What You Eat Can be a Life or Death Choice: Interview with Paul Dituro, Human Performance Expert on How to Make Decisions Under Pressure

Hear how neurotransmitters allow you to make decisions, when your snack choices can lead to life or death...

Body Signals Podcast
Bill Tancer
— Signos
Chief of Data Science
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Reviewed by

Bill Tancer
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

July 24, 2024
August 10, 2021
— Updated:
May 17, 2022
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Table of Contents

Hear how neurotransmitters allow you to make decisions, when your snack choices can lead to life or death consequences, and how to hone your body. Trained in trauma medicine, Paul Dituro brings his deep knowledge of physiology and neuroscience to the podcast. Paul regularly collaborates with professional athletes, academic institutions, and special projects to push the boundaries of what the body and mind can accomplish.

Full Transcript:

Bill Tancer  00:09

Welcome to "Body Signals - Signos Podcast". I'm your host Bill Tancer. This is season one, Episode Three. On today's podcast, we're talking with Paul DiTuro. Paul's an astrophysicist, a former Olympic boxer, and an expert in human performance. Paul or Pauly as we like to call him here at the Signos office is also on our Board of Advisors. On today's discussion, we're going to connect the dots and Pauly's background but briefly delving into the world of astrophysics and boxing, two subjects that you don't hear together in one breath very often. We're then going to leverage Pauly's expertise in human performance and get some tips on weight loss and dealing with food cravings, as well as discuss what Pauly has discovered about himself while using Signos. Let's get right to our conversation.  Welcome, everybody. We're so excited to have Pauly DiTuro here as our third podcast interview. A little bit about Pauly - he is the Founder and Performance Director of Brainstorm Institute at the University of South Carolina, a living lab focused on left bang, brain health and cognitive enhancement. We're going to put a pin in that phrase left of bang because I actually had to Google what that meant. And it led me down a rabbit hole for a good 20-30 minutes. A little bit more about Pauly. He is an astrophysicist. He investigated extrasolar planets and the universe's brightest explosions type one a supernovae. He's a quantum physicist, and he searched for Higgs boson at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He also was a semi professional rugby player, and went twice to the Olympic Trials as a boxer. He served as a Green Beret and special forces as medical Sergeant for 14 years over multiple deployments. And now at Brainstorm, Pauly and his fellow researchers are exploring new frontiers in neuro chemistry and the interplay between the brain and elite level performance. So Pauly, welcome to the show.

Paul DiTuro  02:11

Thank you very much. I appreciate you having me.

Bill Tancer  02:13

I have so many questions. But the first question I have to ask is that you're working now at Brainstorm, you're actually building Brainstorm. And when I asked you to describe some of the things that you were doing, you said that the lab is focused on the left of bang? Can you talk a little bit about that phrase, because I think a lot of our listeners might not be familiar with left of bang.

Paul DiTuro  02:37

Sure, I think in the current state of brain investigation, whether it's research or actual medical treatment, nobody considers the brain until there's been an injury, or some kind of degradation. So in the military, that is usually accompanied by an actual bang, an explosion or a crash. But even in the civilian world, traumatic brain injury that results from car crash or sport collision - that is the literal bang. But you can also think of it as the onset of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or any neuro degenerative disease. We only consider the brain once there's an insult to it. And then we try and quantify how bad are we from whatever baseline you might have had. To me, that's the wrong way to approach any kind of health. You don't try to put the pieces back together, once it's broken, you try and protect it while it's still whole. So the focus of Brainstorm is to identify techniques and tools, potentially interventions that we can coat the brain in an armor. So we can take someone who's healthy, make the most of the neuro chemistry that allows them to make the decisions they have performed at whatever task is important to them, and really accelerate them so they're getting the absolute maximum out of what their brain can do. As well as protect it so should that insult ever occur, it has an armor to protect itself, and we're much better off post injury. So left of bang means an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Bill Tancer  04:23

That's awesome. I love learning new phrases. I mean, one of my goals in life is to learn something from everybody I meet and within just the first sentence of what you sent over, I felt like I learned something and now even more that you've explained to us what left of bang is so that is awesome. I also wanted to thank you for your service. I didn't get a chance to do that before I launched into that question because I was so fascinated with left of bang, but thank you for your service in the Green Berets. I want to take my questions all the way back to the beginning. And one of the things that I love about your background is just how diverse it is, you know, I think in today's society, we find people get into this very narrow niche focus, very myopic focus. And they study one thing, they do one thing. And I think we're losing some of the the Renaissance people in our lives. And to find someone who's an astrophysicist, who boxes who was a Green Beret, who's now really interested in human performance, I wanted to go all the way back and find out how the dots connect with all this. So why astrophysics? How did you arrive at astrophysics from I guess, maybe it was in high school or earlier, you decided to study astrophysics. And then if I could pry a little more, I want to know how that led to where you are today. And if you found that astrophysics in your studies helps you in your current pursuits at all.

Paul DiTuro  05:50

People think of astrophysics as this giant obstacle that it's impossible to comprehend or get around. And the challenge of that, to me was interesting, I've never liked the idea that there's something out there that I can't do, should I put my mind to it. So to me, it was initially just the challenge of overcoming that obstacle. And then it really is a beautiful field. You get to learn the language of the universe - how it was created, how it evolves, where we come from, as a race as a species, and where we're going. And so I think it starts to get at some very deep philosophical questions. And it does it in a rigorous mathematical way. So whether your left brain or right brain, there's something in astrophysics to feed your soul. And it's one of the few frontiers left, for many of the sciences, we're at a point where we've solved a lot, there's always more to do. But at this point, we're dotting eyes and crossing T's, and some fields. Whereas when it comes to the science of the universe, we are newborn baby's just learning how to crawl. And so the idea of doing something new, and exploring a new frontier was always exciting to me.


Bill Tancer  07:11

It's just amazing. So one of the questions I asked there in that litany of questions was: do you believe that your experience studying astrophysics, high speed particle physics, helped you in your current career and how?

Paul DiTuro  07:29

I think the best thing that it afforded me, actually, there's there's two. The first is process processes is, to me is critically important. Think of Lao Tzu's "The Way" and "The Tao". The whole idea of, if I'm going to shoot a bow and arrow at a target, I don't just worry about pulling the string back and letting it go. It's growing a tree and carving a branch and all the hours of practice and the meditation and the concentration that lead up to the point where I pull the arrow back. It's the process to get there, not the discovery itself, or not the event itself, where the beauty and the truth and some of the revelation lies. In entering a field where you had to go very deep in from first principles, and define your own truth, as you're progressing through how the universe is growing and creating itself, I got to learn the importance of process. And that's something I certainly have carried over whether that's in a operating room, or on a military target, or in a boxing ring, or now building a new lab from scratch. To me, the outcome is never something that I focus on. I'm always concerned with the process. And the other side of that has to do with quantum physics. One of the tenants of quantum physics - you can never know particles, speed, and its location with equal precision. One of them will always be a little bit foggy, a little bit nebulous. And to me, that's always been a differentiator between how I approach things and the peers around me. I am able to super-position my vision, where I can see a nebulous goal, a general direction towards which I'm heading. But I keep the intent gaze, the sharp focus on what's in front of me and what I have to do right now, to help get me there. I think a mistake that often gets made - people put too much focus on that far goal. And if you know anything about quantum physics theory, there's wave functions of possibilities. And the more you focus on that far when you start to collapse them. So now you're on a single string anchored to a single point, heading a single direction. And you've lost the potential for all these other possibilities. And so that's something that I've always held dear and really appreciate from learning from incredibly intelligent teachers. In quantum physics, everything is possible. And as long as you keep that distant, unfocused gaze, and keep your attention fixed on what you need to do in the moment, all those possibilities remain open to you. And that's the lesson I think that carries very powerful throughout no matter what you doing.

Bill Tancer  10:34

Very well said. Now, you see, you've got this pursuit. It really does require, a lot more of your brain than a lot of us are using. And at the same time, or I guess, in close proximity, you're now into boxing and rugby, which probably two sports that the brain might be at highest risk. So explain the juxtaposition of those two interests, the astrophysics and physics on one side, and boxing and rugby on the other.

Paul DiTuro  11:03

I grew up in a pretty tough neighborhood. And if you asked me what I was good at, when I was little, honestly, was getting beat up. I was very good at it. I could get beat up forever. You know, having stamina and toughness is great. But at some point, I felt I needed to learn some skills to retaliate, just to survive. But similar to astrophysics, the challenge of it was really what appealed to me. I was a basketball player, is my chosen sport when I was little, right up until the 1996 Olympics. And if you remember, there's a gymnast named Kerri Strug, who needed to complete a ball and get a certain score in order for the US to win gold. And on her first attempt, she broke her ankle. And she got up and hobbled back. And on a broken ankle, she ran down and executed, perfect flip and landed on one leg. And to me, that was the most incredible thing I've ever seen that someone could overcome pain and embarrassment and whatever else and the pressures of an entire country, and grit through it just to have one moment of perfection. That was remarkably inspiring to me. And so I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to touch that magic. And I made a quick list of all the sports I thought, "what can I do to be part of the Olympics in the next four years?" And I wasn't good enough basketball player. And I certainly wasn't talented in any other sport. I was pretty good at getting beat up, so I figured if I can learn to hit back, maybe there's a chance. I actually walked into a gym in Philadelphia, the boxing capital of the world. And I said, "hey, I want to fight in the Olympics." And you know, what you would expect, everyone laughed at me and said "alright, get in the ring." And the guy broke my nose and broke a rib. Two weeks later, I came back. I was healed up enough. "Hey, I still want to fight in the Olympics." They kept putting me in with all their best guys and they kept beating me up. Finally after a few months of this, the trainer said, "alright, we got to do something, you're going to go to the hospital." So they started teaching me to fight. And luckily enough, I got to meet a man named Dennis Cronin, who took me under his wing and he said "you got to stop going over there and getting beat up." He took me to his basement and every day we would just train in his basement. He taught me how to move and throw punches, avoid punches. Again, a process. I was trying to get to the end, I was only focused on "I want to be in the Olympics." But Dennis was the right teacher for me, "hey, you need to learn how to tie your shoes and step left and step right." So he brought me down to kindergarten level and built me up from there. It was amazing once after training with Dennis, the first time I got in the ring, I didn't get hit. And then for my next 300 fights, nobody hit me and I very quickly became nationally ranked and got to find some amazing opponents and really got to learn a lot about myself. So I think boxing is a beautiful sport in that you are stripped bare, there's no team to rely on. There's no real equipment to control or manipulate. It's whatever you have inside you whatever he has inside him, and may the best man win. And that was always very appealing to me. The immediacy of the moment in some sports. If you're playing right field, you can let your mind wander a little bit. If you're on the basketball team either there's timeouts, there's breaks. You can let other players handle some of the situation but in a boxing ring. You're under threat of physical harm at all times. So your mind can only be in one place. And I really enjoyed that intimacy and the intensity of the moment.

Bill Tancer  15:04

That's an amazing story. I could hear the theme song from rocky playing in the background. I mean, that took place in Philadelphia too, right? And the gym that you're describing, being in the basement with your coach sounds like the movie "Rocky". That's amazing. I am trying to connect the dots still. If we fast forward to today, your focus is in human performance. So it sounds like there's a clear connection there between boxing and probably playing rugby and human performance. Why do you think you landed there as as your focus today?

Paul DiTuro  15:38

I was incredibly fortunate to have all these different experiences. As a rugby player, I got to see how rugby players trained. And it was different than any other training I've ever done. As a boxer, I got to train differently. As a research scientist doing particle physics, people don't think of that as performance, but because of grueling hours and lack of sleep, and heavy stress under critical decisions, I got to see this very wide spectrum. And I got to see how some of the best in the world - whether that's Nobel Prize winning physicists or professional, elite athletes, or Olympians - I got to see the full spectrum of how people who had become the best in the world at what they did, I got to see the process for getting there. And once I was in the military that really came through in a powerful way. Because in the military, there's a lot of life or death decisions. Everything is critical, especially in some of the more elite units, everything is on fire all the time, it's always an emergency. And so you have to continually be at your best. And what really stood out to me, no matter, academics or sports, it seemed that less and less of it had to do with your body. And more and more of it had to do with your brain's ability to control your body. So whether that's your senses, ability to intake information, the brain's ability to sort that information and make critical decisions, your body's ability to handle the stress and the hormones and the different endorphins that are building up. And then your nervous system to be able to control you. And so the skills that you had, were constantly available to you. Sure, we've all been in situations where we use the term "whiting out" where the stress or the moment becomes too much and you become paralyzed, you're frozen. And something that you were good at, suddenly you don't have the skills you don't have the dexterity. Your decision making is too slow. To me, that was always the motif that pulled through. Those who performed really well, were those who could quiet their mind and control it in those situations. So I really wanted to understand that. And as a physicist, to me, it's not psychology. That's neuro chemistry, or that's neuro transmission, that's which proteins are being translated. And what RNA is, is actually transcribing differently lagging wagons. What's going on inside your body at a cellular level that causes you to go one way or another. I delve very heavily into neuroscience and wanting to understand that field in a way that I could understand the different performance outcomes I was seeking, and those around me were seeking.

Bill Tancer  18:36

That's great. I went through your bio, I forgot to mention one thing. And that is that you're an advisor to us here at Signos. In fact, you're one of the first advisors that we signed on. Just so you know, the audience for our show is mostly people that are trying to lose weight. So if I could, I'd love to make a connection between human performance and some advice that you would give somebody who's just starting their weight loss journey.

Paul DiTuro  19:07

Absolutely. I think an important part to start the conversation is it doesn't matter if your average Joe or Jane on the street or an astronaut and you're the best in the world at what you do. The human brain works the same for us all. We all have the same four major transmitters - adenosine, serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine. So that interplay of those four neurotransmitters are really what allow you to make decisions or not make decisions. So when you are craving a late night snack, that's a dopamine imbalance and you're trying to correct that with potato chips or chocolate bar. When you know that you should be getting up to work out, but you'd rather stay and that that's a lack of acetylcholine. So, you know, as a physicist, I think of situations at that barebone cellular level. That's a difficult thing - I can't tell you what your acetylcholine and dopamine levels are without some very invasive blood testing. So it was interesting to me to look at what markers can I look at? What's something to easily find, something I can monitor and track that I know influences those systems? And I think for a long time, the performance community has looked at heart rate, heart rate variability. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but I think potentially is the wrong thing to look at. Heart rate variability has so many different inputs, and there's so many different ways to perturb that system. So absolutely, it's nice to vary your heart rate. But it's difficult to say what you've done today or over the past couple of days that's causing that variation. So to me the one biomarker, the one thing I can look at very easily and quickly, that tells me exactly what's going on is glucose. And glucose is such an important regulator because it bridges the physical and the mental world. It's the primary fuel source to make your body move around. It's also the primary fuel source for your brain to think. And it also then drives how your hormones are being produced, the mood that you're in, whether you're calm and collected or stressed and agitated. It also tells your body how it should be behaving, should I be burning through energy right now to allow you to complete a task? Should I be storing energy as fat because I'm in danger of something in the future? Should I be building muscle to get stronger and bigger, all those signals start with glucose. So it's very unique in the body in that I can take a blood prick and from that simple sample, I can know very quickly how your body is doing two to three minutes ago, versus normal blood test - it kind of tells how's your body been for the past month? Blood is very compensatory. When I take a blood sample, and I look at all these different biomarkers, what I'm really saying is, how has the body adjusted to a problem? It doesn't necessarily hide the problem. It shows me how the body has dealt with a problem. Because your body is an incredible machine, and it's going to find a way to survive. Glucose is one of those markers that when I eat something sugary, immediately I see the effect of it. If I eat something not so sugary, immediately, I see a lesser effect. So it's very acute in the response. And then the behaviors that I exhibit based on that response are also more deterministic, easier to track. So for someone who's interested in understanding their weights loss. First, the most important thing is to understand the why. Why am I gaining weight? Or why am I not able to lose weight? And as I said, it's primarily those four neurotransmitters, and one of those is out of whack or potentially all four. And getting those to adjust and be at the right level - think of it like a stereo system - your base is too low and your treble's too high. If we can equalize everything, your body will start to hum at a better level. How your body creates fat, how it stores, what should the energy as fat is, as you eat glucose and that blood sugar starts to rise, your body detects a potential danger. Glucose is inflammatory, it attacks your system at a certain level. So your body wants to prevent that. And it does that by releasing insulin. Insulin stores, whatever glucose is in the bloodstream as a fat cell so it brings it in stores have this fat to protect the body from a high sugar level. I think this is a really important message that I think gets lost when people start talking about how glucose affects the body. You don't become obese as the primary outcome. Being obese is protecting you from something worse. If your blood sugar gets too high, and you're no longer able to use insulin to buffer it, you eventually die. It causes a number of different, what's called neuropathies, where the nervous system starts to shut down, you lose control and feeling of your body, your brain gets inflamed. And so to prevent all these horrible consequences, your body picks a lesser evil and makes you more obese. So, fat is not the outcome, it's a symptom that something worse could have happened that your body is protecting you from. Understanding that now becomes a little more simple to understand, well how do I lose this. And for a long time, everyone has known a simple "well, if I eat less calories, and I burn more calories, I will lose weight." And that's not wrong, but it's also not necessarily true. Really, what I want to do is have a better regulation of my glucose and insulin. If my insulin is powerful, and can take the extra sugar in my body and not store it as fat. Now with what's called insulin sensitivity, I burn the energy that I'm using more quickly, I better control my appetite, and better control my fat storage, but I control my hormone production, everything about my life gets better. If I can't do that, all the activity in the world is not going to prevent some of these symptoms from happening. So while it's important to control your calories, it's important to exercise so you're burning the food that you do eat, more important is that you understand where your glucose is hurtful to you and where it is helpful. And that's why to me, it's such a powerful tool. As an athlete, I get to prune very specifically. If I want to be at a certain energy level, I know how much sugar I need to have in my body to be there. If I want to lose weight as a fighter, I want to lose weight that maintains muscle. I know there's a certain glucose level I need to maintain to do that. If I go below it, I'll start losing muscle. If I go above it, I start storing fat. So a good understanding of how the body systems respond is critical.

Bill Tancer  27:06

That's some great insight. I love that you mentioned those neurotransmitters. One that stuck out to me also was adenosine which is the sleep pressure hormone, right?

Paul DiTuro  27:16

Adenosine is what your body makes. So ATP is the energy and ATP is adenosine triphosphate. And as you make energy, adenosine is the byproduct it's kind of like exhaust. So as your brain fills up with exhaust, you become sleepy, and requires you to fall asleep. So the brain can wash itself through both spinal fluid comes at night. And through your glymphatic pathways, you pull all that waste and debris out. The reason that people drink caffeine, why caffeine is useful for some people - chemically, caffeine is the same shape as adenosine. So inside your brain, you have these receptor sites, they detect how much adenosine you have. If I drink caffeine, it puts a block on that receptor site. So I'm no longer detecting how much adenosine I make.

Bill Tancer  28:10

I mentioned adenosine and thanks for the explanation about what adenosine is. I mentioned it because for me, and I'm going to ask you this question too, about what surprised you the most when you use Signos. But for me, one of the big surprises was sleep, and the interplay between sleep and glucose levels. And what I found was that if I had a very poor night's sleep, I could eat a bowl of oatmeal, and I would have a skyrocketing glucose reading. If I had a great night's sleep, I had much less of an impact on my glucose. And I started to realize how important sleep and things like adenosine actually were to my battle of keeping my glucose level throughout the day. And in reading about it and sleep pressure, one of the pieces of advice they seem to get from a number of different sources was you really need to let that sleep pressure build until you really have to go to sleep. And you know, counter intuitively, when I wasn't getting enough sleep, I try and go to sleep earlier and earlier and earlier, when I wasn't tired. It led to a failed effort where when I let adenosine build to the point - and what I do is just read to absolute exhaustion kind of like working out to exhaustion - I would read to exhaustion when I absolutely had to go to sleep. And then I was able to sleep a good night's sleep and as a result, keep my blood glucose level the next day. So I'm so glad you mentioned that. There's so many other little interplays between those neurotransmitters and others in terms of keeping our glucose level. I'm curious, as an advisor, one of the things we did was give you a CGM and the Signos app to play around with. I wonder what some of your discoveries were when you monitored your own glucose levels.

Paul DiTuro  30:00

Yeah, there's a couple of different things to talk about there because at your request, I've done a couple of different things with my eating behavior. One, I normally in a pretty deep state of ketosis. I've had a lot of injury over my life and being ketogenic has helped me maintain a certain lack of inflammation, that's helped me be in less pain than I would like to be. So a big surprise for me, because I have been in ketosis, I only had measured my ketones for a long time. I've never really bothered to look at glucose and I'd always assumed that it would just be low. What I found out by wearing the Signos system was I maintained a very solid number. So I stayed at between 97 and 103, which is like over a deciliter. But that is a number where if I could ask for the perfect glucose reading, for what I do, it would be that. So it was remarkable to me to see that. When you're in a deep state of ketosis, where you're only eating fats, you're not even honestly eating much protein, the body finds ways to make glucose, in a cycle called gluconeogenesis. So from some different amino acids like glycine, your liver will turn different proteins and break them down and create its own glucose. And I was maintaining the exact level that I would have asked for, you know, as a fighter, trying to maintain muscle while losing all unnecessary body weight. And I was able to maintain that for several days in a row, which was pretty remarkable to me to see. Then I was asked, well, could you do you mind stepping out of the state of ketosis for a while.

Bill Tancer  32:06

And just because your background as a boxer, I want to make it really clear that it wasn't me that made that request.

Paul DiTuro  32:11

Right, someone. And as a scientist, I was curious. I think a beautiful thing about Signos is the individualization of it. Because we are all different, we process different foods in different ways. And so your oatmeal that really does great for you, as far as fueling, keep you, low and steady throughout the day, for me drives an immediate spike. So something about the way my body processes that particular carbohydrate pursuers is different. I think that's a remarkable thing about the Signos system is you get to understand what foods work for you and what foods don't work for you. So it's a lot more individualized and customizable than, people can say, well just eat low carb, but carbohydrate is in almost everything. So broccoli and string beans, maybe there's a difference in the reaction between one or the other. And you don't know until you actually get to see for yourself. So for me, that was a really powerful part of the Signos system, was just getting to explore the world of food, and finding out what truly was powerful to fuel me in the way that I wanted, and what was detrimental. And what I was thrilled to find out - I love raspberries, raspberries are my favorite food. But as somebody tries to maintain ketosis, they were kind of off limits. If I were to eat them, it would be a handful. But I found out I have almost zero reaction. There's almost no glucose spike when I eat raspberries. So suddenly, my world became brighter because now I can eat strawberries or raspberries whenever I want. So things like that were incredibly interesting to learn as a scientist, but also exciting as a human being to know, I didn't have to deny myself a food that I've been denying myself for a long time.

Bill Tancer  32:31

Yeah, that's a great point. I have to mention, I'm on team raspberry as well. I think that little piece of knowledge that you got filtered to myself and I decided to give myself a test too. There's a great article or a research paper in Cell, I think it was 2015, that demonstrated that people have very different glycemic responses to foods. That particular study focused in on microbiome as one of the potential reasons of why I might eat oatmeal and not have a response and you might have a huge response. And I think that's one of the most powerful things about monitoring your glucose response to food is that as you mentioned earlier, calorie and calorie out? Yes, technically it works, is it the most efficient way to lose weight? Probably not. If we can understand what affects our body, what actually causes that glucose to spike, and then a lot of that glucose getting stored as adipose or fat tissue, then that really helps us make the right decisions. And I want to thank you for that raspberry example. Because I have a sweet tooth. And I will go through actually a carton of raspberries without any spike whatsoever. So I think I have a similar glycemic response that you do. For the listeners out there, try raspberries, but look at your glucose graph, because you may not have the same response that we do. One thing that you brought up, you gave a presentation to our group. It's been quite a while now, this was a game changer for me. As you talked about food order, and my wife, she brings these croissants home from the farmers market. And I eat them A - because I love croissants and B - because she brought them home for me from the farmers market and it would not be right for me not to eat them. At least that's the way I justify it. Always spike me more than oatmeal, of course. You presented a slide where you said if you're gonna eat something that's got some carbs in it, why don't you try having some dark greens, maybe with a vinegar, like a balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar. Wait 10 minutes and then eat your food that has carbs. I did that. And it completely eliminated the spike from the croissant. Have you tried that? Or did you try that yourself when you were wearing the CGM?

Paul DiTuro  36:36

I did. And yeah, that's I had always had this assumption that this is how the process would work. But it was wonderful to actually be able to test it because it's not something I've ever been able to test in a laboratory setting before. I'm a big believer in things like spinach and broccoli. And Popeye was right. There's a steroid in Spinach called ecdystrone. And it's 1000 times more powerful than testosterone. But you have to eat a ton of spinach to get enough. But spinach has always been a big part of how I eat. And so just by eating all of my spinach first, I'm at a point where I don't want carbohydrates anymore. But if I did, I could eat a ton of spinach and then still enjoy the carbohydrate without getting a glucose spike. And the science is still emerging on this. The assumption from the community is you have several different glucose pathways in your intestines. So there's reasons why having multiple carbohydrate fuel sources has been big in the sporting community. The idea is if I have glucose and sucrose and fructose, they can go along those different intestinal pathways, and I can potentially absorb more energy at once. Which if I'm a racer or runner, that might matter to me. To me, I always thought, well, what's the opposite? How can I limit the amount of glucose uptake through the intestine. And my assumption is, that's what's happening if you eat foods and vegetable, and then protein, and then carbohydrate order, your body is too busy digesting some of the other things. Vegetables have what's called cellulose, it's a fibrous material that could potentially block some of those pathways, so less glucose is being absorbed in your body. Secondly, you're turning on different pathways so some of the burning gets done. But there's a product in your product called PP AR, and there's gamma and delta and different other ones. Those strings of peptides as they pull different energy sources in they start to go down a single channel. So if I'm busy digesting vegetables and protein, I have less attention focused on creating energy that glucose. So absolutely, if I can go vegetables, protein, then carbohydrate, you have a significantly reduced spike in your blood glucose level.

Bill Tancer  39:19

Yeah, it is absolutely amazing. And after you gave us that suggestion, I saw it work. I went and did some some searches and clinical research and actually found a study I believe was a Cornell study, fascinating little study where they fed people sandwich. So it's two pieces of bread and I think there were some vegetables in the sandwich and then some protein - it might have been turkey, chicken, I'm not sure. And they watched their blood glucose. Then they disassemble the sandwich and they had people eat the protein, eat the vegetables on the sandwich and then finally, eat the bread and overwhelmingly less of a glycemic response for the sample. So there's actually research out there. I'll link to that study in the show notes. But it was little nuggets like that just make me so excited about this technology because there's so much to discover. And glycemic response - it seems like it's really a multifactorial issue. It's not just about the food you eat, it's about exercise that you can do to minimize a spike. It's about things like we mentioned around sleep. You mentioned earlier about quieting the mind, even mindfulness, there's been some connection with, practicing meditation, breathing exercises, help with glycemic response, all of that combined. There's a huge frontier of discoveries out there that not only science can make, but individuals can make using this technology to find out what works best for them.

Paul DiTuro  40:44

I think that's what's beautiful about a technology like this is there are, in all seriousness, probably a few people that are willing to be as disciplined as I am. I don't consider food a pleasure anymore, it is just like I go to the gas station and fuel my car. That's all I consider food at this point is a fuel. So if that's me, leaning over the sink, pouring tuna into my mouth, and I do that 10 times a week. I'm okay with that. You know, I just want the calories with a macro to get to my next event. I think it's probably rare. I don't think you can recommend that to a lot of people. So short of that, what's my next step? Right? I I'm going to eat a bread stick, you can stop me from eating bread. I love it, I'm emotionally attached to it, I'm not going to give that up. Alright, fair enough. If that's the case, let's understand your glycemic response to it. If a better night of sleep means that you have better insulin regulation, so you're able to handle that slice of bread better. Well, now you have a motivation to get a good night's sleep. Hey, it's okay for me to eat this stick of bread but only if I had a good night's sleep the night before. Because Signos has allowed me understand if I sleep poorly needed, I'm doing a lot of damage to myself. If I get a good night's sleep, and I eat some vegetables, then I can still have that bread stick and it's not going to hurt my body the way that it could have. So I think in the world of possibilities, I'm going to do certain behaviors and you can't stop me. But let's be deliberate and help you coach those behaviors in a way that they're not damaging to your body, or at least not as damaging as it could be.

Bill Tancer  42:29

Well, Pauly, we've traveled from the stars and supernovae to the boxing rink, to you standing over your sink force feeding yourself tuna. It's been quite a journey, I want to thank you so much for being a guest on our podcast. Where can our listeners find you if they want to follow you?

Paul DiTuro  42:51

It's an interesting question that I sometimes get asked, and my response is always that you cannot.

Bill Tancer  43:00

I think maybe we'll leave it at that.

Paul DiTuro  43:02

So for people who are interested in the Brainstorm Institute, at the University of South Carolina, we're going to be doing some really cutting edge investigation of what the brain really is capable of at its absolute limits. But more to follow on that. In the meantime, I encourage people to explore for themselves. I think it's always great to originate rather than imitate. And I think we live in a conditioned society right now where a lot of people want to see what someone else has done and copy their success, rather than find their own path. And, to me, the real power of Signos, and the concept behind this technology, what works for you is not going to work for me. So I need to take my own journey, understand my own body, so I can make the right choices for myself. And I think that's a great way to live life. Of course, I want to know what other people are doing. And I want to be part of their glory and learn from their mistakes and from their triumphs. But I think it's also pretty important that we each walk our own path and get to discover our own trees. So the reason I don't let anyone follow me is I don't want them to try and copy what I'm doing. I want them to pass down their own trail, and maybe I'll get to learn something from them.

Bill Tancer  44:29

Awesome Pauly couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Paul DiTuro  44:34

Thank you very much.

Bill Tancer  44:39

Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed today's conversation, please like and subscribe to our podcast. If you'd like to follow us you can find us on Instagram @Signoshealth. If you'd like to join Signos, you can visit our website at signos.com and sign up to request access. Till next time.

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About the author

Bill Tancer is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a co-founder and the chief data scientist at Signos and the creator and host of Signos’ podcast, Body Signals.

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