Ever tried going vegan?
I have. Whether you’re 100% plant-based or a die-hard carnivore, there’s a great deal that we all can learn from each other.
And I’m honored to talk today with my friend, Geoff Palmer, Founder and CEO of Clean Machine, an all-natural vegan sports nutrition company.
Geoff is a master when it comes to packing on muscle safely and naturally. With 4 awards in natural bodybuilding competitions, and nearly 30 years of experience in the natural foods and supplements industry, Geoff is the real deal.
And on today’s show we’re chatting about…
- How Geoff started bodybuilding competitions at 50 years young
- The monumental difference between a natural whole food vegan diet and a processed vegan diet
- Natural bodybuilding versus traditional bodybuilding techniques
- A surprisingly common and overlooked culprit that may be negatively affecting guy’s testosterone
- The benefits of adaptogens and how they relate to muscle growth, hormone production, and cortisol
- A protein-rich superfood weed you may never have heard of
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with Geoff.
Geoff Palmer: Natural Bodybuilding & the Medicinal Value of Weeds
Abel: Folks, today we’re here with Geoff Palmer, Founder and CEO of Clean Machine, an all-natural vegan sports nutrition company.
With 4 awards in natural bodybuilding competitions and nearly 30 years of experience in the natural foods and supplements industry, Geoff is a master when it comes to packing on muscle safely and naturally.
Welcome to the show, Geoff.
Well, thank you for having me on Abel, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Abel: Absolutely. So, let’s start with something that we haven’t really discussed in detail on this show that I think is very important because we have a lot of high-achieving listeners, a lot of people who also may have grown up in low-income environments and wished that they had grown up around high IQ people, excelling, going to ivy league schools and all the rest of it.
But where you’re coming from, your story is great for explaining how that’s not always a positive thing.
Yeah, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to be given the gifts of, and as we all should, no matter where we come from and who our parents are, but at the same time, being raised in a high IQ family has its double-edged sword.
It can be an advantage sometimes it can also be a disadvantage.
I remember reading, and please not to put myself in the same class as this guy, but one of my favorite guys who figured out Fermat’s theorem, one of the great mathematical equations that has gone for hundreds of years and never been discovered.
And they asked him, “How do you feel?”
And he says, “Alone.”
And they said, “Why?”
He goes, “There’s probably only 2 other people in the world who can understand what I just accomplished.”
So that’s the challenge.
And again, not to equate myself with some of the best and brightest minds, but I passed the Mensa High IQ exam, and my father was an English professor and a published author, a poet and musician who played like 14 different instruments.
And my mother was an artist, accomplished artist, but also a psychologist and worked with emotionally-handicapped children and wrote text books on how to work with children through art—it was amazing stuff.
So, really incredible environment, the conversations, every time we had dinner, we’d just explore all the amazing topics of the news of the day.
For me, science was my thing, Jacques Cousteau was my hero, so exploring the natural world was just fantastical to me.
But getting on the bus and going to school and then having the conversations be about much different things, I found myself really challenged to try to fit in, to try to find some connection.
And I don’t call myself an asocial person, I really enjoy being around people.
I enjoy talking and conversing and sharing, but it was at a point where people were like, “Oh, you’re the smart kid, you’re the nerdy kid, we don’t want to be around you, you’re intimidating, you’re going to make us feel bad.”
And it’s like, well god, I wanted to fit in and stuff like that, but I also saw in the world a lot of people accept it.
“Oh, this is the way you do this. This is the social norm, so this is the business norms. These are what everybody does.”
And I’m like, “But I saw the better ways.”
My mind said, “Don’t. You’re doing it all wrong.”
And then, of course, when I present it, “Oh, you don’t challenge the system,” because their whole business or their whole social construct is built on that.
And if you pull out that peg, their whole system collapses, so they have to maintain that order.
And I had a hard time going, if I know it’s not right, not good, how can I be complicit in this process?
And then how can I fit in?
And if the whole social structure and the business structure and the financial structure are all based on these certain structures, and I just don’t connect to them, don’t feel that they’re the best way that human beings can offer.
What is my place in society? What am I doing here?
Abel: Yeah, yeah, and even the way that oftentimes we communicate with each other in high IQ environments.
Like I went to an Ivy League school, it in almost no way prepared me for the real world.
Like when you’re going out and shaking hands, especially with people who have been in business for a long time, and if you try using all those big fancy words and communicating the same way there, it’s a totally different skill set.
It’s a totally different environment, and that can be very confusing and isolating, to your point.
Yeah, very. And look, we’re social creatures.
And we depend on the connection, and I didn’t realize how important that connection was until depression slowly started creeping into my life.
I wasn’t happy trying to fit into that world and that structure, and I wasn’t happy being alone either.
Some people can find comfort in being to themselves. That wasn’t me.
So the depression did start to set in, and while I was in my early teens and ready to enter the work world and got through college and stuff like that, I said, “Okay, now what? How do I apply myself?”
And I started to get resentment towards society for being the way it was, and then, okay, but I’m not an angry person.
I feel myself as a loving, caring person, so that’s not resonating with me.
My behavior wasn’t even resonating with me, and I said, “Where do I go with this?”
And it started to implode, it started to turn inward and the depression got to the point of just saying, “Okay, I don’t belong here, and I’m ready to leave.”
Abel: And a lot of smart people are obsessive.
I’ve noticed in my own personal life and the people around me, it’s like it’s not necessarily something that you’re born with and it’s like that and you’re just smart.
It’s more like you have this thing that makes you obsess and go down these different rabbit holes and just like you don’t give up until you’re totally expired or you feel like you’ve really learned that domain or that skill set, or whatever it is.
And that can also lead to these negative states where you are depressed or anxious and you’re just totally obsessed there, too, with that state or for whatever reason, seeking addiction or seeking escape.
And so it’s important that people realize, I think, that the grass seems greener on the other side, but oftentimes, we’re all struggling in our unique ways.
Totally, totally. And to me, when I had that breakthrough moment where I finally re-empowered myself and really felt myself coming from a place where, “Okay, now I realize why I’m here, my purpose and that I can act on my purpose.”
It’s not a world that dictates how I have to be.
It’s a world that does have guidelines, it does have rules and laws and you have to color within the sides of some of them.
But there’s a lot of creative room to play if you apply your mind and don’t make others’ limitations your limitations.
Natural Bodybuilding at 50
Abel: Yeah. And one thing, just to shift gears a little bit, but definitely another big part of your life is one thing that I respect is, especially people who aren’t necessarily spring chickens anymore, maintaining just peak physical fitness and body composition, continuing to set goals and reach goals, maybe exceed them throughout life.
And so you’re an example to me and an inspiration in that way and I’m not 100% sure, but I think we were at the same place at the same time for some of the national bodybuilding competitions back in Austin.
And it’s inspiring. It’s intimidating, but it’s very inspiring to be around people who have, in often their own ways, totally nailed it.
Yeah, and it was an incredible experience. Especially, I didn’t step on the stage on bodybuilding till I was 50.
Abel: Wow. That’s so cool.
Yeah, so that was a great experience. At first, it started out a little bit like, “Can I do it at this age? Is that even possible?”
And then it was more an experience of, “I not only want to prove this to myself that I can do something like this, but what a gift it would be to others to inspire others that they also can do it.”
And that was even more powerful. That really got me.
The curiosity of, “Can I do this?” was great, but if I do this and do it well, can it be an inspiration to others that could actually help them evolve, help them believe in themselves?
That would be much more important to me. And that’s really why I stepped on stage.
Now, obviously, as a vegan, there was a whole plant-based element to it, too, which is, you know, “Oh, you can’t be a bodybuilder if you’re vegan, right? You don’t get enough protein and all that kind of thing.”
All that mythology around it that we’ve now known is very different since there’s lots of athletes out there now that are plant-based and doing amazing things in all different sports, but including bodybuilding.
And I just wanted to make this clear to your listeners: Natural bodybuilding is a very different sport than your traditional bodybuilding using enhanced techniques.
Abel: Yes, very different, but the physical results are maybe not comparable to that.
You just become a caricature of yourself when you’re shooting yourself up with all these drugs and not to mention the health effects of that.
It’s a totally different world and a very empowering one in so many different ways.
Yeah, that is so true to say that this is hard work and an eye for nutrition that got me to this place. It’s body sculpting. It really is.
As you take that little chisel, you’re looking at every little facet of your body.
“I got to grow that a little bit more. I got to tighten that a little bit more.”
It’s an art form and it really is human sculpting of human living flesh.
And by choosing the work you put in and the techniques that you use as well as the nutrition that you’re putting in the body, you can transform the body.
I know you know that. You’ve done it yourself.
A Protein-Rich Superfood Weed
Abel: For you, especially getting the protein in, I loved reading some of your work around duckweed, which I hadn’t heard about at all before.
Maybe we can just touch on that first.
Yeah, when I formed Clean Machine, it was to launch an initial product that I thought was pretty amazing.
It is another plant that maybe we’ll get a chance to talk about, but I launched several other products and people kept saying, “Well, you’re a plant-based sports nutrition, why don’t you have a protein? Shouldn’t that be the first thing you launch?”
And I said, “Okay, the vast majority of plant proteins out there are pea and rice blends since the amino acid profiles are complementary to each other and that makes sense.”
But I’m like, “There are big players out there making it a lot cheaper than I could ever do it. And they have huge flavor houses and they can taste great.”
It’s like, “Why do I want to do that? I’m looking for something really unique, something really special.”
And I know that just like the plant proteins and whey protein, they’re stripped down to just the protein mostly. It’s about 80%-90% protein.
That means all the rest of the good stuff that we find in the Whole Foods is stripped away and I’m like, “Okay, that’s a little like Wonder Bread as being your base for your sandwich that you build on.”
Because it’s got all the fiber and everything stripped out. It may look good, may taste good, but it’s not best for nutrition.
I’m like, “Okay, how can I get my customers, the people that follow our brand, a product that actually delivers health benefits while still getting that protein?”
Well, the reason that most companies strip out the protein is because it’s much cheaper and easier to sell that and quantify it.
But the second reason is, because many of the plants just aren’t high enough in protein, you’d have to eat a large quantity.
And that’s why protein can be beneficial, protein powders can be beneficial, because it’s concentrated, right, so you don’t have to eat so many calories.
So, there’s some logic to that. But I really wanted something more whole base nutrition, and then I found it, the Duckweed, yes.
Lentein is the trade name for it, that’s the commercial name for it, but it got its name from water lentils because nothing to do with lentils of the bean.
It looks like a green lentil if you float it on the water, it’s like a baby micro lily pad, but higher in protein and essential amino acids than any other plant.
Pea, rice, hemp, soy, even soy, which was considered the gold standard of plant proteins.
Higher in nutrient density than spirulina and chlorella. I mean, even the top superfoods like Moringa, which was considered the top superfood out there.
This has more total nutrient density than Moringa per 100 grams. It’s incredible.
And what’s amazing about this, is this was a weed, right?
We’ve been trying to kill it for the last 50 years, in lakes and ponds all over the world.
Until somebody was just like, “Okay, let’s make a bio-fuel out of it,” and then did the testing on it, and they’re like, this nutrition is off the charts, we should be eating this stuff.
Abel: Wow. That’s amazing.
Yeah. Because people say, “Well, if it’s the highest in protein and the number one superfood, what scenario is that in modern society that we were ignorant of that for so long?”
That’s because we’ve always considered it a weed, we just never even gave it a thought.
Abel: That’s amazing, and there are a lot of weeds like that, even up here, 8,000 feet in the sandy soil, we literally live close to the Great Sand Dunes, it’s high and dry.
It’s a high desert, it’s very hard to grow here, and then it’s in September and we already got a snowstorm and our last one was in June, so it’s rough.
But at the same time we’ve got a bunch of green wild amaranth growing, we have a ton of different berries, prickly pear cactus.
And not even to mention, we’re basically inside of a giant pinyon orchard full of pine nuts, if you know how to deal with them and then extract them and process them, whatever.
And so I just love that duckweed example, because there are so many weeds around us and I learned this growing up with my mom, an herbalist.
There are so many weeds around us that are incredibly useful, if we just study them a little bit and familiarize ourselves.
There’s a funny quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson saying that a weed is a plant we haven’t discovered the virtues of yet.
Abel: Exactly, exactly.
And it’s so true. I’m really glad that the research and the science is really starting to catch up with this, and we are starting to look at some of these plants because it’s what?
About 60% of the modern drugs today were developed from plants. They’re the healers.
You know, they feed us, they’ve got the nutrients.
Even to the point, when people ask me, obviously as a 35-year vegan, “Where do you get your protein?”
And it’s a funny question because actually all protein that humans consume originate in plants.
Animals don’t make essential amino acids, they can’t. It’s impossible.
That’s why we call them essential, because we as humans, just like animals, have to get them from our diet.
We have to get them from outside of us, we can’t make them internally.
Yeah, we can break apart proteins and put it back together like pieces of a puzzle, but we can’t actually create essential amino acids, no animal can.
Bacteria can, but plants are where we get the vast majority of it.
So, whether you feed that plant’s essential amino acids created by the plant to an animal and then kill the animal, you’re basically getting the plant nutrients.
It’s a little strange that all the fiber comes from plants, all the polyphenols, vital nutrients, most of the vitamins come from plants like vitamin C, which are not found in animals at all.
All of the fiber, all the macronutrients, fiber, carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and essential fats all come from plants, even essential fatty acids.
You know this, “Oh, you get it from fish.”
No, the fish actually eat algae, and that’s where they get the essential fatty acids from, fish don’t make essential fatty acids, it’s impossible.
Animals don’t make these, animals including humans are consumers of nutrition, plants are producers of nutrition.
So I’m thinking it’s really weird that we ended up feeding all these nutrients and micronutrients and macronutrients from plants to an animal just to kill the animal and then consume the plant nutrients.
Like, “Why do we run through a middle man, you know?”
It’s not environmentally sustainable, it’s not financially a good model.
What model says, “Oh, go buy from a retailer to resell a product.”
No you buy directly from the manufacturer.
Abel: I totally agree with you, there are too many middle men, and that’s obvious to see during times like these.
To use that cliché, we live in a giant valley and a lot of it is agricultural.
Oddly enough, they can grow potatoes and things like that a little bit further down in the valley, but they are burying thousands of pounds of perfectly good potatoes because of supply chain issues. Because of too many middle men.
Even though people around here are going hungry and starving, and that’s a real thing, especially in certain parts of the rural South West.
And so one thing I did want to touch upon is we live in an area here where also there are a lot of ranches and we have yaks and buffalo and many ruminants especially, but then of course, birds and all that.
But I think what you’re saying, and one place where we certainly agree, is that when you try to extract anything out of nature and then blow it up and make it gigantic, you take it out of the ecosystem and it can’t be a functioning organism in and of itself.
But I was curious about, especially when you look at large scale GMO or industrial agriculture of plant foods, it’s not like every plant food is doing it right?
Just because it’s plants. Right?
Oh, totally, totally. Especially GMOs, don’t get me started.
But I mean, look, here’s just some real simple, basic, high-arching stuff, so don’t drill down on to science.
But look, when our body detects… We’re in an age of pathogens where COVID is obviously front and center. Okay.
Our body recognizes the protein of that COVID-19, and that’s what we attack.
So, our body’s immune system is developed to recognize or not recognize proteins.
Now, when that protein enters our body and our body goes through its chemical list of, “Yeah, that’s a food. No, that could be a pathogen.”
And pathogens can be bacteria or worms or viruses, then it says, “Wait, I don’t recognize that. That’s a new protein. I’m going to go attack it.”
Okay. So when scientists start tweaking the proteins, genetically modifying the proteins of a plant and we consume them, our body is going to say, “I don’t recognize that protein, I’m going to attack that.”
And it’s no wonder we have this huge burst of autoimmune system problems that are in place right now.
And it’s funny. You look at the rate of GMO usage over time, and then you look at gluten intolerance, oh, wow, they’re almost identical.
In my statistics classes, we used to do that, marry up exact same charts and see if there’s a correlation.
And so it’s funny when you see that.
And it’s so clear, especially with our huge new understanding of the gut microbiome and how it works and why it does what it does.
It’s all there. Thank God that the research is now starting to look at our exchange, our symbiotic relationship with our microbiome.
Whole Food Vegan Diet vs Processed Vegan Diet
Abel: Yeah. Now, another thing I wanted to talk about is sometimes, especially with the people who get like all into the vegan or vegetarian thing all at once, I’m surprised by how much they double down on sugar.
And especially with your history of competition, you have to understand a lot about insulin, blood sugar, how that’s all related when you’re in competition.
So, I’d love just to hear you riff on that a little bit.
Yeah. So it’s interesting. You take an apple and people say, “Wow, it’s loaded with sugar.”
And it’s actually low-gut glycemic which means it has a very little impact on raising blood sugar levels and therefore does not spike insulin.
You’re saying, “Well, how can something that’s so full of sugar have such a little effect?”
And the answer is, both the fiber, which slows that amount of sugar into the bloodstream and attaches it, but also its polyphenols.
So, there are polyphenols on the outside in the skin of the apple, and there’s a really cool one called phloridzin.
It is so effective at regulating the flow of sugar, regulating the metabolism of sugar, we now use it for a diabetic drug.
And that’s in the apple skin.
So, now, when you remove that apple skin and make applesauce just out of the inner apple, now you’re getting the sugar without its other components, and now it becomes higher glycemic.
So yes, the prevalence of processed foods, I think is more a danger than actually whether the plant…
If you’re getting a plant in its whole non-GMO organic whole food state, ideally wild-crafted or even grown in your backyard, that’s awesome.
That’s about as good and as natural and as cooperative, because there’s a whole host of chemicals that are phytochemicals that are in that plant that we are just disregarding as soon as we start processing it.
Abel: Yeah. And oftentimes, once again, we’re looking for that magic bullet or that one thing.
When in fact, like your example of the apple is a wonderful one, and the fiber combined with the sugar in the skin in that fully contained little ecosystem.
That little world and the microbiome around the skin, and maybe the worms that burrowed through it, or the bugs that crawled up the core, it turns out that all those pieces of life, they generally act symbiotically.
And when you eat it all as one, it acts symbiotically with your system, your system knows what to do with it.
Correct, correct. And the microbiome is really showing us a lot of that detail.
It’s like, okay, the vast majority of the microbiome feeds on either fiber, oligosaccharides or polyphenols, those three things.
And then when you look at what creates a negative environment, it’s bile.
So, pathogenic bacteria can thrive in a bile environment in our gut.
Pathogenic meaning disease-causing or bad bacteria.
And a bile environment is created by high proteins and high fats.
And you can obviously get that situation produced through plants or animals.
But without the fiber, without the other things that would support the good bacteria, if you’re consuming the animal products that are high in protein and fats, you’re going to create a bile environment, which creates an environment more conducive for allowing pathogenic or disease-causing bacterias to thrive.
So, our microbiome is really clearly telling.
Now, can we put in some occasionally? Sure, our body can adapt.
What’s amazing is that research now is showing that in a single meal our microbiome can change by up to 10%.
And within a matter of weeks, it can be in deep double digits, in a matter of weeks of changing your diet.
So this is not just like, “Oh, it takes a long time and I don’t have to wait. Or I have to eat all that.”
It’s not an all or nothing equation. It’s a spectrum and it expands or collapses based on that.
So one of the words you’re seeing in the microbiome field is diversity.
And the more plants that we eat, more variety of plants that we eat, the larger the microbiome diversity.
And the greater the biodiversity, generally the higher the health benefits.
One of those cool things was on vitamin K.
And there’s a lot of talk that of, “Oh, vegans are vegetarians.”
Because we don’t convert vitamin K1, which is found mostly in plants, to vitamin K2, a bioactive form in humans that we need for bone health and things like that.
That was all the research was done though, on the standard American diet, which mostly revolves around consuming animals.
A great study that just came out last year showed that when you eat plants, that fiber actually feeds a certain bacteria that actually converts vitamin K1 to K2.
So there it is. It’s right in the food, it’s found in dark greens.
It has the fiber, the K1 is extremely high, like the vitamin K1 in duckweed is like 1100%. Eleven times higher in a single scoop.
Abel: I love this duckweed stuff. It’s amazing.
It’s just off the charts, the K1, but it also has 35% of your total day’s fiber.
So, it’s feeding that bacteria, increasing that number of bacteria that actually do the conversion.
It was a misunderstanding based on studies done on people not eating a high fiber diet, that they couldn’t convert that.
And it’s true. In their place, they can’t convert that.
But if you look, there’s a balance there.
When you’re consuming the animal products, they have K2 in them, so you don’t need to convert.
But if you’re consuming plants, you raise your body’s ability to convert the plant-based K1 to K2 that you need.
So it’s there, but we weren’t seeing this until we started including plant-based eaters, plant-based diet in the research.
And we found a very different microbiome shift when that happened in a different state.
So, a lot of these things that we thought we knew about Omega-3s, “Oh, you can’t get sufficient EPA and DHA from plants because the conversion is low.”
Another study came out that showed that the highest conversion rates to DHA was in vegans.
And why is that? Because our body adapted. They found out it was epigenetics.
So, what happens is basically, if your body brings in a source already in its pre-formed state DHA, pre-formed DHA, the body says, “Okay, we don’t need to create any more. We don’t need to convert anymore.”
So, it starts turning off those enzyme productions of D-6 desaturates.
And there’s no need to convert it, if you’ve got DHA.
As a matter of fact, if you put in a lot of DHA, it actually cuts that off completely and your body starts building up EPA because it down-converts.
It converts from ALA to SDA, ETA, then EPA then DPA and DHA. So DHA is the bottom rung of the ladder.
Basically, everything converts to DHA.
Why? Because it is important to the brain, our body says, “Okay. Let’s give preferential treatment to the brain, it needs that nutrient. Let’s make sure at the very least.”
So, everything can down-convert to DHA, but DHA can’t up-convert to anything else.
So if you’re only consuming pre-formed EPA and DHA, you’re at rung number four and number six on the ladder.
You’re not getting any of the top conversion rates.
So they said, “Alright. Well, is ALA, SDA and ETA the first three Omega-3s? Are they important?”
So they followed a long-term study, which was great, 20 years, and elderly people from their 40s to the 60s.
And they found the people with the highest ALA, SDA, ETA in their bloodstream, interesting fact, when they tested people on a standard American diet, they had zero incidence of ETA in their system.
None. They couldn’t even find it.
And the plant-based eaters, they tracked them all the way and they found not only did they have higher IQs at the end of that study, but they actually had higher physical brain matter.
And that was adjusted for the study.
But they actually had more physical brain matter, more gray matter, left with those higher rates of it.
So yes, it’s very important, and we are overlooking ALA, SDA, and ETA because we made all this super importance on just EPA and DHA.
And it’s amazing that we assumed, “Oh, that’s what we found in fish, so that must be what’s important.”
Not looking at, “Okay. Let’s actually look at how the human body works and how it functions. And let’s look at what happens when we put different foods in it, what happens?”
And now it’s starting to unwrap a totally different story.
So, they found that when vegans ate ALA, which is the top one right, the enzyme switched on almost into overdrive, and that’s how they could get the higher conversion rates.
Actually, they found that people with the highest DHA also have the most efficient conversion rates out of all people.
So, a body is amazingly adaptive to a plant-based diet.
We see that with taking thyroid or taking steroids. Like we mentioned before, when you take steroids for a prolonged period of time, your body actually shuts down its own production.
It says, “I don’t need to make my own.”
And that could permanently shut off. Same with thyroids.
If you take a thyroid drug like thyroxine or whatever, you can totally shut down your…
And they tell you that, “Oh, if you start taking this, you’re going to be on it the rest of your life.”
Because your body will shut down permanently its own production of thyroid…
So, that’s basically what we’re doing.
If we’re taking these preformed forms that are found in animals, just like us.
Then what we’re doing is actually causing our body to shut down natural systems that it would do on its own basis.
So, what it was doing is it was taking the ALA and then taking it to different tissues, like the heart tissue, and then there it was metabolized into EPA, because that’s more for the heart function or the muscle function, and then it was shoveling it over to some place else, and it was converting it to that.
So, our body was efficiently, selectively converting this, instead of us doing pre-converted EPA intake and then saying, “Okay, now deal with it.”
Well, it can’t back-convert to the other forms. We’re out of luck.
So, I think we’ve been looking at this as an outside, “What should we be eating?”
Instead of looking at the processes that are going on in the body and saying, “How does it work at its best?”
Abel: Right. And we are machines of adaptation. We’re constantly adapting.
Epigenetics is totally a real thing.
And so maybe you can just talk a little bit more about the difference between what you’re talking about, especially whole foods-based, nutrient-dense, diverse way of eating compared to just eating a sack of flour with a bunch of vegetable oil, with some industrial feedlot meat on top of that.
How is that different?
Because it’s different in a lot of ways, but what I really see is that it’s almost giving your body an excuse to adapt and become better.
Just like exercise is that stimulus that you need to adapt to, so is eating a wide diversity of many different foods that we should be well adapted to eat.
Obviously there are plant poisons and toxins and that sort of thing, that’s not really what we’re talking about.
But just contrast a whole foods-based, plant-based vegan diet to the Standard American Diet a little bit.
Totally, and as I mentioned before, I think that the processed part of the food is almost a greater problem.
Obviously, if you’re eating some plants, and we’re almost all eating some plants, a salad or apples or anything, bananas, we’re almost all eating some sort of plants, and we have to.
Obviously, if we don’t eat plants with vitamin C in it, we get scurvy, and so that can happen within a matter of months.
The adaptation process, our body can adapt to good things and it can adapt to bad things.
What we don’t want is an adaptation that puts us into a greater state to be compromised by something like COVID-19.
When we look at COVID-19, it’s got a 99% survival rate when you look at the big picture.
But those that are dying have already compromised immune systems or compromised health, and that’s what they’re doing.
I mean, look, when I was studying science and research, we looked at pathogens as a positive piece in the whole picture.
Now, I would never say this to a human being, because anybody dying or suffering from a disease is a horrible thing and my heart’s there with you.
But we looked at, okay, if a herd of elephants gets attacked by pathogens, then the weakest of those species would die out, and then the stronger DNA would adapt to that pathogen, strengthen itself, and then you have a genetic line that goes on to be more successful in its ability to survive.
That is the normal process of all life on this planet, and human beings, we’ve got to treat that a little bit differently.
That’s not acceptable, death.
So, what we can learn from this is that we have to take control of our piece in this puzzle.
We have to turn around our body’s ability to adapt and heal in a proper way.
A very interesting thing that we looked at mice.
And I’m not a fan obviously of animal studies, but I still want to learn from them if they’ve already been done.
And they looked at mice, and they call ’em knock-out mice, which they knocked out their whole microbiome.
When the pathogen was introduced to them, they had no response whatsoever. The body didn’t even know it was present.
What they found out was that when pathogens enter us, they almost always enter through our nose or mouth and eventually get into our digestive tract.
And that’s not necessarily where all the disease happens, but it’s enough that it gets in front of our other friendly bacteria, and it finds out what it is.
It grabs information from it, what it looks like, what type it is, whatever, and then gives that to our immune system so it can come over and respond.
And that information is by a different organism talking to our bodies, warning us about a pathogen.
Because, look, that makes total sense. If we die, the microbiome creatures die too. The bacteria die as well.
They count on us to survive, so it’s telling us when, “Hey, look, you got a bad guy over there, go get him.”
That’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship.
Now, all we have to do in return is feed it the right things.
It’s pretty simple, and that’s what we should be educating people is how we can take care of this symbiotic human being.
Remember, 40 trillion cells of bacteria in our gut, and that’s our immune system, that’s our happiness.
70% – 90% of our serotonin is produced in our gut, and that’s what allows us to smile and be happy.
So, there is a true dependency here, and we just need to understand that dependency, appreciate it and respect it with putting the right foods in there, and, yes, that comes over. It’s funny, the adaptation.
So, I wrote a whole book, I did a thesis, a white paper on the intracellular structures that actually carry out the adaptive response in humans.
They’re called heat shock proteins.
They are actually what’s called functional proteins, proteins that carry out work.
Not dietary proteins, which is something we eat, we break apart and build models out of it, or structural proteins, things that build things like muscle or bone or things like that, collagen, or hair, those are structural protein.
This is actually called a functional protein, it’s a protein that actually does work in our body.
So, here’s the book I wrote, it’s called HSP Active, it was for a company, but it’s about HSPs or heat shock proteins.
So, these proteins actually grab information from the outside of the cell or the surface of the cell for whatever stress comes out of the cell.
So, when you work out, you stress the cell.
Those heat shock proteins take that information and say, “Okay, let’s strengthen the cell, recruit new cells.”
That’s called hyperplasia, where you can actually have more muscle cells, or it strengthens the cells.
Increases the size and the density of the cell, that’s called hypertrophy or, you know muscle training, basic muscle training.
And that heat shock protein is directing that whole process.
It’s getting our body to make that protein, it’s folding it into the proper shape and applying it where it’s needed.
Now, when your body is attacked by a virus, it does the same thing, but can also grab a bit of the protein of that virus, copy its DNA information and then send that information to our immune system to tell it how to kill the virus.
Now, these heat shock proteins have been shown to replicate a larger and faster response when we consume certain plants, plants that are considered what we now call adaptogens.
It’s ashwagandha or schisandra, rhodiola, astragalus.
There’s an amazing amount of plants out there that actually their purpose is to upregulate these heat shock proteins so our body can adapt even faster to changes, muscle growth, hormone production, lowering cortisol.
It’s amazing, when I looked at adaptogens as a class of herbs, I was like, okay, almost all of the herbs and all the drugs, they’re unidirectional, they either stimulate something or suppress it, right?
So that’s a function, but adaptations can go both ways.
Adaptogens… Can go both ways. I’m like, “How’s that possible?”
Well, it’s not actually. The only upregulating are heat shock proteins, and then our heat shock proteins are causing the adaption.
So, that’s the trick, and I was like, “Aha, that’s where it’s coming from.”
Surprisingly Common Culprit Affecting Testosterone
Abel: That’s so cool. What about testosterone? That’s another one that you probably get asked about all the time.
I do as well, so I’d love to hear your take on how to manage testosterone.
I was watching one of your recent videos, you mentioned the easy win of alcohol that everyone always skips over and beer, in particular.
So, let’s tackle that one.
Yeah. So there are things definitely that we can do in our bodies that lower testosterone or hormone production and that increase it, and obviously a clean and healthy diet and exercise increases it.
Now, intense exercise actually does lower hormone production, lower testosterone levels in the short term, but overall it rebounds healthier.
Same with the immune system, when you do a heavy intense workout, your immune system does drop, so be aware of that working out.
Abel: I learned that the hard way.
Abel: Running marathons, I learned it the hard way.
Yes. Exactly. Especially endurance, long-term endurance training really lowers the immune system.
But if you keep your head on it, and pay close attention to that, give yourself proper rest periods and non-exposure, you can deal with that.
But yeah, so with testosterone, there was an interesting study that found actually vegans had a higher testosterone level than the Standard American diet or omnivores.
But it was slightly higher, not anything relatively statistical, but it was pretty consistent across the board.
But vegans also had a higher level of sex hormone binding globulin, which actually attaches to the testosterone and inactivates it.
So, the active level was about the same on either diet. That was interesting.
Now, what does really lower testosterone and keeps it lower is stress for one big time, and alcohol for sure.
Smoking does, as well.
But alcohol just bludgeons testosterone, and of course depending on how much you consume, obviously.
But beer, interestingly, has a double negative whammy.
Not only that, the alcohol actually converts into another nasty chemical.
Alcohol itself doesn’t do much damage, dehydrates a little bit, but it’s a metabolite called acetaldehyde, that’s the nasty chemical similar to formaldehyde, which we preserve things with.
That destroys tissues, it destroys liver tissue, brain tissue, where we get hangovers from.
But that acetaldehyde bludgeons our testosterone up to 400%.
Yeah. And can remain that way for 48 hours on just one set of drinking.
So when you combine that with beer, unfortunately… And I actually liked beer.
Abel: Yeah. I still like beer sometimes. Yeah.
Yeah. An occasional beer is alright.
And again, this is a difference between regular consumption and an occasional, it’s very different.
Abel: Yes, big difference.
Your body can adapt and adjust and recover, that’s fine.
But hops in beer is one of the highest producers of estrogens of the entire plant kingdom, many times, multiples of soy.
So, you know I hear people, I was like, “Oh, don’t you worry about the phytoestrogens in soy?”
I’m like, “Okay, do you know that the beer you’re drinking has about 100 times more potency?”
They actually use hops as a treatment for women with ultra low estrogen to rebalance them.
So, there’s still positive use for them, but for guys, not a great thing.
Regular beer drinkers, and they get man boobs, that is a result of the high estrogen content of that.
Now, phytoestrogens are different than traditional estrogens.
Now, remember obviously, eggs and dairy have a lot higher true estrogens and even chicken than does the phytoestrogens, which are about a 100 times weaker than true estrogens.
Abel: Yeah, I think it’s part of the illusion that sometimes you see people who are totally ripped, maybe say after a competition or whatever, drinking beer and eating pizza or something like that.
And that’s just like, it tricks our brains a little bit because we want to think what the person is doing right now is what they do all the time.
But what you find in fact is, if you have man boobs and a bit of a gut, you’re probably drinking beer in that case most nights.
That’s your thing that you are adapted to, whereas they’re just like hitting the stairmaster or out on a run or hitting the weights pretty much every day.
And every once in a while, they’ll have that massive excursion from what they usually do, but don’t mistake that for the truth.
Right. And look, to be honest, there are people who have different metabolisms, who can recover much faster.
There are people who respond to workouts way differently than other people.
A friend of mine is a vegan bodybuilder and he can maintain around 5% of body fat eating pizzas and stuff like that all the time. It just doesn’t affect him that way.
Now, he works out like a demon. And look, physical exercise does super compensate to some degree, but for the vast majority of the people you can’t work your way out of a bad diet.
It just doesn’t work that way. A diet will win out.
Abel: And it could be doing damage without you realizing it.
Like people who appear to be in peak physical shape or they’re just a specimen, a lot of times they’re falling apart on the inside and we wouldn’t really be able to see that as silly humans without taking a deep look, right?
And that’s really when I formed Clean Machine.
Obviously the name “Clean Machine” is to keep this amazing, incredible machine we’re born into as clean and as natural as possible.
And why I chose the plants that I did to be in their whole food state, vast majority that it was.
It’s funny you talked about the cactus flower earlier.
And the cactus flower that’s growing in your yard, the Opuntia cactus, is actually the flower that I get that I use in our supplement.
Abel: Really? How cool is that.
Yes. You can go actually and pick the flowers off that.
Yeah, the cactus is adapted, speaking of adaptation, to environment. It can survive a nuclear holocaust.
Abel: Yeah. Those things are crazy.
It can survive in extreme cold, extreme heat, extreme dry, extreme wet.
It grows on two-thirds of the planet’s surface. And it’s adapted so well.
The scientists were saying, “Well, if it’s adapting that well, it’s probably got amazing control of its heat shock proteins.”
And it did, but does that work with its sexual organ, which the flower is the sexual organ of the plant.
And sure enough, it controlled its hormones better than any other plant they’ve ever seen.
And they said, “Okay, but does that translate to humans?”
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s a plant thing and that’s for plants only.
It doesn’t do anything like that, but in this case, it fortunately did.
The research they did, they showed that by taking the raw cactus flower, our body when it produces testosterone can convert it to either estrogen or DHT or both.
That loss is really where we end up getting into trouble.
When people think of low T, they think of what their blood vessels, but actually how much testosterone is actually reaching the receptor site may be even more important and that conversion back to estrogen or to DHT.
DHT can lead to balding, can lead to hair loss or unwanted hair growth. It can lead to prostate issues or prostate cancer.
DHT ages the skin and makes you look older and wrinkly. DHT has its place.
And during puberty, we need a high DHT so that we can become men, deepening of the voice and facial hair, all those things.
Once we’re past puberty, we really don’t need DHT in the prominent ways that we did for that purpose.
Naturally, DHT should drop off to almost nil as we age.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing DHT climb because of stress, because of poor diet, because of lack of exercise.
We’re seeing these DHT levels not being metabolized and become prostate problems and prostate cancer, one of the fastest growing cancers of men in the United States.
So, I was excited when I saw this because if you can actually stop the estrogen conversion and stop that DHT conversion, you can stop a lot of negative side effects.
Plus you’re allowing that testosterone to maintain itself as testosterone instead of being converted.
This cactus flower blocked both estrogen and DHT conversion by over 80%.
I’m like, “Nice. Get rid of all the negative side effects.”
Mostly the approach to boosting testosterone was steroids, put more testosterone in your body, but that suppressed your own body’s production and then it led to all those negative side effects.
They’re 3% body fat and got man boobs because of that extra estrogen, because they’re putting so much testosterone that their body says, “We’ve got too much testosterone. Let’s convert it to estrogen and DHT.”
And end up dying from prostate cancer at 55. And I’m like, “Wow, that’s not the way to go.”
How we properly increase testosterone without creating that whole host of negative effects is by controlling that conversion rate, and this plant does that phenomenally.
Just to give you an example, the most popular, you probably know from your mom, saw palmetto for prostate.
Most of the research that’s done, about 8%-18% inhibition.
This cactus flower, 90%, so eight to nine times more powerful and more effective than that. Now, it’s phenomenal.
I mean, that’s what I’ve tried to do is try to find these plants, these super plants that nobody else has in the marketplace.
It was funny that original research done on the cactus flower was done by a pharmaceutical company and they wanted to do a drug with it, but when they tried to isolate out the chemicals so they could patent it and make a drug out of it—it’s that patent that makes them all the money—they found it was about five different phytochemicals working synergistically together, which is often in nature.
It’s a synergistic effect.
So they said, “Okay, not only we can’t make a drug out of this, we don’t want anybody else knowing about this,” so they buried it in the archives of the University of Israel so no one would ever find it.
I stumbled on it by accident, but that really bothered me knowing that there are companies out there that would withhold inexpensive, available, more effective answers to things that are killing people.
God, that frustrated me. And that is the reason I formed the company to bring that product to market.
But what I can do is talk about the other benefits that it yields that do the same things.
So, it obviously had application in sports nutrition.
Abel: And it’s so much fun to learn more about the plants that are all around us. It’s an endless adventure. There is always more to learn.
Geoff, it was so good talking to you, before we go, I’d love to hear what you’re working on next, where we can find you, and especially, I mean what’s the next big plant out there that’s growing all around us that we haven’t discovered yet?
Anything else you’d like to share?
Oh tes. I’ve got two really cool plants.
One that has shown not only benefits for health and fitness, creating more oxygen to the brain and everything like this, but it acts as a stimulant without any stimulants.
It basically increases focus and mental awareness by increasing the oxygen and other chemicals.
I won’t get into the whole process, and it’s amazing, so without the stimulants.
So, just using a little bit of caffeine in it as a magnified effect, which greatly reduces the cortisol levels, allowing you to achieve fitness levels quicker without that extra cortisol driving down your testosterone and chewing up your muscle tissue. That’s the first one.
The second one is a combination of herbs out of India, which were already in Ayurvedic medicine and never really combined in this way before.
I’m really excited. Can’t share it right quite yet, but maybe you’ll have me back on and we can talk about it then, because it’s pretty exciting.
Where to Find Geoff Palmer
Abel: That’s so cool. What’s the best place to find your work and your website and all that?
Yeah, so you can, obviously we post all the research and all the information about the different ingredients. We’re totally transparent.
So, you can find that information on CleanMachineOnline.com.
And you can follow me. I post new studies, breakthrough studies about all kinds of things in nutrition on my personal Facebook page @GeoffPalmer.
And that’s G-E-O-F-F. It’s the British spelling of Geoff.
Abel: Right on. Geoff, thank you so much for coming on the show. This is so much fun.
Before You Go
Here’s a note that came in from Devon. He says…
I’ve read the book, and have been cooking things from it here and there.
Right now my fiance is struggling with the typical “diet means cut everything good out and limit calories to almost nothing” mentality.
I bought her a copy of The Wild Diet, and am trying to get her to read it with her busy schedule to try and help explain what I believe makes way more sense.
My issue is time and stress, like most people I’m sure! I’m very busy at work right now, which is resulting in extra hours and the lack of motivation to cook or grocery shop after work.
I’m going to start with the 7 day plan – this will help me immensely with my struggle of what to make – and if that goes well, we’ll continue on with the full plan.
Oh, and I’m going to make some ice cream tomorrow night to help sell the idea 🙂
Thanks for all the work you’ve put into food – it’s a huge help!
Hey, Devon, right on, this is so much fun.
Yeah, one of the best ways to get family and friends on board with this way of eating, we found over the years, is actually by preparing treats like ice cream, like pies, cakes, cheesecakes, and cookies—all these things are very much a part of a healthy lifestyle, I believe.
That was part of the deal with my wife Alyson and I, when we got into eating healthy together, we made the deal that we couldn’t give up cookies.
We still have to have fun eating this way.
You can’t just be a health nut eating chicken breast with broccoli every day. You can’t just do that for the rest of your life.
We have to have some more fun.
So good on you for making some ice cream.
Also, especially during the holidays, don’t forget, we have a whole lot of recipes here on Fatburningman.com—click here to check out the Recipes section.
We’ve got pumpkin pie, peanut butter and almond cups, apple pie, easy Maple Brined Turkey with wild rice stuffing. You can really make a lot of things without too much trouble, and it doesn’t have to torpedo your fat loss results.
Also, if you’re looking for meal plans, we’ve been doing this for almost a decade, and we have more meal plans than you can shake a stick at.
We have more than 12 months of meal plans that you’ll get when you sign up for one of our courses, and you can check out for free.
You get a seven-day free trial when you sign up for the Fat-Burning Tribe, our group coaching community.
So you can go to fatburningtribe.com, sign up for the trial. See if it’s right for you. Check out some of the meal plans.
We will be releasing a new app pretty soon, and it’ll make this even more convenient for you folks.
So in the meantime, go to fatburningtribe.com, sign up there, and I look forward to seeing you.
And during this time of the year, it’s especially important that you’re topped up on the nutrients that you need to thrive.
So an obvious one is vitamin D. We have Vitamin D Stack from Wild Superfoods.
And we have some of the best-tasting collagen out there. We’ve made brownie recipes and you can of course make shakes and puddings. You can put it in yogurt, it’s called Collagen Cocoa.
It’s what we believe is the best tasting protein supplement out there. We’ve had a lot of fun with it.
So if you’re interested on stocking up, especially this time of year, if you want to get some for friends, we’ve got Future Greens, Collagen Cocoa, Vitamin C Stack, we’ve got Adrenal Stack to help you get through some rough times that may be ahead.
So right now, only in the U.S., but you can check it all out at WildSuperfoods.com.
What did you think of this conversation with Geoff Palmer? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts!