Episode #83 – Shawn Stevenson: Why Sleep Is So Important For Better Health

Shawn Setvenson









In this week’s episode, Shawn Stevenson is back with us to discuss another aspect of successful weight loss and health: getting enough sleep. It’s all too easy to neglect the body’s need for sleep, but studies show that a lack of sleep can be catastrophic for the body’s healing and detoxifying systems. While we sleep, our brain rests and works on repairing the damage of the day: without sleep, you find yourself burning vital nutrients and setting yourself up for a difficult day.

Shawn talks to us about the balance between melatonin and cortisol, and how a lack of magnesium could be affecting your sleep. It has been shown that poor quality sleep makes weight loss harder and exacerbates health problems: if you’re looking to get healthy and fit, start with addressing your sleeping habits.

Shawn’s top tips for getting better sleep include imposing a screen curfew at night, and getting moving in the morning when you wake. Both of these things will help toward improving the amount of deep sleep you get. We also look at the difficulties associated with certain medications and their impact on health: could alternative or functional medicine be the answer to your health issues?

Further reading:

Check out The Model Health Show today for more information on any of today’s topics

You can follow Shawn on Twitter using @shawnmodel

Discover Oceans Alive and order their product here

Orange shades for blue light protection can be found at Amazon


Melissa: Welcome back, Shawn. Thanks so much for taking time to be on the program today.

Shawn: Thank you so much for having me back.

Melissa:  Shawn, one of the things I know, you’re pretty much an expert in sleep and how people should pay more attention to sleep. And it’s always one of the things that everyone, including me, thinks they can skimp on or they can make it a lesser priority in their day, in their night, whatever, in the time they have allotted. And I think you have to check yourself when you get into that way of thinking because I found for me, it’s been extremely helpful to pay attention to sleep, to monitor sleep, not crazily, not in a way that drives you nuts, but just to pay attention to how things are going there. So I’d like you to talk a little bit about—I know you work with a lot of people that are in stressful jobs, particularly in the corporate world as well. Talk about how you help them take a different view of how important sleep is?

Shawn: Sure. Well, it really starts with being honest about it. Sleep is just not a sexy topic. It’s not a sexy topic at all. And just digging around it being in this field for quite a while now, what’s so interesting is seeing the fact that people are really put off by sleep mattering so much because it’s not flashy, like the next new diet, the next exercise program. That’s stuff you do. Sleep, you literally do nothing. So they wrap it around our minds that you’re going to do nothing and then get better results in everything in your life. It doesn’t make any rational sense for our kind of “Go! go! go! I’ve got 20,000 things to do in a day” person. Today, our society is just wired up differently. So the big approach here is to make sleep sexy and to make it approachable as well. And it really starts with tapping into the visceral things that really drive us. And the first thing, and just being completely open about this is that we all want to look good. Nobody wakes up in the morning like, “You know what, I just want to look horrible today. I just want to be so out of shape.”

It doesn’t even make any sense. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking that way. And because we all want to look good, that’s where I really start, if I’m doing a corporate talk, if I’m doing a talk for a wellness convention or whatever the case may be. We start there first. Even if somebody brought me into the company and talk about peak performance, or they talk about how sleep relates to that, I start with the body first. So one of the big things that I often like to share as much as I possibly can is a really interesting study that I published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It took two groups of people, and they broke them up. And both groups, they put them on the same exact diet, and same exact exercise program. And at the end of the study, what they discovered was group A was on the same exact diet and exercise as group B, got eight plus hours a night for the study. They were the control group, just “normal” people, but it’s really not normal. And so they monitored and checked their numbers. Then they looked at group B, who was the test group. And they sleep deprived them, and they only got less than five hours’ sleep a night. And at the end of the study, they discovered that group B lost far less weight and far less body fat. And the only difference was the number of hours of sleep they were getting. So that is right there really black and white.

You can be doing the best diet, the best exercise program, but you’re not going to get the maximum results, if you’re not getting the sleep you need. And for me, I like to look deeper into that, so what’s going on and why is that. And it starts with really, first of all, the function of your brain, alright? So when you’re sleep-deprived, just 24 hours sleep deprivation, there’s a decrease in glucose reaching your brain, in particular, your prefrontal cortex. So this is the part of your brain that is responsible for your will power, is responsible for your decision-making, is responsible for your ability to distinguish between right and wrong. And what’s so crazy is, yeah, they can monitor a lot of stuff in this study, but if somebody’s really hungry, they’re still going to go and eat cookies even if they don’t report it in the study. So this is going to drive you to want to eat more. And in particular, you want to eat more late at night when you’re not sleeping. And we’ve all probably had this experience, where we’re up late at night, it might be 1 or 2 in the morning, maybe watching TV or watching videos on YouTube. None of us have ever had the idea, “You know what, I’m starving. I’m going to go and make a salad.” Nobody does that?

Melissa: [laughter] True. I can’t recall anyone doing that, including myself.

Shawn: I want some broccoli, right? It’s 2 in the morning-

Melissa: I want some ice cream [laughs]

Shawn: Game of Thrones, I would love a bowl of broccoli with some salt.

Melissa: Yeah.

Shawn: Nobody does that. It’s ice cream, cookies, chips, that’s the stuff we’re going for. And a big part of that is through evolutionary biology. It’s driving us to get glucose back to our brain because historically, if you had a drop in your brain glucose like that, this could be grounds for you losing your life. We live in a very different environment than our ancestors, even a few hundred years ago, when it was dangerous to be out and about late at night. The only light that we had was fire up until around a hundred years ago. And we’re not nocturnal creatures, contrary to popular belief. Some people are like, “Well, I’m a night owl.” Well, you’re literally not an owl. You’re literally not an owl. And the reality is if we’re out in the jungle setting, kind of where we all evolve from—you talk to evolutionary biologists, anthropologists—if we’re in a jungle and you’re up and about midnight, 1 o’clock in the morning, walking around, pitch black in the jungle, that lion can see you, but you can’t see it.  You understand?

Melissa: Right, you’re going to get eaten.

Shawn: You’re food.

Melissa: You’re the midnight snack. [Laughs]

Shawn: We’ve evolved to really seek shelter and to make sure and do our activities in the day time. It’s just how we’re wired up. Some animals can see more into infrared, some can see more into ultraviolet. We have a certain spectrum light that we can even pick up. And it doesn’t really jive very well at night. It’s just another little thing. And I don’t want to put off the people who are, you know, they are night owls, called “night owls,” because some people, yeah, absolutely. They feel more energized, creative in the evening hours, but there are certain things that you can do as well to get higher quality sleep when you do sleep, and that’s what I want to come back around and talk about. So last point I’m going to make as to how I get people to pay more attention to this and to even think that it’s important in the first place, so we talked about the body, we talked about cravings, we talked about some of the weird stuff going on with the brain, let’s talk about something far more important about the brain, which is detoxification. And this might be something people haven’t thought about before, detoxification of the brain. We know about this, somebody’s detoxing their liver, or their kidneys, or they’re doing a “cleanse.” But your brain is actually, it’s a closed system. There’s something called the “blood brain barrier.” So what’s going on with your lymphatic system, which is your cells’ extra cellular sewage treatment system for your body to get metabolic waste out of your system, your brain doesn’t have that. What it does have is something called the “lymphatic system.” This is a newer discovery, the glymphatic system is really playing on the glial cells that are in the brain. So the glymphatic system is helping to remove all of these metabolic waste from your brain working each day. And one of the biggest links to Alzheimer’s is an inability for the glymphatic system to work properly and to remove waste. So it’s like this constant build-up of junk inside of your brain. Right? And here’s the big takeaway is that your brain kicks in and turns this system on ten times greater, ten times more activity when you’re asleep.

This is actually giving your brain the ability to get rid of the waste that is accumulated through your life and through everything that’s going on with you every single day is when you go to sleep. And if you’re not sleeping, you’re literally getting dumber. You’re literally breaking your brain down and creating kind of a toxic mess inside of your own head. And we can literally feel some of the symptoms of that. We feel foggy, we feel cloudy, we feel even pressure. And this is because of what’s going on with a depression of the detoxification system of the brain. And I can go on, there’s like 20 more other reasons why people could start to pay more attention to why they need high-quality sleep, but if you wanted to, we could talk about it or we can get into some of the tips to fix it.

Melissa: Let’s talk about how to fix it because we can have you back for round two on other causes of sleep. But I know what you’re saying is absolutely—I think there was a study that was just being talked about a few days ago about how when a study group, they were working on this Alzheimer’s drug that’s being talked about now, which could be a good thing, could be a bad thing. If we can solve it, naturally, let’s do it, but just to the people that are suffering, of course. But they were talking about how in the study group, they deprived people of sleep and they began to show the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, so there you go. So after three and four days, they began to forget their keys, forget their address, forget where they lived. So it’s all connected there with the brain. But let’s talk about some ways that people can, because everybody’s like, “I’m too pressed for time. I can’t do any more.” But you and I know there’s some simple ways to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep.

Shawn: Yes, absolutely. So in my book, “Sleep Smarter,” never once do I say that you need to get “blank” hours of sleep, you need to get eight hours of sleep or what have you, because it’s not about that. It’s really about the quality, not the quantity. And it’s really like that for a lot of things in life. And what we really want to strive for.

If you look into the research, depending on which sleep experts you talk to, there’s either four or five different levels of sleep, okay? And I like to simplify things as much as possible, so I’m just going to make it very simple and say there is two: there is REM sleep and non-REM sleep, alright? The people who know a little bit more, yes, there are other stages. But the main two stages is non-REM sleep and REM sleep. So what is REM sleep? REM sleep is “rapid eye movement sleep.” Rapid eye moment, this is when dreams are taking place. But this is also when a very important process called “memory process” is taking place. And this is where your short-term memories are getting converted to long-term memories. A big percentage of that happens during REM sleep. But while you’re dreaming, dreams, the best theory that’s on the table is that it’s a way of your brain processing data. Or it’s processing data behind the scenes and kind of putting a movie on for you to watch, okay? So that’s number one. I don’t know if you heard that, well, somebody out here in the office, sorry about that. Alright, so that’s number one. So what’s going on with your brain as far as—I’m sorry—

Melissa: Dreams. You were talking about how your brain is processing information and the dreams are like a little movie they’re running for you while they’re doing the work.

Shawn: Exactly. So that’s going on during REM sleep. So it’s rapid eye movement sleep, and this is when you’re dreaming and memory processing is taking place. Even more powerful and important for the rejuvenation of your mind and your body is non-REM sleep, also known as “deep sleep,” also known as “anabolic sleep.” And also the kind of title it has is the “anabolic state.” So this is the most anabolic state that the human can be in. And so, what does that mean? Anabolic means the building up of or growth and development. Catabolic means breaking down. Catabolic is just being alive, being awake, as we’re standing here, talking, or sitting.

We’re breaking down much faster than if we were asleep. And this is just the name of the game. You need this balance as the yin and yang. So you want to do whatever you can to get to yourself more anabolic, deep sleep. That’s the key. And here are some of the strategies to do this, real, simple stuff, clinically-proven. Number one, lowest-hanging fruit right here, there’s a study done at Appalachian State University, three groups of exercisers: group one exercise at 7AM; group two exercise at 1PM; group three exercise at 7PM. At the end of the study, they discovered that the morning exercisers, the people who exercise at 7AM in the morning got up to 75% more deep sleep, okay?

Melissa: I’m with those guys. I’m a morning person. [Laughs]

Shawn: Yes. These guys were on the same amount of sleep, but they got 75% more time in deep sleep, just by working out in the morning—I’m sorry, exercising in the morning. Let me be clear on what that is. This does not mean that you need to get up and head to gym in the morning.

Melissa: Like walking.

Shawn: Yeah, I actually train in the afternoon a lot of times myself. But in the morning, you need to do some activity. This could be doing maybe some power yoga, or you’re going for a brisk walk outside. You’re doing some rebounding, that’s what I did today on a mini trampoline – which was really great for your glymphatic system and your brain, by the way – and you can do some Tabata, which takes you four minutes. Or you could hit the gym. But the key here is doing some activity. Why this works is it helps to set your circadian timing system or your cortisol rhythm.

Let me put it like that, much more scientific. It helps to set your cortisol rhythm. And I put a little chart in my book actually showing this. If your hormones are imbalanced. If your hormones are working whether they are supposed to be working in alignment of what’s going on with all of nature, you should be getting your highest spike of cortisol in the early morning hours. And that’s good. Cortisol’s gotten a really bad rep lately because it’s “stress hormone.” That helps you to get up out of bed and to do stuff, alright? So cortisol is important for that. And it’s going to be at a peak at around six to eight in the morning. And it’s going to kind of drop throughout the day. Now, in the evening, if cortisol is high, that’s a problem. And this is where the real issue is because cortisol is the anti-thesis of melatonin, okay? So it has the inverse – let me put it like this – it has an inverse relationship with melatonin. If cortisol is up, melatonin goes down. If melatonin goes up, cortisol goes down.

Melissa: And melatonin’s the sleepy hormone?

Shawn: Yes, it’s the “get good sleep” hormone, not the sleep hormone, “get good sleep” hormone. So when melatonin is up, it will encourage your body to get into a deep sleep more frequently, and stay there, alright? So this is another phenomenon where people can go to sleep and they can get eight hours of sleep, but they wake up tired. And this means that their body wasn’t producing enough cortisol. And there’s a difference between going to sleep and passing out.

Melissa: Right. [Laughs]

Shawn: I want to make that clear. And a lot of us has kind of passed out from exhaustion, but we’re doing things that suppress our melatonin secretion. And so here’s another tip, so tip number one is to get some activity in the morning. Tip number two is give yourself a screen curfew. Give yourself a screen curfew. So what does that mean? Well, again, another phenomenon, we have access to that our ancestors didn’t is we can manufacture a second day time basically. And in natural world, as time goes on, as the day goes on, in the natural world, depending on what the time of year, the time zone, we’ll just say between like seven and nine o’clock, the sun is going to go down, right? But now, we can literally get home, flip all the lights on, turn the television on, laptop, iPhone, tablet, our desktop. We can turn all these devices on. And our bodies don’t know the difference between daylight and all the light getting thrown at us through these devices, because we evolve in very different conditions. So bottom line is this, if your body is getting hit with more day time signals, what’s it going to do hormonally? It’s going to produce more day time hormones, namely cortisol, right? Namely cortisol. So what’s been found – this was a study done in Rensselaer Polytechnic – and they found that two hours of iPad use before bed was enough to dramatically suppress melatonin secretion, okay? And a lot of people – and I’ve done this in the past – get right off our device and go right to bed.

Melissa: Yeah, for sure or-

Shawn: What we do here-

Melissa: -or you know, having it while you’re getting ready for bed and sort of dozing off, and then looking back at it again.

Shawn: Yeah, oh man.

Melissa: Intermittent sleep, which is even worse.

Shawn: And so what I found is that the best thing that we can do here with that is to get ourselves a screen curfew. And I know when I was a kid, I didn’t like having a curfew. I didn’t like being home on a certain time. I wanted to just – I was like, “I’m responsible. I know how to take care of myself.” But it really was for my own benefit, my own good. And so it’s looking at it with a more evolved perspective. Instead of like a curfew, maybe just giving ourselves a break. I’m having a little break from my device, so I can give my body the environment that it needs to produce the sleep hormones that it needs.

So I can get great sleep and wake up in the morning. I get back on my device, and life will be fine. So now here’s the issue: is what do we do in that? And I recommend a 90-minute curfew, screen curfew. If you’re trying to get to bed, say, 10:30, then you’d be off the device by nine. So what do you do in that time period? And most people – honestly, I just did a talk recently and I asked all these room full of grown people, grownup adults with children, with relationships often times. I asked them, “What are you guys going to do in this 90-minute window?” And everybody was all engaged and having fun, we’re laughing, and learning a lot. But when I asked this question, everybody’s looking around like they had no idea what to do for 90 minutes before bed without their device.

Melissa: [laughs]

Shawn: And one woman over on my left side, she’ll like shyly raise her hand, and she was like, “Read a book?”

Melissa: [laughs]

Shawn: And it was with a question mark at the end of it, not a statement, because she wasn’t sure if that was what she can do. And I was saying, “Yes, read a book.” And then another person raised her hand and was like, “Talk to your spouse?” And I was like, “Yes. You talk to somebody in your life. Actually talk to a real person.” We got so inundated by these devices that we don’t even know how to just be anymore. So this is going to give you the opportunity to really deepen the relationships with yourself and with the people in your family, the people that you care about, the people that you’re doing all this stuff you’re doing for. Well, you’re going to miss out on a lot of that if you constantly get your face buried in a device. So that’s something you can throw in there.

There are so many other things that we can add to the table, especially being adults. You can imagine some things that you could do. So there’s a lot out there, it’s just more so shifting your perspective. And for me, I make it a personal development time, to read, or to work on something, kind of structure things for the next day, writing in a notebook, instead of writing on a computer, stuff like that. And I’m not perfect, sometimes I’m on my device right up until bed, if there’s a deadline for something, or things like that. And here’s a hack for that, so it’s the last thing that I’ll share then I’ll let you chime in here and see where we’re going to take this. But there are apps, and there’s more of them getting built for different devices. But right now, on my desktop I’m looking at, there’s an app called “F.lux”, “F-dot-L-U-X” that at specific time, based on your time zone, will pull the most problematic spectrum of light from your computer screen that causes the greatest cortisol secretion. So in particular, the blue light spectrum is very similar to the sun.

It will pull that from your screen, it kind of cools your screen’s appearance of. And that’s one little hack that you can use, if you’re up late and there’s similar devices for PC coming along, your smartphones. You’re going to see more and more of that stuff. But also, you can just get yourself some orange-tinted shades that blocks out blue light. And you can get some on Amazon for like $5. Or if you want to get some fancy ones and look like, I don’t know, like you’re Brad Pitt in “Mr and Mrs Smith” or something, or Angelina Jolie, for like $50, whatever. But it doesn’t cost that much and it’s another really great hack that can help you to produce more melatonin to get better sleep at night.

Melissa: Yeah, and I found if you wear those glasses, like you said, you can get them from Amazon, you can wear them if you’re watching TV or on your device earlier in the evening. It really does make a difference. I’ve sort of measured that just in my own experiment of myself. But it really does make a difference. You need to shut off your device, as you said, a couple of hours before or 90 minutes before, if you’re cutting it close. But just watching like earlier in the evening, or using your device or watching TV which a lot of people do at the same time, they have the iPad or something with the TV, so that they can multitask, another bad thing which we shouldn’t do. But that does make a difference. So try that out, folks, and see what you think because your eyes get very accustomed to it really quickly. And then, it just seems to be a very soothing, relaxing feeling that you have. It’s not overwhelming. You’re not going to suddenly fall back in your chair and go to sleep. But you just feel a little bit more calm, I found, when using those. So it’s a good tip.

They’re really cheap, as you say, you can get them on Amazon. I’ll put a link in the show notes. I think there’s a couple different versions on Amazon. So there we have tips, folks, so put those to work. But I want to change subject for a minute here, Shawn, because there’s another issue that I think is one that gets really overlooked, that a lot of people are suffering.

There would be bad effects of not having enough, and that’s the mineral called magnesium. And I really wasn’t aware of this at all and had no clue that I should be supplementing after a lifetime of processed food and dieting, crashing, dieting again, killing myself with exercise. But I’ve noticed that it gave me enormous benefits when I started to supplement with magnesium. And I think most functional and integrated medicine doctors pretty much says a blanket statement, I think you know, like the Mayo Clinic, and places like that say that almost everybody in the US is eating conventional diet is deficient in magnesium. The thing that is so important to me is I had massive insulin resistance and a study came out, I believe, back in May, it was on PubMed, I read how metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes are closely connected to a deficiency in magnesium. So I know you brought yourself back from serious conditions and condition with your back, which has to do with hydration as well. But talk a little bit about magnesium and why it’s so important.

Shawn: Absolutely. So just a good transition would just to be, to start with, sleep and how this relates to magnesium. So magnesium is commonly referred to as this “calming mineral,” the mineral of calm. And it’s really interesting because a lot of times, if we’re talking about minerals, vitamins and minerals, rich in vitamins and minerals, we hear that stuff. We know that we’re supposed to do it, but we don’t really know even what it is. And so, when we’re talking about minerals, we’re talking about earth elements. We’re talking about conducting of metals, right? But the thing is we can’t consume this kind of certain versions of magnesium that you’d find in nature. You can’t pick up the magnesium that’s stored in a rock, basically. Or if you’re just sucking on a penny to get copper, right? It doesn’t work like that. What happens is the soil actually breaks this stuff down in a way that’s digestible to humans and it infuses it into the foods that have it in a long lineage of affinity with the soil. So certain foods are going to have a higher concentration of magnesium. But first, it needs to be in the soil. That’s first. And in the realm of sleep – and by the way, so I just want to give everybody kind of a snapshot of basically your native minerals. You’re essentially like a battery.

You’re made of mostly minerals and then water. This is why we’re so conductive because we know this like you can get static electricity, you can shock somebody. But more so, if you’ve ever seen a scary movie, and the person’s like in a bath tub and the listening to the radio, you see the guy and imagine, “No, no, he’s going to throw the radio in the tub.” You know that you can die because you’re so conductive because of that electricity. And also same thing, you stick your fork into a socket, you’re going to have a bad day. We’re highly conductive, mostly made of minerals, proteins, our building blocks. We’re protein machine as well, and water. This is what makes you up. It’s the earth element.

It’s a very intimate connection. We’re getting these minerals directly from the earth. That is what people see when they see you or the lag thereof. This is why minerals are so important. And magnesium is definitely paramount in this conversation because over 300 biochemical processes require magnesium in order to even happen. So if you’re deficient in magnesium in earth, over 300 things your body literally cannot do to keep you healthy and alive. My son said this yesterday when I was talking about something that I think he’s talking about fast food. And I was like, “You’re just going to be dying slowly.” He’s like, “We’re all dying slowly.” And that’s true, but it’s just like you’re dying slowly but faster when you are deficient in magnesium. So here’s the deal: 300 biochemical processes are required for magnesium. When a recent study that I also talked about in the book cited showing that 100% of the people in this particular study who were experiencing chronic sleep issues aka insomnia, 100% of them were deficient in magnesium.

Melissa: I’m not surprised.

Shawn: And parallel that with upwards of 80% to 90% of the United States’ population is deficient in magnesium. And right now, 60% of the United States population has hourly said that they have sleep issues either every night or every other night. You start to see this picture like, “Wow, this is all connecting. It actually does matter.” So that’s one of the big issues. Also, let’s talk about some of the functions with your body. Magnesium is required in order to build bone.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s the point.

Shawn: You think that calcium is so important, right? Yeah, you’re right. It’s such a big one. Calcium is so important, also vitamin D. Your body can’t even assimilate calcium without the presence of magnesium and things like vitamin D3 are really important as well. So magnesium is like it helps to biologically transmutate other minerals into tissues. How important is that? And what that means is basically it helps other things and minerals become other things, right? So we think that if we take a calcium supplement, our bones are going to get better. It doesn’t work like that. It just doesn’t work like that. As a matter of fact, there was a study done that was a huge news, but it’s just people forgot about it, showing that individuals who were taking calcium supplements had a 30% increase, incidence of heart attacks and strokes.

Melissa: Yeah, I saw that. It’s very confusing and particularly when people, when these things are pushed out to the news channels, and it’s sensational. But it doesn’t explain the whole picture to people. So that’s what we have, Shawn.

Shawn: And I was victim of this as well, just looking at things blindly, in a way, if that even makes sense, it’s oxymoron. But just accepting that, okay, my bones are very dense in calcium, but there’s more to the story than that. And if my bones are dense in calcium, I just need calcium. It’s going to make my bones better. Well, as a matter of fact, most people who take calcium supplements and also consume milk which is the big prize winner for calcium, have higher incidences of osteoporosis, okay? So it doesn’t work like that, right? So calcium in nature does not equal calcium in your bones. It’s these other things that biologically transmutate to become what your tissues need to build bones. So this would be things like silica and magnesium in particular. So that’s another thing, also for regulating your blood sugar. Lots of functions with your brain activity is important.

Your gastrointestinal tract, super important for all this stuff. And so what do we do about this issue? Well, number one, obviously, we want to look at food first. So to get our magnesium levels up, the thing that we’ve done since the beginning of time is through food. Supplements and drugs are new invention, so what are the foods that are going to be ideal for getting magnesium? Huge indicator here is anything that has a deep, dark green color, right? So green, leafy vegetables, phenomenal source of magnesium, also deep, dark brown colors and purple colors. So if you see chocolate, like a real chocolate, like a cacao bean, or it’s actually really a seed or fruit, if you see it in nature, it’s purple. It’s so dark, it’s like purple brown. And raw beans, these raw chocolate beans are likely the highest source of magnesium of any food in nature. And this is why humans have such an affinity with chocolate and with love and with the heart. It actually has this kind of weird, historical connection, because also magnesium is really important for the function of your cardiovascular system. It’s possible, it looks like magnesium is more concentrated in your heart than any other organ. But calcium, calcification of your heart, that’s the problem. That’s heart attack and stroke.

Melissa: Right.

Shawn: So chocolate, get the good stuff though, really eat vegetables—

Melissa: Cacao.

Shawn: Yes. And also, other really dense, green “super foods” that are available now that have been used for thousands of years, so AFA blue green algae, spirulina, chlorella. These are all great source of magnesium as well. There’s a newer product out there. But again, it’s literally the root of the earth’s entire food chain, is marine phytoplankton. That’s another good source of magnesium as well.

Melissa: Yes, have you found that in the plankton, is there a product out there that’s a powdered form of that that you found?

Shawn: I haven’t played around with that.

Melissa: I know there’s a frozen kind of-

Shawn: Oh man, I have something so much better than that. I’ve literally been taking this for seven years. I’ve had this this morning.

Melissa: Okay.

Shawn: And it’s a wonderful technology that they’ve been able to put the phytoplankton cells in suspended animation where the compound can keep a blueberry fresh for like eight years if they drop it into this compound that they put the phytoplankton in. And so it’s called “Ocean’s Alive.”

Melissa: Okay, I’ve heard about that, yeah.

Shawn: And so, I think it’s OceansAlive.com/modelhealth.

Melissa: Okay.

Shawn: And I’ve got them to give us a discount. I don’t remember what it is. It’s been a while and they just give me free stuff.

Melissa: Okay, we’ll put a link in the show notes.

Shawn: Yeah.

Melissa: I know there’s a smoothie kind of bar that’s down in Carlsbad, somewhere near me, and I was in there and they brought out this container that said, “Ocean’s Alive.” And they said, “Would you like a scoop of this in the smoothie?” And they were making these very expensive vegetable smoothies for you, green smoothies. And I’ve had only fruit, if you requested, so not a high-sugar thing for me for sure. But they brought this container out, I remember it said that on it. And they said, “Oh, this is really good.” They really want this. I’m like, “Yeah. Put two scoops in for me.” Yeah, so I’ll put a link in the show notes so people can find that, because that was good and I sort of lost track of trying to track that out and get some. And also, to mention to people that spirulina and chlorella are powders you can get at most health food stores or Whole Foods. Just check that there’s no other added ingredients. And you can throw those into a smoothie if you’re having one too, or into any kind of blended thing. They don’t have tastes in them. They’re sort of neutral.

Shawn: Yeah.

Melissa: Alright. Before we run out of time, Shawn, one more topic here and that is hydration. A lot of people don’t realize, as I found myself a few years ago, that they’re actually more dehydrated than they think due to medications they might be taking, due to blood pressure issues, due to stress, low-carb diet, and not enough vegetables. Hydration is one of your huge topics because that’s how you actually help recover a lot of your health. How do you tell people to get a grip on proper hydration?

Shawn: Sure. I’ll just give you a quick snapshot about what you mentioned with my health. So I was diagnosed with degenerative spinal disease and degenerative disc disease. So the discs in my spine were deteriorating rapidly. So when I was 20, my physician told me that I have the spine of an 80-year-old, right, which is pretty disheartening. And one of the big issues – and then there’s a whole story behind this – but one of the big issues that I came full circle and realize on my own two and a half years later, after gaining 50 pounds and depression and losing track of my purpose, all that stuff, I realize that the disc in my back is supposed to be juicy and supple and “hydrated.” But I was in a situation where I was drinking maybe a cup of water day, maybe? Most of the time it was like Sunny Delight and soda. And I really loved Hawaiian Punch, that little punch guy.

I thought he was cool. But at the end of the day, what I found was that I was so deficient in water. Again, we talk about what we are, minerals, proteins, water, the main constituents that make us up. And if I’m deficient in stuff that my body needs to rebuild me and to keep me healthy, I’m going to have a huge problem. So here’s the issue: when it comes to the spine, because there might be some people listening right now who are having this issue, it’s becoming more and more common. Your disc in your spine, they’re something called, they’re “non-vascular.” So what that means is blood supply, nutrient supply, hydration supply doesn’t get there directly. It’s a thorough process called “remote diffusion,” how water and basically infuses itself into your discs eventually. That’s the thing. You have to have so much fluid available because your body has to take care of your blood, your brain, and many other tissues before it’s going to get to the disc in your back, right? So this is why you have to super hydrate your system. And actually, every single person loses height throughout the day, every single day.

So if you wake up and maybe you’re 5’10. When you go to bed, you’re probably going to be 5’9 3/4, okay? When you wake up in the morning, you’d be 5’10 again. And that pressure, we’re losing some of the juiciness and the suppleness and hydration of our bodies. And this is why also it’s important to get up in the morning and get yourself hydrated. That’s a really great strategy. I call it “taking an inner bath,” so important. So, that’s just one thing. Now, what’s regulating this whole thing about hydration, dehydration, if we’re drinking the right amount of water for us, all this is getting regulated by, which is considered the master gland in the brain, called the hypothalamus, okay? The hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for your calorie partition, so what your body does with the calories you eat. That’s super powerful stuff to know right there.

Melissa: Yes.

Shawn: Your brain decides what your body does with the calories you consume, where it uses energy, where it stores fat, where it even gets overlooked, right? So powerful. Also, it’s responsible for your appetite and your also hydration among other things. Your hunger signal and your signal for thirst. The issue is the signal for hunger and thirst are very, very similar. And if you’re not in touch with your body, like most of us are not in our world today again, because we’re so distracted, you can easily mistake a thirst signal for a hunger signal. And most of us do that. Plus, eating is much more fun. But I know we’ve all had that experience where we’re feeling pretty hungry, but then we drink a tall glass of water and we’re cool, like you don’t even think about it anymore.

Melissa: Right.

Shawn: And so, our body’s cry for water can get confused. And this is leading to a huge issue in our society. So what happens is when you eat more food, then you become more dehydrated. And just the 5% decrease in your body’s hydration level can lead to up 35% decrease in your experienced energy levels. So most of us are actually walking around and we’re used to not feeling energetic and alive. We just are existing. We’re at this place, we just have this low-grade fever in existence.

We think we feel normal, but then when we get ourselves truly hydrated with clean, structured, high-quality water, real food, it’s like the flood gates open, kind of like a pond. And you start to feel better, like you couldn’t believe that you feel so good. And that you actually thought that that was how life was supposed to be before. So this is what happened with me and this is what happened with thousands of my clients, and also just potentially – I am really honoured to be able to say this through my show and in all of the different events that I’ve done, hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted by this stuff. And just hearing those stories of like, “I didn’t even know that I felt that. I didn’t even know!”

Melissa: Right. You just get used to it because it’s like, “Okay, well, this is how it’s going to be. So this is what I’ll just keep going on at this subpar level.”

Shawn: And you mentioned something important about medication and things like that. So medication is really interesting because, again, we have to first understand that this is a new invention. It’s not like this was made through evolution over a thousands of years, some kind of a food or even water, incubating in aquifer for thousands of years and coming into the surface. This is literally made by a guy or a girl, Larry and Betty. They made this stuff in a laboratory. And I don’t know if there’s anybody named Betty out there, but it’s really important to understand that. It’s not saying that it’s good or bad, it’s just this is, it is.

This is something that is a new invention. And so many drugs are getting pulled off the market all the time that were tested and deemed safe, start to find out issues. One of the biggest issues when we’re talking about dehydration is how it impact your brain, how the medication has to impact your brain. It’s its job. It has to impact your brain to get your body to take it on, to do anything with it. And also, all drugs are liver-toxic. They’re not natural.

Melissa: Tell me about that. [Laughs]

Shawn: And so, your liver and your brain are in this very intimate conversation all the time. Your liver’s also considered the second brain, if you can just google it, the second brain, because of all the amazing functions and how intelligent it is, it’s the most regenerative organ we have. You can cut part of your liver out and it will grow back. Powerful stuff. Very, very powerful.

Melissa: Yeah, because you have to have it, as I learned. If it’s not working well, you die pretty quickly.

Shawn: Listen to the name: Live-r. Liver. Right?

Melissa: The thing I want to mention to people too is if you are taking certain medications, particularly for blood pressure, high blood pressure, or things like that and you do have dry mouth or you notice that you’re thirsty and you have brain fog, which was me, I kept complaining to my doctor that I wanted to switch medications or do something different because these things were happening and it didn’t seem quite right. And this is a while back. But you need to not let that go.

You need to really pursue that and either have them switch you to something else or maybe take a look at talking to an integrated or functional medicine doctor about it, because those were really impacting my health and actually driving me to a point where my liver was in bad shape. And that was one of the contributing factors. And I don’t have to say about medications that I was taking, I just want to avoid a lawsuit here, but I still take one. And it’s a natural medication. And I can’t tell you the difference in the way I feel, in the hydration issues I’m paying attention to that now. But obviously, the medicine that I had been prescribed was making me sick and sicker. And the rationale was simply that we have to take this, and you’ll just have to suffer that, because if you don’t, your blood pressure will be too high or have a stroke blah, blah, blah. No, no.

There are alternatives out there, folks. And I’m not saying stop taking conventional medication, I’m just saying if you’re having these kind of symptoms that we’ve talked about, you need to do a little bit more research. You need to consult somebody else if you’re not getting that answers you need, because that is not going to help your health at all. In fact, it’s just going to push you into a worse state of all the things we’ve talked about, like bone density, osteoporosis, all these things are going to happen, so pay attention, folks. Just interrupted you there for a second, Shawn.

Shawn: No, okay. I’m sorry. I thought you’re maybe going to something else, but yeah, just to piggyback on that really, really quickly. I truly believe, especially people who are in that situation, I know that I was on several medications when I was going through my issues. And I was a young guy, and I had like my little medicine cabinet. I felt like my grandmother. And it was a very tough situation. But again, I believe that that was what was helping me to be well. But often times, nothing could be further than the truth, it’s actually masking symptoms. If you got to continue taking the drug, then it’s not actually fixing the problem, right? So I have encouraged people, I definitely reaffirm what you said. This is not something you don’t just go jump off your medications. But I encourage people to seek out a functional medicine doctor, integrated physician, somebody who understands the lifestyle factors involved, and also hopefully somebody that will – and by the way, fire your doctor if they’re not telling you what is causing the condition. If they’re like, “I don’t know.”

Melissa: Yeah. That’s not acceptable. [Laughs]

Shawn: “It just happens.” That’s a problem. I wouldn’t sign up for that class. And these are some of the brightest minds in the world. We’re talking about our physicians. But if you teach somebody who’s incredibly smart the wrong thing, they’d become incredibly talented at doing the wrong thing. So in medical school, we’re taught a lot of pathology and studying illness, and really are taught a lot about health and what the underlying conditions for that are, is more so like how can we try and fix people that are broken, instead of “How do we create healthy people?” So that’s really where we want to start. And so in a condition like high blood pressure, for example, I’ll just touch on this, really, really quickly, we’ve got over 80% reversal rate for helping people to get off high blood pressure medications, hypertension, Lisinopril’s and the Statins and all that kind of good stuff, and seeing their numbers change within a matter of days, not to mention when we draw things out over the course of a month or two, it’s phenomenal what can happen. But some people even when we’re talking about cholesterol, some people naturally, genetically have high cholesterol. And it doesn’t seem to be a problem. And here’s the thing, 50% of the people who have a cardiovascular event, that actually have a heart attack, they don’t have high cholesterol. That tells you right there high cholesterol doesn’t cause heart attacks. But I don’t want to get into that conversation.

Melissa: Right ahead, Jimmy Moore on this show, it hasn’t gone live yet, but he gave a pretty good explanation and ran on that. So that’ll be coming up, folks. Stay tuned.

Shawn: Absolutely. And so, with the blood pressure, here’s a really great takeaway for people. And I’m just going to leave it with this, is that when we think about our blood pressure, what organ comes to mind for you?

Melissa: I think about the heart, but secondarily, the brain because it’s been drummed into me that you’re going to have a stroke if you don’t get your blood pressure under control.

Shawn: Got it. So most of us, when we’re thinking about a cardiovascular event or our blood pressure, we think about our hearts. But what’s really regulating your blood pressure is your kidneys. It’s your kidneys. They release a substance, antidiuretic hormone to keep the water balance or your blood viscosity, your blood level thickness/thinness to keep that regulated. And you already said it, it’s controlled by your brain, okay? It’s controlled by your brain, and the perception of what’s going on with your blood quality. So if that communication gets screwed up, and it can. If you’re downing 10 cups of coffee a day, it’s going to get screwed up. If you’re eating Funyuns to have fun, if you’re eating three bowls of cereal before bed like I used to do – I’m eating up Cheerios. That was my thing – this communication is going to get screwed up because food isn’t just as food, it’s information. So when we look at that and when we start to look at the deeper issue, the underlying cause and regulation of our blood pressure, instead of just treating the symptom, that’s when real change can happen.

Melissa: Right, I think that’s good advice, Shawn. Good advice. Well, we’re just about out of time and we could talk about. We’re going to have you back a third time, Shawn. We got so many topics to go into. But I think this has been really helpful for people. And I know a lot of people are going to want to know again where to find you online. We’re going to put a link to the show when you are on a few months back, just so that people can listen to that one as well and hear about how you resolved your own issues and work with tons of people, like you said, hundreds of thousands over the last few years. But where can people find you online and find out more about the things you have available to help them?

Shawn: Awesome. Well, I’m in the same field as you. We’re on the same team. I have a show that I’m so honoured and even as I’m saying it, I’m really thinking about it. I can believe it, but I can’t believe it at the same time. We’ve been featured as number one in health and number one in fitness and nutrition dozens of times on iTunes charts. We’re actually up for an award from Stitcher here next week.

Melissa: Congrats.

Shawn: Exciting, thank you. And I’m up against like-

Melissa: Whoa, everybody. [Laughs]

Shawn: -some titans, like some serious – and I got to just start dropping names, but-

Melissa: But people that has television shows, should we say?

Shawn: Yes. I’m up against these people in this category. And so it just really blows me away to know that.

Melissa: It’s so inspiring that this is happening because two or three years ago before I got started, I talked to some people that they had a year or two ahead, and they were very determined to get people like you and other shows like they were doing up to the top of the charts, and it’s happened really fast in my opinion. I thought it would be 5 or 10 years, but it’s been like two years.

Shawn: Yeah, it’s a phenomenon. And it’s just getting bigger and growing. And it’s really what it boils down to is just doing good work and caring, this very powerful four-letter word, “care.” If you really care and you are creating great content and sharing it with an open heart, that’s what podcasting is. This is free. And I’m giving people access, so my show’s called “The Model Health Show.”

You can check me out on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcast. And my shows are, I do about 60% pure content myself which is unique sort of for this field. And so, I’ll give people the definitive guide. If we’re talking about fat loss, we would actually break it down, get in there. How does your body actually do it? We know that it has something to do with calories. Not really. But what’s going on hormonally, what’s going on with particular enzymes, what does your body do to actually burn fat. And people walk away knowing that and then like ten tips to make it happen better. Or we talk about reversing diabetes, shows on depression, body image, high blood pressure, of course, and hypertension, we talk about that, but in-depth. And also, I bring on the best of the best in the world. So my guest, the other 40% of shows that I do, if we’re talking about physical therapy for example, and what you do you need to do to kind of get your body sorted out. So I brought on like Dr. Kelly Starrett, who is far and away, the smartest person I’ve ever had the opportunity to connect with.

Melissa: Absolutely.

Shawn: And he actually calls it “reorganizing your body.” So people could check me out there or they can listen to the show online. We also do videos for a lot of our episodes. So it’s at TheModelHealthShow.com. You can connect with me on social media. I’m @ShawnModel on Twitter and on Instagram. I’m pretty new to these platforms, but I’m very, very active. And yeah, so that’s what people can connect with me. And again, thanks so much for having me on.

Melissa: Well, thank you, Shawn. And like I said, we need to get you back again a few months when you have some time because there’s a few more topics that I think people would love to hear the information about. And like you’ve said, my goal is to get this information out there so that people can work with their current doctors or find better ones and really take over and become in charge of their health because it is doable. We’re there to encourage them to take command, take the reins, and just follow some of these things.

It’s not as difficult as you think, if you just have some helpful guide along the way. So we’re sort of the sign posts for people to take up what they need and get on the right path. But enormous changes can be made. And like I said, we’ll put a link in the show notes to your earlier episode when you’re on the show because your own journey is pretty impressive, to say the least, and almost phenomenal as to what you’ve done. And then what you did with it when you turned your career around and went into the health field is also pretty interesting to hear about. So thanks so much, Shawn. And we look forward to having you on in the future.

Shawn: Awesome, thank you so much.

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