Today I got to interview Kurtis Frank from Examine.com. I hope you enoy it!
Links From The Show:
Ari: Hi and welcome to the podcast. Today we’re talking with Kurtis Frank of examine.com. Hi, Kurtis.
Ari: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. Can you start off by telling people what examine.com is?
Kurtis: Examine.com is basically a supplement database for scientific research. We’ll try to get every supplement on the website eventually and just collect so much information on the supplements as possible. Then, we get into evaluating the supplements for whatever purposes they’re targeted for or if they’re efficacy for anything. Basically, we just get as much information as possible then analyze the research accordingly. We do so as much as possible from an unbiased perspective. It’s not affiliated with any companies; it’s an independent organization at this point in time.
Ari: What got you interested in creating this analysis in this database?
Kurtis: When the offer was proposed to me from my business partner, Sol Orwell, basically, it was both. . I did research and put it somewhere online so I could actually get back to my old research, some point in the future. At the same point in time, I could share my research with the world sort of thing. You know how when universities have, sort of, restricted access to [1:27] literature, I'm not the biggest fan of that so I kind of want to share as much information as possible. The idea of having a huge database that’s open to the public – that I just put all the information on – was very enticing to me. Ever since I got the offer I’ve just been working for examine, basically fulltime.
Ari: Wow, great. You’re background is in applied human nutrition, right?
Kurtis: Yes, I'm a dietician. Well, I can’t call myself that, I haven’t paid the college but yes, I am basically dietetic.
Ari: Okay. I also saw in your background that you are a recreational body builder and power lifter; I'm assuming that you’ve tried a number of supplements throughout your life.
Kurtis: Yes, definitely.
Ari: I guess my first question, as far as supplements go is, where there any big surprises that have come up in your research as far as what a supplement could benefit or what supplement might benefit a certain issue? What was like a real big shocker that you came across?
Kurtis: Spirulina, by far Spirulina.
Ari: Wow, okay. In terms of what?
Kurtis: Spirulina is counted to be a vegan source of vitamin b12 and a complete protein source. That’s very boring of a description. When I started researching and thinking this is going to be some hippie crap, like I don’t know what’s going to be good about it. Turns out that there’s a protein fragment in spirulina that looks similar to bile acids It can inhibit an enzyme called NAVPH oxidated which is basically vital in producing oxidation in the body and because of that spirulina seems to have very potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. In animal models, at least, there’s a toxin called MPTP which induces Parkinson's or Parkinson’s like effects and spirulina has actually abolished it. Meaning like toxin control with spirulina, at very feasible dosage at around 5 grams or so a day, just cured all the symptoms. It’s weird. There’s some individual case study as well as the right evidence saying that spirulina's a very potent liver fat-reducing agent. It’s just a very good, from the evidence right now, anti-metabolic syndrome aide but there is a lack of human evidence. Given the potency of it, I was a bit shocked about it. I had never heard of it being used for such good reasons before.
Ari: Wow, that’s kind of amazing. I had no idea either. You said five grams, is that considered an effective dosage and people just mix it into their smoothie or is there a better amount or better way to take it?
Kurtis: I’ve always seen 3 to 5 grams used but I don’t know if that’s the optimal amount or not, especially with the mechanism in place. If you overdose on it, it could potentially suppress the immune system so I'm kind of hesitant on going above the 3 to 5 grams right now.
Ari: Okay, that’s interesting. Something that’s kind of personal to me, I'm a big fan of krill oil. How do you see krill oil in comparing it to fish oil or other sort of anti-inflammatory, insulin regulating substances? What do you think of krill oil?
Kurtis: I like it but I fear that it’s very limited from a public stand point because the extra benefit that krill oil has are not met by like the price. There’s a greater markup on krill oil than you would expect. I don’t tend to recommend krill oil to people just because it’s much more expensive than fish oil and the extra price is too much to warrant the extra benefit. Like, the benefit is there, it’s not as much as I’d like.
Ari: I see. Well, one of the reasons I particularly had became interested in krill oil is for its ability to reduce C reactive protein, which is an inflammatory marker in the body that is particularly sort of prevalent with Chrons. Do you, other substances that you think are more effective at reducing C reactive protein?
Kurtis: There’s a lot of compounds that do reduce it a little bit but I'm not sure to what degree. I'm sure if you go onto examine, go to a table – let’s say, spiralina – if that has one human study on C reactive protein, you should be able to bring up a metal list for all compounds that have looked into C reactive protein. There are some potent ones that I believe that the anti- inflamma . . . curcuban, I think might actually be better than krill oil. Like curry extract that just seems to have general anti-inflammatory effects that are actually to a decent degree.
Ari: Well, that’s also an easy one for people that have sort of implemented their diet, so that’s kind of cool. There are two other particular biomarkers that I know are very interesting to people and that’s testosterone and vitamin d. I actually had a lot of clients, recently, asking me about sort of artificial or androgynous testosterone boosting compounds. I know that there’s probably lots of natural ways to do it that you’ve discovered.
Kurtis: Yeah. The problem is that a lot of these compounds have been validated in animals but not humans yet. Usually, whenever it looks promising in animals, the supplement industry jumps on it and then gives it to people before human testing. That tends to spur the human testing but there are a lot of compounds that are sort of stuck in limbo right now.
Ari: Are there any particular ones that stand out here or it’s not even worth mentioning at this point?
Kurtis: Probably D-aspartagacid.
Ari: Is that like from asparagus?
Kurtis: No. There’s an immuno-acid called aspartate and like all the immuno-acids that can exist in a D or L isomer and this is just the isolated D isomer. It turns out that in the body D-aspartagacid naturally regulates a lot of mechanisms related to testosterone and when you ingest more D-aspartagacid you get an increase in testosterone, mutinizing hormone, fertility as well. The human evidence is preliminary but it’s just the idea that it’s an endogenous compound that does occur in the body, is somewhat regulated. It has a lot of parallels with elpyrozene, in my opinion, because they’re both sort of neurotransmitter substrates that are like supplemented before the rate limit and unless you just overdosed, unlikely to have too many side effects.
Ari: Okay. I was asking about vitamin d as well. Vitamin d can help with inflammation, immunity, and melatonin. Are there ways that you can improve your absorption of vitamin d? What are your thoughts on vitamin d?
Kurtis: I haven’t really come across any ways to improve vitamins aside from just taking vitamin d or being exposed to sunlight. I do like the vitamin but I just have some vitamin d daily like 3,000 IU’s. The only thing significant thought I thought might be interesting is vitamin d has had a huge certain popularity over the last decade or so. But vitamin k, that’s very intimate D related with vitamins on hormonal and bone metabolism, mostly. Vitamin k does not have a lot of respect. I feel that vitamin k is probably going to be a lot . . . well, it’s gonna be researched because of its significance with vitamin d and just because of the popularity of vitamin d.
[both talking at once]
Ari: Sorry, go ahead.
Kurtis: I was just saying because those two work well together it would probably be the first place I’d look for supplement synergism.
Ari: Okay. The foods that are the highest in vitamin k, for instance . . . I'm actually at a lost. What are the best foods versus vitamin k?
Kurtis: I believe that’s dark, leafy green vegetables.
[both talking at once]
Kurtis: Yes, like kell especially. That’s one that’s always talked about. Kell, spinach, not so much lettuce since it’s a lighter green. I think it might also be present in some of the low calorie super vegetables like beets, turnips but I'm not 100% sure on that.
Ari: Okay. So, you do cover nutritional aspects on examine.com and I always see the different chain of supplements and the food sometimes can be a very blurry line. What kind of diet do you typically follow?
Kurtis: A large part of my diet actually consists of eggs and olives. Eggs give me my protein, my fatty acids and I’ve been totally interested in the idea of having more [11:27] cholesterol for the purpose of muscle building. That’s always enamored me because HDL is negatively correlated with muscle protein synthesis.
Ari: There has to be a rule for cholesterol.
Kurtis: Yeah, there’s a rule for cholesterol increasing muscle mass. I don’t know; I'm testing it out right now. And olives are in there mainly because I have bad history of when I start eating I can’t stop eating. So I need to have sort of like little tricks in place to prevent me from eating more. The pungency of olives is a really good one to sort of finish off the meal, palate puncher sort of thing. If I could just put a nice finishing touch on the diet, it actually does keep my calories in check.
Ari: That’s a really amazing tip because I have that exact same problem. I could just, if there’s food on the table, I could just eat until I'm basically sick. I love olives but I never I think of them as a finisher to the meal. Any particular type of olives?
Kurtis: I just use common olives, the ones without pits. The most kinds in what I can find would probably be best.
Ari: (laughs) So how many do you typically get to finish the meal?
Kurtis: Just for yourself; until every other taste is removed my mouth. That’s the whole purpose of it; I don’t want an aftertaste left in my mouth after a meal because that aftertaste will entice me to eat more. The pungency is great to remove all aftertastes. And black tea.
Ari: Oh, okay. That’s a very interesting tip, I like it.
Kurtis: Yeah because black is bitter but it’s not bitter enough to not make you drink it.
Ari: So on that note do you drink coffee?
Kurtis: No, I do not. I just never acquired the taste for it.
Ari: Okay. That sort of made me think of neutrophics also. Have you covered many neutropics, mind enhancing drugs, anything like that?
Kurtis: We’re covering them at the same rate as other supplements; we do have a fair bit in the database right now but not all of them.
Ari: Have you come across any interesting results with neutropics?
Kurtis: Baclopamoneri, probably.
Ari: Sorry, I’ve never heard of that one. What is that?
Kurtis: It’s an iuvetic curve like it’s a disgusting tasting swamp plant. I just call it baclopa for short and it’s most interesting because it does have quite a bit of human evidence behind it right now. I can think of at least eight different trials all over 100 person sample size. It takes about four weeks for it to work but it’s very reliably and generally increases memory, like working memory, by reducing the rate of forgetting, acutely and that’s all it really does. Like it aides working memory a little bit but it’s very reliable and has been tested in all demographics. It works in young, healthy adults; older persons as well. That reliability with neurotropics is incredibly rare.
Ari: Right and I assume with testing neutropics there’s so many variables to begin with. But iuretic medicine or iuretic principles are very interesting as well. I didn’t know they would affect things such as memory; that’s quite fascinating. Can you take it as a supplement or is there some kind of gross way you need to ingest it?
Kurtis: You can take it as a supplement. I’ve only seen powders and tablets; I have a powder right now, I would not advise that, and the tablets as long as you swallow them fast, it’s fine.
Ari: Okay and have you tested it yourself, the baclopa?
Kurtis: Yes. It’s actually my supplement on momentarium and it’s probably one of my favorite compounds to take.
Ari: That sort of leads me to my last question on supplements for you is . . . You already mentioned how baclopa and spiralina is really important ones but what are three supplements you think everybody should take?
Kurtis: Oh, everybody should take?
Ari: I know that’s a hard one but the general person who doesn’t have a specific health issue or is not particularly old or particularly young but what are the three that people should really take because either they can’t get them naturally from food or just because they’re important?
Kurtis: Vitamin D because no one is outside that much. Well, very little people are outside that much so vitamin d is just a huge one to take. Magnesium because although you could potentially get it from food, that’s very impractical and the vast majority of people that I met do not have their diets catered to have adequate magnesium intakes, and kreatine.
Ari: Oh, now why kreatine?
Kurtis: It’s just an awesome molecule. It just makes cells have more energy and secondary to having more energy enables you to do more things. What are these more things? It depends on the cell type. In neurons, if the keratin levels get higher than the neuron is able to survive more toxic or damaging in cells before it dies which results in the neuro-protective effect. In muscle cells you are able to lift more. Some of the neural influences can also have a power-boosting output. Does increase muscle mass, no real effect on fat mass, no real adverse effect on the kidney because it’s, very a very short time, suppresses endogenous kreatine synthesis that actually frees up some methylation processes in the body in an actually healthy effect. If you stop keratin synthesis will back up in a day or two so there’s really no downside. Kreatine has a very good safety buffer to it, has a plethora benefits, it’s very cheap, and has been very well researched and doesn’t have side effects, aside from maybe water weight gain. Usually that is localized in the muscle mass and looks good.
Ari: Hmm, okay. Great, those are really wonderful bits of information. Now, back to you personally, for sort of my last question that I always like to ask in these interviews. What would you say are your top three personal productivity tips? It could be supplements; it could be methods at work. The three things that make you more effective at what you do.
Kurtis: The first one would be knowing your own cognitive outset and supplementing accordingly. A lot of neurotropic compounds aren’t inherently, per se, good. They’re good given a certain context. Such as [18:35] rosea are two of my favorite compounds. They’re anti-fatigue agents. They’re kind of useless unless you have fatigue but they’re great if you do have fatigue. They are my favorite compounds because I get fatigued very fast, so because of that, those work for me. Some other people who may fall asleep all the time like if they’re not narcoleptic they have [18:56] at that time, those people would benefit from caffeine. People who are too stimulated all the time and cannot keep their attention will benefit from elcianine. So, for productivity you need to know what your cognitive outset is, find neurotropics that work for you and then keep them in your routine. Beyond that, the other two productivity tips I have. One of the versatile is schedule. Basically, I don’t go to the gym at a set time every day. Not 11am every day, not 5pm every day; I go there once I can’t think straight anymore. Just research until a certain point and if you cannot grasp any concept, you’re going to be useless researching for the next hour or so, so then go to the gym at that time. And then the last one is just sort of having an idea of delayed gratification. Purposely restrict rewards for yourself until you meet a certain goal. It works great but it’s hard to self-enforce and a lot of people forget about enforcing delayed gratification once they do need to.
Ari: I really like that last one because it sort of brings to mind the primal need to hunt. Where the hunt before the reward eventually, if you were good and lucky, was food. I think we can still do that where we can delay things and you have to hunt for it in some way. I very much agree with that last one. Well, all of them were great but the last one really resonates with me. Thank you so much, this has really been amazingly, informative and I really appreciate your time talking to us. For people to find out more information, what’s the website?
Kurtis: Examine dot com (examine.com)
Ari: Great. Well Kurtis, thank you again and all the best.