Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 12 - Dr. Greg Grosicki - TRUST YOUR GUT - Part 2 of 3

One of my coaches gave me this like, I guess it's a rough time scale, and we'll keep it as a rough, but say the time, like your 5K time when you're a 19 year old, you saying, you can increase that, you'll get faster. 

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JESSE: One of my coaches gave me this like, I guess it's a rough time scale, and we'll keep it as a rough, but say the time, like your 5K time when you're a 19 year old, you saying, you can increase that, you'll get faster. And then as we know, endurance peaks, I'll say 35 plus or minus five years, depending on the individual, and then goes down from there. And he was saying, basically, you have this curve from 19, to like, almost like 50-60 where at 50-60, assuming you continue working out, you should still be able to run a similar time as to when you're 19. Timeline aside, there's going to be some variation, clearly, yeah. You think that compensation is that partially was probably at play there to help keep that performance level higher later on, despite the loss of muscle? GREG: Yeah, that's a good question. So, to be honest, I don't think a whole lot is happening that's necessarily between 40-50 with the muscle, I think most of that is going on later on. And if we look at what's actually limiting our performance, and you said, a 5K, so if you look at the physiology, that’s ultimate ultimately influencing our ability to perform in a 5K, a lot of it is going to be related to our aerobic capacity or how much oxygen we can consume. So, if we look at factors influencing cardiovascular fitness, or aerobic capacity, if you will, again, those are what's going to influence this 5K time most. And we know that much like muscle, cardiovascular fitness also declines with aging. One of the primary reasons for that is our maximum heart rate declines. You may have seen that a little bit, or if you've ever seen someone who's really young, like a high school kid, or someone who's young, some of my young college students will test over in the lab can get a heart rate of 205 beats per minute, right, which ?? 2:11> training I'm calling the cardiologist. Like my heart rate doesn't get that high, right. But that's one of the reasons our cardiovascular capacity tends to decline a bit with aging. And so one of the things that happens as we get older, is our heart actually gets bigger. There's a scientist, his name's Ben Levine, and he's down in Texas, and he studies this in masters athletes. And so the heart gets bigger as a, again, compensatory mechanism, right to compensate, if you will. But some may say compensatory mechanism, others would say it gets bigger because you finally given it enough stimulus. It just takes a long time to evoke this hypertrophy of the heart. And so that increase in size of the heart is compensating for the fact that the heart can beat as fast. So, it's not beating as fast but every time it's beating, it's pumping out more blood. And so that would be the mechanism that I would say would help to preserve, like you said, your performance and potential to maybe 50 maybe plus or minus 10 years of age for like that type of event. JESSE: Okay. And I mean, does it-- So, since our aerobic capacity goes down, I would assume that like our maximum, I’ll say like the genetic maximum of ?? 3:46> max that also probably goes down over time? GREG: So, aerobic capacity, - max, same thing...synonymous. JESSE: Okay. Okay. So, I was just like trying to get all my terms correct. GREG: Sorry. Yeah, yeah, yeah. JESSE: No, no, no, that's fine. GREG: I - these things around-- JESSE: No, and part of it's like, sometimes I know a fair about what we're talking about and then sometimes it's like, I only know enough to be dangerous. So, that's why it's like-- GREG: Don't worry, it’s not-- about writing articles and trying to convince people to drink some sort of weird concoction. JESSE: No, that's what-- GREG: As you see online, right? That's when it gets dangerous. JESSE: That's what I’ve got you here for is to like, clarify things. And it's like, I always want to know what's going on. And anytime I like, make a recommendation, or I don't know if you've seen anything about the company, but I made skincare products for athletes. And so anytime I'm going into like formulate something, I'm digging through scholarly research to see like what does the research say before trying to make a formulation. Because there's so -- I don't know what to call it. There's a lot of people that are shysters, basically and it just irritates the heck out of me. Which is actually something I was kind of curious about, in your opinion, like I saw you post this on your Instagram, I can't remember what the study was. But somebody had wrote an article they like misinterpreted the results of a study and like said some something that really kind of almost outlandish, like, how do you deal with like, misattribution of results from studies, when you can clearly see that's not actually what they're talking about. And then you see these, I’ll call them pop articles. They're saying the future is here, and we're going to live forever. And like, all these just kind of wild claims, like how do you deal with that? GREG: Yeah, it's tough and I feel like it behooves us, unfortunately, probably, just to keep quiet about it mostly right, just kind of do our best to when we're communicating. Well, here's what I'll say. So, I guess kind of rewind a bit. The best way I think to deal with that is something I learned when I was at Ball State, actually. So, David Costill started the lab at Ball State and he's one of the premier exercise physiologist in the US, he was first to do the skeletal muscle biopsy. He wrote the book on Exercise Physiology, literally. And one of the messages that I think I learned from him, he was very, so clearly is as academicians if you will, we're busy. But they've never shied away from talking to the media or speaking with runners world. And so I think by trying to communicate with the lay public, I think that's probably one of the best proactive approaches to making sure that the information that we're learning in the lab is being translated properly, externally, right. I think that's one of the biggest problems with scientists is, they get so caught up in writing their publications, and it's like, even like talking to you, like all you use is aerobic capacity and VO2 max interchangeably, and I like just totally, you get so caught up in your own world, right. And scientists, you just get so busy. It's like, I gotta write this grant. And sometimes, like, what's the point of doing all the work if the only people who are hearing it are like me, and then the guy who's doing the experiments on some other lab, and they're trying to prove that, it's like, that's a huge waste, right. And so I think science in general, I think many other scientists would probably echo this ethos that the scientists in general just need to do a far better job of disseminating their work and being transparent about what it is they're doing. And that means also, being honest and transparent about the strengths and weaknesses, those studies they're doing. JESSE: Right. I think one of the problems that we run into and I’ll harking back to a math professor, I had, this is the first 400 level math class I took. And it was taught by a guy who was this is his first year as a professor. And the class was what he did his dissertation on. And he ended up teaching it, we learned-- I almost failed that class. And we learned after the fact that he was like, oh, I think I actually taught that at a graduate level instead of undergraduate level. And I think the issue was more so that he was so into what he was doing and knew so much, he’s so far down the rabbit hole in that field, that he was unable at the time to pop back up with kind of a fresh look, and think, okay, if I knew nothing, where would I start? GREG: Exactly. JESSE: So, I think the issue is more a lack of skill on, kind of like that academics part and knowing how to translate the academic world to a lay person. Which is why you get kind of a few, like iconic people who don't necessarily always have the best academic background, like Bill Nye has always gone to is like, this figurehead for science. Well, I would say you among plenty of other people in research have a deeper academic background than he does. But he does a good job with communicating sometimes complex ideas to people that have no idea what's going on. GREG: Spot on. Yeah, that’s 100% the case. And that's why like I'm not trying to make a sales pitch here, but like on my Instagram, and it's actually faded away in the spring as I got busy, but I'll try to do my best to at least make like a one paragraph blurb about some sort of - article that I read, because it's like, I feel like that's our responsibility as scientists, part of it. And like I don't get paid to do that, like nowhere my job contract, are they going to look at my Instagram, like when I go ?? 9:49> they’re like oh, Grosicki’s got 15 Instagram posts since 2000, but-- JESSE: He’s not going to get tenure till he has 10,000 followers. GREG: I’ll be in trouble, better get me a lot of followers. Yeah. So, but I but there are people out there who are good at it. They're also, I'm not even going to mention any names because I don't want them getting any more followers, but they're absolute idiots out there that get people worship their stuff. JESSE: Yeah. Well, there's also this intersection where like I'm in marketing, clearly because I have to market my products. But there was like a dark side of marketing where like you learn about these kind of psychological triggers with people and like, how to communicate your message effectively. And when you're trying to, in my case, bring a product that solves people's problems, you're doing, at least in my opinion, good for the world. But there are people that understand those marketing principles, and don't have good intentions and use them just to manipulate people to do whatever they want them to do, whether it's give them money or fame or whatever it is, they figure out how to kind of tweak these little triggers, in people's heads, these kind of unconscious biases that we have. So, yeah, it's not as cut and dry as like, the people that know the most are always the most popular, most like well spoken. Because they're two different skills. GREG: ?? 11:27>. Yep, same thing with science. It's got its dark sides do right. In the end, your research has to tell a story and if it doesn't, it's probably not going to get published. So, you know, the way statistics can be done and the way things are written in the discussion, right. So, it's all sales. JESSE: Yeah. So, I want to talk a little bit like, I think this is what you're doing now, your doing something with microbiome and you got-- GREG: - probably the most. So, in the gut, but as you are aware, or may-- I mean, you're probably aware if you're skin products, the skin has its own microbiome. JESSE: The skin flora. Yeah. GREG: And so yeah, it's kind of crazy actually, if you think about it. There's bacteria living all over us and around us and inside of us. But yeah, sorry, I cut you off. JESSE: No, you're fine. You're fine. So, first, some definitions, just so we're clear; microbiota versus microbiome? GREG: Yeah. Simple. So, and a lot of people don't use it right. So, the microbiota refers to the actual bacteria, bugs, if you will, right. Microbiome they're frequently used interchangeably, but it actually refers to if you're looking at the gene expression of those bacteria. JESSE: Okay, can you rephrase that a different way? GREG: Yeah. Yeah. So, here's the easiest way, I'll describe it, right, if I had a bunch of bacteria, they're so small, rather than going through and saying that's one of these that's bacteria A, that's bacteria B, that's bacteria C; I’m going to take all the bacteria, I'm going to stick them in a gene sequencer, if you will. And I'm going to say, okay, I had X amount of gene expression from bacteria, A, X amount of genes being expressed from bacteria, and B, and then this amount of genes being expressed from bacteria C. So really, you're just using gene expression to quantify which bacteria are or are not there. Does that make sense? JESSE: Okay, let me see if I can try to rephrase. So, is it more like the not necessarily the specific bacteria that's present, but the function that they provide within the gut? GREG: So, let me think about it. So, the microbiota are actually the bacteria? I think, ?? 14:0> JESSE: Right, right, right. GREG: The microbiome would just be the gene expression of that bacteria. So-- JESSE: I’m trying to break down the words gene expression into something else-- GREG: So, you can identify like, let's just say an earthworm based on its bacteria, or I'm sorry, based on its gene expression. You could identify a certain bacteria based on it’s gene expression. So, we're quantifying the gene expression to understand what bacteria are present. JESSE: Okay. I have follow, but I'm just trying to figure out what's coming out like with the gene expression. Are you looking-- Is it like-- GREG: Well, just the bacteria for some... JESSE: I know, I know. But as-- GREG: ...saying, how many of this bacteria, how many of that bacteria? JESSE: Okay. So, just like-- You almost got like, I think you showed like a pie chart of the various, like, you looked at-- I want to say you looked at different samples from, I think it was mice and you had like a twin study you talked about in your research. And he's like, I think you should like compositional differences between samples between those people, is that what we're talking about? JESSE: Yeah, exactly. It's all determined with the gene expression stuff. That's how you measure bacteria in the gut, it is with the gene expression. Okay. I was just trying to get my head around that particular phrase and what all that encompasses. GREG: Yeah, yeah. Actually, the first paper I wrote, I used them interchangeably because I didn't know the difference, and then I got called out in review. JESSE: So, you're like, whoops, my bad. So, this is something that, I told my girlfriend I was going to talk to you because I listened to your talk and kind of talk to her about it. And she said, she made a good point, do we know why different people have different expressions or different microbiota present versus like, we're all humans. So, like, why don't we have the same set, essentially? Like, do we know why there's such a difference, especially in that twin study, where you use, like samples of twins were one was obese, and the other one was fairly slim. We know and you would think that twins would have something that was almost identical. GREG: Same, you’d think, yeah. There are so many factors that influence the composition of these bacteria, which ones are there and which ones aren’t. Things, even starting from birth babies born vaginally versus with a C section. Having a C section, totally adverse implications that are discussed for the microbiome of the baby. So, literally, as soon as you're born, right, that microbes starts taking shape. So, that's just one example of many. If I had someone move in differently across the office from me, that could change my microbiome, right? Just what I eat, can have a huge profound effect on my microbiome, whether or not I exercise we're coming to learn, can have an effect on the microbiome, how much I sleep. And then it also and this we don't really know is, how rapid can changes in the microbiome occur? Can they occur from day to day? Honestly, probably so. And that is a question that we're still trying to figure out. Go to Part 3 Go to Part 1

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