light, ideally make it dim red light, or like a dim amber light, that’s going to be the best case scenario outside of not having any light on it. Oh, I got candlelight. Yeah, you can do candlelight or that the color of it doesn’t matter. For from that perspective. So I would say candlelight is still going to be somewhat disruptive, but it is pretty dim. Okay. And it’s more on the red side of the spectrum. So it’s going to be less far less disruptive than having a white LED or fluorescent bulb on those are highly suppressive to melatonin secretion. And we need that rise of melatonin in order to trigger sleepiness, reduce sleep latency, you know, enhance the ability of you to fall asleep quicker, and also stay asleep. And then naturally, you know, melatonin is going to start waning throughout the night. And once it reaches like a nadir, then cortisol starts rising up, and we naturally wake up. And that’s the cycle that our body requires. And both cortisol and melatonin are circadian or circadian regulated. I like to call them like circadian biosensors. So they’re both regulated in accordance with light. I will also mention here that light and dark are equally important for human biology. And I would argue for like mammalian biology in general, light isn’t itself the most important thing, both light and dark are of equal importance. And we need both of them. We need light, bright light from the sun, ideally, and dark darkness daily at the right times in order to have a regulated physiology. That’s pretty profound. It people might think, well, goodness, that makes sense. But how many of us really sleep in pitch black rooms?

And also wake up to the sun or bright, right? Nobody. Yeah. And I mean, this is one of those things that like you don’t think about until you see it. And then it’s like, you can’t unsee it. I agree. Why does someone have to get up and get outside? I’m just thinking from a practical standpoint, my kids, I dig it up, and I try to get them ready for school. I should probably get them up. And we should all get ready outside for school. How important is that timeframe? So it’s important in the sense that if you’re rising with the sun, you’re going to access that red end for light in the morning helps to regulate the hormonal milieu helps to turn on your mitochondrial function helps to regulate that cortisol response. And then you’re also encountering some of that morning UVA that’s rising shortly after sunrise, depending on your latitude, that’s going to also start to engage that circadian mechanism through the neuropsin sensing opsin molecule. And so yeah, if you can, you know, what I like to say and what I personally do is like, whatever I’m going to do inside, I just try to do it outside if I can, obviously, you know, weather permitting, but what I’ve done a lot in my life is like, I stopped spending my money on supplements, I started spending my money on making like a beautiful outdoor environment for myself that I can just enjoy being in have like a nice patio with an umbrella if I need to get some shade or if it’s raining, I can go under there, still encountering natural light. And just making a space that’s enjoyable. And that’s going to be, I mean, in my opinion, far money that’s far better spent than on like some dubious supplements that we have no idea if it’s working or not. And it’s like make some bold claims. But we know that light is so important. That why you know, let’s spend our money and doing what we can to optimize that light environment. And you’ll see the benefits immediately. Like without a doubt. And you and to be fair, you live in New Jersey, which it gets really cold in the winter. How does one begin to think about balancing the light and the cold? If you are inside more, do you need more cold exposure? If so, how do we think about it? Are we thinking about cold plunge thinking about being outside? And so frame it up for us as to what someone would do and how they can think about it. Yeah, so I would say the beautiful part about this is that you you don’t have to be cold all day in the winter. It’s your body doesn’t require that much of a dose to be functioning well. So what you can do is if you’re using cold water immersion, that’s going to be the most effective way to actually get the adaptive responses to cold exposure. Because water has what’s called a very high specific heat capacity, which means it can hold a lot of heat, which means that if you’re doing cold water immersion, that heat is wicked away from your body very quickly. And then you get that adaptive mitochondrial activating response and the increase of brown fat activation and beige fat production that helps to produce metabolic heat in a shorter period of time versus going for a walk in like shorts and a t shirt outside in the cold. You will still get a benefit, but it’s like let’s say you can do five minutes of cold water immersion, or you can do like 45 minutes of a walk outside. It’s just a much more effective and efficient way to get that cold exposure adaptive response. And how cold does it have to be? So for the metabolic benefits, the research would suggest between 50 and 55 degrees, water would be optimal or ideal or sufficient, let’s say to get those metabolic adaptations. Dr. Tom Seager, who’s a professor in Arizona, he talks about for the psychological benefits that it may be good to go colder because you actually need a real challenge to kind of like develop grit. And this may be particularly true for men, I think women’s physiology tends to be a bit more delicate with regards to the stressors that we experience, we tend to get a bit more dysregulated from intense stress and strain on the physiology. But I think you know, women can probably even benefit from this too. If it’s like one to three minutes, three would be like a max at like 37 degrees, like that’s cold, that’s like, you know, ice bath status. And but that’s when you can really develop like more psychological resilience and response to cold. So depending on your goals, I think most people or a lot of people would just really want the metabolic benefits. So if you’re leveraging the cold in that way, you can do 55 degree water and get a lot of those benefits. You may need to go for a little bit longer as you get more adapted, it depends on how robust your mitochondria are responding, how much brown fat and beige fat you have. As you become more adapted, you kind of need to increase your time spent similar to the melanin story. As you have more melanin, you need more sun to get the benefit. Same with cold. If you have more of that adaptive response already in place, you need more cold. Have you thought much about the interface between all of them, the light and the cold, particularly and how they work together? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think with regards to like doing cold exposure in the sun, for example, so yesterday, we did exactly what I was thinking about. Yeah, we did our cold plans, and you opened up the garage and the sun was at the perfect angle that was just like beating down on you while you’re in the cold. And I was like, By the way, it was still very cold. And we actually had it set. Again, we will never hear the end of winter hell week, it was set at 54 degrees. But I thought that was that’s plenty cold. It was good. It was plenty cold. Yeah, so what is the interplay between light and cold? I’d actually never thought about that prior to our having a discussion. Yeah. So I mean, if you think about what we talked about with regards to their infrared and red light stimulating mitochondria, we know we need to stimulate mitochondria in order to make metabolic heat. So the metabolic heat is what’s happening when our mitochondria are responding to cold. And so if you’re stimulating your mitochondria with red and infrared light, while simultaneously getting cold, you’re going to get a better more robust response to that cold exposure, you’re going to be able to tolerate, you know, potentially longer periods of time, you’re going to have a more adaptive response, it’s just going to be far more supportive, and like health fortifying experience versus, let’s say doing a cold plunge being blasted with blue light, for example, which is not going to give you that same benefit. I love that. And again, that’s one of the reasons that we use plunge, which, Ryan, if you’re listening to this, Dr. Alexis Cowan, she needs a plunge because it is my absolute favorite. But we try to plunge, you know, in natural light, it just seems to feel better. I’m also going to say an act data. So this is anecdotal data, my own data, it feels less stressful, quite frankly, when I am almost outside doing it, versus in a contained environment. Yeah. And I mean, if you think about that in nature, we would encounter cold bodies of water in nature. I’m pretty sure nobody in nature would willingly go into a cold plunge, or a cold. Sure, they did. Like bathing in rivers and things like this. Yeah, I guess they would have to. I never thought about that. Yeah.

I actually never thought about that. Yeah, I think there’s even cold bodies of water near the equator to just, you know, from all the flow, and depending if it’s coming up from down from a mountain, think about it, those that live in warm environments, like my dad would never be exposed to cold water. I think there’s still some cold bodies of water if there’s like, you know, rivers or streams coming down from higher altitude, could still be on the colder side, maybe not in the 30s, but it could be in the high 50s, let’s say. I mean, we know the Pacific Ocean is like in the 50s, right? So it doesn’t get very warm, just due to like the way the water currents are occurring in the like the ocean system. So I think it’s safe to say that even if you’re in more equatorial regions, you still might encounter some cool water, and that that would be natural to encounter in the presence of more intense sunlight as well, and that they actually synergize very nicely. So we do, I think that that’s all brilliant.

And I have to ask you our five questions, which by the way, they’re different for everybody. Okay. And your answer has to be yes or no. Okay. And because you’re talking about cold, equatorial, you know, equatorial type environments, I’m gonna choose some of those questions. So skinny dipping yes or no? Yeah.

Strength training inside yes or no.

This is a hard one. I know. So normally she would say yes. A year ago, you would have said yes. A year ago, you would have said yes. I would have absolutely. I mean, okay, I’ll be pretty, I’m gonna be sure. Okay, said sure. I asked him a question and he said sure.

Diet soda. No. Hell no. No.

Sleeping with an eye mask. Yeah. So that was a sure. Yeah, sure. If you have no other option, sure.

Wax earplugs. Because we actually didn’t talk about sound stimulation. But I’m just gonna leave it as wax earplugs. Sure. I never thought about it either. I mean, obviously, sound can wake you if you’re sleeping. If you don’t have control of your environment very well, then yeah, it could be good for your plucks. Fasting for mitochondrial health.

This is a hard one, Gabriel.

Generally speaking, I’m gonna say no. I would also say no. So we’ve been talking about POMC, beta, MSH, alpha-MSH. There are other downstream components, whatever you want to say, byproducts of POMC. What are they? Yeah. So among those 10 cleavage products, three of the other ones are alpha, beta, and gamma endorphin. And these are huge. You may have heard of endorphins in the context of like mood or even an exercise. Never heard it. Well, yeah, amazing. Okay, tell me. Yeah. So these molecules make us feel great. Not only that they reduce anxiety, they improve our baseline feeling of well being, they actually also increase our ability to think well, and they enhance our baseline dopamine levels, which is huge. And if you think about this, like so many people in modern society are going through life with really just burned out dopamine systems, because they’re constantly seeking for these quick hits, because we’re not getting that baseline elevation from UVB light exposure that facilitates the endorphin production. So if your dopamine system is kind of shot, because you’re never getting that elevation of baseline, you’re going to constantly reach for the junk food for the junk media for the, you know, alcohol for the drugs, whatever it is to get that hit, because you’re not operating from a place of fullness, you’re operating from a deficit, you’re always looking for a next quick fix to that problem. And you’re saying sunlight would help balance that? Yeah, because you’re getting the production of the alpha beta and gamma endorphins, which release dopamine in the brain, they help to just increase your your mood, your felt sense of well being, also your ability to critically think, because if your dopamine system is shot, you’re also not going to be able to think in a way that’s more curious and open minded, you’re going to naturally be more dogmatic and myopic in your view of life. Also, this ties into the blue light story too, because blue light also pushes you into a more sympathetic state. In a sympathetic state, you have blinders on you’re like very focused on what’s in front of you, you’re not able to see the bigger picture, both literally and figuratively, like it literally shuts off your peripheral vision. But it also doesn’t allow you to think in a more holistic, connected way that’s connecting disparate pieces together to actually critically think effectively. So there’s so many implications with the light environment as it relates to your ability to think properly, which obviously has knock on effects to everything like your ability to have high quality relationships, your ability to navigate challenge in your life, you’re, you’re reaching for vices, like the urge to even do that is largely rooted in this operating from like a deficit. That it’s a really good point. These are the tips that you’ve given us that you continue to give us are clear and easy things that we can do to leverage our environment. Give me your top five, give me three to five things that you wish you had known that you think everybody should implement daily. Great, love this question. So number one would be the sun light specifically is, I would say in in, it’s an invaluable aspect of our environment that’s regulating our body. So the more that you can leverage the sun directly, the better off you’re going to be. And the more you can be outside in natural environments, the more synced up your biology is going to be with nature, which means that it’s just going to be a better fit for you, your body’s going to be able to be more adaptive to your specific environment.

So leveraging sunlight would be number one. Number two would be that figure out where your mitochondrial genes come from. So this basically means find out where your mom’s side of the family came from, because you inherit all your mitochondria from mom. If your mom’s side of the family comes from more equatorial regions, you know, let’s say they have darker skin, you don’t need to do your genetic testing, you can just see their skin tone and see, you know, whereabouts they might have come from. If they have darker skin, they probably came from equatorial regions without a doubt. What that means then is if they come from these regions, you have a more coupled mitochondrial haplotype, which means that your mitochondria are really good at making energy, but they require a lot of sun year round, because equatorial regions have an abundance of sunlight coming in year round, they’re not having a seasonality. If on the other hand your mitochondria come from more northern regions, so for example my mom’s side of the family is from Scandinavia, that means my mitochondria are Scandinavian, and that means that they’re exhibiting what’s called an uncoupled phenotype or haplotype. The uncoupled haplotype is really good at dissociating energy production from the flow of electrons, which means that you’re able to generate more heat from your mitochondria if you have an uncoupled mitochondrial haplotype. If you have an uncoupled mitochondria, that means that you’re going to be really good at getting cold, and you may lose some of that ability if you’re never getting cold, but you will adapt to it relatively quickly because you have this built-in mechanism in place already. Interestingly, if you have an uncoupled haplotype, it’s actually advantageous because if you even move to a more equatorial region, your mitochondria can actually kind of shape shift into a more coupled haplotype. And then if you go back to a more northern region, it has more, let’s say, adaptability, and I think this is also one reason why a lot of equatorial communities in the United States are suffering health-wise. Like we see black people, we see Latinos and Latinas, we see cultures that come from more equatorial regions, their individuals here in this country have very poor health outcomes, and part of that is certainly socioeconomic, but part of it is also they’re not getting sufficient sunlight for their specific mitochondrial genetic needs. So I think understanding that aspect is huge when it comes to optimizing your health, understand where your mitochondrial genes came from, so that you can better optimize your lifestyle to suit them. Number three would be to definitely block or avoid blue light at night. So that means either switching all your light bulbs to red or amber, and if you can’t do that, at least popping on a pair of blue-blocking glasses that will block 100% of blue light. Bonchard sells great ones. I love theirs. I use them. I carry them with me all the time. There’s also daytime blue-blocking glasses that block about 60% that you can use if you’re going to be under blue light in excess during the day. Obviously, we need some blue light during the day to tell our body it’s the middle of the day, but if we’re getting in excess, it can be very draining to our nervous systems. What do you mean excess? How would someone know if they are getting excess blue light? So if you’re under LED and fluorescent lights all day, and you’re also on screens all day that aren’t being filtered of blue light, you’re going to be in an excess. So that’s a lot. Yeah, unless you’re actively balancing with a red infrared light panel, for example.

So that’s one way you could balance. If you can’t do that, then wear a pair of jade diamond blue-blocking glasses. Take as frequent as you can breaks to get some natural light outdoors. That’d be my tip there. Number four, I would say the more electrons you can scavenge from the earth, the better off. So if you can ground, you know, even 15 minutes a day, getting your bare feet on some natural surfaces, concrete also works, but grass is great too. The optimal would be like a beach, sand and salt water and sun simultaneously. But getting some grounding in daily is a great way to support your mitochondria, reduce inflammatory burden, and overall just support your system’s ability to make energy in an effective way.

So I think those would be some of my top tips. Maybe the last thing I would say is just not to fear UV light, knowing that we need to work with it. But that if we can harness the power of UV light from full spectrum sunlight, we have immense potential to facilitate healing process, facilitate our ability to critically think, support our mood, support our appetite regulation, and and basal metabolic rate. And then also, of course, the red light part of the story to supporting our mitochondria directly, all of these things synergize together to help create a system that’s more resilient and robust to its environment. Those are great tips. Thank you so much for coming on and you guys listening or watching. Dr. Alexis Cowan will be on frequently as she is and she typically brings new and innovative ideas. Thank you as always and we will link where to find you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. This was so fun.