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Alex Interviews Joe Cohen from Selfhacked

Contributor Bio

Alex Tarnava is the CEO of Drink HRW, and the primary inventor of the open-cup hydrogen tablets. Alex runs the clinical outreach program for our company, working with over a dozen universities coordinating research. Alex has also published research of his own. You can find it on his ResearchGate. Additionally, he has been interviewed for many prominent publications, such as Entrepreneur and Forbes, and on many popular Podcasts. You can find all of his interviews and articles on his media page.

Alex Interviews Joe Cohen from Selfhacked

To "Self-Decode" and learn more about your genetic health conditions click here and use code: DRINKHRW to receive 10% off.

Alex Tarnava: Hello, everyone. As you know, I'm Alex Tarnava, CEO of Drink HRW, and today I have Joe Cohen from SelfHacked and SelfDecode on with me. You've probably been reading my last couple week's articles about DNA analysis and SelfDecode and testing. I've found that it's super interesting and useful stuff that I got done. I've been meaning to do it for a very long time. So, I wanted to have Joe on so we could talk a bit more about their DNA test and their program. Their support is what's more important. I just wanted to start off by having Joe tell a little bit about his background in SelfHacked, because SelfHacked is a website that I have used for years, and it was something that was really needed on the internet, with a lot of the bad information, and they have a really high standard at SelfHacked. So, Joe, I believe you went kind of down this journey, kind of the same way I did to fix some of your own health problems. That's how you got into SelfHacked?

Joe Cohen: Yeah, definitely. So, when I was growing up I had chronic health issues, and I basically had a myriad of symptoms, but no serious diagnosable disease. So, I was caught between this kind of medical black hole where I didn't have cancer, I didn't have heart disease, I didn't have diabetes, or I didn't have any really fixed big kind of issue. But there were things like IBS or other kinds of what they would call idiopathic issues that could not be addressed. There's nothing you can do about them anyway. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: But there were a myriad of these kinds of issues, like inflammation, joint pain, brain fog, motivation issues, fatigue, anxiety, depression, whatever, gut problems, sleep problems, insomnia. You name it, there was all these issues, and doctors weren't able to help me. So, I did go to the doctors, and I just saw that the way they were looking at it was kind of like a checklist approach. Do you fit into a disease or not? If you don't fit into the disease, we can't help you. If you do fit into the disease, then here's this drug. All right? That approach clearly was not working for me, and so I kind of realized that I needed to go in a personalized approach. Right?

Joe Cohen: Obviously, I realized the reason why I called the blog... Initially when I started it, I actually bought the domain in 2011 when I was still having issues, and I didn't start it because I had issues, so I didn't have the... I had the idea, like that would be cool if I started this blog, and then I just didn't have the wherewithal to do it. But the reason that I named it SelfHacked is I realized that what was working for me was not necessarily the same thing that would work for other people. Right? We're all different, and I found it really interesting that what did work for other people, that could be enlightening, it could be interesting, but it's not necessarily what would work for me. I was kind of fed up with the people who basically were like, "This diet is going to cure every disease." Right? Because it worked for them, and I do believe that it did work for them. Right? If you do X, Y and Z, it'll cure everything. You're just not going to have any issues anymore.

Alex Tarnava: Absolutely. I mean, there's this very clear trajectory in why you got into SelfDecode then, because in medicine we're now moving so much into more personalized medicine that's come full circle. Everything we've learned on statistical analysis over the whole population, we're now figuring out, well, that might work in 40% of people, 50% of people, 20% of people, but as we get to know our genetics better, we know that this person might respond better to this or that.

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: So, it sounds like you were kind of aware of that even a lot of years ago, and now as we're learning more about genetics and personal protocols, that it was just such a clear fit for you to transition-

Joe Cohen: Yeah. It was a natural progression. Right? So, in the beginning it was like... Blogs were really big in 2011 and 2010. I was reading all of them, all these health blogs, and then I don't want to name any names or whatever, but it was like, "I did this, and I got cured, and this is what everyone has to do." We still see it. Every day, there's a new diet that pops up. There's a new something that pops up, and it's like, even though I was big into lectins, and I still am, I think it wasn't one of my issues. You'll never hear me saying lectins-

Alex Tarnava: Are bad for you.

Joe Cohen: ... in food are a problem for everyone. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Right.

Joe Cohen: There are people who do that. There's a lot of people. Right?

Alex Tarnava: 100%, and we talk to them.

Joe Cohen: Same thing with anything, right? Mycotoxins, this, that. You'll hear, "Oh, this is the devil, and if you just stop this, then it's going to cure..." Every disease is caused by this one thing. Right? So, I had an allergic reaction to that whole ideology. I was just like, this is not true because I've tried this out, and none of this stuff is working for me. Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: I've seen that in your blog, and it's something I know we talked about in the past, and I couldn't agree with more, is it was one of the reasons I started my blog and got my voice out a little bit more, is I was just so fed up with the black-and-white-ism in health science and communication. Right?

Joe Cohen: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: You're a hardcore skeptic, and absolutely nothing works until an approved drug. Right? There's a clear cutoff. It's either pseudoscience or proven, when in reality, science is never proven. You know?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: You just fail to disprove something, and there's degrees of evidence as it advances, but then you get a lot of the other people that are just so excitable about anything that has even a weak hypothesis with no studies [crosstalk 00:06:43]

Joe Cohen: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, it was also a reaction to that. It was kind of like there were a lot of these skeptic websites out, the blogs out in 2010, 2011 that I was also reading, and it was basically like everything in the world is bullshit except if the FDA approves it. Right? I was just like, that's factually not the case with me. Right? I can take something, and I know for a fact I feel better on it. You're whole theory of this is not even possible to work is not true for me. Right? It's like, even things like marijuana, they're just like, "Well, it's not FDA-approved. There's really lack of evidence." Now, the thing is that even if... The term proven is tricky, because what is the bar of evidence that they're setting? They're basically taking this threshold that is somewhat random, and they're saying, "If it doesn't pass this, then it's nothing." It's a zero or a one. Either it's FDA-approved and it's legit, or it's not FDA-approved, and it's garbage.

Alex Tarnava: That's just the pseudoscience.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. Right.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. I've had this conversation with some of these skeptics, and I say, "Listen. We have a complete philosophical difference because I believe if something has promising evidence and a high safety threshold, that people should have the right to see if it works for them."

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: So long as it's safe. Safety is important, and I believe that it should have some evidence, even some evidence in humans. Right? Because we're close to mice, but we're still a lot different. Right?

Joe Cohen: 100%. Something like hydrogen really is... You can have a hit article from whatever site, skeptic site on it. The fact is it does something, and there is benefits to it. The only question is, is it going to benefit your condition? How much is it going to benefit your condition? I mean, that's pretty much it. Right? The side effect profile is very low.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:09:03] administration method-

Joe Cohen: Huh?

Alex Tarnava: ... is going to be the best. And for your condition, which administration method is going to be the best.

Joe Cohen: Sure. Yeah. Sure. Right.

Alex Tarnava: There has been some good basic science showing that drinking water verse inhalation verse various methods-

Joe Cohen: 100%.

Alex Tarnava: ... activates different genes.

Joe Cohen: 100%. Same thing with marijuana. I mean, you can take edibles. It's going to have a completely different effect, and it's probably more different than hydrogen, but the basic idea is that different routes of administration will have different effects, and that's true for... It's massive. With marijuana, it turns out to be massive. You could smoke it, and it's a completely different effect than if you take a gummy or something. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Exactly. I mean, to know this, that's where I see clear distinction. Something with hydrogen is adjuvant therapy. Right? It's something that if it helps you along with other things you're doing, fantastic. Right? But right now, we have to play around with dosages. Some of the articles that I told you I'm working on with various professors, there's definitely a dose-dependent response, but it's different for different conditions. So, we don't have exact doses-

Joe Cohen: Of course.

Alex Tarnava: ... that work here or there. We still need so much more information. The research is getting better. There are some larger ones, even ones that we have. One of our trials under peer review right now with 60 participants, it's getting better. Another one of ours ongoing in the US is 70 participants for 52 on Parkinson's disease, and others, and of 100 post-stroke recovery. So, they're getting bigger trials, and one of the important things is, at least from our side, anyways, is we're working with nine public universities right now, and we don't have a gag order with any of them. So, they publish results whether it works or it doesn't, and in most cases we're only donating product. Right? Some cases, we donate a little bit extra for markers, but when we donate a few thousand dollars for extra markers, sure, it's something, but not many tenured professors are going to ruin their careers-

Joe Cohen: Right, right. Right, right. For sure.

Alex Tarnava: ... over a few thousand that's not going to their pocket. It's going to test this cytokine on top of what their grant covers.

Joe Cohen: For sure.

Alex Tarnava: So, I think that's a clear distinction. With hydrogen research, the vast majority has been publicly-funded. Right? Which is a big reason you see the results all over the map, because every public team has a different interest. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: They want to research what's interesting to them, not replicate what someone else is doing.

Joe Cohen: Exactly, and that kind of gets into the problem, that as long as it's not a drug, there's a limit in how much money you can make from it, and that means there's a limit in how much money you could spend doing the trials, and that means that it's never going to pass the FDA's muster. It's just never. I don't think there's any supplement, with the exception of omega-3, and that one actually is patentable. Right? They did something, whatever, they patented it, whatever, but basically, there is no supplement, there's no drug even that's not patentable. I mean, unless it was patentable, they did a lot of studies, and now the government is funding some more studies, or something like that.

Alex Tarnava: That's how it all... To get into doing phase threes, but then you have to do your phase threes on every indication. Right?

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Right, right. Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:12:53] you need billions of dollars.

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Right.

Alex Tarnava: Then it's not accessible to the majority of the population because it's just-

Joe Cohen: It's very expensive.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:13:00] huge industry that you need to do it. I mean, this stuff is already really tricky to make. To go down the drug route and spend billions of dollars, it would just be an even greater burden to the healthcare industry.

Joe Cohen: Exactly. So, the thing is with all this natural stuff is that it's cheap, number one, relatively cheap compared to drugs, of course. Drugs could be thousands of dollars a month. It could be way more, right? So, it could be 10,000, a hundred... There really is no... It depends on what the drug, but-

Alex Tarnava: A million dollars. You know?

Joe Cohen: Right. I mean, there's no limit. If it's a rare condition and there's one drug for it, they can just charge one five million dollars a year. It's crazy. But in any case, when you're dealing with natural products that are safe, and you know that they have benefits, the only question is, are they going to benefit this condition? But even more so, it's about... Almost all chronic disease is something that you can track in terms of your symptoms and your labs. Right? So, if it's heart disease, you can track your cholesterol as a marker. You can track your triglycerides. You can track... There's other markers that you can track, CRP, that have to do with risk for cardiovascular disease. There's a bunch of these, right?

Joe Cohen: So, for every chronic disease, there generally is biomarkers. There's generally symptoms that you can track, and they generally don't kill you overnight. Right? You don't die from diabetes overnight. It's over a long period of time. There's complications, and maybe after a long time you can die, whatever. But the point is that it's something that you can try out, and autoimmune diseases too. You try it out, and you see if it works, if it doesn't work. Thank you, but it just didn't work for me. Right? You want to measure that. I always try to get people to measure it with their biomarkers, as well as their symptoms. Right?

Joe Cohen: So, just over-relying on symptoms could be a problem, because you're not necessarily going to detect that something under the hood is improving. Right? You don't necessarily detect that your CRP is going down or your LDL is going down, or any number of these cardiovascular markers are improving, and even autoimmune disease. Your thyroid antibodies could go down, but you might not experience any improvement subjectively. There are certain conditions that you do notice improvement rapidly. Right? Yeah. That's an ideal scenario.

Joe Cohen: For me, I was in a pre-disease state. I didn't have any of the conditions, but I did notice changes in my symptoms, and I also followed my lab markers, and the genetics was a huge game changer as well, because that allowed me to know which experiments to try that were more likely to succeed. Right? So, basically, that's where experiments come... Basically, I initially called the website SelfHacked, and that was basically like, okay, what are my... I basically have to just do a lot of experiments, and these low-harm experiments, and see what works.

Joe Cohen: Then I realized that with genetics, you can do a lot better experiments, because the truth is that every experiment that you do, it could really be done in a hundred different ways. Right? If you do an experiment on hydrogen, there's actually a hundred different hydrogen experiments that you can do, and you know that. Right? There's different dosages. There's different ways of taking it, and the combination of those permutations could be-

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:16:53] you do it.

Joe Cohen: Huh?

Alex Tarnava: Right? Even time of the day that we do it, and-

Joe Cohen: Exactly, time of day, everything.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:16:55] and our circadian rhythm and knowing that one-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... thing might work a lot better at this time of day than-

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Dosage, routes of administration, time of day, and then also, even kind of season, or when you're taking it. For example, let's say maybe it didn't work while you were exercising, after you're... I'm just giving random examples, not anything based in reality. Right? Maybe before exercising, maybe before you went into the sun, maybe after the sun. Right? The fact is that there's all these complications that if you were to do a clinical study on each of these variations, you would have to do... It would cost a trillion dollars, right? So, we're going to do a study on diabetes at this time of the day with this age group of people, with this gender and this ethnicity, and this genetic profile, and this time... It's just unlimited permutations, and so what you've proven is that in that group of people, in the way that you gave it, it either works or doesn't work.

Alex Tarnava: This gets really, really interesting because this is the big flaw of systematic reviews and the analyses that are used [crosstalk 00:18:18]

Joe Cohen: Oh, yeah. For sure.

Alex Tarnava: ... that are using people with different backgrounds-

Joe Cohen: Different-

Alex Tarnava: ... lifestyles, everything, and-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... [crosstalk 00:18:22] inconclusive, and that big systematic review meta-analysis just came out on omega-3 earlier this year, early 2019, saying that there may be slight benefits, but overall not effective. Well, they had massive studies included in review that were people who were eating a Mediterranean diet.

Joe Cohen: Well, not only people who were eating a Mediterranean diet. There's a lot of studies that also show that the reason why, let's say, a lot of fish oil studies come out as negative is because they're people who are already taking statins and a bunch of other blood thinners and drugs, and it's like, well, if you're actually taking all these heart medications, how much additional benefit will omega-3s have? Right?

Alex Tarnava: That's the same thing. If you're already eating... If your ratios of omega-3, 6, 9 are already great from your diet, how much extra will taking a supplement impact-

Joe Cohen: Exactly. How do you know for a fact-

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:19:15] study of 8,000 people into this meta-analysis that showed it was no benefit, but they're already eating a Mediterranean diet. How is that relevant to, say, someone eating a Western diet with a poor ratio?

Joe Cohen: Right. Exactly. Exactly. Right? So, I know for a fact that if I consume fish oil, my heart rate will go down, and I also know... I've tried it. I've tried large dosages of fish oil, and my heart rate went down, and then I've also tried... Also, my blood got thinner. Right? These things are also demonstrated in studies, and we know that these things can reduce heart disease risk, yet we don't see necessarily that every study shows positive... Now, a lot of them do. Right? But it's pretty proven at this stage. I think there's a very high level of evidence that omega-3s are important for cardiovascular health.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: Right?

Alex Tarnava: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I think the systematic review just tackled only supplementation of the-

Joe Cohen: Oh, instead of also... Right, and then there's the other thing, is that if you're already eating fish four times a week, then the question is, how much additional benefits? If you're taking heart disease medication, you're eating fish four times a week, there's all these combinations that make it crazy to actually-

Alex Tarnava: Do the systematic review, because there was different dosages. People had different doctors-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... and it was actually hilarious, just, again, the binary reporting. All the skeptics said, "Systematic review shows omega-3 is useless," but then all the industry people, "Systematic review proves omega-3s have benefits."

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Right. It's true. You'll read on the news something else every other day. Right? It's like, "Oh, it doesn't work. It does work." It's just crazy.

Alex Tarnava: They're reporting on the same study that was inconclusive-

Joe Cohen: Oh, interesting.

Alex Tarnava: ... then refused to produce evidence, but then the authors put in the caveats that we included all these studies. However, there were studies where people were on a Mediterranean diet. It appears that the studies were more effective when people were lacking it in their diet. Right? More studies are needed. That's how scientists speak, all that stuff, and the skeptics go, "Complete bogus. Don't waste your money," but then-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... [crosstalk 00:21:35] say, "Proven miracle."

Joe Cohen: Right. I was having a conversation with someone a few weeks ago about low-fat diets, whether low-fat diets have any benefit. Right? The person gave evidence that said they actually just came out with this review. They studied 50,000 people, and it was actually quite a lot of evidence that it helps for, I think it was cardiovascular or... It was a specific condition for postmenopausal women, postmenopausal women over the age of 50 or whatever. The point is that you had all these narrow conditions, and then on top of that, the biggest issue is that these people were following this diet, were not eating... They were comparing it to the standard American diet. Right?

Joe Cohen: So, you have all these crazy, confounding variables that it almost makes it impossible. In some way you could say studies don't even mean anything because of all these limitations. Right? But they do when you know the proper amount of weight to put on them. Right? You have to view these things as a collective. You're not viewing one study. You're kind of looking at the bigger picture and saying, "Okay. Fish oil, there are a lot of clinical trials that it works. It has a lot of mechanisms whereby it would work. Let me try it out and see," and a lot of people will notice benefits. Right? So, then it doesn't matter what the studies at that point, whether you have 10 trials that come out against it. You got benefit from it. That's what's important. Right? Did it improve your biomarkers? Right? Then the other thing is... So, I have a company, Lab Test Analyzer, and then we have SelfHacked, and then-

Alex Tarnava: I wanted to make a point before we go on there. Supplements have this slammed against them, things like omega-3, even things like hydrogen, but if a pharmaceutical gets approved by the FDA, they're something like five to seven times more likely for their own funded study the show a benefit than when public teams try and replicate the results, but if public teams find it doesn't work, they don't get recalled. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: Only if they're showing to be harmful do they get recalled. Right? So, pharmaceutical companies can put out a drug that may be, again... It maybe has a genetic component. Maybe 10% of people respond, 20%, but they know this because they're sitting on their confidential data.

Joe Cohen: Right. That's true.

Alex Tarnava: They're still prescribing it, even if a public team failed to replicate it.

Joe Cohen: The thing is that sometimes it could be nefarious or cynical, for nefarious or cynical reasons, and sometimes it could just be that it worked on a very specific group of people that they get. They do their due diligence. Get these people so that it has the highest likelihood of succeeding, and let's manipulate the statistics in this way to show maximum benefit. So, there's all these things that are going around, but... So, I'm sure it does help in a very specific scenario. Right? I think when the FDA is approving it, it generally means that it does work in a specific scenario. The only question is, what are the side effects that we know about? What are the side effects we don't know about, and then how clinically-

Alex Tarnava: I'm not anti-pharma. I was just bringing it up that they're-

Joe Cohen: Right, right, right. Exactly. Yeah. No. I understand.

Alex Tarnava: There's a lot of drugs that save people's lives. There's a lot of drugs that are great. There are problems in the pharmaceutical industry, just like there are problems in the supplement industry. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: There's a lot that needs to be fixed. There's a lot that needs to be fixed throughout science. It's just a point that I found interesting, is that skeptics will say, "Oh, well, you can't just cherry pick your studies," but that's often what happens for drugs, because most studies or what was presented to the FDA, it gets approval, and now public teams are like, "Well, we didn't find that this works." Why isn't that being cherry-picked? It's arbitrary, right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: It's arbitrary based on a bureaucratic designation, in my opinion, not based on the overwhelming science, but then we have the caveats like, did those public researchers... How well did they know the drug? They don't have all the basic science data that whatever pharmaceutical company has in their archives that knows that you should dose it at 7:00 a.m. in the morning, at this time, or-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... [inaudible 00:26:04] clock to this exact-

Joe Cohen: Exactly. So, that's really the line of thinking that I had. It was like, okay, first we want to know, what is all the available science on the topic? Right? That's very important to know. Right? You have to have that data. It's beneficial. It's helpful. That's why you're trying to do studies. It's helpful. The more studies you have on it, the better it is, even though it's small, whatever it is. But they are helpful when it's talking... You have to always see things as pieces of the puzzle, and the more studies you have, the more pieces that you can put together. Right?

Joe Cohen: Then you have the biomarker equation, where you're testing and seeing, does this work on you, and that's a very big part of the equation and the genetic equation, is narrowing down the options of things that... trying out things that will work for you. I have a lot of examples of how this worked for me, but one example is I noticed with marijuana that there was a gene that would likely do well with TCH in terms of reducing my symptoms. Now, I had tried marijuana, and I didn't like being wrecked the next day or all these symptoms. But the fact that I knew that this had a high likelihood of counteracting some core fundamental issues, I started to think a little more differently about it.

Joe Cohen: I said, "How else can I take marijuana that might not give me the same impacts?" So, for example, edibles don't make me wrecked the next day, and the other thing is that through my genetics, I also was able to figure out that a lot of the problems were originating from inflammatory gut issues. So, that actually is much more... As you digest the THC, it's going through your system. It's interacting directly with the gut. That actually has a much bigger impact than if you're smoking it, let's say. Right? So, ingesting it, I found out through my genetics that it's probably starting out from the gut, inflammatory issues from the gut, so ingesting marijuana is a better approach for me.

Joe Cohen: The other thing is that it's not wrecking me, and that it is something that is good for my issues. Then the other thing is the timing is... I don't just take it randomly. Right? If I'm eating the food that I shouldn't be eating, based on my sensitivities, I will take it, and that will reduce the sensitivities. So, the timing, all these things were really based on understanding my genetics, understanding a lot of outside information. Let's say we can talk about just generic content, and also tracking my biomarkers, which I noticed improved. Right?

Joe Cohen: So, it's really looking at the whole picture, and there's many other examples. For me, other people, for... What's amazing about genetics is it's not something you read and then it's over. It's like, it's this continuing information source where there's so much information, and there's so much uncertainty, just like there's so much uncertainty with what exactly hydrogen water can benefit. Right? Can it benefit Parkinson's? Can it benefit Alzheimer's? What exactly can it do? Right? We know it has benefits. Genetics is similar. Right? We know that there's a ton of stuff that is influenced strongly by your genetics. That's a fact. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Oh, yeah. That's a really good point, right? Because hydrogen has shown to work in all these models, and in pilot trials, in basic science and animal science, but a lot of molecules will work for a hundred different things in animal studies, but maybe only work for one or two in humans, even things like... We know creatine works for athletic performance and muscle gain, but all the craze in the '90s and early 2000s was... There was a theory that it could cure a lot of neurological diseases, from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's to MS, and they've all been stopped dead because it just doesn't work, except maybe Huntington's. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: Creatine might be beneficial for Huntington's, but that doesn't mean that creatine doesn't work. It still clearly works for exercise performance, and it still potentially works for sarcopenia in older age adults.

Joe Cohen: There's an unlimited number of studies. That's what it comes down to. There's an unlimited number of studies that you'd have to do, because everyone is unique. Everyone's different. Everyone has a different ethnicity. We all have a different gender. Just ethnicity, gender, where you live, what toxins are you exposed to, what time of the day, what's this, what's that? There's too many factors to really come out with... You want to look at all the clinical-

Alex Tarnava: Not everyone should do it all the time [crosstalk 00:31:16]

Joe Cohen: Exactly. You want to look at all the data that's out there, but you have to measure your own biomarkers. You got to look at your own genes. Through that approach, you can have much better results than if you don't do any of that. Right? So, if you don't do any kind of self-experimentation, and you're just like, well, I'm just going to listen to my doctor, you're going to have much worse results for that, especially if it's not something that's very clearly cataloged. Cardiovascular disease is something that they've put so much work into. At this stage, obviously you still want to exercise. Right? But the fact is that it's kind of like a disease that they've figured out, and you could see that, because whenever they figure out a disease, it stops rising... The death rate from it starts going down. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: So, heart disease has been going down over time.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: Right? Whereas for a while, cancer was going up. They obviously didn't figure that out. Right? Now it's starting to go down, actually, and you're starting to see better cancer drugs out there.

Alex Tarnava: And better survival rates and lower side effects.

Joe Cohen: And better... Yeah. So, for a long time it was really just, okay, you'll extend your life for two months, and you'll have a lot of side effects. Is that really worth it? Now they're actually coming out with... It depends on the cancer, right? You can't even talk about cancer in general. It's like, what cancer do you have? What stage is it at? What's this? What's that? There's all these different factors. So, really taking an integrated approach, if you actually just look at any one, when we're talking about any one of the things that we're talking about, what's the clinical evidence of a supplement or an exercise routine, none of it is clinically-proven. Right? But there is clinical evidence.

Joe Cohen: There's a difference between clinical evidence and clinically-proven. Right? So, you take that piece of the puzzle. With all the biomarker stuff, you can't prove that if you have... Generally speaking, you can't prove... Unless it's blood sugar or LDL cholesterol, it's very hard to prove that if you have this marker that's correlated with this disease, that you're at higher risk, actually, if that is going to increase your risk, but it is a fact. Right? It's part of the puzzle. Same thing with genetics. It's very hard to prove that this gene is causing exactly this problem. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Exactly.

Joe Cohen: It's just clues.

Alex Tarnava: I was going to say, there's two really important things I want to bring up from what you're talking about, because you're saying a lot of fantastic stuff. One, exercise. I mean, exercise isn't clinically-proven as a drug or a treatment for any disease, but it's recommended for almost every disease because it's healthier, but even then you'll get guys, and I like Aubrey quite a bit, and he's been a big inspiration, but he'll bring up that exercise and healthy living statistically is only going to extend your lifespan a couple years. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: It's not a miracle. You know what I mean?

Joe Cohen: You know, I might disagree with that a bit, but yeah, I've heard him say that, and-

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:34:22] statistical populations, and it's varying degrees. Again, it's a whole [crosstalk 00:34:27]

Joe Cohen: Let's say five years, though. I mean, the idea is that he's right. The things is I don't think these things are necessarily going to increase your lifespan by that much. It's really increasing your life quality.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:34:38] Yeah. It'll increase your health span, I think, better.

Joe Cohen: Your health span. Right. So, for me, even if I live to the same age, I don't care. Right? I'm way healthier and more productive.

Alex Tarnava: And you feel better. You're happier. Right?

Joe Cohen: Yeah. You're just better. You're happier. You can live more of your life. I mean, it's just a different... I don't care if live to the same age. Even if I live shorter, it would be worth it. People tell me, "Oh, you're eating a lot of cholesterol, whatever, saturated fat, too much protein," whatever. Look, I can disagree with them on certain things, but even if it was a fact, that it was not good, saturated fat, whatever, the point is, okay, I'll live two years less, but at least I'll be healthier. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. You know what? I want to bring up a point. This is the other thing, before I forget. When I started looking more into the DNA analysis, and did it, and tried to look into what the skepticism, the criticism on it is, is all the critics are saying, "Oh, we don't know enough."

Joe Cohen: That's true. It is true.

Alex Tarnava: Of course, that's true.

Joe Cohen: It's the same with the supplements. We don't know enough. It's the same with everything. You don't know enough.

Alex Tarnava: You know what? That made me kind of waffle. I'd been wanting to do it out of curiosity for a couple years, but I'm like, it's going to get better, going to get better.

Joe Cohen: It will. That's also true.

Alex Tarnava: Sure. Right?

Joe Cohen: Huh?

Alex Tarnava: I wish I'd done it sooner, because as I was reading the reports on your site and things, there were so many things that I suspected about myself for years from my own self-experimenting and knowledge, but still had doubts and would still fight against it when I'd read certain publications and science and read evidence, even with diet. I know the diets I respond the best to, and my personalized report was bang on in what I perform and feel the best on, but every time I read new studies on a new diet, doing everything, I give it a try and maybe end up feeling like shit and putting on weight or feeling crappy. I did that because of self-experimentation, when really I should've been like, every time I go on a high-fat diet, I feel stupid, and I can't-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: It doesn't work for me. Why am I trying this again? So, it was so many cool things that myself, from a self-experimenter I had a hunch that I needed to do things these ways, but was still swayed so easily from evidence. Now I'm getting these reports, and it's talking about this gene I have or that gene I have, and why I'm probably more likely to do this, and that is 100% what I've noticed my whole life, but I've been fighting against it because I didn't have proper evidence.

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: I think, oh, it's placebo. You know what I mean? So, I'll try something else, and it's like every time, again and again, I'm like, man, why is it like this? This isn't what the data points to, and that's the beauty of what we're learning about genetic variations and differences, is the data becomes almost irrelevant at a personal level because everyone responds different. Some drugs maybe have a 10% responder rate, another [inaudible 00:37:58] 40%, 50%. Maybe you respond, and you have no side effects [inaudible 00:38:05] to one thing, and then you don't respond and have side effects from your makeup. So, it's such a cool area of science. Thanks for the reminder. I need to download that ApoE4 report [crosstalk 00:38:21]

Joe Cohen: Oh, yeah. That's going to be really good.

Alex Tarnava: I found out that I carry one allele of the ApoE4 gene, and the only study in humans that identified responder versus nonresponder from genetic analysis on hydrogen, and 73, 52 weeks on mild cognitive impairment, found that it was significant improvement in people with at least one ApoE4 allele.

Joe Cohen: That's really interesting.

Alex Tarnava: I know that hydrogen wakes me up. It works better than caffeine for me. Right?

Joe Cohen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alex Tarnava: Wake me up. I get tingling through my head, and that could be a reason why, because it seems maybe at best, one in five to 10 people have a similar head rush experience with hydrogen that I do.

Joe Cohen: So, that's probably part of the equation. Right? I think the really important thing is that when we're hearing these things, there is some truth to it. Right? These things are... We don't know enough about them. It's not proven. Right? Okay, true. But that's why it's important to know how to use these things, know how to understand them. These things are pieces. They're clues, and the point, it's like a game. You want to put a bunch of clues together to come up with an answer. People make a mistake that they find a clue, and they're like, oh, my gosh, this is my whole life, or whatever. Right? MTHFR, now I understand why I have every issue in the book, because of... It's a clue. Treat it as a clue, and you learn more clues as you go on, and if it accords with your experience, then yeah, it's probably true. Right?

Alex Tarnava: It's a clue, but these things are never written in stone. I forget, there's that paradox with ApoE4. What is it? There's one country in the world that has a high [crosstalk 00:40:15]

Joe Cohen: Nigerian Paradox.

Alex Tarnava: Nigerian Paradox, yeah.

Joe Cohen: Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: But they have super low rates of Alzheimer's.

Joe Cohen: Exactly, right? So, they have some other effects that are counteracting the ApoE4.

Alex Tarnava: Could be [crosstalk 00:40:27] Their diet could be at play.

Joe Cohen: Sure. Exactly. So, when it comes to genetics, it really is quite a... It's a big jungle, but it is super... If you spend the time, and you read through stuff, it's really just like reading through your body and understanding, oh, this makes sense. When I exercise, this is what happens. So, I like to say there's a couple ways to use genetics. Right? Number one is if you already have a disease. You know you have an issue, or let's say just an issue, a health issue, a disease, whatever. You look at the genes, and they can tell you which genes are contributing to that issue.

Joe Cohen: Again, it's not going to be the full picture necessarily, but they're telling you which ones contribute. That's number one. So, already know you have it. Where genes are not good is they're not good at diagnosing. Right? If you have two ApoE4 alleles, you cannot get diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I don't care what you have. There is no way that you're going to get diagnosed with Alzheimer's, just given your genes. Unless you have a genetic mutation, they generally cannot diagnose you with any disorder based on your genes. They can try to do-

Alex Tarnava: Your genes are very important, but what's more important is how they're expressing themselves.

Joe Cohen: Exactly, and also how your diet and lifestyle is, and what you're doing, how healthy you are.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:41:55] influences how they express themselves. Right?

Joe Cohen: Yeah, definitely.

Alex Tarnava: Knowing your genes helps you make better decisions to impact your epigenetics and make sure that you're giving yourself the best chance to avoid problems that might be correlated or caused by carrying this gene under the wrong situation. Right? Not [crosstalk 00:42:20]

Joe Cohen: Right. So, there's three big scenarios in how you can use your genetics. You touched on one of them. One of them is you already have an issue, and then you're finding out which of the genes are contributing to that issue. Right? That can help you, number one, understand your condition better, and number two, it can help you potentially learn what kind of therapies or lifestyle or whatever would fit best with that genetic profile. So, that's number one. Number two is where you don't have a diagnosable disease. Right? You just have a precondition. You maybe have some brain fog. You cannot get diagnosed with a disease, so the doctors can't help you.

Joe Cohen: So, sometimes you might just have had a bad doctor, and maybe go to a better doctor, and they'll diagnose you better, but most of the time, you're in this pre-disease state where you don't... I didn't have Crohn's or anything like that, but I had this pre-disease... It was an inflammatory gut syndrome with other inflammation issues, but essentially, that's the personalized approach where you don't know what you have, and so you start digging and doing some detective work and seeing, okay, I have a lot more genes here that seem to be gut-related and inflammation-related in the gut, and this, that, and the other. So, that's kind of like when you don't have any kind of issue, you're trying to solve some kind of diagnosis where doctors can't help you. Right? So, that can help in that regard, and then the other thing is where... Let me see. What's the third one? The third one is... There is the-

Alex Tarnava: I was going to suggest wanting to be the best that you can be.

Joe Cohen: Well, no. So, yeah. The third one... I mean, that's part... Right. What you touched on was where... Let's say you're completely healthy. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: You know that you had a parent that died from heart disease at the age of 40. Right? That's a preventative approach, where you don't have a disease, you don't have a pre-disease, you don't have anything that you're trying to figure out, but you know that you're at risk for something coming down the pike, or you might not. Maybe it was a parent, maybe a grandparent, whatever, or you had some kind of clinical history with regard to something. The point is... Or let's say even if you didn't have anything, maybe you're just very proactive and you say, "I want to live until a hundred," or something like that, you want to be as healthy as possible, and so you're using it... Number one, it could be a motivating factor. Now you understand why you need to exercise more, but number two-

Alex Tarnava: Or why you're not putting on muscle as easily-

Joe Cohen: Yeah, sure. Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... but your cardio is off the charts. You know?

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Right.

Alex Tarnava: I see so many friends, and another cool thing in my report that just confirmed everything I knew about my athletic abilities and what I'm prone to be able to do and do, and I stopped fighting my body a while ago because I realized that this is what my body wants to do, but even to this day, in our mid 30s, friends of mine who are relatively high-level athletes, they fight their genetics. They're trying to improve in areas that their body just doesn't want to improve rather than focusing on what their gifts are and maximizing their genetic gifts. So, again, it was just some... I'm not going to call it eyeopening stuff, but stuff saying, "I wish that I had this confirmation 10 years ago or 15 years ago, because I might've struggled with my own self less." Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: This stuff now to me is irrefutably true because all my personal experience lines up to it, and it's what my genetic report said, but I spent a lot of years thinking, how do I fight this or that, or-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... what do I take, what supplement? What new workout can I do to fight this tendency of my body, and it's just [crosstalk 00:46:38]

Joe Cohen: So, what you're saying is you're using it as a guide to how your body works and how to play to your strengths and against your weaknesses. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yep.

Joe Cohen: That's a very important use case. Right? That's kind of like, even if you have no issues, it's just interesting, like okay, that's interesting. I just don't do well with caffeine before I go to bed. I kind of knew it. I wasn't sure. Maybe it was a placebo. Then this told me that it's also... It kind of accords to my experience. That's really interesting.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:47:11] that said that that's bogus [crosstalk 00:47:12]

Joe Cohen: Right, and then you read this study.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:47:14] feeling like crap because I was confused by it.

Joe Cohen: You're like, it can't be. The study said it wasn't true. I'm going to drink coffee right before bed, or whatever it is. Right? I don't know if there's any study, but yeah, in general, you'll have... I've had that as well. It's like, no, I have placebo. The study said this, and whatever. Then you see some in your genetic... You're like, screw this study. This is just... It's not me.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:47:38] that I've done with diet after diet that I've tried when I read studies. I'm like, huh, maybe this works for me, and I just feel like this, feel like shit. I'm like, I always know that I respond best to a relatively high protein with moderate carbs and fat.

Joe Cohen: Well, just to give you an example, though, I didn't look at your genes or anything, but if you have an ApoE4 allele, you're not going to be processing saturated fat as well.

Alex Tarnava: Well, and I told you, every time I've gone on a high-fat diet, I feel like shit.

Joe Cohen: So, now this is a perfect example [crosstalk 00:48:18] a clue here. You can have 10 other genes that also are related to this, but I'm just saying, we know for a fact that you have one of the ApoE4 alleles.

Alex Tarnava: [inaudible 00:48:30] seem to react well to a high-fat diet. [inaudible 00:48:32] tendency to react well to a high-carbohydrate diet. Right?

Joe Cohen: Interesting.

Alex Tarnava: I found even when I was training six to eight hours a day, and paleo was all the rage back then, my one coach in martial arts wanted me on a paleo diet and to cut out all carbs. Well, my performance went to shit. I couldn't eat enough meat, and I was actually driving in Quebec and buying horse meat from the grocery stores there for it being leaner and better and everything. But I woke up crying in the middle of the night one time craving pancakes, and I don't even like pancakes, but I had a dream that I was eating pancakes. So, it's interesting because the second I just added one jumbo yam or a couple cups of rice a day to my diet, along with the high-end meat and vegetables, I felt great. But if I try and double those carbs, I feel like shit. So, I always knew this sweet zone where I performed and felt best, but any time a new fad diet that had clinical trials and evidence behind it came out, I gave it a try and put myself through suffering and feeling like crap for X amount-

Joe Cohen: Exactly. So, you're exactly this kind of use case that we're talking about where you noticed something through your experiments. Your genetics just verified it. Now, sometimes it could be conflicting. Right? But in this case, it verified it, and it allowed you to understand your body better, and if anything, it allowed you to be more comfortable with your own view. Now, if it, let's say, disagreed, you could say, "Let me do an experiment here or whatever. Let me try this out," or whatever. If it is agreeing with your experience, game over. That's it. It's not like... I see your experience as always more important than genetics at this stage. Right? So, you should generally go with your gut. But the fact is that you're still-

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:50:41] disagree with my experience, or even reality. I mean, I got an A grade that said that I'd have virtually no risk of obesity, but I damaged my [crosstalk 00:50:54]

Joe Cohen: The thing is that it also depends on... The most accurate stuff is actually found in the reports that we have, and those reports, because those are very carefully curated.

Alex Tarnava: Got it.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. Some of the other stuff are less carefully curated, and it's just kind of something that you scan through and see, whatever, but it's less... With genetics, the stuff that you want to take more seriously is going to be carefully curated.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. I would say probably it was 70% or 80% of the stuff that... It was probably four to one that I'm like, wow, that lines up exactly with my life experiences, and one in five I'm like, no, that doesn't line up. But there are shortcomings, but-

Joe Cohen: We're creating a version 2.0 that's going to be way more accurate for these things. So, when it comes to genetics, it's really something that is going to get better over time.

Alex Tarnava: I've been reading some of those, their personalized genetic blogs that talks about it. That's been a cool feature that I've liked quite a bit.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. The personalized genetics blog is super interesting, where you have a topic, and it's on a certain gene. You could filter out by which genes you might have a problem with, and then you could see, hey, I actually do have this susceptibility, read the blog, and you see what you can do about that that's also good for the underlying issue.

Alex Tarnava: I mean, it's stuff that I really push. I've got this blog series on my website called Small Victories. Probably, one would've just went out... We're recording this in December, but I have one about New Year's resolutions coming out for the New Year, and I view it as paramount in this life to just constantly be aiming for small improvements. You never-

Joe Cohen: 100%.

Alex Tarnava: ... win the war on your health by one choice on one day, one herculean effort. It's a-

Joe Cohen: Sometimes that is the case, but you're right. I'm the same as you.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah, but for the most part, it's eating a hundred calories less a day, walking a little bit more, working out a bit more, making a healthy choice here or there, learning things about your genetics and making small changes to maximize your own health, but not just your mind, I mean your body. Probably the first thing, other than diets and exercise, and this is before I'd ever heard the word biohack or anything like that, is I pursued hypnotherapy about eight years ago just to go here and talk to a therapist and try and figure out hangups that I had in my own mind, to work through my mind. I look at this DNA testing as the way to do that same thing with my body, because now I have this information. I see what's written in my code. Right?

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: Make these changes and adjustments.

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Perfectly said.

Alex Tarnava: So, I wanted to ask you... One of the things that's so impressing to me in what you guys have done with SelfHacked and on the team on SelfDecode is you've gotten a lot of experts, and you don't see it a lot in alternative health sites, but you guys have this really good peer view process. It's vetted by a couple reviewers. It's so important because we all have so many biases. It's something I do. I send my work to at least two reviewers every time I post a blog on a scientific topic, but not really anyone does it. Right?

Joe Cohen: Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: But you guys have done a stand-up job. So, what about you led you to say, "This is important. We have to do this right. We need to cut through the bullshit"? I know we touched on that a little bit at the start, but we didn't go into as much how important your guys's internal peer review is.

Joe Cohen: Number one is we make sure that everyone who's writing content is a real scientist, rather than... Nobody's a scientist who's running content on WebMD. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yep.

Joe Cohen: You might think, oh, WebMD, it's MDs writing it. No. Actually, it's people who have no idea what they're talking about, and what they're doing is they're taking information from a database, and then someone reviews them, like a doctor. They spend 15 minutes reviewing, probably, whatever, and then they're like, "Yeah, this is good," and it's... Also, they're recycling it from other sites. So, you'll notice that if you read WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and other sites, they're all the same. Right? You read one, you read them all. Right?

Alex Tarnava: You don't realize often how bad they are until you have a mastery of a subject. Until you see what people are writing, something that you-

Joe Cohen: That's true.

Alex Tarnava: ... are an expert at, you don't-

Joe Cohen: That's true.

Alex Tarnava: ... realize how bad the content out there is, and then it makes you suspicious of all content.

Joe Cohen: Exactly. Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: If this is this bad, and I have a mastery on this subject, what is everything else that I've trusted?

Joe Cohen: So, you have mastery on hydrogen water, and the truth is that... Yeah. I mean, I'm sure you know more than the person writing our hydrogen post, let's say. Right? But not everyone has a Ph.D. in the subject they're writing in. Right? Of course not.

Alex Tarnava: Like I told you, I'm writing this, by invitation, this book chapter for [inaudible 00:56:44] USA, for a textbook on functional foods and nutraceuticals to extend the human health span, and I thought there was about 65 human publications on hydrogen. After spending five, six months talking to professors all over the world, asking them to search in their own language, there's [inaudible 00:57:05] human publications I'd never read, and none of these researchers have the full list. Nobody has a full list [crosstalk 00:57:15]

Joe Cohen: Right, and then what happens if you type in hydrogen water, you're going to get WebMD says this is a scam, whatever, or I don't know. I didn't even do it, but I'm just saying...

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. No, and you get these articles that say there's no studies in humans, or there's no [crosstalk 00:57:36]

Joe Cohen: Right. There's no studies in humans.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 00:57:36] for any publication, and ones that I'm-

Joe Cohen: And you're just like, that's blatantly false.

Alex Tarnava: Yes, exactly. That's blatantly false. I mean, even ones under review, there's three publications on our tablet under peer review right now. You know?

Joe Cohen: Yeah. There was this big health website. I don't want to name it, but I know a fair amount about NAC, and when I read that article, written by a nonscientist, of course, like all these articles, and I read that NAC could be very dangerous, I'm like... There was no reference, of course. I'm like, where the hell are you getting that? There hasn't been a single study to say that. Cystine is in food. You eat three eggs, you're getting one pill of NAC. Where did you get that from? There's no reference, written by a nonscientist, reviewed by a board-certified doctor. Right? I mean, I think it is a real doctor, but what does that person know about NAC necessarily?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: The whole thing is a crock. So, all the information out there is really suspect, just because I didn't want to have a website written by people who... Basically, I agreed. That's how I came to it. I agree that the information out there, I didn't trust. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yep.

Joe Cohen: They would say things like there's no studies that support whatever. That's blatantly not true. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: Now, you might say, "We looked at all the available evidence, and here's the case," whatever. The fact is that we didn't spend any more time on hydrogen posts than any other post, pretty much. Right? That is the standard, and if you actually just look at the number of studies we have, it's more than every other site on hydrogen.

Alex Tarnava: Oh, yeah. No, you guys actually have a good article, a good article comparatively. It's been changing every few months. I think it's updated, so I'll send you guys over the database of kind of all the human studies that take another look.

Joe Cohen: Yeah, yeah. Right. So, that's another thing. We don't have an ideology.

Alex Tarnava: Interestingly, some of the best studies aren't the ones that come up in the first couple pages of Google and even PubMed in searches.

Joe Cohen: Interesting.

Alex Tarnava: Some of the biggest ends with the best controls are ones that you don't see cited in a lot of these places, and it's very odd. There's some really bad studies on hydrogen. All right? But then there's some pretty decent ones, and interestingly, it's something that I'm writing both in this book chapter, but also a systematic review and meta-analysis I've been working on with a professor at [inaudible 01:00:32] University, is for the metabolic conditions anyways, the better controlled studies have stronger results than the open-label industry-funded ones. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: Now, the dosage and duration is longer, which really points to a dose-dependent response, a duration-dependent response, because when you get 15 of 20 [inaudible 01:00:58] markers are significant in a double-blind placebo-controlled [M68 01:01:02] versus the open-label study that wasn't placebo-controlled having one out of 15, and all that's different is the dose is double, that's actually pretty significant to look at.

Joe Cohen: Right. For sure.

Alex Tarnava: Right?

Joe Cohen: Yeah. That's just another variable that we're talking about. There's all these variables. At this dose, not effective. At a higher dose, we do see an effect, and even if... Yeah. At the lower dose there's probably an effect, but it might not be clinically significant that they can detect on a small population.

Alex Tarnava: Exactly. Some of the worst studies on hydrogen are these industry-funded, and there's only a few of them, industry-funded open-label studies that were using commercial products that are right hovering around what's been declared the minimum observed therapeutic dose, and they're showing three in 23 markers measured with slight benefit, whereas the ones using higher dosages for a longer duration are significant in everything tested.

Joe Cohen: That's really interesting.

Alex Tarnava: I'm not exactly sure why when you Google these studies the industry study-funded ones tend to show up earlier in results [crosstalk 01:02:20]

Joe Cohen: Probably because they're shared more. The companies that do them share them or something.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. Right? So, they're getting better ranking, so people go and go, "Oh, my god. This is a garbage study. This is a garbage study," because there is some really bad studies, but some better ones that are 100% publicly-funded, very well controlled, have better results than these garbage open-label [crosstalk 01:02:44]

Joe Cohen: That's really interesting.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. So, yeah, it's something that I've found fascinating, and that's actually one of the strongest pieces of evidence for me, is usually when you increase the end of a trial and add more controls, you see worse results. In these replicative studies that have been done by public teams with better controls and everything, it's actually shown better results, but the dosage has also been more [crosstalk 01:03:17], and the durations have been longer, gone through eight weeks to 10 weeks, or six months in one we have under review.

Joe Cohen: That's real interesting.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. So, yeah, it's cool stuff to know, and honestly, it was one of the biggest things I liked about your guys's website, is some topics that I had a basic level of knowledge on, I'm like, you know what? They're not off-base. I might have a study or something that you do or a study that you do, but you guys do a really... You do the best job of, I think, anyone on the internet. You can't be an expert on every subject.

Joe Cohen: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, and we try to strike that balance. We're not like, hey... We're really careful about trying to make claims, number one, because the search engines don't want you to do that, but number two-

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:04:11] that Google [crosstalk 01:04:14]

Joe Cohen: Yeah, the Google update and whatnot. But number two, you have this spectrum where you look at hydrogen water, you're pretty much either going to see an article that says this is a scam, or this is the miracle cure for everything.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:04:28] You don't see anything in between, and neither are true. You know?

Joe Cohen: Right. Exactly. You don't see any between, like here's actually a rational article on hydrogen. Maybe we're missing a few studies or whatever, but yeah.

Alex Tarnava: Again, and this kind of just confirmed what I already thought about you guys before I met you, is you're one of the only people to get back to me when I say, "Hey, listen. I have a lot of studies I can share with you guys to improve your article," you guys go, "Great. The more information we have, the better. Send it over." Most of these sites, whether they're the magical proponents or it's a scam, when I say, "Hey, listen. I've got a database of all these studies. I can provide this to you. I can answer questions. You should talk to the researchers too," nobody gets back. They don't give a shit.

Joe Cohen: Right. The article's already written. They have their mind made up. It's either a hit piece or a magic cure.

Alex Tarnava: Exactly. There's such a [inaudible 01:05:38] of honesty and coming back and saying, "Okay, we missed some stuff. Let's make it better." Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: That's what I see from you guys a lot, is you're updating, you're changing all the time. You're updating your post, and then when I say, "Hey, listen. You guys are missing a bunch of the studies," that's not a knock on you because I thought I had them all until I started writing this book chapter, and I realized I was missing 15 studies in humans. That's significant. Right? That's a significant percent of-

Joe Cohen: These were in other languages?

Alex Tarnava: Not even all of them. Not even all of them. I don't know how I missed them. A couple of them were in Chinese, but they had English translations. A couple were in Japanese or Korean-

Joe Cohen: Interesting.

Alex Tarnava: ... but there were English translations. But other than them, I'm just like, how did I miss that? It's really hard to keep up. About a year ago, there was about 1,200 studies total on hydrogen. Well, maybe there's 1,500 now. Maybe there's 1,800.

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: Right? Because when I'm writing these articles, I'm finding more articles from 2019 and even 2018 that I had never seen before, that are on a subject I'm writing about. It's like, you just cannot keep up with [crosstalk 01:07:03]

Joe Cohen: Yeah, for sure. I agree.

Alex Tarnava: ... even when it's one of your sole tasks. You know?

Joe Cohen: 100%, yeah.

Alex Tarnava: It's good. I mean, I'm working with nine different public teams, and they're doing articles on hydrogen, and they email me. They're like, "Hey. Do you know if this study exists in this?" I have a hunch there, and often I'll have it, but then sometimes I have to email team after team, asking if they do this, and there's so much more knowledge cumulatively.

Joe Cohen: Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: Right? Any one person in the field even [crosstalk 01:07:42]

Joe Cohen: 100%. Definitely.

Alex Tarnava: So, I know that your guys's DNA test is pretty affordable, pretty cheap, but then there's a service too that I know I subscribe to, but I forget how much I paid. Just for the listeners, how much does it cost? It's something I highly recommend, but when I really believe in something, I often don't look at the price. I just...

Joe Cohen: Yeah. So, we try to make the whole thing affordable. Right? The kit is affordable, and the subscription, you could either buy a lifetime... So, some people just don't want to buy a subscription, and that's fine. Lifetime is... I believe it's $200, maybe. I'm not even sure myself. But it's either between 200 and 250, so you're getting the improvements that we're getting forever. The reason why I'm not sure, because if you get a kit, if you don't get a kit, there's different variations of that. Then the annual is $59. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. The annual is $59, and so that's if you want to just try it out for a year. You get-

Alex Tarnava: I mean, obviously I'm biased because I have seen such benefit, but that's super affordable. Right?

Joe Cohen: It is, yeah.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:09:16] are learning from this report, and to get the personalized blog, and to just get the insights all the time, a few dollars a month. Right?

Joe Cohen: It's less than $5 a month, and you can cancel at any time.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. That's absolutely nothing. I mean, it's something I recommend for everyone, and we've talked about it a lot, the caveats, that it's not magic, it's not going to tell you everything about yourself, but-

Joe Cohen: 100%.

Alex Tarnava: ... the things that I learned, I wish I did this a couple years ago. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: When I first started thinking that I want to do this, when I first started seeing this, I wish I'd done it sooner. Right?

Joe Cohen: Have you also uploaded labs to Lab Test Analyzer?

Alex Tarnava: I'm not sure.

Joe Cohen: Okay. So, that's also something that actually you definitely want to try. Basically, if you get lab results, you upload them, and you could see which ones are out of the optimal.

Alex Tarnava: Okay.

Joe Cohen: Then you can track them. You can try a difference and you can do an experiment and see how your labs are changing over time.

Alex Tarnava: Actually, I want to start getting my lab tests. The last time I measured my markers, cholesterol and triglycerides and sugar and everything, well, I measure my blood sugar most days, four or five times a week [crosstalk 01:10:54] between about 4.1 to 4.3 millimolars, after waking up, after an eight-to-10-hour fast, but it was interesting because I know the DNA results indicated that I had high triglycerides, but a year ago I was at 40. They were super low, and that is wild to me because my diet is a lot better-

Joe Cohen: For sure.

Alex Tarnava: ... and I've dropped 48 pounds.

Joe Cohen: Well, triglycerides you're not going to get really from your genetics. It's maybe a predisposition, but that's really very dietary-related.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. That's what I'm saying. So, I was curious. I might've misread that. It said that I have high triglycerides.

Joe Cohen: It could be genetic predisposition. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Oh, okay.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. No. Like I was saying, you cannot have genetics diagnose anything. We're not at that stage, number one, and it all depends on what else you're doing. If you're living a healthy life, you're not going to have high triglycerides, no matter what your genetics... Maybe if you really have extreme genetics, it could be your triglycerides are going to be higher, but for 99.9% of people, if you live a very healthy lifestyle, you're going to have normal triglycerides. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: If you don't, then you're probably not living the healthy lifestyle that you need to be living.

Alex Tarnava: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I messed this one up, and that probably it was saying I was predisposed to it, because it's a saliva test. How do they [crosstalk 01:12:27]

Joe Cohen: No. I'm just saying, even if it didn't say that, it could be that there's... Again, when it comes to the grade stuff, we didn't curate that as well as the other stuff. So, the other stuff would... I don't know exactly what the words were that you saw. What I'm telling you is that all of it is genetic. It's genetic predispositions. It's not telling you what you have. Right? That's why I'm saying that's the way not to use it. Right? You don't want to use it in terms of diagnosing something. However, if you already have been diagnosed, that's what I was saying. The use cases are if you've already been diagnosed, then you want to find out what genes are causing your triglycerides to be higher, let's say. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. No, no. Sorry. I think when I was reading it I had a brain fart, and I didn't think about my own brain fart [crosstalk 01:13:18]

Joe Cohen: Yeah, yeah. It's very tricky. It is tricky. I'm not going to lie. It's tricky in that you want to... That's why there is a challenge on our side to try to present the information, and that's what we've been doing lately. We've been changing a lot of stuff to make sure that it's presented in a way that says, "Hey, guys, this is not proven," really reminding the user constantly that this is an association. It's not 100%. Right? This is not diagnostic. This is not a diagnosis or anything, but in any case-

Alex Tarnava: That's true. It's a tool.

Joe Cohen: It's a tool. Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: A tool.

Joe Cohen: You will always want to verify things with your symptoms, your lab test, maybe with self-experimentation. Again, there's those use cases that, okay, if you already have a diagnosis, you're not using it, and it might help you figure out what exactly to do that's more targeted, and then the... Yeah.

Alex Tarnava: Well, it's great context. I mean, in science the story changes, but it doesn't. We get new information. That's why when you go back and watch your favorite movie, you pick up new things. It's a different movie every time you watch it, based on your own experiences. Same thing with a good book. Same thing when you look back at old studies, with the context that you now have from the future studies. Right? It helps you put the pieces together. This is what I really view as the greatest strength of this service, is it gives you this information. It gives you this context to put in with your analysis of yourself, with your experiences, with everything else so that you can view your own story in a more [inaudible 01:15:04]

Joe Cohen: What we're going to be doing is, basically, we're unifying everything under the SelfDecode brand, actually.

Alex Tarnava: Oh, okay.

Joe Cohen: Yeah, over the next few months. For example, the Lab Analyzer is going to be within the SelfDecode. All the content from SelfHacked is going to SelfDecode.

Alex Tarnava: Interesting.

Joe Cohen: Pretty much, we separated some of it. I do have opinion pieces on SelfHacked, and what we realized is that while it's clear to me that it's an opinion piece, I'm talking about myself and whatever-

Alex Tarnava: Are you suffering from your Google rank because of your [crosstalk 01:15:40]

Joe Cohen: Yeah, those opinion pieces are suffering. Right. Exactly. So, the domain is targeted by Google, in part because there was a lot of opinion pieces that are not necessarily mainstream information. So, separated that stuff on a different domain, and there's other things as well, but the point is that the content that we have now, it would be acceptable to any mainstream doctor, pretty much, who's not very closed-minded. Right? [crosstalk 01:16:12]

Alex Tarnava: There is a handful of them, that small group.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. Nothing's ever going to be accepted by SBM unless it's FDA-approved. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: But beyond those people, and even if they read it, they're going to be like, "Yeah, I can't really disagree with it too much," but they're going to be crying a little. But in any case... It's also acceptable to people who are into an alternative because they see that, okay, these guys are just not regurgitating the information that's floating around on Mayo Clinic or whatever.

Alex Tarnava: Like you said, that's what happens from WebMD, the Mayo Clinic. It's actually what happens in the news too. A story will be run, and a journalist just doesn't do their due diligence-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... and they just regurgitate what someone else wrote.

Joe Cohen: It happens all the time.

Alex Tarnava: So, a wrong piece of information can get out, and it's just now forever confirmed and regurgitated-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... even [crosstalk 01:17:06] the person who wrote about it was wrong.

Joe Cohen: But it's not necessarily that Mayo Clinic is wrong. It's that it's limited.

Alex Tarnava: I'm not saying that.

Joe Cohen: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alex Tarnava: I'm saying sometimes it's-

Joe Cohen: Right, and the news is more likely to be wrong. In this case with Mayo Clinic, let's say it's more limited in what they're telling you. Right? They'll just tell you there is no evidence to say, but what they're really saying is there's no evidence according to our standard to say. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Well, I think that that's kind of what we talk about with SBM. They have this arbitrary line based on FDA designation.

Joe Cohen: FDA approval, right, which costs billions of dollars to have.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:17:47] proven, or there is no evidence.

Joe Cohen: There's no evidence. Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: They don't have degrees of evidence, and there's degrees of evidence. You can say something probably works in some capacity and it's very [crosstalk 01:18:00]

Joe Cohen: Maybe it works. Potentially, it works. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: We don't have enough evidence, or it likely does not work. Right? Maybe it does not work. There's really a definitely does not work. Right? That's the strongest. But the point is there's a continuum. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah, exactly.

Joe Cohen: Between definitely does not work and definitely does work, and almost never, even with drugs, is it definitely does work, for you. Right? You can't say for you. Even drugs don't say, "This will work for you," because you can't know if it's going to work for you. You can know if it's going to work for a given population that they studied, likely. You can't always replicate that population, but the point is you can know that if they studied white males who are 45 from a certain ethnicity, and they did exactly this protocol, and this, and that, and the other, then yeah, you can probably say that it's going to work. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: So, yeah. But otherwise, there's really just a spectrum of possibilities. Right? So, what you see is that the internet will say either it's a scam or it's a miracle.

Alex Tarnava: Well, everyone will see a headline. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right. Yeah. So, we want to unify all that-

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:19:26] isn't very popular.

Joe Cohen: Yeah. We want to unify all that information, whether it's the SelfHacked, which is the content that's just about all these topics, the Lab Analyzer that is for following your biomarkers and seeing what's at optimal, and then genetics as well so that you have a full picture. Then we're also working on a version two where we integrate all that information so that... Because right now you see one piece of the puzzle. You see another piece of the puzzle, and we're really relying on the user to make a judgment about what that means for them. Right? Whereas it might be an unfair task for a lot of users that are not willing to spend a decent amount of time, because you could see a piece of the puzzle, and then you're like, oh, this is the source of all my problems, and it's not necessarily true, but-

Alex Tarnava: Well, people always want a simple one [crosstalk 01:20:24]

Joe Cohen: They want, give me the bottom line.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:20:26] to fix their issues. You know?

Joe Cohen: Exactly. What's the magic [inaudible 01:20:29] What do I exactly have to do? Just tell me. I wake up, and what do I do? We're working on that version 2.0 so that it gives them more of a guide, a step-by-step guide, rather than here's all the tools at your disposal, here's a smorgasbord of content and the tools, which is kind of what we have now.

Alex Tarnava: I want to bring up a point. Your subscription service, you can actually upload a... If someone's already done their DNA analysis somewhere else, they can upload that to your service, I believe. Right?

Joe Cohen: Correct. Yes. Definitely.

Alex Tarnava: And get your service, because that's really the biggest strength. When I was looking at your guys's DNA test, you guys have more SMTs than a lot of the ones like 23andMe that do that.

Joe Cohen: 110,000.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah.

Joe Cohen: Yep. We have 110,000 in our database, and yeah, other sites maybe have 20, 30.

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. I mean, that's great, but at the same time, what's really strong is, I thought anyways, is the service at the back, the reports, the personalized blog that you get. That's the really cool stuff. So, I want people listening to know that, hey, if you've already, what you spent, a hundred bucks or whatever on a different service, you can upload to [crosstalk 01:21:41]

Joe Cohen: 100%. Yeah, yeah. 100%. Exactly. So, you already spent... I think any investment that you make in sequencing your genetics is always going to be a good investment. It's a one-time... Okay. If it's a [crosstalk 01:21:57]

Alex Tarnava: As the DNA analyses get better in future years, I can probably do another test and upload it, and [crosstalk 01:22:03]

Joe Cohen: Well, no. Yeah. You don't have to do another test. So, if you got a test by 23andMe, or what we currently have, which is a similar snip chip, slightly better, but it's similar, the point is that... We don't sell people's data, but the point is that 23andMe, Ancestry, and what we're doing right now, we're not doing whole genome sequencing, and I actually cannot recommend it to anyone because there's no company that's doing it well, to be honest. There's companies that are doing it, but they're not doing it well. It's either too expensive, or something's seriously wrong with it.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:22:40] company that does whole genome sequencing, and they have just complaint after complaint online.

Joe Cohen: Oh, yeah.

Alex Tarnava: ... about terrible service-

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: ... confusing report. People are getting nothing out of it.

Joe Cohen: Oh, no, no, no. The services that provide it are pretty bad. If I thought they were good I would recommend them, because that actually helps our business. Right? It's better if people have whole genome. We can accept it. Yeah, we can accept the whole genome. Right? So, if they have that, okay, great. Right? But yeah, we can't recommend any company at this stage, and we're thinking about doing it. It just happens to be if you want to do it right, it's expensive. Right? The question is, what's the market for people who want to spend $1,200, $1,300 on a kit, and it's like, we're not even making a profit.

Joe Cohen: Now, it is getting a lot cheaper over time, and so we will be offering a kit at some point in the future, but our thing is never to try to compete on the kit, necessarily. It's just a convenient service, and it's for people who don't want their data to be sold, and that want a comparable kind of chip as 23andMe and Ancestry. So, that's really what we're providing. We're actually not even making profit on it. So, if people don't buy it, I don't even care. I'm not even kidding.

Alex Tarnava: I mean, that's really good to know, and I can relate. For my viewers who know what we're doing in our parent company, Natural Wellness Now, with all the research programs and government regulations and everything, the hydrogen tablets are becoming pretty popular. There is over 50 private labels of ours that use my technology, use our technology. We're running single-digit profit margins year after year, and my initial investment has never been paid back. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: Because all of the money is funneled back into more research, to do more of this and that, and we're donating to studies with 60 participants, 25 participants, 30 participants, as we're dealing with FDA and regulations and stuff, and we're still fairly pricey for a supplement. On the drug route, to do this, that's why a drug might be $10,000 for a pill, to go down this route. I think there's serious flaws to that. You need to find a balance, and that was one of my big philosophical conundrums, is what is the right balance to make sure that I am pursuing truth and evidence, but also make sure this is accessible to people and not detrimental to the world by further crippling the healthcare industry?

Joe Cohen: Yeah. So, that's exactly what we try to do as well. So, in terms of the kit, we're trying to do it so that we don't lose money on it. Right? We're trying to expand the access because some people are like, "Look, I don't want to do 23andMe. They are partnering with pharma companies, and I just don't want to be part of that," whatever. We get it, okay. "But we want to use your service, so what do we do?" Right? So, that's why we have a kit. So, all right, we're not really going to make a profit on this, or if we do it's very small, whatever, but we're doing this as a service. Right? But the main thing we're really focusing on is the analytics, and that's constantly improving. Yeah, and that's higher margin for us. Right? The incremental cost is much lower, but it's all the... We're reinvesting 100% of the proceeds for the next 10 years, pretty much. Right?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah, that's great. We do a similar thing too, actually, with our essential line. We've got omega-3, fish oil pills, vitamin D, creatine, and caffeine, and if someone buys our hydrogen, we're bringing them in with hydrogen, they get any of those products at our cost, no markup, because we do those things as... They're evidence-based. When you need them, you need them. If you're living in a northern state or Canada and you don't get enough sunlight, you need vitamin D. If you're [crosstalk 01:27:05], you need fish oil. Right? People spend three bucks on a coffee, or I think it's two bucks that we sell a month's supply of 200 milligrams a day of caffeine [inaudible 01:27:17]. Right?

Joe Cohen: Right. If you're paying four or five dollars for a coffee, that's a month of our service. Right? It's very little.

Alex Tarnava: Exactly, and people look at these price tags, and then they're like, "Oh, I spend 12 bucks a day at Starbucks." You know?

Joe Cohen: Right.

Alex Tarnava: [crosstalk 01:27:39] Whereas this is going to help give you new insights into who you are and what can make you healthier and happier, because the healthier you are, the better your mind's going to function too.

Joe Cohen: Exactly.

Alex Tarnava: So, again, everyone, I strongly recommend doing this. I think we're getting a discount code or something for my readers?

Joe Cohen: Yes. Actually, I think we can add it in... Can you add that in later?

Alex Tarnava: Yeah. I'll add it in. We'll put it as a [crosstalk 01:28:12]

Joe Cohen: Because, yeah, I just didn't get it beforehand.

Alex Tarnava: No worries.

Joe Cohen: But yeah, we can give a discount code. Definitely.

Alex Tarnava: Perfect. Well, thank you very much for your time. It was great talking to you again, and I look forward to talk to you in the future.

Joe Cohen: Okay, great. Great speaking to you.