Dr. Stephen Cabral on How to Lower Your Biological Age, Live Longer & Look Younger

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com, that’s Wellness with an E on the end. And I am back today with a repeat guest, Dr. Stephen Cabral, who I really enjoy talking to. And we talk about how to lower your biological age, live longer, and look younger. And he gives a whole lot of really evidence-based ways to do this. And if you haven’t heard his first interview, I’d highly recommend it. But the short version is that he started experiencing a whole lot of health complications at age 17, saw over 50 different doctors, tried 100 treatment protocols, and still wasn’t getting any better. And then this began his research into alternative health and how he became well again and his whole entire recovery process. And that was when he knew that would be his life’s work as well.


And he has studied in the U.S. He completed his doctoral work overseas. And he studied with the top doctors, hospitals, and clinics in India, Sri Lanka, China, Europe, and many other places as well. And now his work is helping many others benefit from this knowledge as well. In this episode, we talk about how he read several books a week, fascinating new research in ways to live longer, and we go deep on a lot of these. He talks about the Big Rocks Theory of Longevity, how to pay attention to and interpret what all-cause mortality in research means, how we can reduce our chance of dying early by 80% by doing only four things, the one thing that increases cancer risk by over 4,000%, the movement metric that reduces all-cause mortality by 17% and it’s easy, his surprising take on alcohol, and the times you might want to consider reducing it as well as when it’s okay, how loneliness is one of the biggest risk factors in health, why genes play less of a role than we think.


And we talk about the whole equation of caloric restriction, time-restricted eating, fasting, etc., for longevity, and why sauna is perhaps the closest thing to a silver bullet we have for health and as an exercise mimetic as well as the sauna protocol that decreases cardiovascular risk by 63% and all-cause mortality by 40%, and so much more. I always enjoy talking to Dr. Cabral. He’s a wealth of knowledge, and he explained things so clearly. I know that you will enjoy this episode. So without any further wait, let’s join Dr. Cabral. Stephen, welcome back.


Dr. Cabral: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate being back.


Katie: Well, we’ve had such a fun episode before, and I think it really helped a lot of people and I’m excited to get to jump in for round two, and talk about lowering our biological age and for most people, what that looks like and looking younger, which is important to a lot of us. But before we jump into that, I have a note in my show notes that growing up, you read every single day, that you got this habit from your grandmother, and that you still read a couple of books a week. So I would just love to hear about this because I’m an avid reader as well, but not quite at that pace.


Dr. Cabral: Yeah. When I was growing up…we always watched TV when I was younger. There’s no doubt about it. We played video games and Nintendo and all those fun things in the ’80s and ’90s. But whenever I would go to Maine where my grandmother lived, there was no TV. And so, you know, we would play outside like kids and have a lot of fun, but when I would come in, I would watch her. She was always kind of curled up with this book and like, “What are you reading?” And she was like, “Well, today I’m reading this.” I was like, “Well, what do you mean? Is there gonna be a new book tomorrow?” And she gets to the point where she checks these books out the library and she would make a little checkmark in the back of the book to remember that she actually read this book because she was going through hundreds of books a year. So for me, I think that’s where I picked it up. And it’s just this love of knowledge. It really is a love of knowledge. I don’t read a lot of fiction. But I do love reading on all topics of health and psychology in the mind and just us as humans, in general. So yeah, it’s been always a love of mine.


Katie: I love that. And this is normally a question I ask at the end, but any that you’ve especially loved recently or that had a big impact for you.


Dr. Cabral: You know, there’s been a bunch of books that I’ve been reading lately more on genetics and a lot on like textbook-based, you know, we’re obviously, hopefully, coming out of the pandemic, but a lot on viruses and the mutation of viruses, the lifespan of viruses, some probably that wouldn’t be as interesting. But I just picked up Tony Robbins’ new book because I get a lot of recommendations from all the listeners of the shows called “Life Force.” And so I said, “Oh, okay, I’ll check it out.” He writes some pretty big books. So I just finished that one. And, you know, I liked it. So I think Tony is amazing, you know, absolutely amazing. Him and his mentor Jim Rohn, I think, are always very, very impactful. But it’s excerpts, you know, so what I like to do is go deep on things, not give the touches. So what I would say is if you’re reading this book, lots of great things to look into, but don’t kind of take it as, “Oh, I’m gonna do cool sculpting.” “Oh, I’m gonna do stem cell.” Like look into it, see if it is right for you, and then maybe make that next step.


Katie: That’s great advice. And now to shift into our topic for today, I know we’ve talked before, for you guys, we talked a lot about root cause and kind of the bucket effect of disease. And I’ll put that link in the show notes if you haven’t listened to it yet, it was a phenomenal interview. But today we’re gonna talk about longevity and aging. So to start broad, is there any new research, or what are you seeing in the research on things we can do to live longer?


Dr. Cabral: So there’s been a lot of research. I am a fan of Andrew Huberman, Dr. Andrew Huberman. I’m a fan of, well, a lot of people in this space, I don’t wanna like name, you know, a lot of individual names. But Dr. Sinclair, obviously, is one of those as well, and his research right down the street in Boston, MIT. And what they’re finding is, and this is the most important thing about aging and biological aging really is, is that there is no one factor. Meaning that we’ve been looking now for decades for the silver bullet, the one thing that if we figured this out, humans are going to be able to double their lifespan. Well, it turns out with all of the brilliant minds out there, all of the scientists looking at the cells and how they function, there is no one thing.


So if we now know that there is no one thing, we can say, okay, well, this kind of makes sense because there are many people living in many different ways who end up living at 100 years plus. And I would say 100 years is kind of that milestone now. Meaning that the average human lifespan really hasn’t changed too much. It actually dipped a few years ago from 78 for women and 75 for men to 74 for men and 77 for women. And we’re certainly keeping people alive longer through pharmaceutical drugs and medications, but not quality of life. But now what we’re looking at is we’re saying, okay, if you don’t die from one of the top four cause of mortality, which is in order, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, type 2 diabetes, and the fourth one being cancer.


So everyone has about a one in three chance of essentially dying from one of those four. And they make up those 75% of all the reasons why someone dies earlier than they should. Now, the amazing thing is all of those are lifestyle-based. Cancer is a wild card. I do say that to people because you could be living on a golf course, minding your own business, and you wake up every morning walking your dog and breathing in all of the pesticides, right? So it’s like, you don’t know that you could be living in power lines. You just don’t know that. So cancer is a wild card, but for sure, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes for the most part is lifestyle-based, meaning we can fix that through lifestyle medicine. And if you don’t die from one of those, your odds of living then into your late 80s goes up exponentially. So all of us should be able to live to our late 80s. Now the goal should to really be to break 100. That’s what I’m looking at.


Katie: And I like that you made the distinction between just length of life and actual that quality of life or healthspan piece, I often hear it called, because I think that’s an important distinction in this conversation is it’s not just my goal personally to live as old as possible, it is to live functionally and healthy as long as possible and be able to like throw my great-grandkids in the air, or whatever the case may be. So I think that’s a really important distinction. And so what are the big ways we can reduce…I know you said they’re lifestyle-based, these big killers for the most part, other than cancer, which is a little more nuanced. What are some of the ways we can improve our odds there?


Dr. Cabral: So John Hopkins…a study that just came out of John Hopkins University, I like looking at big rocks. So if your audience is familiar with the big rocks theory, basically, it’s like, how quickly can you fill up a barrel? What gives you the most bang for your buck? And so when you look at the big rocks, you’re saying, well, what reduces all-cause mortality? So whenever you hear all-cause mortality in research, I love reading research, all-cause mortality means from all causes of death. And for the most part, it’s those same big four. So accidents are a difficult one to prevent because it’s an accident, but it’s high up on the reasons for all-cause mortality. When we look at what’s preventable, well, you can decrease all-cause mortality by 80%. I mean, that’s absolutely phenomenal.


So that means you decrease your chance of dying an early death if you do one of these four things, ideally all four. The first is smoking. So that is the number one thing that you can do is not smoke. And that includes vaping because vaping is obviously becoming very popular. The problem with vaping is that there’s typically just as many chemicals if not more synthetic chemicals in a lot of these flavored-based vapes. So we’d be really careful with that. I know you can get certain extracts and oils more like a CBD or THC oil. It’s a little bit different, but for the most part, what they’re marketing to kids is flavored-based vapes and they’re very, very dangerous. The reason why this is so important is that if you wanna increase your odds for cancer by over 4,000%, you would take up smoking. And that’s because breathing smoke into your lungs is a known carcinogen. So anytime you breathe in any type of smoke, believe it or not, even just from a fireplace, it is a carcinogen. Now again, it’s nice to have a fire in your house, all that, but we do have to understand breathing in smoke increases our chances for cancer.


The second one is a healthy weight. A lot of people…again, I’m a huge advocate of knowing your body type, right? So there’s the ectomorph, there’s the mesomorph, the endomorph, and Ayurveda. They’ve known this for 6,000 years. It’s the Vata, the Pitta, and Kapha. Well, if you’re a Kapha or endomorph, you’re gonna be on the higher side of BMI. And that’s okay, right? That is totally fine. You’re not supposed to be the same body shape as Vata. And a Vata shouldn’t expect to be the same body type as a Pitta. We have individual body types. Now within that variance though, there’s about a 40-pound swing is what I’ve found overlooking at these charts. So a healthy 5-foot-8 person could be 120 pounds, they could be 160 pounds. That’s okay. Like, that’s totally fine for body type.


Now, what happens though is when the BMI does start to get too high, and I always get pushback from this from people in the fitness industry and I totally get it. I started my career as a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and I totally get it because there’s outliers, right? So there’s outliers that are in great shape. And their BMI instead of being a 19.5 to a 24.9, maybe they’re a 28. And they’re in great shape and their body fat, let’s say they’re a female and it’s like 15%. And if they’re a male, they’re like 9%, 8%. Great. Okay. Again, as practitioners here, we need to talk to the 99.9% of people, right? We have to be careful that we’re always trying to placate to the 0.1% of people that are actually outside of that. For the most part, people lose muscle mass at an average of about a half a pound per year after the age of 27, especially for women and they’re gaining body fat.


And what happens is this alone increases chance for cancer. And it’s also increasing all-cause mortality from type 2 diabetes, overall inflammation, which we know is linked to 90% of all disease. So maintaining a healthy body weight is right up there as well.


Interrupt me if you would like to, but the next one in this list, again, decreases all-cause mortality, all chance of death by 80% is movement. And the movement is really simple. It’s 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day. I mean, that’s remarkable. We’re not asking for HIIT training right now. We’re not asking boot camps or CrossFit or even strength training, which I love, 7,000 and 10,000 steps per day decreased all-course mortality. And it was actually just 7,000 steps was a decrease by 50% to 70%. So just walking 7,000 steps a day.


Now for time-wise, that equates to about 70 minutes. I’ve found that it’s about 10 minutes to walk 1,000 steps on average for most individuals. Now, most individuals though only walk about 3,000 to 3,500 steps a day. So it’s a difference of just being on your feet 30 minutes more a day. Walk your dog more often, get out there, walk, you know, to lunch, whatever it might be is gonna help dramatically. My favorite one is taking a walk after dinner because if you go to bed without all that food in your stomach and you decrease postprandial, so your glucose after meal, that’s gonna improve all your factors as well, including sleep, which we’ll talk about in a little bit.


And the last one is this. There’s all this controversy about how to eat, but it’s always been known for a long time now that the only anti-cancer diet out there, the only diet that we know that is able to prevent all chronic disease is a diet high in brightly, colored fruits and vegetables. So 7 to 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Feel free to eat all of them as vegetables if you don’t wanna eat fruit. You know, that’s a person’s prerogative, but it’s all those antioxidants, phytonutrients, and all the different colors. So anthocyanins in the blues, you wanna get a rainbow of colors. And this study actually just came out about 12 months ago that only 1 in 10 Americans gets one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables a day. And they counted French fries as one of the vegetables.


So imagine if they didn’t count French fries. And in schools, believe it or not, they count pizza as a…well, they counted as a fruit because, I guess, technically, tomato would be a fruit as one of those. And we wonder why again that two-thirds of all people have autoimmune diseases. Two-thirds of all adults are at risk for one of these mortalities. So again, I’m not against eating some good, grass-fed meat or pasted chicken or pasted eggs and wild fish and all these great things, but really, as humans, we know that eating a lot of brightly colored fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to live a long life.


Katie: So many important points you’ve just made. And a couple of follow-ups. I love that you brought up the colorful vegetables because ironically, this is one of my few memories of my great-grandmother who’d had no medical training, no scientific background, but she would always tell everyone, you gotta eat the whole rainbow every day. And she was big on fermented foods that were colorful and beets and like brightly colored fruits and vegetables. And I think there’s probably in some of these areas an intuitive knowing that goes back to our biology that we have maybe gotten away from. Also the walking tip, I wanted to highlight the after-dinner walk because there’s such cool research I know emerging about that. And a lot of people saying, including Huberman, that it is ideal to not eat for several hours before bed, but that walking can also help that window so that you digested much more before you’re actually sleeping.


As a follow-up to a couple of things, I just wanted to clarify on the BMI thing because I agree, I’ve heard the same arguments from the fitness professionals and I’ve been on a journey of getting a lot stronger. So I’ve seen my weight go up while my size has gone down and my body fat has gone down. So I just wanna make sure that’s not applicable to everyone, certainly, but for people who are in that category, they don’t need to worry from what I’m understanding if they have a higher BMI as long as their body fat is in a good percentage, their glucose is great, like, all their other measurements are within range.


Dr. Cabral: That’s right. So I know that a lot of practitioners listen to your show and a lot of people out there that do exercise, which is amazing. But when we look at the grand scheme of things, only 14% of people in the entire United States are said to exercise. And I even think that that number’s fairly high. I think it’s mainly centered in like big cities and not as a general rule around the United States. So the proportion of fat to muscle is a huge part of that. So no doubt about it. I’m just looking at general population when I say these things.


Katie: Got it. Hopefully, that percentage is higher with our listeners today, but a good consideration to understand. And on the walking tip, I think one of the best things I’ve ever done was integrate morning walks and evening walks because that morning walk, you get the bright sunlight as well, which has so many benefits. To just follow up on the smoking one, I hope we’re at a point in society where people understand smoking is not good for health and that doesn’t even have to be explained. But I know that there’s been some research on nicotine as a nootropic when used in other ways where it’s not entering the lungs. And I’m just curious your take on things like nicotine patches or gum when it’s not inhaled and affecting the lungs.


Dr. Cabral: Yeah. I don’t think that it does affect the lungs in that same way, meaning that… Let’s take smoke in general. So smoke is the carcinogen, but then in cigarettes, meaning in filters, like the cigarettes that are made today and I guess what they mix the tobacco with and vapes, they actually add synthetic chemicals that you’re breathing into your lungs, but even if it was straight smoke…and I mean, I like candles, we use some candles, so I don’t wanna sound like a hypocrite, but even smoke from candles is carcinogenic to the body. Any smoked meat is carcinogenic, anything smoked contains a cremalized and other things that can affect the body in general. Now nicotine by itself as a nootropic, I think it has some positive effects for some people. I think those people would be lower on the dopamine and lower on the norepinephrine that need it.


If you are already go, go, go, I don’t know if I’d want to be using as much nicotine. And I’m a big test first person because there’s so much that you can lab test right now, neurotransmitters and all that. And if you need it, I don’t really see an issue in it, but I’m always looking at root cause as well. Like, why might your neurotransmitters be lower? And then recreationally, if you just wanna use nicotine instead of alcohol when you go out every once in a while, then again, that’s your choice as well. Knowing why you’re using something and not just kind of going along with what’s popular is what I’m a big proponent of.


Katie: Very important point. And you mentioned there’s these cases throughout the world in various areas of people who live to an extremely old age and scientists have been constantly on the search for that silver bullet. And we’ve all heard of the cases of the woman who ate bacon and drank whiskey every day and lived into her 100s and also the Blue Zones where they eat a much more brightly colored Mediterranean type diet. But it does bring up the point of alcohol because certainly, this is a substance that is consumed quite often in our society, especially in the mom demographic, there’s lots of wine drinking often. So what do the statistics say about alcohol in our biological clock?


Dr. Cabral: So alcohol’s an interesting one and you can look at it as a hormetic stressor. So a little alcohol for the individual…so again, if you go overseas and you look how oftentimes alcohol was consumed, and I’m talking about like 2,000, 3,000 years ago as well when you look at how it was written in whether it was Vedic texts or traditional Chinese medicine, they would actually add herbs to it. They’d have 2 to 3 ounces as a meal as a digestive. And it wasn’t necessarily, and again, I’m not saying that they didn’t in ancient Rome or Greece or whatever use it to get drunk, but alcohol would often be a method in order to get other herbs or just like a tincture basically to get more nutrients into the body. And yes, it was used in ceremonies. It was more used community relaxation. So that’s a big part of it.


The problem is, is that what we try to do is justify what we enjoy and try to make it sense to be healthy for us, but it’s really not. So alcohol we know is toxic to the body. It’s simply by degree. For a lot of the women that we work with in our practice, especially in their mid-30s and up, it increases endogenous levels of estrogen. So it makes it much harder to clear the estrogen metabolites out of bodies. So we see that increase all the time with women. So then we see estrogen dominance, which is basically feeling lower mood, more depressed. We see more adult acne, especially around the jaw, the cheekbones, poor sleep, hot flashes, etc. Believe it or not, we see the greatest correlation with red wine. And when anyone makes a switch to either like tequila or a white wine, we oftentimes see less of that.


And the other thing though is in men, we see a decrease in testosterone. So there’s all sorts of men looking to do things that I don’t necessarily believe in at a younger age, which is a lot of this testosterone replacement therapy because, again, you never get yours back. I mean, if you start using testosterone replacement therapy in your late-30s and 40s, when maybe, you know, you could have waited another 15, 20 years and boost your levels more naturally, you know, that’s a factor as well. But in general, alcohol shuts down a lot of liver processes. It depletes your body’s levels of glutathione. It increases inflammation. And if you track your biometrics like I do, which is Oura Ring, I’ve got all sorts of straps and tests, you’ll see a marked difference in a decrease in deep sleep, REM sleep, your overall body temperature, as well as your heart rate variability. And these all factors that show a greater stress on the body. Anytime there’s greater stress, there’s a greater chance for heart disease, high blood pressure, and much more.


Katie: That was a great summary. One tip I’ve found from tracking my own data as well is if you’re going to drink, obviously, moderation is an important key and also it helps…I’ve noticed if I don’t drink within a few hours of bedtime, just like not eating within a few hours of bedtime, give the body time to handle it before you’re sleeping. It seems to help with the biometric side. When I look at the studies on Blue Zones and research that I’ve read on longevity, the one that I tend to point to if we’re gonna try to find a commonality in Blue Zones, I think is actually the community. And I’ve talked about this a lot, the importance of community, especially for moms, I think that’s a really important factor in today’s world. And I know you’ve talked about this as well, but let’s talk about things like loneliness and community and how those come into play for longevity.


Dr. Cabral: I think it’s an enormous factor. I really do. I think that that’s one of the overlooked factors. I use something in my practice called the de-stress protocol, diet, exercise, stress reduction, toxic removal, rest, emotional balance, scientifically back supplement, and success mindset. Well, if you look at stress, emotions, mindset, that’s three out of eight is all based on the mind. And that’s because we know that the mind influences the body. We know that our psychology can affect our physiology. So literally, we can change the way that our cells function by the way that we think. And we’ve seen that, and this is a direct quote, the highest in emotional loneliness, meaning like you don’t…a person can live by themself and not feel lonely. This is a very important factor. I mean, that’s huge. And you could live with someone and you could be around a lot of people, but if you feel lonely, that’s all that matters.


So those highest in emotional loneliness were the greatest risk for premature mortality. Meaning like out of everything, feeling lonely seems to be a huge factor because it leads to depression and it leads to a poor function in all facets of the body, and that includes the immune system. And the direct connection, and this also goes with social isolation. So think about the last two years, not even…again, a lot of people now are craving going back to events, they’re craving, you know, getting to see other people again. And this is a direct quote as well, but socially isolated lonely individuals are at risk for the development of cardiovascular disease, infectious illness, cognitive deterioration, which is Alzheimer’s and dementia, mortality. And it’s related to high blood pressure, C-reactive protein being elevated, which is acute-based inflammation, and many other metabolic-based dysfunctions.


So I think that this is something that especially if you’re a health practitioner, we need to begin to look at instead of just asking a person’s, you know, BMI, their diet, etc., is what’s their overall, you know, emotions like? Are they feeling lonely? It should be a question for sure that we’re asking.


Katie: Yeah. I’m glad we’re starting to see this talked about more and more, the importance of emotions in general and mindset in health. And I love that three of your eight center on that. Another area that’s gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of decades is genetics. And certainly, it makes sense that genetic components could come into play with longevity in both directions, in shorter lifespan and longer lifespan. But what are you seeing in the research on the genetic risk factors for disease?


Dr. Cabral: So I spent a lot of time about a decade ago really studying genetics, looking at how it affected overall integrative health and functional medicine, meaning how big a part of my practice should genetics be. So I would go deep into it. We used to run these amazing labs on looking at like a full single-nucleotide polymorphism. So it was basically all snips of all these individuals. We’d run it through all this fancy software before all these, you know, great labs came out now. But the truth is that your genetics do matter. So basically, they set the stage for your life, but it truly is the lifestyle that you’re living and then triggers that set it off. So there’s basically three parts to it. You might have methylation factors, which does not allow you to properly function in terms of overall inflammation in the body. So we can look at how DNA replicates. We can look at risk factors for Alzheimer’s, dementia. We can look at all those factors.


We have got how the body detoxes through specific pathways like COMT, cytochrome P450. We look at histamine issues in certain individuals with DOA pathways. But here’s the thing is that when we started to help people rebalance underlying root causes such as overall stress, such as gut dysfunction, like parasites and H. pylori and candida overgrowth and SIBO, and we started to decrease heavy metal toxicity, it almost didn’t matter what their genetics were. Meaning that if we got a person on methylated B vitamins, we did functional medicine detoxes, we rebalance their gut, we did heavy metal detoxes, we did all the things to make them a healthy human being and really empty that rain barrel, genetics didn’t matter whether we tested them or not.


So, although I am a proponent of knowing your genetics, I do not like to have people supplement based on their genetics. Meaning that we don’t know…like, so my genetics are the same now as when they were born. Now, when I was born, when I was 17, I had Addison’s disease, type 2 diabetes, myalgic encephalomyelitis, I think I said type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, but I don’t have them anymore but I have the same genetics. So what I’m saying is there’s an underlying root cause that sets off our genetics, which is called epigenetics. And I know that you’ve chatted with many experts about this in your show. So our goal is really to find out what are the underlying root cause even more so than what are our genetics because then we feel limited by our genetics, but certainly, we are not, we are not limited by our genetics in any way, shape, or form.


Katie: Another one that I know you’ve talked about some and I’d love to go a little deep on is the idea of getting to fasting, but before we even get their caloric restriction because it seems like there is a lot of data showing that caloric restriction, in general, tends to correlate to increased longevity. And there are people like Dr. Satchin Panda researching time-restricted feeding as a way of maybe shortening the window versus humans are inherently bad at eating less at any given meal, or even knowing how much they ate any given meal. But then also there are various forms of fasting beyond just time-restricted eating. And I know these all have a different place kind of in this health equation, but how does caloric restriction/fasting/time-restricted feeding come into play with the longevity piece?


Dr. Cabral: The research on this is amazing. I mean, it really is. Like, if you like to geek out on science and you love researching antiaging intermittent fasting, this is where it’s the most interesting. But the funny thing is they were talking about it 6,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine. That’s why I do have to give Ayurveda it’s due because there was just a research study, I talked about this on my show, that there’s continuous energy restriction. This is going on a diet and decreasing your calories by 500 calories a day, okay? So there’s that. Then there’s intermittent energy restriction. This might be 2 days a week dropping your calories by 800 calories to 1,000 or not eating that day, or just 2 days a week of just you’re getting the same decrease, what’s the math, 3,500 calories a week, but it’s on different days.


Well, after 12 weeks, what they found was that the people on the continuous energy restriction lost more muscle than they did body fats. And so it actually decreased their metabolism. The people on the intermittent energy restriction maintained muscle and lost body fat and improved overall inflammatory markers. I mean, it was remarkable. We want to decrease calories overall. Like, that’s 100% true, meaning that the only good research we have is to be basically on a hypocaloric diet, just a little less than you need to take in per day. We have animal studies on it. We’ve got human studies. It looks good for sure. Now, one thing I wanna share with you is all of this gets ramped up by a factor of about three if you add two to three days of strength training a week to it because then you can actually go… So if you do 16 hours a day and you’re not strength training, without a doubt, most of the weight that you’re losing is muscle mass. And those studies are really well done because they did the same exact study twice.


The first group lost only about 3 pounds in the time period, which is obviously not a whole lot of weight, but…well, actually they lost 2.5 pounds. They lost 3 pounds of muscle mass, put on a half-pound of fat. That was with weight training. The next time they lost the same amount of weight and this was with weight training. And it was just like a standard circuit. That’s it. Like, bench press, light press, it was just standard. And they ended up losing all body fat. So it’s remarkable what a little bit of weight training does to the body.


Now, you’ve mentioned twice basically, stop eating more hours before bed and 100% true. We have fasting upside down in the West. We really do. It’s like completely backwards. And that’s because we’re all skipping breakfast. Well, not all of us, but a lot of people are skipping breakfast because that’s the easiest one to skip, right? You just have a cup of coffee, you have plenty of energy because you’ve just caffeinated yourself. Cortisol levels are through the roof. And you’re good to go. You’re like, “I’m not even hungry.” Well, that’s because you’ve stressed your body. So you’re not in the parasympathetic nervous system, you’re in the sympathetic nervous system so there’s no hunger, you know, hormones being generated there, which is not a good thing. And then we eat from what, like 12 to 8. And so you’re eating a couple of hours before bed or maybe right before bed, which, again, if you track your biometrics, it is one of the worst things that you can do for good quality sleep.


So if you flip that upside down, I’m not saying skip dinner, but if you can finish dinner three to four hours before bed, you don’t have to take my word for it. Track your biometrics for a week having dinner when you typically do, then stop eating four hours before bed, go for a walk just like you stated right after dinner, you will see your sleep number skyrocket. It’s the number one thing that you can do.


Katie: Yeah. I think it makes a huge difference. I know Satchin Panda recommends maybe give yourself an hour or two at the most in the morning after waking up before coffee, even which is a hard one for Americans as well and before food to let those cortisol patterns play out before you just bombard them. And then really, like he said, ideally, if you can stop dinner by 6 and then go for a walk, he said the same thing. That makes a huge difference. And if you do track it with things like Oura, you see that play out like very, very clearly over and over and over.


I’m also excited to see in more female circuits now, there is more of this focus on adding in strength training and not being afraid of strength training. And instead of…it used to kind of be like the diet culture and they would talk about depriving the body, and now it seems more balanced in feed the body the right nutrient-dense foods in the right window, make sure you’re actually fueling it enough and getting enough protein to support lean muscle mass, and then add those strength training workouts.


But I didn’t know the statistic was that drastic as far as fat loss versus muscle loss, which we also know is tied to longevity as well and that maintaining lean muscle mass is really important.


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Another one that I’ve said is the closest I personally know of, of a silver bullet to helping with some of these things is sauna use, which also has a very long history of use. And now is very trendy in the research as well. But it’s something that I’ve prioritized making a big part of my routine. And I would love to hear from you about how sauna comes into play and what the statistics actually say.


Dr. Cabral: Yeah. This has been one of my big ones for a while. So, I mean, you can only do so many things in your life, right? You know, you can only go all in, especially when you have family with like, well, what am I gonna do? I have to do this. I have to do this. I have to do this. It’s a lot. So what I ask people to do is just choose two or three of these that make the biggest difference. And in my opinion, fasting has to be one of them. So for us, we make it really easy in fasting. We just say 12 to 14 hours a day, typically from like 6 at night to 8 in the morning. Can you do that? If you wake up at 6, just… I haven’t even heard Satchin’s interview. So I’ll have to check that out, but we recommend, I guess, the same thing. So basically, wake around 6 to 7. Don’t eat for a couple of hours. That’s your cortisol awakening response anyways. But the problem is though, so think about it, if your cortisol awakens your response, highest levels of cortisol from the day are typically between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.


It varies just a little bit based on season, sunrise, etc. But then a lot of people are doing their workout for the day fasted in the morning, and they’re maybe doing like a sauna afterwards, and they’re doing coffee. So you’re just dramatically spiking your stress hormones, which is going to overtime decrease your thyroid metabolism. It’s gonna decrease your progesterone levels in women and you’re gonna end up with estrogen dominance. Men are gonna end up with lower levels of testosterone. It’s not ideal. In the beginning, sure, you feel fantastic. But again, over time you begin to break down.


So the studies on sauna though are remarkable. And the nice thing about sauna is it can act as cardiovascular work too. So a lot of people aren’t talking too much about that, but you’ll burn on average the same as you would on a light jog for the same amount of time in a sauna because that thermogenic effect, it’s heating up your body, your body then is increasing your heart rate, and you’ve gotta work than on its own to be able to bring that down and cool itself.


So the best research is on Finnish saunas right now. That means a sauna, you’re gonna get in. It’s about 165 to 185 degrees. It’s a dry sauna, not a steam. And you’re gonna be in there for somewhere around 20 minutes, maybe a little bit longer. It just depends on the heat. The higher the heat, the less time you have to be in it. And what they found was that if you can sauna…now, even two to three times a week works. Now they did this again. This is on tens of thousands of people in Finland. And they’ve done this study now multiple times. Originally, it was just done with men. Then they did it with men and women, and they saw the same remarkable results. The biggest one is this. They decreased cardiovascular disease by 63%. That is a silver bullet. That’s without changing diet, without exercising, without doing anything different except 4 to 7 sauna sessions a week for 19 minutes. That’s why I call it, 19 minutes a day. That’s really what you’re looking for.


So that was cardiovascular disease. There’s no statin drug. There’s no medication that touches that. But the most amazing was that 4 to 7 times a week…well, first, 2 to 3 times a week only decreased all-cause mortality by 24%, and 4 to 7 times a week decreased all-cause mortality by 40%. That’s one thing only. You don’t change your diet, you don’t exercise, you don’t do anything, and you decrease all the chances of dying essential, all the top four, by 40%. I found that to be remarkable. And that is why everyone deserves to purchase a sauna and use it four to seven times a week.


Katie: Yeah. That was the one we definitely like budgeted for and made a priority in our family. And I love that you brought up that 19-minute sweet spot, which seems to be where those benefits kick in and especially at the heat. And that was the thing I noticed in the research as well is there’s all this talk of infrared saunas. I think they’re great as well, but it actually the heat that’s the mechanism. So you wanna make sure you’re getting the right heat and the right length of time in whatever kind of sauna you’re in, but the research is on the more dry saunas.


I’m also glad we talked about all these foundational things that are largely free before we get to the more fun stuff like supplements. But I think often there’s this tendency of people wanna look at the fun supplements or the fun biohacks or the expensive things, but getting those foundational pieces in place first makes those things more effective and also you can’t out supplement a poor diet or no sleep or all those things. But I know there is also a lot of research about supplements and certain ones tied to longevity. People have probably seen some of these in the news or in different articles I’ve written even. But what are some of your favorites when it comes to supplements for longevity?


Dr. Cabral: Yeah. And I do love nutritional supplements. I mean, they help me bring my body back to life because a lot of times when your body’s pushed too far in one direction, food alone, I know a lot of people don’t like to hear this and I’m a proponent of food first, it’s not enough to push you in the right direction because when your digestion is so weak, you’re not producing enough stomach acid, your body’s not producing enough enzymes. You get bloated with everything you eat. You need to give your body the nutrients that it’s missing for life. I mean, that’s just the bottom line. And, again, you can test these right at home at-home lab tests and you can figure out all these things, but… And again, the antiaging herbs and nutrients are there now. We do know quite a few of them.


Before we get to those, I always like people to know that if you’re not using a good activated multi or daily nutritional support or something that has methylated b’s in there and some antioxidants and all your nutrients, not megadosing, I don’t believe in megadosing for life, I believe in a small amount to cover all your bases, that’s crucial for making sure that your genes have everything they need in order to function.


The next one is an omega-3 supplement. And there’s a lot of controversy over this, which is for the most part made up controversy. I mean, it really is. It’s on polyunsaturated fats that have been oxidized, and we’re certainly not recommending polyunsaturated fats that have been oxidized. But when you look at the research on omega-3s, it’s a mountain of data. And just a 1% increase in omega-3s in your blood has been on average equated to about five extra years of life. I mean, that’s pretty remarkable. I mean, that’s a 2,200-person studies.


So I’m a big proponent of omega-3s. Not megadosing, again, I’m talking about 2 grams a day, maybe 3 max. That’s it. Not 18 grams a day, not 20 grams a day. If you’re eating sardines, mackerel, wild trout, wild salmon, or anchovies, all of those can count as your omega-3s. So if you don’t wanna supplement, that’s okay as well. If not, get a cold process, so it hasn’t been heated, triglyceride bonds, good quality EPA. So double the EPA to DHA for those results. And the last one is going back to the beginning of what we talked about for are you getting seven to nine servings of brightly colored fruits and vegetables a day? Because you have to be honest with yourself. You may not eat them. Like, my dad is never going to eat vegetables. Like, that’s just the honest truth. He’s almost 70. He’s just not gonna do it.


So what does he do? A scoop of daily fruit and vegetable blend powder. That’s it. You have to know yourself and you have to get those in. Is that as good as fruit and vegetables? No, I’m not saying that it is. Is it a good second best? A hundred percent. There’s no doubt about it. Then after you cover your foundation, your basis, and you can, if you’re low on magnesium, you’re gonna take some magnesium. You know, again, you can balance things out, but now when you wanna get into the fun things, it’s like, okay, I’ve earned them, right? I’ve worked on my sleep. I’ve done my sauna. I’ve done these things. Okay. Now we talk about things like NMN, right, nicotinamide mononucleotide. I’m actually, and so is David Sinclair, I’m more proponent of NMN than I am of straight NAD or NR.


And the reason is I’ve always been a fan of giving the body the precursor and then allowing it to decide how much it wants to make, instead of telling the body, hey, here’s, you know, 20 grams of glutathione or here’s 5 grams of nicotinamide riboside. Obviously, nobody’s using 5 grams, but like 500 milligrams. Because when you start to see the studies now on NR and some of the other ones with high dosages, they don’t look good. And the reason is that you’re telling the body what to do and you’re also megadosing. So we know that the body needs NMN to essentially feed the production of NAD and that allows us to better replicate DNA, which is huge. Another one’s trans-resveratrol, again, David Sinclair’s a big fan of this as well, so am I. It’s a powerful antioxidant.


Now, it was essentially worthless to use 10 years ago, but now that we have the trans-resveratrol form, we actually have an absorbable form that helps to protect the DNA again and act as an antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals, so it can help with the overall inflammation. There’s two more that I’m a fan of. Well, I mean, there’s things like PQQ that I’m a fan of. Helps with blood sugar, helps with mitochondria, but the other one’s astragalus. Astragalus has been used for thousands of years in TCM and Ayurveda. Helps with immune system, helps regulate TH1, TH2 immunity, helps with blood sugar, helps with the liver, helps with all bacterial pathogens in the body.


And then one more I would look into is proteolytic enzymes. We use proteolytic enzymes all the time in our practice. We use them sometimes as biofilm disruptors. Other times we take them in to go and scavenge bacteria to help people with autoimmune-based issues, etc. So that can be bromelain, it could be ginger, it could be true proteolytic, like proteases, serrapeptase, nattokinase. And if you’ve never heard about these, they’re absolutely remarkable for people’s health.


So when you start to use all of these products, you can actually see, and we’ve really figured this out now, that aging is essentially like a battery. So the more inflammation you have, the weaker your mitochondria gets, right? So that’s why a lot of people who got the virus…we won’t get banned here, so we’ll just call it the virus. So the people who got the virus, they ended up having a ton of inflammation and they ended up destroying a lot of the mitochondria. And now they end up with what? Post-viral inflammatory syndrome, right? Long haulers-based issues. So what happens is the mitochondria get weak and the mitochondria weak, then your body creates more inflammation because you cannot battle inflammation with weak mitochondria. So what it comes down to is balancing inflammation, balancing mitochondrial health and energy, protecting your DNA strands. And that is the best information we have right now on how to use nutritional supplements for antiaging.


Katie: Yeah. It’s exciting to see us understanding more on that mitochondrial equation because it makes sense that it produces literally our energy in the body. And so that would be a very important thing that comes into play. And to your point, just to highlight some of this supplement, there’s some controversy, especially with older ones, but we have forms now that are different than they looked 10 years ago. And as technology and research gets better, these are much more available and less expensive than they used to be as well. Any other tips that you would add on to a longevity program once people have dialed in diet and movement and sauna and all these other steps that we’ve talked about?


Dr. Cabral: Once you’ve had fun if you are, you know, in the biohacking or biotracking-based community, I like biotracking probably a little bit more, and you start to learn more about yourself, you realize that to a point that this is who you are, you’re maximizing your potential, but also you need to then start moving more towards, okay, I’m not gonna fixate on whether my HRV was a 58 today or a 65, right? And oh, what did I do wrong yesterday? You just realize like, okay, there’s 365 days in a year. You’re gonna have highs and lows. What we really wanna be looking at is, well, what are the big movers, right? What are the big drivers? And it’s going back to a lot of those Blue Zone-based philosophies. It’s are you enjoying life, right? So if you have to really and truly kill your body in order to get to a 24 BMI, that’s not worth it, right? It’s not worth it. Stay at a 25.5. Enjoy your life. Decrease stress to a bit.


You might find out in 18 months now what the mover was for you that allowed you to then to drop another point, but it’s just not right now in your life. So you don’t need to exercise three hours a day, go keto, not eat for 16 hours and destroy your thyroid. That’s unimperative. So we need to look at all factors of overall health. And part of that is truly well-being, and that’s well-being of your mind as well. So I say increase, like, look for things that you enjoy in your life. Not all in on work, all in on your health even, but what is your purpose as well? And that gets to a little bit of a deeper level. Like, why are you here? You know, what is your purpose? Is there a true potential that you’re reaching for? And I would say, just look at what are the major stress triggers in your life?


And if we can begin to just decrease those one by one or even become more self-aware that they are triggers for us, and we can begin to reframe how we look at it because sometimes it’s difficult to get rid of family or certain friends or even a job. And so you start to reframe and say, “Well, you know, maybe this person was in my life for a reason, or maybe I can learn from the situation, or maybe I get to do this instead of I have to do this.” Like, all of these other ways of looking at things, believe it or not, sometimes that does more for your biometrics, like HRV and lowering that breath rate and all of that than any of the supplements or anything else could. That’s how I tend to look at it. And once people get their body rebalanced from a health level, that’s where we move people to. So we basically help people transform the body, transform their wellness, then work on antiaging, you know, with things, you know, like the mitochondrial cell boost, stuff like that. And then we move to, okay, now you’re good. There’s no more to work on. Like I literally have to tell my type A wellness clients like there’s no more to work on. All right. That’s it. We’re good. You’re good. Let’s move on now to the overall health and well-being of life.


Katie: Yeah. I think that’s a really important point as well. And the idea that, especially when it comes to some of these like exercise, there is a sweet spot and more beyond that point is not always better and it can become counterproductive and move from hormetic stressor into actual stressor. And like you said, stressing out your thyroid or creating hormone imbalances are things you definitely don’t want. And I think, yeah, often in the biohacking community specifically, there can become that hyper-focus on getting all the variables perfect that actually takes away from the enjoyment of life. And that circles back to that idea of healthspan and enjoyment versus just lifespan. You want both. You don’t want just to live a long miserable life, but a fulfilled long life.


And I’m also glad you brought up stress because that one seems like the toughest variable for a lot of people to conquer in that we know it’s bad for us to be stressed. We see that play out in disease and there seems to be a tie in there. But I think that one is often the hardest one for people to really work through.


Dr. Cabral: I agree. And that’s because it’s tied to so many of life’s most important things to them. And so that’s just why I say, you know, if we can reframe it sometimes or we can just move in a better direction. And so a part of that comes from after you’ve worked on the body, you’ve worked on the health, we really need to work on the mind and there’s just so many great things that you can do there in terms of self-improvement. I talked about Tony Robbins, I’ve talked about Jim Rohn, I’ve talked about Dr. Joseph Murphy, I’ve talked about neurolinguistic programming. Interfamily systems is a huge one. I don’t know if you’ve had anybody on talking about that, but that’s just such an amazing thing that clients of mine have talked about and said, I’ve got so much improvement from doing internal family systems therapy that, you know, they wanna pass it on.


And then there’s, of course, then psychedelic medicine, which I have not begun to explore yet, but many people have, and those have held many answers for people too. So I think that there are levels to this, and I think that you need to get there. You can’t force yourself into it. Some people force themselves to get there and they’re just not ready yet. So I always say, start with the body. You can control the body much easier than you can control the mind. Once you have control of your body, you’re feeling overall like you have energy, say, “Okay, now I’m ready to explore new things because I have the energy and the attitude in order to get there.”


Katie: Yes, that relationship very much goes both ways. And when you reduce the things that are harmful to the body, you actually are relieving a lot of that stress as well. I’ve told people that before as well, it’s like, you may not be actively getting chased by a tiger, but if you’re being exposed to a lot of harmful to things in your environment, your nervous system, your body is under stress. So you may not feel mental stress, that doesn’t mean your body is not undergoing that stress. And I think I also talk about not just the diet we put in our mouths, but diet we put in our mind. And I think even though I have a presence on social media, I think we could all reduce our social media use. And I’m a big fan of turning off the news entirely and forever and not letting that just kind of like constant stress cycle be an input in your life.


And to circle all the way back to the beginning, I think another thing that comes into play here is the mental diet that we have and reading books that inspire us or that teach us something or they open up new ideas and knowledge to us that also comes into play in that stress equation and that mental diet.


Dr. Cabral: One hundred percent. And the amazing thing about reading is that if you’re reading a book, you’re gonna find two to three books that are mentioned inside of that book that then lead you to the next one to read. That’s why people ask me like, well, how do you read a couple of books a week, and the reason is that I’m reading a book and they just shared an author or a study. You just shared a few interviews. I’m like, “Oh, now I know the next thing.” And so that is like, when you allow life to basically unfold in front of you without having to figure out every single step and everything, you know, being so stressful, then you can really begin to enjoy, I think, to a different level as well.


Katie: A hundred percent agree. And I’ll put a link. I’ve compiled all the book recommendations from now well over 500 guests that have been on this podcast, as well as the ones that have really been impactful for me. And I agree with you. I have the opposite problem where it’s hard…I have so many books I want to read that it seems like there’s never quite enough time to read them all at once. This has been, as it always is with you, such a fun conversation. And I think we covered a tremendous amount of ground in not even quite an hour yet. Any resources you would recommend for people, whether through your work or anywhere else to keep learning on this topic or to start learning more if this is new to them?


Dr. Cabral: Yeah. So I have a podcast, the “Cabral Concept,” and there’s over 2,000 shows now. It’s a daily show. And so what I have is a search box at stephencabral.com/podcast, where people can really type in any keyword they want, whether it’s hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, Addison’s, rheumatoid, migraines, it doesn’t matter. And there’ll be some shows on that that gets people started. So my goal is to say there’s no way that we can solve all the world’s problems in 45 minutes, right? That’s not the goal. But the goal is to say, was something new today? Did you learn something new that then engages you where you wanna explore that to a greater degree? That’s always my hope. And so whether you listen to the podcast or any other great podcast and the great guests that you’ve had on, that’s a great way to do it. My book is “The Rain Barrel Effect.” If people haven’t read that, that’s a step-by-step playbook of how we get sick, how we gain the unhealthy weight, and how we begin to age at a much more rapid rate, and how to undo that. Those two places are probably the best two places to get started to learn more about this integrative health-based approach.


Katie: I love it. And as people can probably…I know if they haven’t listened to your first interview, I highly recommend it where you talk about your own recovery from a host of different things. And as they can probably hear from your voice in this interview and your enthusiasm, your huge amount of boundless energy, and you have a daily podcast and you do all the other work that you do in the world. So you are walking proof that these things work, and I’m very grateful that you spent time with us today. Thank you for explaining everything so clearly and bringing such a fun conversation.


Dr. Cabral: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much again for having me on.


Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”


If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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