The Future Of Natural Foods, Supplements, and Nootropics

We just got back from Natural Products Expo West 2016.

EXPO WEST, as it is known, is the largest showcase of natural foods and products in the world. (See the exhibit hall below? There were 7+ rooms like this!)

Imagine walking down the aisle of your favorite health food store…

NOW, imagine every single company behind every product on those shelves building a massive booth to showcase their goods…


The booths start in the 100’s and go all the way to the 9000’s.

With over 600 new products this year, more than 3,000 vendors and 77,000 attendees, it’s massive, exhilarating, crazy, and sensory overload.

The Future Of Natural Foods and Supplements:

In this post – and podcast – we’re going to distill EXPO WEST 2016 down to the important things for you – the consumer.

This year, we noticed a huge move from supplements in previous years to almost all food and drinks. With record highs for new products, vendors, and attendees, the demand for natural, healthy food choices is at all time high and this is GREAT NEWS!

The shift from processed foods to natural that has driven the growth of natural food “meccas” like Whole Foods, is slowly trickling down to larger grocery chains. This year’s EXPO WEST represented that as more companies try to meet consumer demands and distributors and retailers try to get a piece of the action.

A Special Optimal Performance Podcast

In this week’s OPP, we’re breaking from our routine to chat with Natural Stacks co-founder Roy Krebs so we can share with you the trends we noticed and the products, people, and brands doing big things in the natural foods, supplement and nootropics industries.

We’re also answering listener questions – so go ahead and post your questions in the comments below and we’ll answer them on a future episode of the OPP.

What you’ll hear on this episode of the OPP:

  • New segment on the podcast. We’ll answer your questions on future episodes of the show – leave your questions in the comments below or email
  • What the ever-growing demand for healthy and natural foods means for you the consumer in regards to ingredients and labeling.
  • EPIC Bars, nose-to-tail use of animals, new cooking fats, and bone broth
  • Prebiotics, probiotics, the difference between the two and why you need both
  • The end of bathing, covering yourself in bacteria, and using animal fat for deodorant and moisturizer
  • The cival war in the mushroom supplement world: Full spectrum dried shrooms vs. distilled extracts of specific compounds within those mushrooms
  • Caveman Coffee’s new Nitro Teas and chowing down at the Bulletproof Coffee Shop in Santa Monica
  • Mark Sisson, Primal Mayo, and the new Primal Collagen Protein Bar
  • Listener question #1: The best tips to cook your food to avoid carcinogens and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
  • Listener question #2: Optimizing your GABA levels, why phenibut is not the best GABA supplement for long-term health
  • Stacking our Brain Foods for synergistic effects and using them daily for natural optimization of your neurotransmitters
  • Roy’s daily routine – scheduling work flow for optimal productivity, supplements, and exercise
  • Honey before bed and combining the Bulletproof Diet with Carb Back-Loading and the Tim Ferriss carb approach
  • Roy’s Top 3 Tips to #LiveOptimal

Links To Our Expo West 2016 Favorites

Mother In Law’s White Kimchi (My apologies, I said Mothers In The Raw on the podcast)

Farmhouse Culture

Mother Dirt “Anti-Soap Soap”

EPIC Bone Broth

EPIC’s “Nexty” Award-Winning Duck Fat & Animal Cooking Oils

Caveman Coffee Co’s Nitro Teas (Coming Soon)

Bulletproof Cafe in Santa Monica

FatCo (formerly Fat Face Skin Care) & Stank Stop Natural Deodorant

Primal Kitchen Collagen Bars

Primal Kitchen Avocado Mayo

Tiger Nuts

Seth Roberts Blog

Serotonin Brain Food

You can take the Braverman Test and learn more about your own neurotransmitter levels by clicking here.

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


The Future Of Natural Foods, Supplements, and Nootropics

Ryan: Hello, 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! For more on building optimal performance, check out our blog that has recently moved from to

Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers!

Roy: St. Patty’s Day.

Ryan: Yeah, happy St. Patrick’s Day! And, you guys, that is co-founder of Natural Stacks, Roy Krebs. Roy, say hello.

Roy: Hello.

Ryan: So, for you guys listening, we’re gonna try something a little bit different today: less of me interviewing a guest and more of Roy and I talking about some things that are going on in the supplement, nootropics, biohacking world as well as answering some questions and being a little bit more interactive and engaging with you guys, the audience. So make sure you shoot me an e-mail, or leave us a comment on the blog, on the YouTube video, anywhere that you consume this information. Let us know how you like this format. Like I said, we’re gonna try this, make it a little bit different. And if you like it we’ll do more of this, maybe once a month a Q&A, maybe I answer your questions once an episode, whatever that might be. So you guys let us know, your feedback’s gonna really help us shape this going forward. So, the reason that we wanted to start this this week is that last weekend the Natural Stacks team was at Natural Products Expo West. It is the largest natural foods expo in the world. There were over 3000 vendors, 77,000 people in attendance. It was a zoo, it was amazing, it was really, really cool. And if you ever get a chance to go we highly recommend it. So we wanna talk a little bit today about what we saw and kinda let you live vicariously through us and see what it was like to be there. So, Roy, what do you – what would you like to say about it?

Roy: Yeah. First, it’s just massive, it’s hectic and very stimulating, lots of things going on. What’s interesting is there’s 600 new companies represented this year. Companies that haven’t been there before. So, these are up-and-coming companies that are looking at the trends and trying to develop something new and creating their own niche in the space. So, with so many new companies, it’s great to see how they’re branding, what their ideas are for a new product. Most of them are in the food space, the natural food space but also a bunch of supplements represented as well. And it’s great to see that mix and just what’s new and what’s – what people are feeling responsive to.

Ryan: Yeah. Ben made a really good point – our other co-founder – saying that, you know, what we actually see there is the shift from processed foods to natural foods that has driven the growth of, for example, Whole Foods or Erewhon markets in LA. It is trickling down to the larger, the more chain grocery stores and that’s something that kinda early adapters like our audience has to – we – you can’t help but be pleased to see more of that becoming mainstream.

Roy: Yeah, it’s great. I think probably every single new vendor out there was – was vegan, organic, Paleo, every certification you can get – non-GMO. Of course, there was some great beef jerky and stuff out there that’s not vegan. But everything has a strong focus on sourcing [coughs] – sourcing, traceability, is all very important.

Ryan: So when you say traceability, what do you mean? Or what comes to your mind when you say that?

Roy: It seems that – that the products have a strong focus on okay, what are the ingredients? And usually there’s only a few. Where do they come from? And that’s the messaging that a lot of these companies are starting to put across, which is great! That’s what we care about. What’s in the product? And how do we know that this is legit and it’s not ultra-processed and made in a way that isn’t the most optimal for us?

Ryan: Right. And, you know, when you say that one of the companies that comes to my mind is, you know, you already mentioned jerky. So, EPIC Bar, EPIC Provisions. I mean, that’s one that we know when we eat that we’re getting grass-fed meat. We know that they control for the most part. All of the animals, you know, except for maybe the salmon that goes into their products, they’re controlling that from start to finish. And they’re actually – one of the cool things that we saw out there at the conference was that they are – they’re going on this nose to tail movement where they’re starting to use the entire animal. So not only are they putting the meat in protein bars or jerky but they’re now gonna have bone broths in jars that’ll be available for the public, they’re gonna have duck fat and other lard or tallow that are trying to get the entire animal out to the market.

Roy: It’s great. It’s great to see them thinking that way. And – and they were actually recently purchased by General Mills. Um, but they’re staying true to their roots and expanding their product line in a way that makes sense. So, it’s great to see that. And they do – they do an awesome job with telling their story and the story of their products. And again, sourcing. Where did this stuff come from? Is it sustainable? Things like that. What I thought was interesting is that I really didn’t see many products or dietary supplements focused on brain health or performance.

Ryan: That did seem to be a – a lacking area. I mean, I don’t think – I don’t think most people would walk in there saying – and realize, the way we would, that it was a void. But that certainly stood out to all of us, that that really wasn’t an area being targeted.

Roy: Right, and there’s – there’s always the basic stuff for energy or for relaxation. And those little energy shots or something that’s supposed to make you feel some vitality or also rest and sleep and relax. But there’s nothing that takes it a step further that’s: how do I actually improve cognition or function or focus? Mental performance. So, it’s cool to see that we’re in that space and we’re doing that. And I think it’s gonna to continue to be that trend. And we’ll see next year when we show up to see if there’s – there’s more people focusing on that.

Ryan: Yeah. And we’ll be one of them, right?

Roy: Exactly, yeah.

Ryan: So, come see us at Expo West next year.

Roy: Exactly.

Ryan: So, what else stood out to you? Any other brands or companies that we came across that were innovating?

Roy: Well there were a lot. And I think just major trends. Of course, there’s – there’s so many different types of beef jerky out there now. It’s – it was almost becoming a joke. So we, you know, tried a bunch and see what it is but it’s so much competition in that space, they’re really almost all the same. So, that was, kind of, it seemed like a flooded market there. Things like – like trail mixes and Paleo bars and – those kind of seem overplayed. And certain drinks, variations on water. There’s a lot of stuff like that out there. So there were a few things that really stood out. I think one was there seemed to be more focus on gut health, which is great. Lots of probiotics, of course. But then also, on the food side, fermented foods, sauerkraut, kimchi. There was quite a lot of those companies out there that seemed like they had just gotten off the ground and were doing pretty well.

Ryan: That was really cool. When I travel I’m always worried about being able to get enough vegetables and to keep that, you know, the routine that I have at home in place or as close to in place as possible. So, I’ll just – you know this ’cause you were there but for everybody listening I just walked up and down the aisles all day both days we were there and ate as much kimchi and sauerkraut as I could so I could stay on track. But it was – it is really cool to see that. So, all of our favorite sauerkraut and kimchi brands were there and they were unveiling new flavors. I think it’s – is it mothers in the raw or one of those brands had a flavor that I’ve never tried. It was a white kimchi. I’m not a fan of the spice in kimchi, so this one was without the red pepper. It’s basically kimchi without the spice. So that was really good. Farmhouse Culture was another good one. I think we got Ben hooked on that.

Roy: Yes, we did. Yeah.

Ryan: So –

Roy: It was great to see.

Ryan: While we’re on that topic, can you elaborate? I think there’s a little confusion for some people between the difference of prebiotics and probiotics.

Roy: Sure, so – so to make it really simple, prebiotics are food for probiotics. And if you’re ingesting the right prebiotics, which are resistant starch, certain starchy tubers and things like that, they act as food for your probiotics. And if you’re ingesting these prebiotics on a regular basis you’re gonna build this culture of good bacteria in your gut that are feeding off those prebiotics. So, you’re basically super-charging your probiotics. And it helps get rid of the bad probiotics and also increase the number of good probiotics in your system such as bifidobacterium and – what is the other one? Lactobacteria.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s how most sauerkraut’s made, through that lacto-fermentation, right?

Roy: Yeah. So, it’s a super simple breakdown. But you need both. And – and probiotics them self are really delicate and really the best way to get them in your system is through fermented foods. In a supplemental form it’s really tricky. Heat, processing of any kind can damage and kill a lot of those active, live probiotics. So, it’s best to have some fermented food or things like that and then supplement that with prebiotics.

Ryan: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point about the delicacy of probiotics and I think a lot of people think: hey, even if I’m getting it out of the refrigerator at the vitamin store then, you know, I’m safe. But what we don’t know, what we can’t control is the process from manufacturer to that refrigeration unit in the store. So, how long was it in the warehouse? How long was it in the truck? What was the temperature? You know, if you’re transporting across the country in August, odds are by the time it reaches the refrigerator it’s not the product that you think you’re getting.

Roy: Exactly. Constantly heated and then cold and then heat and cold again. And those are active live bacteria in there that are very delicate. That’s why, with things like kimchi and sauerkraut, that’s continuing to ferment and continuing to build those bacteria even when it’s sitting in your fridge. So – so that’s really the best place to get that.

Ryan: Yeah. And I think both of us follow that protocol, eating fermented vegetables daily, taking prebiotic, the resistant starch complex at night for optimal gut health.

Roy: Yeah. I’ve been doing that for maybe 6 or 9 months now. And I’ve been eating kimchi every day for lunch and then also sometimes at dinner. And resistant starch in the afternoon and the evening. And – and really I do feel better. I’m more regular and – and I feel like I – my body composition is more on this, kind of, even keel.

Ryan: Yeah, I would have to say I’ve noticed the same thing. And you just mentioned bacteria. So, I’ve gotta jump to another booth and some people that we found very interesting is the Mother Dirt folks.

Roy: Yeah, totally interesting concept. Totally interesting concept. So these guys are spraying live bacteria onto your skin as a form of soap. So, it’s – it’s kind of the anti-soap soap. Spraying dirt on yourself and – but it’s – you start talking with this lady and there’s an amazing amount of research behind this thing. It’s been in RND for 10 years. Heavily funded. And – and I think they’re on the verge of something really cool here.

Ryan: Yeah, we actually – if you guys listening go back to, I believe it was podcast 18 we had Paul Jaminet on who wrote ‘The Perfect Health Diet’. He is affiliated somehow with these guys and he actually was the first to tell us about it. And the spray, the bacteria spray is AOB is ammonia oxidizing bacteria and it helps convert the bacteria or the sweat into nitric oxide. So, it was really interesting to hear him talk about it. But, like you said Roy, we got to run in – we got the rundown from Robin at the conference and we learned something interesting about the company’s founder. He hasn’t showered in 18 – or 13 years?

Roy: 13 years, I think it was. Yeah. Just been spraying bacteria on himself. And apparently, he’s still alive and well.

Ryan: Right. So – and he and the chief scientist are Harvard, MIT people. I mean, they’re really, really intelligent people. And, you know, I guess drop a hint for you guys listening. We actually are talking with them next week to line up a podcast with them so we’ll have them on, we’ll be able to dive a little bit deeper into that and bring you all of the information there on bathing, showering and covering yourself in bacteria.

Roy: Yeah, I’m interested in a little bit more about that science as well. You know, I know it’s supposed to be killing the ammonia so that you don’t get the smell. Um, but, you know, what else is it doing? How does it really keep your skin clean? And I think they have a shampoo, too, right?

Ryan: They have a shampoo and a cleanser. I think your description was perfect, it’s the anti-soap soap.

Roy: Right. Well that’s – yeah, it’s super cool. And it’s good to see things like that come up because rather than just a standard cold-brew coffee or beef jerky or nut butter, there was all kinds of nut butters there. It’s like wow, these guys are doing something super innovative and they’re getting some press and traction and this is what’s cool to see at events like this.

Ryan: Yeah, you’re right. Those – the booths that were different, that were doing things that nobody else was doing, those were really cool. There’s another one along that line, FATCO, formally FATFACE, they’ve just recently changed their name. But that’s another nose to tail use of the animal where they’re taking the tallow, creating skin care, beauty or hygiene products that are chemical free, made from animals. You know, nobody else there was doing that.

Roy: Right. Simple product and it works, right? You’ve been using that.

Ryan: Yeah. That’s what I use for deodorant. It’s called Stank Stop. [laughs] It’s awesome! And they’ve got a whole line. They’ve got lip balms and, you know, face moisturizers. That’s another podcast that we may actually try to set up and bring people because we talked about that with Andy on our podcast. Where – if our listeners go – if you just go into your bathroom and you look at the ingredients on the products that you put on your skin every single day. I mean, your skin’s your largest organ and you’re smearing chemicals onto it that are getting absorbed into your body every single day. So, I think in the world of biohacking, most areas are kind of exhausted or covered. And I think skin care and products like that is an area that is overlooked by a lot of people.

Roy: I think you’re right. I think there’s a lot of room for our industry to grow there. And I like Andy Hnilo’s concept is he wouldn’t put it on his skin if he wouldn’t eat it, right?

Ryan: Right.

Roy: And that’s a cool way to think about it. And I think we’ll see more products coming in that direction. And from a dietary supplement company like us, it’s interesting that minerals in particular are best absorbed transdermally. That’s why float tanks are so effective with the epsom salt. And so, I’ve been experimenting a little bit with magnesium oil and creams and seeing if we could fit them into the product line. And some interesting things we could do there. So, that’s – it’s an area of research that I wanna keep looking into.

Ryan: Yeah, especially with the magtein that’s in our MagTech is as bio-available as it is, as powerful as it is. I mean, that’s one that if we can increase the absorption you can – you’d see even more benefit.

Roy: Right, right. So, we’re gonna keep looking into that.

Ryan: Alright. What other ideas spark you or did you come away with saying: ‘Hey, we should look into this, we should do this’?

Roy: Well, I was talking to a lot of suppliers. You know, we have great suppliers in place for, for example, our krill oil and a lot of our minerals and some of our herbs. But always talking to new suppliers and kind of getting their angle and why they think their product is different or unique. And a lot of times, you know, we don’t learn anything new but it’s – it’s just good to get that perspective and it’s – it’s interesting um, how some manufacturers will position their product different than another manufacturer but it’s actually a very similar thing. Or there’s this whole debate, and particularly with medicinal mushrooms, functional mushrooms, which I’ve been doing some research into recently: chaga and reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps. There’s this debate going on between the extracts and the whole concentrate supplements. So, you have this supplement that’s made from the entire mushroom that’s milled down into a dietary supplement. It’s kind of a whole spectrum complete supplement. And then on the other side they have these supplements that are very exact extracts that are going after a certain active component in that mushroom. And those folks are saying, you know, that’s how you get a really – a lot of effect out of this product. Whereas the other folks are saying it’s not a full-spectrum, mushrooms have all these synergistic ingredients and you need all of them working in conjunction and you’re gonna have more of a full body effect. So, it’s interesting to look at the research, which there really isn’t that much research in the mushroom world, and then trying to make those thoughts for yourself. Okay, which one is more effective? Or perhaps it needs to be a mix of both to really get what you’re really going after.

Ryan: Yeah. So, for you guys listening, if you’re not aware of how Natural Stacks operates, Abelard is a product creator and so is Roy. And you’re kind of hearing Roy’s thought process of how our products are created and you see the thought and the research that goes into them. And I think that’s one of the reasons that we’re able to bring to market products that we’re so proud of. You know, so Roy, I know that weighing that mushroom decision was a big part of your weekend. And I mean, it just – it almost sounds like there’s a civil war in the mushroom world, you know. You’ve got these 2 sides and both are adamant about, you know, their stance being the correct one. I mean, how do you – how do you decide this one’s right and, you know, this is, you know, if we wanted to make a mushroom product this is the side that we would choose?

Roy: Sure, and I haven’t decided yet. And I – we are looking into creating some mushroom products.  And – and it’s something that I’ll be looking at really closely. I think – I think the most important thing that was a takeaway is that we want an organic product, especially for mushrooms. A lot of the stuff coming from China has shown high levels of metal toxicity and absolutely that’s something that we don’t even wanna question. We want to make sure this stuff is from the source and from the get-go, you know, it’s a fungus so it has to be grown in a very controlled setting to get exactly the properties of that particular fungus without any interference. So, that was the biggest takeaway is that we’re looking for a U.S.A grown, organic product. And then, in terms of the extract versus the whole spectrum supplement, that’s something that I’m still looking at and it might differ between product. ‘Cause they’re extracting down to a certain active component and perhaps, in certain products, if we’re going for a certain effect we may want more of that whereas in another product, if it’s like an immunity product, it might be more important to have the full spectrum. Or in certain cases, maybe a combination of both. So that’s something that we’re playing with.

Ryan: Alright, right. It’s exciting. I know I can’t wait. I’m sure our listeners are looking forward to it. We’ve already had quite a few comments, people are anxiously awaiting. So, –

Roy: Yeah, there’s some interesting – interesting things in the mushroom world that aren’t available with typical herbs, vitamins or minerals.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: And – and it’s gonna be fun to explore in that space, for sure.

Ryan: Definitely. Now, you mentioned cold-brew earlier. There was a lot of coffee at the expo. We got to try a couple of new ones and a couple of old favorites. I was really pumped that we got to run into Caveman Coffee crew. I’ve had some interaction with them before but we’ve never met in person. That was cool. Those guys are amazing, they’re awesome. We had a blast hanging out with them.

Roy: Yeah, definitely very authentic guys. And they’re very passionate about their coffee. And their coffee tastes great. But what was – what was cool to me was their yerba matte. They’re coming out with this new yerba matte and they had it on a tap and I think they’re putting it into cans. But, completely pure product, no sugar or any additives or anything like that. Just – but the taste they’re able to get out of that was – was outstanding.

Ryan: Yeah, and I think we may be able to get them on the show at a future time as well to have them talk about it when it launches. But I believe that it was a nitro, their nitro coffee has been a big hit and the nitro that they add in the tap gives the coffee and now the tea just a thicker mouth feel without having to add anything else. They had a hibiscus tea that was awesome as well.

Roy: Yeah, exactly. It was almost foamy and it seemed a little thicker than just normal tea. And it – but yeah, it tastes great. And I think Keith was saying that he got the main idea from Tim Ferriss who we know is very adamant about yerba matte being his favorite drink and favorite cognitive booster. And it’s, you know, it is a very defined effect, completely different from coffee or green tea, even. And that’s something that I want to start experimenting more with.

Ryan: Yeah, he actually – he had me inspired to do the same. I’m drinking coffee today but I – Keith is – he said that he’s been drinking yerba matte in the mornings instead of coffee. And he said for about a week it was kind of a cumulative effect through that first week. And, you know, after that he said: ‘Man, this is it. This is what I want to do.’ So, it –

Roy: Yeah, it’s interesting.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s just really cool to hear different people’s different morning routines and what works and, you know, how they kinda get into the zone. Before we get off of the coffee topic, we made a stop to the Bulletproof cafe.

Roy: We did, yes.

Ryan: So Bulletproof is a brand that has always been, you know, good to us, we’ve been good to them and really enjoy their coffee as well so we had to see the mecca, see the shop. It was really cool to see what Dave has been able to create there. Tons of, you know, like-minded people hanging out. And I know I can say that if I lived close to one I’d be there every day.

Roy: Yeah, it was really cool to see. And you’re right, it was busy and you could tell it was very healthy people there. But the space he created is very nice. And I think the process of ordering, it’s all very comfortable. They bring the food out to you, you know, it’s not – there’s not much clutter going on. And – and the way that – you can tell there’s a lot of focus on the food and how they cook it and where it’s sourced. And the menu isn’t very complicated, there’s maybe 10 things on there but, yeah. You and I tried as many as we could. I think we ordered 7 or 8 things to try it all out and it was all great.

Ryan: It was. The food was excellent.

Roy: In particular the ice cream, the Get Some Ice Cream that they’ve put together was quite a bit better than I had expected, actually.

Ryan: Yeah, it was – it was really cool. I guess I was shocked to see it in – it was almost like when you walk into a 7-11 and the Slurpee machine is spinning around. Instead of being horizontal, theirs was vertical. But that ice cream was just churning the whole time and it was, you know, smooth, creamy. I mean, it tasted like real ice cream. I never would have known that it was, like, a healthy recipe.

Roy: Yeah, it was hard not to order, I think it was only 11am when we were there but we got to start off with a little ice cream.

Ryan: Yeah we had to. And, let’s see what – they had all kinds of breakfasts and protein bowls, you know, it was –

Roy: Steak, salmon.

Ryan: Yeah, it was almost like if you’ve read the Bulletproof Diet book or the Bulletproof recipe book, it was just, you know, imagine being able to order anything out of there and have it prepared and handed to you.

Roy: Right. And – and even just a cup of bone broth, you know, you can order that.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: Yeah, very cool to see. And I think he’s working on opening a couple other stores which should be great. It’s impressive what he’s done with this brand and it’s something that we look up to.

Ryan: For sure. Another guy that we got to run into again who has done a lot with his brand in the Paleo world is Mark Sisson.

Roy: Right. Great guy. I love Mark. He’s very authentic and he’ll shoot it to you straight. Certain products or other products that he does or does not like. And he’s been doing really well with his – his mayo, his avocado oil based mayo product. And now he has 3 or 4 different flavors. And that’s a cool product. I have some in my fridge that I use with artichokes. And it really tastes just like mayo, or if not better. And I know he’s doing really well off that. And I saw that he’s expanding into some new products, just released a protein bar base with collagen. And what I thought was interesting that rather than just using, like, cashews or almonds like other companies he added, actually, peanuts or pumpkin seeds. Which was cool. And it actually tastes pretty good.

Ryan: Yeah, that was a good bar. And, you know, my hope for that is that it can do for the bar world what his mayo did, you know, in that kind of, market.

Roy: It’s a tougher world, you know, there’s a lot of bars out there.

Ryan: It’s definitely more saturated than the healthy mayo.

Roy: Yeah. But – but like we said, you know, hopefully these trends continue and that those things get out there more.

Ryan: Yeah, I will second that. So, let’s –

Roy: And then the tiger nuts, too.

Ryan: Yeah!

Roy: We saw the tiger nuts were there.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: Which were super cool. And if you guys aren’t familiar, it’s those – it’s a weed plant that’s grown in Africa and the Middle East. And it’s a tuber so it’s grown underneath the ground and there’s these tiny little – I wouldn’t call it a nut.

Ryan: They look like nuts but they’re actually tubers. They’re shriveled, like a dried raisin but hard. They have that shriveled raisin look but they’re hard.

Roy: They don’t look very attractive but they actually taste pretty good, I’d say. I wouldn’t say great. And they now have a new version that has a lot of the peel taken off which is a little bit less chewy and more approachable, I’d say.

Ryan: The –

Roy: But that’s a cool product and very high in resistant starch.

Ryan: Yeah. It’s a – it’s about 50% resistant starch.

Roy: Yeah, that’s super high. I think even um, you know, our banana flour we use is about 30-40% max. So to have something that potent in a resistant starch in a small little punch like that is awesome.

Ryan: I’ve been taking those, they’re very portable and I’ve actually been taking them, like, the weather’s starting to break and we’ve been hiking a lot lately. So I just throw those into a Ziploc bag and put it in my pocket and I just eat those and some nuts while I’m hiking.

Roy: Yeah, good source of energy, too, fat and some sugars in there.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: I – I’ve kind of always dreamt of putting together an ultimate trail mix. And I’d like to put a few tiger nuts in there.

Ryan: What other ingredients would go in Roy’s Ultimate Trail Mix?

Roy: I’m still working on it daily, basically. But I like macadamias.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: And I’d probably throw a couple of Bulletproof’s truffle espresso beans in there.

Ryan: Yes, those are amazing.

Roy: Those are great. And, I think, 3 or 4, maybe 5 just high-quality ingredients like that. But a mix, right, so you have this resistant starch content, you have this great fat from macadamias and some chocolate and things like that. Maybe someday.

Ryan: Could be Natural Snacks.

Roy: Natural Snacks, coming up next. [laughs]

Ryan: So, before we shift gears into Q&A, I wanna just pause, kinda do a public service announcement, tell you guys listening. Make sure you head over to to see the video version of this, get the show notes. We’ll have links to all of the brands that we’re talking about, any of the studies or anything else that we mention going forward in the Q&A. That’s a great place to drop your questions if you wanna get your question answered by me on a show or by Roy and I on a future Q&A if that’s the way we decide to go forward with this. And if you haven’t already done so, please go to iTunes, leave us a 5* review, let us know how much you like the show. We’ve got a couple of new ones that we wanna read. Um, so here’s one from [unclear 00:31:29]: ‘Yep, hands down best podcast out there. Super easy to follow, soothing in the ears. Everything is broken down so you can understand. The topics are freakin’ awesome, keep up the good work.’ He says: ‘Yep, subscribe, it’s that good. Great podcast, very informative. The guests are awesome. Here’s another one from cousin [unclear 00:31:48], that’s a cool name: ‘Love the diversity of guests. Information you can use and the latest in biohacking and nootropics. Love Natural Stacks and love this podcast.’ So thank you guys. Make sure you head over and let us know, leave us a review. That’s how we know what you like, what to do more of. And we can make this, you know, the podcast that is your go-to resource.

Roy: That’s the goal. And recently we’ve seen a lot of questions come in so I wanted to get with Ryan on the podcast and help answer some of those and hopefully if that’s a format you guys like we’ll continue that.

Ryan: So, for you guys listening, in our small, tight-knit team we know Roy is an incredible cook and this is a perfect question for Roy to answer. So, we’ve been asked about cooking methods, reducing carcinogens and advanced glycation end products that can occur with overcooking meat or cooking at high temperatures. So, we’re gonna let chef, master chef Roy take that one and give us some advice.

Roy: Yeah, you’re not so bad a chef yourself. Some broiling techniques and everything else I saw last weekend. Um, well I love to barbecue and I like just being outside and getting some of that smell, some of the smoke. But as you know that the high heat, when you’re putting that meat on the grill, can cause some carcinogens. And it’s something that – that we’re conscious of and always trying to reduce that in any way we can. So, the first thing is just not to overcook the meat and, you know, you get a little bit of that barbecue char but not too much. And try to, you know, keep the meat as intact as possible without flaming it. But there are some interesting things you can do and seasonings and spices you can use to really mitigate the negative effects of a high heat cooking like barbecuing and my favorite is rosemary. And if you – if you look around and do the research there’s actually some very substantial research showing that rosemary, which contains rosmarinic acid, can greatly reduce the amount of carcinogens created from cooking at a high temperature. And it’s been shown that the higher concentration of rosemary, the rosmarinic acid, the greater reduction of that. And in some cases, up to 90%. So, almost completely eliminates the harm of cooking at a high heat if you’re using a lot of rosemary or getting a lot of that rosmarinic acid in there. And there’s also been some marinades combining garlic and onion. That’s been shown to be a similar effect, I don’t think quite as strong as rosemary. But some things that I like to do, personally, is either make a marinade and use a lot of rosemary and garlic and onions and turmeric, which is – other antioxidants help as well. And let it marinade for a long time. Or, the other way I like to do it is to make a dry rub with Himalayan salt and what I’ll do is I’ll take the rosemary leaves off the sprig and dice it up super fine and mix it in with some salt and some other spices. I like to use a little cayenne and really rub [unclear 00:35:19] – deep into the meat. And you almost get this layer of, you know, rosemary and salt on the outside that protects it even further and creates a great little crust and flavor for the meat, obviously.

Ryan: Alright, you guys listening have no idea what kind of secret you just heard. Because we’ve been bugging Roy for 2 years to explain to us his secret dry rub. And I’m not sure that was 100% of the ingredients but –

Roy: That was like 80%. I don’t –

Ryan: You guys got more than anybody has ever heard!

Roy: Yeah, no it’s – it’s great and I highly recommend it. And even if you’re doing something delicate, like a filet mignon, a small little fillet of steak, you can just put the whole rosemary sprig on the bottom underneath the steak where it would be on the grill and it helps infuse that rosemary into the steak and it also helps with the lower – significantly lowers the carcinogens that we’ve been talking about. Something else interesting about rosemary is – is that rosmarinic acid helps slow the breakdown of GABA. So, it keeps a higher, elevated amount of GABA in your brain which has calming properties and maybe that’s why it just naturally smells so good. And it just seems like a great nutrient to use and to – to use especially in something like this when you’re helping reduce some damage.

Ryan: Alright, you said the magic word: GABA. So, on behalf of all of the questions that have been sent in, do we have an ETA for GABA Brain Food?

Roy: Yeah, I looked through the questions. I think that was half of the questions. When’s GABA coming out? GABA Brain Food will be out really soon. I’ll say about 6 [unclear 00:37:12], if not less. So, it’s – it’s in the works, it’s already in production. We already have the final formula. We won’t share all of that yet. But it’s – it’s coming out soon and we’re really excited about it. People that have been playing with the other brain food products, dopamine and serotonin are anxious to get their hands on this one and really get a more full spectrum on what they can do with tinkering with their neurotransmitters.

Ryan: So you just – you already mentioned one of the ingredients, the rosmarinic acid.

Roy: Okay, well there you go. That is one of the ingredients, yes.

Ryan: And that helps GABA stay in our system longer, right?

Roy: Right, it’s – it slows the breakdown of GABA. So this formula, which is simple yet also very all-inclusive, has ingredients to promote the production of GABA, to slow the breakdown of GABA and then also help the absorption of GABA to get into the blood-brain barrier. Which, in general, if you look into our whole line of dietary supplements, we’re always looking at what’s out there and what are the most effective nutrients and what are the effects that we’re trying to get? But then how do we make this product better? And how do we improve upon what’s already on the market? Because there are products out there but – but we’re always looking to make something more effective. How do you make it better? And normally the one thing that is the problem with anything out there already is absorption. So, that’s really a focus of ours is how do make this nutrient better absorbed? How do you get it into your system, into your brain more effectively so that you can experience the full benefits of a product? So, you know, our magnesium – we’re using magnesium threonate which has been shown to get to the brain in other highly bio-available types of magnesium. For our creatine we’re using nutrients to help get the creatine into the system. With our E3 we add coconut oil because that’s synergistic and it’s fat-soluble to help get it into your system. Really all of our products are built that way.

Ryan: Yeah. And speaking of products that are on the market that may be able to be improved upon, here’s another question from somebody looking – they took the Braverman test and found that they were deficient in serotonin and GABA. They’re using our Serotonin Brain Food and because our GABA’s not out they’re using phenibut right now. So, they wanted to get our thoughts on phenibut and I know that you can speak clearly and well on that.

Roy: Yeah, well phenibut – it’s very powerful. It’s a chemical form of GABA that’s been modified to allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier. So it’s very effective and it’s very powerful. And it works, definitely. But because it’s – it’s almost forcing it into your blood-brain barrier into a non-natural – in a non-natural way, it does have some side effects. And it really shouldn’t be taken more than a couple times a week. There are some, kind of, horror stories out there. If people take it really frequently they have withdrawal symptoms and, you know, can’t sleep and can’t focus and they just need this thing. And it’s – it’s really – it’s almost addictive. You know, alcohol increases GABA and phenibut, I’d say, is – is almost like having 4 drinks [laughs]. And it’s not something to be played with. And it’s not something that you should be taking every day. You know, it’s designed to get across the blood-brain barrier, which is something we talked about, but there are other interesting ways to help GABA get across the blood-brain barrier. One of those ways is by increasing nitric oxide and there are several studies to support this. So, there are natural nutrients out there that can help increase nitric o- could help the absorption of the GABA. That’s something that you’ll see in our stack as well.

Ryan: Yeah, and we’ll probably have Abelard on the show in a couple of weeks when GABA is released to talk all about that metabolic pathway for GABA as well as the formula and all the ingredients.

Roy: Exactly. And all of our brain food products and all of our products in general are designed to be able to take every day. So, we’re sticking with the natural vitamin and mineral precursors, backing that up with functional herbs that can promote the natural production of GABA or slow the breakdown of GABA or whatever the thing is that we’re trying to increase. So, these are the natural building blocks. We’re not skipping any metabolic steps. We’re not forcing your brain into a state. We’re providing all the nutrients it needs to naturally get there. So, it’s – it’s not gonna be as powerful or as potent as phenibut but it definitely has a defined effect which you can feel and you can take it every day safely.

Ryan: That was gonna be – that is one of our next questions is, you know, can we take the brain foods every day? Are they designed to be taken every day?

Roy: Yes, exactly.

Ryan: Perfect. So, when GABA does come out, how would it fit in with the rest of the brain food line? When would we use it?

Roy: Well, each product is, kind of, a tool on the tool belt. And – that you can use in a different situation. So, GABA itself is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. So, it actually reduces the amount of stimulation that a neurotransmitter can be. It reduces the excitement and it slows the transmission between the neurotransmitters so it’s relaxing. It has a very calming effect. And, for me, I would take it in the afternoon or evening when I’m trying to unwind. Reduce anxiety, so you can kind of have more clear thoughts. And for me it almost makes you more empathetic and able to focus on some deeper thoughts rather than some more, I’d say, top-level, you know, everyday things. It allows you to kind of get deeper and focus more on your feelings. It sounds a little ‘woo-woo’ but it’s true. And it also helps with, like, awkward social situations. It kind of –

Ryan: Like 4 drinks of alcohol [laughs].

Roy: Exactly! Exactly. And if you’re going to meet someone for the first time or in a situation at work, maybe when you’re having a meeting with a bunch of colleagues that may not be your best friends, taking some GABA can really help ease that situation and help you act more naturally and almost ease the communication between people because you’re in this calm, relaxed state. So, those are the situations I would take it is if you’re doing some public speaking or going to an awkward situation or trying to just, in general, reduce some anxiety at work. Or at the same time if you’re just trying to unwind it can really help. Later in the evening, too, with sleep. I’ve been experimenting a bit with that, taking it later in the night to really get some deeper – fall asleep faster and then be able to stay asleep in a deep state.

Ryan: GABA has always helped me pass out and sleep like a baby.

Roy: Yeah. Yeah, I think –

Ryan: And that’s – that’s with a formula that doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. I mean, that was just, you know, GABA from the vitamin store off the shelf years ago.

Roy: Right, no it really does help with sleep and getting asleep. But at the same time it doesn’t knock you out. You know, it’s not like taking a bunch of melatonin or something. You can take it during the day just fine and you’re not gonna all of the sudden feel like you’re gonna wanna take a nap. But, again, it relaxes you into that state where you can easily fall asleep if you wanted to.

Ryan: Alright. So, I know I’m excited, I know a lot of people are excited to see this one come out. So, we already talked a little bit about some mushrooms. I’ve got 2 questions left here at the end. Do you see anything – any other questions that we haven’t covered?

Roy: Um, no. Go for it! Shoot!

Ryan: Alright. Well, people wanna know your daily routine. Your stacks, your regimen, what you do and why. So from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Take us through the –

Roy: A long time.

Ryan: Take us through a day in Roy’s life.

Roy: There’s a lot of stuff going on, man. I don’t know if we have time. Recently I’ve been mixing it up a bit and trying to – trying to get away from the same consistency every day. So, I used to first thing hang upside-down every day. And now I’m kind of switching that up. Sometimes I’ll do that in the afternoon or sometimes in the morning I’ll try to get more outside time. And, I think just keeping it random, keeping it fresh is good for idea flow and – and just being more in the present. So, I think with any routine it’s great to re-evaluate every couple months and maybe mix it up but always – you always know you can do that and go back to this state where you know this creates an optimal situation for you. But then keep pushing, keep experimenting and, you know, seeing if you can improve upon that. So that’s – that’s really important. I’ve also been – at the same time I’ve been kind of working on more structure. So I’ve been blocking out times in my calendar a week or 2 in advance and it will just be like a random time, like Wednesday afternoon is Roy’s study time. And I have several hours where it’s just okay, that’s my personal time. I’m not going to work during that time, I’m gonna read or I’m gonna learn something new or I’m gonna go on a walk. And then it’s almost – it forces yourself to do that, you know. I get so busy and caught up that – and you forget about taking some time back to really relax and maybe read or learn something new. But it’s on your calendar and you see it there. And maybe it won’t happen at that time because you are busy, but then you can push it to a later time or push it to the next day and it’s still on your calendar and you’re still going to get something done in that space. So, I’ve been playing with that, having more structure and planning things ahead a little bit. Another thing that I’ve been doing more recently, now that the weather’s turning a bit, is I’ve been doing really long walks in the woods. And I’m talking, like, 2 hours. So, just going with my wife or my dog or both or – or by myself. Usually early afternoon. So, after I’ve done a lot of the main work for the day. I got the day-to-day stuff taken care of. I’ll try to step back and go on a long walk. And I’ve found that I’m – by the time I get back I have all kinds of ideas that I’m ready to implement and it’s – it just feels great. So that’s something that I’ve really been enjoying recently. In the evening, to unwind, I’ve been playing with GABA, which has been great. But also raw honey. And shout-out to Seth Roberts whose no longer with us, one of the pinnacle biohackers out there, has done a lot of research with raw honey and I’ve been looking at his blog recently. What I’ve been doing is taking some goat yogurt and mixing in prebiotic, our product Prebiotic+. And the taste is great just right there. But then I’ll add a full tablespoon of raw honey to that and mix it up. And that’s – that’s been my recent night time cocktail. And it – it really puts me to sleep pretty well. So honey raises your blood glucose, your brain needs this glucose to function. Sleep is a very complex thing in your brain and if you don’t have enough glucose at night you can disrupt your sleep. And there’s a bunch of studies that prove this. And especially if you’re a pretty low-carb person in general and you’re not consuming many carbs during the day, if you get that little hit of carbs at night, especially in a natural form like raw honey, it really does activate this effect. Have you played around with that at all?

Ryan: Yeah, actually when Dave Asprey started talking about it a couple of years ago as his night time thing I played around with it. I’ve gotten away from it when I started doing the prebiotic. I have not mixed the 2 together, which would be an interesting experiment. I think the biggest anecdotal evidence I have with it is there was a diabetic patient who was a member of the gym and I was helping him pretty intensely with his nutrition and we actually – he was at the point where his doctor was about to put him on insulin injections. And I said, you know, look beg him for 3 months and we’ll turn this thing around. And we got him to the point where eventually he was, you know, no diabetes medication at all, blood sugar was, you know, always in the normal range, A1C was down, you know, in the sixes which was great. But in that transition period when he was experiencing lower blood sugar – lower blood sugar levels through the changes he was making um, the medicine was almost like, you know, a sledgehammer when you needed, you know, a tap. And he was bottoming out at night. He’d wake up in the middle of the night with his blood sugar in the forties. You know, I’m not in the position to say: ‘Hey stop taking your medicine.’ But, you know, look you need to talk to your doctor and tell him that this is what’s going on. But in that intermediate time, we had him take honey at night right before he went to bed. And he could sleep through the night without waking up. So, he’d wake up, you know, more rested and he never had those blood sugar crashes. So, you know, he wasn’t hooked up to any machines, we don’t have the science but we know that, you know, he didn’t crash, he didn’t, you know, have any adverse effects and it actually helped him kinda bridge that gap from, you know, really, really high blood sugar, really high levels of insulin medication, you know, to nothing and controlling diabetes on his own through diet and exercise.

Roy: That’s awesome.

Ryan: Yeah. So, honey at night’s a good thing.

Roy: Yeah! Try it out. Try it out.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: And a lot of people are, especially in our space where people are ketogenic and people are Paleo and really reducing carbs. Honey could be kind of a scary thing, you know. What, I’m just gonna consume all this sugar at night? Um, but it’s actually – it’s pretty powerful and it’s not like you’re just gonna start packing on pounds ’cause you have a little bit of honey at night.

Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s – that’s one of the things that has been an interesting lesson over the last couple of years. The more I’ve gotten into biohacking, the more my thoughts have shifted in the world of nutrition and fitness is that, you know, there was a time where, you know, when I was all about body-building or macros or – I would have had that same response: ‘Oh, you want me to eat a teaspoon of honey? Like, no way!’ And especially at night, right before I go to bed. But I think now I think we realize – and especially in this space we realize that real health and, you know, real fitness is, you know, you can have a little bit of honey and if it’s gonna help you sleep, we know the benefits of sleeping better. And if your body’s gonna go haywire from a teaspoon of honey, there’s probably a larger underlying problem with your metabolism.

Roy: Right, right. And I feel like we are kinda in this Renaissance era – era of health where there’s a lot more studies coming out and there’s a lot more people doing the research and – and expressing their research online and what they’ve found with that research. So, is it John Kief- ?

Ryan: Yeah, Kiefer.

Roy: Kiefer that has the carb backloading concept that he really has been talking about and there’s a lot of studies to back that up. It’s a really interesting time to try to cipher through all the research, really.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: And everyone’s kinda saying a slightly different thing and figuring out what’s best for you. It’s fun stuff.

Ryan: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned Kiefer, he’s one of my favorites. And I think that the science that he presents in carb backloading is some of the most compelling and interesting science in how to structure your days and set up your, I guess, your nutrition plan and template. I think, personally, I follow a – if you lay that and Bulletproof diet as a Venn diagram kinda where they intersect is where I live.

Roy: Sure, sure. I feel like I kinda – I do that as well. And I maybe also throw in a little Tim Ferriss low-carb and a trifecta diagram there. ‘Cause I’ll eat some beans and legumes and some more slow carbohydrates. But again, in the evening where I’m using that carb backloading concept.

Ryan: Absolutely. So, before we let you go, Roy, you have to answer the question that all of our guests answer. Not that you’re a guest, but – and I know we said we wouldn’t do this as if I were interviewing you. But you’re here. We need your top 3 tips to live optimal.

Roy: I feel like I’ve already given 10! [laughs] I’d say number 1: get outside and go for a long walk. Really that’s been pretty amazing for me. And the – this body that we live in is designed to walk. And, you know, that’s why we’re on 2 legs and it just feels natural and – and I’ll go on a walk just in the neighborhood on the road and I get burned out pretty quick and, like, my knees will start to hurt or I’ll just – I’m ready to go home. But when I get on – into the woods, I can really go for much farther. I don’t really have any aches and pains. It’s just my mind is in a better state. But that’s something that just – even if you aren’t on a road go ahead and walk for a while, for an hour, you know, and see how you feel afterwards. It’s pretty cool. I think a lot of people have done that, but – nothing ground-breaking there. But go out for a walk.

Ryan: I like it, I like it. It’s simple but it’s profound. I’ve definitely been doing that a lot more and I will agree and second everything that you just said.

Roy: Do you have a time of day that you prefer to do that?

Ryan: I think it varies. I think what you said earlier about not being in a routine is a very big thing. I think – I know we’ve talked about your lifting and exercise protocol before. I know you lift less frequently than I do. If I’m going to lift, like on a day like today I will lift shortly after we record this but I probably won’t walk. I may walk later in the day for a shorter one. But on a day where I don’t lift I typically will work most of the day and I find that I start to go stir-crazy without that break to move. ‘Cause like you said, I mean, we’re designed to move. So, I would either set it up to where I – I get up and walk first thing that morning or very much like you said, you get up, bang out the stuff that needs immediate attention, kinda get through that first wave and then take a break, walk, recharge, clear your mind, let those new ideas come in and then you come in ready to implement for kinda that second phase. ‘Cause that’s another thing that I don’t think we’re – we’re not naturally designed, if you will, to work, you know, that 8-5.

Roy: Yeah.

Ryan: That’s not how our – our biology doesn’t suit or fit that. So, to kinda break that up and work in bursts you can be more productive and, you know, in a better mood when you are working.

Roy: And also, I’ve found that segmenting my work so – so in the morning and early afternoon I’ll focus on kind of the more day-to-day stuff, what needs to get done. What are my main goals for the day? And I’ll try to tackle those. And in the afternoon I tend to work on more long-term projects. So that’s writing or researching or – or bigger projects in general that require almost more of a creative brain. Almost more a relaxed state. You can’t really get there if you’re kinda worked up trying to get things done for the day.

Ryan: Yeah.

Roy: So that helps quite a bit, too, is – so you have these things you wanna do today but how can I structure them in your day to be the most effective at doing that?

Ryan: Yeah, that’s a good point about, like, the creative work and you have to have the clutter gone in order to make these – come up with new ideas and make connections or to do new stuff. So, whatever works for you as an individual, you need to find that process and be able to be clutter-free in your mind. And I’m sure you can vouch for, you know, those bursts of ideas or ‘a-ha’ moments. They come all the time and at random times and usually when you’re least expecting or wanting them to come through.

Roy: Yeah. Okay, so here’s my next tip is: I always have a yellow pad. Yellow pad here. Pretty old school. But I’ll write stuff down throughout the day. So, I’ll have my to-do list that – I don’t put a ordered to-do list first. So I can – able to use my day in a flexible manner, it’s not like I have to do this one first and this one second. Here’s things I wanna do and I do ’em when it feels right. But having this paper allows you just to off-load your ideas when they come quickly and easily. And then you can always refer back. And if you’re – if you don’t carry around a yellow pad like I do just use your phone. You know, drop it in the notes or whatever you use to take notes. But being able to quickly off-load the information allows you to get to the next step and focus on the bigger picture of things. So that’s really important.

Ryan: That’s funny. I use a yellow legal pad as well for my to-do list. It’s out of reach or I’d hold it up. And I do the note on my phone for more of, like, this thing just popped into my head I can usually voice speak it into the phone and then it syncs to my computer and, you know, I’ve got – I’ve got so many notes that, you know, and then when you’re ready to do that if it’s an e-mail or if it’s a blog or an article, whatever it is, it’s there. You can copy and paste it wherever you need it and just build out on that idea.

Roy: Yeah, I use that, too, my phone, when I don’t have my pad. And I prefer to write down things. I feel like I’m learning it again and I’m memorizing it. And also having a notebook by my bed because sometimes when I’m trying to relax I’ll all of the sudden have these ideas and I can’t relax until I get them out of my head and I’ve – okay, I’ll worry about that tomorrow but at least I don’t have to remember to worry about it tomorrow.

Ryan: Right, right. Absolutely.

Roy: So, that’s a good time to have a notepad.

Ryan: Yeah. Alright, so notes or notepad, walk outside. One more.

Roy: One more. Alright, you’re really pushing today. Um, one more. I’d say just try something new. Switch up your routine. And if that’s don’t drink coffee for a day or – or, you know, spend more time outside or try raw honey at night, whatever it is, a different workout routine, hanging upside down. Try doing some stretching. I think most people just don’t stretch. And for me it’s – it’s kind of something that I do every day to just loosen up my body and feel like I don’t have these blocks and energy spots where my knee’s tight and my back’s tight. And just being loose helps everything else. I don’t – is that a point?

Ryan: I like –

Roy: Try something new.

Ryan: Yeah, try something new. I like it, I like it. And you make a good point about being tight, you know. If we can’t move the way we’re designed to, you know, that’s kind of the foundation on which everything else is built, especially physical performance. You know, if you wanna run fast or jump high that’s the performance expression of, you know, those foundations and, you know, we can’t do that if we don’t have, you know, if you can’t do a body-weight spot you’re certainly not gonna squat 500 lbs., so –

Roy: Yeah. Well, it depends on how much you weigh, Ryan. [laughs]

Ryan: Well, that’s true. True. Alright, Roy, this has been great. We’re gonna let you go ’cause you probably have other things to do, our listeners have – you guys have certainly gotten a lot of information today. So, please, if you guys have thoughts or feedback on this format for the podcast let us know. Leave us a comment. However you consume the podcast, whether it’s iTunes, the blog, YouTube videos, whatever it is, let us know your thoughts and we will – like I said earlier – we’ll tailor this to make this a – the ultimate resource for you, to the best of our ability.

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!