Brain’s Failure To Regulate Itself Source Of Human Struggle

“Anxiety, sadness, anger – all of the common struggles and challenges in human life stem from failures of the brain to regulate itself” – Bill Harris

It’s the pre-frontal cortex versus the limbic system.

In this age-old battle between immediate gratification and delayed happiness, these two parts of our brain face off every time we see a tempting dessert, seductive woman (or man), or begin to procrastinate…

This week’s Optimal Performance Podcast features a man who has spoken at the United Nations and shared the stage with the Dali Lama.

Holosync creator Bill Harris is on the OPP to share his expertise on meditation, brain function, awareness, and self-improvement.

Awareness Creates Choice

As you’ll hear from Bill several times in this podcast, “awareness creates choice” and he’s about to tell you how you can create tremendous awareness due to changes created in the brain – similar to traditional meditation – only 8X faster!

Bill’s teachings and technology help us enhance the prefontal cortex, calm the limbic system and increase connections throughout the brain for greater awareness and increased performance.

How Mastering Your Mind Leads To Increased Awareness, Choice and Happiness

Once we are able to increase our own awareness, Bill has four areas of focus to help us use this increased awareness to master of our mind and better our lives.

  1. How you feel
  2. How you behave
  3. The situations you attract or become attracted to
  4. The meanings we assign to those events

In this phenomenal episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast, Bill Harris explains how we can become more aware of our thoughts and behaviors so that we can more consciously choose to experience the best possible life.

We can do this by observing our internal dialogue and processes – then learn to control them and help create your desired reality and future rather than live by chance.

Enjoy this podcast and let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below.

Here’s what you’ll learn from Holosync creator Bill Harris on this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast:

  • Technology that creates tremendous awareness due to changes created in the brain – similar to traditional meditation
  • How we’re all traumatized by life and how those experiences shape our behaviors and the people we attract
  • How to go from angry, anxious, depressed and struggling asshole to calm, clear, and happy zen buddhist
  • Discovering electrical brainwaves made by meditators and using binaural beats to change brainwaves to resemble those of meditators = the genesis of Holosync technology
  • The battle between your limbic system and your prefrontal cortex – and how it dictates your happiness and performance
  • The downside to dopamine and limbic system imbalances
  • Why you need to calm down your limbic system, how stress makes you dumber and causes the limbic system to grow – perpetuating the negative cycle
  • How meditation increase prefrontal cortex strength and reduces limbic system activity to suppress impulsive behavior
  • How acetylcholine impacts mental processing speed and the “attentional blink” experiment
  • How Holosync (“meditation on steroids”) produces the same results as meditation – only 8X faster!
  • How meditation (and Holosync) increases your threshold for what you can handle
  • Bill’s supplement regimen…l-theanine, omega-3’s, GABA, mitochondrial optimizers, brain foods and more
  • The $25,000 physical and genome test, biohacking toys for exercise, and cryotherapy
  • “The brain is designed to work in parallel” – how to increase connections to increase cognitive performance
  • The secret to developing magnetic charisma and mastering the world that mind creates – and taking it into the world to make a difference
  • Where can you find more of Bill Harris, Holosync and Centerpointe
  • Bill Harris’s Top 3 Tips To #LiveOptimal

Links & Resources

Try Holosync – 5 days FREE

David Eagelman – Incognito

Gerald Oster: Auditory Beats in The Brain

Attentional Blink Experiment

Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler – BOLD

Health Nucleus

ROM Machine


Michael Merzenich at Brain HQ


Daniel Amen

Bill’s Free Book

Natural Stacks Krill Oil

Natural Stacks Grass-Fed Whey & Collagen Natural Protein

CILTEP to help you think faster, focus better, and memorize more!

 We want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and continue the conversation.


Creating Awareness, Choice and Mastering Your Mind with Holosync Creatos Bill Harris

Ryan: You are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! To learn more about building optimal performance into your life, check out

Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers! I’m your host Ryan Munsey. Welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast. I wanna say hello to our guest this week, Mr. Bill Harris. Bill, thanks a lot for hanging out with us.

Bill: Hey, I really appreciate the invitation, Ryan. I’m glad to be here.

Ryan: Yeah! So, for our listeners, they may recognize your technology, Holosync. That’s probably what you’re most known for. But you’ve also spoken at the United Nations, you’ve shared the stage with the Dalai Lama. So, I think we’re the ones who are honored to be able to share the Skype and podcast platform with you today. So, before we dig in, listeners, couple of housekeeping notes. As always, go to, you can see the video version of this, we’ll have tons of links to all of the information that Bill shares with us today, especially links to Holosync and Centerpointe websites. So, also, if you have not done so, please head over to iTunes, leave us a 5* review, let us know how much you like the show and share the Optimal Performance Podcast with your friends, your family and anybody else you know who may benefit from what we’re talking about here so that we can help more people live optimal. Alright, Bill, I’m gonna stop talking and I want you to tell our listeners a little bit about your background and how you became an expert on all things biohacking, awareness, living optimal.

Bill: Okay. Well, you – you actually kind of prompted me before we started that you wanted to hear my elevator speech which I told you before. And so, maybe I’ll do that and then I’ll kind of go back and tell the back story.

Ryan: Sure.

Bill: And then we can get into some of the science, which I think people will find very, very interesting. My elevator speech is, kind of, I have this technology, Holosync, which creates tremendous awareness. Now, recently I’ve learned that that awareness really is a function of certain changes that Holosync creates in the brain which are very similar, actually, to those created by traditional meditation but just way, way faster, as technology often is. It enhances the prefrontal cortex, it calms the limbic system, it causes more connections between those 2 so the prefrontal cortex can manage and oversee the dumb ideas that the limbic system often has. And so, that – that is – plus creating new connections between the left and the right side of the brain – is really how the brain becomes more aware. I’ll talk a little more later about exactly how I define awareness, but – so, I have this technology that creates tremendous awareness. Then I show people how to direct that awareness in such a way to create as much choice as possible about 4 areas of life: how you feel, how you behave, which people and situations you attract or become attracted to – which generally happens unconsciously – and what meanings you assign to what’s happening around you. The sort of basic premise behind all of this is that awareness creates choice. What you do with awareness um, becomes a choice. What you do outside your awareness happens on autopilot and it isn’t a choice, it’s more a function of how your mind and your brain were programmed by your early life experiences. So, most people are just doing things on autopilot, which is the way it’s supposed to work. It’s a good thing that you do things on autopilot. My friend David Eagleman who’s a very famous neuroscientist, who also has a PBS special that’s been out recently, he wrote a book called ‘Incognito’ about all the stuff that happens behind the curtain. And how essential it is. However, when people are traumatized in some way, which we all are by life; when people have disappointments and losses and – and sometimes abuse, certain parts of that autopilot stuff doesn’t work very well. And so, we end up having a lot of bad feelings or behaving in ways that we later regret or failing to behave when we want to, you know, procrastinating instead of going ahead and doing whatever it is. And then we attract people into our life that over and over, the same kind of people that we don’t wanna be around. Or get attracted to situations that we don’t wanna be in. And then the 4th thing was the assigning meanings to the things. Just as an aside, in case anybody hasn’t thought this through, nothing out there means anything intrinsically. We assign meanings to th- as part of the creative process of being a human being we assign meanings. But if you’re doing this on autopilot and you’re assigning meanings like: I’ll never succeed at this, I’m not very smart, nobody likes me, I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me to get along with women or men or whatever. You know, people assign, you know, kind of self-sabotaging meanings quite often. So, so at any rate that turned out to be more than an elevator speech I guess ’cause I’m so long-winded. But, anyway, I have a technology that creates tremendous awareness and I show people where to direct that awareness in such a way to create the maximum amount of choice over those 4 things.

Ryan: Awesome.

Bill: So.

Ryan: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to kind of breaking that down and talking a little bit more about those things and sharing with our listeners how we can leverage that.

Bill: Absolutely, absolutely.

Ryan: Before we do, let’s hear some of your background. How did you get into this? How did you develop this technology?

Bill: Yeah. I grew up in a – what they in those days they called – a broken home. And with fairly crazy parents. I don’t know if crazy is the right word. My mother was a bit crazy, my dad was just kind of distant and critical and – but I, you know, I grew up very unhappy, very angry. I was very intelligent and good at things. So, I get a lot – I got my only strokes for being good at things, I guess, so I really went into trying to be good at everything. Which turned out to be a good thing, but I was very unhappy in most ways. When I was 19 – well, I should just add to that – I drove a lot of people out of my life, I was very difficult to get along with, I was – at one time or another I was almost always angry or anxious or depressed. And so, I was – I was struggling to succeed even though I was talented in a lot of things and smart, people didn’t really want to work with me because I was kind of an asshole. So, so anyway when I was 19 somebody suggested that I should learn how to meditate. Now, meditating in 1969 was not a mainstream thing. It’s way more mainstream now and there’s way more research about it and what happens to your brain when you do it, all the benefits of it and all that sort of thing. But anyway, I learned to meditate and it helped but um, you know, I was a type A meditator you might say, which is sort of a contradiction. But I was – I was very disciplined about it as I am about most things. And 16 years later, I was still pretty unhappy. And about that time – I was in my mid-30’s then – I ran into a couple of different pieces of research. I’d taken all the pre-med sciences when I was in school, I was kind of a science geek, I was always reading scientific papers and popular books about science and all that sort of stuff. So, while I was meditating the airy-fairy description of why it worked didn’t appeal to me that much. I could tell something was happening and so I said to myself: ‘This is doing something and there has to be a scientific explanation to what it’s doing.’ Now there’s been tons of research showing what that is. But in those days, not so much. But there were 2 things that – 2 pieces of research. One wasn’t even about mediation but – one was that they discovered what the electrical patterns – electrical brain wave patterns that meditators were making. And so, they knew this in the 1970’s, they knew that meditators were making alpha brain waves and theta brain waves and that sort of a thing. So, so that was one piece of research that I became aware of. The other one was a rather obscure paper written by a researcher at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, a man named Dr. Gerald Oster. And it – it’s – the paper is called ‘Auditory Beats in the Brain’. And he was describing a characteristic of the brain that when you presented the bra- presented a human being through their ears so that you could target something go- you know, through headphones – so you could target something going through the left ear to the right side of the brain and something going through the right ear to the left side of the brain, that you could influence these 2 little organelles in the – in the auditory processing center in the brain called the olivary nuclei to communicate with each other. And in doing that, a standing wave in the brain could be set up. You’re – you’re putting these pure sine wave tones in certain combinations into the brain and it creates a standing wave in the electrical patterns in the – so, the short explanation of it would have been his paper was about how you could alter brain waves, change brain waves, entrain brain waves. And he gave no purpose, no practical use for this at all. He didn’t mention anything about it. It was – I often sort of jokingly say: ‘This was sort of like reading a paper about how a certain chemical crosses the blood-brain barrier in the adolescent salamander.’ You know, like, nobody would read this unless you were for some reason an adolescent salamander geek.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: You know?

Ryan: Right.

Bill: So, you looked like you were about to ask something.

Ryan: Well, before you tell us the next steps, I just – I’m nodding because we actually had a podcast a few episodes ago with the creators of Brain fm, which is music designed to increase concentration, sleep, focus, even meditation. And they referenced the same paper from Mr. Oster and these are – he coined the term from that paper, the binaural beats.

Bill: Well, and do you know where – how they know about that paper?

Ryan: I don’t know how they found it.

Bill: They know about it because of me!

Ryan: [laughs]

Bill: Because I wasn’t the very first person to do this, but I was the first person to make it commercially successful. And I have tons of knock-offs of people who all heard about it because of the success of Centerpointe. And unfortunately – I don’t know that much about Brain fm although I do know that they exist – but most of the people that are doing this don’t actually know what they’re doing. The – the numbers of – the ways you could do this, the amount of choices that you would make in using this are literally infinite. And I often say that it’s sort of like if I was the best pastry chef in the world and everybody just loved the pastries I made and then somebody else came along and they said: ‘Hey, I bought a copy of The Joy of Cooking, I have some flour, I have some eggs, I have some sugar, I have some butter and my pastries are just as good as Bill Harris’.’ But the truth is that somebody who spent 30+ years perfecting what they’re doing is not the same as somebody who just went online and read something on how to do this. ‘Cause you can create quote-unquote binaural beats, which I really never used that term but – but you can – you can create some kind of binaural beats and when people listen to it they will say: ‘Wow, I can feel s- yeah, something’s happening’. But that’s not the same as doing it in the most – the most effective way. So, I’m sorry about sort of bitching about all the knock-off artists but – and I’m not – and Brain fm, they may be great, I don’t – I have not investigated them. But – but I just want to make that clear.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: Because I see people all the time going online and getting: ‘Oh, well I can get this free binaural beat thing,’ and believe me, it’s worth every penny you pay for it. You know, there’s all kinds of cheap knock-offs and they’re not people that really understand what I understand about the brain, about meditation, etc., etc. So – so anyway, um, yes there, you know, there are other ways to – there are other ways to do this. So, at any rate, when I – when I had these 2 pieces of research I said: ‘Wow, these are the brain waves of meditation and this guy says he has a way that you can change brain wave patterns. Could I change them to those of meditation? And um, what would that be like? Would it work? Would it work as well?’ It’s – and, you know, I had all these questions. So, I gathered together a bunch of equipment that I didn’t know how to use. I went to the engineering lab at a college where I was a graduate student at the time and talked them into lending me a bunch of equipment. And I went home and like a little mad scientist in my basement I started creating these soundtracks. And some friends of mine, who are also long-time meditators, we started listening to them. And it – it blew us away. What was happening just totally blew us away. We could not believe – first of all, the experience was such a deep meditation and we were high for hours, sometimes for 24 hours after we listened to it. And then though, I – I’ll just tell you what happened to me – I began to notice that I was – my anger was kind of dissipating and my anxiety was calming down and I wasn’t’ getting depressed anymore and I was – I was more creative and my mind was clearer and all these things were happening. Plus, I was doing all these fairly sophisticated meditation processes that I had learned over the years, ’cause I was very into that, and you know, I don’t – I don’t know if the people that are listening to this have ever read books  about meditation but they’ll have some guru in India and he’s describing all these things that happened when he was meditating. And you read enough of these books and you begin to realize there are certain things that tend – sort of classical meditation experiences that happen when you meditate. But they don’t usually happen ’til you’ve been doing it a long time. And pe- so, you know, people read those books and they think: wow, I’m gonna meditate, that sounds cool! And their experience is something like: my leg itches; oh my God, how long has it been? Only 6 minutes, geez; what’s that noise outside?; oh, I can’t get comfortable. You know, they’re not having these – these weird experiences. They’re just, you know, bored and they don’t make it very far and they quit and say: ‘Okay, it’s too hard.’ So, all of these kinds of things that we had been reading about and had had little glimpses of, ’cause we had been meditating a lot, they started happening, you know, all the time! And that it the first thing that really convinced me that this really was, like, meditation on steroids, kind of. So anyway, over the years from 1985-1989, by word of mouth, you know, there was 3 of us that started doing this and then we were telling out friends, you know, we were going to our friends and saying: ‘Hey, you’ve gotta try this. This is really cool.’ And so, gradually, by word of mouth we had about 150 people or so in the United – all across the U.S. and in Europe who were doing this. And everybody was having their own version of the kind of changes I was having. So, in 1989, several people that were using it informally came to me and said: ‘You should create a structured way to do this and sell it and have a business.’ And at the time I was making about 30,000 a year on some investments I had made when I sold real estate when I was younger. And I wasn’t really working, I was just living on this investment income. And I thought: wow, if I could make another 30,000 a year, wouldn’t that be cool? Double my income! I was ama- I didn’t have – I didn’t have this big business, you know, vision or anything like that at the time. It took a few years for me to kind of figure out how to even have a successful business, but it really started to take off. And at this point we’ve sold over 160 million dollars’ worth of Holosync in all but 3 countries in the world. I’m told there are 196 countries in the world, we have people in 193 of those countries. Although I haven’t counted them up, you know, for a few years. But anyway, it just became this big phenomenon and that’s, you know, that’s why, for instance, that I ended up speaking with the Dalai Lama and spoke at the United Nations and spoke with Stephen Covey and Ken Wilber at Dave Asprey’s Biohacking Conference and all that sort of stuff. So, in the, you know, in the beginning I started trying to figure out: why does this work and what’s going on? And I wanted to know what was going on in the brain. And, you know, I’ll sort of skip forward a little bit but, you know, in the late 90’s I met Dr. Daniel Amen and some other people that were neuroscience people and I was reading lots of stuff about it. And um, finally, just to make a long story short, what I began to realize was that first of all, all of this stuff was happening in the brain. You know, the sort of metaphysical description of it has a brain-based, you know, description. And there are a lot of parts of the brain involved. But basically, what’s going on with all human beings is that there’s kind of a war going on in everybody’s brain between whether your limbic system is gonna run the show or your prefrontal cortex is gonna run the show. I, you know, I’m not an expert in CILTEP but I – but I suspect that what CILTEP does is that it enhances certain part of the prefrontal cortex, which is part of, you know, the part of the brain that is mostly responsible for focus and, you know, being able to concentrate and all that sort of stuff. But let me talk about the limbic system a little bit.

Ryan: Yeah.

Bill: The limbic system has all kinds of things that it does that are good for you. You know, when you fall in love and you’re having that romantic phase, you know, your limbic system is creating all this dopamine that causes you to be so focused on the person you’re in love with and become really creative about figuring out how to spend time with them and please them and all that sort of stuff. But it also kind of does the same thing about that stuff in the bakery case at Whole Foods when you walk by. It causes you to instantly fall in love with that and want it.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: And um, it – it causes you to blow off meditating or exercising or, you know, whatever lifestyle things you’ve decided on because you don’t feel like it the moment. The limbic system, when it’s doing this desire thing, it cannot look at all at long-term consequences. And, you know, I mean, most people have had that happen to them regarding fall in love. You just think everything’s perfect but then after the romance part kind of wears off, you realize: what the hell am I doing? This person is the – extremely annoying or whatever. You know, you find out things about them that you didn’t see or you don’t think of the consequences. But, you know, so, people – when their limbic system is really overactive they will spend money they don’t have on things they don’t want, they will blow off these lifestyle things as I said, they will, you know, desire food that they know they shouldn’t eat. Some people don’t know they shouldn’t eat it, but I think most of the people watching this show probably have a pretty good idea of what a healthy diet really is. We don’t need to go into that in any detail. But, so, there’s all these dopamine-driven, you know, dopamine is a really powerful drug. They – when they first found out what part of the brain they could stimulate to give rats, in this case, a hit of dopamine, they set up these experiments where they had these rats in a cage and they put a lever on one side of the cage where if they pulled the lever, they got a hit of dopamine. And they found out that these rats would not eat, drink, sleep, or have sex if they had the choice of that or pulling the lever to get dopamine. That’s how powerful it was. Then they put a – they put a – they made it so they had to go across the cage alternately to push 2 levers and then they put an electrical grid in the middle of the cage so that to – they had to get a shock to get to the lever. And these rats actually kept doing this until they burned their little rat feet off. That’s how – that’s how powerful dopamine is. And, you know, if you stop to think about it, you know when you have made dumb decisions because you were being driven by dopamine. Whether it’s in a romantic situation or a food situation or a money situation or a, you know, screwing off when you decided to work on your business or, you know, whatever it is. There’s just so many things that all, you know, addictions, all that sort of stuff all involved in this dopamine system. So, that’s one difficult, you know, problem with having an overactive limbic system, which lots of people do. OCD and ADD are also overactive limbic system. So is post-traumatic stress disorder. Many, many, many, many common human problems are caused by an overactive limbic system.

Ryan: And just to clarify it’s, you know, any of those issues you’re talking about come from being out of balance in –

Bill: Absolutely.

Ryan: – in those neurotransmitters or in that limbic system.

Bill: Yes. Absolutely, absolutely. And what – well, and let me tell you the other downside to the limbic system and then we move on to the prefrontal cortex and then we can talk about some of that stuff. The other thing that the limbic system is responsible for is the fight or flight response. And – which is really handy if you are in a life-threatening situation. When you go into fight or flight, the blood flows away from your brain, so you lose IQ points, into your extremities so you can fight or flee. The problem is that um, modern life is so stressful that people are in low grade fight or flight or worse, sometimes in high grade fight or flight, over stuff that is not life-threatening at all. You know, I mean think what happens when you can’t find your cell phone.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: Where? You know, I mean you start to freak out. Like: God, my whole life is in there! I can’t – I can’t even call anybody to tell ’em I can’t call them because I lost my ce- you know, pe- or somebody cuts you off or you have an argument with someone, you know, I mean, all these things that aren’t life-threatening but we get really stressed over them. And interestingly enough, when you get really stressed, your limbic system grows. It actually becomes bigger. It becomes more active. And so, it becomes this – this sort of vicious cycle where the more stressed you get by the limbic system and the cortisol it produces and all these other – these other stress hormones, the bigger it gets and the more likely it is to be more active and to overreact to things. Plus, you’ve got all this dopamine stuff. So, and then the overactive fight or flight thing is very bad for you physically. There’s all these health problems and brain fog and all these other things. So, anyway, an overactive limbic system is not a good thing. And many, many people have it. I – I have to – I struggle all the time, even though I am doing a zillion brain hack things to calm it down. I really, I have to keep doing that. So, anyway, the other part of the brain support is the prefrontal cortex which I suspect the people listening know more about that than the people I’m usually talking to. It’s the sort of executive control, of learning from experience, of creativity, pattern recognition, focus, concentration, motivation, you know, all those kinds of things. And um, unfortunately, when the limbic system become overactive and you’re stressed, the prefrontal cortex actually becomes deactivated. It actually becomes smaller. And so, the other thing that the prefrontal cortex does is it supervises the limbic system. When you walk by the bakery case in Whole Foods and you say: ‘Wow, that looks good,’ the limbic system operates faster than the prefrontal cortex. It takes a, you know, a few more fractions of a section before your prefrontal cortex kicks in. So, usually what happens is wow, you know, she looks hot or that cake looks great or – wha- or wow, I want to buy that even though I’m gonna have to put it on my credit card and I’m gonna run up a bill. Your prefrontal cortex, if it’s strong enough, it kicks in a second later and you say: ‘Not a good idea,’ and you walk by the bakery case or you don’t get involved with the crazy woman who um, who is really hot and really fun but crazy. Or man, you know, whatever. So, it turns out that, you know, there’s all kinds of things you can do to enhance the prefrontal cortex or calm the limbic system – or breathing exercises that calm the limbic system, there are supplements that calm it. There are, you know, supplements and things that enhance the prefrontal cortex, too. Certainly a lot of smart drugs enhance the prefrontal cortex. The most effective thing, long-range, though, that anybody has ever found is meditation. And there’s actually a lot of research now showing how the prefrontal cortex, um, is enhanced by meditation and the limbic system is calmed by meditation. Richie Davidson is a researcher at the um, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He did a very interesting study a number of years ago on this thing called attentional blink. They were showing people on a computer this whole string of numbers that were going by really fast and every now and then there was a letter in there. Now, I may be getting this backwards. It may have been a whole string of letters with a number in there, but at any rate, when this anomaly came along, you’re supposed to push the space bar. And so, they had a bunch of people that were doing this. And most people, when they – when the letter came along, could successfully press the space bar. But they found that if they put 2 of these pretty close together, people couldn’t see the 2nd one. And they later found, I’m sort of divvying up part of the punch line here, but they later found out that – that you needed acetylcholine in the synapses in order to see this. And that it took so much acetylcholine to see it that you didn’t have time to reload if they showed you another one within, like, 4/10 of a second or something. So, anyway, then they took people that they had had this baseline on, and they divided them into 2 groups. One group didn’t do anything, really, they were just the control group. The other group, they had them do this really intense meditation retreat thing where they were meditating like 12 hours a day for 2 months.

Ryan: Wow.

Bill: And then they repeated the experiment. And the people that had been meditating all that time, they could – they could see the 2nd one. The 1st group did just as poorly the 2nd time, the control group did. And that’s when they r- they found out the people that had been meditating, it wasn’t that they were making more acetylcholine, it’s that they were able to focus with le- using less of it. So, when they saw that 1st anomaly letter in the string of numbers, they didn’t use up all the acetylcholine to see it so they had some left over to see the next one. And, you know, it’s – it’s kind of the same phenomenon as when – when you – like, you’re at a party and you meet somebody and you remember the name of the first person but then another person comes along, you know, in 2 minutes later and – and you get introduced to them and then either you forget the first person’s name and you remember that or you – or you, you know. In other words, there’s a certain amount of neurochemistry going on to whether or not you can remember a string of things. And so, this was just kind of a description of one of the ways that the – that meditation enhances the prefrontal cortex. I know that was sort of a long story but I think it’s an interesting – it was really fascinating to me when I first ran across it. So, I thought people would like that.

Ryan: Yeah.

Bill: So, anyway, um, when – when – as I developed this big audience of people using Holosync and giving us feedback, what we began to notice that people were getting the very same benefits as traditional meditation but – and we’ve been doing this now for, like 31 years – people get these benefits 8 times faster.

Ryan: Wow!

Bill: So, you don’t need to do 2 months of 12 hours a day. You know, you can maybe do 4 months of 1 hour a day, or something like that. And you get the same benefits! So, it turns out that just like every other kind of technology you can think of, when you find a technology that allows you to do something you were doing, you know, the old-fashioned way, like, you know, you can get from A to B walking but you can get there a lot faster if you drive a car.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: Or whatever the case may be. So, Holosync just turns out to be a way to dramatically, dramatically and very quickly enhance the prefrontal cortex. And the prefrontal cortex – actually, the brain turns over more brain real estate to prefrontal cortex functions. And the limbic system shrinks. And – but it’s not a totally permanent thing. I mean, it’s something that when you do this, it takes a long time – if you stopped – for these things to go away. But, you know, if you’re continually stressed, um, sometimes it’s necessary to keep doing these things. What people find when they do Holosync is that the things that normally stress them a lot stop stressing them. And in fact, we – what we used to say before I was framing this in terms of the brain is that everyone has a threshold for what they can handle. And when you – when that threshold is exceeded, you begin to feel stressed or even overwhelmed and stress lowers that threshold. And meditation raises it. And so, we said – a lot of people just try to avoid these stressors, which is not a bad idea, but they do all these things to sort of treat the symptoms. You know, a lot of dysfunctional feelings and behaviors are responses to stress. Like, people get pissed off ’cause they’re really stressed. And then after they get pissed off, for a while they feel better. They sort of blew off that steam. If – I’ve just always said let’s attack this at the cause. Let’s raise that threshold higher. Now, it turns out that that threshold is the place where your – your limbic system kind of kicks in and it takes over from the prefrontal cortex. But I didn’t understand that when I first framed that little, you know, kind of, metaphor for how this happens. So, anyway, go ahead. I’m sure you have some questions at this point.

Ryan: Well, I guess, just on this most recent thing that you said, you know, it reminds me of the saying, you know, where it’s: don’t ask for an easier life, as for broader shoulders, or something.

Bill: Absolutely.

Ryan: And, you know, what you’re saying is we’re going to raise that threshold, we’re making the prefrontal cortex stronger so that it can hold on longer, fight off the limbic system from taking over if it gets stressed or overwhelmed.

Bill: Yeah! And, you know, I am certainly not at all against smart drugs and that sort of thing. I um, I take, in the morning, I don’t know, if I put all my supplements in this glass it would – for the morning it goes up about that high. And dinner is a little bit lower and the lunch is probably the least amount. But, I mean, I bet I take at – more than a cup of supplements every day.

Ryan: So, give us a few of your favorites. What are the must-takes for you?

Bill: Oh, God, it’s so – well, certainly I take a lot of EPA, DHA, you know fish supp- fish oil supplements. I take about 6,000 units of that stuff a day.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: I take – see you’re gonna ask me what some of these do and I’m not gonna remember the whole expla- Acetyl-L-carnitine is one that I take.

Ryan: That’s one of the star ingredients in our CILTEP.

Bill: You know, I – I take a lot of uh, you know, CoQ10. I take, you know, Dave Asprey has these little vials.

Ryan: Unfair Advantage?

Bill: Yeah. I take that. Plus, I take a couple of others from – I get a lot of my supplements from Life Extension Foundation and I have some that I get from – from Dave. I take a little thing that – some herb that is supposed to increase dopamine a little bit. I found if I took 2 of them a day I was sort of freaked out a little bit, so I started taking 1 a day. Oh, God, I take so many of these. I take several things that calm the limbic system. You know, I take GABA, I take 5-HTP, I take l-theanine. I usually take that plus some melatonin before I go to bed.

Ryan: So, we’ve got – we’ve got a whole line of Brain Foods, we have theanine in our Smart Caffeine. We didn’t bring you on to talk about our stuff, but – but after we finish recording and maybe down the road we can get you some of our stuff and let you try it out and, you know, see if it helps you.

Bill: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’d have to, you know, be thinking about this but, I mean, I – I take a ton of stuff. I take this other thing called Mitochondrial Energy Optimizer, which isn’t a CoQ10 thing but it’s something from Life Extension. But I can’t remember exactly what’s in that.

Ryan: I’d be curious to see. Most mitochondrial products that I’ve seen are BioPQQ.

Bill: Yeah, I – well, I mean, that’s what’s in the CoQ10 I take from Life Extension.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: And then that’s what’s in Dave’s –

Ryan: Right.

Bill: – Unfair Advantage stuff. I, you know, if you’d asked me this ahead of time I – I’m actually going – today is – today is Wednesday. On Friday, I’m going to La Jolla, California. I’m doing this all-day thing. You know what the XPRIZE is?

Ryan: Yes!

Bill: I’m on the XPRIZE Foundation board with some amazing people.

Ryan: Oh, awesome, yeah!

Bill: And Peter Diamandis and a lot of the people in there are part of this, sort of, beta testing of this thing, it’s called Health Nucleus.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: And, do you know about them?

Ryan: I don’t. But I read Peter’s book ‘Bold’ and he talked a lot about XPRIZE in there.

Bill: Oh, and he talked about – okay.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s a great book.

Bill: I just learned about this recently, but I’m going there on Friday. They do this – the most complete genome sequencing thing that you can possibly do. In fact, it’s not approved by the FDA. They got the FDA to agree to this as a beta testing thing. Then they do this whole biome thing and, you know, where they’re doing all the – the chemistry in your colon and all that stuff. Plus, they do this huge blood chemistry thing that is like hundreds of substances in your blood and um, I’m really interested in learning more about that. And then they do all kinds of other stuff. They do a full body MRI, they, you know, do all this BMI testing and on and on and on and on. It’s a – really amazing.

Ryan: What’s the name of it again?

Bill: Health Nucleus.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: The unfortunate thing about this is it costs 25,000 dollars to do it [laughs]. It’s not cheap.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: And – but they give you the most complete health diagnostic work-up that you could get anywhere in the world by far. And the reason I thought of that is that um, when I was filling out all this paperwork for – or, it was online actually. It wasn’t paperwork, it was dig- electron work, I guess. But they had this little box and they said: please list the supplements you take. And I was sitting here in my office and I’m saying: ‘Okay, I’m probably taking about 40 different things or something and I don’t remember what they are and I certainly don’t remember what’s in all of them.’ So, I’m – I’m gonna have to go and make a big list for them. And I nee- I’ve been procrastinating doing that a little bit ’cause I know it’s gonna take me at least an hour to do it. And if I’d had that then I could have just reeled off all this stuff that I’m taking. I’m sort of hoping that after this, they’re gonna say: ‘Here’s a bunch of these things you’re taking you don’t have to take.’ Which would probably save me a fortune.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: Because I’m probably paying 6 or 7,000 dollars a year at least on supplements. And hopefully it’s helping, I don’t know.

Ryan: Yeah, yeah. I’m sure.

Bill: I’m trying to live forever and so far, so good.

Ryan: Yeah.

Bill: But –

Ryan: That’s – that’s our goal, too. We wanna be smarter, we wanna be happier, we wanna live forever and – I knew that’s why this would be a great show.

Bill: Yeah, and I, you know, and I have a very holistic view to this. Holosync is a very powerful tool. And so, that’s part of it. But, you know, it also has to do with diet, with supplementation, with sleep, with exercise. Another thing I’m about to get is this exercise. I use this thing now which is pretty amazing, which is called a ROM machine.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: Range of motion. If you go to, it’s a 4-minute exercise that just sort of totally kicks your ass in 4 minutes. I know it sounds – it sounds like maybe it’s bogus, but it isn’t. It’s really amazing. And it’s – I don’t know if we should take the time to talk about this but it –

Ryan: Go for it!

Bill: – it’s a full – it’s a strength, cardio and stretching thing that you do in 4 minutes and everybody’s skeptical until they do it.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: This video I saw about it was at some sort of a conference and they had this expo sort of thing and they were – they were asking these – these personal trainer guys that were walking around: ‘Do you think you can get a full cardio, strength and stretching workout in 4 minutes?’ And they were going: ‘No.’ And then they said: ‘Why don’t you hop on here and try this?’ And then they showed them when they were getting – they were done and they’re going [breathes heavily]. And they said: ‘Well, what do you think now?’ And they said: ‘That’s fucking amazing!’ My neighbor, who’s a personal trainer, kind of told me about it.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: So, anyway, I was at this big mastermind and there’s this other device called Vasper, V-A-S-P-E-R. Have you heard of that?

Ryan: Yes.

Bill: I’m – that’s 40 grand. But I’m gonna get it because they – they use these cuffs to restrict some of your muscles and cold and everything and it – it allows you to get the same reaction in the brain from way – you know, usually you have to – like, I used to be a long-distance runner. And you have to run, like, 15 miles or something before all this stuff kicks in telling your brain: make more anabolic, you know, neurochemicals and steroids and so on and so forth. They found a way that you can do way shorter exercise, get that same response and it’s especially valuable for people that are my age. I’m 66. It’s almost impossible when you get to be into your 60’s to exercise hard enough that you make the same biochemical stuff happen as you could pretty easily when you were young if you worked out really hard.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: So, this allows you to do that and it’s supported by a lot of research. So, anyway, the main point I was trying to make is that I see this as a, you know, a constellation of lifestyle things, just like I’m sure you do.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely.

Bill: You know. And so, I’m always looking for new, cool stuff that – I think a few of the things that Dave does are a little on the wack job side but – but, I mean, he’s just – I get it. He’s like me. I’m really adventurous. Something comes along, I’ll try it!

Ryan: Yeah, yeah.

Bill: You know. Whereas other people say: ‘I don’t know, that looks like it might – ‘

Ryan: Somebody has to be the tip of the spear, right?

Bill: Yeah. For instance, one of the things Dave – he has one of those – what’s it called? The free – the ultra-cold –

Ryan: He has the cryotherapy chamber.

Bill: Cryo – yeah! And I know elite athletes use that –

Ryan: Right.

Bill: – after they work out. I have a feeling that that is a very temporary thing. If you have a lot of inflammation from working out and you go in there for 3 minutes or whatever, a minute or whatever it is, it probably is helpful. But in terms of getting rid of systemic inflammation caused by human metabolism, which is what eventually makes your body break down as you get older – it’s not something you can get rid of ’cause you can’t – you have to metabolize to be alive.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: But you can tone it down and certainly most Americans are eating a very inflammatory diet so you can – that was one of my big a-ha’s quite a few years ago. I was taking all these supplements or anti-inflammatory and everything. And then I met some people that are really tuned into a lot of the – this was quite a few years ago before it was the rage, you know, to eating high good fat, high protein, low-carb diets, that kind of thing. And I realized: I’m taking all this anti-inflammatory stuff and I’m eating all this stuff that is inflammatory.

Ryan: Is inflammatory, right.

Bill: That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: You know? So, then I changed my diet and – which changed a lot. So, anyway, we should probably get back to what we came here to talk about.

Ryan: Yeah! Well – and we will. But I wanna ask you again on that cryotherapy. I think that was interesting and we have wanted for a while to have somebody on and we may still pursue somebody who’s an expert in cryotherapy. But I think you just – you mentioned something that was probably a very valid point – that it’s a short-term thing and that you would only get the benefits from it with frequent use.

Bill: It’s sort of – it’s sort of like, you know, if you go out running and your legs are sore and you might – or, well, it’s, I mean, this is like, you see the interviews in the NBA locker rooms after the games and they’re all icing their muscles. You know, it’s just a more sophisticated way of doing that.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: Um, and – and it’s probably colder than the ice and takes a shorter amount of time. But I don’t think it does anything about systemic inflammation, which is what I’m – ’cause I rarely work out hard enough that I get sore, um, anymore. I used to when I was younger when I was running marathons and stuff. So, that’s – I don’t know. I’m not an expert on cryotherapy but that’s just my hit on it. And I – it’s probably right ’cause I – I know a lot about, just, science and the laws of physics and that sort of stuff.

Ryan: Right. So, let’s – we’ll go back to Holosync. And I know you had mentioned earlier that it helps with patterning and connecting your right and left brain. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

Bill: Yeah. You know, there’s a connection between the 2 sides of the brain through the corpus callosum. Obviously, most people – most people who will be listening to your podcast probably know stuff like that. You know, the more there – the more connections there are in your brain, you know, the more the different parts of the brain – the brain is really designed to work in parallel. You know, just when you look at something and see it there’s a part of the brain – like, you have those – those – 1, 2, those – yeah, six-sided things behind you. You know, there’s a part of the brain that sees the color, there’s a part of the brain that sees the shape, there’s a part of the brain that, you know, sees whether it’s 3D or flat and on and on and on. There’s all these different things and they work separately. But the connections in the brain put it all together and then your brain, you know, sees it. And there’s so much going on behind the curtain and one of the things that happens when people get older and their brain, you know, your brain begins to go downhill. Guess what age.

Ryan: 30.

Bill: 30, you’re right! It is. You hit your peak at about 30. And, you know, that freaks people out.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s pretty scary.

Bill: I mean, ’cause – ’cause I’ll bet most of the people that are watching this are either close to 30 or –

Ryan: Or beyond.

Bill: You know, I’m 66. I just – I’m making a documentary. I will come back to what we’re talking about.

Ryan: Yeah.

Bill: I’m making a documentary now about new discoveries in brain science and the people who are creating tools for utilizing those discoveries.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: I mean, you’re one of those people. Daniel Amen is one of those people. You know, there – I’m one of those people. Dave Asprey is one of those people. And one of the people I interviewed for that was Michael Merzenich who’s known as the grandfather of neuroplasticity. He has this very amazing book. Everybody should get this book. It’s a self-published book. But, I mean, he – he is like a professor emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco. He is probably the most famous neuro researcher ever. He’s amazing. And this book he has is called ‘Soft Wired’.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: You know, the – your brain is soft wired not hard wired. But he describes how the brain builds itself up up to age 30 and then he describes the declining part. He has these amazing brain training things online. You know, this is – this is way beyond oh, what’s the one – ?

Ryan: Lumosity.

Bill: Lumosity. Way beyond that. And, you know, Daniel Amen is a very good friend of mine, I love Daniel, he’s amazing. But it’s way beyond the stuff Daniel has, too. And, now I forget where I was going with this. But it’s called Brain HQ. If you go to, I really highly recommend that. ‘Cause we’re talking about the fact that the brain goes downhill starting at 30 and he really created this to ameliorate that and he has like 150 or 200 or something studies behind the way these things are put together. And no matter how good you get there’s – there’s something like 1200 different levels to these or something and they just get harder and harder and harder. And they – and all these different categories: brain speed, attention, focus. I don’t know, there’s 5 or 6 categories of stuff. Really cool. Really cool stuff. Anyway, this um, this documentary will probably be out later in the year and it has got some amazing people in it. And I’m just trying to spread the word about the fact that the new discoveries about the brain – how it can be changed, how the, you know, almost all of the challenges that human beings face – emotional challenges, mental challenges, you know, relational challenges, health challenges, all that – are regulated or failing to be regulated by the brain.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: If people are anxious or sad or angry or brain fog or whatever it is, it’s something going wrong in the brain. On the other hand, there’s all these qualities that we all want, like being more motivated, more confident, you know, happier, calmer, more creative, on and on and on. There’s all these qualities that – and most of these negative qualities have always been very difficult to do anything about. And most of the positive qualities – it’s kind of like you either have them or you don’t although there are things you can do to improve on them. Now, though, they know what parts of the brain are involved and they know how to change those parts of the brain. So, it’s just like this whole new universe of possibilities where things that didn’t used to be possible or where really difficult now are possible. And so, I’m – I made this documentary just partly to try to bring this information to a much wider audience so that people know this is available. And this is gonna be a very high production quality, like National Geographic NOVA quality program. And then I also have a book that people can get for free, by the way. It’s called ‘The New Science of Super Awareness’. And if people go to– you can put a link to, you know, the website.

Ryan: Yeah, we will. We’ll put that on the show notes.

Bill: If people go to they can either get a free pdf of this – it also has an audio version, so, you know, you don’t even need to read it to absorb the information. Or if you wanna get a hard copy of it, if you just pay the shipping and handling we just – we send it to you free. Just, you have to pay to have us get it to you. But, I guess I’m trying to make the point that Holosync is an amazing tool but it’s only part of what I’m doing.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: You know, I mentioned in that elevator speech that I have this really amazing tool that creates all this awareness and then I – then I show people where to direct that awareness. And I show that through – through several things that I have. But the main thing that I have is I have a series of 3 courses that I collectively call my Life Principles Integration Process. The 1st one is really based on cognitive psychology and it describes all these internal cognitive processes that we’re all running all the time – we’re doing – we’re all doing it right now in order to have this conversation, in order to, you know, process what’s going on. You know, you’re making internal representations and a number of different modalities which you group into beliefs and values and internal strategies and – and there’s all these, sort of, meta-programs that people create to decide what to pay attention to, what not to pay attention to, how to make decisions. It’s a very complex matrix of stuff. And you remember I said that awareness creates choice. These cognitive processes just run on autopilot. But if you have enough awareness, which most people don’t – this takes more awareness than the average person has – you actually can go inside and observe those cognitive processes as you run them. You can observe the internal pictures, the internal sounds, the internal dialogue, the internal smells, tastes, the proprioceptive internal – internal representations. You can observe your beliefs and how they become self-fulfilling prophecies, etc., etc., etc. You can observe this stuff as you do it. It takes practice and it takes a lot of awareness, but when you do that what those things create becomes a choice. And that’s what I mentioned those 4 things before: how you feel, how you behave, which people and situations you attract or become attracted to, and what – what meanings you assign to things. Those 4 things are created by all these internal processes. And – and if they’re running on autopilot then you’ve just gotta take the results as they come. But if something is not running the way you want it to, you know, you can go inside and observe how you’re creating feeling like crap, feeling anxious, feeling whatever, attracting the same crazy woman in the same – in a different body over and over again, or the same crazy man in the – you know, I’m not trying to be gender bigoted or anything.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: But, so – so, and so that’s my – the 1st course. The 2nd course is really sort of my take on metaphysics. But it’s – it’s not a woo-woo thing. It’s really applying awareness in all of this to – really it’s about – the 1st course is about the world you create with your mind. You know, you create a certain universe out there with your mind. When you do certain spiritual practices, like Zen meditation or something, you learn to shut the mind off. You learn to, you know, put it in neutral. And then there – what you observe – what you’re aware of is something completely different. And what I realize from doing 40-some years of Zen practice and other meditation practice is that almost everybody is doing all these things that are kind of resisting that basic stuff that’s behind what the mind creates. You know, there’s something going on there and when you get the mind out of the way, and most people are in resistance to it. When you become aware of it and can observe that, then you automatically drop being in resistance to it. The – you know, I said awareness creates choice. The other thing is that once you have a choice, you’ll always drop what isn’t working.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: And do what does. You’ll always do what best serves you and other people and drop what doesn’t. So, on a quote-unquote metaphysical sense, if you can observe what’s going on when your mind is in neutral, when you’re having what they would call a transcendent experience, then you stop resisting that and then a whole ‘nother degree of, you know, life working, feeling comfortable in your own skin, being happy, being peaceful, etc., etc. – when people do that, people start coming up to them and say: ‘I don’t know what it is with you but there’s something about you that I wanna have. What-?’ You know, you begin to have this charisma about you when you – and then the 3rd course is where I sort of say: ‘Okay, you at least are on the way to mastering the world your mind creates. And you’re – you understand the world beyond the mind. Now, with that perspective, how do you go out in the world and so something? How do you go out in the world and make a difference?’ You know, create a business, you know, whatever it is. I mean, it’s – it’s up to the person, of course. But it’s sort of – it’s sort of my take on goal-setting. But from a – a much bigger, I think, perspective.

Ryan: Right.

Bill: And then – then the last 3 lessons of – each one of these has 12 lessons. It takes a year and a half to go through this whole thing.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: The last 3 lessons in that 3rd course – I actually ran out – I said I had 12 lessons in each course and I finished what I wanted to say in 9 lessons, so I went: ‘Uh-oh, how am I gonna finish this?’

Ryan: Right.

Bill: And – and so, I went into something called Script Theory, which is how people – what it really turns out is that it – that internal map of reality, the internal cognitive process I was talking about, there’s a way that people assemble that while they’re growing up and a lot of psychologists call that a life script. And so, I – I went in and taught all this really interesting, cool stuff about how people create their life script. So, then people finished that and then they go: ‘Oh, that explains how my – all these internal cognitive processes got to be the way they are.’ And then what happens is people say: ‘I’m gonna go take this whole thing again.’ And they – ’cause the – it’s kind of a to-do course because it’s not – it’s really fascinating to learn about all this stuff. But to really benefit, you have to actually learn to do it. You have to learn how to observe those internal processes, for instance, while you’re running them. And that is like learning to play the piano or something. It, you know, you don’t just, you know, listen to somebody lecture about it for a while and then you say: ‘Okay, I know that now.’ So, anyway, I’m really running off at the mouth here now but –

Ryan: Yeah, no – Bill, this has been fascinating and I’m – I fear that we’re running out of time.

Bill: Yeah, we probably are.

Ryan: When we set this up we said about an hour and I don’t wanna take more of your time. But, this is what I’ll say. I think there’s a lot of stuff that we have not been able to cover that I would love to talk to you about. And knowing that your documentary is coming out later this year, why don’t we set up another episode when that comes out? We’ll help you promote that and share it.

Bill: Sure!

Ryan: ‘Cause I think that’s a great thing. And then we can talk about some of the other issues or topics that we haven’t covered yet.

Bill: Absolutely, absolutely. For now, I would just suggest that people get Holosync. Holosync is really amazing.

Ryan: Okay! And where do people find that?

Bill: Well, let’s just put a link below the – below this screen.

Ryan: Well, before we let you go, Bill, we ask all of our guests for their top 3 tips to live optimal. So, if you had to boil everything down to 3 tips, what would you tell our listeners?

Bill: You mean to do – things to do? Not principles.

Ryan: It could be either – either or. Maybe principles.

Bill: Well, I mean, I guess my top principle is it’s all about awareness. You know, awareness creates choice and when you have enough awareness, you’ll know just exactly what to do in every situation to the degree that you have enough awareness. So, awareness, though, is a function of the brain. So, the 2nd thing would be you have to feed your brain what it needs in order to have enough awareness. And that means that you have to exercise, ’cause that feeds your brain. You have to get enough sleep, you have to, you know, take supplements that, you know, deal with inflammation and oxidation and glycation and all these – these things that, you know, can be problematic. Plus, they can enhance parts of your brain that you need. And then – and then, you know, meditation, preferably Holosync is another one of those things. So, there’s, you know, there’s these lifestyle things that feed your brain. And also, you know, I really highly recommend Mike Merzenich’s Brain HQ, those brain train- those are really cool. And they’re really fun. So and – so then, once you have that awareness, then you want to – you want to look into and learn how to observe the things that your brain does. Or, really, it’s kind of your – this is more of the mind but it’s obviously coming from the brain – the things your mind does that create those 4 things that I said: how you feel, how you behave, which people and situations you attract and what meanings you assign. Because those, in my opinion, are the only things in life you actually could have a choice about. I mean that they take in a lot of – another thing I get into sometimes is talking about all the things in life that human beings do not have a choice about. There are certain things that are pre-setup that you don’t have a choice about, but we’ll save that for another time.

Ryan: Okay.

Bill: So, does that make sense?

Ryan: Yeah.

Bill: It’s all about awareness, awareness begins in your brain, once you have the awareness you need to learn where to direct that awareness to get the greatest amount of choice.

Ryan: Yeah. That is great. Bill, this has been a great episode. Thank you so much for your time. For you guys listening, make sure you head to, go to the blog, you’ll be able to see the video, all the links to the numerous resources that we talked about. I’ll make sure that you guys can just click on those links and go straight there. And we will also announce whatever it is that Bill and I are able to come up with for you guys and that way you guys can take advantage of that. And thank you guys for listening. Head to iTunes, leave us a 5* review, share the Optimal Performance Podcast with other folks who you know want to live optimal. And thank you guys for listening, we’ll talk to you next Thursday!


Why It’s Impossible To Be A Vegetarian: Andrew Smith Interview


Last week, Andrew Smith’s article “Why It’s Impossible To Actually Be A Vegetarian” went viral.

The wildfire-like way in which it spread through every corner of the internet is a testament to Andrew’s articulation of a new viewpoint on a familiar argument.

Now, we interview Andrew – a vegetarian himself, and professor of Philosophy at Drexel University – on the Optimal Performance Podcast to explore his thoughts and the research on vegetarianism, food production, and our impact on the food cycle.

We discover that plants demonstrate intelligence, explore plant sentience and find out why Andrew has chosen to be a vegetarian despite all his arguments against the popular reasons for being vegetarian.

What you’ll hear from Andrew Smith in this episode of the OPP:

  • Why it’s impossible to actually be a vegetarian
  • The Food Web is cyclical, not linear (plants eats animals too)
  • How plants perform arithmetic to ration starch consumption overnight until they can resume photosynthesis when the sun rises the next day
  • Plants excrete their own pain-relievers…do they feel?
  • Hormone systems within plants, and decentralized “brains” that are biochemically similar to ours
  • Are coffee, chocolate, and cashews ecological terrors when produced on a massive scale?“Your grandparents didn’t have to worry about their food being laced with chemicals”
  • Learn how our food policies have changed in the last 40 years and what you can do about it
  • Ecoside = Genocide of the ecosystem: the bigger argument for Vegetarians…
  • With all this information, Why is Andrew Smith a vegetarian?
  • How our dietary beliefs can be more personal and closely held than our religious beliefs – and why our reactions to dietary challenges are so strong (sometimes negative)
  • Your overall health and wellbeing are far more important than your ties to certain beliefs or practices
  • One tip for success: Seek experts opinions and advice for your given pursuit
  • Andrew’s tips for vegetarians: (Lift weights & eat plenty of fat!)
  • Where you can find more of Andrew Smith
  • Andrew’s Top 3 Tips to #LiveOptimal

Links & Resources:

Why It’s Impossible To Actually Be A Vegetarian

Andrew’s Books:

Stefano Mancuso TED Talk: Plant Intelligence

Plants perform arithmetic to ration starch consumption

SUBSCRIBE To the OPP on Stitcher

Natural Stacks Vegetarian Offerings:

Prebiotic+: optimize your gut biome and digestion with our Resistant Starch Complex

MagTech: increase synapse density and promote optimal sleep with the brain-boosting mineral magnesium

Natural Stacks Liquid Curcumin: support your body’s natural healing processes

We want to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below.

How Many Calories Do Cardio Machines Burn? [Infographic]


Welcome to Part II of our Ultimate Guide to Cardio

In Part I, we demonstrated that if you’re doing cardio purely for fat loss, high-intensity cardio is more effective than steady state cardio.

As we look into the calories burned by cardio machines, keep in mind what the science showed us in Part I, that when it comes to increasing calorie expenditure, effort is more important than machine. The harder you go, the more energy you use, and therefor the more calories you burn.

Disclaimer on Calories Burned

Before we dive into the machines and numbers, a word on estimated calories burned, individual differences, and effort levels. The calorie readings on these machines are not 100% accurate, and “calories burned” readouts vary wildly from person to person, and energy expenditure also depends on exertion level.

So think of these calories burn numbers as estimates and general comparisons of the caloric demands placed on your body by each machine. They are estimates and should not be considered the end-all, be-all, but they will give you a good idea of what’s going on.

Boost Your Brain Power With Longer Cardio Sessions

Research shows that longer sessions of cardio increase neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons) and helps increase BDNF, a growth hormone for your brain.

Share This Infographic on Social Media With Friends


Or Post it On Your Site:

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Burn More Fat: Become A Fat-Burning Beast with Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson is a leader in the health and fitness community.

Mark is the bestselling author of The Primal Blueprint and one of the leading voices of the Evolutionary Health Movement – also referred to as the Primal and Paleo movements.

His blog,, has paved the way for Primal enthusiasts to challenge conventional wisdom’s diet and exercise principles and take personal responsibility for their health and well-being.

Mark’s efforts to promote primal living extend to a line of nutritional supplements, a book publishing company, a Primal Kitchen line with healthy mayonnaise, salad dressing, meal replacement and energy bar, and a burgeoning Primal Kitchen fast casual restaurant chain. (Use code: NATURALSTACKS to save 10% on all things Primal)

A former elite endurance athlete, with a 2:18 marathon and a 4th place Hawaii Ironman finish, Mark’s new book Primal Endurance applies the primal eating and lifestyle principles to the challenge of endurance training—helping athletes overcome the common conditions of burnout and carbohydrate dependency.

All of which, we discuss in depth with Mark on this edition of the Optimal Performance Podcast.

What You’ll Learn From Mark Sisson on this episode of the OPP:

Links & Resources

Mark’s Website

Mark’s Books: SAVE 10% on Mark’s books (& Primal Mayo) with coupon code NATURALSTACKS

Primal Kitchen

Axon Lab Mitochondrial Support: Mitogen

Natural Stacks Primal & Fitness Performance Boosters

Prebiotic+: Resistant starch complex supports optimal gut health and neurotransmitter production [1]

MagTech: Contains the only magnesium shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, boosting brain magnesium levels and increasing synapse density [2]

Vitamin D3: Crucial hormonal and health support for those of us who don’t paddle board in Malibu, California several times a week like Mark Sisson [3]

Creatine: Get those extra reps and give your body the stimulus it needs for change [4]

Serotonin Brain Food: As much as 90% of this “feel good” neurotransmitter is made in the gut [5]

Keep the Conversation Going In The Comments Below


  1. H. A. Majid, P. W. Emery, K. Whelan. Faecal microbiota and short-chain fatty acids in patients receiving enteral nutrition with standard or fructo-oligosaccharides and fibre-enriched formulas. Journal Human Nutrition & Diet. 2011 June; 24(3): 260–268.
  2. Abumaria, N. Effects of elevation of brain magnesium on fear conditioning, fear extinction, and synaptic plasticity in the infralimbic prefrontal cortex and lateral amygdala. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Oct 19;31(42):14871-81.
  3. Hollick, MF. Vitamin D: evolutionary, physiological and health perspectives. Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Jan;12(1):4-18.
  4. Volek, Jeff. Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscular Performance During High-Intensity Resistance Exercise. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Volume 97, Issue 7, July 1997, Pages 765–770
  5. Yano, Jessica M. et al. Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis. Cell, Volume 161, Issue 2, 264 – 276

Why Showering With Bacteria Is The Future Of Hygiene

Warning: After reading this, you may stop bathing!

Ok, maybe that’s an overreaction.

But at the very least, we hope that this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast forces you to pause, consider and maybe rethink your beliefs on personal hygiene.

As you’ll hear from industry leader Jasmina Aganovic, our modern personal care products are steeped in 100 year-old misinformation that the burgeoning chemical industry pushed onto the personal care industry in the late 1800’s.

Fortunately, modern-day scientists are conducting research that shines light on these missteps and provides answers for how we should be caring for our skin and addressing our personal hygiene.

And it turns out, more bacteria and less sterilization may be the answer…

Confusing Sterile and Clean Actually Leads To INCREASED Inflammation

“Virtually every modern skin condition is rooted in inflammation and if you look at how we’re treating our skin, we’ve confused clean and sterile and that has believed bacteria is a bad thing and that has dictated so much of the personal care industry.”

Like our gut, our skin has a microbiome of it’s own.

Our largest organ and first line of defense, our skin uses bacteria as a go-between to communicate with our environment and our immune system. The personal care industry is built on products that wipe out this microbiome and sterilize our skin – leaving our skin “blind” to it’s environment.

Without communication or sensory input from the outside world, our immune system goes on the offensive – living in a constant state of inflammation. This is the underlying cause of most of today’s skin issues.

There’s more.

Much more, including the elimination of toxic ammonia, using bacteria sprays to replace deodorant and moisturizers, and tips to care for your skin at every age.

MIT-trained Biological and Chemical Engineer Jasmina Aganovic of Mother Dirt is here to explain and entertain. Enjoy!

What you’ll hear from Jasmina Aganovic and Mother Dirt about our skin microbiome:

  • Similar to the gut, our skin has a microbiome that is crucial to our overall wellbeing future of hygiene
  • How modern hygiene has negatively impacted our skin microbiome – and what that means for your health and hygiene habits
  • Clean and sterile are not the same thing – why you need some bacteria in your life
  • How over-sterilization actually does more harm
  • Find out which personal care product ingredients you need to avoid
  • How the chemical industry determined the course of the personal care industry in the late 1800’s – and why it’s time for a change!
  • Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AoB’s) and why you should be covering skin with this bacteria!
  • Science lesson: the nitrogen cycle and the toxic by product ammonia
  • No more deodorant? How an AoB spray can remove your need for deodorants.
  • Modern humans exist in a state of nitropenia – an unhealthy state of nitrogen deficiency. Learn how Mother Dirt is investigating possible solutions to this through the use of AoBs
  • Stripping our skin of it’s natural bacteria removes the communication between our skin cells, brain and the environment – causing our skin to go into an “offensive” and alarmed state – otherwise known as chronic inflammation. This mechanism is believed to contribute to most modern diseases of inflamed skin
  • Join the AoLabs program and be a part of Mother Dirt’s beta-testing team!
  • Get 25% OFF your first order + FREE Shipping with coupon code FREESHIP25 (link below)
  • Your skin care needs for each decade from your 20’s to your 50’s and beyond
  • Where you can get more of Jasmina and Mother Dirt
  • Jasmina’s Top 3 Tips to #LiveOptimal
  • BONUS: Jasmina’s 2 Book Recommendations

Links & Resources

Mother Dirt


Podcast with Paul Jaminet, author of The Perfect Health Diet the screening platform for personal care products and ingredients

Skin Deep – The Environmental Working Group (EWG’s) recommendations for personal care products


Jasmina’s Book Suggestions:

  1. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  2. Originals by Adam Grant

Post your questions below and we’ll answer them on a future podcast episode.


Why Showering With Bacteria is the Future of Hygiene

Ryan: You are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! To learn more about building optimal performance into your life, check out

Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers! I’m your host Ryan Munsey. Welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast. I wanna offer a warm welcome to our guest this week, MIT trained biological and chemical engineer Jasmina Aganovic. So, Jasmina, thanks for hanging out with us today!

Jasmina: Yeah, thanks for having us!

Ryan: So, for our listeners, you are the president of Mother Dirt. You’ve got quite an extensive background in consumer products in the cosmetics industry. And, you know, as we just said you have – correct me if I’m wrong – you have both biological and chemical engineering degree from MIT.

Jasmina: Mhm, yes.

Ryan: Alright. So, we’re impressed by that. We like big brains around here. So, today we’re gonna talk about our skin biome, which is something that’s pretty interesting for biohackers. We hear a lot about gut biomes and we know that that’s very connected to our overall health, our brain performance. So, this is gonna be a really cool episode for you guys. Sit back and enjoy this one. Before we get to Jasmina’s expertise, a couple of housekeeping notes. As always, go to so you can see the video version of this and get any of the links and show notes for the resources that we talk about today. And also, if you have not done so, please head over to iTunes, leave us a 5* review and let us know how much you like the show. Alright, let’s get going. Jasmina, so, I guess, tell us, like I said already we’re familiar with gut biome. What is our skin biome?

Jasmina: So, similar to the gut, the skin microbiome is also an ecosystem. It’s a collection of micro-organisms that, similar to the gut, seem to play a really important role in the health of our skin.

Ryan: Okay, cool. So, what should it look like or – or what should that environment be and what is the reality of most people?

Jasmina: So, similar to the gut – and I hate to kinda keep, kind of restating that statement but science is early on as it is for the gut. Thankfully the skin microbiome is a little bit simpler. But to answer your question, we don’t know what the healthy or the perfect skin microbiome looks like. But what we do know it that modern hygiene has severely affected it. And the fact that we spend a lot of time indoors and very little time outdoors, modern lifestyles basically, has severely affected that. And we believe it’s the link to why so many inflammatory skin disorders exist similar to why we’re seeing a lot of inflammatory gut disorders. And so that’s really the area that our research is – is focusing on.

Ryan: Alright, cool. So, I guess, inflammatory skin conditions you’re talking about psoriasis, eczema, things like that?

Jasmina: Virtually every modern-day skin condition, believe it or not, is rooted in inflammation. And if you look at how we’ve been treating our skin, we’ve kind of confused clean and sterile along the way. We’ve always believed that bacteria’s a bad thing for the skin and that’s dictated so much about the personal care industry and so much of the products and their functionality that we use.

Ryan: Yeah, you guys have a saying called ‘rethink clean’. So, tell us what you mean by that.

Jasmina: Yeah, well we, as it says, we wanna rephrase and restate what clean is. For a really long time, we’ve believed that clean means killing 99.9% of bacteria. And if you ask anyone about what a clean countertop is or what, you know, clean hands are, that’s really what they’ll say. But we’re learning that that’s not true, that clean defined as sterile does not equal healthy. So, we want to go back to clean that comes with healthy and see how we can rephrase it that way. And then the comparison that I always like to draw to the gut is this idea of clean eating where we eat whole foods and we seek out certain foods for their bacterial content as part of clean eating and yet on the skin we’re still very far away from accepting that. So, the gut has definitely pioneered an acceptance of bacteria that, you know, we’re trying to get there with – with the skin.

Ryan: Okay. So, if we wanted to joke about it we could say that we want kinda like sauerkraut or probiotics for our skin.

Jasmina: That’s a good way of putting it, although sauerkraut on the skin doesn’t sound too fun. It sounds messy.

Ryan: It does, it does. So, I guess, then you’re saying that we should not be using hand sanitizers?

Jasmina: So, here’s what I will say. From a scientific perspective, the studies that have analyzed the effectiveness of hand sanitizers versus washing your hand with plain soap and water show a very negligible difference between the 2. But more importantly is the fact that we have integrated hand sanitizers and products that are meant to sanitize for not just our hands, which admittedly are touching a bunch of quote-unquote dirty things on a constant basis. So, if we were to be very meticulous about killing bacteria, the hands should be an okay place to do it. But we’ve applied that to our entire body’s hygiene and the reality of it is is, like, my shoulder doesn’t get nearly as dirty as my hand so why would I sanitize my shoulder as much as I do my hands? So it’s about recalibrating expectations on that and – and also recognizing that sanitizing is probably not necessary for most people unless you work in a hospital, for example.

Ryan: Okay, cool. So, you know, along those lines, you guys have – at Mother Dirt you guys make some really cool products and we’ll talk about some of them. The AoBs we’ll get into. But, since we’re talking about cleaning the shoulder, I guess, what’s the difference between the cleaner or the shampoo that you guys have versus what you might see in a supermarket with regular soaps and body washes?

Jasmina: Sure. So I’ll start off by saying that similar to the gut, the skin is an ecosystem. And what we’re learning about the different parts of the body as it relates to the skin is that they are all different ecosystems. So, if you think about what the ecosystem of your armpit is gonna be, it’s gonna be different from your face, it’s gonna be different from your hands. So, that’s an important statement to be able to – to make. Um, most products out there contain harsh surfactants, things like SLS and SDS, to which most bacteria are very sensitive, especially the good guys that tend to be pretty sensitive anyway. But more importantly, the whole industry is built around the idea that bacteria is bad. So, everything from the fact that they all include preservatives to the fact that the QA and the QC process is created to make sure that no bacteria can grow in the products. All of these products are formulated with these things in mind. So, if you think about any product that you use, even if you’re a low-maintenance person, they all contain preservatives and preservatives are formulated to prevent bacterial growth. So, imagine lathering and slathering that stuff on multiple times a day and what that’s going to do for the ecosystem of your skin. So, that’s a big one that we like to point out and it goes to show how deeply entrenched the industry has been since, really, the 1800’s on this idea that bacteria is bad.

Ryan: How did that philosophy come about? Where does that come from, do you know?

Jasmina: It was – it was largely a timing thing. Right around the time that the chemical and the personal care industry was starting to grow, this was like the 1880’s and the 1890’s, that was also – I think the year was 1879 that bacteria was officially linked to disease. And we learned more about bad bacteria than we did about good bacteria. We didn’t know this idea of good bacteria until fairly recently. So, the timing of it was very coincidental. We knew that bacteria caused disease a few years before this personal care and chemical industry started growing. So, it was a big influencer from the get-go.

Ryan: Okay, so we’ve just always had this thought process of just kill it all and –

Jasmina: Yes.

Ryan: – like you said, sterilize. Okay.

Jasmina: Yeah.

Ryan: So, you mentioned a couple of ingredients. Do you have maybe some kind of a resource or a list that we can put on our blog with the, you know, the video version of this so we can say: ‘Hey, click this link or look at this pdf and these are all the ingredients that you wanna try to avoid in your skin care products,’?

Jasmina: Great question. And we hope to one day. If – if your listeners are interested they can go to This is kind of a landing site for this area of research that we’re focusing on. We started getting that question a lot, where people wanted to know what to go for and what to avoid. So, what we’ve developed is a screening platform for ingredients and raw materials so that we could create our own product but maybe perhaps one day also certify other people’s products. We’re really early on, so we aren’t at the point to be able to create a definitive list. But the other important thing that we realized along the way is that it’s not just singular ingredients, it’s interactions between ingredients. So, it really comes down to the formula.

Ryan: Right.

Jasmina: So, if you see that a formula doesn’t have SLS, which I definitely can say is a culprit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be biome-friendly. So, the biggest guidance that we can give people at this point of time is just anything that has a preservative in it is probably not going to have a great effect on the biome. But that’s a really wide net and it makes it a little bit difficult to maneuver in today’s era of personal care. So, we’re trying to develop that a little bit more before we can give people, kind of, specific insights that are truly accurate.

Ryan: Okay, alright. So, let’s talk about these ammonia oxidizing bacteria. What are they and how did you guys become, you know, so involved with them?

Jasmina: Sure, so we call these bacteria, we call them AoB for short because ammonia oxidizing bacteria is just way too long and hard to day. We call them the peace-keeper, the peace-keeper bacteria and there’s a very specific reason for it. This bacteria’s actually found everywhere in nature. You’ll find it in the ocean, you’ll find it in the dirt, kind of, hence where we get the name Mother Dirt from. They’re really a soil bacteria, so anywhere that the soil touches you will find this bacteria. And if you think about how we as humans used to live, we were way more immersed in the environment, we were way more immersed in nature. We were walking barefoot; we were swimming in lakes and rivers and streams. And we were constantly inoculating ourselves with this stuff. But this bacteria happens to be sensitive to preservatives, to SLS and SDS. So, if you look at how our modern hygiene has evolved and also the fact that we don’t spend time outdoors we’ve basically eradicated it from modern human skin in the last 50-75 years is what we approximate. So, the next question becomes: why is this bacteria really important for the skin? Um, I’ll put it this way: if we removed this bacteria from the soil in a potted plant, that plant would die. If we removed this bacteria from any ecosystem, let’s say a rainforest, that rainforest would die. The reason for that is because ammonia in and of itself is toxic. The – I don’t know if you guys know the nitrogen cycle, I don’t wanna get too technical but in basic biology they teach you about something called the nitrogen cycle. And ammonia is one of the waste products of it. And this bacteria consume that and convert it back into the cycle to that things can continue on happily. If ammonia builds up, then it becomes toxic and then eventually that ecosystem can’t function and the toxicity brings the ecosystem down. So this bacteria’s incredibly crucial in making sure that the cycle can continue. So, anywhere in nature where you will find ammonia, you’ll find this bacteria, which is virtually everywhere in nature. The only exception is modern human skin. Through our sweat, we are constantly producing ammonia. And so, it begs the question: why doesn’t human skin have it today? So that was a little bit of kind of the seed um, the seed for us.

Ryan: Okay, cool. So, the way our audience thinks is we have this problem, how do we fix it? So it sounds like the solution is to expose ourselves to dirt more or be outside more.

Jasmina: Be outside, yeah.

Ryan: Okay. And to stop stripping ourselves of those AoBs, you know, through the over-sterilization when we clean our self.

Jasmina: Yes. Our philosophy is less is more. So, if you already have a minimalistic routine, which I – I would believe that a lot of your listeners do, good for you. And we’re kind of pushing in that direction. And along that philosophy, what we’re finding with our users when they – when they – basically, it’s a spray, it’s a live bacterial spray – when they spray it back on their skin they actually find that they can use less. So, deodorant is a big one for us. We’re, like, 60% of our users are able to stop using deodorant. And the question is, like, how? How is that possible? Because we’ve become so pre-conditioned to believe that we need all of these products, especially things like deodorant.

Ryan: So, what’s going on – if we spray it in our armpit then, you know, for somebody who may be a skeptic will that, I guess, give them some reassurance. You spray it in your armpit and –

Jasmina: Sure. So, why don’t I talk about the mechanism of the bacteria? So, we talked about the fact that it consumes ammonia. And the fact that it does that is really important. Ammonia on the skin has a high pH and disease states are typically associated with high pH’s. The build-up of ammonia is what causes diaper rash in babies, just to give you a sense of really how toxic it is. So, the fact that it removes that is good in and of itself, it brings the pH down to a healthy level. But then where it gets really interesting is what the bacteria outputs. So, they consume the ammonia and then they turn it into something. So, there are 2 things that are produced as by-products. One is nitrite and the other is nitric oxide. So, they’re kind of big words in and of themselves. But nitrite functions as – in medical literature it’s called an anti-infective, although we don’t really push it as that. But the mechanism that we see happening there is that it helps keep the bad bacteria at bay, so it helps keep them in check. So, in the case of the armpit what we believe is happening is odor-causing bacteria – these are the things typically associated with BO – are diminished. Um, because our sweat in and of itself does not smell, it’s the interaction of it with these smelly bacteria. So, if we’re able to get rid of smelly bacteria and neutralize them then that is a good thing. So, our need for deodorant decreases. And this is, I’ll say, a radically different approach than how deodorants and antiperspirants are created. Antiperspirants are created so that you stop sweating, which I would argue is, like, why would you go against your biology? And secondly, they’re created to kill all bacteria and micro-organisms. And there’s an interesting conversation that we can have about what happens when you sterilize the skin, why that’s actually a bad thing, what it leaves your skin susceptible to. So, that’s the mechanism that’s happening with the nitrite. And with the nitric oxide, this is like a, it’s called, like an anti-inflammatory but effectively it’s a calming and a soothing agent that really is good for sensitive skin and helps restore balance in that realm. So, that’s kind of a specific example of the armpit. And it’s interesting what happens in other ecosystems as well.

Ryan: So, let’s talk about that nitric oxide for just a minute. We’ve had – Paul Jaminet was on a previous episode of the podcast and I’m not sure what his affiliation is with you guys but I know that there was something there and he brought it up. And that’s actually – that was our first introduction to Mother Dirt. And he mentioned that the AoB spray converted the ammonia into nitric oxide and that it was re-absorbed through the skin.

Jasmina: We don’t know that for sure. Paul seems to think that it is but we are doing studies to understand what the diffusion through the skin is if at all. So, yeah, we don’t – we don’t know.

Ryan: So, that – and that was gonna be my question is, you know, is that a bad thing if it’s reabsorbed or – ? Because, I mean, these are things that your body has tried to excrete through sweat.

Jasmina: So, I’ll be really specific. What your body is excreting is waste and that waste is ammonia. What the bacteria are doing are breaking down that ammonia and converting it into usable items for your skin. So, that’s that cycle that I talked about. So, I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t label nitrite or nitric oxide as waste by-products at all. If anything, I would called them being recycled and reused back into the system so that your skin can be healthy and function. That’s what I would view more of that – what I would view more of that as. Nitric oxide is a really interesting one for us and it was something that had triggered a lot of interest from the founding team here and certainly something that we’ll keep on looking at. Nitric oxide, or the discovery of nitric oxide, let do the Nobel Prize in 1998. Because it’s such a crucial signaling molecule for the body, there is this body – there is this body of belief that modern humans exist in a state of neutropenia, which is basically nitric oxide deficient. And that is believed to be not a healthy state and potentially linked to several issues. The big race has been, you know, how can we re-introduce nitric oxide back into the human body and it’s proven to be difficult because it’s a gas. So, gases are not stable so you can’t really deliver it. So, there was a lot of interest in what we’re doing because you potentially have bacteria that exist on the surface of your skin that are just constantly producing this gas bubble around you that is self-limited and potentially could be absorbed, although we really don’t know. Where we’ve chose to focus is on the skin microbiome as a whole and inflammatory skin disorders. And hopefully one day we can return to studying nitric oxide and potentially the effects of that on um, on the skin. So, that’s a really tricky one! A really interesting one for those who can crack it. And obviously why Paul was really interested in it. But we’ll see.

Ryan: Yeah, very cool. So, let’s go back. You said we could have an interesting discussion on, you know, what happens to the skin and what it’s susceptible to without those bacteria. So –

Jasmina: Yeah.

Ryan: – let’s hear a little more about that.

Jasmina: Sure. So, we know that our skin is the biggest organ, we’ve heard that before. And we’ve also heard that the skin is the first line of defense against the environment. We thought that that was just, like, skin cells. But recent studies – and the first one that comes to mind is one that came out recently from UPenn which is the role of bacteria on the skin and potentially their communication with your immune system. So, the idea is that the skin is the first barrier to the environment and specifically it’s the bacteria that live on your skin that end up playing the intermediaries. And they are the ones that communicate to your skin about what to do, how to function and if they should elicit an inflammatory response. So, that’s an interesting way to look at things. So, what happens if we get rid of all of the bacteria that are on the surface of your skin? You lose that communication pathway between your skin cells, potentially your immune system, and the environment. And what that does is it puts your body in, like, a hyper-inflammatory response state because it doesn’t know what’s happening on the outside. It has no way of hearing it. So, it goes on the offensive. So, it’s constantly trying to battle something because it’s trying to protect itself and it doesn’t know and it’s not hearing anything from the outside. Um, the other interesting avenue that we’ll add is that typically when we sterilize the good guys, who are a little bit more sensitive, are pretty much eradicated immediately. And the bad guys are a little bit more robust, this is what makes them bad guys. Part of being an ecosystem is that you have a balance. A healthy ecosystem is a balanced ecosystem and everyone is functioning and contributing as part of that society. When you get rid of a significant portion of them what that does is it creates an opportunity – it creates an imbalance that creates an opportunity for the potentially problematic ones to start to create issues. So, I’ll give 2 specific examples of this: acne and staph infections. So, all human beings, it is believed, have p-acne on their skin, the acne causing bacteria. If we were to swab you and if we were to swab me, we would both have p-acne on our skin. So, why don’t we have acne? I’m looking at your skin and your skin seems to look really great and I would hope that mine does, too. But, why is that? Why do we have acne-causing bacteria but no acne, right? We have that bad guy there. Well, something is happening in that ecosystem to keep them in check. So, they’re not actually causing a problem because all the checks and balances are in place. Staph is another great infection. All human beings have staph bacteria on their skin, but why do some of us have staph infections and others don’t? It’s because there’s an imbalance in their ecosystem that creates an opportunity for them to go from contributing member of that ecosystem to a problem-maker or a troublemaker in that ecosystem. So, more and more people are talking about bacteria not as the source of a problem, but the imbalance being the source and the root of the problem.

Ryan: Okay. And that’s what makes it so important that we protect that balance and don’t strip ourselves clean. So, I think the thing that stood out to me at the very beginning of what you just said was it’s almost like the more we sterilize our skin, the more we put ourselves in an inflammatory environment, which is – it’s very interesting. I mean, ’cause we think we’re doing the opposite.

Jasmina: Right, right. Well, that was the same thing for the gut, right? And I hate to, like, keep on bringing up these parallels but the human body is an ecosystem, that is fundamentally what we are learning and figuring out how to keep that ecosystem balanced and healthy is probably going to be one of the keys to overall and general health.

Ryan: Well, I don’t see any problem comparing it or bringing up the gut. I think that’s something that our listeners, really, at this point they understand and we can relate to. So, we know that the gut is connected to things like serotonin production and so many other different cognitive performance areas. It’s interesting that you said that our skin has that communication and the impact on the immune system and inflammation, which we know can affect performance and overall health. Is it connected to anything else that we may see manifest in performance or happiness? You know, I mean, obviously, like, you know, odor and cleanliness and appearance.

Jasmina: Yeah.

Ryan: But anything else?

Jasmina: So, right now we’re focusing on those more cosmetic areas. And there’s a very specific reason for that. We – we’re grounded in research and as excited as we are about all of the interest in the microbiome, both the gut and the skin, we do wanna be very measured with what is being mentioned and promised. It’s very exciting to hear about some of the research that’s coming out but at the same time the field is really early on and so we don’t wanna be, kind of, selling all sorts of craziness in terms of concepts. So, we’re focusing on the basics: body odor, cosmetics and, you know, reliance on personal care products. And you know what? That is – that is actually pretty profound in and of itself. If you look at how we’ve been programmed to use products and we’ll use that as a beginning step and hopefully as our research advances we can continue to share more. We certainly do hope to be the leader in the skin microbiome. There aren’t as many players in the skin microbiome as there is in the gut.

Ryan: Right.

Jasmina: And we want it to be a community effort which is why we have an AO Labs program where our users can kind of participate in our research. But little by little, I think, is our – is our perspective and our approach. Wouldn’t be surprised if we found out some more interesting and fascinating things at all. But just wanna be careful about claims and stuff that’s made.

Ryan: Yeah, of course. Tell us about the AO Labs.

Jasmina: Sure. Um, AO Labs is our way of holding on to our origin story and why we started. We – Mother Dirt was not part of the original plan. Selling products was not part of the original plan. What the original plan was to be a pharma company that focused on AoBs as a therapy. We started off focusing on wound healing and that was where we started analyzing the interaction of this bacteria with – with the skin. And that triggered a few – a few thoughts for us and intrigued us about what the impact of personal care is on the skin. And we did a study to better understand that. And that study was written about in the New York Times article by Julia Scott in 2014. Um, that article generated so much interest in our work that it – it kind of woke us up to the fact that we were working on something that was not only important to the academic and the medical community, but important to people period. Um, because so many people were looking at the world around us wondering why we were having more and more problems with our skin versus less and less. Parents who are raising kids with all sorts of issues that they didn’t grow up with. You know, a parent goes to the dermatologist and their kid has crazy eczema and the dermatologist says: ‘No big deal, it’s just a little bit of eczema. 1 in 6 kids has it today.’ And the parents think: no, that wasn’t that way when I was little. So, we struck a chord. A chord that wasn’t just about the science but it was about the idea of clean. So, we started selling the product as a beta – kind of a beta period. And we sold out immediately. And it started, basically, a 9-month backlog. And the most important thing that came out of all of that was the curiosity of our users and their openness about how they were using it and what they were noticing. That shaped what we did next. And it’s been – it’s been such a tremendously influential part of our company where we all of the sudden went from a biotech that had 30 data points to this consumer company that had thousands of data points. You know, typically companies work for years to be able to get there and we got there in a matter of months. So, we want to preserve that. We wanted to preserve the community effort around that, we wanted to meet our users where they were and we wanted them to participate in the learnings and the process. So, we created AO Labs, it launched a few months ago. It’s still kind of in its – in its inception. But what it is is it’s a member program. It’s, like, 20 dollars annually. It’s not about making money. It really is just about making sure that people know that they will actually be called on to participate in things. And there are new products that we look for feedback on there, new biome-friendly formulations. And also questions about things that we’re trying to troubleshoot and solve. Body odor is a big one. I mentioned that 60% of our users are able to give up deodorant. Well, we really want to know what’s happening in those other 40%. That was one of the first ones that we started and is still in progress. So, that’s – that’s basically the crux of AO Labs and the inspiration there.

Ryan: Alright, very cool. So, anybody listening that has an interest in participating can just go to your site and sign up and join that.

Jasmina: Yes! Absolutely.

Ryan: It’s not a physical thing where you have to live in Boston or be in a big city, right?

Jasmina: No. No, we have AO Labs members all across the U.S.

Ryan: Okay, cool. So, you mentioned earlier, like, a minimalist routine when it comes to hygiene. What would you guys recommend?

Jasmina: It’s highly personal, I have to say. There are some people who still would never give up their deodorant and that’s all to them. There are some people who can’t imagine a life without moisturizer and that’s all to them. And there are others that say: ‘I have to use an SPF all day,’ and that’s all to them. The main thing that we encourage with our products is experimentation, and that’s where people are surprised. So, where they can’t imagine stopping the use of their moisturizer, we encourage them after using the mist to start weaning themselves off and see how their skin responds. And that’s where the fascinating stuff starts to happen. So, I can’t recommend a one size fits all routine. We have 3 products that we offer and we don’t necessarily recommend that everyone use every single one of them because there are some people who find that they really don’t need to use the cleanser that much at all. They find that the mist is enough. Water-only showers and just the mist keeps them fresh and clean and they’re fine. So, personal experimentation is definitely, definitely the key.

Ryan: Okay, cool. And just to clarify for people, you know, I know we mentioned the cleaner and the shampoo earlier but the AoB is a mist that people spray all over their body.

Jasmina: Correct.

Ryan: And you can do it multiple times a day?

Jasmina: Yes. Because the bacteria feed off your sweat, you wanna spray it on after your shower and maybe before a workout or before going to bed or something along those lines.

Ryan: Okay. And you guys just won – at Expo West last week you guys won a NEXTY for –

Jasmina: Yes.

Ryan: – the whole line? Or the AoB spray?

Jasmina: It was our brand, our brand won the NEXTY award.

Ryan: Okay, that’s awesome! Congratulations!

Jasmina: Yeah, yeah I know. Thank you! We were psyched!

Ryan: Yeah.

Jasmina: The award is, like, breakthrough product of the year and for a conference like Expo West that was a really big deal for us, especially because we are still so young. We’re not even a year old, I think we’re on month 8 or 9. So, it – it just blew us away and it put us on the radar of so many people, which was really fantastic as well. So, it was just – it was just exposure and I think the continual acknowledgement that people are demanding a different approach and people are expecting a different approach and people are curious about this. Whether they’re curious in a negative way like this is crazy or curious about it in a positive way like I’ve been thinking about this and I’m so glad someone did it. So, yeah, it’s um, it’s very symbolic to us, I’ll say that.

Ryan: Okay, very cool. Well, congratulations.

Jasmina: Thank you!

Ryan: Alright, guys, we’ve got a special offer for you. Jasmina has offered a 25% off plus free shipping discount for Natural Stacks listeners. We will put that link on the video version – on the blog for this podcast. So, go to, you’ll be able to find it and we will get you a special discount code from Mother Dirt so that you get 25% off your first order plus free shipping, which Jasmina has told us is a big deal because you guys expedite shipping, right?

Jasmina: Yes, yes.

Ryan: Okay. And that’s because we have to get it – it’s temperature controlled.

Jasmina: Yeah, the bacteria just can’t be too hot or too cold, so we ship it all via 3-day or 2-day shipping in some cases.

Ryan: Okay. And the mist is stored in the refrigerator, correct?

Jasmina: Yes, although I’ll say if you’re gonna use it up within a month then you can keep it on your bathroom counter and it’s perfectly good. But if you wanna stretch it then the fridge is the best place for it to be.

Ryan: Okay. So, I wanna shift gears a little bit. I know you’ve previously been a part of a cosmetic company where you guys looked at what skin care needs were at different points of the aging process. Can you – I’d love to just get a couple of bullet points from you for each age. Like, if somebody’s in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s. What should we be thinking about? How should we be taking care of our skin at those different intervals?

Jasmina: Sure, so let me talk about the origin of all of that. This is back when I was at MIT. I was working at a – at a lab that was um, looking at a different treatment for ear infections. So, we were looking to create an ear drop that was liquid but then when it hit body temperature it would turn itself into a gel and then the gel would stay there and they slowly diffuse the medicine into the inner ear, which would be very attractive for little children that don’t like to sit still. But you can’t test on ears right away. So, you have to come up with – with models leading up to it. And so, the model that we used to test the passage of that medicine through was human skin. So, very not sexy. It would involve, literally picking up slabs of donated human skin from MGH and then what I would have to do is I would have to separate out the layers of the skin. And so, I know that this sounds gross but bear with me here. I – the only pieces of information that I had were whether or not the sample was coming from a male or a female and the age. And it was really frustrating for me in the beginning to deal with certain types of skin samples. And I realized that they were typically belonging to older people. It didn’t matter if it was a male or a female but I definitely noticed a difference in how the skin responded to the medicine and also how my handling of it was as I needed to separate out the different layers of it. And I thought: isn’t this fascinating that there is such an obvious difference between skin in its 20s and skin in its 40s, right? Still, like, generally young skin I would say. And there’s such a tremendous difference in what it is like to work with and how it responds to this medicine. So, that kind of triggered a little bit more research into what the differences are in the skin. And so, to give you a little bit of a breakdown of it, in your 20s the primary challenge that you deal with is, like, free radical damage. So, in your 20s you’re a little bit more [laughs] carefree, you don’t typically have issues. You might not be sleeping as much as you should because you can get away with it, you might not be eating the best diet that you should because you can get away with it. You know, lifestyle aspects. And you’re probably spending maybe a little bit more time out in the sun because you can get away with it. But it all, of course, catches up to you. So, the 20s is a little bit more about antioxidants and helping address some of that free radical damage. In your 30s the rate of cellular regeneration starts to slow. So, this is why some people say, like, they feel like their skin got a little bit duller and it’s not as dewy in its 30s, and that’s maybe terminology typically used by women. But stimulating that rate of cellular regeneration whether it be just through regular exfoliation or other topicals that you could use is one of the key ways to do that. And then getting up towards the 40s and the 50s. The 40s you start to see the earlier signs of sensitivity for the skin. And a lot of that has to do with um, the thinning of the skin layers. And then in the 50s you start to deal with more immune issues for the skin. So, it’s immune layer seems to be a little bit more compromised. And, of course, with what I’m working on now I wish I could kind of go revisit that and, like, sequence those skin samples to see how their microbiomes are different but it’s interesting to have all of these pieces fall into play.

Ryan: Okay, very cool. Very cool. So, when you mention that I can’t help but think things like collagen in the diet. At what point would that be something that people wanna say: ‘Hey, I need to start introducing this’?

Jasmina: Um, well that’s a really interesting point. I would say the earlier the better, but I think definitely the 30s is what – what makes sense. I have to put an asterisk here, I’m not actually that familiar with the studies associated with ingested collagen and how that affects your skin. I know that in general it’s really healthy for your bones and your joints and I’m a big proponent of bone broth and all of that. Um, and I guess I should also mentally think about maybe that’s helping the collagen in my skin but I’m not – I’m not too familiar, actually, with the effects on that. But if I had to make a recommendation it would be the 30s.

Ryan: Okay. Jasmina, where can our listeners get more of you and Mother Dirt?

Jasmina: They can go to and find out all the information there. And if they’re actually interested in a little bit more of the nitty-gritty of the science and where we’re taking our clinical research, they can also visit, so

Ryan: So, what’s next? Can you give us any hints or – ?

Jasmina: Yeah, I could definitely give you hints! We’ve continued expanding our portfolio of biome-friendly ingredients. So, what that does is it helps us enhance existing formulas but also, and more excitingly, launch new products. So, we’re gonna be doing a product launch in the coming months and I think you might have sampled it at Expo West. I know that they did bring some. I don’t know if Robin gave you the sneak peek on it, but  –

Ryan: No.

Jasmina: Well, if you didn’t then I can’t say anything. So, we’re gonna be launching, yeah, a new product. And then one of the things we’re focusing a lot on is body odor and seeing if we can come up with a targeted treatment for the underarm area. So, kind of, maybe separating out the mist from, you know, all-over body use to maybe something that’s a little bit more specific as a deodorant as we start to understand through AO Labs, that other 40%. So, that’s a goal for us. We – it’s science so you can’t always put timelines on it.

Ryan: Right.

Jasmina: But it’s – it’s a goal of ours.

Ryan: I would be willing to guess that if you guys can solve the underarm odor issue that – that you might be able to rule the world. [laughs]

Jasmina: That’s a lofty goal but yeah, ruling the world, I’m totally fine with that.

Ryan: I mean, who’s not gonna be interested in that, right?

Jasmina: Hey, anyone who’s a germaphobe, I can tell you right now, would not be interested in that. I mean, I’m – I’m just kidding. I think that body odor is a fascinating thing and for the first time we’re talking about creating a product that doesn’t kill bacteria so I – yeah, I mean, that would be huge if we were to crack it. But not all human bodies are the same so therein is the challenge.

Ryan: It’s true. And I’m upset with Robin that I didn’t get to sample whatever this surprise is.

Jasmina: I know! Well, you can go complain to her [laughs].

Ryan: I’ll do that, I’ll do that. Alright, Jasmina, we ask every guest for their top 3 tips to live optimal. So, what would you say to our listeners?

Jasmina: The first one that comes to mind is meditation and this is something that I’ve started recently. Big recommendation on that. Continuing to read books.  I know that that sounds like a very basic one but I read so much when I was younger and into college and then as my career picked up I stopped reading and I really felt like that impacted me. So, now I’m back into that routine and I think that’s great for business and for pleasure. And spending time outdoors. I know that that’s part of our brand but that actually always has been really important to me. I come from south Florida, that’s where I grew up. So, Boston was a really big adjustment for me. And it’s snowing right now today and it’s supposed to be spring. So, yeah, never underestimate the power of just a simple walk outside. I think it does so much to change your mindset.

Ryan: Yes, I would agree with that completely. Alright, let’s push you for a couple more tidbits. What good books have you read recently?

Jasmina: Okay. Um, there are 2 books that I highly recommend. The first is called ‘Essentialism’ –

Ryan: Yeah.

Jasmina: So, it’s all about going – have you heard of it?

Ryan: I’ve read it. It was Greg McKeown or –

Jasmina: Yeah, yeah. So, I just finished that book and I really – I really like it. I think, especially for people who are really ambitious it’s difficult to get, kind of, spread out all over the place and honing in your focus and making meaningful strides is great. I like that book a lot. And then the second one that I just started a couple weeks ago is Adam Grant’s ‘Originals’.

Ryan: Okay.

Jasmina: I don’t know if you’ve read. It’s a fairly new book but I’m really enjoying this book, especially for people who enjoy creative work and are kind of tackling unique things in business. So, I’ve really enjoyed that book so far, too.

Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Thanks for the recommendations. I’m sure our listeners will enjoy that.

Jasmina: [laughs] I hope so!

Ryan: Alright, cool. Well, Jasmina, thanks for hanging out with us today. This has been great. And for our listeners, you guys make sure you check out to see the video version of this, we’ll have all kinds of links to the things that we talked about: AO Lab, AOBiome, All of the cool stuff that you guys can just click, go visit and continue to read, research and make your own decisions. And also, if you guys haven’t, make sure you head over to iTunes, leave us a 5* review, let us know how much you like the show and we will talk to you guys next Thursday! Thanks for listening!