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Preventing Chronic Disease with Emily Gold Mears


Did you know that a recent CDC report shows that in the U.S. (the most unhealthy nation in the Western world), lifespan is declining for the first time in many years?

In this episode, Derek Berkey sits down with Emily Gold Mears, research analyst, and biohacker. Emily is a former attorney and distance runner who began researching health and lifestyle when she was taking care of her father, who was declining rapidly with vascular dementia.

Derek chats with Emily about how to sift through the abundance of health information available and make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. From lifestyle changes to supplements, Mears provides practical tips on how to become your own health advocate. Plus, she shares her personal journey and advice on how to stay motivated while optimizing your health.

The Invigor Medical podcast’s mission is to provide personalized medical care through scientifically backed education and wellness solutions. The show is co-hosted by Natalie Garland and Derek Berkey.



  • 00:57-Emily’s research-based book and motivation
  • 02:40-Attorney to researcher, the process, scientific studies, and finding out the facts
  • 05:40-Tools to use when looking for data, asking questions constantly
  • 07:15-Taking care of her father, with vascular dementia
  • 09:58-David Sinclair, genetics vs. environment and lifestyle
  • 11:37-Diseases, your gut, toxins,14:45-Resource guide in Chapter 19
  • 15:15-The microbiome-what you can do with food, stress, and supplements
  • 21:09-Fermented foods-they’re good for some people
  • 22:22-5 Pillars of health from Invigor
  • 24:50-Social interaction, community, and tachykinin neuropeptides
  • 26:50-Overcoming genetic predispositions
  • 31:00-Cellular health, chronic vs. acute stress, and lifestyle choices
  • 37: 00-Innate vs. adaptive immune systems
  • 40:00-Changing personal lifestyle choices-better late than never
  • 42:39-Glucose spiking
  • 47:30-Deficiencies-Magnesium, Vitamin D, B vitamins, and certain genes
  • 49:00-Advice for becoming your own advocate-do not take anything at face value-you know your own body


[00:00:00] Emily Gold Mears: I did everything wrong. First of all, I was a runner, a distance runner, which I loved. I mean, I absolutely loved it and I thought it was an okay thing to do, and I later learned it’s really not an okay thing to do.

Narrator: Welcome to the Invigor Medical Podcast where we sit down with medical professionals and discuss a full spectrum of health related subjects.

It all starts in three, two, one. 

[00:00:24] Derek Berkey: Welcome to the Invigor Medical Podcast. I’m Derek and today we are going to be having interview with Emily Gold Mears. Emily is a former attorney, turn citizen scientist. She’s a biohacker author and her research focuses on optimizing health through the intersection of functional and allopathic medicine.

She really focuses on empowering individuals. Become their own health advocates and we’re really excited to have this conversation. Emily, how are you doing today? 

[00:00:52] Emily Gold Mears: I am well, thank you for having me on your podcast. 

[00:00:54] Derek Berkey: Yeah, we’re really super excited to have you here. So, in research for this podcast, I was looking through your website, I was looking at your book and really exciting stuff. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

[00:01:08] Emily Gold Mears: Well, I wrote a book, it’s called Optimizing Your Health: An Approachable Guide To Reducing Your Risk Of Chronic Disease. Because I was motivated for several reasons. One, the most glaring reason, is that we live in the most unhealthy country in the Western world.

And the CDC just recently came out with a staggering statistic that lifespan is declining for the first time in quite some time. And I think everything indicates that the current approach is not working and we must adopt a better approach, a different approach. And one of my missions is to encourage people to become their own healthcare advocate because we can no longer rely exclusively on our healthcare practitioner for several reasons.

I mean, the insurance companies are squeezing them so they don’t have a lot of time they can spend with each patient. Many of them are overwhelmed and don’t have time to keep on the latest discoveries. And then, of course, there’s the staggering concept that I learned through my research, which is, it takes 17 years between the time something is discovered, a new innovation, and it becomes widely accepted and part of the standard of care.

I did a lot of research on things that I found that are probably not even gonna be accepted for quite some time, and yet they’re validated and they should be accepted, and people need to know about them.

[00:02:36] Derek Berkey: Yeah, definitely. You know, you bring up a lot of really good points and I wanted to ask you about some of them.

So your journey of going from being attorney to now a citizen scientist, I’m sure that that was a very interesting transition. You said that you did a lot of research. Now when I think research, when someone off the street tells me, “Oh yeah, I did my research.” I think, “Oh, research means you went on YouTube and you watched a one hour video, and now all of a sudden you’re the expert.” Right?

I’m sure that when you say that you did the research, it was much more comprehensive than that. What exactly does your research process look like?

[00:03:14] Emily Gold Mears: Well, for one thing, I have 200 footnotes in my book because I wanted to make certain that people didn’t think I made any of this up. This is all evidence-based and I research extensively. And while I did not love being a lawyer, one of the things that I learned and I became competent at was research skills.

And I developed some good useful research skills, which then I transitioned into the field of science because that’s really my first love. And when I research things, I wanna make sure I’m not conveying misinformation or junk science because there’s so much of that out there.

And I look at clinical studies. I go on PubMed, I go on Google Scholar, and I scour the studies, and I don’t just read the clinical studies because a lot of them are flawed too, even though they’re considered to be the gold standard. There are so many nuances involved in these clinical studies. For instance, one has to try and determine who sponsored the study?

Because, oftentimes, whoever sponsors the study has a particular result in mind, and these studies can be manipulated, and, so, one has to search for that. Also, one has to look at who are the participants in the study? How many participants? Were they healthy? Were they not healthy? Were they female? Were they male? What was the age?

All of this impacts what the conclusions are. So, I really take great care and do rigorous research and try and sift through and not promote things that I don’t feel are effectively validated. 

[00:04:56] Derek Berkey: Great. That’s a, those, so those are all really good stuff. So, if someone really does want to go on and say, I want to find out the truth for this. And actually, this is something I wanted to ask you about, is you, you talk very heavily about becoming an advocate for your own health.

I would imagine that your transition to citizen scientist, probably the two of those: citizen scientists and advocate of health. Those two are probably very heavily related. And so, as people try to become better advocates for their own health and try to find good, accurate information, from what I heard to summarize what you said, essentially, go to good sources, like, good, PubMed and Google Scholar and other sources where you can find peer reviewed studies and meta-analysis and those kind of things.

Make sure that the studies you’re reading are that they’re the right demographics and that the, it’s not sponsored by some company that just wants to sell you something.

Emily Gold Mears: Exactly.

Derek: Are there any other tools that you personally use or that you encourage others to use when they’re trying to find high fidelity data?

[00:06:02] Emily Gold Mears: Well, you know, in my mission to encourage people to be their own healthcare. I don’t anticipate that everyone is gonna do the extensive research that I do. I happen to love research. I mean, I can fall down a rabbit hole. I love to look up the things and read, and I really love it, but I accept and appreciate that not everyone feels that way.

But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be their own healthcare advocate. And, what that looks like is when you go to the doctor, you have to constantly question, you cannot accept anything a hundred percent. Because the reality is the doctor doesn’t know how you react to anything. One of the main themes throughout my book is that each one of us is quite different, genetically and biochemically.

And so what works for one person may not work for another or could be downright harmful. And yet, most of the standard of care and most of the medicine being produced and discussed by doctors today is based upon population demographic’s standard of care. And the reality is many of us fall outside of that bell curve, which dominates standard of care.

[00:07:13] Derek Berkey: Definitely. You know, hearing you talk about this, I can tell you’re very passionate about it and doing my research for this podcast. I know that you, what brought you to this point in your journey, is having to take care of your father. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

[00:07:29] Emily Gold Mears: Yes, I was fortunate to have one of the greatest dads in the world. I mean, he was just wonderful in all regards. He was so smart and kind. He was just a wonderful person and he got vascular dementia and that is a terrible thing to watch a loved one suffer. Because it is consistent and steady and it is a decline.

And so, I was devastated watching this brilliant man deteriorate before my eyes. And I began to, and I watched how the conventional healthcare system was handling his disease and I was horrified, to be quite honest. They were just ply him full of pharmaceutical after pharmaceutical, many of them working across purposes.

And I thought there must be a better way. And I began my research, uh, to see if there was something I could find maybe. Delay the progression of the disease or something. And what I found was so grim and so depressing that despite billions of dollars allocated to drug research and many brilliant scientists devoting their lives to finding cures for these neurodegenerative diseases, there has been no meaningful progress.

And at the same time, the expected numbers of people who. Going to be getting these neurodegenerative diseases, they’re rising exponentially, and that I found to be quite frightening. And so when I couldn’t find anything very helpful for that specific disease. I broaden my research to include all chronic diseases and to see what we could do to at least postpone the onset.

I’m not, I didn’t really find that there’s anything that can guarantee a total prevention, but I do believe that there are many things that we can do to postpone the onset so that we can live a healthy life for a longer period of time. 

[00:09:28] Derek Berkey: Yeah. You know, something, when, what drawn me to your work is actually what you’re saying, the chronic disease and how it kind of piles up as we get older.

There’s another thinker in this space. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a guy named David Sinclair.

[00:09:45] Emily Gold Mears: Oh yeah, I have. I don’t agree with everything he says, by the way.

[00:09:48] Derek Berkey: Yeah, and that’s just fine. One thing that I would actually like to hear your thoughts on, and if you disagree, I’m totally all ears.

Is he talks about how, as we get older, a lot of these chronic diseases come about because we age. And so, his philosophy is, if we can do things to intentionally counteract the aging process, then a lot of these chronic diseases will also be fought back as well. What are your thoughts on that?

[00:10:16] Emily Gold Mears: Absolutely. David Sinclair, who is brilliant, but I still don’t agree with a lot of things, some of the things that he says despite his brilliance. But he and some other scientists are trying to classify aging as a disease. Which is a really interesting concept that I don’t think people have thought of aging as a disease before, but rather just something which is inevitable.

And I do believe that what he’s saying is true because what we’re finding with chronic disease is that the genetic component is actually quite small, 5 to 10%, depending upon who you believe. And so, that means that the remaining 85 to 90% is lifestyle and environment. And the good news about that is that we can control certainly our lifestyle choices and to an extent our environment by doing many things and changing our lifestyle.

And so, that’s kind of optimistic. That was the corollary to what I found about how to deal with someone with dementia. The good news is, if you haven’t been diagnosed yet, there’s so many lifestyle adjustments that one can and one must make to improve their chances. 

[00:11:34] Derek Berkey: Fantastic. So, just like you’re saying, as chronic disease becomes more prevalent in their society what do you think, like, what are the main risks that you’re seeing or what are, like, the main chronic diseases that people should be aware of, and that they should be prepared for as they continue to age?

[00:11:53] Emily Gold Mears: Well, chronic disease is a rather big umbrella that includes, it actually, you know, it concludes neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune disease. I mean, it’s a huge umbrella. It’s probably what’s gonna kill most of us, you know, so it covers all of them with the exception of acute infections or single gene diseases, things like that.

So, it’s pretty much everything, but there’s so many things we can do. So, I find that optimistic and I, you know, I think hope is a really important thing for people to have.

[00:12:29] Derek Berkey: Definitely. So, you talked about, there are things we can do and those are lifestyle changes and those are environmental changes.

Can you kind of dive into those a little bit more?

[00:12:39] Emily Gold Mears: Yes, there’s so many. My book has 19 chapters. The first 18 chapters are areas to address how you can change your lifestyle, different areas. So a huge one. There’s so many big ones and there’s so many ones that I love to talk about. But, I’m a believer that one should start with their gut.

Because most of us are walking around with at least some level of gut dysbiosis, which is defined as an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. And when you have too much bad bacteria in your gut, it affects everything. And I believe that if you can’t alter that balance and improve it, then you’re not gonna be able to fix anything else because the gut controls everything.

And this is a rather recent discovery. In the last 15 years so much has been discovered about the gut microbiome and they’re learning it’s connected to your brain through your vagus nerve. It impacts everything. So, one should start with their gut and optimize that. And, I also think another big driver of chronic disease are toxins.

We are exposed to 85,000 chemicals are allowed in the U.S. every year. Many of them haven’t been adequately tested for safety. And then, of course, there’s the combination of these chemicals which increase their danger, and they’re everywhere. Literally everywhere. And it’s unrealistic to think that one can eliminate their toxin exposure, but it’s very real realistic to say that one can reduce their toxin exposure.

And they can do that by getting an air filter or a water filter. They can look at what they’re using to clean their house, the products, and look at the chemicals there and switch them for non-toxic alternatives. They can look at their cookware, they’re personal care products. There’s so many of these things that one can do, and I believe that each of these are incremental changes that add up and make a difference.

[00:14:43] Derek Berkey: Definitely. And in your book, you, have a guide of some of those cleaners and the different things that you can look out for, and then some potential replacements as well, is that correct? 

[00:14:54] Emily Gold Mears: That’s my 19th chapter. That’s the 19th chapter is a resource guide. It’s, you know, years of me researching and vetting products that I believe are good, healthy alternatives, non-toxic brands.

And I cover, there’s, you know, a portion for every, each of the 18 chapters.

[00:15:10] Derek Berkey: Well, that’s fantastic. To go back to the microbiome. What are some things that people can do to make sure that they keep their microbiome? And I know that there’s, it’s not just your gut. There’s also microbiome in your mouth and your nose and your hands.

In fact, you know more than half your body is, there’s a lot of little bacterias that are actually your friends and that need to be taken care of. But what are some of the best ways to take care of our little microbiomes? 

[00:15:43] Emily Gold Mears: Well, probably the top three are the foods that you eat and the foods that you don’t eat.

What you choose to put in your mouth has an enormous impact on your health and wellbeing. It just does. And the alter processed foods are not anybody’s friends. They’re just not. Ideally, one should eat a diverse variety for their diet. You know, they say that to eat many different vegetables because that populates your gut with different microbes.

In terms of particular diets, I feel very strongly about not promoting either a vegetarian or a carnivore or any kind of a diet, because I believe that’s quite individual. And some people do great on vegetarian diets. Some people feel horrible on vegetarian diets, and one really has to do their own experimentation and figure out how does their body best respond.

So food is critical to improving your gut. The next thing is stress. Stress affects your gut, it affects your digestion. And if, and we all have stress, stress is inevitable. And it’s unrealistic to think that we can avoid all stress. But what we can do is we can reframe our response to stress and we can do things like, breathing exercises, which are really pretty easy.

I had a hard time with meditation, although I believe in it strongly. I read so many studies that confirmed the validity of it. It’s really beneficial. If you’re someone who can meditate, that’s fantastic. Continue down that path. It was hard for me. I’m kind of high energy and wired, and it’s hard for me to calm myself down, but breathing I found was an easy and effective way to reduce stress.

Box breathing, in through the nose for a count of four, hold for four, out through, for four, and then hold the exhale for four. If you exhale for a longer period of time than your inhale, that dampens your nervous system. And it switches you into parasympathetic nervous system, which is your rest and digest process, and you want to do that.

So, that’s the second thing to improve your gut. And the third is supplements. And I have a big chapter on supplements. And supplements are very complicated. I’m a believer in them. I think that we need them because our soil is so tainted and devoid of minerals and nutrients, and we’re faced with so much stress every day.

But I think one needs to be very prudent about their supplement choices. You can’t just willy nilly take a supplement. Even if someone like David Sinclair recommends it. I’m kind of shocked that all these doctors are recommending and selling supplements because what they’re overlooking is one’s baseline.

And I encourage people to take supplements, but not until they do some initial testing first, because you want to see what your baseline is, because the definition of supplement is to add where you’re deficient. And if you already have enough minerals and nutrients and vitamins and amino acids, you don’t wanna add to that.

It’s not necessary. It’s a waste of money and could be harmful. So, the first step is to test and find out what your profile looks like, and then where you are deficient. Then you wanna add in the supplements, and then when you do that, you have to make sure that you source them properly. Because the supplement industry, I think, is 150 billion dollars and there’s such a low barrier to entry.

Everyone and their brother are making supplements, and what they do is they white label them. Which means that there are 14 conglomerates that own all the supplement brands, all of them. And they buy up these small brands that started with a really good motive and they wanted to produce a pure product. But then when they get bought out, all of a sudden it becomes a financial motivation.

And so they’re not quite as pure. There’s a lot of testing that has gone on with these supplements that have revealed that what’s actually in the capsule or the tablet does not match what’s on the label. So, one has to really source their brands carefully. 

[00:20:00] Derek Berkey: Yeah, definitely. You know, here at Invigor Medical, we take that very, very seriously.

So, any of the vitamins that we sell, the nutraceuticals I don’t know the differentiation between that, between vitamins and nutraceuticals and supplements might be lost in some people, but basically nutraceuticals, for us, it just means that they’re, it’s a higher level of, how can I say?

It’s a higher level of stringency of making sure that those products are of the quality that they say they are. And so, all of the sources that we use, they make sure, like, that they’re like, laser tested to make sure they have the exact amount. They make sure that the, and if we have fish oil, that they don’t go rancid and that they stay cool and that they do all these things to make sure that when they arrive to the patient they’re maximally effective and as bioavailable as possible.

So, it’s fantastic to hear you talk about all this because it’s something that we care about very, very deeply.

[00:20:55] Emily Gold Mears: Well that’s great. Good to know. And don’t get something with too many excipients or binders or fillers to bulk up those capsules. Nobody needs to have those. 

[00:21:04] Derek Berkey: Exactly. Yeah. Well, fantastic.

So, we talked a little bit about environmental factors with trying to remove toxins from your environment, lifestyle factors like, you know, getting good diet, good variety. I’m sure that, like, getting fermented foods in there is probably somewhere in your book as well. I’m a huge fan of fermented foods like saurkraut, kimchi and kombucha, personally.

I really like kombucha. I know a lot of people don’t like the taste of it, but I’m a huge fan of it. What are your take on fermented foods?

[00:21:37] Emily Gold Mears: So, I think there’s a place for fermented foods, but only for some, because if you have SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, you don’t want to eat fermented foods because that’s just gonna add to the bacteria situation.

Derek: Gotcha.

Emily: So, once again, it’s, everything is individualized. I mean, one day, as artificial intelligence advances further and genetics advances further, we’re gonna really be able to adopt personalized medicine and people will be able to do what works best for them, not these broad suggestions. 

[00:22:10] Derek Berkey: Yeah, definitely.

Actually, that’s something I wanted to touch on next, but before we go there, when it comes to stress and reducing stress, there’s two things that we really care about here on the Invigor Medical Podcast. We have what we call the five pillars of health. Which is, basically, making sure you get enough sleep, that you get enough exercise, that you have a good diet, that you have good social interactions.

And then if any of those fail, if you have a, something where, you know, your diet’s failing you or your sleep is failing you, that you can rely on either medications or supplementation of some sort to essentially act as that fifth pillar. But, in reducing stress, I’m sure that sleep and social interactions play a huge role in that, in maintaining the health of your microbiome.

Can you speak to that at all? 

[00:22:55] Emily Gold Mears: Yes. Stress, like I said, is inevitable, and as a matter of fact, there’s a concept which I love. It’s called hormesis, and what that means is exposure to acute, short-acting stress; extremes like cold and hot and exercise, things like that. When that happens is it results in an adaptation.

Which then increases one’s resilience. So, stress is here to stay, but we have to have, little stress is good for us. It’s just the chronic, unrelenting stress that one has to work hard to reframe their response and try and figure out how they can respond better. But in terms of sleep, that’s a really good one.

And I go into, I have a big chapter on testing and tracking, which I love, and one of the devices that I write about, which I love, is this ring that I’m wearing, the aura ring, which tracks your sleep data and it collects quantitative data, individual. What it does that’s so different from all the other devices is for the first two weeks that you wear it, and you pair it with your phone, it won’t give you very much information.

It’s trying to get to know you. It’s trying to figure out your particular baseline, and then after the two weeks when it figures out how you, your physiology, then it starts to give you so much data. It gives you your resting heart rate while you’re sleeping, your breathing rate, your body temperature, your HRV, which is a metric of stress, heart rate variability, how much REM sleep, how much deep sleep.

It gives you so much information and it can tell you because it’s based upon your physiology. If there are dramatic differences, it can indicate that you’re getting sick or that something is awry that needs investigating.

So it is a wonderful device, I think, to gather some useful data. 

[00:24:45] Derek Berkey: And really personalize, get some good personalized, information to you so that way you can make really good changes. That’s fantastic to hear.

I bring up social interactions, because stress and social interactions, I think, play a huge role with each other.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the tachykinins? Are you familiar with that at all?

[00:25:04] Emily Gold Mears: You know, I’ve heard of it. I don’t think that I could probably speak very much about it though. 

[00:25:10] Derek Berkey: Yeah. So tachykinin, it’s, I actually heard about it for the first time from a Huberman Lab podcast, which we admire and really love his work.

But, he talks about it at length where if you’re in social isolation, there’s a lot of things that actually can then lead to chronic stress, chronic diseases and that kind of a thing. And so, literally being able to go and, like, talk to your friends and be able to spend time with loved ones, reduces the amount of that chemical in your body to the point where you can make sure that, you know, you’re maintaining optimal health and making sure that you can help prevent these chronic diseases as much as possible. 

[00:25:51] Emily Gold Mears: Absolutely. I love Andrew Huberman. I mean, he is fantastic. But, along those lines, I read a book about, I think it was 10 years ago. I believe that it’s been re-released, and it was called The Blue Zones, and it was written by a National Geographic journalist or something. And he identified five places throughout the world where they had a particularly high number of people who lived beyond the age of a hundred.

And he wanted to go explore and investigate what were they doing? What was it? And there was only one place in the United States, Loma Linda. And the common thread, there were a few common threads, but one of the most outstanding common threads was their social interaction, their community, and how heavily they relied upon their community.

And in the U.S. we have a real loneliness issue, and it is serious because communities are very important. 

[00:26:45] Derek Berkey: Yeah, definitely. So, to move on to the next little part here. So, we’ve talked about what we can do. The next thing I want to talk about, and actually something you discussed in your book, is the importance of genetics in determining our health outcomes.

We can’t control who our parents were, unfortunately. So, what can we do to modify our lifestyle? And it sounds like there’s some future technologies and some future protocols that people can do to overcome those genetic predispositions. Can you talk about those? 

[00:27:19] Emily Gold Mears: Yes, I can. Because genetics is a fascinating field. It really is. I personally have had my entire genome sequenced which, I later learned, is not that valuable because I have a terabyte of data that’s, you know, I don’t know what to do with, but it’s interesting. I love to find out about the genetic variants that everybody has, but there’s this relatively new field called epigenetics and what that means, it’s above genetics, is the Latin definition of it.

And it’s quite encouraging because so many people are fearful of getting their gene sequence because they think, I don’t wanna find out if I have, you know, if I’m gonna get these diseases. And that’s not really how it works. What you learn are your genetic variants and all that that means, it’s not a foregone conclusion that if you test positive for one of, or many of these genetic variants, it doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get the disease.

It simply means that you have a slightly higher predisposition to get this disease. And the field of epigenetic states that your lifestyle choices either turn on or turn off the expression of these genes, and that is through so many things. Through the food you eat. Food is considered information for your genes.

The food you eat will turn on or off your genes. Supplements that you take will turn on or off your genes. All these things that we do that your sleep, and so that’s great. Your lifestyle choices really are above your genetic variants. So, it doesn’t matter that we can’t choose our parents, and it doesn’t matter that we all have these genetic variants.

What matters is our lifestyle choices. 

[00:29:02] Derek Berkey: I really like how you sum that up. Because so many people, they say, “Oh, it’s my genetics. I have a slow metabolism.” And they are resigned to that fate when really, because of epigenetics, like, we do have a lot of control over the course of our life.

Now, of course there are some limitations to that. I couldn’t, just say overnight, say, “Okay, I want to go play in the NBA.” I might be tall enough, but at this point, you know, I might not have the right set of things to reach the peak level of that arena. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t maintain or reach levels of good health and of wellness that then can last us throughout our life.

[00:29:43] Emily Gold Mears: Exactly. You know, that whole basketball thing, I think you have to have fast twitch muscles versus slow twitch muscles. That’s kind of beyond. That you have to be born with. But that’s such a narrow area. I would think anybody would wanna do whatever they could to be as healthy as they can and live as long as they can.

And we’re learning that we can, we have control over that. 

[00:30:06] Derek Berkey: Yeah, you know, to go back to David Sinclair, the one of my favorite examples that he gave of the epigenetics that I really like is he said, “It’s kind of like a cd, that there’s little divots when, you know, when you have a cd, compact disc, for all the kids that are watching this that don’t know what it is.

I feel old when I say that. But, that has a laser that basically looks at all these little discs or, engraven things on the disc, and when it reads it, it basically goes over the top of it. That’s kind of like, our gene. And so, when that gets scratched up, that’s kind of the epigenetics where it’s, if there’s things that’s are messed up there, then you know, it can affect later on.

And so, making sure that we take care of essentially our genome, is really important. And so, I guess to lead into the next part of the conversation, how do we go about doing that? How can we take care of our genes and take care of ourselves and go about making sure that we maintain their cellular life?

[00:31:06] Emily Gold Mears: Well, it’s good that you brought up cells because aging is all about your cellular health. That’s what it is. When your cells degrade, there’s something called the hayflick limit. The scientist discovered that cells divide, I can’t, I think it was 36 times. And after that, they become kind of zombieish and we wanna excrete those bad cells, and we do that through autophagy.

And one way to encourage autophagy is time-restricted eating or fasting. Although I always like to give a caveat because one needs to be careful. That’s not something that everyone can or should do. Certain women have to be careful because it can really upset their hormonal balance if they fast. So, once again, this requires self experimentation, but you wanna get rid of those bad cells.

And the way that we do this, we take care of ourselves and we turn on and off our genes, is by all these lifestyle choices. You make sure that your oral health is tip top. You can do cold thermogenesis and saunas, and you have the, that’s the hormesis example where you expose yourself to these, this acute, short-lived stress and that has an impact of, you adapt and you become more resilient.

So, all of these lifestyle choices that I write about, they’re gonna improve your cellular health and be the best thing for you to do regarding your genetic variants.

[00:32:32] Derek Berkey: Definitely. One thing I kind of want to get, teased out a little bit more and kind of get your thoughts on is the difference between chronic stress and acute stress and how acute stress can actually be good for us in certain instances.

And then how detrimental chronic stress, I think we’ve touched on that a little bit, but how chronic stress can actually then lead to chronic diseases. 

[00:32:54] Emily Gold Mears: So, what chronic, I mean, we all have stress and, like, I described the acute stress, which is under the guise of hormesis is just when we expose ourself. HIIT, that kind of, at the exercise. High intensity interval training is a type of hormetic stress. Sauna is hormetic stress. Cold plunges are hermetic stress. They’re all these different things that are considered hormetic stresses, and those are good for you.

They’re actually good for you. They, some of them may be unpleasant, the cold, the cold plunges, but they result in positive impacts. The problem is when stress becomes chronic, unrelenting, and it doesn’t stop, it’s like inflammation. It’s comparable to that. We would die if we didn’t have some inflammation when, you know, we cut ourselves and we become inflamed in order to heal the cut, and we need that.

That’s short term. It’s when it becomes chronic that it’s problematic and it’s the driver of all diseases. So, that’s true with stress too, and there are many ways. You know, you have to make sure that your sleep is optimized and your nutrition is optimized.

All of these things are interrelated. As a matter of fact, everything is, that’s the other thing that I learned, that I find fascinating, and I’m concerned that a lot of doctors overlook. Nothing acts alone. Everything is synergetic in our biology, in our bodies. You tweak one thing and it has an impact somewhere else, and that’s often overlooked because doctors and specialists look at things, our body parts as in a silo kind of a way, as opposed to a big broad system.

Which is what it is.

[00:34:38] Derek Berkey: Yeah. You know, just like how you’re saying at the beginning of the episode, you talked about how traditional healthcare, obviously it’s a boon to society to be able to, if you have a, if you have something acute that happens and you need help immediately, you can go and get the help that you need.

But, for, you know, family practice doctors, they have very limited amount of time. They don’t have the time to really get to know who you are as a person. It’s like anything wrong. Okay. In, out done. I’m personally very excited with, for the future of medicine when it comes to like, telemedicine and how things are moving in that direction.

Obviously, here at InVigor Medical, we are a telemedicine clinic. But, what are your thoughts on telemedicine? 

[00:35:21] Emily Gold Mears: I think it’s great, and I think that that was one of the, there were several good things that came out of the pandemic. I mean, it’s important to be able to segue because even though the pandemic is largely passed, there are people in rural areas and so telemedicine is wonderful for them.

It gives them access to care they wouldn’t ordinarily have. So, no, I think that it’s here to stay and it’s a wonderful addition. 

[00:35:47] Derek Berkey: Yeah. Speaking of the pandemic, I know that during that time a lot of people, probably one of the most common search things in, during the pandemic, is how do I boost my immune system?

I know that you have some thoughts on that of like, well, maybe you particularly don’t need to boost your immune system. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

[00:36:05] Emily Gold Mears: I can, you know, there was a lot of discussion about, there was so much discussion about problematic things, you know, that I thought, “Oh no, that people shouldn’t read that.”

But they used the term boost your immune system. I don’t think, you don’t wanna boost it because you might make it overactive. And what we’ve learned through Covid was that’s when cytokine storms happened and that killed some people. You do not want an overactive immune system because that’s a component of autoimmune disease, an overactive immune system.

You don’t want an underactive immune system either. So, what I think it’s best to describe as a modulated immune system because once again, this varies according to the individual. What, you know, one person might need a boost, the other might need a downplay. You just need to modulate your immune system so that it’s operating best for you.

[00:36:56] Derek Berkey: Perfect. Another thing I kind of wanted to get your take on, and maybe you could, if you could explain in very simple terms, what, how would you describe the difference between the adaptive immune system and the innate immune system? 

[00:37:09] Emily Gold Mears: We do have a two-part immune system, the innate and the adaptive. And what happens with the innate immune system is killer cells are released and they attack the invader, whatever the invader may be, and the adaptive kicks in if the innate immune system cannot complete its job. It relies on memory or B cells, antibodies, and that’s the basic difference. But, once again, you want that to be operating at peak efficiency.

[00:37:42] Derek Berkey: And, so, I guess with that difference, that distinction made, what can people do to make sure, I guess part of it is getting testing to figure out, “Okay, are my white blood cells too high? Are they too low?” But let’s say that someone does have a weakened immune system. What are some things that they can do to make sure that that’s up to where they need to go in your experience?

[00:38:06] Emily Gold Mears: So, the first thing I would suggest is to try and figure out why is your immune system weakened? Because that the conventional healthcare system will just look at that, the blood work, and determine you have a weakened immune system and probably give pharmaceuticals. I think a better approach is to find out why is your immune system weakened? And can we improve your immune system by stopping whatever it is that’s weakening it?

I would do that first, because I think that you’ll have greater success with determining the source, and that’s where holistic medicine comes in. And I know conventional medicine is at some odds with that, but logically speaking, I think it makes sense to try and figure out what happened.

You know, our bodies are so remarkable. Our biology is really designed to heal, and when things go way off track, I think the best thing is to figure out what happened, why did it go off track, rather than just covering it up, but try and fixing it at the initial level. 

[00:39:08] Derek Berkey: Definitely, man, this has been, this has been fantastic.

I kind of wanted to shift the conversation now to more of your personal journey. Now having learned all these things and becoming your own health advocate by, you know, in this journey of you becoming a citizen scientist, what are things that now you do differently to make sure that you maintain your health as you continue to age?

[00:39:37] Emily Gold Mears: Well, I do everything differently. I actually came to this far later than I would’ve liked had I keep thinking if only I had known. I mean, I did everything wrong. First of all, I was a runner, a distance runner, which I loved. I mean, I absolutely loved it and I thought it was an okay thing to do, and I later learned it’s really not an okay thing to do.

It’s too intense. Endurance exercise is not good for you. It creates reactive oxidative species. It causes inflammation. I now have two bad knees. I can’t run anymore. It’s not good to exert. You have to move constantly, but not like that. So that was one of the things that I did wrong, that I’ve changed now.

And my nutrition was shockingly poor because I ran every day. I could eat anything and I never gained weight, but I didn’t have an understanding of what I was doing at my cellular level, what I was doing internally. It wasn’t until I began researching, I thought, “Ah! I can’t eat like that anymore.”

Even though I wasn’t putting on weight. I’m doing terrible things. And so I completely altered my nutrition 180 degrees. And part of that was inspired by my father. Cause my father was an athlete also, and he didn’t have a terrible diet, but he liked sugar and he liked gluten and, you know, he didn’t, he was never overweight, but I realized how glucose is such an important component of health and disease.

I just, you know, in the last six years, learned that and came to that. And one of the things I love to do, and I suggest other people do, is you get a doctor to write you a script for a continuous glucose monitor, and you wear it for two weeks, even if you’re not diabetic. It gives you such valuable data.

You can see how you are responding to food because for some people, eating grapes or a carrot or a banana, seemingly benign foods, whole foods, might spike your glucose, and that’s something that you wanna know, because those constant glucose spikes are a driver of disease. And, so, I did everything wrong, but so I completely changed my eating habits.

I changed my sleeping habits. I basically changed everything and I’m kind of old now, so I wish I really had learned all of this so many years ago. I have two sons and I’m constantly saying to them, please learn from my mistakes so that you don’t have to make the same ones.

[00:42:10] Derek Berkey: And they’re probably like, “Mom, we’re not teenagers anymore. Come on.”

[00:42:15] Emily Gold Mears: Right. And we’re not gonna listen to you.

Derek: Right?

Emily: Cause your voice is on the wrong frequency or something like that. So, I mean, they’ll listen a little bit, but I still think, see things that they do that I thought, I wish I knew. I wish someone told me not to do the things I did. But, you know, everyone has to travel their own journey, I guess.

[00:42:33] Derek Berkey: Yep. You know, when it comes to sugar, one of the things that I heard, that I found very, very useful and the way to conceptualize it is, that when our blood glucose spikes our blood cells are actually the ones that are carrying that glucose, and the way that it visualized that really clicked with me is when you make caramel, if you ever make caramel and you burn it at the bottom and it gets really crusty and it’s hard and it’s, you know, like if it shatters and it, you know, it’s difficult to work with.

Essentially what happens is when your, when your blood, red blood cells are carrying too much sugar, it’s almost like they get caramelized and they become almost, if they bump into anything, it can cause damage.

And especially if all of your red blood cells in your body are doing that, it can be very destructive to your body. And so when I heard it that way, I’m like, “Wow, that is a really good way to conceptualize, like, the effect that sugar can have on your body.”

[00:43:29] Emily Gold Mears: And to take your caramel example one step further, there’s something called glycation that happens to your skin if you eat too much sugar. And it’s along the lines of what you just described with the caramel.

[00:43:38] Derek Berkey: Yeah. So, in that regard, there are some medications, pharmaceutical grade medications, and also some supplements that are, that people have talked about. Metformin and Burberine, obviously, David Sinclair talks about those at great length.

What are your thoughts, obviously, personalized, but what are your thoughts, in general of, on those? 

[00:44:01] Emily Gold Mears: I do have thoughts. I know a lot of people love Metformin. A lot of people in the biohacking community, they love Metformin. Which is a drug originally designed for diabetics, but people have found, in the longevity community, they’re thinking that it can extend their longevity.

Now there are, it’s an individual thing and I would never tell anybody or so just anyone to take a medication before they’ve done their research and they’ve figured out their own biochemistry. I think that’s really, critically important. But having said that, one needs to be careful where your Metformin is sourced because a lot of them are retained with heavy metals.

And the other thing that people need to be aware of is it depletes your B vitamins. There’s not a lot of talk about that, but, you know, it may be extending your life in certain regards, but we don’t wanna deplete our B vitamins because that affects everything and those are very critically important.

That’s my 2 cents on Metformin. I don’t take it, but I know a lot of people who do and they love it, and I think people have to make their own choice for that one. Burberine is good. I do take Burberine. Burberine has a lot of good benefits, as do many supplements. I mean, I take a lot of supplements and as I take them, I realize that what I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody knows, is the synergistic effect.

Because I probably take 50 a day. Each one has its purpose, but I can’t, I wonder, “Okay, now are they interacting in a positive or a negative way?” I don’t know how one figures that out. That’s a really hard thing. Artificial intelligence is gonna help us with that as it advances further.

We’re not there yet, and they’re, the whole field of omics is so interesting, but there’s, people have to beware because there’s a lot of charlatans that are selling products. Like, take, you know, we’ll do your genetic profile and tell you exactly what to eat, what supplements to take, where to exercise. And the reality is, for those areas, it hasn’t advanced far enough yet.

It will, I believe it will, and that will be great for everybody. The only one of those areas is pharmacogenomics, which everybody should look into because that has advanced pretty far. It’s validated and it can tell you such important information, like if you have to go into surgery. And you do one of these tests, you can find out if you have some undisclosed allergy to the anesthetic and things like that.

So that one’s really a good one and fairly advanced so that it can be utilized. But, the supplement thing is very complicated, and it has a lot of nuances, although I believe in it and take them.

[00:46:49] Derek Berkey: Yeah, definitely. You know, I was gonna ask, what some of your favorite supplements or ones that you feel like are needing, commonly needed across the population?

Here at Invigor Medical, we offer some of the most, commonly, one of the, some of the most, commonly deficient vitamins across the U.S. populations, which include like vitamin B12, vitamin D, those are the two main ones. And then we also have other vitamin packs, that are nutraceutical grade that we sell as well.

What are your thoughts, or, so let me ask that, this question. What are some of your favorite vitamins and, which ones do you think, in general, the population is probably deficient in? 

[00:47:32] Emily Gold Mears: Well, I wouldn’t wanna say what I think. I mean, everyone, they say that 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium.

And magnesium is really important because it’s responsible for 300 enzymatic reactions. So, most people are deficient in magnesium. Same with vitamin D. B is really important as you mentioned, but here’s a little caveat, and that is, if one has the genetic variant, M. T. H. F. R., which about 30% of the population has, you have to be careful about your B vitamins.

You do not wanna take folic acid, you wanna take folate, the natural form, and you have to take some degree of methylated B vitamins, but once again, even that’s nuanced. What I learned was you don’t wanna, if you have the M. T. H. F. R. genetic variant, it means that you’re not a great methylator and methylation is a very important biological process.

And when I first learned that, years ago, I thought, “Oh! I have to take these methylated B vitamins.” And I started to do that and I test my blood all the time because I wanna know what’s going on. And I found that I, my B vitamins went up too high and then I started researching and found out you don’t wanna over methylate.

And by taking too many B vitamins you can over methylate and that will turn off a tumor suppressing gene. So, this stuff is so nuanced that one needs to be wary. They can’t do what their friend is doing. They have to look and see what’s going on with their own body. 

[00:49:04] Derek Berkey: Yeah, definitely. Well, fantastic. This has been, this has been great.

So, I guess, as a final thought for this podcast, for this episode, is there any advice that you would give to someone that’s now just kind of, like, waking up to the reality of their situation and say, “Man, I really want to become an advocate for my own health.” What are, what is the advice that you’d give them?

[00:49:26] Emily Gold Mears: I would say whatever you do, do not take anything that any healthcare practitioner tells you a hundred percent. Question it. Try and figure out, have I done that before? Because you know how your body reacts better than anybody else.

And I would also tell them incremental stages. Some of this might be overwhelming to people and they might think, I can’t do all of these things, and I’m not suggesting that they should.

But if you try a couple things and you might find that you’ll feel better and that would incentivize you to stack on those couple things and try other ones. Every little incremental step, I believe will be helpful. 

[00:50:04] Derek Berkey: Well, that’s great. Awesome. Well, hey, Emily, this has been an amazing conversation. Where can people find you?

[00:50:11] Emily Gold Mears: Well, I have a website,, and I’m on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, Emily Gold Mears. And my book is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. 

[00:50:23] Derek Berkey: Well that’s great. Awesome. Again, thank you so much. We would love to have you on the show again at some point and, it’s been a wonderful time.

[00:50:30] Emily Gold Mears: Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity.

Derek: Of course.

Podcast Guests

Preventing Chronic Disease with Emily Gold Mears

Emily Gold Mears

Research Analyst, Biohacker

Podcast Hosts

Preventing Chronic Disease with Emily Gold Mears

Derek Berkey


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