Schedule time in your day to get at least 20 minutes of active exercise. This could be a 20-minute walk around the block or around your office building. We must stay active and in motion. Motion causes energy production in our cells. When our cells run out of energy, they begin to fail and advanced aging occurs. Get your heart rate up and practice deep breathing while exercising.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nathan S. Bryan.
Dr. Bryan is a Biochemist and Physiologist by training and has spent his entire 20-year career studying nitric oxide. Dr. Bryan is a prolific innovator and inventor with dozens of issued U.S. and International patents on nitric oxide. He is considered the world’s authority of nitric oxide and is a recognized expert in molecular medicine and biochemistry.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I’ve always been interested in health and wellness and that is partly what directed me to pursue a degree in Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. Afterward, I earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport. It was there I got introduced to nitric oxide and how this simple molecule was really what defined whether a person was well or not. That was in the year 2000 just a couple of years after a Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of nitric oxide. Since that moment, I have spent my entire career trying to figure out what goes wrong in people that can’t make nitric oxide naturally in their bodies and then how to fix this fundamental problem. It is recognized that loss of nitric oxide production is the earliest event in the onset and progression of all age-related chronic degenerative diseases. On the contrary, folks that make sufficient nitric oxide are fit and well and completely free of disease. In fact, your ability to generate nitric oxide actually predicts how well you can perform athletically, sexually and cognitively. Once we recognized this indisputable fact, our focus was on how to safely and most effectively restore and replete NO production in each individual. Over these 20 years, we have made many seminal discoveries on how to restore nitric oxide production. This has resulted in more than 20 issued the U.S and International patents and tens of millions lives positively affected. So, my interest and involvement in fitness and wellness have been both a personal and scientific journey.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’m not sure about the most interesting because what may be interesting to me may not be interesting to someone else. However, a pivotal moment in my career that was really eye-opening was when I was still Medical School Faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Academic institutions make large investments in their faculty and their return on investment can come from training good physicians and scientists to making important discoveries that provide income from licensing new discoveries and technology to outside companies. After several years at UTHealth, I was really started to crank out important discoveries that led to several patents and these patents starting making money both for me personally and for the University since they owned my patent rights. So, I basically did my job and created something of value, not just for mankind, but for the University. There is this thing called “Conflict of Interest”. This occurs when it can be perceived that one’s actions may not be directed towards doing their job, but rather to enhance their riches or improve their status or influence. My conflict of interest was that I was doing nitric oxide research at a state-funded medical school but I also had patents and had started companies that were marketing my nitric oxide technology. Therefore, my conflict of interest had to be managed by a committee of my peers at UTHealth. Rather than embracing my research and discoveries that we're making a positive impact on human health and wellness, my committee thought it best to limit my ability to conduct research on nitric oxide since I now had a financial and research conflict of interest. This is not unique to UTHealth. All institutions must have a conflict of interest management plan. The restrictions put on my research program did not allow complete intellectual freedom and impeded my ability to write and compete for grant funding and to continue my record of success. As a result, I elected to resign my faculty position to escape the proverbial handcuffs that were placed on my research program. What is interesting about this story is that peoples’ success can create an unexpected environment that will not allow an effective process or strategy to continue. The system favors one-hit wonders. A quote that I always remember is that “a good inventor is a repeat offender” told to me by the head of Technology Management at UTHealth. The worse thing that can happen is to limit or restrict intellectual curiosity and freedom. That is how important discoveries are made that will change the world.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I remember presenting my new data at a scientific meeting in front of my peers and I was so excited to share our new discoveries about therapeutic strategies to restore nitric oxide production. I expected them to share my excitement since, in my mind, we had solved many years of mysteries in nitric oxide research. After my lecture, I asked for questions and I was ridiculed and my data was opposed and questioned by my colleagues. It was not at all humorous at the time. In fact, it was terrifying especially for young up and coming scientists in the field. It only later became humorous years later when my work had stood the test of time and survived challenges by others. The German philosopher Schopenhauer is famously quoted as saying,” All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”. I now realize these were fundamental truths we had discovered and they have certainly followed the three stages described above. My take away and the lesson is that we have to persevere and not crumble in the face of criticism or ridicule. We must keep moving forward and seeking answers to new-formed questions and provide solutions to real-world problems.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
Firstly, I have a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Physiology but that alone does not make anyone, including me an authority. However, that education and research backbone provided me with critical knowledge on how the body works and what it takes to be well and free of disease. I have published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, written or edited 5 books, worked with and trained by Nobel Laureates and have lectured at over 200 scientific and medical conferences to hundreds of thousands of attendees over 20 years. I feel my unique contribution to the world of wellness is the discovery that we can restore and improve nitric oxide production in people and improve their health, their performance and keep them free from disease.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Dr. Martin Feelisch was my Ph.D. advisor and mentor when I was a student at LSU School of Medicine. Dr. Feelisch first introduced me to the science of nitric oxide. More than that, he taught me how to think in the context of how my basic science research could be used to solve an important biological problem that would help human disease. He taught me that the scientific method most scientists are taught is really ineffective at solving real-world medical problems. Curiosity should drive research and new observations should drive the design of new experiments to eventually get to your answer. Effective and meaningful research is not hypothesis-driven but rather curiosity-driven to solve an important mystery in science and medicine.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Number 1 it is very difficult to change habits and that includes eating habits, lifestyle habits, and sleep habits. People become accustomed to their way of doing things and only change when compelled. That compelling feeling is usually in the form of fear or some crisis. It is usually a health crisis that causes fear of death or fear of loss. In my opinion, the three main blockages that prevent us from integrating important practical lifestyle habits into our lives are:
- Failure to recognize an impending or ongoing health crisis. Most people do not listen to their bodies and therefore fail to recognize simple signs and symptoms that something is not right. Therefore, they have no impetus to change or yet no fear of death or loss.
- Most people are reactive instead of proactive. People only act after a crisis rather than working to prevent a crisis. It takes hard work, dedication, and discipline to integrate important diet and lifestyle changes into our daily lives. People tell me all the time; I don’t have time to work out or eat right. I realize we are all busy. I think I may be one of the busiest people I know with my travel and lecture schedule, running businesses and managing a working cattle ranch but I make each minute of the day productive. I make time to work out and schedule it. I don’t wait for extra time to do it. If that were the case, it would never get done.
- Consumers are confused and skeptical. Every day you turn on the TV or radio and there is a new “fad” diet or new pill that one can take to replace eating right or doing exercise. There are hundreds of dietary supplements on the market that all advertising can help you lose weight, manage your blood pressure, prevent hair loss, and the list goes on and on. Most people buy this at least once and don’t get the results they were promised and then become confused and even skeptical.
There is no substitute for eating healthy food, getting moderate physical exercise and getting a good night’s sleep. We must first make a conscious decision to do it and then have the discipline to stick with it.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Drink and bathe in clean water. Drink at least 3–4 liters of purified water every day. There is no substitute for good clean water. Our bodies are 60% water and cannot function without proper hydration. Municipal water contains fluoride, metals, drug metabolites herbicide and pesticide residue and heavy metals. You must have drink purified water or else you are intoxicating yourself every time you drink. An often-overlooked concept is water we shower or bathe in. Heating chlorinated and fluorinated water vaporizes these toxic chemicals and we breathe them in. Furthermore, both chlorine and fluoride and absorbed transdermally. Both are neurotoxins and inhibit thyroid function. No wonder we have an epidemic of hypothyroid in the U.S. Invest in a home and drinking water system that delivers good, clean water.
- Use an infrared sauna at least 3 times per week. Certain wavelengths of light in the near and far-infrared spectrum provide healing properties. Infrared saunas also heat up so provide an opportunity for people to sweat. Sauna help in detoxification decreases Inflammation, increases circulation, relieves pain, burns calories, gets better sleep, enhancement immune function support mitochondria, and energy production increases Nitric Oxide production and other anti-aging benefits.
- Schedule time in your day to get at least 20 minutes of active exercise. This could be a 20-minute walk around the block or around your office building. We must stay active and in motion. Motion causes energy production in our cells. When our cells run out of energy, they begin to fail and advanced aging occurs. Get your heart rate up and practice deep breathing while exercising.
- Walk barefoot outside for at least 20 minutes every day. The earth is a big magnet providing electrons and voltage to the body. The concept of grounding has very important biological effects. Humans are electrical beings and need a constant source of electrons and voltage to maintain normal cellular function. When we run out of energy and feel tired, we literally have run out of energy (voltage and frequency within the cell). We must continually recharge. Walking barefoot is a great way to recharge.
- Include a nitric oxide supplement or nutrition into your daily routine. Loss of nitric oxide is what is responsible for age-related disease. Look for products that have listed patents on their label and have been tested in clinical trials. The most important thing you can do for your health is to maintain healthy nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide maintains normal blood pressure, keeps blood vessels healthy and free of plaque build-up and helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Exercise causes an increase in the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to maintain healthy blood pressure. It keeps your blood vessel free from plaque build-up and lowers inflammation in the body. Nitric oxide also helps regulate blood flow to parts of the body that need it when it needs it. For example, nitric oxide directs blood flow to sex organs during arousal. It directs blood flow to the brain when you are trying to remember where you left your keys. It directs blood flow to the stomach and gut after a meal to pick up essential nutrients from your diet. Without nitric oxide, the body loses regulation of blood flow and bad things begin to happen.
- Daily exercise provides real energy as a voltage to every organ in your body. Our bodies are electric and therefore we must have a constant source of voltage to every cell in the body. Every organ is connected to a muscle battery pack. When you utilize certain muscles, you create voltage and energy in that meridian that “recharges” cells and tissues in the body. Without exercise or movement, there is no mechanism to charge the body and then cells and tissues begin to fail and that is when disease sets in.
- Moderate to intense exercise should cause you to sweat. One of the main detoxification pathways is through sweating. Yet today, hardly anybody sweats. We live in our air-conditioned home, drive in our air-conditioned car, to our air-conditioned office and then return home never breaking a sweat. As a result, we get a build-up of toxins in our bodies that are constant and growing in our environment. When toxins build up, cells and tissue fail and disease sets in. Exercise at an intensity that causes sweating is critical.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- A low impact 20-minute cardio warm-up is very important to loosen up your muscle and to prepare the body for a more rigorous workout. I recommend a treadmill, elliptical or bike as a nice warm-up. You should break a sweat and get your heart rate up to 60–70% of maximum
- High-intensity interval training. This is a short duration high-intensity training for approximately 20 minutes. I like 2 minutes of high intensity followed by a 2-minute recovery and then doing this for 10 reps.
- Some types of resistant weight training. Lifting weights help build muscle and creates a mechanical strain on bones so that the bones constantly break down and rebuild. This prevents loss of muscle and loss of bone as we age.
These three exercises at 20 minutes each can get you great results in an hour 4–5 times per week. I also recommend stretching and recovering in an infrared sauna for 20–30 minutes after your workout.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterward. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
To improve recovery, it is necessary to improve your nitric oxide production. There are a number of nitric oxide pre-workouts on the market that can improve performance, prevent lactic acid build-up and soreness and speed up recovery. Look for products with issued patents on the label and products backed by clinical studies demonstrating their efficacy.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
A good diet is not just what you eat but also what you avoid. I follow a diet that is high in protein and vegetables with limited carbohydrates. I avoid bread, grains, and dairy. The older we get the more protein we need to consume to avoid muscle and bone loss. There is not a one size fits all diet plan. Dietary requirements for a well-trained athlete that is about to compete is totally different than a diet plan that I would recommend for a terminal cancer patient. Athletes need carbs for fuel. Cancer patients have to completely avoid carbs and be strictly ketogenic.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I typically only read non-fiction about successful people. One of the most impactful books I have read is “Advice for a Young Investigator” by Ramon Y Cajal. His book really provided a nice framework for me as young scientists but these tips or advice go far beyond scientific research. He provided seven tips:
- The only thing in your power is your preparation
- Be suspicious of brilliance
- Be appropriately respectful of authority but no more
- Balance concentration and relaxation
- Don’t worry about what it’s good for
- Favor independence over resources
- Embrace a Panglossian attitude
These are fundamental points that are not only good reminders during our scientific endeavors but good advice for life in general. His advice in the face of failure is quite simple: keep trying.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start a movement on “The Truth About Heart Disease”. Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of men and women worldwide still today. To me this is simply unacceptable because we know what causes cardiovascular disease, we know how to detect and quantify it and we now have the capabilities to prevent, treat and cure this deadly disease. Cardiovascular disease is caused by the lack of production of nitric oxide. Yet very few people, including physicians, know about this critical molecule. My movement would educate, inform and bring awareness to the masses on what they can do to prevent the loss of production of nitric oxide. There are simple diet and lifestyle habits can help promote the production of nitric oxide. Many drug therapies that physicians use including antacids, a cholesterol-lowering medication, antibiotics, etc all disrupt the production of nitric oxide. Lifestyle habits such as using mouthwash, using fluoride toothpaste, antibacterial soaps and lotion all disrupt nitric oxide production and put our bodies at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Do today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t”. This relates to many aspects of one’s life. It can relate to exercises and keeping healthy so you live a long and prosperous life to enjoy your family. Those that don’t take care of themselves today, won’t be able to enjoy things later in life, either because of death or illness. It can also relate to financial success. Success in anything takes hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Many people are unwilling to do what it takes to succeed. Those that do take initiative and do what others are unwilling to do or won’t do will reap the rewards and be able to do things others can’t do because of financial limitations or lack of time freedom to do what they want to do.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Nick Saban is a person I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with. Coach Saban has been successful at every program and institution he has coached. These different programs have different environments, different administrations, different degrees of talent but he has been able to win at multiple institutions. This type of success is rare and reveals a recipe for success. I would be interested to know how he gets his players to buy into this program and philosophy and how he is able to execute this strategy to continually win.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
About the author:
Dr. William Seeds is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and physician specializing in all aspects of sports medicine and total joint treatments. With over 22 years of experience, Dr. Seeds is focused on providing the most innovative results to those seeking to maximize their performance, relieve injuries, and live a healthy lifestyle.