Biohacking Legend Andreas Breitfeld gives Sarah and Russ the cold shoulder
Andreas Breitfeld is Germany's leading expert in the field of biohacking. He joined Sarah and Russ to talk about is everyday life of ice baths, infrared and UV treatments, and much more.
Sarah: Today we have Andreas Breitfeld. And I want to bring him on because he’s done a lot in the biohacking space. And he’s got a biohacking lab, where he has all the various gadgets and things and we’ve spoken on numerous occasions, and certainly in Europe, he’s very well respected for what he does. And again, he’s another person who’s pushing boundaries and challenging what people think they can do. So hi, Andreas, thank you so much for coming on today.
Andreas: Hi Sarah. Hi, Russ, thank you so much for the invitation. And also for this very lovely kind of invite.
Sarah: Yeah, how are you?
Andreas: I can’t complain. I’m there still while recording in the midst of this pandemic. So life is still a little bit strange in Europe, as you probably have realized being back in the UK now. Here in Germany, it’s so-called summer times, so most of the time it is rainy and not that hot. But at least people are leaving their homes a little bit more so the last three or four weeks, I would say I was able to connect with people so life is getting a little bit better. And overall, yeah, I’m getting a little bit back and productive and a little bit more positive side.
Russ: The disconnection from people I think has had such an interesting impact. What have you noticed Andreas around kind of your reconnecting with people? What’s your thought?
Andreas: As much as we all love to do our scientific stuff as much as we love our experimentations, at the end it is all about seeing real faces, touching people, talking to people, getting back a little bit oxytocin and not just shooting out the energy on the internet, it’s a huge difference. So, for me, yeah, I’m at least happy for this little break. We don’t know what the Autumn is going to look like.
Russ: It’s interesting. Yeah, it’s interesting. I think, Sarah and I have never met in person. And we’ve been doing every week since October, November, December. So, I don’t even know if Sarah has legs. I have no idea. I’m assuming she does. I see pictures of her legs. But we only know each other from like, the shoulder up. I wonder constantly as biohacking and just understanding yourself, human contact has to be a big part of staying alive, right. I mean, you hear the stories of when the twin dies, other twin dies days later, and the husband dies, the wife dies days later, like, I’ve got to imagine that human contact is such an important part of longevity.
Andreas: Absolutely. I was doing this interview with Ben Greenfield a few weeks ago for Red Bull magazine, because I’m something like a consulting biohacker for Red Bull magazine in Europe right now. And so this idea of this lady who just passed a 121 years, drinking a little bit of wine every day, smoking even one cigarette a day, but being surrounded by beloved people every day. I think that’s something no matter if you look into the Blue Zones or whatever, but that’s an effect we all have lost a little bit over the last 15 months or so that’s really a human touch, the thread human context, I can jump in my ice bath every day I can do the hyperbaric chamber, I can do all the IVs and all the other nice stuff that’s somewhat extending lifespan, but am I laughing a lot while doing it? and I am feeling alive while I’m doing it? or is it just better to sit in the sun with people you really like and talk about shit?
Russ: So how does your lab work? What is this hyperbaric chamber that you’re talking about? I’m curious, when we have such a polar opposite here between sunlight and cold, like, how does it work?
Andreas: Yeah, let’s put it like this one can’t exist without the other or both kind of can exist alone. But basically, there is a connection between the cold and sun afterwards that makes somebody thrive. My story started seven years ago, as you can see I am one of older biohackers in the industry. So, I’m a classically moving away from - not moving towards something. So, for me, it was about getting rid of being sick, getting rid of being burned out, getting rid of being tired of my life to make it quite clear. After running a communication and PR agency,
I just had to reinvent myself because my body was no longer working on any level.
And after six to nine months, I had fixed myself and I was so enthusiastic about the fact that I could drink for 20 years, smoke for 20 years, treat my body so badly, and then in six or nine months come back in a form that is quite decent today. You could say I got addicted to biohacking. I started to play around I managed to fix my gut, I managed to get rid of the heavy metals in my bloodstream, I managed to cure my brain, at least on some level. I was super enthusiastic about all this modalities, all this approaches and having been trained as an editor like 25 years ago with Shape magazine, a Fitness magazine, I felt like I want to become this investigative kind of journalist who is trying out all this stuff to give some recommendations on the one or on the other level and was lucky enough to get also something like development type of job, was a textile production company that felt like some room for biohacking closing so I started to play around this little devices, bigger devices and whatever stuck in terms of I could quantify as recites or I felt like something really happening to me or even to my guests later on, that became part of this lab. But it’s not like a shiny lab, not like a next hell in Los Angeles, it’s a little bit more like this kind of craftsmen shop. It’s a little bit like, I’m severe old guy running around and showing people what I have. And then hopefully, the clients trust me enough to get the something like first wrap up and sent them over to the detailed guys who can help him a little bit longer but in the essence, also stuff around from various kinds of light therapy, red light therapy, obviously like Sarah’s topic, a little bit with UVB lamps for problems we have also in Europe, obviously this hyperbaric chamber says some kind of hypokinetic light that helps you to get in a sweet LSD like psychedelic kind of mindset without having to actually ingest any things as a little bit of pulsed electromagnetic field treatment, frequency specific micro-current, this hyperbaric oxygen chamber. And yeah, in the middle of all this and if I get it in the beginning a little bit.
Russ: So, you mentioned. Sarah, I just want to ask one question. You mentioned the term, "You fixed yourself." And I think that it’s an interesting way to put it because I think a lot of people are going through burnout. I think a lot of people are staring at themselves saying, "What am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing all this?" And life has changed so much. And I think burnout is just staring people in the face and I too, 25-year career staring at a going, "What else is there?" Walk me through that moment. What is the thing that you did first, when you said, "I need to fix myself?" I am curious how you started? Because I think that’s where everyone has the hard part is how do you get started?
Andreas: I think for me; the story was really a little bit clearer so I had to write off my life. My communication and PR and marketing agency was driving which has brought GoPro to Europe. So I was conducting press trips on the plane to South Korea, like on a by weekly basis. I had found a production company in China that was basically coining the highest quality of out to operate for most of the brands or back before they had become a marketing guy. So I was also bringing lots of editors to China and yeah, I don’t know it’s a very rude business when you conduct press trips as a PR guy, you are in charge that everybody’s happy. So I had to ride off my life, I was just disembarked out of a plane,
228,000 miles in one year in economy class
So that’s just like completely nuts anyway. And after the biggest trade show in the sporting industry, I did my [annual] trip to Thailand. The next morning, my girlfriend looked at me and said, "Darling, I guess we have to talk." And, yeah, long story short, that was the beginning, I had to realize that I had lost all my fund, that I had lost in the live, for life, in life that I lost all my hormones, every kind, no matter if it’s about being stressed or sexual hormones or whatever, there was nothing left. I was like, in the 80s, we used to have this plastic kind of cleanse and sit in the offices. And usually nobody would take care of themselves. That would be a highlight of tasks. And that was like my spirit plant or something like this dusty plastic plant.
Russ: So, that’s a great point, though Andreas, so then did you identified were your hormone levels were low and did you just try to get those hormone levels up? Is that what you first focused on?
At 42 I got on hormonal replacement therapy
So I got the bioidentical stuff for six months but it was quite funny after I guess two months, things naturally started to get up again and now nowadays, I’m fine but the takeaway for me was a little bit, if the shaft is broken, find a workshop because you’re not going to fix it completely alone. But yeah.
Sarah: Okay, and where did you go after that then, after you take in this supplemental format, where did you start with it all because it is a bit overwhelming?
Andreas: Yeah, it was and I did not have actually a super big clue, I was really aware that my brain was no longer in position it used to be, especially stuttering or not being able to articulate myself. Tim Ferriss who came up with this idea of heavy metals and the impact of heavy metals to the brain. So, we went into this topic and basically, I started with chelation therapy, and after a few rounds, I felt already better and I felt like,
Okay, but the only thing that’s really annoying is spending three hours, it’s a doctor’s office to a week so I learned to do the IVs myself and then Pandora’s box was open so I started with the self-experimenting stuff whatever I was reading
So then things developed and at the end once I had this heavy metal thing resolved, I just realized how disconnected I had to become from my own life and how disconnected life at all had become and you would open this this kind of story about how would humans have lived 5000 years ago or something like existence? And looking into, what have you been missing? A like a decent kind of bracing technique? So, it was mentally factoring for me to have three meals a day, because I always had to stop them. So once I switched to one meal a day, I felt like, "There is a room for another 2000 decisions."
Sarah: Yeah. Well, basically, you’re very successful, you were doing a lot of exercise, and you were eating a lot of protein, which I think most people are gonna say, "Well, that’s a healthy chat." Because you were doing everything to the extreme, eating the same thing, totally caning your pot, that’s really what happened there. So, it’s almost like too much of a good thing in your case.
Andreas: Yeah, that’s one thing. And of course, I was listening to another podcast you guys recorded a few weeks ago. I must admit, when I was a fitness editor for Shape magazine, we always were wondering when one or the other reader did not come to success we anticipated due to the nutrition tips or diet suggestions we were giving out. And we always felt like it’s a lack of compliance.
But no, it’s not the f*cking lack of compliance. It’s just the fact that we are all have human bodies, but not all human bodies are completely equal.
And what works for A doesn’t work for B, doesn’t work for C and just seeing, which should be so simple, is the truth that took us until the beginning of violence, the beginning of the century, that now we can admit, if you may or may not digest carbs better send your brothers and your sisters and your spouse and whatever, and vice versa. And for me some tips that would have been working for many of the people quite well didn’t work at all.
Sarah: And hence the measurement really, and hence the quantified self, because that’s how you know, having that awareness of your own biology, your own psychology, that’s how you know. So I assume you’ve got tons of different measures and monitors?
Andreas: Yeah, now a day, I must admit I’m cutting a little bit back again, but when it comes to lab works, when it comes to looking into you know, a few years ago, you’d end up with bloody fingertips because taking a look at some blood sugar or something like crucifying yourself.
Sarah: I am doing that lately
Andreas: And nowadays you have to see gems and say just yes, there are no surprises and yes, they are still having some flaws but at the end to give you a nice impression of what’s going on. You can by, determine, analyzes the goals and stuff over the internet without having to bother if your doctor feels like you need some or not, you just can get in charge of your own health and become a little bit of CO for this thing that you call your body, I think that’s, it’s the end one of the most obligation we have/
Russ: There are things that fundamentally you need to do. And I’m going to throw it out there. Maybe sunlight is a foundational thing like sunlight is a foundational thing that you need. And I’m going to assume that maybe the cold is something too so like what you consume? What you listen to? How you think all those things are personalized to you and how you react to them? But I wondering if heat and cold are things that are foundational in biohacking?
Andreas: It depends. It depends, first of all, Russ, you’d have to get that one out. And I think this biohacking. It’s a term at the end as the people who find each other under this terminology of biohacking. And everybody who is passing by is throwing in whatever he finds in his kitchen. So for me the standings the code, something I can imagine some somewhat natural because I’m coming to some insulation, but I’m seeing people who can easily do whatever, hot 10 second call, 22nd cold, 10 second cold, taking changing shower regime or something like this easily. And even if it’s just a cold shower, in the moment as a cold shower hits you. Last autumn, my older daughter was kept catching the COVID thing and so she was in quarantine at my place and we continued living together like those days and nothing else happened besides I was not allowed to leave home for 10 days and also I felt like, "Okay, I’m getting max now," and yeah, so it had like two months I couldn’t jump into the ice tub any longer because my metabolism would stop working again because it’s kind of stress with this quarantine thing nobody exactly understood why was really
Russ: Andreas, does it help reduce swelling? I mean, it just slows down the blood flow to the area where you’re swelling. But if you are doing plunges in an ice bath, does that help reduce it all over your body?
Andreas: Absolutely, yes. I would say that was something people in say, High Performance Sports were already aware of 30 years to ago. So that I think that was a reduction of swelling was the initial thing people were aware of. You can or cannot plant hermetic response to exercise if you jump into the ice bath too long directly after training. But if we’re talking about championship, a match, and you just want to be fit for the next round as quick as possible. It’s super helpful. Sarah, I think, it’s widely accepted nowadays that even in a sports science facility. So I think that’s a more or less no brainer nowadays to talk about. But even this other kinds of inflammation. I think the status the studies that are out nowadays really proves the point that even this chronic inflammation is not as a sport reaction or impact reaction, but based on malnutrition and shitty lifestyle and even probably too much exposure to electromagnetic fields on the nonliteral level. It’s really helpful to get it to cool down and best way of submerge and yeah, overall, I guess if there’s something like a superpower we all need nowadays, its resilience anyway. And there’s not much that teaches, it is still netterus that are interested in resilience better than the cold I would say.
Russ: right time of day? Is it better to do it in the morning? Better to do it in the evening? Is it...?
Andreas: I think that’s also a little bit against and equals one thing.
So for me, definitely I need to do the cold in the morning because it really raises my cortisol levels so I would not be able to go to bed after are an ice bath. I think Wim Hof is a huge fan of jumping into the cold one hour before he goes to bed likes a godfather of cold bathing
cold in the morning, heat at night and everything’s fine because if you expose yourself to a hot bath in the evening afterwards, it’s a natural reaction your body would cool down, which helps you to fall asleep. Similar a little bit with some warm socks, but in the morning I will just cold. So for me, again, n equals, one equals right fit, I get my cold thing first thing in the morning after about a jump in the light. Because also this is something we should mention for ourselves living in a kind of country where you have seasons, when spring comes out and the sun starts shining a little bit more in your champion a natural body of water and you come out you, realize that the sun feels way more intense after the cold than before. And that’s also something based on a physical process we are prepared for sunlight would also get deeper into skin after cold than before. So for our red light therapy friends out there, please use the cold as a primer.
Russ: Now I have my morning set. I am getting my seven to eight hours of sleep, not really trying. And now I’m going to go take a very cold shower bath and then go get my morning sunrise sunlight so I’m doing a 4am, ice bath and then going to get my sunrise sunlight. Okay, got it.
Andreas: I’m feeling a little bit guilty if you really have to get up at 4am to get a shower, but besides that it sounds perfect.
Russ: Yeah, well, so I say this and I’m tracking this because I have a little bit of an indication where I think I know what our seven-day challenge is going to be.
Sarah: Yes, I think too.
Russ: Andreas, tell us what it is and then Sarah and I can get prepped for it?
Andreas: It’s quite lame I would really say besides, I don’t know your personal history this cold showers but I would say if you managed to do two days, 20 seconds warm, 10 seconds cold for three minutes and three days with 10 seconds warm, 20 seconds cold with three minutes and then first to last two days I guess we have left. You really try to do this two to three minutes’ cold shower. I think we’re good to go. Because everything that’s above is, yeah, like does everybody need to go to the Olympics? I don’t think so. But do yourself a favor and take care of the neck area, take care of the upper part of the shoulder, the neck area because that really is a place where you trigger the biggest like freeze response and the upper part of the shoulders because if this studies that looks promising, that conversion from white fat to brown fat is triggered. It seems to be this part of the body where this happens most so just to make sure, I’m having on my little bit of nerdy hat. Don’t forget to show us
Sarah: Yes, I’ll tell you about my new device Andreas that’s gonna be cool. But it was really lovely to see you even if it was virtually and thanks again for coming on.
🚨Seven Day Challenge🚨
Russ: Wow. So I’m like, bundled up. I have a sweater on. I’m chilled to the bone. How are you?
Sarah: Yeah. Likewise, Yep, freezing.
Russ: Yeah. And it’s the middle of summer for me. Well, summer. So let’s talk about Andreas. I mean, what an amazing, fascinating person.
Sarah: Yes, he’s brilliant, isn’t he? Yeah. Really good guy.
Russ: Yeah, I want to go to his lab. You’ve been there.
Sarah: I haven’t been there yet. No, I haven’t. I know! He’s kind of screwed away down there in Germany. So yes, it’s on my list.
Russ: It will be very fun. I’m super excited to talk to you about this, because I feel like he really touched on a lot of things that, I’m in his position, like he talks about the stress of work and really looking at his body and I just did a bunch of doctor’s appointments because I was due for my annual physical and my thyroid counter okay but my cholesterol is through the roof. My blood pressure’s high. These are all things that just are from stress. And he sounds like he’s got a handle on his stress now.
Sarah: Yeah. His story was very interesting, wasn’t it? Because he’s going from that, it sounded actually like he had a good life. He was doing a lot of exercise. He was very successful. He had a good relationship. He had a nice house, he had a nice car, lots of people may think that, "Wow, he’s doing really well." But actually, he was doing too much exercise. He was working too much. He was getting too stressed out. And when he looked at his labs, they were the exact opposite of what you might think just from looking at them or hearing this story.
Russ: Right. Totally. And then the one question I have for you, and I took a note as we were talking, and I looked it up and trying to figure out like, how do we get the heavy metals out of our body? What does that mean?
Sarah: Well, what Andreas was talking about was chelation therapy, where you take a component and chelation agent will actually like seal in the toxin, the heavy metal so you can excrete it, but he was going quite extreme because I know he was actually injecting was [inaudible 49:32], having the compound injected, which not a lot of people are prepared to do that. But there are a lot of things like activated charcoal and you can look at your fillings A lot of people have their metal fillings removed to get rid of that kind of toxicity, but you have to get it done properly so that you don’t make the problem worse. Clay, you can eat active clay. I know a lot of people that do that to kind of that clears out your system and it actually draws the toxins and the heavy metals out with it.
Russ: Really!? Okay.
Sarah: Yeah. Bentonite it’s a good ingredient.
Russ: How do you spell it?
Sarah: Bentonite? Oh, that’s just exactly how you would say yes.
Russ: Okay, bentonite for all of our listeners. So we’re going to be looking at people eating clay now like what was that movie, I just watched recently where like they’re eating clay to fill to fill them up. I was just watching someone’s was talking about how their mother did that growing up because she [had not] any food. Oh, it was Trevor Noah. Trevor Noah was talking about how his mother would eat clay from the riverbed, because they didn’t have enough food that would fill her up. So when he grew up food was such an important thing in his life, because his mother would always say, "Well, I ate clay. I ate clay growing up," but okay, nonetheless, let’s talk about what he asks us to do, which was get cold and take a cold showers and how are you doing with it?
Sarah: Well, do you know what I was dreading it because I have done a lot of cold water immersion therapy. And actually I went to see Wim Hof and did his program with him there. So I have done that. And I’ve done the Wim Hof breathing and I’ve done swimming in the Baltic Sea. But when you get out of practice of it, and then the thought of it becomes a bit intimidating. And so when I went to do my first shower, I did put it off, but actually it was fine, Russ, it was fine. And I got back into it. And I did the turning the water up and down and stood under it. I won’t say I loved it, because I don’t love the showers as much as I love going in a cold body of natural water. But it was fine. And I’ve since been swimming in England. And this weekend, I’m actually going away to the east coast of England, which is equally as freezing. And I will be doing my cold sea swimming. So actually, you know, as far as challenges go, it was a good one. I liked it. And you always feel better after doing these things. Like you said, you feel better, because of all the benefits. And there are so many health benefits. But it’s just a challenge you can overcome first thing you’ve already done something, you already challenged yourself.
Russ: Yeah, that’s right. And I think this idea of taking kind of the on and off approach for a cold shower, like it doesn’t mean you’re going to go take a 20-minute cold shower, like you would take a 20-minute hot shower. If anything, I bet you there’s some conservation here too, that you don’t probably need to take a 20 to 30-minute shower like my son does. Like you can take a nice five-minute cold shower, get your body, clean, done and you just reset your body temperature.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s a good one. I mean, he was very cautious, wasn’t he? And he was saying, there’s certain caveats, and certain people can tolerate it and listen to your body. I think he was very measured in his response, which was great, because we’re all for the be aware of your body and use yourself as the experiment. But on the whole, I think this is something that most people can try.
Russ: Yeah, absolutely. I will tell you and I will give kind of an honest answer to this. And I won’t get terribly explicit. But I used to take cold showers because I once had a hairstylist that told me, "It slows hair loss down if you actually wash your hair on cold water." The problem with washing your hair on cold water in the shower, is that when you wash your hair, your entire body gets wet. So I essentially was taking a cold shower for many, many years, I finally have just been giving up and saying, "My hair is gonna fall out. It’s gonna be fine. I’ll survive, my wife loves me with or without hair, I think." But like you’re essentially taking cold shower. So I went back to it and I just realized how much I loved cold showers. Like it’s actually like, exhilarating and fun. You go in, you get done. And you get a little bit of it actually perks you up, I thought.
Sarah: It does. And even like, if you don’t want to get your whole body wet, you can do like the face dunking thing, where you just fill your sink up with ice water and just immerse your face there. That’s a thing. And also, if you can put the just cold showerhead just on the back of your neck and your head and that sort of hanging over the bath. This is one of the things I think that is available to almost everyone. Instant benefits by [inaudible 54:23].
Russ: Exactly. Do it. It takes nothing except for a little bit of courage. But once you do it, and no one’s judging, because you’re by yourself in the shark. Now, if you shower with your significant other, your partner, your spouse, with your children, whatever, I would give them a warning that you’re going to do this. But in general, it’s a nice pleasant thing. Thank you for bringing Andreas into my life, into our listeners lives and this is great.
Sarah: It was great. And thumbs up to address. It’d be lovely to have him on again because I’m sure we only touched the tip of the iceberg of what he can actually bring. So, I love to Andreas, all good.
Russ: Thank you.
Sarah: Thank you Russ. See you next week.
Rebel scientists podcast is the breaking the gray production. It created by Russ Eisenman and Paul wood; hosted by Sarah Turner; music and sound editing by Logan Shea. For more information and other fantastic podcasts, visit breakingthegrey.com.