How to Live Longer Cognitively

What have you done for your brain today? That's the question we should all be asking ourselves every day, according to our guest, cofounder of The DNA Company, Bryce Wylde.

A lot of conversations in wellness revolve around taking care of ourselves in order to have the longest, healthiest lives. But rather than focusing on lifespan, what we really should be focusing on is “brain span.” A long life doesn't necessarily equate to a positive quality of life, and Bryce speaks with JJ about how to support your cognitive abilities for as long as possible.

In this episode, you'll learn about what you can do naturally to achieve a long brain span, how to test for brain function and volume, what can cause shrinkage in the brain that may lead to neurodegenerative disease, and how leaky gut can lead to a leaky brain.

Plus, you'll hear nutrition recommendations that can have a massive impact on the brain, the importance of supplements (because you can't always get enough nutrients through food), how to determine whether you're in or out of a fight-or-flight state, and the benefits of the Japanese practice of forest bathing.

Freebies From Today’s Episode

Grab a FREE download of Bryce’s latest book: Brainspanners (use password: getmorebrainspan)

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Click Here To Read Transcript

ATHE_Transcript_Ep 499_Bryce Wylde
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] Hey, this is JJ Virgin. Welcome and thanks so much for joining me. This is Ask the Health Expert here. I put the Power of Health in your hands and give you access to the top people in health and wellness. In each episode, I share safe ways to get healthy, lose weight, heal your gut detox and lots more. So if you wanna get healthy and get off the dieting for life merry-go-round, I'll give you strategies that will help you look and feel better fast.
So what have you done for your brain today? That is what we are gonna be talking about, and we're gonna talk about a new concept out there. You probably heard about lifespan, how long you live. And then the next step up is health span. How long do you live? Well, and Dr. Bryce Wylde. My guest today is now talking about [00:01:00] brainspan.
How long do you live cognitively? Well, I'm super excited to be sharing this with you today. I'm just gonna give you a little heads up. You're getting his book for free and you can get it at Let me tell you a little bit about my guest, Dr. Bryce Wylde. He's a leading health expert and clinician specializing in integrated and functional medicine, nutrition, and supplementation.
He blends the latest in science and technology with traditional ancient remedies. He's also the co-founder of the DNA company, and I have done gosh, just lately, a podcast with my buddy. Cash, who is the other founder of the DNA company and such great information, so make sure you check that out too.
He's the author for national best selling books. He's the previous host of CTV's wylde on Health. He's featured on countless network television shows, including Fox, nbc, abc, cbs, and over the last decade, a regular guest expert and medical advisor on Doctor Oz [00:02:00] Show. And so again, be sure to grab the book, and I will be right back with Dr.
Bryce Wylde.
You've been on before too, haven't you?
Bryce Wylde: No. This is my first time with you. I've had you on mine recently, which is maybe why,
JJ Virgin: I dunno. All right, cool. Dr. Bryce Wylde. I thought you'd been a regular on the show, which clearly we will need to make you be a regular on the show, but I was compelled to have you on with the title, the subtitle of your latest book.
What have you Done for Your Brain? That's
Bryce Wylde: so good. Yeah. Thank you, . Yeah. Yeah. Thanks so much. Well, you know, we often get forgotten about here in Canada is where I am based in Toronto, Canada. Born and raised. I a dual citizen. I can
JJ Virgin: hear it in your oot ,
Bryce Wylde: in my t boot. And you know, but we've got a really, you know, pretty good healthcare system here which I'm proud of when [00:03:00] it works.
And you know, we've been, you've got our, our, our functional medicine gurus, so, so we're keeping up, we're keeping up with the Jones's here in Canada, I think.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. Well, I think healthcare should start at home. That's my own opinion. And I know a lot of the stuff that you do really helps people take this stuff home.
But why did you decide to focus on the brain?
Bryce Wylde: It was actually a major impetus, was my own mom. And my father-in-law. So back in 2017, they were dually diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Wasn't in the family. I had no idea really much. I mean, as a clinician myself about the
JJ Virgin: stages, Wait, both of them, mother and father-in-law?
Yeah. Holy smokes.
Bryce Wylde: Yeah. And, and pretty much the same stage. You know, my mother is, was in education all her life. And my father in law. Pretty smart guy in engineering and he, they, you know, they can dupe you, you know, an intelligent well. Most folks, you know, when they have this diagnoses are, are known to fool the average individual, especially close family and friends when they don't wanna admit there's something wrong.[00:04:00]
I dunno if you've seen the movie Beautiful Mind Russell Crow. There's a scene where, you know, he, he enters in the cabin where his wife is really not privy to, and it's just like, you know, area of refuge and experimentation, and there's all these notes hanging from the ceiling and the wall, and you get this impression of.
You know, obvious like psychotic you know, break schizophrenia was was his issue. So one day, and I hadn't been at my mom's condo for months, I'd pick her up, regularly, bring her over to the house, and we'd have dinner and I'd bring her back or I'd ever Ubered back. And I walked into her condo.
And there were notes everywhere you know, very similar to that scene in, In Beautiful Mind. And one of them I first read was my sister, whose name is Tanya, spelt with a Y and it was spelt with an I and it was a DOB or date of birth with a question mark on it. And I thought to myself, Wow. Yeah. So that was the first awakening I had that something was going down with my mom, had her tested and assessed, and she was already well into stage two of Alzheimer's.
So this got me thinking, you know the [00:05:00] subtitle of the book What Have You Done For Your Brain Today? The book Itself's called Brain Spanners. The idea is that, you know, we've come to revere and appreciate lifespan. That's how long that, you know, ultimately we'll clock on our lifelong calendar.
But, but we've graduated over to health span, the concept that, you know, we wanna not just sort of live longer, a square of the curve and, and hopefully die in our sleep. Very quickly, but those, those, those stages of those years just prior to that knockoff you want them the best quality. So that last decade of your life and what are you doing to work backwards?
Perhaps reverse engineer so that whether you are, you know, 90 or 95 or however old you're gonna be you're still able to push, pull, jump, squat, lift, move, walk, carry 30 pound bag of groceries, a kilometer you know, be able to walk up a number of flight of stairs. Physical as well as as mental things.
And then I took it one next level. Interviewed a number of experts in the field. I don't pretend to be the brain expert, although, you know, as you know, every book he writes like a mini PhD, right? So I
JJ Virgin: interviewed, well, there's a [00:06:00] PhD. It's not a mini PhD. books written well require so much. Research and then you have to know that what you're doing is actually going to work.
So you've applied it, so it really is like what, what else is a PhD? ?
Bryce Wylde: I, I guess so. So either no one's really, You're not in front of a board and you know, presenting your dissertation to Pat, forget what It's consumers and your peers. That's true. They're even worse. Like, let's be honest, . Got it. So, you know the best of the best you're in there as it pertains to brain health and exercise and, and nutrition.
Of course. You know, we've got the likes of Dr. Andy Wyle our friend you know, Bill Harris. We've got Dr. Danny Damon Amond. Daniel Amen you know, a lot of the brain experts and with the flare that I have and appreciation for natural medicine, really that's the whole concept is what can we do naturally to expand our brain span?
Cause ultimately, again, lifespans one thing, healthspan's another, but if. We can achieve brain span, brainspan is as long as we will live an optimal cognitive faculty, then that the, that's the, like, you wanna have, you know, I
JJ Virgin: mean, you know what's cool [00:07:00] about it too, Bryce, is that a lot of the things, it's, and it always works this way, doesn't it?
A lot of the things that you do that will help with brain span will also help with health span. So, you know, that's the bonus now having, you know, had a son and having a son right now who had a severe traumatic brain injury. And some neurodegeneration, which boy, there's so much great stuff now that can start to, can reverse some of this stuff, which is amazing cuz like years ago that was like, it, you know, wasn't gonna happen.
You, you know, I've seen firsthand, like, until you've really witnessed it, you don't realize just what happens when someone, when you start to lose, you know, lose brain function. It's absolutely frightening. And I would imagine like with your mom, You probably don't wanna admit to yourself. Right? So she wasn't admitting it to you, but she just, you know, it's like my dad had a really bad cough and wouldn't get it checked.
He didn't wanna admit, Yeah. After being a smoker for 40 [00:08:00] years, that there could be a problem. And so that's a challenge because as we know, like the sooner you catch this, which you probably need to catch it immediately right now because. By the time you start to see signs, right? starts
Bryce Wylde: in your thirties way before there are signs or symptoms.
And I wouldn't say regardless, but considering and factoring in genetics. In fact, one of my first interviews the book kind of took its own evolution into what it became. But I interviewed Dr. Dale Bredesen who wrote the book, of course, The End of Alzheimer's, and he subclassified, you know, a number of subtypes of Alzheimer's, some of which are more glyco toxic or related to, you know, glycemic index and overeating you know, sugars and refined carbohydrates.
You know, another subset, which is more pro-inflammatory. There's some crossover there. Of course, my mother's situation though, amongst these five subtypes turned out to be toxic. So she grew up on a seed farm in England where the use of pesticides was abhorrent. And it seems to be that among other things, she does have the genetic predisposition as it [00:09:00] pertains to this allele that we've discovered the APOE variant.
She's a three, four, in fact, not the most predisposed being a 4 4 but anyways, all these different considerations for it turns out. She was or is of the toxic predisposition. So yeah. Lot that I learned from Dr. Dale Bredesen was able to, as you put it, manage, stabilizing even in some aspects you know, reverse.
And, and, and that's true. And so even full circle to this whole concept of brain spanners that you alluded to at the top, we are talking about, you know, findings in the last decade that we absolutely have the power in late age to. Or exude neurogenesis, which means new nerve cell brain cell formation. Neo plasticity neuroplasticity.
This is the idea that we can actually, you know, couple and uncouple and recouple nerve connections for new nerve connections. So the brain's active and, and, and this is the whole premise of the book. The idea is that, , you know, brain spanning and that, and then living as long as we possibly can with optimal cognitive faculty is to appreciate both our genetic predispositions, our environmental, our diet, our lifestyle.
And [00:10:00] most of us know what we weigh. We know what our blood pressure is. You know, we know what our cholesterol levels are typically, and we know all these different, but who knows what their hippocampal volume is? You know, like that's something people would be going, What is that? And we should all know, we should all have baseline MRIs.
Maybe even starting as early as our, you know, thirties and forties. The the hippocampus course was a memory center deep within our brain, and it has a certain size or a volume, and if we track that over time and we start to see it shrinking prematurely, That's a reason to get even more proactive about what you might be doing to keep, you know, healthy brain.
And a healthy brain literally translates into, you know, everything every organ system, our immune system, our endocrine system, hormone system, metabolism,
JJ Virgin: everything. You know, one of my favorite speakers in a old, old friend of mine is Dr. Daniel Amen. And, and I always love that he says, You know, when it comes to your brain size matters and.
He's spec scanned my son, Grant a number of times. We've also done neuroquant so we've been watching his hippocampal volume. [00:11:00] I would love you to talk about some of those things and I, And you know what You measure and monitor, you can improve. Right. I'm, I'm just, I'm so frustrated right now that we are at a point that we are in, you know, 2022 and we still step on a scale instead of stepping on a body composition.
Monitor, like it is so ludicrous to me and that we don't just have people do continuous glucose monitoring periodically just to make sure that they're in check. That these are not just things like we have these tools down, we're not using them, but you know, no one's talking about measuring your hippocampal volume.
Yeah. And monitoring that, like just not being talked about how easy is it to get to test cuz you know it's not covered here in the States. And you know, I know we just paid for all this. And then how what are some of the things that can cause, you know, shrinkage and then what can you do about it?
Bryce Wylde: So I, I, I came to learn also in my research about the brain and to be able to preface this [00:12:00] book. I love to do a biology 1 0 1, you know, for most folks, just like you doing a lot of media and just give people a better understanding as to, you know, what this organ is in the first place. So in the book I sort of, you know, help folks to digest this whole idea and this concept of what the brain is.
A lot of us understand the heart's a pump lot us understand the lungs are like bags that, you know, inspire and bring oxygen in and out, and how our guts work. Don't really understand the brain and, and certain features like the hippocampus and how much control we have over these things, you know, as we're alluding to already.
And by the way, Grant's story was in the book. It was a huge feature to how he recovered. And I've had since, you know a few patients actually over the years with Bad Falls, you know, and one of the. Fourth floor of a hotel in, in Cuba who we actually put on the same protocol as Grant and did very, very well.
So we could talk about that as well. But you know, this whole, this, this whole idea of over evolution, you know, there's that our brain has essentially evolved to become quite. I, I wouldn't call it is fragile, you [00:13:00] know more fragile than, you know, perhaps it, it was millions of years ago. There's, there's essentially four things.
You know, I, I, I revere in high regard here. One is genetic mutations that occurred. The discovery of fire, By the way, this is a very interesting thing. It is very relevant to your question. By the way having more time by virtue of discovery of fire to eat more time on our hands to eat and forage and walk around.
And then of course, agricultural practices, you know, these things all happen and they relate very much to this question of what can we do? How can we test, how do we approach the brain as it pertains to multisystem? Organs and it's being in control. So I just love to preamble this with this sort of story that essentially about 5 million or so years ago you know, we don't know to the date exactly, but around that point, there's a single gene known as our gap 11 b.
And when we talk about genes, we're, we're talking often about mutations and or switch out or variants along a particular you know area, or let's call it a zip code on the gene, in this case, a single zip code, let's call it [00:14:00] digit replacement. In this gene known as R gap 11 B. Increase something called convolution particularly in the prefrontal cortex.
So you know, the brains in most mammals are quite smooth. Humans are very different. For this one reason, again, 5 million years ago, this mutation occurred and the gene allowed for this ruga or this large amount of convolution to occur. That means more brain mass in a small space. Particular in the prefrontal cortex, which is you know, personality and like a, a, a break pedal as it pertains to you know, what we would otherwise do through our intuition or instinctual predisposition.
Then about two and a half million years ago, or thereabouts, began to eat meat marrow. A lot of the fat, perhaps even the fat, is more important than the protein and muscle tissue providing these essential facts. But also B9 vitamin B9 and b12. So we began to eat meat, and then roughly half a million years later, about 2 million years later, we started cooking food with fire.
That allowed us to digest food outside of our body, which freed up all this time on our hands. Took us about eight hours or so prior [00:15:00] to that to consume all our calories in the day. masticating, chewing, enzymatic, breaking down the mouth, et cetera. But now we've got fires. Remember cooking outside and, and we're we're growing our brain with these methyl support, B 90 12 and these essential fatty acids.
And then only 50,000 years ago really good evidence that there's a mutation, you know about this in the fads. One and two gene. And this encodes the Delta 60 saturates, which you know a lot about, which helped increase essentially our absorption of alpha linoleic acid into the Omega 3s epa, dha.
This assimilation of Omega3, of course, helped us to grow an even bigger brain. And there's a few other examples, but those four general examples of course, and then we, the the idea that we started to. Practice agricultural practices. So it started to grow grains and, and beans and legumes and all these other things and stopped hunting and foraging around, you know, 30,000 years ago.
In fact, the irony here is that as we developed intelligence, we soon realized that we no longer had to hunt and Forage began to practice this modern age agriculture and [00:16:00] heavy grain diet again around 30,000 years ago. And now it's the process diet, of course, which causes it the most elite, right? It took it too far, , Right?
And with, you know, fire and, and that other cooking technology, we can now consume all the calories we want in a single day, in a single drive-through, in five minutes or left wolfing down a. Burger and fries. So, no, we
JJ Virgin: need to go back. You know, Bryce just being in Peru, which has 192 micro climates and looking at their gardening terraces, like when you go to Machu Picchu, those things are gardening terraces and how they did this and all the different varieties of potatoes and corn and, and then the Guinea pig, they eat the alpaca.
So it was it was like, holy smokes. You know, , like, we just, we, we did some great things and then we took it too. We did, obviously with some of the toxins that are now impacting the brain. Right? And then this is it over abundance.
Bryce Wylde: This is it. And so, and you know, and the real irony in fact, and it's you know, it, it's probably the epitome of irony in this case is that now in order to satisfy or [00:17:00] sort of reverse a lot of this You know, aging in the brain and, and deterioration of brain during our, our lives is that we often go back to a Roth who died.
I mean, I, I think that's extremely ironic. But so, so, so full circle to answer your question. So I understand this sort of evolution of our brain, understand how it's, so, it's become very. Fragile in in a few of these new tips worked in our favor. Obviously, we're a lot more intelligent, introspective.
We have, you know, self-awareness and consciousness but the brain's a lot more fragile than it ever was millions of years ago. So with that and these practices around agriculture, this is again the bottom line. There are many tests in which we can assess not just. Function and volume for that.
In my clinical practice, I look at things like functional MRIs looking at volume of like the hippocampus and so forth. And this is, you know, a few thousand dollars. For most people it's not so easy to, to absorb for a lot of folks. But getting this baseline, it's really important. There's other things though, that we can do to analyze our glycemic index or.
You know, looking at sugar over [00:18:00] time you know, a hemoglobin A1C is a good example. We can look at our immune system. I, I often look at what's called a cytokine panel. These are all options, you know, for folks to, to do a deeper dive in. Cytokines are inflammatory messengers part of the immune system that often get tied into this brain gut connection that we're coming to learn more about.
When there is leaky gut, we're hearing more about that as well. There is leaky. So one of the first tests I do to identify whether there's problems with the brain is I look at something called volume. This is a test that a lot of folks can access. It's a little protein marker essentially. It's supposed to keep, we're, we're, we have absorption in our gut.
We're supposed to, to be able to absorb nutrients, both macro and micronutrients. But when we're hyperpermeable and that is to suggest there is a leakiness in the gut. Then there are things that. You know, move from your gut into your general circulation, which probably shouldn't. In fact, they shouldn't.
And they can ultimately permeate and leak into the brain when we, There's a leaky gut scenario. There's a leaky brain scenario. So that's something I like to screen for [00:19:00] micronutrient.
JJ Virgin: So I'm, I'm looking at this though. So like, if, if someone were to do a hippocampal volume test, they did a functional mri, they looked at that, they'd still need to figure out if they are not where they should.
And even if there's where there should be, like what do we need to do to make sure that we're not creating any assaults to it? You're still gonna have to figure out if it is, if you are less than you should be. Why it is. And that could be anything from, you know, could be toxins. So I guess you would see this in some of your genetics.
Could be blood sugar, could be stress. I remember, boy, when I was under chronic stress and you know, like all of a sudden your memory's going , you're like, you know, right. So you'll, you'd still have to go back after that point and go, what the heck's impacting it? Absolutely. And so the reverse of it is, you know, going in, looking at all the things that could impact your brain, which impact your health anyway.
You know, like if you've got poor glycemic control, you're. Gonna have challenges if you don't
Bryce Wylde: know, and this is exactly what I was getting to. So if [00:20:00] we consider the brain as the most important organ, it's irrefutable that it is, it's a two-way highway. As it pertains to those cardiovascular markers, we care so much about, I mean, cholesterol's a bit of an old story, but.
What are the inflammatory, either the cytokines or, you know, oxidized lbl that affects the heart. It's gonna affect the brain as well. What are the blood sugar measures? What are the toxins the liver is dealing with? It's gonna directly impact the brain, but if we revered the brain first and foremost of that organ that we care most about that there are tests for, like, we keep bringing up this, you know, functional MRI for hippocampal volume, if that's shrinking over.
There are ways in which you can manage that shrinkage, even reverse that shrinkage. That's the good news. And often that's done by managing the systemic effect of blood sugar, micronutrient status, omega3 fatty acid status, exercise spread. I think that we're in a state. More now than ever I believe of disautonomia.
This imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic state, the ability to manage, not just cope, manage with stress effectively [00:21:00] be able to get into a state of parasympathetic dominance versus sympathetic dominance that shrinks cortisol. As you know, shrinks the brain. And certainly substance abuse that Dr.
Amen as we both know, it's always all about, no matter whether it's marijuana's become more legalized or it's alcohol these are legal drugs, but they're shrinking the brain more than anything including the hippocampus. The good use though, and I mean, this is really my area of expertise.
There is nutrition select aspect of, of nutrition and how to manage not just macros or macronutrients, but micronutrients by understanding first or genetics and some of these other types we talk about. And then neutropics. These are things that we can consume in supplement form that we believe there's good science.
Not always, but often pretty good science to appreciate supplementing with these ingredients can actually add to your, your potential for neurogenesis. It's new nerve cell brain cell formation and and neuroplasticity the ability to regrow and reform new nerve cell connections.[00:22:00]
JJ Virgin: Now I know you're, everyone's gonna get a ebook of your brain spanners, which is awesome, and I'm gonna put that at But right now, just so super actionable. Someone listening right now when you just mention nutrition, like give, give like the, what are a couple things they could do nutrition wise will have an impact, massive impact on their brain.
Then we're gonna go, go through the, go through the list. Let's start there.
Bryce Wylde: Yeah, so my number one is omega3. And obviously this plays its story well through grants trauma and recovery.
JJ Virgin: Oh my gosh. But I had to sneak it into the hospital cuz it at therapeutic ranges, right? Damaging . I'm like,
Bryce Wylde: so, so that's actually why I, I brought it through that very super top line, you know, evolution.
There's this fads two, this fads one and two gene that controls for an enzyme. It's the single gene that controls for such an important enzyme that converts that's oleic acid you know, into very essential [00:23:00] omega-3 fatty acids. We wouldn't have grown the brain that we currently have, the brain that I refer to as more fragile than it ever was in our evolutionary spectrum.
This is so important to the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, we are fat heads. Our brain is like 60%. Some authorities say more percent fat, and within the nerves cell membrane along with our red blood cell membrane there has to be a certain saturation of this particularly accord fat in order for cell to cell communication to occur.
We call depolarization. We're bioelectric beings. So there's all this biology and chemistry about us, but we're also electrical. So we have these electrical impulses which translate the thoughts and emotions and executive function. So saying all that is to say that omega-3 levels, I believe are very important.
Most of us walk around just like with vitamin D deficiencies. We walk around with omega-3 deficient status. And that's terribly impactful, negatively to our brain. This is the work by the way, of Dr. Bill Harris, who you know well as, as simple as an at-home finger blood stick test, [00:24:00] right? So with a little couple of drops of blood we can submit to the, a lab and, and identify our omega-3 red blood cell membrane concentrations to get that corrected, most of us walk around with.
Three or 4%, we want 8% or higher. And that is imperative to cardiovascular health and brain health particularly. That's number one, getting pulled and understanding
JJ Virgin: your mission. And by the way, I gotta just shout this out. You're probably not gonna be able to fix that with food alone.
Bryce Wylde: Yeah, exactly. So, good point.
So a lot of what I preach, a lot of, I talk about is going above and beyond dietary or nutritional intervention. I, I, I really feel that in many cases you can't eat yourself the therapeutic level, nor in some cases do we want to, because sometimes this is more about what we avoid than what we put in.
And so when we're talking about. Fish, right? Fatty fish, they're typically the larger fish. You know, one of the most popular courses, salmon. And when you can get a very good clean salmon, which is very difficult, then of course eating that every other day is a great idea. Still hard to get therapeutic ranges.
And so [00:25:00] with that said, I mean, again, we're trying to avoid things like heavy metals, dioxin, furin you know, parabins, all these different things that affect the brain negatively and they can come with fatty fish. So
JJ Virgin: I know bit of paradox, it's just a different, this is not, you know, our 20,000, 30,000 years ago, fish sadly.
Exactly. Exactly right. Cause all the pesticides and stuff we're using. Are running off somewhere.
Bryce Wylde: Exactly. So, and so, so that's number one in my, in my opinion, number two. And, and, and maybe just to continue on this talk in front, is to understand how well you detoxify from a genetic perspective. Some of us do it way better than others.
We've come to learn that the brain doesn't have lymph. The rest of the body. The ability for the liver and the lymphatic system to rid of waste. It's got a glymphatic with a g. So glial cells, these are non-thinking cells and they're responsible particularly at night, under the right conditions, which happens to be very cool.
68 degrees or so. Deep, you know, restful sleep. This is when the glial cells wake up and detoxify the brain. And [00:26:00] I don't mean these ethereal, you know, you know toxins that are emitted from the, you know, smoke stacks of industry. I'm talking about our own metabolic waste on a day-to-day basis. So just living and breathing and eating.
We make waste sleep. It turns out one of the most important factors of sleep and recharging, resetting the brain has to do with this glymphatic activity. So detoxifying the brain and how well we do that. There's waves in which we can keep a finger on the pulse to our systemic levels of detoxification.
JJ Virgin: just gave a great. Piece of information I just wanna highlight again because you know, we talk when, when we talk about sleep, we're like, get your bedroom to 68 or below. Right. And I remember when I first met my husband, I'm like, this was one of ours. I'm like, Honey, gotta take the temp down. But you just gave a very good reason for why we need to do this.
So just hit that one more time just in case someone's like, I don't wanna be.
Bryce Wylde: Yeah, the glymphatic system, the brain's detox ability to clear up the mess of the day prior relies on cool ticks. It just doesn't work unless you've got your [00:27:00] sleep hygiene appropriated. And that means cool, comfortable, blackout blinds, all that we've heard about, you know, in terms of that optimization of sleep hygiene.
But the most important thing neck. And head out of the covers is that it's cool they don't activate, they don't wake up and detoxify the brain unless it is 68, 65 to 68. Research shows is the optimal levels, so, so optimizing detoxification by first texting, both genetic ability. I'm a co-founder of the DNA company.
I think we run one of the best panels
JJ Virgin: for I totally agree. We had, we had Kashif on the, on the podcast. It was fabulous. Like, incredible reports. We ran one on me, on grant, on my husband Tim. So great, great, great information that's super actionable and super easy to understand and like, you know, ideally this is just gonna be something that you, like, you're born, you have.
Genetic test , you know, so you, And then the information gets updated as new information comes out. So you just know [00:28:00] where you need to focus, if you're, That's right. If you're a good detox, fire or not. I think even, even if you're a good detoxifier, my husband and I, every single day that we're home, we get in our, our.
Sunlight and sauna. That's just like, that's one things we do. Absolutely. We weren't doing it, Bryce, and I was like, Okay, I gotta, like, we got a cold plunge. We were really good about that. And I was like, We, But we meditate every morning, so now we take Dr. Joe Dispenza in the sauna with us, do that. So we're killing two birds with one stone.
I don't know where that saying came from. And then then we go in cold plunge after.
Bryce Wylde: Well, I, I think that falls on this list. I was gonna hit that up next. Methylation. So park that thought for him, because I believe there's a way to be, you know, testing, knowing your numbers, keeping your finger on the pulse of sympathetic hyperactivity.
So this is that whole idea, the notion that stretch shrinks our brain. And things like hot saunas and deep cold plunges and things like that help us to. Essentially enhance or, or improve parasympathetic tone or vatal tones? We'll, I'll definitely get to that in a sec, but methylation is another [00:29:00] big one, so it's almost synonymous with inflammation.
This is the ability of our body. I, I refer to this as a. Sort of like a relay race, right? You've got five runners in your, in your, in your team, and you've got a baton and you've got a pass a baton obviously, and clear the finish line in order to win the race, or at least do well that baton is a, is a methyl group or CH3 in biochemistry.
And so passing that baton along requires these five genes to work really well. And again, you can test for these genes and determine where you've got issue. Often a lot of us have methylation defect. We're dropping that baton disqualifying from, you know, you know, finishing this race. This is the responsibility of B12 and the right types.
Of B12 Well, depending on who you are genetically and B9 or folate in order to get that baton through, you know, one race or to the next, to finish this race. So a lot of us have genetic glitches as it pertains to methylation. And if and when we do, we have brain problems, you know, and, and, and we have brains on fire for a lot of folks.
[00:30:00] B that's applied to you know you know, genetic. You know, sequence anomalies and, and, and keeping an intact gene pool preventing genetic mutations. So testing and understanding methylation, that's really important as well. And I love this urinary test. Anyone can access this, which is basically a downstream analytic for inflammation.
So again, methylation inflammation go together to determine systemic levels of inflammation. Cuz when inflammation's high, and we've talked about a few things that might contribute to that. Toxins in the environment. You know, leaky gut means leaky brain. When there's inflammation, there's problems. There's a test called 11 dehydrothromboxing.
Very easy test to run on urine. It's called the chronic inflammation test. Folks can look this up. You submit this, it was way downstream. You know, Cox, you know, thromb all the way down to the very sort of end. How pro inflamed are you? You're systemically or, and you're brain inclusive. How inflamed are you?
And then now is
JJ Virgin: that acute? Like, so question on that test. Let's say that you ate some, some [00:31:00] really inflammatory stuff the day before. Is this a more of a, like a hemoglobin A1C test or is this more of a fasting glucose
Bryce Wylde: test? Like what's more of in the middle. Bingo. More of in the middle. So, great question. It's not quite that three month end point or that acute, you know, you can't, the, the most influential component of this test is whether or not you're taking any form of NSAIDs, aspirin in particular.
That's gonna skew you favorably. But otherwise, as you know, very little, you could do over one night. It'd be more of the course of a couple of weeks that would impact one way or the other. And by the way omega-3 fatty acids, as we've come to learn, are credibly anti-inflammatory. So your omega-3, they've done these these studies, omega-3 saturation is directly correlated with downstream 11 dehydrothromboxing.
So great idea to keep your finger on the pulse for general levels of, of inflammation and methyl. And, and I said I'd bring it up. I think that people have to understand better where they're not perceived stress. Cuz I mean, you know, for stress is for one person, one thing. It's a different [00:32:00] thing for another person.
We can learn to manage it better. Most people cope with it, it check. Four point cortisol. I like that test. As with salivary cortisol course is one of the most important you know, stress end points that we can look at, shrinks the brain. So I run this four point over the course of the day. It's supposed to peak up in the morning and then kind of calm down over the course of the evening and afternoon to prepare you for sleep.
But. We are in a state, I believe, of hyper sympathetic or sympathetic dominance. We're always go, go, go. We're always put, you know, just constantly fired up well it's revered.
JJ Virgin: Let's face it. Right, right, right. You're celebrated if you're, if you're in that state and, and, and, and so
Bryce Wylde: this is the way of the world, and I'm not saying there's easy ways and there's some easy ways, you know, breath.
There's ways in which we can ultimately increase tone, vatal tone or, or parasympathetic tone. You just mentioned a few. So going into your sauna. Really good evidence around this ultimately improving heart rate variability, which is directly correlated with vagal or parasympathetic tone immersion in cold you know, [00:33:00] environments such as you know, a, a, a cold ice back,
JJ Virgin: which is awful, like for, but these are terrible, these are stressful environments.
So you, But I do it every day at like 10 minutes. I'm in there every. 10 minutes. I just want credit . And, and so you
Bryce Wylde: know what? And that, so what that's doing in the moment is of course is creating stress, but it is the para, it is the return. So the more practice makes perfect, the more you practice this in conjunction.
I love the breathing techniques taught by Wim Hoff I think if people aren't familiar with him, they should look him up. Also simple breathing like box breath. 4, 4, 4 rule, or 5, 7, 8 rule. All these different rules that people can invoke being able to manage stress in the moment such as, you know, a cold immersion in a, in an ice bath.
But, but, but it's not the, it's not the immediate experience that very stressful. I wanna get the hell out of that cold immersion experience. It's the return. To that parasympathetic state, like, Everything is fine. I survived that. I'm gonna be okay. That translates into the brain and mental [00:34:00] aptitude that you survived and the speed at which you are able to return to parasympathetic state.
So again, from stress fight or flight to relaxed, rest and digest the speed at which you do that. Happens faster and faster over time with more
JJ Virgin: practice. It's like exercise, you know, Bingo. And I was an exercise physiologist first, and one of our big things was how quickly could you go from a, you know, target to max heart rate all the way to recovery.
And that, that's how we would track. And the challenge here is it's easy to track heart rate. How do you track, I just moved from sympathetic to parasympathetic to like, how do, how would you track.
Bryce Wylde: Again, me or what? Yeah, yeah, exactly. I would be looking at heart rate variability in the moment anyways.
And of course, you know, the, the more variable you are could dive into that, but the more variable your heart rate is beat to beat the more likely you are in a, an, you know, optimal state. That is to [00:35:00] say more likely. Able to quickly translate from sympathetic fight or flight to parasympathetic rest and digest.
I like it using technology as much as possible, but I think biochemistry is the more outpa over time. And so that four point cortisol tells me a lot. This is where I get into neuro transmits. This is where I start looking at urinary neurotransmitters on average every three months for a lot of folks.
Typically, So there's, there's two types of neurotransmitters. There's inhibitory. They ultimately are very, very useful. We don't have enough of those as a, as a society by and large. And there's excitatory. I think, again, like we are in the state of sympathetic dominance, our excitatory neuro hormones are often too high.
So you can be in sympathetic state or always stressed out and, and and, and, and, and having negative. Mental, emotional experiences related to neurochemical imbalance or neurotransmitter imbalance because your neuro inhibitory levels are too low, such as gaba. I see that all the time. Gamma neoteric acid it's a neurotransmitter.
You can also supplement with this. It's often too [00:36:00] low. It makes the individual feel as if they are in sympathetic dominance or in some cases neuro excitatory hormones, like adrenaline nor adrenaline. Serotonin. They're too. So I work with folks in order to help balance and equilibrate those things, often using amino acids or phytonutrient.
Biochemical what we call modulation is the end game. So there's all kinds of wonderful functional biochemistry that we can look at to help folks manage this from a a neurological nutrition supplementation form. But this autonomia I think, I mean, one of the things that I personally do besides cold dunks, like you and, and sauna, Is forest bathing, you know, so something, the Japanese call Shinrin Yoku.
JJ Virgin: I was right. So I was just at Asheville for a wedding at the Biltmore, and they had that on the, they had two things on the the list of like, activities. And one of them was chocolate meditation, which sadly I was not around for. I'm like, I'm in. And the other one was that, but they both were there at, you know, I, I couldn't fit the schedule and I was like, What on earth is forest bathing?[00:37:00]
What is.
Bryce Wylde: So the, It's really interesting. So this is not just getting out into nature and immersing yourself in greenery and having a nice time, you know, walking around a forest, although it is that. There's a number of elements to forest bathing. The Japanese refer to this and, you know, particularly the Oki Nawa, which is kind of like, you know, Hawaii Paradise Offshore Japan, where fent areas, people that live beyond a hundred exist in large population compared to the, at the average, particularly females actually.
And they've made it a habit of science, of forest bathing. So, a couple of factors are going on here. One, this is just like we talked about a moment ago, hormedic. The hormesis is that really perfect sort of bell curve, where too little of something, a substance or a stressor, whether it's exercise or cold plunging, too little of that.
It's not gonna do much too lit, Too much might kill you, but it's that perfect goldilock zone of getting the right exposure. Turns out, you know fight Osage, which are. Naturally emitted, volatile organic compounds from nature, from plants, from trees are emitted that cause us just enough stress [00:38:00] that our natural killer cells are evoked.
So our immune system, frontline innate immunity, goes up in, in a forest amongst greenery. Turned out there's also negative ions, which counterintuitively might sound bad for you, but actually really good for you. These negative ions boost serotonin with a feel good hormone. Particularly and of course you're familiar with Hoberman, the Hoberman lab.
When you do this first thing in the morning and you get that, you know, amazing sunlight coming through the tree crest and hitting the, you know, the, the bottom of your of your eye, where mostly your photo receptors are shutting off melatonin, the sleep hormone, the brain only wants that at night and turning on serotonin, the day hormone, that's gonna evoke, you know, more than just feel.
And a proper circadian rhythm translating to a better sleep at night. But again, so immune function goes up, you know, feel good. You do this with people, other friends or family and you're now emoting. And so there's, there's an impression, the
JJ Virgin: heart hat, but what are you doing? So like, I mean, Tim and I went out hiking.
I called to me hiking as you [00:39:00] go up a hill. So like I hiked in Peru. This was not hiking, Was walking through the forest. When they call it force bathing, I mean, are you lying in the dirt? What are you doing? Are you just standing there? Like what is so
Bryce Wylde: you're, you're not grabbing a bar of Irish spring and washing down.
And it's exactly like you said, you don't even have, We're explaining all the benefits here, but at the end of the day, force bathing is just you immersing yourself in. Thick, green nature. You already did it. That's it. It's that easy. Since I doing
JJ Virgin: it, Here's the thing, Bryce, I'll tell you. So we were also staying in an Airbnb with a bunch of friends and we went hiking out there two days in a row, and on the second day, driving down to the hike.
We saw a family of black bears. Now it's very different hiking when there are bears about, It's a very different , like you are on total alert. Right? So maybe that was part of it. I don't know. Maybe that's part of forest bathing.
Bryce Wylde: Yeah. What is a black, black fight? Back brown. Lie down white. You, I can't remember.
But anyways, the idea is yeah, of [00:40:00] course you're just gonna wanna be in some place where there's, you know, a sense. You know trust that you're safe. Yeah.
JJ Virgin: There's no spiders, poison, oak or ivy, and no bears, but that doesn't exist. I guess that would be like a Disney forest. Yeah. Anyway, that is . That is super cool.
I could go on all day with you now. I'm glad that there is. That, that you were giving the books. I know we've just touched the surface of this and I think the, the big through line of this is again, and you know you have lifespan, we've looked at lifespan without health span. Makes no sense. Who wants to live a long time poorly, like that's, The worst thing I can imagine is, is living and being kind of like a, you know, like trapped in your body or trapped in your mind, so terrible.
Then there's the health span, but that really doesn't address really keeping that cognitive ability up. And so I love this new coining of, of brain span because it is so key critical. So you're gonna get the book, it's [00:41:00] to get the ebook that will give you what you need to look for and what you can measure, and then what you can do about it.
And as you saw, there's a lot of information that you wouldn't normally think about. And I'll tell you, I, I think that kind of moving forward, we're, we're seeing a big shift. At least I hope we are. And it's not just cuz I'm focusing on it, but that this shift to really looking at our nervous system.
Knowing that we need to make this sympathetic to parasympathetic shift, that we've got to take care of our nervous system we never talked about before. I think that the pandemic shown a bright light on, on what is going on, and that if we don't take care of this, it's gonna massively take down our health and especially our brain health.
Bryce Wylde: I couldn't have said it better myself. And there's, there's why I, I, I would be remiss if I didn't also, we talked about it in the book, but if I didn't also underscore the importance of. Of testing annually. Something as simple as a Montreal Mini cognitive, Montreal Mini mental keeping an awareness as to your [00:42:00] cognitive scores.
This is memory and function of the brain. Where would someone do that? Very inexpensively with their family doctor. Just request it earlier. And you know, folks can understand how their predisposition to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, you know, might be upon them. And and there's a lot they can do, of course to reverse manage, stop and even reverse that.
JJ Virgin: Nice. And yeah, I think that's the most important thing here is, is I know preventative health is the toughest thing to. Like, you know, but boy, especially with brain health, you don't wait until you start to really see these signs and you're in trouble.
Bryce Wylde: So it's, it's the, it's the subtitle of the book. If folks really wanna wake up and do something, the most important thing they can do for their health is ask themselves that very question.
What have I done for my brain today? And it should be a plethora, multifactoral number of things. And they, if they do that they will advantage the rest of their body as we just concluded.
JJ Virgin: Nice. That's a great way to end. What have you done for your brain today? Thank you so much, Dr. Bryce.
[00:43:00] Wylde. Got it. Thank you. I
Bryce Wylde: super appreciate you. My pleasure. Thank you.
JJ Virgin: All right. Oh my gosh. Forest bathing. I mean, who knew? I gotta tell you, when I heard forest bathing, I'm like, are these like people running around the forest naked? What is this? So now we know, now we know I'm gonna just do my backyard bathing, I think is what I'm gonna start with. Since I have. Palm trees and grass, and I live on a canal, which is super awesome.
So I wanna remind you again, be sure to grab that book, spanners. And if you have not yet subscribed to the show, go to There you go, so you never miss an episode. All right, I'll see you next time. Bye.


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