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By: Stephan Spencer

Introduction

Dr. Molly MaloofStephan Spencer
“Optimal health is not a destination. It’s a continuous process of active participation in goal-oriented wellness.”
Dr. Molly Maloof

What are the secrets to improved health, happiness, and longevity? This is the quest my guest today has taken up. Dr. Molly Maloof is a leading biohacker and physician who provides health optimization and personalized medicine to high-achieving entrepreneurs, investors, and technology executives. For three years, she taught a pioneering course on healthspan in the Wellness Department of the medical school at Stanford University before launching her own company. Her brand new, highly-acclaimed book, The Spark Factor: The Secret to Supercharging Energy, Becoming Resilient, and Feeling Better Than Ever is an excellent biohacking resource, particularly for women. In today’s episode, we talk about Dr. Molly’s holistic health philosophy, which incorporates physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. We discuss the concept that optimal health is not a destination, but a continuous process of active participation in a goal-orientated wellness lifestyle. We touch on the importance of social connection, and how one of the biggest tragedies of the pandemic was the isolation people experienced when they were social distancing. Today’s episode is a powerful must-listen for anyone who is curious about cracking the code to better health and wellness. So, without any further ado, on with the show!

In this Episode

  • [02:07]Dr. Molly describes the pivotal experiences that shaped her and led to her interest in health optimization.
  • [07:12]What does Dr. Molly say about the relationship between social connection and health?
  • [11:56]Stephan agrees with Dr. Molly and explains further through the concept of metaphysical connection.
  • [14:45]How can we beat doubt?
  • [15:54]Dr. Molly explains the therapeutic application of psychedelic medicines. Then, she talks about her first psychedelic experience.
  • [22:33]Dr. Molly speaks about using psychedelics to catalyze scientific, creative insights.
  • [28:58]Why is Dr. Molly’s book called The Spark Factor?
  • [31:52]Dr. Molly and Stephan discuss metabolism and mitochondrial health.
  • [37:45]How can you biohack your age?
  • [44:22]Dr. Molly recommends functional medicine doctors, the neurotropic she takes, and how she optimizes his sleep.
  • [49:37]Dr. Molly and Stephan share how they tap into their spirituality.

Jump to Links and Resources

Molly, it’s so great to have you on the show.

Thanks for having me.

I’m excited to talk to you today. I think the best way to start would be for our listener or viewer to understand a bit more about your origin story. How did you get into this? Did you have some traumatic experience or some sort of pivotal experience that brought you to health optimization and supercharging energy, or was that something you just kind of fell into by accident?

I asked somebody about their background last weekend, and they were like, “Do you want the 50-foot, 500-foot, or 50,000-foot view?” It was kind of a good way to answer because I’ve been on a health journey since I was a child. I wasn’t a super healthy kid. I had a traumatic birth.

I had pneumonia as a child. I had tonsillitis. I had chronic sore throats, lots of antibiotics, and developed all sorts of problems with gut health. When I hit puberty, I was like, “Someday, I’m going to figure out how my body works. Someday I’m going to understand all these weird hormonal changes.”

I dedicated my life to becoming a doctor as a young kid, as a fifth grader. When you spend your whole life caring about health, it’s like, when did it really begin? I guess, arguably, my entire life, I’ve been interested in this topic. I’ve always been interested in science. I started using supplements in high school. I started reading Popular Science and learning about modafinil and wondering, “Why wouldn’t it be great to be able to take a drug that you couldn’t sleep?”

Now, I don’t actually like the drug Modafinil. Still, I was fascinated by it and fascinated by the idea of using your mind to think through how you could change your body’s functions and how you could really understand what’s going on inside your body to make better decisions about your health. Then I got to medical school, and I was not thriving. I found it really challenging.

Obviously, medical school is hard. But when you are getting average grades, and you feel like you’re a lot smarter than that, it’s a hard struggle. I had really bad test anxiety. I went to a psychologist and was like, “You know, I think there’s something wrong with my brain.” He’s like, “There’s nothing wrong with your brain. You’re not depressed, and you’re not anxious. You’re just a stressed-out medical student who’s not caring for herself.” As a result of that feedback, I was like, “I guess it’s up to me to take care of myself.”

I started studying evidence-based lifestyle medicine. I started looking at science and research. Doing little changes, I started taking Omega-3, vitamin D, and magnesium. I started doing yoga, I was very sedentary before that. I started to sleep at normal hours and spent more time with my family and my friends. I dramatically improved my grades.

I started getting outstanding. I went and took my second board exam. I went from an average on my first board exam to the 99th percentile on step two. I didn’t have any test anxiety left, and I noticed that I was just thriving. Everybody in my school was like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I’d started changing my lifestyle and focusing on optimizing my health.” They were like, “And it improves your performance?” I’m like, “Yeah.”

That’s when I started really wondering why this worked for me. I started creating a course called Physician Heal Thyself, an evidence-based lifestyle. It was a course for other students at school to learn what I knew and to bring in teachers and lecturers to share what they knew about optimizing health with my peers. That was my first real taste of education.

There’s a point in your hero’s journey where you like going from the normal world to the special one. That special world is the world of manifestation.

I ended up winning some humanitarian awards at my university. Then I got to my residency, and it was like a nightmare. You realize that modern medicine is not really compatible with optimal health. I decided that I would get my license and then start working in Silicon Valley and becoming a doctor to executives, and basically working with lots of lots of companies to figure out how to do product development, clinical research, scientific marketing, and learning about how there was a way to use technology to amplify and scale a lot of discoveries around health optimization.

I’ve been able to work with 50 companies in the last ten years and just really digging into this whole space of optimizing health. Now we’re here, I’m writing a book, and I’m trying to take everything I taught at Stanford. I used to teach a course at Stanford called Live Better Longer, extending health span for a longer lifespan. That course is about systematically breaking down health and understanding health from The Mitochondrial Theory of Aging.

That course has been sort of the backbone of the book I wrote. Now I’m in a new chapter trying to understand not just the basics of health and biology but the role of our psychology, spirituality, connection to others and love itself, and how that plays a role in our health.

How does that play a role in our health? I’m guessing at a superficial level, it’s pretty obvious, but on the more ethereal or metaphysical level, there are profound impacts. It’s been astounding in these last few years on my spiritual journey how I can manifest my reality in ways I never thought possible.

I think that many of the scientific paradigms we’re working with will be really out of date in the next 20 years and partially because, literally, I feel like when you’re on this hero’s journey. I’ve been on three of them this lifetime, so this is number three. There’s a point in the hero’s journey where you like going from the normal world to the special one. The special world is definitely the world of manifestation.

The way I kind of translate in science is, how can you get all of your consciousness in your body in alignment with a vision that you want to create and then manifest that from clarity? That’s really part of the secret. I don’t know if you’ve ever read David Hawkins’ work, but there’s actually this belief. In the history of religion and spirituality, there’s always been a belief that people can heal with love. There’s always been this belief.

I don’t have all the answers to figure out how love heals, but I definitely think we need to study the science of this. We need to understand it to be able to harness it.

We haven’t figured out how to do it scientifically, but I saw miracles in the hospital that all the doctors were like, “What just happened? What was that thing?” I’ll never forget this kid who had an ear infection that became a bone infection and became close to his brain being infected. We were stunned that this kid had not been crying hysterically and was on no pain meds. We were just like, “What is going on here? This makes zero sense.”

Because most kids, when they have an ear infection, are crying, this kid had a bone infection, an ear infection. We’re all sitting there like, “What’s going on?” I go to the mom, and I’m like, “None of us can really understand why your child is doing so well because it does not fit within any of what we normally do with children in the hospital.”

She’s like, “Oh, I went to Mecca a few years ago, and I saved some holy water, and I’m pouring it in his ear every day.” I was like, “Okay, that’s strange. I believe you.” She was like, “Yeah, look at him. He’s fine.” I’m not saying I have all the answers to figure out how love heals, but I definitely think we need to study the science of this. I think we need to understand it to be able to harness it.

A good example of how love heals is understanding the role of social connection in health. It turns out that the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. When you have high-quality loving relationships, you live longer and healthier. This is pretty well established in the literature, at least epidemiologically.

Every single blue zones have the role of community in their health. If you look at the Neurobiology of this, isolated animals and isolated humans have a much higher stress response. It raises cortisol. It is the HPA axis, Hypothalamic-pituitary Adrenal Axis. It lowers the vagal tone. It essentially creates the conditions where the body goes into a state of wanting to protect itself.

Robert Naviaux would describe this as the cell danger response. When the body is threatened, it goes into a state of defense. This is the opposite of when the body is in a state of calm, safety, and connection to others. The body releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is an anti-inflammatory, it’s antioxidant, it’s cardioprotective, it’s mitoprotective.

When you have high-quality loving relationships, you live longer and healthier.

When I saw this sort of dichotomy, I was like, whoa, what have we done during the pandemic to humanity? How do we miss those things so important to healing and health? Also, why did we send these public health messages to shelter in place rather than with a small cluster of people you can feel safe with? A lot of people have been isolated alone, a lot of elderly people have been isolated alone, and a lot of young people have been isolated alone.

During the pandemic, I was alone for a few months and saw my mental health deteriorate rapidly. I got to the point where I was like, “Oh, my God, I need friends.” In animal studies for depression, they isolate them and put them under a lot of stress. It’s not surprising that when you feel connected and you feel surrounded by people that you trust and people that you love, then you can be healthier.

Also, your psychic abilities and your kind of metaphysical connection increase as well, not just your connection with others. An example of a science-backed study or a science-evidence-based study, I guess, was the Hundredth Monkey Effect in Indonesia. Do you know about this?

Tell me.

All these monkeys were on different islands separated from each other, but the monkeys on one island learned how to wash their sweet potato, so it wouldn’t be all gross and have all the dirt on it and everything. Once it got to the 100th monkey on that island, other monkeys on neighboring islands were too far away to get information other than telepathically. They wouldn’t be able to swim across the water, so they also started washing their sweet potatoes.

When the body is in a state of calm, safety, and connection to others, the body releases oxytocin.

This is the thing about scientific discoveries as well. Often, people make similar discoveries around the same time. This is why patents are so important in science because there are a bunch of people studying the same topics, and they’re going to come up with ideas. It’s funny, you often see companies, and that one idea will come out. Before you know it, there are ten companies in the space. It’s like, where do these discoveries come from?

Almost all reality is manifested in our minds first. The biggest challenge of being an innovator is your self-doubt and the ideas in your mind. I had this very clear idea of what I wanted to build a few years ago, and I was working for another company. I just had so many people telling me, that’s impossible, it’s impossible, it’s impossible, it’s not going to work.

Eventually, when enough people think it’s possible because people start building it, I was just really early to a movement. I was a pioneer in blood sugar monitoring. I was just putting them on healthy people, and I was like, “Oh, my God, everybody should be wearing these to understand their metabolism firsthand.”

Now I’m working in psychedelic medicine. I’m sitting here before the call, trying to calm my mind and relax my mind so I can meditate a little bit before we get on the call. I had a call before this as well. I was just thinking this morning earlier, like, the biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur is you’re trying to create reality, but you’re also trying to fight against the doubt that that’s not going to manifest.

Right. How do you win that scenario? How do you beat the doubt? How do you personally beat the doubt?

I think you have to create a reality distortion field. I think reality distortion fields are kind of similar to what is written in books where there are fields of ideas and thoughts that when enough people believe that that’s supposed to be a reality, it starts to manifest. Part of my gift is I can see things before they happen. I can see, “Oh, this totally needs to be a thing, but it’s going to be a long time before that becomes a thing.”

You just have to try to get people to be sort of on board with your idea enough so that people start to want to invest in the idea so that it becomes an idea that actually can manifest. Also, you have to recruit people to help you with the idea. You must have enough people who can see it clearly to become a reality.

There are fields of ideas and thoughts that start to manifest when enough people believe that that’s supposed to be a reality.

Yeah. You mentioned psychedelic medicine. What is that to you? Is that something that is like plant medicine, like Ayahuasca or DMT? What does Psychedelic medicine mean? What are some therapeutic applications where you’ve seen some real breakthroughs?

Sure. The way I kind of think about psychedelics today is there are a few different categories. There’s the spiritual use of psychedelics for connecting to the source. Then there are recreational psychedelics, which are often very therapeutic for people to take psychedelics and recreational context that helps them connect to others. Then there’s sort of the medical-pharmaceutical complex, which is where I was actually just at a conference last week. It’s the application of psychedelics to heal dysfunction.

Psychedelic medicine is not just creating a drug and getting it approved. It’s also creating a preparation, an actual drug experience, and then an integration of that transformation. You could just hand people drugs, but you’re not going to get the best benefit from them. You want to design drugs as their therapies.

I’m particularly interested in how we give people agency and autonomy over their use of psychedelics in a way that they can use in the comfort of their own. I’m particularly interested in psychedelic medicine for sexual dysfunction because I was able to accidentally heal from sexual dysfunction with a partner using MDMA.

Now, I think we’re pretty far away from the FDA letting people take home MDMA to use because it is a really powerful drug. I would argue that shorter-acting, safer versions of these medicines will be available. We’re going to continue to see all sorts of conditions treated with them, including things like autism, including things like treatment-resistant depression, and all sorts of other conditions.

I would argue that we need to determine the line between what should be in a clinic and what can be taken home. I think there’s this assumption right now that all psychedelics are dangerous and nobody has safety. There’s no such thing as safe use at home of psychedelics, but I really think that people are already prescribing Ketamine for home use, and it seems to be going pretty well for these companies. There’s a lot of controversy around it.

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Cannabis is already being used in the home. It’s psychedelic. I’m still kind of bullish that there’s going to be a way to give people psychedelics for home use. I also just don’t think that you should have to take a psychedelic that’s meant for sexual function. I don’t think you should have to take that in an office. I think that’s weird.

I think it’s strange that you would have to take a drug in a sex therapist’s office and talk about your sexual dysfunction that way. The more I think about it, the more I’m like, I wouldn’t want to do that therapy. I don’t want to go to a clinic and talk about sex under the influence of drugs. I want to be with my partner. I want to connect with him.

I think that it’s certainly a long shot. But if it works, Viagra is the best-selling drug of all time. I think women deserve something that can help them connect with their partners and feel more heart opened. Also used alongside that learning how to use medicine in the context of understanding the biggest drivers of their dysfunction.

Amazing. What was your first experience with psychedelics that was transformative for you?

I’d say the first time I used mushrooms was somewhere in my early 20s. I went to a festival. It definitely became a lot more than a festival because I was lying under a tree for at least four hours. I was in a trance connected to God and divinity, and it was just the absolute majesty of hallucinations and a completely speechless mystical experience.

I don’t think I’ve ever taken that many mushrooms since then, by the way. I’ve never taken that much again. It was a profound mystical experience. Sometimes you have experiences like that, where you’re like, yeah, I totally got the message. I got the message, and the message was these medicines are powerful teachers. They can really open up our eyes to what’s possible for humanity.

When you feel connected and surrounded by people you trust and love, you become healthier.

They’re very useful. They obviously have risks associated with them, but I’ve never had a really bad trip. I’ve always been really careful with dosing, with sourcing. It’s certainly controversial for me to even be talking about them, but there’s so much science coming out about them.

There are so many people studying them that I think it’s important for people just to know that there is no safe way to use them for transformation. But it’s important to realize that they enhance your inner work. They don’t do the work for you. You still have to do the work. They just teach you that there are parts of your mind that you can’t access or even see. I think they can transform your ability to manifest and your ability to see the world differently.

For me, it created lasting openness in my personality. I was fairly neurotic and uptight before I did mushrooms. That one experience, I think, permanently changed my level of openness and my level of just open-mindedness. I was so much more closed-minded, so much more.

I just believed that I believed what I believed, and that was that. Since that experience, I’d say that the more I learn, the less I know and the more I want to learn. That was a pretty profound shift in my personality. It’s been well documented in the scientific literature that mushrooms can certainly transform your personality in that way, specifically shifting from Neuroticism to openness.

What would you tell someone who’s a skeptic and is arguing that it’s just synapses firing all crazy because you took some psychedelics? This is not a connection to God or any higher power, these are just random synapses firing? How do you come back to them with something evidence-based that might persuade them differently?

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There’s a really good paper. Let me see if I can find it. I’m trying to think of the name of it. It’s all about psychedelics and creativity, and scientific discovery. Basically, the paper is about psychedelics as potential catalysts of scientific creativity and insight. Now, the paper has the word potential in it, so it’s not like it’s been fully validated.

This paper is by Sam Gandy. It was in drug science. It has this really amazing table in it, basically describing that, essentially, dream states, hypnagogic states, which is the state between dream and wake, and then psychedelic states, all have something in common, and that they have been used by scientists to enhance creativity and discovery and create discoveries.

Many interesting scientific discoveries have been made in these states of consciousness expansion. Obviously, nobody can prove God’s existence, per se, but I believe that it takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to believe in God because you have faith that you’re right. And you can’t really prove that you are.

There’s no provability to Atheism. There’s no probability of believing in God, so both of them require faith. I would just use the same argument against them on that one. I would say that in terms of how we can use our minds, I think there’s the possibility of using these medicines to catalyze creative insights.

The Spark Factor by Molly Maloof

Elon Musk and Steve Jobs stated publicly that psychedelics had played a role in their ability to develop new ideas. That’s pretty profound. These are two of the best entrepreneurs of our time. That’s pretty, pretty fascinating.

Kary Mullis discovered PCR while he was on psychedelics. I just think there’s a lot to be said about the potential of these things. We’re probably going to look back, and we’re going to realize how stupid we sounded in 50 years. We’re just going to look back at this time and be like, wow, look at the rudimentary tools we had. The world will look so much more precise. We have so much more science.

Remember, there was a major impediment to science in the last 50 years because of the scheduling of these medicines by the DEA, sometimes even illegally. The DEA scheduled MDMA in an actually illegal way, but they got away with it because the DEA is a really powerful bureaucracy.

MDMA is about to be rescheduled. It’s about to be approved for PTSD. I would definitely say that we’re on the cusp of a new revolution, but there will be a lot of people who don’t believe it. These are the people who are going to be late adopters. But then there are also many people who do believe it and the people who are true believers or who had their lives transformed by accident, often.

One of my investors took psilocybin once in high school. He was very depressed. I believe he might have even said he was suicidal at one point. He took mushrooms, and it completely transformed his depression. He’s now one of the biggest investors in the space.

For me, it was the transformation of my sexual function on accident with MDMA with a partner where I felt safe. It was the reprogramming of my sexual memories that went from unsafe to safe. I was like, wow, my nervous system is no different, which is pretty cool. Yeah, I definitely think that there’s certainly going to be a lot of people who are not going to believe this stuff. But I think with more science, we’ll be able to demonstrate that this stuff actually has potential.

Yeah. I think it’s important for people to know that there’s not just a placebo effect. There’s a nocebo effect. By not believing in it, you can undo the good benefits of medicine or some sort of modality.

Yup. You can literally go to a doctor and have him prescribe something for you. But you just didn’t believe the doctor, and you take the drug, which doesn’t work either. You can go to the doctor, believing the drug will work and it works better.

I’ve been interested in the placebo response because there’s been a lot of great placebo literature. The theory is that the placebo is not just the placebo itself, but the entire experience around the placebo creates the conditions for healing. It’s the actual use of a placebo with the expectation of an effect.

When your brain’s inner healer turns on, it is the experience of connecting to a physician or another health care provider and taking a medicine that enhances the medicine’s outcome.

This is your brain’s inner healer turned on. Your brain can release oxytocin when it feels like it is going to have a healing experience. Often, it is actually the experience of connecting to a physician or another health care provider and taking a medicine that actually enhances the medicine’s outcome.

A study was done where they gave people anti-lipid medicine, the anti-cholesterol medicine like statins, and then they gave them a placebo alongside it. The statins worked on their own, but they worked better with a placebo added, which is fascinating. You can even make drugs work better by adding a placebo on top of them.

I bet if they studied the healthcare worker blessing the statin before giving it to them, it would also have additional benefits, Just like the placebo effect. Still, it transforms or transmutes the medicine and makes it even more effective. Wild stuff. Why did you call your book The Spark Factor?

I’m interested in mitochondria. Interestingly, when the sperm meets the egg, there is a spark of life. There’s a zinc spark that happens. It’s a chemical reaction. Mitochondria from the mother egg also turn on and start producing energy in that cell to produce cell division, actually to produce life.

Life is energy, hands down. If you don’t have those mitochondria in that cell, there’s no way for the sperm in the egg to work. You can have DNA in the cells. But if you don’t have mitochondria in that cell, there’s no way that life will emerge.

When you look at that, you’re like, “Energy is life, period.” Yes, of course, the architectural plans matter. But without the energy to transcribe those plants into proteins and to turn it into more cells, you don’t get a human.

That’s one of the first things that I discovered. This endosymbiotic theory is also worth discussing because we evolved from single-celled organisms long ago. Some people don’t believe that, but I do. We came out of the primordial soup. Part of what actually transformed existence is the ability to gather energy from the environment.

When the single-celled organisms harnessed the power of bacteria to create more energy than they could themselves, they actually enhanced evolution. If you look at a lot of evolution as humans have gone forth from single-celled organisms to the ocean, to whatever crawled out, to mammals, to where we are today as humans, human evolution has been greatly aided by the ability to gather energy and resources.

Energy is life. It’s kind of core to existence. Biological imperative is something I’m really passionate about. I’m kind of an accidental organismal biologist, so I’m interested in the interplay between energy and structure. Without resources, we do not create more people. We have this imperative to gather food.

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We breathe air that goes into our cells, and it goes into the mitochondria. Mitochondria burn the substrate and turn it into electrons. The electrons run down the electron transport chain, power a hydrogen turbine, create an electrochemical gradient, and create a differential charge between two membranes. You get both a battery and a capacitor in the cell.

I love physics. Physics is the science of existence and truth, so I’ve always been driven through first principles thinking. In that, I’m like, okay, if metabolism is really darn important to human existence and health, then it makes sense that when we break our metabolism, we get sick.

A big part of the book is about metabolism. It’s about how the vast majority of chronic diseases are metabolic by nature, so you have heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. All of these are characterized by metabolic dysfunction. I believe that it’s mitochondrial health that drives the overall capacity to maintain the integrity of the structure.

Gut health has a large part to do with mitochondrial health, correct?

Absolutely. There’s a lot of mitochondrial microbiome crosstalk. On top of that, there’s a lot of microbiome mind crosstalk because your vagus nerve goes directly through your body into your gut. If you have gut dysfunction, you will get alarm signals throughout the body. Your mitochondria will send signals to the brain saying something’s wrong.

Systemic inflammation is a result of dysbiosis and a leaky gut. You get it from the gut. You get from the mouth, the gut, and anywhere else that there are imbalances in bacteria. You really got to mind the energy production systems. That starts with chewing your food, swallowing your food, digesting your food from a relaxed place, assimilating your food, and then powering those mitochondria to produce energy.

How we feed ourselves can damage our entire body. The food that we eat often breaks our body’s cellular engine.

A lot of what damages this whole system is how we feed ourselves. The food that we eat is often breaking the engines of the cells. It breaks the power plants, it damages the microbiome, and it causes mitochondrial, what they would call, it’s almost like a traffic jam.

When you eat really high fat, high sugar foods in these packaged processed foods and fast food, you don’t get nutrient density. So you get all this energy going through the cell, but you don’t have enough vitamins and minerals to actually run metabolism properly, so the stuff starts to break down. You start getting wrenches thrown into the Krebs cycle, and then you don’t have proper energy flow.

I spent most of my early career focused on metabolism because it’s a really good starting point for optimizing health. Then once you’ve kind of mastered metabolism, you start asking yourself, well, what else is there? First of all, there’s a massive interplay between metabolism and movement. If you think about your body like a car, you need gas in the tank to run the car, but you need to run the car because you don’t want to sit in a car in a garage all day long because you’re going to get exhausted. The exhaust is going to damage that car and damage whoever’s in that car.

Many women mistakenly think that being skinny is beautiful and that under-eating is good.

The same thing happens in your body. When you eat lots of food and sit around all day long, you actually get exhaust fumes in your cells. Especially when you get these big blood sugar spikes from high-sugar foods, you get these blood sugar spikes that are like exhaust. It’s like oxidative stress in the blood vessels, damages the lining of the blood vessels, and actually can contribute to hypertension and heart disease because you have to repair that lining.

That’s your recommendation of getting everyone to use these blood sugar monitors, not just those with diabetes.

Yes, because before you have diabetes and prediabetes, there are patterns in your blood sugar that you can see. Your blood sugar is a direct reflection of what’s called homeostatic capacity. Capacity is a really important word in this book, energy capacity, homeostatic capacity, and capacity itself because these mitochondria are little capacitors. They’re little organelles that carry a charge.

You need to be able to deploy that charge to do work, like any kind of work, whether it’s running around, chasing your kids, looking at your computer, or processing information. You need the energy to do work. You also need to move your body to signal the cell to make more mitochondria, so you have enough engines to do the work.

The thing about the body is that if you don’t move it enough, then your body starts making fewer mitochondria. This is called the adaptive capacity model. Your body’s always adapting to the world around you. You will have lower capacity because your body will say, well, if I’m not moving all day long, then why should I have all these mitochondria sitting around? That’s a silly waste of energy.

Your body is always trying to predict the future. By exercising, you’re sending the signal to those cells that you need to make more energy because you may need more tomorrow. Because today, you sent a signal that you needed more to do this work.

As you age, it’s all about maintaining the body but not having it overgrow. You don’t want to continue gaining weight, pounds per pound year after year, as you get older.

It’s so important not to overlook the role of movement. Weightlifting, cardio, and flexibility exercises are just so important for aging not to get frail and to keep those muscles strong and to keep those bones strong. That happens when you’re young. You can’t really wait till you’re old and have osteoporosis to fix your bones. You got to keep them strong when you’re young.

What a lot of women don’t realize is that—a lot of women athletes and a lot of women who under-eat—they’re damaging their bones. They’re stopping their periods. You’ll get estrogen deficiency if you don’t want to have your period. Many women mistakenly think that being skinny is beautiful and that under-eating is good.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and a place for calorie restriction. A lot of what the book talks about in terms of women is you have to know how to biohack your body as you age in different phases of your life because someone young, fit, healthy, and fertile has different biological imperatives than someone who’s menopausal.

Your body has a different goal. As you age, it’s all about maintaining the body but not having it overgrow. You don’t want to continue gaining weight, pounds per pound year after year, as you get older. When you’re young, you have a fairly fast metabolism, and you also have a really good blood sugar metabolism typically.

You can eat those carbs, and you can exercise. You can burn them effectively, and you often don’t need to do as much fasting if you’re fit and you’re working out. You’re using that energy to burn through. But as we get older, our metabolism shifts a bit. We become less insulin sensitive.

Quite frankly, our pancreas slowly wears out over the course of our life. Some people get diabetes when they get old just because they’ve worn out their pancreas. It doesn’t have to happen, but we must maintain organ reserve.

You really have to think about your body for the long term. Think about how you maintain your organs and how to optimize your body to help it heal over time.

Organ reserve is your organ’s capacity to function. If you drink a lot throughout life, your liver’s organ reserve will be worn down. If you overeat and have non-alcoholic fatty liver, you’re wearing down your liver’s organ reserve. If you abuse drugs like ketamine, you’re wearing down your kidney and bladder organ reserve.

If you eat the wrong foods, and you wear out your mitochondria, and you tax your pancreas, and you pump out way too much insulin over the years, after years, after years, eventually, your pancreas is going to lose its organ reserve. If you don’t use your heart properly and you don’t really exercise your heart, then as you get older, you may end up with a weak heart, and your heart’s reserve may decline. You really have to think about your body for the long term. You have to think about how you maintain these organs. How to optimize your body to help it heal over time.

Yeah. You mentioned a few minutes ago about estrogen deficiency if you don’t get your period. That would be not just for women who are going through menopause or have passed menopause but also for women who don’t get their period. I’m curious if you’ve done any analysis on this or have any advice on this.

If you’re on an IUD, we’re not talking about you because you’ve stopped your period. After all, you’ve stopped shutting the lining of your uterus. I’m specifically talking about relative energy deficiency of sport, the female athlete triad, anorexia, and women who just don’t eat enough and don’t have enough body fat. Obviously, this percentage of women is much lower than that of women with estrogen dominance.

Many more women out there are carrying extra weight and body fat, producing too much estrogen, and suffering the consequences of over-having menorrhagia. I gained 10 pounds during the pandemic, and I developed estrogen dominance. I had my breast grow a cup size. My body grew in size, and I started getting heavier periods. I was bleeding a lot, and it was because I was producing too much estrogen.

As someone who’s certainly struggled with her share of hormone imbalance, it’s taken me a long time and a lot of biohacking to get my body into better balance.

Women’s bodies are challenging to regulate because we have these hormonal shifts throughout the month. It’s safe to say if you’re having too heavy of a period or not having a period at all, then there’s something wrong with your hormones. You got to get help with that. The problem is most doctors, most mainstream doctors, actually don’t know what to do aside from putting people on birth control to regulate their period. That’s not regulating your period. That’s just covering it up. That’s just giving you synthetic hormones, so you do not have to think about the symptoms.

As someone who’s certainly struggled with her share of hormone imbalance, it’s taken me a long time and a lot of biohacking to get my body into better balance. I would highly recommend going to a functional medicine doctor who’s done hormone training to learn how to optimize these systems because it’s not as easy as just reading a book and figuring it out. You actually got to run labs. You need to identify your problem firsthand because it could be all sorts of different causes.

Yeah, interesting. Okay.

I’m not anti-estrogen, by the way. I’m certainly not going to tell someone to go for birth control if they need to be on it. I’m not on birth control. I’m a big fan of natural cycles and the aura ring. But when I go through menopause as I get older, I’m definitely going to be taking hormones. I have familial risks. There will be so many ways to predict cancer as we get older that I’m less concerned about cancer than I am about getting dementia or heart disease.

Are there any particular functional medicine doctors you recommend for getting hormone help, fertility help, or anything like that?

Certainly, Sara Gottfried’s work is worth following. She’s such a great doctor that I’m sure she’s hard to get into, but she’s exceptional. There’s the Institute of Functional Medicine. It has a physician directory that you can search for. You can see if hormones are their specialty on that search, which is pretty cool. You can just find one in your area. Ideally, you want somebody you can meet in person.

Yeah, got it. Okay. You mentioned nootropic modafinil earlier, but you didn’t really get much value from that. Are there nootropics that you take? Tell us more about that if so.

Yeah. A great example is GABA for anxiety. It’s a great anti-anxiety nootropic. Theanine is also great if you get anxious. I also have dabbled with all sorts of different nootropics. Those are the two ones I’m playing with a lot right now. There’s a company called BiOptimizers, and they have a very high-end nootropics product called nootopia.

I’m a big fan of Lion’s Mane. I love Lion’s Mane, and I take citicoline for memory. Lion’s Mane and Citicoline are good for neuroplasticity. I’ve definitely taken tryptophan and 5-HTP in the past for mood. Tryptophan is great for sleep. I would argue melatonin is almost a nootropic in some ways because it helps to put you to sleep and works in your mind.

What are some other ones that I’ve tried? I used to take Huperzine A. I think I might retry it again. It’s kind of a good one as well. I believe it’s an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. I’m trying to think of what else is good out there. Phosphatidylserine is a good one, especially for high cortisol levels, so I’m taking that one right now in the mornings. SAM-e, I’m taking this because of this snip that I have called the COMT. It’s like heterozygous mutated. I like Sam-e a lot for just overall mood and regulation.

Those would be my top ones. That’s a lot. I’m mostly taking Sam-e and taking Citicoline pretty much daily. I have a whole nootropics and herb station that are things that I throw in smoothies. It’s kind of like a little smoothie station. I’m always experimenting with different powders and substances to see what I can do to optimize my health.

It takes as much faith to be an atheist as it does to believe in God because you have to have faith that you're right. Click To Tweet

That’s awesome. How about sleeping? What are you doing to optimize your sleep other than tryptophan?

I don’t take tryptophan for my sleep anymore. I’ve hacked my sleep for years. It started with first and foremost Circadian Rhythms, like really, really, really honing in on, I go to bed at this time, I wake up at this time. The only thing that throws me off when I have a particularly fun weekend, and then basically what I have is jet lag for days. When you go to bed at a different time, you’re basically giving your brain jetlag.

Circadian rhythms, sunlight in the morning, and making sure that you have a really dark room at night. I use an eye mask. I have a comfortable bed. I got a mattress topper and an air purifier in my room. Air quality is really key for sleep. That’s something a lot of people could overlook.

I like the app SleepSpace. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a good app. It’s really well done. Then I woke up to an alarm called I-XI. It’s an app that wakes you up with a golden ratio instead of a blasting alarm. It’s way more comfortable to wake up to gongs and like singing bowls than it is to wake up to a beep, beep, beep. I don’t really like that sound. I don’t want that in my morning. That’s just going to cause me more stress.

Before I wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night, I’ve got about 30 minutes of each day really using that hypnagogic space to think about what I want to manifest in my life and what I want to create, think about what I want. How do I get my brain centered? How do I get my dreams aligned with whatever I want to be thinking about, whatever I want to bring into my life? That’s really key. It’s looking at those two spaces as very prime spaces for manifestation.

Yeah, and is there a particular prayer you really liked that you want to share with our listeners?

I love loving kindness meditations. If I’m feeling anxious, I’m filled with loving kindness, I’ll use affirmations. Even though I’m anxious right now, I know I will have a great day. Even if I’m stressed out about this thing, and you’re just tapping your tapping points, and you use this to get your acupressure points to get those emotions out of your body, you want to get them moving. I love Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s a great technique, just like using affirmations to move the energy.

It’s so powerful. I had some incredible experiences with the Emotional Freedom Technique tapping. Fred Gallo was a guest on this podcast and an expert in that area. He worked with me for 45 minutes, and I was able to go into an ultralight.

I had an extreme fear of heights. But I went in on ultralight or microlight, which is essentially a hang glider with a motor attached and a pilot, of course. We went above the mist and Victoria Falls. I was able to do that. There was no way I was ever going to do that without that session with Fred.

Wow, so he did that right before him?

Yeah, right after. He was there on the trip to Zambia. It was a Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership trip. Really amazing.

I was there as part of a group of Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership. Tony had arranged for Fred to be there to work with us to help us to overcome our fears so that we’d be willing to go in canoes and the Zambezi River, which was full of crocodiles and hippos, super dangerous, and to do the ultra-light rides and that sort of stuff.

Yeah, and it worked. It really worked, so I had to have him on my podcast to talk about it. That was awesome. Now, you mentioned something a minute ago about the golden ratio. Are you into sacred geometry?

Sure.

What’s your favorite symbol, and why?

Oh, favorite symbol. That’s challenging. I never really thought about that question. It’s kind of an interesting question to have. In my experience, when I think of sacred geometry, I just think of all the visions that come to me during a psychedelic experience.

Women’s bodies are challenging to regulate because they have hormonal shifts throughout the month.

My perspective on patterns is it’s not even just like a two-dimensional things. It’s literally a three-dimensional or five-dimensional experience. How can I translate that for a podcast? It’s almost impossible. Yeah, I’ve had profoundly visual experiences on psychedelics that have been so transcendent that I have felt like I could connect to people through this space of being in that space, being in that divine connection to source. I felt deeply connected to others while visualizing the ability to connect with them through this experience.

Yeah, it’s really hard to translate psychedelics on a podcast. I’d say that things in the physical two-dimensional, three-dimensional space just don’t even come close to comparing to what you can see on a psychedelic. It’s a totally different ballgame.

Yeah, I get it.

Part of Android. I love the art of Android Jones. I love the art of Alex Gray. A lot of new technologies are coming out, like NPO Digital and the Lucia light, where you can use light and sound to induce a psychedelic experience without any drugs. I’m fascinated by all of these possibilities.

I had a psychedelic experience without drugs just by getting touched on the head by a monk in India.

Wow. What happened?

I went from agnostic to connected to God. Miracles started happening one after another.

Oh, my God. Seriously?

Yeah. That was in 2012. It changed my life.

That is one of the coolest stories I’ve ever heard. That’s incredible. Basically, there was your before and after that experience. Do you think he touched you on purpose in that way? Do you think there was something?

Oh, yeah. He was in a super state of consciousness. It’s called a oneness blessing or a Deeksha. He passed a lot of divine grace into me, and it jump-started me. I saw everything in Technicolor like a cartoon. It was the most vibrant colors, greens and everything that I’ve ever seen in my life. It was so cool.

Wow, that is amazing. That is brilliant. I love that.

All right. I know we’re out of time. Again, what’s your book? How do folks learn more from you other than by getting your book on Amazon?

I’m pretty active on Instagram, @drmolly.co. I have a lot of stories. A lot more reels are going to be coming out. You can find me on Twitter, @mollymaloofmd, LinkedIn, and my website, www.drmolly.co.

There are going to be a lot of extras on the website. Actually, designing is like a favorite product page because everyone’s always asking me, what do you use? Biohackers always have a million biohacking products, so there’s that. That’s coming. Yeah, that’s about it.

Awesome. Thank you, Molly. This was fabulous. You’re really an inspiration to many. I’m sure our listeners can get a ton out of this episode. Thank you so much for your generosity.

Thanks, Stephan.

All right. Thank you, listener. Get out there, and fill the world with light and love. We’ll catch you in the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.

Important Links

Checklist of Actionable Takeaways


?Practice mindfulness to help me manage stress, cope with serious illnesses, and reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness practices include reading spiritual texts, journaling for 5 minutes, practicing some self-compassion mantras, and meditation.


?Reflect on all of the positives in my life and experience gratitude. Gratitude will help me feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve my health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.


?Maintain a good sleeping schedule. Mind my circadian rhythms by being careful about evening screen time. Quality sleep is unbelievably important for optimal health.


?Nourish my body with healthy foods. Eating nourishing food is one of the most basic ways to support physical and mental health. Good nutrition will help me heal, fight illness, move well as I age, and protect my mental health against the stresses of life.


?Exercise regularly. Physical activity can improve my brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve my ability to do everyday activities.


?Plan out my supplement regime. Vitamins and minerals are essential in helping my body develop and function as it should. Planning and sticking to my supplement routine will allow the nutrients to build in my system so my body can absorb them.


?Make a conscious effort to connect with my family and friends. Strong ties with family, friends and the community will provide me happiness, security, support and a sense of purpose. In addition, being connected to others is important for my mental and physical well-being.


?Create healthy habits. Healthy habits are essential to my overall health. They can make or break my chances to achieve and maintain my lifestyle goals. Healthy habits can help me stick to an eating plan, exercise regularly, and manage diabetes/other medical conditions. They will also increase my quality of life and promote longevity.


?Pre-order Dr. Molly Maloof’s new book, The Spark Factor: The Secret to Supercharging Energy, Becoming Resilient, and Feeling Better Than Ever, to receive free gifts and exclusive offers.


?Visit Dr. Molly Maloof’s website to get to know her better and learn more about her courses and services. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for her latest updates.

About Dr. Molly Maloof

Dr. Molly Maloof provides health optimization and personalized medicine to high achieving entrepreneurs, investors, and technology executives. For three years she taught a pioneering course on healthspan in the Wellness Department of the Medical School at Stanford University before launching her own company, inspired by her unique philosophy of health. Since 2012, she has worked as an advisor or consultant to more than 50 companies in the digital health, consumer health, and biotechnology industries. Dr. Maloof is on the frontier of personalized medicine, digital health technologies, biofeedback assisted lifestyle interventions, psychedelic medicine, and science-backed wellness products and services.

Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.

 

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