Before we dig into the specifics of Dr Rhonda Patrick’s diet, let’s look at her core diet strategies:

  1. Time Restricted Feeding – Rhonda aims to fit her meals into a 10 hour eating window – such that she fasts for 14 hours per day (based on promising research by Dr Satchin Panda)
  2. Cutting out refined sugars & grains – Rhonda avoids grains and simple carbohydrates; foods like bread, rice, pasta, chips, cake, cookies etc. Resulting in her diet being almost entirely vegetables, fruit, meat & fish. One caveat is that she does consume oats (for their beta glucan content) and quinoa up to a couple of times per week.
  3. Micronutrient rich smoothies – Rhonda uses these as a core method of increasing her raw vegetable intake, enriching her diet with micronutrients and pre-biotic fibre.
  4. Sulforaphane – Rhonda consumes sulforaphane on a regular basis – both through broccoli sprouts and supplements. We’ll discuss the many health benefits below.
  5. Nutrigenomics – Rhonda integrates data about her DNA into her diet decisions. For example, certain DNA mutations mean that some people need to supplement additional folate, others need to reduce saturated fat & replace with polyunsaturated, etc. In the section below we will discuss examples of how this data could affect your diet choices + how to get this data for yourself & take action on it.

In addition to the above core diet strategies, Rhonda orchestrates her meals such that she hits the key vitamins and minerals she needs for optimal health. Below we’ll look in greater detail at her core diet strategies, and then dig into the specifics of her breakfast, lunch and dinner.

1. Time Restricted Feeding Overview

You might have heard of intermittent fasting? Time restricted feeding is the same idea, but is the scientific term used by Satchin Panda and his team at the Salk Institute – from whom Rhonda draws her research. Their studies have uncovered huge health benefits using time restricted feeding in animals, and they’re currently researching further to understand which of these benefits apply equally to humans. Satchin’s recently released book – The Circadian Code covers the subject in depth.

Time Restricted Feeding Benefits in Mice
A key study from 2012 (source) looked at feeding a high fat diet to two groups of mice. Both groups had access to the same amount (and type) of food. However the first group could access the food at any time of the day, whereas the second group only had access for 8 hours per day. The benefits for the mice with only 8 hour access were:

  • Lower body fat
  • Lower inflammation
  • Better motor co-ordination
  • Better glucose tolerance, and less leptin resistance
  • Healthier liver blood tests

Time Restricted Feeding Benefits in Humans
A 2018 human study did a 5-week time restricted feeding trial in 8 men with pre-diabetes. They randomly assigned the participants either an 6-hour eating window, or a 12-hour eating window. After 5 weeks of one diet, each participant crossed over to do 5 weeks of the other. The 6-hour eating window achieved some beneficial results:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased oxidative stress

The image above shows the results of the two studies we’ve discussed. The image on the left shows the 2012 mice study, and the image on the right shows the 2018 study in pre-diabetic males.

Rhonda’s Time Restricted Feeding Regimen

Rhonda’s current window of time restricted feeding is 10 hours. On the face of it, this might not seem like a particularly small eating window – but Dr Satchin Panda’s research has shown that most people eat on a 15 hour window (!) For example, they might have a cup of coffee at 7am, and then have their last bite of food at 10 o’clock at night.

Rhonda notes that a 10 hour eating window starts the moment you put anything into your body that isn’t water, that even includes tea or coffee! Food and xenobiotic compounds, such as the caffeine in coffee, activate metabolic enzymes in your liver and gut, and those enzymes are on a “clock”. This is because humans are diurnal (active during the day, and asleep at night) – and our evolution has led to us having cells that are optimized towards 12 hours of day time activity.

Whilst eating within the 12 hour (day time) clock, we metabolize glucose, amino acids, fatty acids optimally. However, past that 12 hour clock, say we’re eating at night, that’s when our metabolism in general no longer works as well. For example, our insulin sensitivity increases, and our body switches to the storing of fatty acids, rather than using them for fuel.

For more of Rhonda discussing Time Restricted Feeding, see the snippet below from her interview on the Joe Rogan Experience episode #901. Also recommended are her two in depth interviews with Dr Satchin Panda (Interview 1 & Interview 2).

2. Cutting Out Refined Sugars & Refined Carbohydrates

Rhonda suggests that the one dietary change that would make the biggest improvement to someone eating the “Standard American Diet” would be to cut out all refined sugars.

When we talk about refined sugars, we’re talking about the sugar that gets added to sodas, candy, cookies, cake etc.

Regular consumption of refined sugar can lead to a plethora of negative health consequences, including:

  • Weight gain
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Accelerated ageing + more.

One study found that the standard 20-ounce serving of soda, consumed daily, resulted in telomere aging of approximately 4.6 years (source). The below video is a snippet from a podcast with Joe Rogan (JRE #1054), discussing the effects of refined sugar on health.

3. Micronutrient Rich Smoothies

Rhonda is a huge advocate of smoothies. They’re a great way to consume large amounts of vegetables quickly and easily. No culinary skills required, simply wash them and throw them in a blender. If you kick the day off with a smoothie, even if the rest of your meals are sub-par in terms of health, you’ve at least covered your ass in terms of consuming a good amount of healthy vegetables.

The main two things you’re getting with Rhonda’s smoothies are:

  • Large amounts of what are called ‘essential micronutrients’ – vitamins and minerals that your body can’t synthesize from other things. If you don’t get adequate amounts, your health suffers (see Bruce Ames’ triage theory for more info)
  • Pre-biotics – these are non digestible plant fibre that provides food for “good bacteria” to live and grow. Evidence is mounting to show that maintaining healthy gut bacteria is crucial to good health. For more info on the subject of healthy gut bacteria, Rhonda recommends the The Good Gut book, by Justin & Erica Sonnenburg – who were also on a podcast of hers.

I’ve adopted this suggestion from Rhonda, and definitely recommend it. Vegetable smoothies are probably one of the easiest dietary adjustments to make that can have a huge impact on long term health.

See further down this post for the types of smoothies she makes, including ingredient list.

4. Sulforaphane

Rhonda is a big fan of sulforaphane, a compound derived from brassica vegetables. It activates a pathway called NRF2 which increases the expression of a host of cell protective genes. She takes sulforaphane (in the form of broccoli sprouts added to her smoothie) 2 to 3 times per week. I’ve written here about how Rhonda sprouts her own broccoli seeds, what equipment she uses to do so, and what dose (weight of sprouts) she uses to get the optimal effect.

For more information on sulforaphane, see Rhonda’s deep dive video on sulforaphane. For a less technical, but potentially more engaging description on the benefits of sulforaphane, see the below snippet from Rhonda’s podcast with Joe Rogan on JRE #901:

5. Nutrigenomics

Rhonda is a huge proponent of nutrigenomics, the idea that patterns in our DNA illuminate how we as individuals handle certain foods in our diet.

Examples of genes that are noteworthy for diet choices include:

  • MTHFR – can affect folic acid synthesis
  • PPAR alpha – can affect fatty acid metabolism, particularly good to know if you’re embarking on a high fat diet
  • FTO – certain variants predispose individuals to obesity in the context of a diet high in saturated fats, and low in polyunsaturated fats

Rhonda has talked previously about how she encouraged all her family to get their DNA checked, and upon learning that her mother had a mutation in MTHFR, that leads to poor synthesis of folic acid… she encouraged her mom to start supplementing methylated folate.

Possible Theory for the “Why” of Nutrigenomics

It is thought that our ancestors adapted to the food sources available in their local region. One example of this, is how certain human populations developed mutations in their DNA that lead to them still having the correct enzyme (lactase) to consume milk into adulthood. In Neolithic Scandanavians, only 5% of those sampled had a gene associated with lactase persistence in adulthood, vs 74% of the the existing Swedish population1. Suggesting that as humans moved from hunter gatherers to sedentary agriculture, we selected for genes that allow us to consume milk through adulthood. Of course we didn’t do this consciously per se, but through natural selection.

Why is this relevant? Well, firstly, many of us don’t live in the same circumstances that our ancestors did. Even if you are currently living in the same geographic location as your ancestors, it’s unlikely you’re eating the same things they did. Therefore, considering that we live in an “un-natural” food environment, it can useful to understand any dietary biases that your genetics are adapted for. That way we can adjust our diet to avoid any pitfalls we would otherwise be unaware of.

How to get your Nutrigenomics Data

To get your nutrigenomics data there are 3 simple steps:

  1. Purchase a DNA (SNP marker) testing kit, via providers such as 23andMe or Ancestry
  2. Spit in the plastic tube they provide you (yes, really), and post it back to them
  3. Once they have processed your data, export it into Promethease and/or Rhonda’s Genetic Tool

Once you have either report, you can start learning more about your DNA.

23andMe vs Ancestry

There are quite a large number of DNA testing services available. However, to keep things simple, the major two are 23andMe & Ancestry. 23andMe actually offers some health related data within its dashboard, but to really make the most it, you’ll still need to export the data and analyze it via third party tools.

For the purposes of our nutrigenomics exploration, both 23andMe & Ancestry provide adequate SNP data to analyze in Promethease.

Currently Rhonda’s genetic tool supports both 23andMe and Ancestry – with both hovering around $99 each, depending on what promotions are on at any one time.

Rhonda talks more below on how nutrigenomics works:

 

Promethease vs Rhonda’s Genetic Tool

The simplest tool for analyzing your nutrigenomic data is Rhonda’s genetic tool. It has been configured to cover all the SNPs that she regularly talks about + more. The cost of processing your report is $10, but for Patreon subscribers of $10 or more, it’s free. As mentioned above, it is best optimized for analyzing 23andMe reports currently.

Promethease is a more comprehensive analysis tool. It utilizes the SNPedia.com database, and provides a comprehensive SNP analysis. Promethease will cover everything Rhonda’s tool analyzes + more. But the rub is that you will need to wade through its library to pick out the data points you want.

I’ve used both tools, and appreciate them in their own ways. Promethease for its comprehensiveness (for example, it also covers disease risks), and Rhonda’s tool for its razor sharp focus on important nutrigenomic markers.

Promethease also costs $10 to run your report, and can handle reports from all the major DNA tests, including 23andMe, Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA etc.

 

DNA Testing & Data Privacy

One very reasonable hesitation with genetic testing kits is the possibility that this data gets shared beyond the company you purchase it from. For example, health insurance companies would probably like to know if their customers have SNPs that increase the likelihood of cancer. As of August 2018, the major DNA testing services (including 23andMe & Ancestry) have created a Privacy Best Practices for Consumer Genetic Testing Services policy (document link + 23andMe's press release on it). This provides some reassurance, but what it doesn't do is stop the services from anonymizing customer data, and then selling it. We recently saw this with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline purchasing a $300m stake in 23andMe, to use their data to help identify new drug targets (link).

What we don't yet have are guidelines on how to anonymize the data thoroughly and correctly, thus we run the risk of this data being de-anonymized.

Personally, I've taken a risk to use DNA testing services, because I decided the pros (for now) outweigh the cons. But I think in 2020, privacy is more important to consider than ever, and wanted to touch on this topic briefly to give fair warning.

 

Rhonda’s Typical Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Now that we’ve covered Rhonda’s core diet strategies at a high level, we’ll zoom in and look at specific examples of what she eats, and why. Part of this info comes via a Tim Ferriss podcast interview (link), and part is via recent updates.

Breakfast

#1 – Scrambled Egg, Satueed Kale & Garlic with Grapefruit

One of Rhonda’s go to breakfasts is scrambled eggs, sautéed kale + grapefruit. Clicking on the meal images will take you to Rhonda’s Instagram page where she explains in more detail the rationale behind the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Sauteed Kale & Garlic (topped with salt, olive oil and mustard powder)
  • Grapefruit
  • Avocado oil for cooking the eggs and sautéing the kale
  • Tomatillo salsa (to give the eggs more flavour)

Optional Variations:

  • Add an avocado filled with salmon roe (see first image above)
  • Rather than scrambling eggs and sautéing kale separately, in the last image she’s opted to mix kale plus salmon into her scrambled eggs
  • Scrambled eggs topped with salmon roe

#2 – Mixed Nuts & Berries Bowl

As a contrast to the above cooked breakfast, Rhonda also likes to mix nuts and berries together to form a muesli like cereal. Whilst Rhonda doesn’t eat wheat, she does eat oats up to a couple times per week for their beta glucan content. Using nuts and berries as a base, she then tweaks it by adding things like pomegranate, flaxseed, cacao nibs and almond butter.

Ingredients:

  • Chopped nuts – including pecan, macademia & walnut
  • Mixed berries – blueberries, blackberries raspberries
  • Hydrolyzed collagen powder (Rhonda uses Great Lakes brand)
  • Coconut milk (unsweetened)

Optional Variations:

  • Adding pomegranate in with the blueberries
  • Adding Greek yogurt with a sachet of high strength probiotic (Rhonda uses Visbiome brand)
  • Adding flaxseed (for omega-3 ALA + fibre content)
  • Adding shredding coconut
  • Adding Cacao nibs and/or almond butter

Lunch

Micronutrient Rich Smoothies

Whilst lunch for many is a sandwich or cooked meal, Rhonda tends to opt for a micronutrient rich smoothies.

She has 2 “famous” smoothie recipes.

They both use these as the base ingredients (technically “smoothie 1” uses a bit more chard, spinach and carrots). Note that the ingredients list below are designed for two portions (Rhonda makes for both her and her husband), thus if you’re making them just for yourself, half the quantities or consume in 2 sittings:

  • Kale (8 leaves)
  • Rainbow Chard (2 leaves and stems)
  • Spinach (2 cups)
  • Carrot (1 large)
  • Tomato (1)
  • Apple (1)
  • Frozen organic blueberries (1-2 cups)
  • Avocado (1)

Then “smoothie 1” adds:

  • Banana (1)
  • Unsweetened flax milk (3 cups ~710 ml)
  • 1 tall shot glass of flaxseed (optional)

Or “smoothie 2” adds:

  • Lemon (1)
  • Celery (2)
  • Parsley (8 pieces)
  • Hydrolyzed collagen powder (Rhonda uses Great Lakes brand) (1/4 cup)
  • Water (2 cups of water)

Rhonda has 2 videos dedicated to her smoothie recipes, check out smoothie 1 video and smoothie 2 video for more details. The key takeaway is that by blending vegetables you can get a huge overall increase in your micronutrient intake.

Additional smoothie receipes Rhonda has discussed:

  • Kale, beet, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, carrot, lemon (source)
  • Raspberry, blackberry, kale, and chard (source)
  • Cacao smoothie: 2 avocados, 13.6g of unsweetened cacao powder (~2 tablespoons), handful of raw pumpkin seeds, 1 cucumber, 1 cup of blueberries, and unsweetened almond milk (source)
  • Kale, beet, raspberry, avocado (source)

Avocado Topped with Salmon Roe

As well as aiming to consume sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, Rhonda also aims to consume omega-3 fatty acids in “phospholipid” form. In this way, the omega-3s are more easily absorbed by the body. Wild Alaskan salmon roe is a great source of phospholipids, and thus Rhonda combined them with avocado to make a healthy (light) meal.

Ingredients:

  • Avocado, topped with lemon juice
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon Roe (Rhonda has said previously she bulk buys hers from Vital Choice)

Dinner

#1 – Baked Salmon & Greens

Rhonda aims to eat salmon 2-3 times per week, which is what the American Heart Association recommends. Specifically, they suggest adults consume 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA. Which is ~2-3 servings of fatty fish per week (~8 oz). However, the average intake in Western society is only ~135 mg per day (which is about 2 servings of fish per month)

Ingredients:

  • Baked salmon
  • Assorted vegetables – often kale and spinach. Last image shows her adding avocado

#2 – Chicken Legs & Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • Grilled chicken legs from pasture raised chickens, which has some cartilage – high in collagen, proline and glycine
  • Green vegetables, such as salad or sauteed kale
  • Kimchi – for prebiotics and isothiocynates – on JRE #1474 she noted particularly liking Mother In Law’s kimchi brand

#3 – Chicken Bone Soup with Vegetables

Rhonda makes a chicken bone soup that intrinsically has the same benefits as the hydrolyzed collagen powder she sometimes supplements; high in proline, glycine and collagen.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken bones & chicken
  • Vegetables: Kale, carrots, sweet potato, celery, onion, garlic
  • Flavouring: Pepper, rosemary, black pepper, Himalayan sea salt

#4 – Grass Fed Beef

Rhonda has a grass fed fillet steak a few times per month, which is a good source of vitamin B12, Iron, and Zinc. Around 16% of all menstruating women are actually iron deficient. For the vegetarians out there… it has been recommended to take in around twice the RDA for iron, since iron which is bound to phytate in plant sources and is ~2-times less bioavailable.

Ingredients:

  • Grass fed beef – fillet steak or otherwise
  • Green vegetables – such as kale or broccoli
  • In the image above, Rhonda’s combined pear with cheese. Pears contain catechin and proanthocyanidins, which both activate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory genes. The pears also contain prebiotic fiber to feed the gut bacteria. The aged cheddar cheese contains vitamin K2 (which prevents calcification of arteries), fat, and some calcium.

Drinking Water

We’ve covered Rhonda’s diet in detail – now lets move on to the other thing we all consume on a daily basis; water. On the face of it, it’s a colorless, odorless liquid that many of us take for granted. After all, isn’t it all more or less the same? In part, that depends on location; certainly some places have better water quality than others.

Rhonda recently tweeted about a study that showed 81% of global tap water samples tested were contaminated with plastic particles2.

Then when asked what Rhonda uses to filter her water, she replied on Twitter saying a Berkey filter (tweet link).

The Berkey water filters are free standing, gravity fed filters that have been tested to remove a whole host of things, including:

  • Chlorine
  • Heavy metals
  • Pesticides
  • Even viruses (as tiny as they are)

Plastic particles are a somewhat new contaminant, and according to this article, the Berkey filters haven’t been fully tested on them yet.

One encouraging sign is that Berkey’s can filter down to 0.1 micron or better (which is what gives it the ability to filter out tiny viruses). According to the study Rhonda linked3, 98.3% of the microplastics were between 0.1–5 mm – which is between 100-5,000 microns – more than big enough that the Berkey *should* filter them out (more testing needed).

Sleep

Scientists used to ask the question “why do we sleep?” – looking for 1 big answer. However, it’s now understood sleep improves every process in the human body. In February, Rhonda released a podcast interviewing sleep scientist Matthew Walker. If you haven’t listened to it already, I highly recommend it. Off the back of that, she has talked about the steps she takes to ensure good quality sleep.

1) Get Early Bright Light Exposure

Rhonda aims to get 30 mins to 1 hour of bright light exposure in the mornings. This gives your circadian clock an anchor for the morning.

2) Avoid Blue Light After Sunset

Whilst daylight in the morning is good, exposure to blue light in the evening can suppress melatonin release4. Releasing melatonin in the evening is natural, and it signals the need to sleep. However if we suppress the melatonin, we suppress the feeling of needing to sleep, resulting in later sleep times.

To tackle this problem, Rhonda has swapped out the lights in her home for Philips Hue bulbs. They can be controlled through software on your phone to only emit red light in the evenings, avoiding the wakeful blue light. She says this results in feeling sleepy earlier, something even friends visiting have experienced and commented on.

Philips Hue bulbs + software that controls them

An alternative to changing your bulbs are light blocking goggles. However compliance can be worse, as you have to remember to put them on each evening.

3) No Screen Time 2 Hours Before Sleep

Rhonda aims to avoid screen time (phone, computer, ipad) 2 hours before sleep. Rather than it being about light this time, she says that isn’t the key part, because we can use applications on our devices to reduce the blue light. Instead, these devices increase anxiety and reduce relaxation, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid. Things like emails, social media and news headlines can all increase anxiety and alertness before bed.

Something she has taken to is ordering science publications; such as New Scientist, and reads them in the evening. Whilst that may not be everyone’s cup of tea content-wise – the general principle of reading offline content is likely to help, be it fiction, fantasy etc.

4) Time Restricted Eating

Rhonda aims to finish eating 3 hours before bed. This reduces digestion whilst sleeping, which can improve sleep quality.

5) Blackout Curtains / Dark Room

Even a little bit of light can disrupt sleep, so Rhonda takes steps to ensure her bedroom is dark at night. Blackout curtains or sleep masks can be a good solution, especially if street lights or vehicle headlamps are a problem. Similarly, noise from the street or neighbors can also interfer with sleep – for which high quality earplugs work for some people. A complimentary (or alternative) can be the use of artificial “white noise” to reduce unwanted disturbances. There are stand-alone white noise machines (example), or there are phone apps which do a similar thing (such as Deep Sleep on Android, or White Noise Lite on iPhone)

6) Sleep in a Cool Room

Our bodies naturally drop their core temperature at night, and having a warm room makes this harder. The Sleep Council suggests 60-65°F (16-18°C ) is the ideal temperature range, whilst temperatures below 53°F (12°C) and above 71°F (24°C) are likely to make sleep more difficult. A colder room is easier to modulate with blankets, whereas with a hotter room, there’s only so much clothing you can take off.

Rhonda resides in a warm part of the world (San Diego, CA), and thus has taken to using what’s called a ChiliPAD. It’s a temperature controlled topper that circulates water inside to maintain the desired temperature. What’s your desired temperature? Well, it’ll likely be somewhere between 60-68°C, but each person is different. So it requires a bit of experimentation at the start to find what works for you. Once a temperature is set, the ChiliPAD will maintain it throughout the night, even as the temperature in your room fluctuates. Whilst I haven’t got a ChiliPAD yet, I’m certainly curious. It’s not just Rhonda who’s a fan, podcasters Peter Attia (source) and Tim Ferriss (source) also use them.

 

ChiliPAD illustration showing how it circulates water above the mattress

Side Note: Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by our bodies to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. We produce melatonin as the sun sets and night sets in, and we reduce production as the sun rises and our body preps for wakefulness.

Rhonda suggests that melatonin can be useful as we age (particularly for those 50+), because over time our natural production decreases.

The aspect of melatonin production decreasing with age is important (see this study for more discussion). We know that good sleep is absolutely crucial to overall health, so if we can supplement melatonin and measure a noticeable positive impact on sleep, that’s a big (easy) win. This can be coupled with exercise, which also improves sleep quality (for both younger and older people).

Rhonda was previously using a low dose melatonin supplement (300mcg by Life Extension), based on this research by MIT.

She has since switched to taking a high dose (9mg), which she says helps keep her night terrors at bay. See this section of her recent Joe Rogan interview for where she mentions it.

The specific figure of 9mg likely comes from a string of research papers on sleep disruption, where 9mg was the dose used.

During the interview she didn’t specifically mention which specific brand she’s using, but her go-to brands with relevant doses include Life Extension – Melatonin 3mg and Pure Encapsulations – Melatonin 3mg

Rhonda’s Dosage: 9mg / nightly

 

Rhonda’s Supplements

Whilst Rhonda strives to meet all her micronutrient needs through diet, she also takes daily supplements in order to cover all bases. Part of her rationale for supplements comes from the work of one of her mentors; Bruce Ames. His “triage theory” informs us that even moderate micronutrient deficiency over time can damage our bodies. See my post on Bruce Ames’ Triage Theory for more information.

Below is a list of the core supplements that Rhonda either consumes daily, or, consumes intermittently for specific function. For example recently, she adjusted her supplements to provide additional immune support:

Rhonda’s Daily Supplements – Focused on Immune Function

Rhonda’s Additional Daily Supplements

Supplements Rhonda Uses Intermittently:

Previously Recommended to Family Members:

  • Beet Powder – Activz Organic – Rhonda has recommended to family members with high blood pressure
  • Methylated B Vitamins – Swanson’s B Complex – Rhonda has recommended to family with MTHFR mutation

Rhonda’s Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen

The above is just a high level overview of the supplements Rhonda takes. For more information, including sources, see this lengthy post on Rhonda’s supplements – which is kept constantly updated.

Sunscreen

So we’ve covered things we put inside our body, what about products we put on our bodies?

Rhonda chooses to use mineral sunscreens and avoids chemical sunscreens, mostly as a result of a randomized controlled trial that found 4 common chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule) are absorbed into the bloodstream at much levels higher than the FDA’s potential toxicological threshold5. These levels then stayed elevated for up to 3 days.

It’s worth pointing out that in the study they put the sunscreen over the whole body – which is what they mean by ‘maximal use conditions’. You can imagine this is an extreme example, whereas often we might just put sunscreen on the face, neck and arms – leading to much lower concentrations of these chemicals accumulating in the blood.

Rhonda notes in this Instagram post that it’s still unclear whether these ingredients have harmful effects on humans, but she’d rather avoid them until more data is published.

Additionally, Rhonda tweeted a study regarding two compounds found in sunscreens and cosmetics, called oxybenzone and propylparaben, which were found to cause DNA damage to breast cells in culture and in mice6. Whilst this study wasn’t performed in humans, it does raise questions on their human safety with long term usage.

Responding to questions on Instagram, Rhonda noted that she currently uses Coola mineral sunscreen – but has no affiliation with them.

An avid sauna user, Rhonda notes that saunas increase “transdermal absorption”, that is, the absorption of chemicals via our skin. Whilst mineral sunscreens don’t contain the aforementioned chemicals, they still contain compounds she would rather not increase absorption of. Thus she makes sure to wash off her mineral sunscreen prior to getting in the sauna.

Sauna

Rhonda started using the sauna when she was in grad school, as a way to elevate her mood and reduce anxiety whilst she was working long hours to complete her PhD. What started as a simple enjoyment, later turned into a research area, as it became clear that the benefits of sauna use go far beyond just mood enhancement. Rhonda explains in her lengthy post on saunas, the benefits include:

  • Detoxification
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Decreased all-cause mortality
  • Improved cognition

In response to questions on Instagram (link) about which sauna she uses, Rhonda mentioned having a Hallmark 44 portable sauna (noting she has no affiliation). She chose it because it can reach high temperatures using a regular electrical outlet, and has a number of useful features, including water on rocks. How hot is ideal? Well, the major Finnish studies (KIHD)7 which found a dose-dependent reduction in all-cause mortality, involved saunas heated to at least 78.9°C (174°F) for 20 minutes. Note that hot sauna use is contra-indicated for some people (examples here).

Xylitol for Gum & Teeth Health

To Rhonda’s surprise, she was able to reverse 2 dental cavities (identified via x-ray) by chewing xylitol gum regularly. See this section of her Joe Rogan interview for the full story.

Studies show xylitol can reduce plaque and saliva levels of streptococcus mutans, a bacteria commonly found in the mouth, which contributes significantly to dental cavities89.

To get a ballpark figure on the amount of xylitol needed for dental cavity protection, one paper suggests 6-10 grams per day, and another suggests 4-9 grams per day.

Sometimes sweeteners can cause stomach upset, and with Xylitol that seems to kick in around ~100g/day for adults and ~45g/day in children. With most adults comfortably tolerating 40g/day10.

A trick to finding a good xylitol gum, is to look for one that lists xylitol as its first ingredient (and then doesn’t list other sweeteners). If they do that, they’ll typically have 1 gram of xylitol per piece (source).

Rhonda didn’t mention which gum she used, but Xlear’s Spry gum, for example, has 0.9g of xylitol per piece.

Exercise Routine

Each week Rhonda aims to include:

  1. Endurance Training – specifically Rhonda opts for Running
  2. High Intensity Training – specifically Rhonda opts for Spinning classes (stationary bike class) or Squat Jumps
  3. Resistance/Strength Training – specifically Rhonda opts for lunges, squats & other weight lifting exercises
  4. Stretching/Flexibility – specifically Rhonda opts for yoga and ballet exercises

Rhonda explains that the top 3; endurance, high intensity & resistance training are necessary to stave off muscle aging.

This is important to realize, because many of us get comfortable in exercise routines of limited variety. If we get comfortable just doing endurance training like running or cycling, then we might miss out on the muscle preserving benefits of weight lifting. Vice-versa, if we only do weight lifting – we may miss out on the mitochondrial benefits of endurance training. Below are specific benefits of each type of exercise:

Endurance Training – Prevents age related decline in mitochondrial respiratory capacity – helping your muscle cells produce ATP similar to your younger self

High Intensity Training – Boosts mitochondrial biogenesis – increasing the number of young, healthy mitochondria your body makes

Resistance/Strength Training – Maintains or increases muscle mass, strength & power – all of which decline without training

For more of Rhonda on exercise & its benefits, see this longer post – Rhonda Patrick Exercise – Routine and Recommendations.

Closing Words

Whilst this post is long, hopefully you’ve found some of it useful for your own life. If it all seems a bit much, and you only take away one thing from the post, Rhonda has previously mentioned that cutting out refined sugars will yield the largest dietary health benefit.

If you value the research and content that Rhonda is putting out, consider signing up become a premium member on her site. Firstly, this crowd sponsored support allows her to continue to work independently, without being reliant on sponsors or grants. Secondly, premium members get a number of exclusive benefits, including members only emails, monthly Ask Me Anything live streams and open access to use her genetics reports.

In case they’re of value, here are some further posts I’ve written on Dr Rhonda Patrick related content:

  • A relatively comprehensive list of supplements that Rhonda has discussed taking, some daily, some for specific use-cases (link)
  • As mentioned above, a comprehensive look at both Rhonda’s exercise routine + the science behind exercise benefits (link)
  • Notes on many of the key things Rhonda has discussed about pregnancy & baby health – based on her journey into motherhood (link)

Post Change Log

For those curious, see this post for a log of the key changes to this article, starting from Feb 17, 2020.

See Post Sources Below:

  1. High frequency of lactose intolerance in a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population in northern Europe – Malmström H, et al 2010 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20353605/
  2. Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0194970
  3. Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0194970
  4. Action spectrum for melatonin regulation in humans: evidence for a novel circadian photoreceptor – Brainard GC et al (2001)
  5. Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients – Matta et al. (2019)
  6. Effects of Benzophenone-3 and Propylparaben on Estrogen Receptor–Dependent R-Loops and DNA Damage in Breast Epithelial Cells and Mice – Majhi et al (2020)
  7. Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events – Laukkanen et al (2015)
  8. Xylitol Chewing Gums and Caries Rates: A 40-month Cohort Study – Hujoel et al. (1995)
  9. Xylitol, Sweeteners, and Dental Caries – Marilynn et al. (2006)
  10. The effect of xylitol on dental caries and oral flora – Khandelwal et al. (2014)
John Alexander

Posted by John Alexander

Note: Not a Medical Doctor or PhD. I'm a researcher and writer, with a focus on the subjects of health and longevity. My intent is to write about scientific research in an accessible, understandable way. If you believe something I've stated needs a reference, and I haven't done so, please let me know in the comments. Follow on: Twitter

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Edward
Edward
24 days ago

Regarding xylitol, another way to more or less continuously bathe your teeth in xylitol is too use a xylitol sweetener in your coffee and drink plenty of it. It was mentioned in the autophagy episode with Guido Kroemer that the polyphenols in coffee, including decaf, induce autophagy, so with Xylo Sweet (Amazon)in your coffee, you get autophagy and anti-bacterial xylitol both at once!

Michael
Michael
1 month ago

Bro! I love your shit! Was watching Joe a lot, but you can get lost with those long podcast if you want to come back to something – you summarize everything perfectly! I was just reading about David Sinclair’s Supplements (hard to get those to Poland – country Im from), and now I found that you also have Rhonda.

Again, thanks for the content, keep it up man!

Atul
Atul
Reply to  Michael
1 month ago

Hi John,
I have keen interest in the science of nutrition and longevity. I watched a lot of expert talks and Have studied some primary research. But still was not able to summarise it. This article of yours is a fantastic effort. great job. now I can forward this summary to mu loved ones and use this as a base to explain my POV.

Thank you
Atul from India

Lisa Myers
Lisa Myers
Reply to  Michael
14 days ago

Agreed! I’m so glad I found this page and this guy!! Condensed information at it’s best!

Omar
Omar
1 month ago

Thank you for maintaining this 🙂

Butch
Butch
5 months ago

John,
You write exceptionally well and I really enjoyed your reviews and comments on the various issues.

Thank you!

Carol
Carol
6 months ago

If you have to take blood pressure meds and statins at bedtime and synthroid in the morning, how can you fast intermittently? Thanks for your help!

Shantelle Schiff
7 months ago

I enjoy the way you present and argue all the details in addition to your general
writing style. From time to time, there’s a lack of time to read long pieces, but yours is brief and succinct, I spent just a few minutes to read the whole article.
It’s essential since no one has time to browse.

Chris D
Chris D
9 months ago

Hi John,

This is amazing information!

Would adding apple cider vinegar or lemon to my water in the morning start the body clocks and disrupt my fasting? I know Rhonda mentioned that black coffee does.

Denise Hagerman
Denise Hagerman
10 months ago

Does she eat the same foods everyday?

Jocelyn
Jocelyn
1 year ago

I have a question in regards to intermittent fasting/time restricted eating. Does is matter that I start my time restricted eating at different times everyday? Does it matter if I eat from 10am-8pm on Monday and on Tuesday I eat from 7am-5pm? That is if I do it within a 10 hour time window…which I find to be easier than trying to cut that time shorter.

Son
Son
1 year ago

This page is hands down one of the greatest health resources on the net, not sure why Rhonda hasn’t linked to it on her site.

Question: Are you familiar with Athletic Greens supplement? Do you reckon the following consolidated stack taken from Rhonda could replace it?

Multivitamin – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E – 1 capsule/daily
Vitamin D3 – Thorne Research – D3 (1,000iu) – 2 capsules/daily
Fish Oil – Norwegian PURE-3 DHA – 6 capsules/daily
Magnesium – Thorne Research – Magnesium Citramate – 1 capsule/daily

geoff pickles
geoff pickles
1 year ago

Hi Rhonda/John
Thank you for all this info. I am looking at all the food and to me it seems like a lot..I would eat that in two or three days even if I have a physical job. I also would like to know if all the food is organic. Alos not mentioned I would like her opinion on Hemp or rice protein powders for the vegetarians out there
Cheers and thank you
Geoff

Richard
Richard
1 year ago

God bless you for this information. I’ve listened to reams of her stuff. Found myself taking stacks of either mental or paper notes. BUT… You’ve consolidated EVERYTHING in one article. I even have brands of supplement. Aside from keeping up with the quantity of information she fires off, I find I am distracted by her looks. There is something about her that I can’t put my finger on…she’s a scorcher. As in hot. Do you know if she is single? You seem to know everything else about her. I mean…you even know what she has for breakfast. Jokes aside, I… Read more »

Richard
Richard
Reply to  John Alexander
1 year ago

Hello John; thanks for getting back to me. You may be right about the organ meats. It could just be culture. That said, even in the UK, organ meats haven’t been popular for decades and decades. The look of amazement and/or disgust I get from people when I tell them I eat lambs heart… I explain it’s just another muscle, like any other cut of meat. I’ve tried that line so many times and it’s never worked! Heart, in my opinion, is the best organ meat for those who are unaccustomed to the flavours. Heart is close in taste to… Read more »

Jason
Jason
1 year ago

Wish we could have an overview like this from a Dr. Peter Attia approach. Would love to compare their methodologies.

fire
fire
1 year ago

Thanks for taking the time to add the links and descriptions 🙂 well written

Josh
Josh
1 year ago

Excellent summary and report, John. Thank you for putting in your time to make this easily digestible for others!

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

John,

This site is incredibly helpful and well put together. Thank you so much for your time and effort. Please, please keep up the great work! 🙂

stevie
stevie
1 year ago

Thanks for the info! I wish I could afford the smoothie. I calculated out smoothie #2 to be $20 per person (I am in Canada, we have ample organic produce available), using all organic produce. I would be interested if anyone else has done this calculation. I don’t think I could afford this smoothie, maybe once per week only! per 1 smoothie Kale (8 leaves) $3.49 Chard (two rainbow chard leaves and stems) $1.75 spinach (2 cups) $2.75 celery (2) $1.66 parsley (8 pieces) $1.16 carrot (1 large) $0.80 tomato (1) $0.75 apple (1) $1.16 lemon (1) $0.83 frozen organic… Read more »

Rachel Dozier
Rachel Dozier
Reply to  stevie
1 year ago

Prices in the US are much lower than what is suggested here. I can make the smoothie for less than $10 and have enough to make atleast one more smoothie. Is growing some veggies an option? Buy bulk and freeze?

Dave
Dave
Reply to  stevie
6 months ago

I’m in Canada, don’t concern myself with organic & my cost is as follows:

Kale (3 leaves) $1.19
spinach (2 cups) $0.75
carrot (1/2 large) $0.19
tomato (1) $0.45
apple (1/2) $0.49
frozen blueberries (2/3 cups) $0.72
banana (1) $0.45
flaxseed (1TbSp) – $0.23
hemp hearts (3 TbSp) – $0.66
water: ( 2 cups)
Total: $5.13

Brian M
Brian M
1 year ago

So Im reading the china study- their findings on a carb based diet is a bit different …

Are you aware of any comparison or material where Dr Rhonda – talks a bout the findings of the China Study

R.
R.
1 year ago

Oh my, John, how can I thank you? You have put an incredible amount of time in this website. I’ve been looking into Dr. Patrick and her videos, I would like to change my lifestyle, and this page just has everything I need. Thank you!

Taylor
Taylor
1 year ago

Hi John,

Loving what you do here, has been so helpful for me and many others!

Do you know why she takes both the fish oil and the omega 3 supplements? Are there different benefits to each? I’m wanting to follow this, but cost-wise it does get a little expensive.

Thank you!

Christine Kane
Christine Kane
1 year ago

Just going to echo the many comments you get here. A] what a great idea to do this. I hope you get lots of commissions for clicks. B] You’ve done an enormous amount of work and a huge service to people who listen to podcasts and don’t have time to write it all down.

So – thanks!

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

Thanks for this John–extremely helpful. Do you happen to know what brands of flax milk and almond milk she uses in the smoothie recipes noted above?

Isabel Lastres
Isabel Lastres
1 year ago

Today I have heard for the first time about Birm ( the plant from Ecuador that cures cancer. Is that plant replaceable with broccoli sprout or they are completely different?
Thank you
Isabel Lastres

Teresa Moews
Teresa Moews
1 year ago

I am positive for the CDH1 Gene. I had lobular breast cancer in 2008 and again in the bone in 2016. My last PET scan showed NO ACTIVE CANCER. I have mad many changes in my lifestyle. I have 2 sister also with cancer and my mother at 40yo. I have a daughter and 3 nieces. What can we do to not activate the CDH1 gene.

Also, I am VERY interested in the FMD. Would you recommend it for me? I would love to get your opinion.

Liz
Liz
Reply to  Teresa Moews
1 year ago

Go with your gut Teresa! I have done FMD for autoimmune issues and general health improvement and will do it again. Have you read Longo’s book The Longevity Diet yet? There is a section that specifically discusses diet for cancer. I would check that out along with regular use of FMD. Best wishes!

Daniel
Daniel
1 year ago

Hi there,

I have been on the keto diet for about 5 months with great results. I was introduced via the Joe Rogan pdcast. I’m not up to date with her episodes, what are her thoughts on the keto diet now? It’s been a few years since the episode i saw. Does she recommend it still or has she found it to be harmful now?

Would you have a link to article or video on her latest views on Keto please?

Cheers

Lyla
Lyla
1 year ago

Can I use your smoothie (not the one with the banana) as the calories for Dr. Longo Fasting Mimicking Diet? Does it have the correct ratio of carbs, fats and protein?

I was thinking 64 oz for the day – with coffee and cream.

Coffee is not likely an acceptable item, but I hope it will still work.

Lyla
Lyla
Reply to  John Alexander
1 year ago

Thanks John.
His diet limits carbs to 400 calories and healthy fats to 400 calorie.

The avocado has 261 calories from fat. So two servings would be a little over (I’ll use less than a whole avocado)

The smoothie #1 has a single serving calorie count of 446 – in total. I can not find the calories for smoothie #2, but it looks much less. Do you know the calorie count of the smoothie #2?

August
August
1 year ago

Dr Rhonda Patrick’s Diet…2018 Update is absolutely the most beneficial and time saving resource I’ve read in years. I’m always driving while listening to Dr Patrick’s podcasts then find myself getting absorbed reading too many additional ‘research’ articles, thus never categorizing exactly what dietary and lifestyle changes I need to implement immediately.

While I absolutely love the links and videos of Dr Rhonda Patrick, it is your article which logically distills each topic that has allowed me to quickly make needed changes. Your generosity in sharing has immensely helped me.
With gratitude

Nina
Nina
1 year ago

I made the first smoothie this morning and it was surprisingly good! I halved the ingredients but my blender was still full to the top.

Jeff
Jeff
1 year ago

John,

This is an incredibly valuable resource. Thank you for taking the time to centralize all of Rhonda’s life altering information in one place.

For those of us trying to heal our bodies from deep physical setbacks this kind of page is far more than mere casual reading. Keep up the great work. . .it makes a difference.

Jeff

Jo Gottlieb
1 year ago

Thank you John. I know the drill about the salmon being better wild but since all our fish population is decreasing I was hoping someone would start to find some decent farmed raised fish. Thank you for the info on the sauna. All makes sense.
Jo