Steven W. Fowkes: Acid-Alkaline, Sleep & Circadian Rhythms

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

Note: We speak a lot about acid and alkaline in this interview. If there’s anyone that can make sense of the alkaline/acid hypothesis, it’s Fowkes.


We speak a lot about acid and alkaline in this interview. If there’s anyone that can make sense of the alkaline/acid hypothesis, it’s Fowkes.

However, I came to understand that there’s no clear scientific mechanisms involved or objectivity to this framework.

While I’m skeptical, it’s nevertheless interesting to listen to Fowkes’ framework in how lifestyle, diet, and supplements interact with the acid/alkaline balance.

The only scientific method I can think of where acid increases metabolism and wakefulness is related to orexin, which is increased by very slight increases in blood acidity levels [1].

I notice increased wakefulness when I consume acidic foods, including protein, apple cider vinegar, pineapple, citrus, and kombucha. I think this is working by preventing the suppression of orexin and increasing metabolism.

Also, when your blood becomes more acidic from, say, exercise, that can increase NAD+ generation, by converting pyruvate to lactate [2]. NAD+ drives metabolism.

Even though the mechanisms aren’t clear or proven scientifically, Fowkes knows a lot and has interesting insights into things. It was enjoyable to chat with him.

Have you ever struggled with falling asleep? Do you wake up in the morning feeling more tired than when you went to bed? You’re not alone. We created Biohacking Insomnia to help you solve that problem. It attacks sleep issues from every angle including limbic system repair, hormone levels, and circadian rhythm retraining.

About Steven Fowkes

Steven Fowkes is an organic chemistry major from Reed College & CEO of Nano Palmer Systems, a material science company in California. He blogs at Project Well-Being and is the director of the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute. He has been a health consultant for many years. He has been Self Hacking for 40 years. He’s one of the biggest experts in biochemistry, nutrition and how to feel optimally well.

In the podcast we cover how to test food sensitivities with a metronome, ph balance and its effect on the body, circadian rhythm, metabolism, the state of being a night owl vs. a morning lark, and the acid/alkaline tendencies of certain supplements.

Circadian Rhythm

(Me:) The first topic I want to talk about is circadian rhythm. What do you do to set it, how do you measure it, and what do you do to take care of your own circadian rhythm?

(S:) It’s a great topic. One I’ve researched for many decades. One of my first introductions to it was being born a night owl. All through my childhood, staying up late was easy and waking up in the morning was very difficult. I never really had an explanation. I just thought that was the way things were supposed to be. When I started studying pH rhythms, I started recognizing there was an underlying tide that I could identify. It didn’t help me control my night owl syndrome but over the years I was able to hack things using melatonin at night, caffeine and sugar in the morning, which was my default strategy, which is highly dysfunctional. I would graduate to things like piracetam, eggs, or aged meat or cheese in the morning. I’ll even do Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof coffee in the morning to jump start my metabolism. I’ve considered using, at different times, thyroid hormone or low dose adrenal hormone. The thyroid hormones worked great for me, the adrenal hormones didn’t at all.

(Me:) Do you take thyroid hormones now?

(S:) I take thyroid hormones intermittently now. That’s my latest fad, intermittent everything.

(Me:) You aren’t afraid it will mess up your own production of hormones?

(S:) It is if you do whole thyroid or T4, but if you do low dose T3, it doesn’t really mess with anything but setting your circadian rhythm. It’s kind of like having a gauge and the needle is stuck and you just tap the gauge to un-stick the needle. Low dose T3 is so fast acting that it doesn’t really mess with the TSH feedback loop.

(Me:) That’s interesting. But doesn’t it decrease TSH? It will decrease TRH. TRH, TSH, T4, T3, that’s how the feedback loop goes.

(S:) But Low Dose T3 doesn’t do that because it’s too fast acting. It’s operating on a time scale of let’s say 3 hours vs. T4 which has a time scale of say, 12 hours. It’s over and done so fast that the neuroendocrine system doesn’t really recognize it as a time of change in set point, it’s rather just an anomaly. Therefore you are getting this metabolic push in the early morning hours. If you are a night owl, your metabolism is slow and you are still carrying on the night phase of metabolism. You need the jumpstart to get the morning going rapidly so you fall asleep earlier later that day.

(Me:) So you are saying that T4 is mainly what goes back and has negative feedback to TRH.

(S:) It’s not so much T3 vs. T4. They are working on the same receptors. It’s more so the duration of action. When you take T4, you are going to have a suppression of your thyroid system over a 12 hour period. Well, an augmentation of the thyroid level will go up for 12 hours and the body will say, “That’s a deviation of homeostasis. We are going to shut it down”. Your TSH cycle will, through the hypothalamus to your pituitary, will shut it down. If you do 5 micrograms of T3 at 4 in the morning, it’s just going to be a blip in the day.

(Me): That’s really interesting and you are talking about setting the circadian rhythm with that. It’s just fascinating how many things can set the circadian rhythm. One of them is TRH. I’ve been reading about how TRH sets the circadian rhythm by spiking at let’s say 3/4am rather than T4. But you are using T4/T3 to set your circadian rhythm in some way.

(S:) I use the T4/T3 combination to reset my metabolic systems and not my rhythm. T3 is better at setting the rhythm. You are talking about anything you can do. If you get up in the morning and exercise, you are altering your rhythm. It’s not a handful of inputs, it’s everything. If you eat carbs or fast for breakfast has a huge difference. If you are a night owl, eating fat for breakfast makes sense. If you are a lark, eating carbs for breakfast makes sense.

(Me:) How does that work?


(S:) It’s about energy. There is a kind of lowered energy at night that is analogous to hibernation. We don’t hibernate as mammals but we do have our night-time metabolism which is low and goes up and down during the day. That transition from low to high is delayed for a night owl and early for someone who is a morning lark. If you slow down that transition for someone who is a morning lark and their metabolism is revving up, it will extend their circadian rhythm. Quick burning fat in the morning, like coconut oil or MCT oil, overrides the normal carnitine switch in the mitochondria that would potentially limit fat burning. So you can override the system, and if you do coconut oil or MCT oil in the morning, you are going to get a surge of energy. If you are laggard in your metabolism, it will be perceived as beneficial. If you are overactive in your metabolism, it will spike you and crash you later in the day.

(Me:) That’s interesting. Would you say for someone who is overweight their metabolism is slower and for someone who is thin their metabolism is quicker? Would you say this is true?

(S:) There are way too many exceptions.

(Me:) Right. I’ve been historically pretty fit. I don’t do well coconut oil for some reason. Even though, it seems like many people do well with coconut oil.

(S:) That probably means your carnitine is working very well. If you are a good and gracious fat burner, you are less likely to respond positively to coconut oil because you already burning long chain fat and with coconut oil, you get a flood of medium-chain fat that revs you up and your body will go “Whoa, that’s too much.” The average person has carnitine problems and insulin resistance, so temporarily facilitating the fat burning systems is a positive thing.

(Me:) Naturally, I normally have more muscle. I don’t work out much but I’m pretty muscular. I have energy in general when I do not consume excess saturated fat. When I do consume a lot of saturated fat, specifically coconut oil with lauric acid, I do not feel like I can burn it for some reason. My theory is maybe that my mitochondria are not working well. I feel like it’s clogging my muscles. When I consume a lot of saturated fat, when I take carnitine, it takes any issues I have with coconut oil go away.

(S:) You are overriding your homeostatic system that’s reacting to fat. Your body would be saying, there is too much energy and it will just shut down your carnitine to attempt to regulate that. When you take carnitine you are overriding that regulatory loop.

(M:) Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. So you are saying I’m good with carnitine. Since it’s so active, if I increase saturated fat, it’s too much energy and my system will say, “shut down.”

(S:) That’s right. Carnitine is subject to a control loop, just like insulin, growth hormone, and thyroid hormone. All of these things have feedback loops. If you override the system temporarily, your body will counteract that effect. For example alcohol. How many of us remember the first time that we drank alcohol? Where you got twice the bang for your buck. Relatively quickly, you become adapted to drinking alcohol and you need twice as much alcohol to get the same effect. I did that with B5 in college and took a gram of B5 and had amazing strength and stamina that was never again producible. My body learned how to handle the extra pantothenic acid.

(Me:) I actually also got a decent boost from B5. I’m taking other stuff so it’s hard to measure what it’s doing. I would like to mega dose and see if I am getting a good effect from that still. I take more of a lower dose just to make sure I am getting enough of it.


(S:) That’s a wise strategy for most of the supplements that are out there. Complex vitamins, minerals, etc. You want to prevent a deficiency as your primary strategy rather than override the system. Antioxidants, for example, was probably one of the biggest judgment mistakes in my entire career.

(Me:) I think the rest of the scientific community in the ’80s and ’90s did the same thing.

(S:) Yes, and I got caught up in that and didn’t question it enough. Antioxidants are like musical instruments in an orchestra. There is a certain balance of musical instruments for a particular piece of music. It’s the same thing in humans. If you put 10 tubas into an orchestra, it’s not going to be better. But if you are missing a tuba, and it’s a Sousa piece, that putting a tuba in it will make it much better. That’s a problem with many of these nutrients and antioxidants. You don’t want to drive them past their set point unless you have a metabolic insufficiency based on let’s say, a polymorphism. For example, let’s say you have schizophrenia genes running in your family, they need higher than RDA level of B complex vitamins, then you want to override that system. In general, for antioxidants and things like flavonoids, then you want adequacy and broad spectrum as your strategy.

Night Owl vs. Morning Lark

(Me:) Let’s go back to the night owl vs. daytime. We really barely touched the circadian rhythm. I’m naturally a night owl and you are saying that a night owl should get more fat in the day?

(S:) No, more fat in the morning. Jumpstart your metabolism in the morning. What makes you a night owl is that your metabolism is slow in the begging of the day.

(Me:) For me I wouldn’t take coconut oil, but I would take MCT oil.

(S:) That would be a great way to boost your metabolism. Caffeine, for example, is a thermogenic agent. Taking something that uncouples mitochondria slightly to get a bigger surge of your metabolic rate in the early morning hours. If you did the same thing at the other end of the day, it would make your night owl syndrome worse.

(Me:) That’s interesting. I’ve been working to boost my metabolism during the day, especially for the past 6 months. I didn’t think of it in the same terms as you. I wanted to increase my metabolism during the day, allow more adenosine to build up, and also set my circadian rhythm for the daytime. One of the things that sets the circadian rhythm is cyclic-amp. I started exercising in the morning, taking Forskolin, luteolin, things that would raise cyclic-amp in the morning. Any stimulants that I take, I take em in the morning.

(S:) A good example is taking a shower in the morning. You get exposed to negative ions, the superoxide catalyzes your metabolism. It’s not to say that doing the same thing at night would be counterproductive because the superoxide would be catalytic for making melatonin and serotonin. Therefore you get a potential sleep enhancing effect. One of the things that I find very interesting that is an opposing trend to medicine is the internet allows people to with a class of disease to get together and share on the internet. One of the things I have observed in the thyroid groups is that people are now starting to take thyroid hormone before they go to bed and are getting better quality sleep. That is very counter-intuitive from the standard medical model. When you realize that low metabolic rate impairs both daytime and nighttime metabolism, you might want to split your thyroid hormone 2/3rd in the morning and 1/3 in the evening in order to make sure there is not an energy crisis in the middle of the night. Metabolism is normally dropping down. If you have a thyroid problem it goes down too low and a whole variety of pathologies starts happening at night when you are supposed to be healing.

(Me:) I have had the same exact experience. I used to take and I used to recommend this as well: honey. People can get hypoglycemic at night sometimes. I used to take honey and collagen before bed. For the past couple of months, I’ve been experimenting with nothing. I’ve increased my calories during the daytime and it turns out that it works better for me. But only at this stage, whereas before it wouldn’t have. I built up my mitochondria over time, increasing my metabolism and that effect goes with you through the night. I don’t get hypoglycemic at night. Instead, I get a daytime spike of energy. I’ll wake up feeling more refreshed if I am keeping to my circadian rhythm. If I am in a good rhythm, I wake up with a rush of energy instead of sluggish.

(S:) Sleep is a really good way to monitor your circadian rhythm.

(Me:) Right, if people’s sleep isn’t working that means there is a circadian rhythm issue.

(S:) And metabolically and temporarily. So the night owl syndrome, the degree to which it gets worse for you would be a good marker of whether you are making the right moves or not. How rested you feel is an issue of whether you are optimizing that night-time metabolic state. How much energy, strength, and stamina you have is good for monitoring your daytime metabolism. This is all part of the quantified self-approach and self-care approach. Just paying attention to what your body is talking to you about and learning its language.

(Me:) That’s one of the reasons I am so into the circadian rhythm. If you set it right, it can have so many positive effects. It can tell you what’s going on with your health. It’s more of a sensitive indicator I feel. If you aren’t waking up with a nice burst of energy, it’s saying something isn’t right. Some people are more inclined to be night owls. I don’t think that’s the natural state of human history. Sun goes down, you are not a night owl.

Red/Blue Light to Set Circadian Rhythm

(S:) I think it’s an aberration caused by a bunch of different factors in our society, the least of which is light.

(Me:) When do you cut off the light? Do you wear amber and red glasses? Do you cut off the blue and green or just the blue spectrum?

(S:) I just add red. I have my monitors set to warm up as the evening goes on. I just add red light to mitigate any blue.

(Me:) So you don’t block blue light.

(S): that’s right. I just overwhelm it with red

(Me:) I’ve definitely heard this concept where red kind of slows down your circadian rhythm and blue speeds it up.

(S:) I think it’s about the timing of it. Blue light in the middle of the day. Red light at the beginning and end of the day. This is merely us using artificial light to mimic our natural environment.

(Me:) You aren’t concerned about blue light at night? You are stimulating your suprachiasmatic nucleus with the blue light.

(S:) I don’t have compact fluorescents. I use all incandescents at the end of the day. There is some blue in it but not enough that I worry about it.

(Me:) That’s interesting. I didn’t worry about the tiny amounts of lighting coming in. I live in New York City, and you are getting that light from the outside. I’ve seen a study where even very dim light, even 5 lux, is enough to throw off your circadian rhythm. And that’s what scared me to cut out all blue light.

(S:) Each of us come with our sensitivities. It’s nice to be aware of them. It’s nice to be tolerant and forgiving of them. It’s nice not to be in rejection of our own natures. Dave Asprey for example, he is the canary in the mine shaft regarding mold. That’s his thing. I don’t react to mold like that. I can’t tell moldy beef from non-moldy beef. Each of us has those kinds of things. I figured out a whole variety of things. Here I am talking at 7 am when I am a night owl. I’ve figured out enough about my circadian rhythm to do that. One of the ways I do it is to use piracetam.

(Me:) How much sleep are you getting? So if you are a night owl and you are getting up at 6 am or whatever, how do you do that?

(S:) At least 6 hours

(Me:) 6 hours?

(S:) I typically get 7 to 8 hours.

(Me:) So you aren’t that much of a night owl.

(S:) In my opinion, a night owl isn’t about how much sleep you are getting, it’s about when you get your sleep and is it synchronized to a 24-hour cycle or not. A night owl has a 25 hour a cycle instead of a 24-hour cycle.

(Me:) I see what you are saying.

(S:) It’s not about how much sleep you get, it’s about whether or not your sleep is functional or dysfunctional regarding your schedule, what it is that you have to do. If you have a meeting with some CEO at 9 am in the morning and you are a night owl, you have a problem.

(Me:) What time do you go to sleep and what time do you wake up usually?

(S:) It depends. Sometimes I go to sleep as early as 9:30 at night and sometimes its midnight. When it gets to midnight, I go “okay, I need to do something”. I do recognize that a lot of it is about productivity. My highly productive times are late morning and late evening. That’s when I excel. That’s a typical night owl pattern. If I have a bunch of work to do, I’ll play into that night owl pattern to get the work done.

(Me:) I’m the same way. I’ll go to sleep at 9:30 pm or as late as 1 am. Last night it was 12:15 am and I was like damn. I got to really move this back. That’s why I mentioned it’s really hard for me even though I know how important it is. That’s why I am putting all my focus on this. Stop working at 9 pm and just get ready for bed by 10 pm, but it’s hard because I am productive.

Metronome and Food Sensitivities

(S:) I often hear people say that kind of thing. I doubt that anybody is cable of judging their productivity without some kind of independent metric. It’s also the same thing about time. I’m one of those people for whom time is variable during the day. Sometimes time seems to drag and sometimes it seems to flow by really fast. Now, anytime that I am doing a food introduction on myself I’ll use a metronome to standardize my time perception because it’s so variable that I don’t trust it. My ability to recognize productivity within myself varies with my metabolic state. When I am very productive, I don’t see myself as being productive. It’s because my perception of time has changed. My ability to recognize myself is a fundamental problem as a scientist.

(Me:) I think some of that maybe has to do with the level of self-awareness that you have. Still, you want to measure it. How do you measure it with a metronome?

(S:) The metronome speeds up subjectively.

(Me:) So that means you are sensitive to the food?

Acidity Sharpening Mental Acuity

(S:) Right. Typically, inflammation produces a quickening of mental processing as a general acidification effect that taking place. You can actually monitor yourself with a simple vinegar test. Take some white distilled vinegar from a glass bottle, put a tablespoon or two in a glass of water and do the sip, swallow, gulp or chug routine. You can experience whether or not acidity would produce your mental focus in a way coffee would. Coffee is producing the same kind of short-term stimulation. Smoking a cigarette does the same kind of thing. Focusing the brain based on acidic effects vs. caffeine effects, vary in different kinds of mechanisms. Unless you take them apart, if you are a coffee junkie, you don’t know which one is operating for you.

(Me:) How does that work? How does acidity sharpen your brain?

(S:) I can’t say I know all the mechanisms involved. I certainly think that it’s part of metabolic activation for survival reasons. When you get scared, in an unsafe environment, when the bear is going to eat you, that’s when your adrenal gland goes up and your metabolism jump starts. You have massive amounts of energy. That includes a massive acidification shift. CO2 and lactic acid are your primary acidifiers. That means your metabolic rate is controlling your acidity.

(Me:) I have a mechanism for that, I just thought of it. Basically, orexin is the main neurotransmitter in the hypothalamus It activates by CO2 and lactic acid. That’s a sensor of your acidity. When that activates, you become more awake and your metabolism increases. It has a whole bunch of effects on circadian rhythm, gut flow, everything

(S:) Sympathetic activation as opposed to parasympathetic activation. It certainly plays a major role in that. That acidification, that’s the time when you need to outrun the bear. Being as maximally attentive and responsive is critical for that period of time so I think we are wired to be that way.

(end of video 1)

(Me:) That’s interesting with the acidity sharpening your brain. So how can you use the metronome to see if you are sensitive to food?

(S:) If you adjust a metronome before you reintroduce the food. So you’ve done a washout for two weeks. Say no wheat, rye, oats, tomatoes or nightshades or whatever it is.

(Me:) I would say the best is an elemental diet or a much more limited diet because you the test might pick up other sensitivities.

(S:) Each antibody reaction will produce an independent acidification effect. You can study them independently even though you’ve got 20 allergic foods and you are only studying one, you are only dropping it slightly. Because you are reintroducing that antigen in a small dose in a very short period of time, your body hyper responds. So you are looking at a blip, where your body goes acidic, and then alkaline rebound and back to baseline. The metronome allows you to adjust to whatever state you are in. Whatever clock speed your brain is working at. You adjust the metronome. You take 5 minutes and adjust until it’s at a nice smooth rhythm that is in harmony with you at some level. Maybe it’s a double frequency or half frequency with your heartbeat. In my opinion, they are different. When you introduce the food, any change to your mental processing speed will cause the metronome to appear to be altered. So the metronome serves as an objective signal. Your perception of it is inverse of what is actually happening.

(Me:) Okay, I think I have to buy a metronome, dig in and see what happens. It’s hard to visualize what’s going to happen when I have never used one.

(S:) I do that with any kind of investigation into inflammatory triggers. I use a metronome and monitor pulse. Monitor your pulse rate. You are getting both the mental subjective acidification mechanism and the adrenal sympathetic/parasympathetic at the same time.

(Me:) If your heart rate goes up, that means you are sensitive to food?

(S:) Well if it’s plus or minus 5, you are in the noise. If it goes up by 20, that’s often what I see when people are highly reactive to certain things.

(Me:) I have a pulse oximeter, those are cheap ($20-$30 bucks) to check that. I happen to notice when I am sensitive to foods. I’ve been able to get rid of the food sensitivities just by noticing it, but having an objective measure is obviously better.

Self Objectivity pH Testing

(S:) People have an ability to be self-aware on a whole bunch of different levels. On the whole, we are pretty much oblivious to a lot of subtleties. For instance, when I am doing urine pH testing. I am measuring that CO2 & lactic acid effect on an energetic level. I have learned that by studying pH, I can teach myself what acid feels like and what alkaline feels like as well as what acid momentum feels like and what alkaline momentum feels like. After I have done this, I don’t need to test anymore. I’ve now learned what my body’s language is to recognize those kinds of things. Before, it was oblivious to it. It can be useful for someone who has a pH related pathology, like asthma or a classic migraine headache. You use this as a biofeedback tool. You now speak one of the dialects of your body.

(Me:) I measure my pH once in a blue moon. I knew you were into pH so I tested it today. I tested it when I woke up and it was at an 8, pretty alkaline. A few hours later it was at a 6.

(S:) Acid momentum.

(Me:) Based on what I’ve heard you say from a different interview, in the night you are more alkaline and so when you pee out your urine should be more alkaline when you wake up. Later on in the day, you are increasing your CO2, your acidity, and you will pee out more acidic urine. And that’s supposed to be a good measure of your circadian rhythm?

(S:) Yes, it is synchronized to your circadian rhythm with all kinds of noise caused by the psychological state, foods that you eat, your environment, supplements that you take, etc. All of that is producing oscillations. Overall, the sinusoidal curve is reproducible and synchronized with your circadian rhythm. IT defines your circadian rhythm on an energetic basis.

(Me:) What would you say a 7 or 8 Ph in the morning and lower as the second piss indicates?

(S:) That’s a good sign that you are a healthy night owl. If you were a healthy lark, you would see a pH of 7 or 8 before bed and a slightly more acidic urine in the morning. It also means that you have good bladder control. Your first urination is an average of your entire night’s pH effects. So if it’s an 8, you are going very alkaline during the night. 7.5 is more normal healthy statistically. It’s not unusual for someone to go to 8 to 5 or even 4 in some people who are doing peak performance athletics.

(Me:) Normally I am maybe 7.5 or something. So you also measure pH throughout the day?

(S:) The only way you can get your rhythm is if you measure every time you pee. That will connect the dots and give you the shape of the curve. Cortisol, you can’t do it reliably unless you do it four times during the day.

(Me:) You want to make sure it’s wave-like or sinusoidal?

(S:) Yes, and forgiving yourself for eating toast, eating chocolate, drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette, drinking a glass of whiskey or wine, all those kinds of effects during the day that mess with your pH. You are going to see those kinds of blips. When you exercise you are going to see an up and down cycle where you become more acidic and more alkaline. I do it that way, inverting the pH unit. I think of awake as being up and sleep as being down. I orient it that way to help it make more intuitive sense to people. Low numbers on the top and high numbers on the bottom.

(Me:) Another big wrench is going to be how much water you drink. If you drink more water, your urine will be more alkalized, right?

(S:) Depends on where you get your water. The water I have here is a pH of 5.5-6. So it depends on where you get your water and how your water is treated. But on the whole, if the mineral content of your water is low, it won’t affect your pH at all.

(Me:) If you add magnesium and coral calcium, it should make your urine more alkalized?

(S:) Typically magnesium makes your urine more acidic. Citrus juice will make you more alkaline. Coral calcium will likely make more acidic unless there are weird things going on with your Vitamin D and Vitamin K. Copper is acidifying. Things like zinc, iron, sodium, potassium are alkalizing.

(Me): I drink a lot of kombucha, especially in the morning. Kombucha is acidic, and maybe I’ll mix it with some apple cider vinegar as well.

(S:) Vinegar is a great way to acidify on a shallow level. If you just want to acidify your blood, vinegar is a great way to do it because it doesn’t get deep into the body and have a major effect on your energy, but it does acidify. That can be a mental focus and how you jumpstart yourself in the morning.

(Me:) So it’s a good thing in the morning, to have kombucha and vinegar to jumpstart your metabolism.

(S:) It’s just another way to self-medicate.

(Me:) What’s the mechanism by which your urine is becoming more alkaline if you are consuming acidic beverage or food?

(S:) It’s the metabolic ash, the pH stress to the bloodstream that you are seeing your urine.

(Me:) So if your blood becomes more acidic, you are increasing the calcium release and the urine becomes more alkaline?


(S:) The net acid forming or alkaline forming properties of nutrients and foods operates at every level of the body. Certain things, for example, magnesium, participates in whole energy-related pathways. When I was first studying the work of Dr. Emanual Revici, I found his periodic table to be fascinating. The first period metals were all alkalizing at the cellular level. The second-period metals were all acidifying at the cellular level. Revici studied it by giving doses of these things to animals and measuring the pH of a wound and seeing a pH shift. The eastern medical people did it by studying all kinds of other kinds of clues in people in response to different kinds of foods. You look at the pH charts in the macrobiotic school and you compare them into the pH charts in the Revici school, they are like 85% agreement between these two schools. So east meets west in measuring something that’s physiologically foundational. On some level, I just accept that without needing to know what the mechanism is even though I have that, I have to figure this out kind of attitude.

(Me:) That’s what is so confusing. So you are saying you know what is acidic or alkalizing to the cell based on Revici’s work, traditional Eastern medicine and studying it in yourself?

(S:) So if I want to become alkaline, easily and conveniently, citrus is a great way to do it.

(Me:) The way you measure that is based on how awake you feel, your metabolic system?

(S:) Yes, all You are not measuring the cellular level but if you measure saliva pH, you measure it at the tissue level. You can conveniently see two different levels. We don’t have the technology for measuring cellular pH or mitochondrial pH yet, so we make inferences.

(Me:) So you aren’t doing it based on your urine, it’s more based on subjective factors and salivary pH.

(S:) Once you’ve gone through the pH biofeedback cycle to figure out what it’s like, you don’t need to actually measure pH to know what’s going on with your body. It’s not something for the average person to do because it’s invasive in terms of lifestyle. You are talking about measuring your pH every time you pee for 2 to 5 days at a time.

(Me:) I’m very interested in the mechanism by which different things are increasing the pH, but we can talk about that for who knows how long, so I’ll move on.

pH Sympathetic & Parasympathetic Systems

(S:) There are other aspects of pH control involving sympathetic and parasympathetic systems that involve respiration. Expiring CO2 is a very powerful way to regulate your pH in your blood. It does create a pH gradient from your deep tissues to your lungs.

(Me:) I see, if you exhale CO2 the hydrogen ions leak out into the bloodstream.

(S:) That set point is altered by your parasympathetic/sympathetic imbalance. If you are sympathetic, you are going to be blowing off CO2 regardless of whether your muscles are producing it or not. If you are parasympathetic, you are not going to be blowing off CO2 even if your muscles are producing it.

(Me:) Just to explain to the listeners, sympathetic is more fight or flight. You are breathing less deeply (panting, shallow rapid breathing) which exhale more CO2. Parasympathetic is rest/digest or feed/breed, more of a relaxed state, you are breathing more deeply.

(S:) You are conserving/re-absorbing more CO2 because it’s longer in your lungs. Robert Fried’s book on respiratory physiology is the best book I have come across that deals with this kind of issue. One of those rare books who aren’t academics or specialists in the field.


Chocolate and Circadian Rhythm

(Me:) Chocolate seems to have a significant effect on my circadian rhythm. It seems to lengthen it. I sleep for longer periods and I am tired early on in the day. What’s the mechanism for this?

(S:) You would probably do okay if you ate chocolate mid-morning. That would be the time it would least effect you. Chocolate is like coffee, it has a bimodal effect. You get about two hours of stimulation, acidification, mitochondrial decoupling, basically a thermogenic effect. Then you get about 8 hours of an alkalizing effect.

(Me:) Which will make me more sleepy. My self-experimentation does validate this.

(S:) How about your nap time? Is it about 4 in the afternoon? Are you mentally unfocused and less sharp at this time?

(Me:) At this stage, if I start to feel sleepy, I’ll go in the infrared sauna, take a cold shower, take a supplement or drink some kombucha. It’s hard to know what will be happening naturally. I feel like, if I take a long walk with a meal, I will get fatigued after a little.

Sex, Russian Training & Alkaline States

(S:) There is an alkaline tide with digestion. Any time you eat, you are going to have a tendency to have your bloodstream significantly alkalize because your stomach is generating acid on demand. This is a common thing when people eat, they want to smoke a cigarette or drink a cup of coffee. Same thing with sex. Sex winds people up, makes them hypermetabolic, and after orgasm, they go hypometabolic and they want to light up or drink a cup of coffee.

(Me:) So what’s the mechanism there? I know when you orgasm, at first your fight or flight stimulates, and then the parasympathetic stimulates. Why do males get sleepy after orgasm?

(S:) Their metabolism slows down. All of the activations that take place, the build-up to climax is like exercise. When you reach orgasm, the rebound effect takes you in another direction. It’s like a spring or rubber band. Sex is an acidification effect and a nap is an alkalizing effect. The same thing that the Russian scientists used to do in training Olympic athletes. They would work out the athletes really hard and then lie down and take a nap, optimizing the alkaline rebound. They would even feed them alkaline amino acids in the form of peptides that were rich in leucine, arginine, and things like that to augment the rebound to get muscle gain, skeletal strength, and all kinds of performance enhancements which are optimized with that rebound effect.

(Me:) That’s why people get more sleepy with leucine and arginine because they are more relaxing amino acids. That’s working by making you more alkalized. The way I think about it is metabolism is yoked to orexin which is the central mediator of that. It senses the acidity within those cells in the hypothalamus which transfers from the bloodstream as well.

(S:) Yes. It’s the top-down mechanism for maintaining your well being, your health in your environment. The bottom-up system would be burning carbs, burning fat, what’s going on with the mitochondria, etc.

(Me:) So what’s going on with burning carbs? A lot of people get sleepy after carbs. Glucose is known to suppress orexin. Do you have any additional insights? Are carbs alkalizing?

(S:) 98% of fruit are alkalizing. All refined carbs are alkalizing unless you are allergic to them. Allergies will flip the direction. Whole grains are the most acidic of all non-meat foods.

(Me:) So you are saying people will become more awake after consuming whole grains?

(S:) The polyunsaturated fatty acid content makes them acidifying. It’s the single most allergic food that we regularly consume.

Allergies, Reactions & Acid or Alkaline Tendencies

(Me:) I find when I consume something I am allergic to, I get sleepy. I thought that had to do with inflammation which suppresses orexin. (25:25 – video 2)

(S:) It’s a matter of extremes. When you exceed the capacity of your system, you get an opposite reaction. For example, when you are too alkaline because of low metabolic rate. Take somebody who is hypometabolic and they are eating alkaline foods. They just ate chocolate. The chocolate is wearing off and their urine pH is tracking down. When they hit a point of alkaline stress that is beyond their adaptive capacity metabolically, their body activates the prostaglandin pathway and their urine will acidify in 10-20 minutes. It will go from a pH to 7/8 to a pH of 5, 4 or even 3. Anytime you exceed a mechanism, you overdrive a mechanism to the point that the body perceives it as a deviation from homeostasis. You will get the opposite effect. If you are metabolically tuned up and you overdrive your system, your body may shut down.

(Me:) Before I increased my metabolism, I was historically lower on the T3 spectrum. Combined with other factors, I was less metabolically active and consumed fewer calories. My cells were probably more alkalized and if I ate whole grains or carbs, it would push it over the edge and I would get tired?

(S:) The pushing it over the edge could be the food itself, which I don’t think is likely. You could potentially measure your allergy as opposed to taking molecularly distilled fish oil, which would be a source of polyunsaturated fat which doesn’t have any proteins in it.

(Me:) When I take that, I become more awake.

(S:) Then that would suggest your reaction to the grain is allergic. Your body is putting all of its energy into your immune system rather than the mind and digestion and other capacities. This is one of the things I can say is a good rubric for thematic understanding of health and wellness. Inflammation and healing are mutually exclusive. Anytime you go to inflammation, you defer your healing. That’s fine for two days. It’s a disaster if it’s two months or two years.

(Me:) My metabolism is getting shunted towards my immune system, which is metabolically hungry and it’s going away from my brain. If that were the case, maybe we would also be seeing a shift where the acidity and alkaline aspect are in the cell.

(S:) I think the acid and alkaline systems are compartmentalized to blood, interstitial fluid, the cellular cytoplasm, and the subcellular compartments (mitochondria, nuclei, and other organelles). The most common thing I will see in hyper-metabolic people relates to fluid accumulation in the tissues & cellular dehydration.

(Me:) Are they all related or potentially different.

(S:) They are all totally different. The most common thing I’ll see in hypo-metabolic people related to fluid accumulation in the tissue, and cellular dehydration. People who have this alkaline tendency or who are hyper-metabolic will tend to have overutilization of potassium and underutilization of water at the cellular level which causes the opposite reaction in the tissue. So, for example, their serum potassium will do down while their cellular potassium will go up. At the same time, water is doing the opposite. What happens is that you have dehydrated tissues, your brain will shrink in its skull and you will get fluid around your brain. This is also viewed as an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease and is irreversible atrophy where I think this is just a metabolic indicator. As soon as you fix it, their brain will swell back up again, and the fluid in the brain will be absorbed by the cells.

(Me:) I can see how that would be a very significant factor.

(S:) From a point of view, whether you have puffiness under your eyes, or you have swelling in your throat, if you snore or if you go to the next metabolic extreme and suffer from apnea events because of that extra fluid in your tissues blocking your airways. Swollen ankles is another one. All of these are a sign of that same kind of metabolic imbalance.

(Me:) What do you think of, for example when I tell you that whenever I eat something in which I am allergic to, I am not breathing as well. My nose clogs a little, what would you say is the mechanism there?

(S:) I don’t know.

(Me:) Ok. It seems like it would have just related to what we were just talking about.

(S:) That seems like that is a personal type of sensitivity. My own personal sensitivity issues have to do with my sinuses and upper respiratory issues. This has been plaguing me my entire life although I take extra vitamin A, and zinc to help mitigate, and colloidal and a nebulizer. I have all these adaptive compensatory strategies to help me survive with it just fine, although I still recognize it as a constitutional weakness.

(Me:) What do you think that is from? Do you think you need to try to eliminate certain foods?

(S:) That could be. Yes. And living in an environment with exposure to mold spores, or pet dander could also be related to pollen which I am reacting.

(Me:) Yeah, of course. That is why I developed a lectin avoidance and also an elemental diet not necessarily use for the rest of your life, but to use as a good framework in which to identify food sensitivities and its helped me tremendously. As long as I stick to this diet, I breathe well all day. No post nasal drips, I don’t get tired after I eat.

(S:) That means that is something that you play to. Somebody who has migraine headaches, or suffers from dementia – it is the end of the world to them. Whatever that primary issue is, is how you are going to view the world and that is how you will respond to your body’s language that way because that is how it is talking to you.

(Me:) Right. This is a very fascinating and complex study, it is something I personally will definitely pay more attention to. But I feel like this will probably go over the head of many of our listeners.

(S:) Yes. It is very complicated, and all I can say is it is better not to get stressed out by it. Because there is infinite capacity for worrying about things you can always pick on something and it’s bad for your neuroendocrine system. It dis-empowers you. The one thing I’ve learned is that ignorance expands faster than knowledge. Every time I can answer a question it allows me to ask two more. I mean you can’t win that game!

(Me:) No, well I’m trying to get ahead of it, but it’s not happening. I’m talking to people like you and all I’m doing is asking more questions. All the alkalinization? What’s happening!? I think I have some good ideas and good frameworks and understanding on a basic level. Such as your hypothalamus does detect the level acidity in your hypothalamic cells at least. And I find that when I increase my consumption of foods that contain lactic acids, such as Kombucha or apple cider vinegar, they increase your wakefulness through increasing the acidity of your blood and more specifically your hypothalamus which is going to increase your metabolism via orexin. Deep breathing will also have the same effect. To me, that is the most simplified way without stressing myself out.


(Me:) This is something that is spoken quite a bit about in thing that is spoken about in the health sphere, taking melatonin. I used to recommend it, and I do think it has a role for some people sometimes, and I used to take it as well. But I do find that if you can get your circadian rhythm optimized it could even be worse taking it. Like Dr. Jack Kruse says, whatever you make yourself you shouldn’t be ingesting. Now I think that is a general rule, and I like it to a certain extent. So something like melatonin, if I wear the right glasses [at night], I’m going to be producing that myself and that’s going to be interacting with a whole bunch of systems in my brain which are important, so the act of producing it probably has an effect which I feel like is balancing. You’ve said you have experimented with that. What is your take on that?

(S:) Yes, I still do. I use melatonin on average once a week. And I discovered the best form of melatonin for me is liposomal melatonin because it gives me a hypnotic effect. So if I use the liposomal melatonin, and I’m doing my night owl thing, I can actually override that.

(Me:) You don’t think that is a problem, you are happy with taking melatonin at night? I think it sets your circadian rhythm so it is more beneficial than not, but my personal take is that if you can wear those red glasses, and keep to your circadian rhythm that’s a much better system. Would you agree with that?

(S:) If that works for you, absolutely. The thing that I would say though, is that melatonin isn’t about your circadian rhythm, it’s from your circadian, and it is a signal to your body tissue to go through some sort of metabolic state – repair process, hibernation, lowering of energy, etc. therefore like most things doing it on an intermittent basis is minimally destabilizing in the same way that strength training is, meaning you don’t want to do it every single day. At least the same muscle anyways. You want to give that rebound effect an opportunity to play. You work out one day, then you consolidate the gain, then two days later you work out later again. So I find, that melatonin and tryptophan cocktail with pre-digested collagen work better if I do them intermittently. I find that also applies to all of the growth hormone stimulants out there. If you push growth hormone all the time it stops working.

Blue Light Blocking Lenses

(me:) Have you ever tried wearing the red glasses? Have you experimented wearing them say four hours before bed?

(S): I did it with some plastic. Which was very inconvenient. It probably would have been better if it would have been more convenient.

(Me): How do you mean plastic?

(S): Just tinted plastic stretched across my eyes.

(Me:) SO it blocked out the blue light? Did you test it?

(S:) No, it didn’t block it all out, it just shifted the spectrum. Just dramatically dropped the blue, without affecting the red.

(Me:) So I would be curious if you experimented because they do sell glasses that don’t block out the red, it just diminishes a little. And I have also found glasses that completely block out the blue and green. I’m curious to know how you would feel on that. It doesn’t seem that you’ve really tried it very properly.

(S:) Yeah, that’s right.

(Me:) Also blocking it out, making sure you have no artificial light coming from the top, doing it at night, every night. Seven o’clock hits and wearing it until eleven I’m curious how that affected you.

(S:) Me too. That is a good question. There are all kinds of people who are ‘nerds’ who like to reverse engineer all this kind of stuff. I’m certainly one of those. But most of my clients are not. So it is much better to talk to them, not in terms of wearing glasses, but in terms for example of setting up automatic light exposure systems that are set on timers so they don’t have to worry about it, it takes care of itself. Seven o’clock at night, one light turns off and another turns on, etc. where everything is set to operate to keep them entrained because otherwise they are not paying attention to it, and it is too intrusive into their lives.

(Me:) Right. Yes, I’ve found a lot of resistance unless the person has serious problems. So I have to wear these red glasses, then I have to go out with them, then if they usually wear glasses then they cannot see.. etc. and it is really disruptive to a lot of people’s lifestyle. But I am a much bigger proponent, I think they have a very significant effect along with my own experiment, that I do stress it and try to put it on people. Because people who have big issues, you cannot be putting on band-aids.

(S:) No, well, you can….. and most people do.

(Me:) But that doesn’t help them get better.

(S:) But that doesn’t matter. If it helps them with their coping, they get short term feedback that reinforces that behavior. The point is that no matter how effective a cure is, if someone won’t do it, it’s not going to be a benefit.

(Me:) Yeah, that’s true, and a lot of times I’m hard on people. Because the people I deal with happen to have a lot of serious issues, and I feel the body is working as a system. Where if you just have one ingredient as a system it is not going to make a person better, you need to have multiple ingredients in the system to make sure the whole system is working properly. I’ve had my experience, where I’ve had people just try one or two things where it didn’t help them enough that they didn’t even notice it. But when people really incorporate a whole system, then that is when people really start to see the effects. It’s also a hit or miss because you don’t know what is going to be the top thing for each individual. It’s hard to guess what is going to give a person the biggest bang for the buck. So that is why it needs to be a systemic approach because they have a new homeostasis where their whole system is out of whack. My approach is that once you get that whole system normalized, then you can do whatever you want. Then if it gets out of whack again, at least you have a systemic approach to normalize it again.

(S:) I look at my job more that, I need to hit a home run first at-bat. Pick something that is critical in their system, and two they will actually do it.

That is always what I am looking at is what will they do, what will they not do, and two – what is the most likely major thing that can be addressed with whatever investment they have at that particular time. Even if it’s small, they only have a small amount of investment then they will only have a small amount of gain which may not be that much, but if it is enough to suck them into a process then it ends up winning for them.

(Me:) I’m conflicted with both of those approaches. Because on the one hand, I want to get people better. But on the other, some people are just not aware enough to notice small effects. I am self-aware enough to notice small effects, but some people are not.

(S:) That is a classic rational dominant person. (laugh) The problem is that is a minority position on this planet. When you are dealing with a person who is not a rational dominant, they are not going to be aligned as you are.

B12, B6 & Selenium

(Me:) A lot of interesting things. What about, this is another question I am asking you because I think a lot of people do not have the answer to it. Why do some people get tired with B12 and B6? I thought it was only me, but some people get tired, some people get stimulated, I kind of have theories but nothing concrete.

(S:) Well B12 and B6 are two vitamins which are acidifying, or are catabolic or aerobic.

(Me:) So that would suggest people would feel awake from taking them, and most people do.

(S:) That’s right. Most people do.

(Me:) Its best to take it in the morning. It helps set your circadian rhythm.

(S:) So if people are leaning this way (hand at 10 o’clock), and you take it and it sets you this way (hand almost at noon) it will help you and focus you and all that. But if you are set this way (hand at 1 o’clock), and going that way (hand towards 3 o’clock) that is probably too much.

(Me:) So more concretely, what is happening? I’m not understanding it.

(S:) What I would do, for someone like you. I’d reverse engineer the problem. So you know how you are responding to the two B vitamins which are catabolic, aerobic and acidifying. So how about challenge yourself with things that are not water soluble to see if you get the same effect. Or with foods which are on that same category. Does N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) do the same thing for you?

(Me:) No, it doesn’t. It increases wakefulness a little.

(S:) How about selenium?

(Me:) No, no effect that I can detect. But selenium is not a nutrient that can help work with the circadian rhythm.

(S:) Yes, but it is strongly acidifying and aerobic.

(Me:) Yes, but I think all the studies show that you should take it in the morning. So maybe that ties into what you are saying?

(S:) Well I do it all day, by putting it in my drinking water. How about a high dose of vitamin A?

(Me:) Retinol?

(S:) Yes.

(Me:) Nothing either way, but I’d say more stimulating, maybe. Do you have any frameworks as to why B12 would have such different effects?

(S:) Oh yeah, the same thing with calcium and magnesium. Some people will be subdued by calcium or energized by calcium. And their response will tend to be the opposite. That has to do with whether they are a fast or slow oxidizer in terms of metabolic type, and also in terms of sympathetic/parasympathetic type.

(Me:) So if someone is getting tired from B12, what is that saying?

(S:) I would guess that they would be catabolic dominant. Aerobic, acidifying, catabolic dominant. And that the B12 is merely pushing them too much into that state, where they would be overly dominant.

(Me:) Does the methyl B12 change that game at all?

(S:) You can separate the B12 effect from taking trimethylglycine.

(Me:) I get tired from that as well.

(S:) So that would suggest it’s a methylation issue.

(Me:) So why are some people getting tired from increasing methylation?

(S:) Oh I don’t know that. You don’t have a specific mechanism.

(Me:) Yeah that is what I have been trying to figure out. If you don’t know the answer, then I guess nobody really does.

(S:) Certainly ask Ray Peat. Anytime you have a weird question, he is a really good person to ask.

(Me:) Can you get in contact with him? He kind of dropped off the face of the earth? Anyway, under methylators – why is that bad? How does that have an effect on the circadian rhythm? It appears that the circadian rhythm needs methylation, and you can also shut off the HPA access if you methylate more. Maybe that is one way in which I am getting more tired, increasing the CRH in the neurons in the hypothalamus which is decreasing the HPA access. The CRH is more stimulatory, and that is probably causing fatigue.. but again this is all just a theory. Min 1:19:46

(S:) It could be there is an opposite reaction taking place because if acetylation pathways are pinned one way, and methylation pathways are pinned another you might have a completely different kind of response.

(Me:) Have you ever thought about how methylation is working with the circadian rhythms?

(S:) I’ve never observed a connection, hey it could have been over my head. I don’t carry luckily the MTHFR mutation. So my experience with methylation is probably much different than others. I have run across individuals who are amazingly sensitive to relatively small doses of methionine.


(Me:) So how are you impacted by methylation?

(S:) I’m really not, maybe minor stimulation, but cholinergics drive me up the wall. It’s not pretty. With dopamine, I’m the same way. My obsessive and compulsive tendencies tend to flare up when I eat fava beans or take too much deprenyl. And I recognize that now that I am 63, I am dopaminergic deficit. When I was forty, and first experimenting even 1mg a day was driving me nuts.

(Me:) Deprenyl, even a half a dosage will bring my mental acuity down. Even half of a milligram will make me a little zonked out a bit. Does that mean I’ll have too much Dopamine?

(S:) Probably means you are dopamine dominant. If I were you I’d look at serotonin and GABA systems as potential remedies. That has been the biggest thing for me, with cholinergic dominance and dopamine dominance, I look for the recessive like GABA or serotonin.

(Me:) Serotonin is actually stimulatory in some ways, so actually, it’s kind of mixed.

(S:) Well all of the neurotransmitters have their opposite or dark sides. The inhibitory transmitters do have some of the stimulatory ability, and the excitatory ones do have some inhibitory abilities as well. Its just part of the way the brain is cross-wired with itself to maintain homeostasis.

(Me:) So acetylcholine and dopamine have inhibitory abilities?

(S:) Yes, they have inhibitory circuits. For example, the same way that the phosphorylation cycle works in the brain. Every 90 seconds we run from under to over phosphorylation because the phosphatases and kinases have opposite functions which affect each other. The phosphatases that operate at a low concentration will work one way, and the ones that have a high concentration will work another. So it creates a metastable system where it goes all the way to one extreme which turns it around, and then it goes all the way back to the other. This is just a small part of our biorhythms and it is only 90 seconds (!). And it is one of the reasons why the human brain uses such a high amount of energy compared to other tissues because this is basically wasted energy. It’s not serving a metabolic function it is serving some sort of bio-stability function.

(Me:) I want to cover one more point about the circadian rhythm, oxidative stress. My basic understanding is that metabolism will increase oxidative stress and that’s going to signal to get things moving on? Or oxidative stress actually signals to increase metabolism? How does that work?

(S:) Well metabolism produces oxidative stress so that’s a direct reaction that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if oxidative stress is increasing metabolism as well. Its easier to pay attention to feedback and feed-forward systems and survival is very critically timed for the sympathetic and parasympathetic response especially since we have two arms of the parasympathetic side, not just one. There are the myelinated and nonmyelinated arms of the parasympathetic nerve.

(Me:) There are two of them aren’t there? The adrenal/medullary axis and the other is the HPA axis no?

Antioxidants, Oxidative Stress

(S:) Yes, but I’m talking about the direct issue of the vagal tone and how you have to different aspects to it. For example, freezing is a very primitive parasympathetic response that is common to amphibians and reptiles. But then we have a system that provides a break between the more primitive parasympathetic system and the sympathetic system based on things like our perception of safety. Which is very high level, you are in a situation in which you are with a trusted person, you are relaxed with them your vagal tone increases and any kind of emergency that might happen tends to be mitigated by the fact that you are with a someone you trust. Whereas if you are with someone who is a narcissist and a bully, you are not going to feel safe at all. Therefore your parasympathetic ‘freezing’ and your sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ would be both activated because of that lack of breaking.

(Me:) So back to oxidative stress, it’s increasing during the day but going down at night.

(S:) Right, so oxidative stress is somewhat defined as a mismatch between oxidants and antioxidants. Or actually, you break down the antioxidant defense system into two layers. One of them is strictly antioxidant defense, which is to detoxify reactive oxygen species in a kind of bucket brigade system. Then below that, you have a reduction system, of reductants. The antioxidant system is more like an umbrella protecting you from the sun, and reduction system is actually like the refrigerator generating coldness. That is the mitochondrial system with NADH system coupling with NADPH coupling to vitamin C and glutathione. So your vitamin C and Glutathione pool are in direct relation to the amount of oxidative stress one will have. And if you don’t have enough NADH, NADPH, Vit. C or glutathione in your system in times of a lot of oxidative stress, then it will overwhelm the system as opposed to handling it gracefully.

(Me:) Right, the NADH and NADPH are the reductants which are providing the electrons to the Vit. C and the glutathione.

(S:) Yes, which is then cooling off your phenolics. For example, your polyphenols are absorbing free radicals at a high level of energy and as the free radicals are dropping down in the bucket brigade they are getting cooled and quenched by the Vit.C, Vit. E & glutathione.

(Me:) But how is the oxidative stress messing with the circadian rhythm?

(S:) I’ve run across people with sleep pathologies where their metabolism drops too low at night. They wake up in a state of agitation, anxiety, sometimes night terrors. But more often extreme anxiety – like someone is going to break into their house. But it is actually their adrenal glands kicking in as a sympathetic defense mechanism to keep them alive.

(Me:) So how does that have an effect on oxidative stress?

(S:) Well because their metabolism is dropping down so low, their ability to handle oxidative stress is severely compromised.

(Me:) I see, ok. Because the mitochondria are not working that well, so they are not producing those reductants, thus unable to handle the oxidative stress.

(S:) So fundamentally your antioxidant defense system is relying more on your mitochondria than it is on your supplements.

(Me:) Whenever I take things that improve my mitochondria directly, my ability to combat oxidative stress is much more increased as opposed to taking just antioxidant supplements.

(S:) The other side of that is if you take a bunch of antioxidant supplements, then all your markers for oxidative stress goes up.

(Me:) Right, because your body is not getting that signaling to make its own antioxidants.

(S:) Yes, and you are potentially unbalancing the bucket brigade of how high-level antioxidant species are stepwise dis-mutated down to the point which they get refrigerated. If you are missing some of those steps then free radicals can accumulate at a particular level. For example beta-carotene and a smoker, you get all these carotene radicals that accumulate.

(Me:) So how does that bucket brigade go? Antioxidants on top and reducing agents below?

(S:) Think of it as a ladder of high energy free radicals at the top lowering in energy as you descend down the ladder. So if a phenolic compound accepts a free radical, it is now a free radical. It is less energetic as the source one, but it will still need to get detoxified further.

(Me:) So basically you are saying that you need to be balanced in all of these antioxidants, you can just take a bunch of just one.

(S:) Yes, a good analogy would be putting out a fire and you have a lake which is your reducing power. And you have this line of ‘people’ or antioxidant players and they are running buckets down the line and returning buckets down another line. What happens if you put four people at one spot, or even a five-year-old child in another spot, but bucket brigade breaks down.

(Me:) Right. Yes, I’m always trying to understand at a deeper level, I know oxidative stress is bad for you but at the same time, high doses of antioxidants such as beta-carotene or alpha-tocopherol are actually not good for you.

(S:) Yes, they are like tubas. Too many tubas spoil the orchestra.

(Me:) Ok. Wow. A lot of listeners’ heads are probably spinning. I could talk to you for hours. The fun has to end at some point, so we’ll end it now, and maybe in a few months time, we can talk again. Where can people find you?

(S:) Sure, it’s been fun. Projectwellbeing.com is the best place to go. I have a hub page there, the Steve page, links to CERI, the epi-cylindrical periodic table, the book on anti-viral therapies the down syndrome collection, all those links which are present. The phone number is included if they want to get a hold of me. So maybe we can talk about Alzheimer’s next time.

(Me:) Yeah that would be great.

(S:) Sleep problems, circadian rhythm problems are probably some of the most universal health problems in society.

(Me:) Yes, I am in complete agreement with that which is why I am increasing my focus on it. Great stuff, it was a pleasure talking to you, we’ll be in touch.

(S:) Take care, bye.


Steve Fowkes:

Steve’s Blog page on Projectwellbeing.

Other links on his page:

CERI’s Down’s Syndrome Collection: DSCollection.

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen flipped the script on conventional and alternative medicine…and it worked. Growing up, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, anxiety, and other issues that were poorly understood in traditional healthcare. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a learning journey to decode his DNA and track his biomarkers in search of better health. Through this personalized approach, he discovered his genetic weaknesses and was able to optimize his health 10X better than he ever thought was possible. Based on his own health success, he went on to found SelfDecode, the world’s first direct-to-consumer DNA analyzer & precision health tool that utilizes AI-driven polygenic risk scoring to produce accurate insights and health recommendations. Today, SelfDecode has helped over 100,000 people understand how to get healthier using their DNA and labs.
Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, with a mission of empowering people to take advantage of the precision health revolution and uncover insights from their DNA and biomarkers so that we can all feel great all of the time.


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