How To Assess & Fix Your Hormone Levels, with Dave Asprey

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Recent history has seen a dramatic overall shift towards insufficient hormone production in our population. Unknown to most people, these deficiencies can have major negative implications in other areas of our health, as well. In the second episode with Bulletproof Coffee founder Dave Asprey, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen discuss what happens in our bodies when our hormone levels are low, and how we can raise those levels to keep us healthy.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Welcome back. We are with our friend Dave Asprey. He is the founder and CEO of Bulletproof 360. You probably know him from Bulletproof Coffee. At least many of you do. Probably my favorite coffee. And so welcome back, Dave. We were talking about his book, Superhuman, and I'm loving it because I'm kind of a science geek, so I'm loving some of the stuff you're talking about. In the last episode, you talked about the seven things that increase aging or accelerate aging. And we're going to dig in now and you're going to talk to us about how to reduce it, correct?
Dr Daniel Amen: So I have a couple of comments. There's a whole chapter in the book on fertility equals longevity. So we have this epidemic here at Amen Clinics where if you work here, odds are you're going to get pregnant. And I have nothing to do with it. I'm very behaving myself.
Tana Amen: Yeah. I know that, because you're afraid of me.
Dr Daniel Amen: I am afraid of you. But when you get your brain healthy, your ovaries tend to work better. Isn't that interesting? And why did you put that in the book? I love the fact that you put that in the book.
Dave Asprey: I put that in the book because my very first book was called The Better Baby Book. It took me five years to write it and it's about fertility. And to this day, it still sells a lot of copies because people say, "Oh wait, this is how to expect more when you're inspecting instead of how to eat a bunch of garbage because you read a big book about it." And my wife is a medical doctor from the Karolinska Institute and she works with clients globally over Skype to help them get pregnant when they can't get pregnant by any other way. And so I've known about this for a long time, and anytime you fix your hormones, your brain starts working better and you age less quickly. So you want to have the hormones of a young, fertile person, whether you're a man or a woman. And it's just a fundamental part of the anti-aging field and has been for 30 years, to keep your hormone levels where they belong.
Now, you can do a certain amount with food and sleep and stress, but there's also a time when you're saying, "Okay, I'm over 40. If I do everything just right, I might keep my testosterone at the middling level for my age." I'm sorry. I'd like to have a 28 year old's testosterone. That's just okay. So I am going to do this magic thing called intervene and take control and make my body do what I want it to because what my body really wants to do is make sure that I have as much sex as possible when I'm young to spread the genes as far and wide as possible and then die to get out of the way, right? That's how evolution works. I don't like that path. I don't want to go there.
And so it's probably even more important for women than men because the monthly cycles that you have until perimenopause, they can be debilitating, and perimenopause can be incredibly aging, just that short period of two to five years where you're like, "Oh my God, my face just fell down. What happened?" Well, massive tissue remodeling. It turns out there's all these rumors out there. There's rumors that coffee stunts growth. That rumor, funny enough, that came about from a company trying to sell you a burned grain coffee replacement beverage. There was no science behind it.
And then because a pharmaceutical company was selling a horse urine derived, not bioidentical estrogen that did cause problems in people, we still, 30, 40, 50 years later are saying, "Oh, estrogen equals cancer," and it's just BS. It is not based on science. It is not the current standard anti-aging medicine and tens of thousands of doctors know it. But when you say hormones, you say cancer and it's just the opposite of that. The truth is that when you have proper bioidentical hormone replacement, your brain will work better very quickly. Your body will get better, and if you tell your body that you're still fertile, it's going to make sure that you stay alive.
Tana Amen: So I love what you're saying. You've talked about the brain aspects and the physical aspects, but the one thing that I always say, because I've been taking progesterone ... I don't need estrogen yet, but I'm taking progesterone. I get tested regularly. I've been taking it for over 10 years. And I often say it's not just about all of the other things which are so vitally important, but it's about your relationships. I'd be on the 6:00 news, I promise you, if I did not take progesterone. It just makes you more livable and happier, if you need it. Not everybody needs it, and I take the minimum amount that I need. It's not worth being miserable.
Dr Daniel Amen: And women don't know that their progesterone levels drop 10 years right before they go into menopause.
Tana Amen: Right. I've been taking it for 10 years.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's so important to ... You can't change what you don't measure, which is why testing is critical.
Tana Amen: So important what you said. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: There's also testosterone for men and women, and there's a few people at the forward edge of health know that, oh, you can use testosterone at the right dose for women and it turns their brains back on. They feel so much better and it's a very different dose than for men where it turns our brains, our zest for life back on. Anyone who's seen the movie Grumpy Old Men, that's the film of testosterone deficiency syndrome as we age. No one wants to go there, whether you're the grumpy old man or someone around the grumpy old man. So you manage it for your gender and for the age you want to feel. And I will tell you, every woman I know who's gone on testosterone, it's like, "Oh my God, I love my career now. I like what I do. My sex drive returned. I look better." You don't get bulky. That's bodybuilder stuff.
Tana Amen: I wish. If only.
Dr Daniel Amen: So why do you think I have never seen the rash of low testosterone in teenage boys and young adults?
Tana Amen: Diet.
Dr Daniel Amen: What's your sense as to why that is? Is it all the toxic products we're putting in our bodies? Is it the pro-inflammatory diets, the lack of sleep? What do you think is causing this epidemic of low testosterone?
Dave Asprey: It's been going on for the past 30 years. Levels have been dropping. Even testes size in humans has been dropping. And certainly the vegetable oils in our diet are a part of it. That is just a fact and this whole plant-based movement, man, you want to drop your testosterone real fast now, become a vegan. That's just how it is. By the way, I would become a gravel-tarion if it works. It doesn't work. I was a raw vegan for quite awhile and I've experimented with these. I've looked at the science. I also will never eat industrial raised feedlot meat with antibiotics in it, never. So I'm a vegan before I do that, but I do eat grass fed, pastured, moderate amounts of protein.
So something that's going on there is the quality of the fats in our diet. Our gut bacteria are getting wrecked by what we've done to animals and agriculture, but the really big things I think are causing this are LED lighting, this junk light. I actually started a company called True Dark. We make glasses that, especially for sleep, protect your eyes. 5% of the cells in your eyes sense the light around you. You never even see that light. It goes straight into the timing circuit in your brain. And if you're at the time and your testosterone is supposed to be exploding and it's 11:00 at night and you're staring at your bright cell phone, it takes very little light of those colors to tell your brain that it's the middle of the day. So deep sleep will get your testosterone. One minute of looking at your cell phone before bed will reduce your testosterone formation, especially if you do it regularly. Your sleep quality goes down.
And then we have EMFs on top of it. I'm the last guy to tell you, "Oh my goodness, we live in a blue lit microwave world." No. Communications technology has made the world much better. We can do what we're doing right now because of this, but turning off your wifi at night and not sleeping with your phone at least unless it's in airplane mode, those are probably good moves for keeping testosterone high based on very hard science. There's no woo there at all. We're talking about voltage gated calcium channels in cells. This affects the brain, affects hormones.
And then there's also lack of sunshine. We know that if you go outside to get some sunshine, 20 minutes a day, especially with your shirt off and no sunscreen and sun even in your eyes, that will also raise testosterone a meaningful amount. And so that's what it comes down to it. It's not one thing, but it is a major epidemic.
I am so grateful when I was 26 that one of the early anti-aging doctors looked at my levels when no one looks at levels of these and said, "My God, Dave, your thyroid hormone, which controls your energy is really far down. Your testosterone is almost not detectable and your estrogen is sky high because you're fat." I worked out an hour and a half a day, six days a week. I ate the low fat semi-vegetarian diet and I was hungry, tired, anxious and sick all the time and my body hurt all the time and I didn't lose the weight. It was an inflammation problem, not a lack of exercise or lack of willpower problem.
And when you put all that together, you need to get enough of those things, enough balance, and if I hadn't gone on testosterone when I was 26 to get my levels back, would I have been able to maintain my career? Would I have felt good? Would I have been able to go to an Ivy league business school? I don't think so. It was that important to get my levels where they should have been for my age.
Tana Amen: The LED lights and testosterone, I actually did not realize that. That's really interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: And what about phones with blue light blockers? Does that help or is that a ruse?
Dave Asprey: It helps a lot to put a blue light blocker on your phone. So what we do to improve sleep quality, my kids are just phenomenally healthy and Lana and I do very well, but we have dimmer switches in the house. So when the sun goes down, the dimmer switches go down. We have red lights, not yellow, not just blue blocking. The blue blocking glasses actually don't work at night. There's four colors you have to block. So I make glasses under the True Dark brand that are patented that block all of the types of light that affect it. If you look at a phone through that, you're safe. If you look at a phone through blue blocking glasses, it doesn't work because you're still getting other light frequencies.
So what you can do though on your phone is you can turn on a red backlight inside the phones. You have to go into the settings on an iPhone. It's under the accessibility settings and you can have it so the screen brightness is very low and you can look at your phone in a dark room and it kind of looks like a reddish color. If you do that, you actually can use it. If not, you need to get a blue light blocker, but really it's going to be dark. At night, you should not be looking at a bright white window because in all of recorded history, the only time you would see a bright color like that with light behind it is during daytime. We'd have fire. The brightest thing you could see was fire, maybe a firefly, but you would never see that color. So the body's like, "Oh, I know that, daytime," and all your hormone shift and then you don't get your deep sleep.
I've been monitoring my sleep for 14 years. I'm wearing an aura ring right now that does that for me. But I used to sleep with an EEG headset on to get my sleep data because I was so bad at sleeping and I get the amount of deep sleep ... I write about this in Superhuman ... that a 20 year old gets an eight hours, but I do it in six hours and 10 minutes on average. I have the last five years. So a couple hours of deep sleep, a couple hours of REM sleep, that happens.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wow. When we come back, we're going to talk more. I love the part on fertility, but I want you to talk to us about what's really the new, the latest, the things that the wealthy people might be thinking about now but may be much more affordable in the future. Stay with us.
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