Upgrade Your Brain Health with Dr. Ryan Wholfert

head_shot_ari
Content By: Ari Whitten & Dr. Ryan Wholfert

In this episode, I am speaking with Dr. Ryan Wohlfert about upgrading your brain energy, mood optimization, focus and more, as well as preventing cognitive decline and neurological disorders.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Dr. Wohlfert and I discuss:

  • The importance of emptying your stress bucket to feel like your best self
  • How to take control of your subconscious drivers to lead the life you want.
  • How a superhuman brain smoothie can be your first step to better cognitive health (and what to put in it!)
  • Change up your exercise routine to revitalise your mental powers
  • Proper posture and how its absence leads to dysfunction and poor health
  • Faith and spirituality (and how you can use them to impact your energy and health)
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Transcript

Ari: Hey there. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast with me now is my friend, Doctor Ryan Wohlfert, who has helped thousands of patients upgrade their brain energy and longevity online and at multiple chiropractic nutrition and wellness clinics. He’s the co-creator and host of the

Superhuman Brain Masterclass, which I have to be honest when I saw that came out like a year ago, the title of that partly inspired me creating the Superhuman Energy Summit; Superhuman Brain Masterclass, Superhuman Energy Summit. So thank you for inspiring me with the superhuman term. And also the Leaky Brain Summit, which I’m a speaker in and is coming up very soon. Actually, by the time that you guys are seeing this video, Leaky Brain Summit will have already happened. I don’t know if it’s still possible to get access to it, but you can go check it out. Probably the leakybrainsummit.com. Is that correct? 

Dr. Wohlfert: Yes, sir. You got it. 

Ari: Okay. And in those summits, he’s bringing together the world’s top neuroscientists, brain researchers, doctors, and biohackers to uncover proven solutions to upgrade the brain to high energy and performance, reaching over 100,000 people worldwide. He believes that people can break free from dependence on a broken system and be their own guarantee. And in this presentation, which I’m very excited for, he’s going to be talking about upgrading your brain for superhuman energy. So this is someone who has interviewed I think probably a couple hundred people on the subject of, tips for brain optimization over the last couple of years. And now you’re getting in this one talk, the distilling that information down to the top tip. So very excited to get into this with you my friend. And let’s go for it.

Dr. Wohlfert: I love this. And I always like to give this context because like that last line said, I believe that we can break free from a broken healthcare system where it’s take a pill for this to, get a surgery for that. I can only do what something externally says I can do like maybe insurance or my doctor. And I want to show people how to be their own guarantee. And the reason why is we’re in a worldwide basically state of decay cognitively. If you look at the numbers one in six people suffer from a neurological disorder. So this could be anything from migraines, which I suffered with when I was 13 years old. Again, this was before I knew anything about natural health. Thank goodness my mom and dad, they weren’t big into medicine by any means. We just went the natural route and she took me to see a chiropractor at that time because somebody said, “Hey, sounds like you have a pinched nerve.

So I could have been led down this path of a broken system taking just pill after pill especially for headaches and migraines, but even neurological disorders from stroke to Parkinson’s, neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, dementia. So one in six people worldwide, I saw that I’m like, geez, that seems even low. I feel like that it’s probably even more than that. This is one of those things I found out during the Superhuman Brain Masterclass was, just 20 years ago our average attention span was 12 seconds. And now it’s about seven seconds, so about half of that. I wrote an email one time and I think that’s all I wrote. I said that stat and I said, “By the time you read this, you’re not even paying attention.” And then I just ended it right there. And people loved that. 

Then the last thing is one in seven people between 18 to 39 already have memory complaints. They’re already complaining of short-term memory loss or going into a room and not knowing why they went there. I’ve had this at times too and this led me down this path of learning more about the brain and wanting to teach others about the brain, is just not finding the right word, that mental fatigue by the end of the week or even not even by the end of the week, by the end of the day. This worried me the most, because one of my favorite things to educate people on is not just how to live a long life, but how to live a healthy, long life. How to be active for their entire life until they decide, you know what? I’ve accomplished my purpose. I feel like I’ve made a difference in my family’s life and made an impact in the world or whatever their purpose is. 

But neurological disorders are the largest cause of healthy years lost due to death or disability. So not necessarily just you die, but it’s those last 10, 15, 20 years you’re not yourself. You lose your independence. You’re a burden.

I’ve heard this so many times. Because I asked them, what is your biggest concern? And they’re like, it’s being a burden on my family, being a burden on other people. So that is why I’m doing what I do. That’s why the Superhuman Brain Masterclass, the Leaky Brain Summit, all those and even just coaching people as well.

The stress bucket

So let’s go to this. It always leads me back into, what are people doing and why isn’t it working? People think a lot of times, I shouldn’t generalize, but I’ll just say in general, from over 20 years of experience working with patients, they feel like something needs to come in and save them. And I’ll say this it’s not anything that needs to come in and save you. You have the capacity in your own brain and in your own body to be healthy, to have the energy, but there’s certain things that block it. And one of those things in the way I love describing this, is the whole like stress bucket or threat bucket analogy. And it’s, think about your brain. A bucket is an analogy that we use that signifies your brain. So you have this certain bucket and all the brain does all day is basically analyzes our environment. Is there a threat? Is this a stress? Is it not? And if it perceives it, whether it is or not, as a threat or as a stress, these drops go in the bucket. 

The higher that water level gets, the more stress that adds up in there. And I say it’s either a cruel joke or a perfect design because with every stress that we have, we don’t get a symptom, we don’t get low energy, we don’t get pain. But if it gets to a certain point, I’ll say this, worst comes to worst or how your brain perceives that if that water gets all the way up to the top and overflows, technically the brain perceives that as death and you cease to live. But it has a failsafe, about two thirds of the way up. Think about a spigot, it has this like spigot. So we have these toxins that are going in our body, the SAD, S-A-D. Is there a better acronym for the standard American diet than SAD? I don’t think so. 

Ari: That worked out well, huh? 

Dr. Wohlfert: Deficiencies in our nutrients, our minerals, the enzymes and antioxidants, lowered immunity, mental stress, poor sleep, medications. All of these things going into our threat bucket, our stress bucket, whether they are not, that’s how our brain is perceiving those. Our sedentary lifestyle, negative emotions and mindset. And here’s the thing, if that gets all the way to the top, like I said, it’s too much, it can’t handle it. So about two thirds of the way up the bucket, we have this hose coming out or a spout or a spigot. However, you want to think about it. So as that water level rises, it starts coming out of there to drain some of it out. But it’s not like it just drains it out. That’s your alarm system to say, hey, look over here. The most common one is probably pain, if you want to think about it like that. But what is also in that part of it is energy. Your body can perceive that as fatigue, low energy, lethargy, anxiety, depression. It’s your signal to your brain to say, something’s going on here, check this out. So we have to watch out for that.

I love that because it explains, we don’t put a label on it because I get patients asking me, why does my stomach hurt? Or why does my shoulder hurt? And it never did before. And I’m like, there’s something blocking your body, your brain from healing. And I don’t like labels and it makes it feel like, okay, there’s one specific answer as to why, when usually it’s a combination of things that blocks it, that causes symptoms and turns on these disease pathways.

Ari: I have to comment. I love this the way of conceptualizing things with the bucket and the spigot on the end. I’ve never heard that before. Well done. I think it’s a great way of saying it. And also I think fatigue might actually be the most common symptom, well before you get that. Maybe arguably pain and fatigue or similar prevalence. But well before you get into a lot of the disease states, fatigue shows up a lot of times, years earlier. I’ve seen a number of surveys that are like close to 50% of the population complains of stress-related fatigue or burnout or exhaustion or daytime sleepiness. Or one in three adults over the age of 60 have severe chronic fatigue, like debilitating; one in three. So it’s pretty damn common.

Dr. Wohlfert: Well, I guess I should go back and say this, I wouldn’t say the most common. I agree with you there. I’m saying, the one most noticed, I guess, would be pain, where they’d be like there’s something wrong. Whereas fatigue, a lot of times they might think that’s a normal part of aging.

Ari: And that’s my point actually, that it’s become so common and it’s this subjective thing. It’s so normalized that we hear so many other people talking about how they’re burnt out and you’re exhausted and their fatigued. And they’re relying on coffee to keep them awake, that we think that it’s the normal human state. A lot of people go through their whole life, not even realizing that it’s possible to live at a completely different level. Anyway, sorry for the digression. I love this model that you’re presenting here. I think it’s great.

Dr. Wohlfert: Cool. I love these types of things because I’m a simple minded guy. I like things nice and simple and to give the listeners and viewers something simple too. So that’s actually when disease technically starts. I don’t even know if we have to start to feel these symptoms yet because they can be building and building like heart disease. And this is an example I give to a lot of patients because they understand that. Like if you have a heart attack, does that mean the day before you are completely healthy, that your arteries were completely open and then they just closed up 90% in one day?

No. It was this process with which these stresses and these threats and I want you to say what the threats are for those, but usually that SAD diet is one of those precursors, but even emotions is a big part of that. But it adds up and adds up and 20 to 40 years before you even have a heart attack or even before you’re diagnosed with anything, it’s building up, it’s there. Cancer, 15 to 20 years.

How many people listening, know someone who has had cancer? Or they’ve maybe had it themselves and it doesn’t show up overnight. My grandma, she died of pancreatic cancer. It was pretty fast growing, but even then it was a six-month period of time and she just wasted away. And who knows how long it was actually growing in there before they found it. Diabetes, you’re prediabetic for years until they say you’re in that range of diabetes. Now we have to medicate or do something about that. And then for my, I want to say purposes, or my vision and my mission is Alzheimer’s or even catching it early. Pre-Alzheimer’s, memory issues, mild cognitive impairment. 30 to 50 years before you even have that diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. We already mentioned 18 to 39 years old, one in seven people have memory problems, which is, I would say a pretty big precursor to even pre-Alzheimer’s leading into Alzheimer’s. It’s not a disease of age anymore. I don’t even know if it was before, but that’s what a lot of people equated it to.

Ari: And I want to also add to this. Have you seen the recent study that showed that, I think it was like 88% of Americans are classified as poor metabolic health or metabolically unhealthy, I should say, to one degree or another? And I think it’s the age of 20 is where they start that, 88% of people are not metabolically healthy. And that might be just one marker of dyslipidemia, of dysregulated blood lipids and cholesterol, or it could be high blood pressure, or it could be very commonly elevated blood sugar levels which indicative of insulin resistance or any number of other things, BMI is not optimal. I think that’s how they defined it by the presence of at least one of those factors and 88% of people. And the reason this is so important in relationship to what you just talked about as far as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, that poor metabolic health is a direct precursor of all of these different diseases. And so we know already 88% of people are on track for most likely one of these four diseases you just mentioned.

Dr. Wohlfert: I haven’t seen that, but I’m not surprised. I mean, that’s like nine out of 10 people. I totally buy it. And here’s the thing. That’s why I don’t like labels because somebody could do the same thing as take twins and one could have all that stress and don’t like the threats on their body as the other one, the same. But somebody might exhibit it as cancer and somebody might have Alzheimer’s. It just depends on how their body processes it and which disease pathways turn on. And we know there’s no medical cure. The funny part is, only medicine can cure. Isn’t that right? There’s no other cures other than medicine, but for chronic conditions like these, there’s no known medical cure. 

Ari: Yeah, maybe arguably certain types of cancer, if you consider like surgical remover of the removal of the tumor a cure, then arguably that. I think the record of medical cures, pharmaceutical cures for these diseases, it’s the case that over 80%. I think I mentioned this when we talked the other day. But over 80% of the disease burden are diseases of nutrition and lifestyle. The track record of pharmaceutical cures for diseases of lifestyle is pretty horrifying, when you look into how bad it is. How few examples there are of any drug that is effective to a large degree in treating let alone curing any of the diseases of lifestyle.

The 6 pack of brain health

Dr. Wohlfert: Especially when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s. So one, don’t get it that far. But even if you are in that realm or in that condition already … I’m not going to get into Alzheimer’s because I want to get into brain health and how to improve the energy and that what I call the 6-Pack and how we use that. Because it can be used at any stage, these six phases, these not even phases. And they’re not necessarily in steps. I’m going to put them all out there. It’s called my 6-pack of brain health and energy, food, fuel and nutrition. There’s fitness, movement and exercise. And usually those are the two main ones that people look to. But then there’s also function, posture and spine, which I know you’re intimately familiar with. Refresh and sleep. There’s focus in mindset. Then faith, purpose and contribution. So those are the six and we’re going to go over each of those individually. And these are all to improve your brain health, your energy.

Ari: Beautiful. [Crosstalk] brain health and six pack abs, right?

Dr. Wohlfert: Yes, sir. I said, if you want an eight pack like you Ari, if everybody wants an eight pack like Ari, then we add family and fun into it to make an eight pack. 

Ari: I think you’re just as lean as I am.

Dr. Wohlfert: All right. So you’ll notice I made most of these with an F word. With sleep, I could not find an F word. That’s why we did refresh, but when we get to that we’ll talk about that.

The importance of focus

So I’m starting off with focus and mindset because I believe this is the most important one and it lays the foundation for sustainable success with the other five because of this. Our mindset is very misunderstood a lot of times. We think it’s just about positive thinking. And we think about it just saying positive affirmations or it’s a big aha experience. It’s not. It’s something that’s been developed. It’s our unconscious driver. I

love that term because if you think about it, unconscious driver, there’s something else driving us rather than what we are doing. It’s who we actually are. So this quote right here I’ll explain it because the first time I read it, I had to look at it a few times and really dissect it. 

So our actions and behaviors are material end results of immaterial motivators that we can go a lifetime without seeing or sensing. What the heck does that mean? What that means is this, that we have unconscious thoughts and beliefs and stories and narratives. I’m not sure which of those words resonates with you, but I know for me it was stories or drivers that we don’t see, they’re unconscious. That build up over time and experience, not just time, but our experiences that we have or influences that we have throughout life. A lot of times when we’re younger lead to the perceptions that we carry, our belief systems that we accept and then the expectations that we hold for the world. It doesn’t end there. Those expectations lead into more experience and it’s just this never ending cycle. That’s unconscious that we can go a lifetime without seeing, unless we start to become aware of it. 

And that’s the big thing with mindset, with focus, is what are we being aware of? If we don’t bring those unconscious thoughts into our conscious and know how to deal with them, they’re going to continue to direct our actions, habits, and behaviors. So many times we look at, okay, I have to eat healthy or I have to exercise or I have to get to sleep. These are all actions, but why don’t we do those? What stops us? Or why do we get started, but don’t continue? It is these unconscious drivers. And we could spend a whole hour talking about this and I’m not going to because I want to talk about the other ones too. But just know that this directs why we’re not successful with eating. And I’ll give this last example with this. How many times has maybe the doctor said, you need to exercise? That’s an action. All right, great. Then why are 88% of the people have some sort of chronic degenerative disease or nutrition and lifestyle problem or poor exercise habits, if that was all it was, was just performing these actions? So there’s something else underneath that is driving all this. 

And that’s why I messaged you a while ago after listening to one of your podcasts, I’m like, that spoke to me. I’ve shared it on my Facebook page. It’s like, that is it. It’s not just going out and doing it, it’s who you’re being, just like if you’re a smoker like during this quarantine or lockdown. Like somebody said to me, “Man, you’re still in good shape. I guess this hasn’t affected you.” I’m like, “No matter what happens in the world, it’s not going to affect what I do with my health.” If you identify yourself as a smoker, it’s not like you are a smoker during bad times or good times, that is who you identify as. I’m not sure if that makes sense.

Ari: Absolutely. 

Dr. Wohlfert: Good. So that’s why this is the first step. I think I got this here. Want to make sure I get it right from Carl Jung, he’s a Swiss psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, founded analytical psychology, which through your studies, you might’ve been familiar with him too, Ari. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” I think that sums it up right there. We have to be aware of what our beliefs are. And that’s why I’m not a big fan of just positive thinking for the sake of positive thinking. That’s just trying to patch up an old shack rather than tearing it down and rebuilding it. We have to get to the, not necessarily why you think that way, but what are you thinking. Like I said, it’s not the why. We don’t have to go back to cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s just being aware of what you’re thinking now. 

So focus and mindset. That’s my first one that I teach my clients and patients as part of their plan. The next two I’m going to go over probably pretty quick, because honestly, this is what most people have heard of already and probably a ton of people are talking about on your summit.

Food for brain health

So the second one food, fuel, nutrition. That encompasses detoxification, encompasses essential oils. So any fuel you put into it onto your body, that’s this category there. What I love doing and one of my favorite things to do, it’s a low barrier of entry into the whole food and nutrition, is creating a superhuman brain smoothie or superhuman brain shake. And I have my recipe right there at seven steps, creating your super brain smoothie. We have greens. So some sort of leafy greens, I tend to use in every of my smoothies. And with all these I cycle, what it is. For example, for greens, I might do spinach one week and then the next week, in all mine I’ll do kale. Again, I just cycle bok choy, Swiss chard. 

I love it because you get people saying, I don’t like vegetables. This is the perfect way to do it with that greens. Some sort of liquid, I’ve been using bone broth lately as my liquid, but it could be coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk or just regular water. Healthy fat, like avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds. Some frozen or fresh vegetables. Some frozen or fresh fruit. Maybe a protein source, if you want to get a little bit more protein. And then you can always top it off with some other spices and supplements, like Ceylon cinnamon to decrease blood sugar, to help with blood sugar to man. I should say, manage blood sugar rather than decrease. Turmeric, that’s another good option. Ginger. I think those are the main three that I tend to use in mine. Quite a bit of cinnamon, I like that and also gives a good taste. 

So that’s a simple, easy thing to do now. One master tip that I’ve just started incorporating to make sure you’re not breaking down the protein and all the enzymes with it. Because I used to just put it all in the Vitamix and just mix it all up. Now I’ve add the protein powder and I tend to use more of a bone broth, a plant-based protein powder, organic. And I’ll add at the end and just like stir it in either with like a shaker ball or just at one setting, just so it’s not breaking it down even more. So we’ll see how that goes and how that changes it with how I feel. I intuitively knew it’s probably not good to just to mash it all in there. But, again, I’m still learning. The more I learn, I’m going to test it out and see how it does.

Ari: I have to say, I think this tip is shockingly powerful if you implement it. I have a smoothie almost every day and it’s actually mind-blowing how much good stuff I can pack into a smoothie, all kinds of different super foods, multivitamin and multimineral, greens, super foods, powders, acerola and acai. What’s the one I’ve been experimenting with a lot lately? It’s a different kind of berry.

Dr. Wohlfert: Goi?

Ari: No. It’s a real deep purple berry, aronia, that’s the one, aronia berry. It’s killer. Got this amazing taste to it. And maqui berry and spirulina. And5 you can just throw so much good stuff into a smoothie and with berries and with some of the other things that you have listed here. It ends up tasting good, whereas a lot of these things, if you were to use it by yourself it would be pretty hard to get down in significant quantity. So I think just this one tip, if you implement it and take advantage of the super food aspect, like dump lots and lots of superfoods into a smoothie, I think it just it’s super powerful.

Fitness for brain health

Dr. Wohlfert: I’ve been doing it for, geez, I’ve lost track, but I’m doing two a day now just because I’ve changed my training program, which leads perfectly into my next part of the 6-pack because I’m doing more of almost neurologically type tiring things. I want to be able to dunk again, dunk a basketball. I’m retraining for that. So yes, it’s a different type of training program than I’m used to. I’m in my fourth week of it and we’ll see how it goes. But yes, I’ve noticed myself even hungrier, even though I’m less tired when I do these workouts because it’s more neurologically taxing. That leads us into the fitness, movement and exercise part of the 6-pack. We are made to move. There are so many benefits to exercise for the brain increases your brain size. I say, increases your brain size by meaning, it stimulates this BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It increases the connections between the neurons. It promotes like neurogenesis, especially when it’s more like high intensity type exercise. And even varying the exercise too. That’s why I’m changing up my routine instead of just doing the same thing over and over again. I know it’s going to help my brain too not just my body. Prevents memory loss because it increases oxygen going to the brain. 

All these things are so intuitive. And like a lot of times, there’s a research study showing this. Like let’s put our money somewhere else instead of just all these research studies that already kind of prove that exercise is good for you. I don’t know if we have to do much anymore. I don’t care what you guys do for exercise. Some people say, well, what’s the best exercise to do? And I say, what are you going to do? What one do you like? Then do that. And I bet as you start doing it, you’re almost going to crave it. Like even good food. As you eat healthier food and these smoothies, you start to crave it because your body knows it so good for you. And your brain knows it so good for you. Again, a fitness, movement, exercise, reduces anxiety and depression through GABA, boosts mood through serotonin. 

And I’ll end it with this saying, it’s not just working out hard. It’s not like going for a run or doing a CrossFit workout or pilates. It’s just moving in general. Move throughout the day. I work from home quite a bit and I tend to do the laundry. So now what I do is, I put the laundry basket on the floor and I’ll squat down, pick it up, fold it, turned to the side. Do lunges and squats while I’m doing it. I try to find these times throughout the day that I’m already doing an activity, not necessarily at my desk, but even then I’m at a standing desk now where I can do this and do some stretches. I won’t do any squats because I’ll disappear as I’m doing it. Like spread my feet, doing side lunges. And again, it’s who I am. It’s part of my life. It’s not even part of my life, it’s part of who I am. And that’s why I’ll never not do it no matter what age I get. And it’s going to help me get to that age. So that’s fitness, movement and exercise combined into one. 

Find out what you like to do. Try different things. I will say last one, if you don’t like running and it’s a stress to you, find something else. There’s other things you can do if you hate to run. Now, if that’s your stress release by all means, go for it. So that’s three of them. Now, the next three, this is one of my favorite too. Along with focus and mindset. I think this is one of the least talked about. And, Ari, I’m so proud of you because you are honestly one of the only ones that actually goes deep into this, right?

Ari: Actually, it’s more my brother who [inaudible] chiropractor and he’s the real expert on it. And he happens to be my best friend for the last 20 years and workout partner. So I’ve learned a lot through him. But yes, I completely agree. It’s like massively overlooked factor in good health and energy that very few people are talking about. And in fact, I haven’t had anybody on this whole summit who is talking about it. My brother is actually not going to be a speaker in the summit, just he didn’t have the time to make it work. So you’re literally the only person in the whole summit who’s going to be mentioning this topic.

Dr. Wohlfert: Well, I could have just done this topic then because I want to give it definitely the emphasis it deserves. Because People talk about posture, or the experts in gurus. They say it, but it’s never a part of their core program or it’s never part of the core of health for them, especially with a brain, with the body, with anything in study after study. And again, we can talk about studies, all we want. And I think your brother has even mentioned this as part of the masterclass where I watched that was how these studies show just posture by itself is an indicator of morbidity and mortality. Where this forward posture here, the rounded shoulder posture where people equate as the only, I got bad posture, on their phone, on their computer that has been shown to take up to 15 years of people’s lives.

Ari: There’s probably a lot of people listening who might not be familiar with the term morbidity and mortality. So at least morbidity, especially. So just explain those two words.

Dr. Wohlfert: So basically it means disability. You are going to be disabled and you die sooner, in simple terms. And they’ve done these studies, I think it was Journal of Geriatrics, two studies, 2005, 2006 and they’re there. And I love these quotes here, one’s from an MD wants from a medical journal, Renee Caillet, he’s world renowned. He passed away about four years ago I believe. Written tons of books about musculoskeletal health and right here, “To live a long, active, energetic life, few things matter more than good posture.” Think about it. If we have this bowling ball, that’s 15 pounds sitting the top of our shoulders and it gets out there. I want you to take 15 pounds, you the listener like this arms outstretched and try to hold that 18 hours a day. And tell me if you’re not going to be tired? One, you’re not going to be able to do it because it just wears your body out. 

That’s the effect of just mechanically, but even neurologically, they’ve shown this to how that like kyphosis, that kyphotic posture, what that does is it stretches the spinal cord on the inside. So think about a rubber band stretching that’s like the spinal cord and now it’s tight and it’s tense. Now those nerve signals, that communication, just gets interfered with and blocked going to every cell tissue and organ. And your body’s not going to be able to heal like it should. It’s not going to have the energy. Your brain isn’t going to function because now that information from your feet, all the way through your body isn’t going to tell it what’s going on and it’s not going to be able to make adjustments. Now, this side to side posture too it’s not just that slump posture. That’s what a lot of people forget. Because, and this is it right here, posture affects and moderates every physiologic function from breathing, to hormone production, spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse, lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture, American Journal of Pain Management, right there. That’s back in 1994.

We’ve known this for years, but I guess it’s not a sexy thing, I don’t know, but it’s an effective thing. It directly impacts our brain and energy. And now why do I call it function for this one? One, because our structure dictates our function in this case and all function comes from the brain. So that’s why I call this function.

Ari: I think this is huge. And in that quote from the medical journal, the lung capacity issue is very interesting. Because if you consider the physical posture of being rounded forward, hyperkyphotic, is actually decreasing the ability of the lungs to expand in the chest cavity. And what happens if let’s say your lung expansion is limited by even just something like 10% or 15% on every breath, on the thousands of breaths that you do every day? That can absolutely affect oxygenation of your blood and of your tissues in a way that that leads to decreased energy. So I completely agree with you and thank you for emphasizing the importance of this one. It’s so important. And I think it’s not even just that it’s not sexy, I think it’s just that so many people just don’t ever learn about it. MDs certainly don’t learn about it. They don’t even learn nutrition or exercise, but even the people who study nutrition or exercise rarely learn posture. I didn’t learn about it in my education and I have an extensive background in those topics. I only learned about it through my brother. So it’s something that I think is just not taught and appreciated as much as it should be.

Dr. Wohlfert: I have experienced with it since I was 13 years old and thank God that that happened to me because who knows if I would’ve went down this road and I would be one of those not talking about it either. I love how you mentioned the lung capacity because everybody listening and watching, they can do the simple test. So slumped down, take a deep breath in, or a couple of deep breaths. And then get in what you feel like is a good posture and then take a couple breaths and then you’ll be able to tell the difference. But breathing is a whole other issue where they don’t know how to breath and that’s a whole other problem, where it’s decreasing the oxygen on every single breath leading to more inflammation leading to more that threat response too. So, yes, I love it. Thank you so much for pointing that out because I know exactly what you’re talking about with your brother. When I saw you talk about that with him and I was like, “Awesome.” And he was saying the same studies I was. And so the more we both can talk about it even better,

Ari: What’s really funny is one of the key studies that showed these massive effects of like you know, I think it was 50% and 75% increased risk of cardiovascular disease and increased risk of all-cause mortality, a massive effect sizes. There’s one study in particular, that was one of the key ones that showed this, that’s the Rancho Bernardo Study. Rancho Bernardo is a little area in San Diego and my parents happen to live there. And I always tell my parents, you better take this posture stuff very seriously because that Rancho Bernardo Study, it’s specifically old people in Rancho Bernardo that are especially susceptible to this.

Sleep for brain health

Dr. Wohlfert: That is good. The next one is right into your wheelhouse, Ari, the reFresh and sleep. Again, I couldn’t find an F word for sleep, so I had to go with refresh and a small r, small e, big F. And if they’ve been listening to you for any period of time, they know how important sleep is. If we’re talking about the brain, that’s when our brain recovers and repairs. Just like with oxygen, if our posture is bad or if we’re not getting oxygen throughout our body breath, after breath into our brain, breath after breath, it’s the same thing with sleep. If we’re continually getting poor sleep, either not enough or not the quality of sleep, those have cumulative effects. Increased weight gain, increased appetite inducing hormones, our concentration goes down. 

I know for me, if I miss one or two nights of at least six hours of sleep or seven hours or if it’s not rest or if I’m restless or just for some reason, holy cow, I am irritable, I’m moody. I’m already like that sometimes anyway, but it’s even worse with that. I start to overthink. That focus and mindset, those beliefs come out and say, well, this always happens or you just have a short fuse. Let’s even go back to that bucket example. So we have the bucket in the spigot. Now, that is not set in stone. That is adaptable. So we can increase our capacity to deal with that stress by getting our sleep, by eating healthy foods, by getting exercise, by having good spinal posture. And once we get to that level of being aware of our thoughts and what we believe and in working on that too, that increases our capacity, increases our resilience in that threshold with which we get the low energy. 

By that same token, if we don’t do these things, what happens is, instead of being two thirds to three quarters of the way up, now that spigot starts coming down and we have more sensitivity to it, to where now the stresses really set us off. So that’s how with me, how sleep goes, where that can decrease that or put that spigot down too far. And now something that might’ve not caused pain before or low-energy before or poor mindset before now that same level does.

Ari: For sure. I notice it personally. I’m very sensitive to sleep deprivation and I’ve had two little kids, so I’ve had quite a bit of it in the last few years. So even just one or two nights, especially if I have two nights in a row of sleep deprivation, I often will get a cold after. It really runs down my immune system. If I try and do physical exercise, I notice a huge decrease in my strength and stamina. And if I have a really significant sleep deprivation, I even noticed that I feel short of breath the whole next day, not even doing exercise, just like it’s harder to grieve. So it’s incredibly profound what an impact sleep has on us.

Dr. Wohlfert: Right there, you just mentioned that second last one, lowered immune function. When people get sick, they think maybe it’s some sort of germ or somebody gave it to me, when it’s their lowered resistance to that stress or distress in general. And holiday time, Thanksgiving, Christmas eating the junk. I know my nutrition won’t be as good, but my fitness will, I don’t want to say, make up for it, but then I’ll double my efforts on my fitness. My sleep might not be as good. So that means I’ll make sure I’ll do my journaling. I make sure I do my mindset practices. And it’s not just, again, thinking positive, there’s a system involved and how to do that and retraining your brain that way. So I couldn’t agree more with that. The last one I’m going to finish up with, it’s almost like a little inspiration. It’s one of my favorite quotes because it signifies faith. And I bookend focus and faith on my 6-pack and they’re very similar. 

The impact of faith

Faith is a belief in something you haven’t seen yet. It’s your purpose? It’s your contribution. It’s more intangible. It’s spirituality. It’s all of those things. But again, F, faith gives me that F word. It can be religion. It doesn’t have to be. For me, part of it is. Part of it is spirituality, just understanding and mastering myself in believing in something not yet seen, especially in the times that we’re going through. It’s sometimes, I don’t like saying the word, hard to do that. It takes practice and awareness to get back to that. So again, this one of my favorite quotes from Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we give other people permission to do the same.”  

So many people play small. I did in the past. I thought who the heck wants to know what I have to think? And then I would play small. I wouldn’t put myself out there. I would think this guy knows more than me. Ari, he’s freaking awesome. I’m so intimidated by him. Why? But we’re just normal people and we want to help. And it’s so weird when people come up to me and like, my God, I saw you on the superhuman brain masterclass. That was amazing. Like, yup. And, yes. I’m special. You’re special. We’re all special. We have these special talents. Find out what that is. Find your purpose. Again, that’s an action type thing, right? I’m not saying find your purpose, but there’s a purpose within you that will come out, we just have to allow it to come out and serve other people. So that’s why faith, purpose, contribution is definitely part of our 6-pack of brain health and energy. 

Ari: Beautiful. This is brilliant. My friend, thank you so much. Aand the feeling is mutual. I think we all go through this sort of imposter syndrome. I mean, I could tell you all kinds of stories here, but I had years of doubting my own knowledge and thinking everybody else knows everything. All these established experts, they know everything that I have to teach and they’re at higher levels of knowledge than I am. And some of us do that sort of projection and have assumptions. Other people have the opposite thing where, DunningKruger, they don’t know very much. And they assume that they know more than everybody else, which is a pathology in the other direction; I would argue a worst one. But also a problem for people who have real knowledge, who have gifts who have talents, who have stuff to give to the world, but who are afraid to do so. I think it’s so important to overcome that and I really appreciate the message that you’re sharing on this point. 

I also want to mention as an aside, one of the other speakers that I have in the summit on the topic of brain health is Doctor Datis Kharrazian and approached this topic of brain health and brain optimization from a completely different angle than you, which is, people who have these crazy complex neurological problems that they’ve been having for 30 years. They’ve seen 30 different doctors and nobody’s able to figure it out. And he’s got these methods for doing these very complex assessment and diagnostic systems to figure out what specific part of the brain is malfunctional. And so he’s kind of looking at it from that angle which I think is incredibly valuable and it was a great talk.

At the same time, I would argue that the vast majority of brain issues that people are dealing with are not from some specific unique thing that needs to be uncovered through very complicated methods, but is a problem with the universal basics of what we need to do as human beings to optimize human physiology. And that’s exactly the perspective that you’re bringing to this, which I think is incredibly vital. And for most people honestly, probably will get them like 90% of the way there, if not 100% of the way there for the vast majority of people. And then if it doesn’t get you all the way there, then that’s when you go see Datis Kharrazian and you say, hey, what’s wrong with my brain? I’m doing all these things perfectly. I’m doing Doctor Wohlfert’s 6-pack, and yet I still have some symptoms help me doc. But it’s probably only a very, very tiny percentage of people that would be in that circumstance. 

Dr. Wohlfert: Well, I appreciate you saying that because I like to, I said at the beginning, keep it simple. Again, that’s not to say I don’t do the testing, but I definitely like to give people a starting point. Datis, I use a lot of his stuff. I heard him talk about a microbiome mashup, so I started doing that. So I learned from all these brain health experts as well. So I thank you enough for allowing me to be on here and getting to know you and I can’t wait to talk to you more about it.

Ari: It’s a pleasure brother. You’re awesome and we’re very like-minded in many ways, which I appreciate the perspective you bring to health topics. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with our audience. Finally, if somebody is interested in learning more about your work or following your work or getting in touch with you to work with you, where’s the best place to do that? 

Dr. Wohlfert: I would say the best place is totalhealthspine.com. They can find me on Facebook too for now. Maybe I won’t be there in a while, @drwolfert. But those are the two best places to find me.

Ari: Beautiful. Thank you so much my friend. This was a lot of fun. 

Dr. Wohlfert: All right. Thank you.

Show Notes

The stress bucket (08:55)
The 6 pack of brain health (20:55)
The importance of focus (22:14)
Food for brain health ((27:47)
Fitness for brain health (31:51)
Sleep for brain health (43:48)
The impact of faith (48:10)

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