Anti-aging with Coach Denys, Episode #3 – Metabolic Health – Your 1st Step Toward Anti-aging

Show notes for episode #3

🎙👉 Link to this episode on Apple  

🎙👉 Link to this episode on Spotify 

URLs mentioned:

👉 The book “Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease–and How to Fight It” by Ben Bikman, PhD

👉 The book “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food” by Catherine Shanahan

👉 The book “The Fatburn Fix: Boost Energy, End Hunger, and Lose Weight by Using Body Fat for Fuel” by Catherine Shanahan

👉 The book “Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health” by Vani Hari 

👉 The book “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz

👉 American Heart Association‘s article titled “Healthy Cooking Oils” (As an example of why not all mainstream guidelines are credible.)

00:03:11  Why the pursuit of anti-aging? 

00:07:43  Why being metabolically unhealthy accelerates aging? 

00:12:51  (I mis-spelled Dr. Ben Bikman’s last name as “Kidman”. My apology.)

00:13:12  How to assess your metabolic health

00:17:58  How to enhance your metabolic health

00:19:21  How to modulate inflammation

00:24:47  How to modulate oxidative stress

00:36:03  More approaches to anti-aging


Hello, welcome to Coach Denys anti-aging podcast episode number 3. Our topic today is: metabolic health – your first step toward anti-aging.

Based on the feedbacks I received from the first two episodes, I realized the way I shared information was different from many of the video-clips or broadcasts on YouTube. First, my talk tends to be long, typically more than 25 minutes, unlike some of the more popular short video clips on YouTube that you can quickly watch and walk away with a few key points; secondly, I had a tendency of occasionally going off on a tangent. I really appreciate the feedbacks and have reflected on them. Here are my thoughts…

The way I communicate on my podcast is deliberately so for the following considerations. One characteristic of functional medicine is that almost all issues and solutions are multifactorial. As a result, the logic or storyline behind usually is not black and white and often times some vagueness should be allowed. This is entirely different from conventional western medicine, where everything seems to be black and white and you can always prescribe drugs or surgery specifically for any symptoms. As of today, on my journey of health transformation, I have 12 years’ experience in listening to podcasts by influencers in health and fitness. Their episodes are always at least 30 minutes long and typically ran for 1 hour or longer. I think that is the amount of time it takes to elaborate on the kind of topics we are sharing here. To make it easier for my audience, I will always start each episode with a brief introduction of the agenda items; that is, a table of contents. Yes, my elaborations may not be straightforward, and I do get off on tangents occasionally, but I promise, each episode will have a clear storyline set out at the opening.

Here is the agenda for this episode:

  1. Why the pursuit of anti-aging? 
  2. Your first step toward anti-aging: stay metabolically healthy 

2.1Why being metabolically unhealthy accelerates aging? 

2.2 How to assess your metabolic health? 

2.3 How to enhance your metabolic health

  1. More approaches to anti-aging

Let’s get started. 

Agenda item 1: Why the pursuit of anti-aging?  Is it worth it? Is it even the right thing you do?

In the previous 2 episodes. I promised I’d be sharing information on HOW to pursue anti-aging. So, why am I still addressing the question of “WHY”? As you may recall, we discussed the WHAT of aging in episode #1. In the 2nd episode, we discussed “WHAT caused aging”. With such knowledge, we’d be ready to discuss HOW to stay away from the culprits that cause aging. That’s what an AI robot would do. But we are not robots. We are human beings. So we ask the question of WHY before we undertake a major endeavor, especially from the viewpoint of humanity.

When it comes to aging, most people accept a “status quo” viewpoint, which says “Well, that’s life. Aging is what everyone must go through. It’s natural. No need to try too hard fighting it.” Many actually consider that a healthy and balanced mindset. 

There is nothing wrong with such viewpoint. In many religions, such state of mind is considered the ultimate goal of life-time pursuit. From the perspective of medical science, that is not the way it should be though. In terms of medical science, especially in functional medicine, aging among some of us can be avoided, delayed, or with a more graceful process.

Even when equipped with enough knowledge and solutions  in medicine for anti-aging, some people are still skeptical or against the idea of anti-aging based on a social value: anti-aging can bring more burden to the society as a whole because the society would end up with more elderly people hence sucking away limited resources from the younger generations. To such viewpoint, I would like to offer a counter perspective: If the so-called elderly around us, let’s say people older than 70, could live healthy and independently without any chronic diseases in the last 10 or 20 years of their lives, wouldn’t that save the society huge amount of money and resource? Not just that, if the elderly stay mentally fit, which is an integral part of anti-aging, they can continue to contribute to the society, likely with more impact than the younger generations in their 40’s and 50’s due to the elderly’s accumulated knowledge and experiences.

The single most significant purpose why each of us came to the world, I believe, is to help others. Why ruin and waste the most brilliant years of your life – the years you are most ready to help others? Worse and more unfortunately, we could ruin not just our golden years, but also our family and loved ones.

Here is my perspective: Anti-aging is not a luxury. Nor is it a privilege. It’s a mission.

Instead of following suit and accept the status quo of “aging is just our destiny, there is nothing we can do”, let’s stay open and humble to further explore the process of aging. Only with such mindset will you be ready to pursue anti-aging, as the journey is more like a long-distance endurance race. There is not shortcut. Anti-aging requires more than a clear vision and knowledge. It’s a journey of perseverance.

Agenda item 2: Your first step toward anti-aging: stay metabolically healthy 

As I pointed out in the 1st episode, most of the factors that lead to chronic diseases are also the factors that promote aging. I also used laymen’s term to define “being metabolically unhealthy” as “being unable to strike a balance between converting food we eat into energy for immediate use and storing it as fat”.

2.1 Why being metabolically unhealthy accelerates aging? 

With that, the next question is: Why does an unhealthy metabolism, namely imbalanced energy conversion, accelerate aging? Our agenda item 2.1 is to answer this question.

Simply put, unhealthy metabolism, or metabolic syndromes, is the manifestation of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a major cause of many chronic diseases. Some even argue it is THE cause for ALL chronic diseases. Anyway, it is one of the few most significant causes for accelerated aging. 

Insulin is among the most important hormones in our endocrine system. One of its major jobs is to maintain your blood glucose at a healthy level. Upon intake of food, it’s insulin’s job to modulate the amount of glucose between your blood and the many organs in your body, including your muscle. It controls how much glucose in the blood should be covered into energy for the immediate or short-term use by the cells of your muscle and organs, how much should be converted and stored into fat as a reservoir for future energy need. If we use a battle field as an analogy for your entire physiological operations, your insulin is like the logistics command center of your entire army in the battle field.   

“Insulin resistance” is a dysfunction of the endocrine system. It means the cells of organs become insensitive to the signals issued by the insulin. That is, the cells stop following the instructions from the insulin in regard to the use and storage of blood glucose. Using the analogy above, what would be the consequence if soldiers in the battle field stop following the orders from the logistics command center in regard to the use of food and ammunition? 

The consequence, according to medical statistics, is that people with insulin resistance has a much higher risk in dying from from numerous chronic diseases, including  cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and cancers. It can also cause infertility.

The next question: What causes insulin resistance?

In summery, simply put, there are two major causes: inflammation and oxidative stress. If we can find ways to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, we can stay away from insulin resistance.

Before I continue to offer ways to “reduce” inflammation and oxidative stress, allow me to go off on a tangent briefly. I need to add two  s to the statement above.

Qualifier 1: Inflammation and oxidative stress happen in different parts of our cells all the time under different conditions. Both are part of the normal physiology. Without them, we would have died. The key is: both must stay at adequate level and should not be over-driven. 

Qualifier 2: Although over-driven inflammation and oxidative stress both can lead to insulin resistance, the reverse is true – insulin resistance can elevate inflammation and oxidative stress. It can become a vicious cycle. Once trapped, it’s not easy to get out. 

The reason I brought up these two qualifiers is to let everyone know that, in functional medicine, human physiology often times exhibit the following two characteristics: 

Characteristic 1: Sometimes you can’t just say if certain nutrient or biological phenomenon is good or bad to health. It depends on the context.

Characteristic 2: It is easier to find associations between the factors and states (or results) of health. It’s usually much harder to find causal relationship in the same setting. Sometimes it can also be tricky just to tell the cause from the result. Or, a result might become a cause under different conditions. This is what I referred to as “vagueness in functional medicine” earlier. So,  sometimes it’s ok to proceed and take correction actions when strong association is proved without waiting for the proof of causal relationship. The 2 qualifiers I brought up earlier regarding the statement of “inflammation and oxidative stress cause insulin resistance” exhibits both of these 2 characteristic. 

If you are interested in learning more about how insulin resistance can cause many chronic diseases, you may want to read the book titled “Why We Get Sick” by Ben Bikman, PhD. The book was published in July of 2020. Among the books and papers I have read on the topic of insulin resistance, that’s the best one. I highly recommend it. URL to the book will be in the show notes.

Now we are ready to discuss how to improve metabolic health.

We need to know how to assess our own metabolic health first. 

Then we will discuss how to improve it.

2.2 How to assess your metabolic health? 

To assess if you are metabolically unhealthy, or have metabolic syndromes, check in the following 5 biological markers or numbers: 1. Waist line, 2. Triglyceride, 3. High-density Cholesterol, 4. Fasting blood glucose level, 5. Blood pressure.

If yours are off in any of the 5 markers, you are considered metabolic unhealthy. 

So, what are the normal ranges for each of the 5 indexes? Let’s go through them one by one.

    1. Waist line: 35 inches for men and 32 for women are considered over normal range. Those are the numbers you likely have heard from the government health organization or your doctor. In addition to waistline, I would like to offer you two more measurements than would help you more effectively manage your relationship with fat:
      1. Measuring body fat ratio tells you more about your metabolic health than measuring waist line. What is the healthy range for body fat ratio? For women under age 40, keep it below 30%; women between age 40 and 60 should keep it under 33%;  women over 60 should still keep it below 36%. For men below 40, keep it under 22%, men over 40 should keep it under 25%
      2. Regardless of sex and age, fat in the belly is more harmful to your health than fat in other parts of the body, such as hip, thighs, and arms, Fat in the belly is called visceral fat. Many researches pointed out that visceral fat ratio has a strong correlation with insulin resistance. Most body composition scale include the measurement of your visceral fat ratio. These scales are quite affordable and cost only slightly more than regular weight scales.

Triglyceride: According to conventional medicine, it’s considered unhealthy when it’s over 150 milligram per deciliter (mg/dL). Most functional medicine doctors follow a stricter standard and advise people to keep it under 100 mg/dL. My view is that if you going for optimal health, keep it under 80 mg/dL.

HDL: Conventional medicine’s recommendation is to keep it above 40 mg/dL. I believe it should ideally be no less than 50. 70+ would be optimal.

Fasting blood glucose level: Conventional medicine’s recommendation is to keep it under 100 mg/dL. I believe it should be no more than 90 mg/dL to be considered healthy.

Blood pressure. All parties have the same view on this index and pretty much everyone know what the normal rage is so let’s move on.

Aside from these 5 quantitative markers, I would like to share some qualitative characteristics of healthy metabolism based my my experience over the past 10 years. 

Do you see the following 3 characteristics in yourself or do you experience them frequently?

  1. In addition to 3 meals a day, you snack at least twice a day.
  2. Frequently feel sleepy or brain fog after lunch, during a long meeting, or in the afternoon.
  3. You are an endurance athlete, such as a marathoner or triathlete, and you experience “hitting the wall” in the second half of your long-distance race at least once in every race season.

If you have any of the above three in you, it’s likely that you are metabolically unhealthy.

On the other hand, in the past one year, if you can frequently skip a meal easily without snack or using will power, never feel sleepy during the day, and never hit the wall in long distance races,  you are likely healthy metabolically

2.3 How to enhance your metabolic health

Now that we know how to assess our metabolic health, let’s move on to our next agenda item: What can you do to improved metabolic health?

As I mentioned in the last episode and also earlier in this episode, two major causes for insulin resistance are: elevated inflammation and oxidative stress. And allow me to reiterate: Our goal is not to lower the two markers; instead we want to modulate these two markers (or biological mechanisms) and keep them at a level that is optimal for our physiological condition, which varies throughout the day depending on what we do and the environment around us.

Also a reminder from the last episode, in functional medicine, factors leading to certain issues are usually multi-factorial. Because of that, directly or indirectly, there are usually multiple ways or pathways to modulate inflammation and oxidative stress. For the sake of efficient sharing, I will skip the biological pathways and address only on the highest level, that is, the practical things we can do, or avoid, to modulate and normalize these two markers.

Let’s address inflammation first

The most common cause for elevated inflammation is “extended period of high blood glucose level”. How do we make sure the glucose level in our blood does not get too high for too long? There are two ways:

Watch and change your diet:

  • Cut or aggressively reduce sweets and any food that tastes sweet, including processed food that taste sweet, ice cream, most post-meal deserts, most fruits, especially fruit juice.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrate: This category include all food made of flour, such as bread, noodles, and dumpling skins, white rice, and all packaged processed food sold at super market and convenient stores. What are “packaged processed food”? They are foods that are packaged in a box, can, or bag with an “ingredient label” on them.
  • Increase intake of protein and fat.
  • Don’t overeat. Over-eating can be defined by the amount of food you eat in each meal. The amount here can be by weight or by calorie. THat’s a quantitative definition. How do you know what’s the right amount for you to prevent your blood glucose level from getting too high? That’s a tough question to answer as it depends on your biology and your current condition. It’s actually impractical to answer such question. A more practical way is measure it qualitatively – Eat to feel you are 70% full or satiated, then stop. That being said, more important than the amount of food you eat is the frequency of your eating. The less frequent you eat, the better for modulating inflammation and eventually your insulin sensitivity. Yet more important than the frequency of your eating is your daily eating window. For example, if all your eating (including meals and snacks) is between 10AM and 7PM, your daily eating window is 9 hours. The shorter your eating window, the better to inflammation modulation and eventually your insulin sensitivity. In plain English: Don’t eat too much. Don’t eat too frequently. And don’t eat throughout the day.

Those are the 1st category of tips to maintain a healthy blood glucose level hence to prevent elevated inflammation.

Now let’s talk about the 2nd way to do so: Exercise. Three tips here.


  • Exercise 3 to 4 times a week. Each for 40 minutes at minimum. Twice with aerobic exercise and once with anaerobic exercise (that is, resistance training or HIIT).
  • During your waking hours throughout the day, walk or move around as much as you can. Whatever you are doing when sitting, stand up to stretch, get some house work done, or take a short walk every 30 minutes.
  • Plan to start a meal, especially the major meal (dinner for most people), within 15 to 30 minutes after an exercise can prevent blood glucose going too high during and after the meal. Taking a 20 minute walk after the meal has the same effect. If you can’t get out for a walk, get up and do some household work for 20 minutes. Just don’t sit there watching TV , swiping on your smart phone, or working on a computer. Trivial moves like such have an effect on stabilizing your blood glucose level more than people think. In November, 2020, I wore a continuous glucose monitor for one month. That’s one of my findings from the month-long experiment. Many influencers in health reported stories verifying this effect.

Those are three simple steps in exercise you can take to improve your blood glucose level, hence optimize inflammation and insulin sensitivity. In future episodes, more will be dedicated to address questions regarding exercise, including “With resistance training, how do you make sure you have appropriate intake of protein, including timing, amount, and types of food source for protein?”, “How to fuel and keep hydrated during endurance aerobic exercise?” “Is it a good idea to exercise during or at the end of a fasting?” “What heart rate is ideal for my exercise?” And “How to recover from exercise?”

Now let’s talk about oxidative stress. 

There are many potential situations and factors that can cause our oxidative stress to get overdriven. The most common cause for most people in our civilization today is “Certain food and the way they are cooked“.

What are the cause and how to prevent it? The answer to this question is quite simple to state. To put the solutions into action can be quite challenging for many people.

Here is the what and why.

In global population, especially in the developed countries, the single most widely spread problem in causing over-driven oxidative stress is the vegetable oil in people’s diet. The term “vegetable oil” is somewhat misleading. It doesn’t mean oil made from vegetables. What it really means is “seed oil”, oil obtained from processing plant seeds such as soy beans, corn, cottonseeds, grapeseeds and seeds from canola, sunflower, and safflower.

The major issue with seed oil is in one of its ingredients- linoleic acid. Compared to other types of fatty acid, linoleic acid is much more easily oxidized. Linoleic acid IS an essential fatty acid, which means it’s required for human biology to function and human body can not make it so we need to eat food that contains linoleic acid. The thing is: we need only a little of it. But in the standard American and Taiwanese diet today, people’s intake of linoleic acid is 10 or 20 times more than the adequate amount, causing rampant oxidative stress in the body, thanks to the promotion by the vegetable oil and processed food industries starting 70 years ago.

Those of you who would like to learn more about how harmful too much linoleic acid is to human body can read the two books by Dr. Catherine Shanahan: “Deep Nutrition” and “The Fat Burn Fix”. Links to these two books are in the show notes.

Sounds simple? Well, as I said earlier, “putting the solutions into action can be quite challenging for many people”. The challenge is bigger than most people are aware of, some among us may not even know the challenge exists. The facts about “how harmful seeds oil is to human health and how wide-spread and disguised it has been in the food we eat has been ingeniously and elaborately 

kept from being disclosed to the public by the “mainstream” in the past 80 years. If this sounds like a mis-leading conspiracy theory to you, I would suggest you read the masterpiece and best seller book “The Big Fat Surprise” by investigative science journalist Nina Teicholz. 

Yup, you heard me correctly. Ms. Teicholz does not have any degree in nutrition or medical science. As disclosed in the book, the scale of the issue regarding seeds oil is almost unprecedented in the history of nutritional science this century. But how can we believe a layman on such big issue in nutritional science? Allow me to get off on another tangent briefly. In the domain of diet, nutrition and health, I know of and have followed at least 5 well-respected and highly credible influencers who do not have any degree in medical or nutritional science. Two are journalists. One has a degrees in computer science and also MBA. The fourth one is an accountant and the 5th is a young guy in his late 20’s majored in social anthropology. My key message for you: One of the critical success factors in the pursuit of health and anti-aging is your capability in “information curation”. Those of us who are  not “experts” can do so by following the right experts. How do you tell if an “influencer” over the Internet is a true “expert”? One of the caveats is: having a degree, certificate, or title does not always guarantee expertise, credibility, excellence, and decency. I have a plan to dedicate an episode on the topic of “information curation”. With the topics I have on the pipeline, it probably won’t be available for a while.

Now back to our agenda. I would like to share some perspectives here that are based on my own experience. For the past 13 years, I have been a triathlete and biohacker who walks the talk in my pursuit of optimal health and anti-aging with obvious and sustained results witnessed by my friends and followers on social media. Now, if you asked me to share my experience to help you achieve similar result but you gave me only 5 seconds to do so, I would tell you: “Cut sweets and stay away from vegetable oil.” Just following these two guidelines could put you ahead of the pack.

Tust me. It’s that easy, easy to say, but extremely hard to implement. To cut sweets entirely, my guess is 50% of you would fail in less than one month. To stay away from vegetable oil, that is, seeds oil? My bet is 98% of people can’t do it. Why am I so pessimistic? Because most people do not understand how omnipresent and concealed seeds oil is in the food around us today. It’s not just in the deep-fried and pan-fried food. It’s also in most of the packaged processed food. Reading the ingredient table on the package usually doesn’t tell you the full story. “How to list the ingredients” has been one of the core competencies and critical success factors for the booming of the processed food industries, especially in the past 30 years. To learn more on this topic, I recommend  reading the 2019 book “Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health” by Vani Hari . URL to the book will be in the show notes.

How about staying away from processed food by eating in restaurants? That would be a better choice. Still, you don’t know what oil is used by the chef. Not all chefs, even some of those at 5-star restaurants, know the issues with seeds oil. Indeed, many doctors in conventional medicine still have not caught up with this knowledge. Maybe we shouldn’t blame these hard-working doctors, as the American Heart Association is still promoting vegetables oil as the healthier oil.

Here is a quote from an article on the AHA website titled “Healthy Cooking Oils”:

“Here’s an alphabetical list of common cooking oils that contain more of the “better-for-you” fats and less saturated fat.

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Safflower
  • Soybean
  • Sunflower

Link to the article is in the show notes.

The best way to stay away from seeds oil is to cook your own meals with your hand-picked food”. Cooking your own meals is one of the corner stones for optimal health and anti-aging. This is a view shared by most functional medicine influencers, including Dr. Mark Hyman.

That being said, there are still traps even if you cook all of your meals. To avoid seed oils (or to make sure your intake of linoleic acid is in the healthy range), you want to avoid or reduce the following seemingly healthy foods: (sit tight and don’t fall off your chair)

  • Category 1: Fishes that are farm-raised instead of wild-caught, as they are fed with grains, mostly GMO grains.
  • Category 2: Poultry and pork, unless they are never fed with any grains (In Taiwan, for many years, I still can’t find any of them. You can find some in the U.S. if you search harder.)

I know it’s hard to cut all of them. Especially poultry. I love the taste of chicken and duck meat. I just try to eat less. And when I do, I try not to eat the fat, which unfortunately used to be my favorite.

So grass-fed beef and lamb has been the staple of my protein source.

The 2nd part of the solution to avoid oxidative stress from our diet has to do with how we cook. For all the oils and fats discussed above that contain more oxidation-prone linoleic acid, cooking at high temperature makes the oxidation worse. If you like pan-fried food, try frying with some water. That can lower the temperature. It may not taste as good as fried in high temperature without water and especially when fried to smoke (those of you in Taiwan know what I am talking about), but the payback in health is worth it. What about deep fried food? Just say NO.

Dave Asprey, inventor of the Bulletproof Coffee and regarded by many as the father of biohacking once said: “If you offered me one cigarette and one fried chicken on the table and put a gun on my head and forced me to choose one from the two, I would choose the cigarette.”

We have covered quite a few different ways to improve metabolic health. Due to time limitation, I did not cover any scientific details. As I said, the guidelines are simple , yet the implementation is challenging. However, if you can pull it off, the return in your improved health is going to be tens or hundreds times of your time and money investment.

More approaches to anti-aging

The anti-aging regimines I shared in this episode is just a beginning.  In the upcoming episodes, I will be sharing more regimens and tips by adjusting your diet, lifestyle, environment, and mindset, all of which together will optimize your epi-genetics. The topics will include: diet and nutrition, exercise, sleep and recovery, mindfulness, staying away from pollution, lose fat & stay lean, and immunity. These are actually the categories for the articles I have published on my blog That said, the upcoming episodes will not be just an audio copy of the already-published articles. Even if the topic is the same, the podcast episode will be different elaboration with more perspectives or more up-to-date information.

Thank you for listening. If you have questions or comments, please leave it in the show notes or announcement of this episode either on my blog or on Coach Denys’ Fan’s page on Facebook.  I will be back soon with episode #4.

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