E104 - Ultra-wellness for hard-charging executives - strategies with Alessandra Edwards

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Tired, wired, and frustrated? Having trouble sleeping? Health expert Alessandra Edwards reveals latest research on what we can do to improve sleep and achieve ULTRA-WELLNESS. We talk sleep strategies, how genetics affect the usefulness of sleep hygiene habits, rules for meal timing, infrared saunas and cryotherapy.

  • Sleep architecture and how other factors like genetics may impede your results

  • Optimum timing of meals to ensure the best night sleep

  • Fasting for beginners and how it can turn us into fat burners - yeah!



EDGE OF LEADERSHIP UNCONFERENCE, 21-22 March 2019: details here

About Alessandra Edwards:


Alessandra Edwards is a peak performance expert with over a decade’s experience working at the cutting edge of tailored health and ultra-wellness programs for corporate and government leaders, elite athletes and high flyers locally and internationally.

Combining a background in Health Science with a Postgraduate Professional Certificate in Genetics and Genomics from Stanford University, as well as a decade of clinical nutritional practice, Alessandra equips leaders and teams who are feeling tired, wired and frustrated by how this is affecting their professional and personal performance with simple and effective scientific solutions to unlock unstoppable energy, vitality and resilience.


Zoë:                     Hi, it's Zoe Routh, and I just finished an interview with Alessandra Edwards, today's guest. I've interviewed her before and she's amazing. She's an expert in biochemistry and nutrition and biohacking for high charging performance athletes. And in today's interview we go through a deep dive into sleep, into fasting, into cryotherapy and saunas. So it's some fast track deep insights into the latest technology and approaches to making you the best version of your executive, high performing, hard charging, ultra-wellness machine. Let's do it.

Speaker 2:          Welcome to the Zoe Routh Leadership Podcast, your source of strategies and insights to make you a better leader. Influence, improve, inspire.

Zoë:                     Hello. It's Zoe Routh and I'm here with the tremendously amazing Alessandra Edwards who I've had the pleasure of both interviewing before and working with over the last year or two. And I'm delighted about what we're talking about today which is advanced biohacking for super charged professionals. And here's a little bit of her official bio. I'm going to read it out because it's impressive, just like she is. So Alessandra Edwards is a peak performance expert with over a decade's experience working at the cutting edge of tailored health and ultra-wellness programs. I love that, ultra-wellness. I'm up for that. For corporate and government leaders, elite athletes and high fliers, locally and internationally.

Zoë:                     She has a background in health science for the post grad professional certificate in genetics and genomics, no idea what the difference is between those two, from Stanford University, which is very impressive, as well as a decade of clinical nutritional practice. So Alessandra equips leaders and teams who are feeling tired, wired, and frustrated and how this is affecting their professional, personal performance. And she gives us simple, effective, scientific solutions to unlock unstoppable energy, vitality, and resilience. I feel like I needed to have an American voiceover for that.

Alessandra:       But that sounds really good. I do remember writing it, but as you said, it's like, wow that sounds really good. Is that me?

Zoë:                     But I love bios because it's like, wow, it's like the ultimate version of self where meanwhile it's like we're rushing-

Alessandra:       Ultra wellness.

Zoë:                     Ultra wellness. So welcome Alessandra, and Alessandra has just come in from the gym, so she says she's a bit sweaty. I think she just looks fabulous. All right, so since we last did our last interview which was over a year ago I think, what's the latest thing you've been learning and working on when it comes to executive performance?

Alessandra:       I've become really, really interested in understanding the fine tuning of circadian rhythms for optimal performance. So let me break that down a little bit. So probably many of your listeners are familiar with the term circadian cycle in terms of sleep. So that basically, it's the sleep wake cycle. And there's a few different blogs out there that talk about sleep optimisation. Many people now have heard that blue light at night from screens is detrimental to our sleep. And so there's been a lot of information and little tips and hacks on, here are the things you should do, the wind down in the hour before sleep and that it's really important.

Alessandra:       And whilst that is important, it seemed to me that I didn't quite understand why we should put so much emphasis on just 60 minutes or 90 minutes before sleep, where what happens for the rest of the day. And so it turns out that that's not misinformation, but it's literally like zooming in with your lens on such a small aspect of the whole puzzle, which is the sleep wake cycle. And so that's really focusing very much on our internal clock that's in the brain, and very much responds to light cues. So, if you imagine that our genes have evolved over hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years, and it's relatively recently that we've got electricity, then it makes sense to think that, okay, well we're literally tricking our brains to thinking it is not sunset, it is not night-time because we've got electricity, or we're looking at screens.

Alessandra:       However it's a lot more detailed and interesting than that, because it turns out that we actually have clocks that are not just in the brain, but we have peripheral clocks that are also based throughout our body. And these response from cues from the environment, so the light that we're exposed to or the darkness, but they also respond to timed eating and exercise.

Zoë:                     Okay, pause, pause. I got to digest all that. So press pause. And also I think your microphone is jiggling against something in front of you. Yeah, so there's a bit of a snappling, scratching sound.

Alessandra:       Ah, I couldn't hear it.

Zoë:                     I can hear it.

Alessandra:       Okay.

Zoë:                     So that's okay. If you can keep it from jiggling that would be-

Alessandra:       Just keep it. Yeah. I'll try not to move so much.

Zoë:                     Okay. Cool. So basically circadian rhythms are affected by our contemporary society, specifically light rhythms, and blue light blockers, blue light coming from screens and so on, which yeah, I have my yellow blue light blockers, my orange blue light blockers I put on at night. And are you finding that it's true that the screen time and artificial light is having a major impact on our circadian rhythms, our natural sleep patterns?

Alessandra:       It depends on the person. I found that for some people that is significant, and for others changing that does not really give them the gains in terms of both length and quality of sleep that they wish for.

Zoë:                     What, really? So for some people it is and some people it doesn't.

Alessandra:       Yeah, so I'm not saying that it is not a good habit to turn down the lights and do the wind down routines because those are specific cues that tell our nervous system, okay, it's time to ... We're not in work mode anymore. We're winding down. It's time to produce the neurotransmitters that foster good sleep. However, I have found that it really depends on the person how much of an impact that has. So I'll give you an example. I recently worked with an executive who was having significant sleep issues, okay. And then I worked with someone else who worked in a different industry but still working very long hours and also had sleep issues. And when we started tracking their sleep architecture, so we were actually ... What this means is basically, so the sleep architecture is the frame upon which your sleep is constructed, if you like, and we all have patterns that go on every night.

Alessandra:       So we're going to light sleep, REM sleep, deep sleep. There's different cycles. And we all need to have a balance between these cycles. Now we implemented exactly the same wind down strategies with yellow lens, blue light blockers, same brand. We did exactly the same wind down, and for one person that really changed the level of deep sleep they had. And for the other person it makes no difference at all. However when for the other person we actually removed caffeine, because we knew that genetically they were not very well adapted and they had a very slow caffeine detoxifier gene, the sleep architecture changed entirely. So this is what I just like to say that by all means, you can try out all these things like the blue light blockers, making sure that you turn off your laptop an hour and a half before you go to bed, but don't despair that if your sleep quality does not improve, there may be other things at play.

Alessandra:       So one of them could be, for example, caffeine. The other thing, and actually with caffeine, I'll like to explain why that is, because we tend to think of caffeine as a stimulant, which it is. So it releases adrenaline and cortisol. So it has that stimulatory effect. However when it comes to sleep, the main issue with caffeine is that it interferes with something called sleep pressure. So we all build up sleep pressure throughout the day, and its directed by a chemical adenosine. We all have this. So throughout the day from the moment we wake up adenosine starts to build up and melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, goes down. So as adenosine builds up and up and up, yeah, it just keeps sitting on receptors in the brain that are linked to sleep.

Alessandra:       When it gets to evening and adenosine has got to its maximum level, we literally just fall asleep. We're too tired. And this is why, when you miss sleep, and they've done studies to see how long can a person go without sleeping, you eventually just cannot help themselves, like literally the rational part of your brain cannot override this because adenosine just keeps building and building and building and is only reset and removed from the receptors once you have slept. The caffeine sits on exact receptors as adenosine. So it basically moves the sleep pressure out of the way and if you're not breaking down caffeine because of whatever genetic variants you have, then it's just going to sit and sit and sit on these sleep receptors, and adenosine is just going around with nowhere to sit. So it's going to be impacting your ability to fall asleep or go back to sleep when you're awake. So that's one point.

Zoë:                     Yeah. So I don't metabolize caffeine as well. That's one thing that we discovered in our work together. And thank goodness I gave up coffee ages ago. But that's really fascinating that caffeine can bump off adenosine. So just onto your point about there's research how long can you can without sleeping, how long can you go?

Alessandra:       I knew you were going to ask me that, and I didn't look up the exact day, but it's quite a lot. It's longer that you think. From memory I think it might be something like five days.

Zoë:                     Oh my goodness.

Alessandra:       But not doing very well. Really you start losing function, body function. But don't quote me on it because in fact it might be a lot less. But what was really interesting looking at those studies is to see how literally without sleep your body completely breaks down, and people can end up with psychotic episodes, hallucinations, and obviously it's an extreme way to prove to ourselves how important sleep is, but I think it's a useful thing to remember and I think this is one of the things that I notice about a lot of people in professional circles that there is a little bit of this kind of myth that goes round of self delusion, what I call the self delusion bubble that we all like to seem that we are really stronger than we really are. And I meet many, many people who are 100% convinced that they can function on five hours of sleep a night, five, six hours, and that's all they need.

Alessandra:       And we've got some great examples also in history like Margaret Thatcher was famously quoted to say she only needed four hours of sleep. Well, you know, she ended up with dementia, that so ... And so the thing is, when you actually look into it, it turns out that this notion that, oh I can function well on four hours sleep, five hours sleep, and I'm totally fine with it, it's a complete myth because you actually have a higher chance of being hit by lightning than you have of having the specific genes required to sustain well being and energy without sleep, just with four hours of sleep. So when you look at these stats, you realise why we're all basically chronically underslept. And a lot of cases of ... You know, I work with a lot of people that are really very high performers, and so they're really trying to access that extra one, two, three percent that's going to give them an extra edge.

Alessandra:       One of the things that I hear a lot is that when people are tired they say, "Look, I generally function absolutely fine, but I have these cycles of brain fog, and I'm sure that it's just to do with a bit of aging." So I like to put it out there is that brain fog is never normal at any age. And the number one thing to look at manipulating yourself, and you don't need any coaching for this, you don't need to pay any money, is to actually sleep an extra one or two hours a night for a week. Just do that and see what happens to the brain fog. Now if you still have the brain fog after that there's might be other things related to blood sugar metabolism, thyroid, but that is a very simple key intervention that I recommend to everybody.

Zoë:                     Okay. So long story short, sleep is important. Caffeine has an impact potentially. We need more than what we're getting. What are some other things that would cause people to not sleep well? So they've got their sleep architecture right in terms of what they're doing before bed and how they set up their bedroom. They've quit caffeine, so they're not doing caffeine before bed. What else might cause sleep disturbance?

Alessandra:       Timing of eating, food timing. Yeah. And I love to put a spanner in the works because it's all these things I talk about, and it's actually the things are actually quite potentially challenging to implement if you are working long hours. But the thing is when we eat has also been shown to impact the kind of sleep we have. And this is because if we have a late dinner our heart rate is going to be higher, yeah. So the quicker our heart rate can settle into a calmer state, so a lower beat, the deeper and more restorative the sleep is going to be. So whether it's ... Some of my clients report habits of grazing, evening grazing, so maybe they have their dinner even at a normal time.

Zoë:                     What's normal?

Alessandra:       So well it depends when you go to sleep. So I'd say dinner 7:00 PM would be an acceptable dinner. But eating earlier might be even better, although it's really quite unlikely that people in professional environments are going to be able to have dinner before 7:00 PM. But certainly having dinner around 9:00 PM and finishing around 9:30, aiming to be in bed by half ten, that's too short of a ... To allow the digestive process to be completed and then allow for restorative sleep to-

Zoë:                     So how much time do we need between our last meal and going to sleep?

Alessandra:       A minimum three hours ideally.

Zoë:                     Oh. I go to bed at 9:00. That means really I need to be finishing dinner by 6:00, which is what I've told my husband every day. So it's a problem, you're right, from a lifestyle point of view, because I go and pick him up after work and often it's after 6:00 that I pick him up, so dinner isn't before 7:00, therefore it's two hours or less being going to bed. Sounds like a chronic challenge.

Alessandra:       Yeah, so that is a challenge. It can be challenging for people, so there are different things that we can do about it. And really depends also what stage of life you're at and people with young kids might be harder, so it really depends. But there are certain suggestions that cam work. Firstly, you could actually lighten your dinner and turning the bulk of your eating into breakfast and lunch and perhaps having a more substantial mid-afternoon snack. And then dinner could be vegetarian based. So more vegetarian, more carbohydrate based, like good quality carbohydrates, not pizza and cream laden pasta, but perhaps a brown rice based dish or a light vegetarian stir fry with some buckwheat noodles, something like that. And then utilising portion control.

Alessandra:       Now if you started the day just not having breakfast and just having coffee or having a piece of toast on the run or a couple of Weetabix, you're going to be building up a nutrient, particularly macro nutrients, so in terms of your protein, deficit throughout the day. So by the time you get home you'll be starving, because your brain is literally registering that you haven't eaten enough for the day. So you're not going be able to switch things around until you actually intervene earlier on in the day. So literally just switching your dinner with breakfast in terms of quantity and density of nutrients. So things like stir fry’s, vegetarian soups, those kind of things. So you can still have the social aspect of the dinner, but you're eating less and you're eating lighter.

Zoë:                     This is a winner. I'm so excited about this. I'm happy to eat more during the day because I get quite hungry. And then if I just have a lighter meal it doesn't matter as much when I eat it, and I can still eat with my husband, which would be nice.

Alessandra:       Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And the benefits from this also stem from the fact that it's not just impacting the quality of sleep but actually we now know, it's impacting also metabolism and our ability to deal with sugar metabolism, and weight gain. So we talk a lot about fasting, also I mean, there is a lot of talk about fasting as something that people can access to improve wellness and lose weight. And it's really interesting to see that of all the kinds of fasts that help, the overnight fast actually is the most beneficial when there are some issues related to blood sugar metabolism.

Zoë:                     Okay, so what does that mean, overnight fast?

Alessandra:       So overnight fast means to basically having a longer time overnight when we're not eating. And the way to do that is to have either an early dinner or in some cases skipping dinner altogether and just having a late afternoon snack. And you also perhaps push breakfast a little bit later so that you enough up with around a 16 hour window every day when we were not consuming food, calories. So a lot of the new science around ant-aging, and protecting our cells in time is actually related to the fact that we over consume. It's no longer about just the quality of the food, but it's particularly the quantity and the timing of the food. And thinking that ancestrally we just would not have had at our disposal the amount of calories are rather widely available to us on a daily basis.

Alessandra:       So what happens is that if we were to think of our body as a tool and you're just constantly using it. So every time we eat food we expend resources to break down that food. We have to produce enzymes to digest the food. We have to then absorb all the nutrients. We have to take the sugars out of the food then burn it, or store it. All of that is really energy intensive and requires quite a lot of wear and tear from all the mechanism in our body. What we have found is that by allowing these regulated windows when we don't eat, our body goes into a process that's called autophagy, so it starts literally breaking itself down.

Zoë:                     It sounds terrible.

Alessandra:       It does, didn't it? Yeah, it's basically self eating, but it's not saying-

Zoë:                     Oh.

Alessandra:       It sounds cheap doesn't it.

Zoë:                     Autophagy, you're eating yourself.

Alessandra:       But basically you're giving yourself, your body the chance to break down old scaffolding and old frames that no longer work and building new ones.

Zoë:                     And that's a good thing? That's a good thing to do?

Alessandra:       That's a good thing. It's the same as, if you had a car and you never service it and you just keep going and going and going and you never stop to take the time to replace the tires, put the oil in, look at the electrics, all that kind of stuff, you know eventually what's going to happen is that you will then have to spend thousands of dollars because something major is going to happen. But if you give that car the time to stop and not work, and actually inputting some servicing and maintenance, that car will last you probably an extra five years, five to ten years.

Zoë:                     So fasting is a way of allowing the body to ditch the old scaffolding crud that's in the way and rescaffold.

Alessandra:       Love the crud. That's the crud and the crusts and the scabs.

Zoë:                     Oh man.

Alessandra:       Get some new fresh cells.

Zoë:                     Well I have to say, I started doing the 16/8 fast probably in October last year, and it took a couple weeks to adjust to. I couldn't make the full 16 hours at first because I get too hungry and would want to hit someone or something. And then eventually ... Now it's fine. Today I broke my fast at ten past twelve, after finishing dinner at 7:00, a little bit late. And I was actually not that hungry, but I knew that I had a couple things to do being I could eat again, so I'm like, "Well, I got to eat now because I will be really hungry later."

Zoë:                     But so the hunger factor goes. And so that has been fascinating because I've also told myself, "I'm hypoglycemic. I need to eat every two hours or I go into this weird zombie land of first frustration and then brain weirdness." So what's your experience in working with clients who are similar to me where it's like, "I got to eat. I got to eat." And now it's like, "Ah I can fast." And now I do a weekly 24 hour fast as well. So what's happening biochemically in the body with that?

Alessandra:       So I'd say first of all if you're thinking of adopting quite considerable fasting window, like the 16-8, like you mentioned, or doing a 24 hour fast, which can be done in different ways, but you could do dinner to dinner, the first thing is to have a quick check-up with your GP. And particularly you want to be looking at your fasting blood glucose. And especially if there is any sort of diabetes or in the past you've become a bit shaky when you miss meals. Just want to get a little bit of that baseline reading because if you are prediabetic, which is very, very common in Australia and in the US. So prediabetic means that you don't have as tight a regulation on your blood sugar when you fast and when you eat. And so you're on your way to having full blown type 2, late onset diabetes.

Alessandra:       So get that marker in and get your GP to say, "Yeah, that's fine. That's all good." And then work out increasingly longer periods for that fasting. So if you're someone who, like you said, you knew that you get really, really hungry or cranky. Some people can get headaches, then the first thing to do is actually first of all look at the previous meal that you've had, because if you've had the previous meal that was, for example, cereal, or a sandwich, it's going to be quite difficult for you to stretch the time between the meals, especially when initially you're not fat adapted. So you're not as adapted to efficiently turn on fat as a source of fuel. So preferentially the body utilised glucose from food, and we get basically glucose from two sources, either the food that we eat or if there is no food, then it basically ... We can break down things in our body to turn into glucose.

Alessandra:       So we can even turn protein into glucose. Or the body can start turning on fat as a source of production of energy, and then we'll produce ketones from there. So the first thing, look at the previous meal, and if you've had that problem then increase the protein in that meal. So it could be having ... Mare sure that there's a palm sized portion of protein, whether it's fish or chicken or tofu if you're vegetarian, handful of nuts. And then see whether that allows to go a little bit extra with it. In the initial stages you might have to either shorten the window of the fasting, or allow yourself a little bit of subsistence in between, so something like a green juice for example, might just be enough to do that. Or maybe like four or five nuts chewed slowly.

Alessandra:       And you'll find that in time, if you start timing the meals like I said, so having a more considerable meal in the morning that you will slowly become more adapted to that. Now if you have type 2 diabetes or you're on your way to diabetes you really need to do this under supervision because you will have very poor regulation of this blood sugar supply and you can become hypoglycemic which is really, really dangerous. Or for example for some diabetic clients, doing the long overnight fast does not work for them.

Alessandra:       They actually end up with really high fasting blood glucose levels because they had this rebound mechanism. So they might become hypo in the night without knowing, so the body just releases masses of glucose to bring it back up. But if you're well, absolutely. We have fasted for hundreds of thousands of years and that's why we have got this ability to switch from burning glucose from carbohydrates to utilising fat. We are really very well adapted to do that.

Zoë:                     So does fasting help us move from being a glucose burner to more fat adapted, is that one of the things that helps us move to doing that?

Alessandra:       It does. It doesn't mean that you need to stay in that ketogenic phase forever. It's just that your body's going to get better, as you said, at switching between the fuel sources. And also look, as I said, it depends on what the meal you've eaten beforehand, because that meal will still go to ... If you've had carbohydrate based meal, you will still go to replenish your glycogen stores in your muscles. So glycogen is basically where sugar is stored, it's the first port of call where the sugar that's not being utilised for energy then gets stored. And it's stored in the liver and in the muscles, but it has a finite amount of space. So if you're not a bodybuilder who's got a massive muscle mass, that glucose store is probably going to last you maybe 10 hours overnight, 8 hours, it really is depends on the person. And so it's only once you have defeated that glycogen that then you're going to access that fat for energy production.

Zoë:                     Okay. Well that's good to know because when we first started working together you told me that I was not a good fat adapter and that my body was basically breaking down my protein and my muscles to feed itself instead of using my love handles.

Alessandra:       That's so annoying isn't it. I just want to get the camera and go, here, here.

Zoë:                     That's right.

Alessandra:       Yeah, so that's a simple blood test again that your listeners can have access to with their GP. So you're basically just looking at the ratio of something called urea to your creatinine. So you basically want to get to around 70% of that ratio, and I think at the time your ratio, which is very common, was around the 45%, 50% mark. So it just means that there was a lot of breakdown of the protein going on.

Zoë:                     Yeah. Yeah. Well hopefully we've improved that.

Alessandra:       Yeah. And look, and that's also really common. So common for a couple of reasons, first of all it's more common in women, because we just don't have as much bulk, because we don't have as much testosterone as men. It's also more common as we age because from age 30 we start decreasing muscle mass, year in and year out. And then especially if you are pescatarian or vegetarian, where generally there's not as much protein in the diet and more reliant on carbohydrates. So it's combination of different practice, but it's super, super common.

Zoë:                     So the key tip is eat more protein.

Alessandra:       I know this sounds like a real old hat thing from the 1980s but, you generally speaking, you know I do a lot of blood testing and the vast majority of people I see are actually undernourished when it comes to protein. And so they're really struggling to lose weight, but until you have redressed that balance, it's actually really, really hard to do. So if you're constantly focused on a carbohydrate based diet, first of all the body still makes you hungry, so this has been proven that satiety, so feeling full is best triggered by protein more than any other macro in the diet. And so by doing that, by increasing the protein, especially in the early part of the day you will find that you don't feel like snacking so much at night.

Zoë:                     Yeah. That's good. And you're right. I've been tracking my macros in the app you told me to, the MyNetDiary one. And consistently day after day it's like, not enough protein, not enough protein. I'm like, aaah. I'm trying to eat more protein.

Alessandra:       Yeah, and it's just a little bit harder obviously, because if you have 100 grams of chicken, it's a lot easier to achieve than if you're relying on beans, for example.

Zoë:                     Beans and tofu and eggs and stuff, yeah. Okay cool. Well so I've got another last question for you. There's some tech stuff that's come out in terms of the ultra ... Ultra wellness.

Alessandra:       I need to develop a jingle. Every time I say, then it is like the ultra-wellness that comes out.

Zoë:                     Oh, that was good. That was good. And I want your opinion on them. So the first one is infrared saunas. Are they useful? Are they better than regular saunas, that's the first question. Second question is around cryotherapy where you stand in the-

Zoë:                     Yeah, okay, so let's start with infrared saunas. What can you tell me about the research around them.

Alessandra:       Yeah, I think infrared saunas are absolutely great. Not everyone can have Finnish, the traditional Finnish sauna where you've got 80 to 100 degrees in a wooden cabin, and then having access to Icelandic conditions outside. So I think infrared saunas are really great. They work very, very well. It means that you can tolerate staying in the sauna for a bit longer because the temperatures are generally between 45 and 60 degrees rather than 80 to 100. And they work really well. So the evidence is that they are very effective, and the benefits are the same as having a traditional Finnish sauna. So they work on the principle that they are increasing your core temperature quite quickly, and that basically releases some proteins in the body that then turn on a number of mechanisms in our cells.

Alessandra:       So they increase something called nitric oxide which we all have and it's really beneficial for us because it dilates our vessels, so it's really good for cardiovascular health. So all the benefits of the traditional sauna are the same. So you will have increased heart rate. You will have increased flow to the skin, increased output from your heart. So it's very, very beneficial, and they have been shown to be a really good way to sweat out toxins. So I recommend them when there is a history of heavy metals stored in the body. My one caveat all saunas in general, and sweating in general, so anything that increases your body temperature and sweats is to be mindful of your electrolyte intake. And this is because we're eating something like 79% less electrolytes in our diet than our ancestors did thousands of years ago.

Zoë:                     How? How is that possible that we're eating less electrolytes?

Alessandra:       Because we're not eating as much roughage, as many greens, and as many vegetables. So the bulk of diet would have been from grazing then with intakes of meat following hunts. But overall in terms of the amount of minerals, you know potassium and magnesium, all these things would have been higher in the diet. And again it's something that we see through the blood so most people have a real imbalance of these electrolytes. And if you're sweating then on top of that, then you're going to be losing them more. So the things that reduce the electrolytes are a low plant based diet. So if you're not having five ... We used to say five serves of veg a day, so it would be the equivalent of five cups of raw vegetables or a mixture of cooked veggies. We're now, in terms of the space of ultra-wellness and anti-aging, we're looking at nine to twelve serves per day. That's a lot.

Alessandra:       So first of all not having the high plant intake. Secondly stress, which you show me the man who's not stressed these days. Everybody is stressed, so that utilises a lot of those electrolytes. And then so overall we've become quite acidic. So then if you go and sweat or exercise a lot, that's going to deplete you even further. And the issue with that then is that you'll start seeing things like blood pressure rising, increased stress response, so decreased resilience, increased anxiety, and some people when they get really, really low and they've got a genetic tendency, she can even go into panic attacks, and that's just can purely be resolved with electrolytes. So, I'd say if you've got a regular sauna practice, good quality electrolytes without neon colours and sugars in it. And then just that sip that throughout your sauna session.

Zoë:                     Okay. That's good to know. Didn't know about the electrolyte piece. So let's talk about cryotherapy which is if you haven't heard of this before, it's an upright capsule looking thing that shoots liquid nitrogen around you and deep freezes your body for about three minutes. Did I get that right? And how does it work? And tell me about what do you think about this practice.

Alessandra:       Yeah, look, I'm a little bit dubious about it. Even so I've looking for evidence, looking at the scientific evidence. But anecdotally, I do know people who have done it and have lost some centimetres if you want to think of it in those terms. However it comes back. So there's a bit of that anecdotal evidence. Now looking at the actual scientific evidence, this has come from studies based on athletes and the management of injury and inflammation post injury with application of ice packs. So first of all the difference is that in that traditional management it was done with actual skin exposure. So the ice pack would be placed actually on the tissue whereas that fat machines are actually based on, as you said, nitrogen based. So it's the air around the body rather than actual contact on the skin.

Alessandra:       So the evidence is that ice application works incredibly well to interrupt pain communication to the brain. And it also reduces, if done quickly, the level of inflammation because it slows down the white cells going to the injury. So there's going to but less swelling and a faster recovery. As to the actual evidence that this does anything to fat, I haven't seen it. I'm not saying it's not out there but I even did a recent search to prepare for the podcast and I couldn't really find anything that's related. So I would say, you know, you can try it. There's have been some concerns in the States about potential injuries and skin burns and that kind of stuff, but I'm sure that it's done, within a professional context, that's it's done quite well. So it's something that people could try. I just don't know at the moment, we don't really have the evidence to say either way.

Zoë:                     Yeah. Well I was wondering about that. There's a place down the road that offers cryotherapy and it's got a new treatment which is like spot cryotherapy where they use a wand and they basically apply the liquid nitrogen against your fat deposits to get rid of your cellulite. So the theory is that it freezes the cells and then they burst and the body gets rid of them. I'm like, "That sounds nasty."

Alessandra:       Yeah, it sounds nasty and as I said, I've heard anecdotally that it's worked very well for some people. Obviously just treat it like a band aid, because it's not really addressing the reason why those fat deposits are there in the first place. But I think you should give it a go and then report back and let us know, A, is it painful? Because it sounds painful.

Zoë:                     It does sound painful. Sit in -800, which is what they say it is for three minutes. I'm like, I don't think one-

Alessandra:       You're Canadian. That's your spring isn't it?

Zoë:                     Ah, I'm a wussy Canadian. Why do you think I'm living in Australia. My goodness. I complain when it gets to ten degrees here. That's above zero. All right, well I'll consider putting my butt as a road tester for you Alessandra.

Alessandra:       You're so generous. I just love that generosity of your spirit that always comes from this woman.

Zoë:                     I love it. So yeah, my butt can be the test dummy for this one and I'll see how it goes. I'll have to take before and after picture. We may not publish these.

Alessandra:       I think that you should take a friend actually to be the control. And in the capsule there's placebos, so they get the cold, but there's not as much cold and then see what happens.

Zoë:                     Yeah right. So I wonder if you can do the treatment without ... Yeah, the placebo affect. Okay. Maybe I'll just do that and see if I can mentally imagine my fat froze. Yeah, that sounds much cheaper too. I mean this process is not cheap, that's for sure. It's expensive.

Alessandra:       Well next time you have ... Sorry, I could go on, but next time you have a ski trip to Japan, just go and sit on a glacier.

Zoë:                     I'll just strip down and just sit outside the inn and just wave at the Japanese people seeing my, "Ha, ha. I'm just working on my cellulite."

Zoë:                     Okay. We've gone off a little bit of yeah, probably a good time to end.

Alessandra:       I like to keep a high standard.

Zoë:                     It always comes down to talking about ass.

Alessandra:       Oh dear.

Zoë:                     All right, well Alessandra thank you so much. As always you have in depth knowledge about all the things that are amazing when it comes to executive high performance. And I so look forward to you coming to the UnConference and speaking to our people who are going to be there at the end of this month, end of March. That's coming up soon and we're doing some pre-assessments before we get there and I'm looking to take a deep dive with all of our attendees with you. So thank you so much.

Alessandra:       Wonderful. It's been great.


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