Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Ep 177: How Anatomy Impacts Your Gut, Muscle Mass, Hormones, and Health with Justin Cottle

May 31, 2024 Justin Cottle Episode 177
Ep 177: How Anatomy Impacts Your Gut, Muscle Mass, Hormones, and Health with Justin Cottle
Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
Ep 177: How Anatomy Impacts Your Gut, Muscle Mass, Hormones, and Health with Justin Cottle
May 31, 2024 Episode 177
Justin Cottle

What are the common misconceptions about digestion and nutrient absorption? How does training sculpt your muscles, and what’s the hidden connection to your anatomy? Are you ready to discover the hidden dietary implications of your unique body variations?

In this episode, Philip (@witsandweights) welcomes Justin Cottle, a former lab director at the Institute of Human Anatomy and a pioneer in using real human cadavers for public education. He is a content creator and writer of the Dissection Room, where he shares his unique perspective on human anatomy, health, and fitness.

Justin discusses the digestive system's structure and functions, nutrient absorption, and hormonal effects. He also sheds light on the interplay between anatomy and exercise physiology, muscle hypertrophy, bone density, and neuroplasticity. Justin brings a fresh and intriguing perspective to human anatomy. He skillfully blends practical know-how with science, empowering you to make informed health decisions. His insights challenge and reshape conventional thinking about our bodies and their potential and redefine your understanding of your capabilities.

Today, you’ll learn all about:

1:56 How Justin’s interest in anatomy developed
6:30 Digestive system structure and functions
10:57 Nutrient absorption and hormonal effects
17:24 Diet recommendation for the average active human
20:26 How to approach hormone issues
23:32 Hype vs factual health information
28:08 Gut microbiome, dietary fibers, and diversifying your diet
32:05 Anatomical variations and dietary implications
40:02 Muscle hypertrophy and training impacts
44:05 Interplay between anatomy and exercise physiology
52:30 Bone density and nutritional support
56:00 Neuroplasticity and exercise
58:40 The fascial system and injury rehab
1:03:02 Where to find Justin
1:03:25 Outro

Episode resources:

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🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

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📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What are the common misconceptions about digestion and nutrient absorption? How does training sculpt your muscles, and what’s the hidden connection to your anatomy? Are you ready to discover the hidden dietary implications of your unique body variations?

In this episode, Philip (@witsandweights) welcomes Justin Cottle, a former lab director at the Institute of Human Anatomy and a pioneer in using real human cadavers for public education. He is a content creator and writer of the Dissection Room, where he shares his unique perspective on human anatomy, health, and fitness.

Justin discusses the digestive system's structure and functions, nutrient absorption, and hormonal effects. He also sheds light on the interplay between anatomy and exercise physiology, muscle hypertrophy, bone density, and neuroplasticity. Justin brings a fresh and intriguing perspective to human anatomy. He skillfully blends practical know-how with science, empowering you to make informed health decisions. His insights challenge and reshape conventional thinking about our bodies and their potential and redefine your understanding of your capabilities.

Today, you’ll learn all about:

1:56 How Justin’s interest in anatomy developed
6:30 Digestive system structure and functions
10:57 Nutrient absorption and hormonal effects
17:24 Diet recommendation for the average active human
20:26 How to approach hormone issues
23:32 Hype vs factual health information
28:08 Gut microbiome, dietary fibers, and diversifying your diet
32:05 Anatomical variations and dietary implications
40:02 Muscle hypertrophy and training impacts
44:05 Interplay between anatomy and exercise physiology
52:30 Bone density and nutritional support
56:00 Neuroplasticity and exercise
58:40 The fascial system and injury rehab
1:03:02 Where to find Justin
1:03:25 Outro

Episode resources:

📲 Send me a text message!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

Justin Cottle:

When you start looking at the body and individual differences, you'd be amazed at how different we are. Or you may be from that generalized plan that we teach to any kind of anatomy one on one type course.

Philip Pape:

Welcome to the wits end weights podcast. I'm your host, Philip pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger. Optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition will uncover science backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in Whitson weights community Welcome to another episode of The Whitson weights Podcast. Today, I'm excited to welcome Justin Caudill, former lab director at the Institute of Human Anatomy. He's a pioneer in using real human cadavers to educate the public about the human body. Justin is also a content creator and writer at The Dissection Room, which is a very cool substack and YouTube channel devoted to dissecting life, creativity, lots and lots of different topics that go even well beyond just health and fitness. And the very idea of what it means to be human, I invited Justin to share how understanding our digestive systems anatomy can lead to better nutrient absorption, overall health, and then also how our bodies physically adapt to training. So we're going to try to cover both of those topics. Today, we're going to explore how to use anatomical knowledge for personal health and fitness strategies. So you can optimize all of these things. And I find that Justin has this very unique curious angle on human anatomy is why I wanted to bring them on combines the practical application with the science, to empower you to make informed health decisions and reshape how we think about our bodies and AR capabilities. Justin, it is pretty cool to have you on the show.

Justin Cottle:

Thank you, Philip, that was quite the introduction. And I'm happy to be here. Awesome.

Philip Pape:

Yeah. So let's get into the background of how you came to work with, you know, human anatomy, specifically by way of cadaver research. It's funny when I was coming up with titles for the episode, and actually I was using AI because I do like to do that to brainstorm. And it's like, all this stuff about corpses and beyond the grave. And I'm like, No, we're not gonna go all McCobb here. But I do want to understand how we can link, you know, that kind of information to practical decisions that we make. Tell us how that started to click for you. Like, where did you make that connection? And then how do you start? Did you start to communicate that in an understandable way?

Justin Cottle:

No. So anatomy is, I'm fond of saying that anatomy is the baseline science, it's this. I mean, there's a reason why no matter what kind of health program you're taking, anatomy in some capacity is at its core. And that was the same for me when I started out, but I fell in love with anatomy. Soon as I took my very first anatomy class, it was really unintentional. I never really like I wasn't growing up thinking, Oh, I'm going to work with no body donors and cadavers. That was never a thought. It just kind of ended up being that way. When I took my first anatomy class, and realizing the power of human anatomy, not just in obviously explaining everything within health and fitness, but also just the mindset, I liken it a lot to almost like a watchmaker, where you have to when you know, the parts that everything is built of it is really easy to understand all these other things that are branching off of it. And I realized that very early on and just fell head over heels for anatomy. And one thing led to another and I ended up working in a cadaver lab. And that in itself is a completely different set. That's hard to say this like properly because a lot of people who take anatomy classes don't work in cadaver labs, you may have a cadaver lab, but to actually work in one is a different thing. And so when all of a sudden, I found myself having that opportunity to work with the actual body donors, that just fueled the passion even more, because then all of a sudden, it's not just looking at a textbook looking at an anatomy Atlas, it's holding the organs, it's performing the dissections yourself. And it's just an exciting thing that just out of nowhere, you know, I found myself having been doing it for 10 years. Again, all of it completely unintentional, but extremely exciting. nonetheless.

Philip Pape:

I love your analogy of the watchmaker and really understanding what's underneath each layer. Because I have that same sense of if I don't get where it's coming from or how the connections are made. I don't just want to trust what you're telling me. You know, when I break it apart. A couple of things come to mind is versus art, like Leonardo da Vinci is well known for using human cadavers to understand anatomy and then translate that to how humans move and are portrayed in their strength and movement on the page. And I'm sure that you've gotten into some of that. I also just a few minutes ago, both my daughters, we homeschool our daughters, and they outline themselves on a big piece of paper and they're actually they drew a bunch of the major bones, and they're gonna like add layers to that. And I thought I'm like I told him about you that I was gonna be talking to you in a few minute. It's, and just I'm trying to understand again from deep down where all this comes from, because there's a lot of misinformation out there. There's a lot of experts telling you what to do. And here you are a guy that's, you know, coming from the science of it all. So, yeah, it's pretty cool. I don't have a question there just and I think it's, I just think it resonates. That

Justin Cottle:

is really cool. I do want to say, you know, my hat's off to you, for homeschooling your children that is so cool. And it's something I'm really interested in myself is actually developing anatomy programs and curricula for home schoolers. So we may have to talk about that also in in different different time, because that is something I'm very interested in these days, but hats off to you.

Philip Pape:

Cool, absolutely. And I think of like my wife, I'm gonna give her most of the credit for the day to day because she, you know, she actually runs our school and teaches them. But one of the things with homeschoolers, and this is relevant is they, at least there's a misconception that you have to be an expert, to teach anything like you have to be an expert teacher with a certification to do this. And it's just not the case. I think, if you have the passion and want to learn something, the best thing for kids is to learn how to learn. It's not to be dumped data, dumped information, it's to learn how to learn. And I see my kids now, you know, getting beyond my wife and me our knowledge, they're surpassing that at the age of 10 to 12, in many cases, and they're able to do that. So we try to do that on this podcast, too, is just like educate people and teach them how to find the information. So you have a great source of that. And for people, we're going to plug his stuff a few times here, but the Dissection Room, YouTube channel. Alright, cool, man. So one of the topics we wanted to talk about, because you said you had a personal connection to this was gut health, or I should say, digestive health, nutrient absorption. And hopefully we can segue from that into what that means for how we eat and how it helps us perform. But just just tell us, I guess, maybe we start with anatomy, or your story, we can go either way, like, start with the anatomy of the digestive system and the function and like how this is all relevant to us. Why do we care about this? Yeah,

Justin Cottle:

so I think I can real quickly tell the story of why it's so relevant to me is in that in 2018, I found myself randomly having a small bowel obstruction, which is where my small intestine, which is the nutrient absorbing aspect of the GI tract, just essentially got blocked. And this normally happens to people in their 60s 70s, who have history of abdominal surgeries. And I didn't have any of that. And I ended up I got very close to actually passing away, but into kidney failure. And this all happened within just a couple days, I was 30 years old, really healthy, I'm you know, I'm ex military, like I take care of my body. And this just hit me. And I obviously ended up being okay. But what it did is it just fueled, which I was already obviously knowledgeable on the digestive system, but then all of a sudden, it became more relatable, it became, you know, important to me and personal. And so it just kind of has started this one has never really stopped this passionate, you know, investigation into the nuances of the digestive system. And so with that, you know, when we're talking about the digestive system, it's really you have to understand that it's the first thing to develop inside of the body. So before you have a brain before you have a heart, the actual developing embryo has a gut to know that's what anatomist actually call it. And so imagine eights in an imagination is just a tunneling inwards, where all the sudden you look at this tadpole looking creature, and this tunnel forms from the mouth, which really isn't the mouth at this point, all the way down towards the rectum. And everything about your body builds around that. And so it literally it's the axis of development. And when you think about it, you know, it's so that means, you know, your mouth, your lips, is just one hollow tube, if you could actually stick your hand through your mouth, and coat down the entire digestive tract, you're inside your body, but technically, you're outside your body, because it's one hollow tube from point A to point B. But everything happens there. We're talking chemical and mechanical digestion, nutrient absorption, excretion through waste. It's amazing, as someone who has had an actual, like real severe digestive issue, it's incredible to understand just how important it is, if things go wrong with your digestive system, you know, immediately. It's not, I'm not trying to, you know, turn this into like a contest of which is worse, but it's like with cancers or other types of dysfunctions and diseases that can be more subtle, but not digestive issues, digestive issues, they hit you and they hit you fast. And you know, very quickly that something is wrong. And I think that's something a lot of people understand intuitively, especially with poor diet, because it doesn't have to be a small bowel obstruction for you to understand that something is wrong with it, but I mean, just finish it up real quick right here, you know, so if we're talking the straight up anatomy, you know, you have your mouth, your oral cavity that goes down to your aside esophagus that goes down to your stomach, that then transitions into the small intestine. So the stomach is what kind of turns it turns it into like this soup called chyme. It's just a nutrient soup and then releases it into your small intestines, those are about 30 feet long, depending it could be anywhere, it could be as low as 15 feet. And that's where all the nutrients are absorbed. And then anything that isn't absorbed drops into the large intestine. And that's what's also people will call the colon, there is a little bit of a difference, but it's not that important. And then that's where you just kind of absorb waters and salts, and then that will obviously then be dedicated out as waste. So it starts in the mouth and ends at the anus. Yeah, I

Philip Pape:

think that's awesome. I love this stuff, I can geek out on this stuff, I love the idea of the tube being both inside and outside the body. And you've already talked about the different processes at different stages, the chyme. And you know, I guess there's bile at some, in fact, saliva at the beginning, right, and then all the different fluids again, thinking about my daughter's talking about this stuff recently. And it's like, we don't talk about it at the dinner table. But we'll talk about how do like enzymes and hormones come into all of that facilitation of the breakdown. Because then I imagine that's gonna lead us to talking about how we utilize nutrients from what we eat, and then utilize those because we want to segue into that. But just real quickly, is there anything else we need to understand mechanistically hormones or enzymes or anything?

Justin Cottle:

Well, so for when it comes to the enzyme, specifically, the enzymes, it's just something that is basically causing an action to occur on a molecule. So you have like proteases lipases. So anything that ends with ace is an enzyme, so a protease would break down proteins, a lipase would break down lipids, so you're going to have some enzymes that are actually inserted into the digestive tract at the stomach. But most of them happen in the very well, we would say, an anatomy proximal end of the small intestine, so that's the very beginning. So as soon as your stomach releases the contents into small intestine, that's where the liver, and that's where the pancreas start just dropping enzymes into the actual small intestine. And for one, it helps neutralize the stomach acidity. This is something that a lot of people think about stomach acid, hydrochloric acid, it could eat your small intestines, it could literally digest it, so you have to have a way to neutralize it. So as soon as your stomach empties into the small intestine, it's met with a neutralizing agent, and it neutralizes the stomach acidity. But you're also going to have enzymes that are being inserted into there to help break down carbs, lipids, and proteins. And that will continue all the way down into the large intestine. But at the same time, you know, once they get absorbed, and then they go to the liver, the liver is what actually I like to think of it almost like a bouncer at a club, where if you're on the list, it lets you through if you're not on the list, it's a hardcore club, and instead, it would destroy you. So easiest way I can describe this to people is like alcohol. The real easy example, when alcohol gets to the liver, the liver has various enzymes that will actually neutralize it, but you can overwhelm it, and then that can go into the bloodstream. And then obviously, that can cause repercussions elsewhere. point here is hormones don't really become affected until something passes the liver, and gets into the bloodstream. And then that's when it goes global. And that's where you're going to get many different hormonal responses based on the specific nutrient and just things in the composition of the blood. Cool.

Philip Pape:

All right, so then that clarifies maybe two subtopics from this that we can cover one is the utilization of nutrients, you mentioned, macros, but even micros, and then how that then downstream effects, performance, building muscle, whatever I mean, the people, the listener of the show is very much into body composition and strength training and lifting and eating protein and all that fun stuff, carbs, and whatever. So the effects of those. And then since you mentioned hormones, we can talk about the downstream effects on things like your thyroid, which is a hot topic these days, especially for Peri and postmenopausal women worried about thyroid conditions, and like do I eat all the right foods with the right nutrients to do that? So yeah, let's start with the nutrient absorption piece of it. Sure.

Justin Cottle:

So to be clear, when you're talking about nutrient absorption, what specifically do you want to talk macros

Philip Pape:

and micros, let's

Justin Cottle:

start there. Okay, so it really just kind of depends on I guess you can put it this way. So once everything gets boiled down into your stomach, in your stomach will rip it apart. And then that's where you have this that kind of is a macro soup, essentially. But once it gets into the small intestine, there are these little appendages called villi and villi. This is really wild have even like smaller little micro villi on them, and that's where all the capillaries are. And the capillaries are what are going to absorb all the nutrients and you want to get that typically as small as you possibly can because if something is too big, then it can't be absorbed. And so that's what the job is of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach as well as the enzymes coming from the liver, the gallbladder and the pancreas. So you'll have this micro and macro nutrients soup that is flowing through and then it gets up sorbed into the bloodstream. Once it gets into the bloodstream and goes to the liver, it really depends on the nutrient itself. It depends on a whole cascade of signals the pancreas, for instance, the pancreas has blood flowing through it, that is actually sampling your blood sugar levels. So it's sitting there going, okay, so I have this much sugar, so we need to either drop in insulin and reduce that or glucagon and increase that. And that's obviously then going to have an impact on all of the adipocytes, those, those are the cells that store lipids and your fat. And that is going to have an effect, you're also going to have an effect on inside of the muscle tissue as well, because how much sugar you have is going to be signaling to the muscle itself. Oh, do we need to store this in the form of glycogen, so then you can stuff that more full. So it really just kind of depends on this specific area, you almost to really understand how a micro or macro nutrient is going to be affecting an area, you almost have to say, this area or that area, this area. But then you have to start thinking about things like individual circumstances and genetics, individual health, all of those things. But when it comes down to micronutrients, micronutrients are more so like tools, while macronutrients are kind of like energy sources and building blocks. And so like lipids will be typically used to help improve the health of the cell. Actually, here's an easy way to say it, I'm very fond of this, this is one of my favorite sayings, you as a human being are essentially proteins wrapped in fat, and fueled with sugar. That's essentially what you are. And so then what your body has to do is figure out which cells need the protein, which cells need the lipids and which need the sugar. And then obviously, there's a whole various amount of metabolic pathways. So it just it is really that nuanced, though, you almost have to be like, Okay, how does it affect this area? How does it affect that area? And you can even get as nuanced as and what time did you wake up? You know, you know, how long have you been in a heavily fasted state? How, you know, not only were you working out, you know, was it resistance training? Or were you doing cardio, there's so many things that can literally impact just how these micro and macro molecules shuttle around the body and the way they actually go into the cells. Yeah,

Philip Pape:

and this is where I can get into trouble as a nutrition coach, because like, we want to give people simple practical things to consider for them, without overwhelming them with the why. But I'm so fascinated by the why. And some people want to understand why all this stuff happened. So if you were to step back a level and say, for the average human who is active, right, which again, we're talking about folks who are active, maybe their strength training, is just a balanced approach and paying attention to how you feel the majority of it here, or is there some more knobs that you tend to play with when you recommend kind of what and how to eat in terms of your actual diet? It's

Justin Cottle:

a such a good question. It's an important question too, because, you know, I am not the type of person who likes to feed into hype. But at the same time, sometimes hype is there for a reason. And there are certain things and there's certain signals that we should be listening to, at the same time, another saying that I'm very fond of saying, and I can't remember who the physicist was, but there was this theoretical physicist who said, I would never touch nutrition with a 10 foot pole, because it's too complicated. And I think that really kind of sums everything up. Because Nutritional Sciences, the compasses, it is so difficult to really figure out what's going on. You know, a lot of times people think you can just like, put in some kind of micro molecule, and look at it in the bloodstream and figure out exactly how a cell utilizes it. And unfortunately, that's just not the way it is. And so, a lot of times we are in the dark, we can look at things from a more just, you know, circumstantial study type perspective, where it's just like, oh, well, we gave some people some bread, and this is what happened, you know, it's more of an observational study. And I know we want better answers than that. But unfortunately, sometimes we just can't get those really nuanced answers that we really want with nutritional science, that's changing, that's getting better. And that's really exciting. But what I typically tell people is, it's best to start from a very generalized sense, and then start figuring out what works and what's not working for you. And that is something where someone like yourself really comes in handy because then you can start to titrate that right, you can start to go okay, well, we're gonna turn this knob here, we're going to turn that knob there. But the knobs that I turn, for me that I think just make most sense, is to get rid of as much Ultra processed foods as you possibly can to try and eat as many Whole Foods as you possibly can. You know, for me, I don't drink alcohol, I don't drink coffee, I try to like I try not have any caffeine if possible. That's not to say that you can't it's just, I personally find myself that works better for me, you know, so it's, I try to eat as much fiber as I possibly can. And I try to eat diverse sources of fiber, because diverse sources of fiber are going to be fantastic for your microbiome. But at the same time, it's like my main focus, if you could say would just be Whole Foods, drinking lots of water, getting plenty asleep, you know, trying to get good at Exercise and take care of my body. They're really general things that are really uncontroversial. But I also think it's that a lot of people just don't do.

Philip Pape:

That's the best way to do it. You just put it there. It's not controversial, it's almost boring. It's not sexy, is what you got to do. And people aren't doing it. Oftentimes, they're looking for something to optimize when really they just need the big blocks. So yeah, the whole foods, hydration, limiting toxins of different kinds, and then diversity. So that leads me to you mentioned the microbiome, let's answer the hormone question, right? Where someone says, Well, I have hypothyroidism, let's say, and I want to address it naturally isn't just a matter of eating more. Oysters and Brazil nuts, you know, are like specific foods that have specific nutrient. And it may be I don't know, how do you approach the topic of hormones in general, and linking that to micro nutrition, as well as the anatomy of the digestive system?

Justin Cottle:

It is so hard to have that conversation without someone doing the proper bloodwork, and actually figuring out what their levels are, you know, so many people in myself included with a lot of things. This is not to demonize anybody, because at the same time, you know, how available is it, I mean, it's gotten a lot more available, there's a lot of really fantastic testing that people can do home testing kits, for example. At the same time, though, when you're doing these types of things, in reality, to have a good understanding of how your hormones are really being affected, you don't just take one test, you need to take a series of tests, and then you need to be able to compare that data. And that's where things just kind of get difficult, if not outright impractical for people. So it's hard to say like, you know, will this work? Or won't this work, but I think generally speaking, yes, you know, oysters is going to be good for you. I mean, like, I love eating oysters, I love having, you know, just getting as much DHA and you know, like you want to take care of yourself and get the specific fats, proteins and healthy carbs that you are supposed to be getting. And there are different sources that may be more optimized. I don't know if that's not the right word, but just might be better for you, generally speaking,

Philip Pape:

more nutrient dense, let's say more bang for your buck. Yeah,

Justin Cottle:

that's the way to put it. That's the way to put it the same time, though, it's really hard to say it really is hard to say. And I know that's one of those no one likes that person being that person who's like, well, it depends.

Philip Pape:

It depends. That's always the answer, though. But with

Justin Cottle:

nutrition, it really does depend. And I think like you mentioned, people are always looking for that. Just give it to me now give it to me straight, what do I got to do? And I understand that I'm very sympathetic with it. But unfortunately, you don't know what you need to do unless you have data. And I'm not saying you need to have some, you know, become like, have like these analytics charts, you're not they don't necessarily need to have you be so robustly into this. But at the same time, if you're just flying in the dark, it's really going to be hit or miss. And so at the end of the day, I think I always encourage people, if they are curious about their hormones, and how their body is responding, they need to get tests done. And then from there, you can start to figure out what may need to happen. Cool.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, that makes sense. And it does get confusing with tests because it's blood work saliva, urine, what do I get? Who do I go to? Because now you've got insurance and things involved, it doesn't always cover all of that. Got doctors that are sometimes clueless about it. And then there's functional medicine individuals. So you're right, it is a lot of that. It's funny, because I have I have some, like questionnaires that I can use with clients where I try to tease out some symptoms, at least to get started, because that's often a good starting point. And some of these questionnaires are like 30 questions because it is so complex with is your thyroid, is it testosterone, what is it? So that's good advice. And then you men you did allude to hype, and I want to get back to that. If you had to pick one thing that is actual hype, and one thing that's hyped, but real, that comes to mind that that's like often talked about in the industry, what would they be?

Justin Cottle:

That is such a good question. So I mean, when it comes to hype, the thing that just naturally or that is doesn't live up to the hype, I guess I should say, the thing that naturally comes to mind are going to be fad diets. I think that's a general answer. But I mean, like, for instance, the carnivore diet, you know, and then here's the interesting thing, especially if we go back to keto, this is me. You know, I guess this is kind of like a humble brag, but I remember being into keto, almost 15 years ago, no one knew what keto was. And I was really interested in keto because of there's a really interesting researcher named DOM D'Agostino, and he DOM is the one who actually worked with the Navy SEALs, because the US government was like, hey, the ketogenic diet actually helps minimize seizures. And so they wanted to actually helped the, you know, the Special Operators not have seizures when they were using rebreathers underwater as they were actually going after the enemy. The whole point here is Dom D'Agostino. I was listening to him and really diving into the research for ketogenic diet, you know, back in like 2010, and no one knew what it was and I was really interested but as soon as it became a fad, everything went off the rails. Were all the sudden it's like, there's actually really interesting stuff about keto, but it gets lost so easily. And I find myself when I'm having a conversation about the ketogenic diet, I almost become anti keto, because I'm having to fight so many things, even though I'm actually a proponent of it under certain circumstances. Same with carnivore diet elimination diet, specifically, when people are just kind of like urging in mass. It's like that may work for certain in certain circumstances, but it just, I think, generally speaking, is almost never a long term solution for anybody in any circumstance. And so I think that's a real easy answer. But I think it's an important answer, because it's so easy for people to just jump onto these fad diets, even if they are healthy people, you know, it's not like you need to be losing 3040 50 pounds. It's just more so like, me naturally. The question, you know, if I want if I'm lifting too, maybe I just go carnivore, you know. And at the same time, I think people who've been lifting for long enough understand the importance of carbs and understand why that's probably not a good idea. But you still see those types of ideas out in the masses. So that would be the easy answer. But I still think it's an important one. And then one that lives up to the height is the microbiome. Easily, the microbiome is probably one of my favorite things to talk about something I could talk about for hours. And not just in the digestive system that just all over the body and its importance, but the importance of fiber and diverse sets of fiber, fermentable, fiber, non fermentable fiber, just understanding what these things are, but how beneficial they can be for our health. And a real easy example I can give is theirs. This is speculative. But I would not be surprised if many of the metabolic diseases and disorders that we see are really just a problem or an artifact of a bad microbiome, in the sense that people are just been eating such bland foods, that what's happened is there's no diversity. There's no resiliency in their gut and their bacteria are suffering. And it's just having far reaching repercussions. So the importance of fiber, I think is something that I'm really excited to see people getting on the microbiome bandwagon. At the same time, I will say this, and I'll be quick. I do think people have gone overboard with it. When it comes to prebiotic supplements, probiotic supplements, I think it's easy to start to just turn that into the fat. And that's what we've been seeing. But I still think at its core, it's pretty solid.

Philip Pape:

Those are two really solid answers. I mean, the fad diets for sure we talk about all the time of you know, at the end of the day, it's what's sustainable for you. But at the same time, even if quote unquote fad diet is sustainable. From a practical standpoint, are you still missing out in other areas. And that's where I tell people to really take the whole picture into account. Like if you're doing carnivore and all this stuff is great, but something else is not quite there. That could be a red flag of okay, you're missing some plants, maybe you should have broccoli. And speaking of broccoli, like when I hear influencers, say broccoli is now bad for you, because it has goitrogens and it's going to inhibit iodine absorption. And you're like, Oh, really, and people are freaked out and like Well, only if you eat like, you know, gobs and gobs of raw broccoli every single day forever, and have inflamed thyroid at the same time or whatever. So that's a good segue because we are talking about digestive health. You talked about diverse sources of fiber, probably having enough fiber and having enough diversity of food in general. I've also heard, you know, things we can't control as much but are important our early stage in our life, like from infancy and the type of birth and breastfeeding. And like having pets and all of that. What would you say when it comes to gut health and the microbiome are the top few things that people have the most control over as adults. And maybe you already mentioned it with the fiber, but like a couple actions people should take or assess in their lives now

Justin Cottle:

that would help that. So easy things that people can do is when I say diversity, I really mean that in a very simple sense. So for instance, if you can break down fiber into two, there's different ways you can break down fiber, right soluble, non soluble, but my preferred way to break it down is fermentable. And non fermentable. fermentable. Fiber is the type of fiber that many species of bacteria in your gut will break down and then obviously they ferment and you produce gas. So the main sources of fermentable fibers that I like to bring people's attention to are going to be insulin, and pectin. Insulin, you find that like in garlic, onions, pectin, a lot of times you'll find that in the skins of fruit. So like, you know, pears, apples. So when you're talking about diversity, you have different kinds of life. So just picture yourself in the grocery store. You see like a gala apple, you see a Fuji apple, right, you see a red delicious apple, those are three different sources of pectin. And that can actually impact your microbiome in subtle ways, but still meaningful ways. Meaning, try to get around or at least I tried to get around 20 different sources of fermentable fiber in my diet are wheat. And that can be as simple as just going to the produce section. And you know, you're looking at like yellow squash versus zucchini. Well, those that's going to be different. Yes, there's They'll squash, butternut squash, and trying to get the skins trying to get the fiber content in there. And you're helping your microbiome because you're giving diverse food sources to those microbiota. So those species, and what that does is it builds up resiliency, because you have to think about it, it's almost like there's a turf war inside of your colon, where you have millions of different species, and then millions of those species. So there's hundreds of millions, like, I mean, literally, maybe 500 million species inside, not species, 500 million bacteria inside of your colon, there's only so much space, if you just eat the same food source over and over, what you're doing is you're only giving food to the species that consume that. And what happens is the ones that don't start to die away, and then the other ones start to take their space. And so even if you start eating more diverse food sources, you may have already killed the bacteria that could have broken it down and benefited from it. And that's why for me, it's like, I think just having a diverse diet is early starting as early as possible, right, we're talking, you know, this is where the importance of your fruits and your veggies, giving it to your three and four year olds, right, just getting them to understand the benefits giving them any, you know, obviously, you can cook them, you don't have to give them raw broccoli, that's no one's gonna like that. But finding ways to really turn that into a habit, and just simple ways of going to the grocery store and just going, Hey, I haven't had that Apple, you know, I haven't had I haven't had that type of onion. You try those different sources. And if all else fails, you can always go the supplement route. But I think it's a real easy thing that people can do.

Philip Pape:

That is awesome. I haven't heard it put that way. And I'm like already thinking, you know, I gotta go generate a list of all these foods separated by those types, you probably have something like that already, or did a video on it, I'm sure. But still, that can be a super helpful resource for folks. Yeah, I didn't even think about like having different types of the same fruit, just to get the different pectin and the skins and speaking of pectin, and all types of fiber, we don't, we often don't break down things. beyond what we see on the nutrition label, right? We see macros and micros, and even not all the micros listen on the label. And there's all these other compounds, these beneficial compounds in the various aspects of the foods, antioxidants, whatever that you get from the diversity. So I think that's a really good message.

Unknown:

My name is Tony Romo strength lifter in my 40s. Thank you to Phil in his Watson weights community for helping me learn more about nutrition and how to implement better ideas into my strength training. Phil has a very, very good understanding of macros, and chemical compounds and hormones and all that and he's continuously learning. That's what I like about Phil, he's got a great sense of humor, he's very relaxed, very easy to talk to. And one of the greatest things about Phil, in my view is that he practices what he preaches, he also works out with barbells, he trains heavy, not as heavy as me, but he trains heavy. So if you talk with him about getting in better shape, eating better, he's probably going to give you some good advice. And I would strongly recommend you talk with him. And we'll help you out. Thanks.

Philip Pape:

So before we move to the second topic, because man, this could be like a two hour podcast, if at the rate we're going seriously, what about individual differences in anatomy? Or even like pathological conditions that affect some of what we're talking about? Is that worth getting? bothered about? worth discussing? Or is it more of a like, when you have a problem, you deal with it?

Justin Cottle:

You know, so I think like, the way I think about it, is there is the intellectual side of it. And then there's the practical realist side of it, where, intellectually I think it's a very fascinating conversation. But practically, there's not much you can really do about it. In terms of say, like, let's talk about just the individual anatomy aspect. The digestive system can vary, like I said, the small intestine can be anywhere between 15 and 30 feet long. Now, if you were to look at the data, you might be like, huh, I think Shaquille O'Neal probably would have a longer, small intestine, right? He's bigger. But if you look at the data, it doesn't actually always correlate a height, meaning a taller individual might have a smaller length and small intestine and is shorter individual might have a longer small intestine, why that makes a difference. If you have a longer small intestine, there's more time for nutrients to be absorbed. You get more nutrition from the food you eat. If you have a smaller small intestine, you get less nutrition from it. And that can actually impact your diet. The thing is, how do you figure out how long your small intestine is? Right? There's not really many tests for you to do this, right? You go talk to your GI doc and just be like, Hey, I would like to measure my small intestine and look, I mean, they're not really going to be able to do that for you. And so that's where all the sudden it goes into that practical realm of I don't know what to do with it. Obviously, there's going to be you know, digestive issues, you know, you have celiac disease, you have Crohn's disease, you have immune diseases. There's so there's that is more pressing. To call, obviously, you can kind of tackle that. But I think what I personally think is the best response for most diseases of the gastrointestinal tract is still to tackle diet right at the very beginning. And you find it doesn't fix it. I'm not here to say it fixes things, but it does alleviate a lot of problems. And so it's hard to get, you have to take it on an individual basis. But there are differences in people's anatomy, there are differences that people can measure in some aspects. But usually, there's not much you can do about it. In a lot of ways, it's just it's hard, it's complicated you, you would need to have a considerable amount of money to be able to do a considerable amount of tests in order to figure out the nuances of your own body, or you could let someone distract you. And that's probably not going to work for you either.

Philip Pape:

It's interesting, what comes to mind for me is when you talked about, it generally starts with diet, which totally agree with that philosophy, like let's do things naturally as best as possible, and then see what's left that we might have to deal with. So I have an esophageal condition called eosinophilic, esophagitis, I had it since I was young, where it made it very tough to swallow, because I have these little nodules in my esophagus, eosinophils that migrate there, there's some protein that causes them to migrate there. And before there was a medication for it, there's an asthma medication that they labeled, they tested, it actually worked on this, and I take it and it works wonders. But before that was the case, I had two options, either take some sort of like beta blocker or something like that, or eliminate dairy, gluten and like for other foods, like almost every food I enjoy, right? So what are your thoughts on like, because that's where it trade, there could be a trade off, I could have done an elimination diet and found it was just one thing. And then but I'd rather just inject myself and enjoy all those foods. And maybe that's not the right approach. What are your thoughts on those kinds of things.

Justin Cottle:

So this is why I'm so passionate about the microbiome, is because when researchers first found the hodza, the hodza, were are one of the last remaining hunter gatherers on the planet there in Tanzania, when they first stumbled upon them, the children's bellies were bloated. And that is a huge signifier of malnutrition. Well, they weren't malnutritioned, they actually were fermenting their guts were so big, they were just so full of gas. And researchers have learned. And this has been on a steady decline, because the hodza are starting to become integrated into modern society. The hodza are the healthiest people on the planet. You know, obviously, they die of blood borne diseases like malaria. But you have hodza hunters who can literally take rock Holan from an antelope and chew on it. And they can scoop out the contents of an antelope stomach, and put it in their mouth and chew on that and spit it out, they'll be covered in blood and feces, and then they will come back and hold their children and the children don't get sick. It's like it's hard, because again, you don't want to feed into the hype of this. But when you look at it, their diversity of their microbiome, the average Westerner or American citizen, has around three to 500 species of bacteria. One species could have hundreds of millions of individuals in it. But my point here is you only have about three to 500. The hodza have over 1000 different species of bacteria over double. And it's also all over their bodies. And so what we're finding is that the microbiome is not important in pretty much every single aspect of your life that you can imagine, including resiliency, and resistance to infections, and different things of that nature. And so when we say like, it all starts with diet, it really does all likely start with diet. And figuring out how to optimize your health around that is one of the best things or most important things we can be doing. But that's hard. That's a really hard problem to solve. I don't want to make it seem like oh, yeah, we can easily figure out all the bacteria and everything. But when people have, you know, like autoimmune diseases like you have, when people have these types of things, those are real, serious problems. And so to figure out what to do around that, you know, obviously, it's very individual, but at the same time, diet, starting the diet is still likely the best place to begin, if it doesn't work. And if we do do need to go to immunotherapies, or an asthma medication in your instance. That's awesome. That's cool. That's where we've done cool science and we figured out another solution to a problem. But at the same time, it's like it should start with that. For sure.

Philip Pape:

Okay, cool. Yeah, no, I always fascinated by that kind of stuff. Because now we have biologics and all sorts of crazy ways to solve some of these things. But I also understand people have practicality and sustainability and like, what they want to live with and versus the indulgences thing, even things like alcohol, you know, I'm always having conversations with clients who rationalize the heck out of it, but still, at the end of the day, they're like, I choose to imbibe a few times a week because I'm, there's for whatever reason that I get enjoyment out of it, and I'm going to do it so It's always interesting from a practical standpoint. All right, you want to talk about training? Sure. Yeah. So we got a lot of lifters in our community. We talked about adaptation, you know, muscular adaptations to training. And I think obviously, the anatomy is huge here when we talk about the physical, the musculoskeletal system. So get out of the gut. Now over to the other parts of the body, I think the gut may still come in here. Where do we even start here? So, strength and hypertrophy are goals for a lot of individuals, we understand a lot of what it takes to go from A to B, even though I know the research is still out on all the mechanisms underneath. So why don't we start with hypertrophy, because that's the most talked about one, and the influence of training variables and muscle adaptation for that in the context of anatomy. And I'm just curious to hear kind of your unique take beyond what what we hear every day in the fitness industry. So

Justin Cottle:

the way I like to approach strength versus hypertrophy from an anatomical perspective, is you really have to think about it from the body's perspective. So the body has no idea. So think about it, like a baby is born, has no idea what environment is going to be there, what demands are going to be placed on it. And so, obviously, genetics are played a massive role, right? You look at the body form, say, of an individual from Kenya, that's going to be different than say, you know, someone from Serbia, obviously, there's going to be differences there. But at the same time, there is still this blank slate, even with muscle physiology. And so the thing I like to bring to a lot of people's attention are satellite cells. satellite cells, are a type of stem cell that exist on the periphery of muscle cells of skeletal muscle cells. And they're basically they're waiting for a sign or a physical signal, a stress signal to tell them what to be and how to be. And there's a little bit, they can even switch fiber types, right? If we're talking about fast twitch versus slow twitch, there's little nuances with that. But at the end of the day, it really kind of just depends on the demands of your environment, and what that's going to do to the actual cells waiting. And what's cool, is once they say, like, if we're going to be hypertrophic, right, when you become hypertrophic, you need multiple nuclei, to actually fuel that cell is the cell gets so big, that you don't need all these nuclei to be like, Oh, I gotta regulate this, I gotta regulate that I gotta regulate this. So what'll happen is, as you become hypertrophic, you take satellite cells, merge them into pre existing skeletal muscle cells, it grows bigger, and now you have more nuclei. But then let's say you get injured, you get injured, and you need to rest, obviously, your hypertrophy goes down, but the the nuclei stay. And when the nuclei stay, that makes it actually easier to bounce back and rebound. And you see this all the time and resistance training is that people like, oh, it was harder for me to get the gains in the beginning, it's easier to get them again, you know, after time, and that's because you actually retained the nuclei. And that likely plays a role in helping you become hypertrophic faster. Every single time I dive deep into the literature around hypertrophy and strength, and just like the nuances, there's still so much to learn it, there is still so much to learn there in a lot of times, it's hard for me to even say like, I feel comfortable saying this versus that, because there's so much that we just don't know at that granular level. Fortunately, we know enough at the macro level. It's just like, oh, no, like, you know, like, these are the sets these are the reps are going to do this is the weights. We know enough that the practical sense that I think it helps, but at the physiological micro sense, there's still a ton of mystery as to what's actually going on.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, really cool. All right. So there's definitely some things I want to get into here. You know, one thing is there is a high variability of individual response, we've seen that even when in a lab setting, there are trainers telling you exactly how to train and to be intense and execute properly, right? Because sometimes you could just say it's poor form, poor execution and not enough intensity. But even the training variables may have to change from one person to another, like which things you progress and what rep ranges you work in. And so there's a lot of variability. So that's a lot of trial and error. But what causes that variability in response when it comes to the anatomy and to the kind of the recovery in the adaptation process? And it's a big question.

Justin Cottle:

It's a great question. So this is, here's a good way to think about it. When I teach anatomy in the classroom, or if anyone looks at a video about anatomy, you are looking at the average of averages, right? So it's like, there's certain things that we can pretty much guarantee are going to be pretty consistent, right? Your forearms, you have five fingers on two hands, right? There's certain things that are just pretty consistent, but when you start zooming in and zooming in and zooming in, you're gonna see a whole lot of variability. So real easy example I like to give, there are 16 anatomically correct positions for your gallbladder. So, right now the gallbladder we teach sits underneath the liver on the right side, those 16 subtle variations are just like they're kind of just moving a little bit. It's not like it's huge. It's not like your gallbladder is in your foot. But the point I'm trying to make here is, when you start looking at the body and individual differences, you'd be amazed at how different we are. Or you may be from that generalized plan that we teach to any kind of anatomy, one on one type course. And so when it comes to muscle physiology, one thing you have to think about is the different amount of neurons the different amount of synapses, right? So like motor units, for example, right, so a motor unit is one neuron. And how many muscle cells it's attached to, there are averages, right, and it also depends on the muscle group. So for instance, I think like in gastroc, so gastrocnemius and your calves, one neuron, I think goes to about 1600, different muscle cells, muscle fibers, so that means if that one neuron fires, all 1600 of gastroc fibers fire at the same time. That's the average, right? So if I were to say, Look at, look at your calves, we measure it to my calves, mine might be much smaller, my motor unit would be smaller, yours might be larger. And that can actually make a difference in terms of power. Right. So for instance, gastroc, you don't need to have a too small because gastroc just really needs to push off the ground. That's all it really needs to be able to do. But that means though, for certain people, especially what's interesting, when you look at the differences in elite athletes, what I love to tell people is it's like, what's the difference between first and second place at the Olympics? The 10th of a second, right? You know, they do the same training, they put all this kind of stuff. So then you know, for a fact, then why again, we look say, Michael Phelps, why is he so different? We've looked and done tests on Michael Phelps, and we have on many of these elite athletes, and you see that they genetically, they have just different amounts of motor units, they have different amounts of fast twitch versus slow twitch, there's all these variabilities. And we don't know exactly why they always distribute the way they do. Obviously, genetics plays a role. Sometimes the environment can even shift that in certain circumstances. But to say like, what is it that's what's going on? Why is this person different than this person, it's really just nature experimenting. Because it's like as, as nature's just kind of throwing out there's little variabilities in the DNA. And if that's successful, then they're likely to pass on their genes. And then that just keeps on going and going and going. And so it's really just nature experimenting, I know, it's again, that's not a really satisfying answer as to what makes these individual differences. But it's really fascinating to see, especially someone who's looked in the body when so when I perform a dissection, you will see so many differences. You're just like, Whoa, that lung looks weird. You know what I mean? That in a respectful sense, but you're like it, you'd be blown away with how different everybody is, from that generalized blueprint. And so when it comes to athletics and fitness, in the microscale, those differences can really start to show up. I

Philip Pape:

love this stuff. I mean, that what you're describing is like the anatomy is the microcosm of the bigger differences we all see between humans, like we know are different. And you're right. It's like evolution constantly happening, even though we don't realize that's the case. And partly because humans all spread their genes nowadays, right? Like we can all survive given modern technology. I want to recap a few things just for the listener, and I find fascinating. You talked about how they're, you know, multiple nuclei to fuel muscle cell, and then the drawers in the satellite cells, so it can grow bigger, and then they stay there, which explains why if you're D trained, and then years later, you get back into it. And I've seen this with clients who are D train, I'm like, wow, they're super responsive, when they come back, it's a great reason to, like start today building muscle, because it's gonna benefit you for the long run no matter what age you are. Also, the fact that the individual responses are so different with motor units and fasten sojitz fibers, for example, that would explain some of the differences with like power and vertical jump capability with athletes. We also have different limb lanes, different proportions that affect your movement patterns, like with your squat and stuff like that. So it just the big message is you everyone's different, and you've got to find what works for you. You've got to experiment and kind of use the general guidance that we talked about, but then immediately collect data that shows you whether that guidance is kind of on the norm or is on the outliers of that bell curve.

Justin Cottle:

And if sorry, if I don't mean to interrupt you, but you actually reminded me of one more thing that I think your listeners really enjoy. One of my favorite things to do when I would show people this in the lab is so again, if we think about that generalized blueprint, there's inferior teaching skeletal muscle anatomy, we always talk about origins versus insertion. So basically, it's just what parts of the bones to the muscles attached to. So when I'm teaching it in the classroom, I always teach it the same, but it's not Always the same in reality. And so I want you to think about this from a mechanical standpoint, if a muscle attaches on a bone, maybe even a centimeter different from where it should I say should in quotation marks are the averages? What kind of effect is that going to have on leverage? So you can see this, like one of my, one of my favorite examples is latissimus dorsi. So latissimus dorsi is the broad muscle on your back? Well, for most of the human population, it doesn't touch the scapula, it goes right underneath the inferior angle, but for some people, it goes on top. And it actually covers the inferior angle of the scapula. So then what you can do is start thinking, well, what would that do to the scapula, the scapula would then be more strongly anchored to your torso. What would that mean? Well, for certain activities, you're going to be limited, right? So maybe rock climbing would not be your best, because then you're going to have some kind of limited range of motion. But at the same time, you're going to be more stable. So maybe gymnastics might actually be better for someone like that. What's fascinating is, and again, there's not really easy tests for this to figure out where your muscle differences or abnormalities are, but you're likely amazing and perfectly fit for some activity, you're great at, you're generally good at all these different ones, but who knows, you might be the world's best ping pong player and just never know it. Like who knows your muscles might literally be formed for one specific activity, and you could be an elite athlete in that if you were able to train from that from an early age, it's just a really interesting thing to think about that muscles, literally, if they attach to slightly differently, you want to talk about the effect on the vertical. I mean, that can be profound if gastroc and soleus are attached to the calcaneus in a subtly different way. And then you pack in some different fast twitch fibers, all of a sudden, you can see, you know, brawny James, who just recently had like a 40 foot, well enough 40 4040 inch 40 and a half inch vertical, it's amazing, you can start to see subtleties really show up. Yeah,

Philip Pape:

we see that as well with both bodybuilding and powerlifting and powerlifting. With the leverages, you know, you might have a much better squat and deadlift, or vice versa, because of some of those insertions or you see that with the bench press as well. And then in bodybuilding, it affects your symmetry and your look in oftentimes, like the peak of your bicep and things like that, whether it's closer or farther away. So not that you can do anything about it. But it's good to know what they are. And then maybe try a bunch of different sports and a bunch of different things to see if all of a sudden you're you're really good at this. Let's talk about bone health, too, because it often gets lost in the discussion when we talk about training and strength. I've worked with a lot of women, and obviously osteopenia and osteoporosis are big concerns. And, you know, for me, the top thing I recommend is strength training, right, because of the actual changes to your bones structure that get induced. So tell us about that. What have you seen, like maybe in cadavers, we see a different intensity from a lifetime of lifting versus being sedentary or things like that.

Justin Cottle:

So unfortunately, with the how the body donor industry works is that if you are basically under the age of 55, and you pass away, you are likely to have your organs harvested. Even if you were signed up to donate your body, because you're young enough, your organs are still likely healthy enough that they can save a life. So what that means is for body donors, we really don't see them until they're at the end of their life. So we're talking 6070 8090, even 100 years old, it's obviously you're looking at individuals who are far past optimal health. There's only been a few instances where you'll see a younger individual, it's really special circumstances, I didn't get to see it. But at the local university, University of Utah, I'm in Utah right now, a few years ago, they did have a bodybuilder I didn't get to see the individual. And it's like, I really wish I could go seen that. But the stories are heard, were incredible to look at the because we're all so used to seeing a 75 year old, you know, who had cancer, their body is just riddled in atrophy and disease. So it's hard to actually be able to tell, in fact, it's not that I say you couldn't, but we also would don't get a medical history on the individual. So I don't know what's going on. And there's this level of guesswork with it. But at the end of the day, you can still tell them people are more active than not. Right. So you can definitely tell when people are just outright sedentary. You can see it because the bones will literally shape to whatever form so if they're hunched over, right, if they're sitting in a wheelchair or a lazy boy, or if they're laying in bed, you can see those impacts on the joints, or how it impacts the joints. And you can see when people obviously just their posture, like especially like if we make a not to be too graphic, but if we make a cut right down the middle of the body, it's called a sagittal cut. What you can do is you can see the inside of the entire vertebral column. And when you see that you can see postural shifts postural changes, but you can also see the density of what we call spongy bone and how thick the little arches are inside of that and so the thicker they are. This is almost always true. The thicker they are the healthier the bone there are some differences. But the point I'm trying to make here is I can often tell like, oh, this person was 80. Yes, they died of cancer, but they were actually pretty active. This other individual, you can see just the thinning of the bone. And you can tell, okay, they were likely on active and you can also see their bones are just literally shaped differently based on how they were sitting. So, unfortunately, you can't look at someone and say, Oh, they lifted weights, or anything like that, just at that age. It doesn't work as I wish. But unfortunately, it's more of a guessing game at that point. Yeah,

Philip Pape:

yes, we have to settle for DEXA scans and stuff of living people, we do see that I was just curious. But the logic holds, then if you see the bones getting more brittle and spongy due to lack of activity, and simply walking and holding up your normal frame that does load your musculoskeletal system, regardless, keeps them from doing that, it goes to reason that adding more load would make them more dense and strong, which, you know, we know again, we know from living people. I was just curious on the cadaver side. Okay, so that addresses activity. What about neurological adaptations to training? Is there any is there an aspect of anatomy, we're able to see that given that it's in the brain, but I assume it's also tied up with the nervous system in some physical way?

Justin Cottle:

I don't know. So there's nothing you can really see with the naked eye. If you're looking at say, like slides, if you're looking at some kind of like micrograph or something, you're going to be able to see just how the nervous system does adapt. And the nervous system adapts in some really cool ways. I think a lot of people are understanding of the plasticity of the brain and how neurons can actually move around there. But there's also some plasticity at the actual neuromuscular junction, there's some plasticity, as works with the what's called the fascial system. So and how that is all innervated. But it's hard to, you can't really see that with the naked eye. And so for me, in my experience, I've worked in what are called gross anatomy labs. So gross anatomy lab is just what you see with the naked eye. So we were never using like a microscope or anything along those lines. So I don't have a lot of experience myself in really analyzing the plasticity at a practical level. But I can tell you intellectually, and what I've read in the research is that you do see that, obviously, you know, if you are prioritizing a specific workout a specific lifts, I mean, like for instance, say like you're a rower, you are a competitive rower, say in college or something, well, obviously, your nervous system is going to adapt not just in your actual brain, but at the level of the muscles right at the joints, you're gonna see plasticity around the actual neurons inside the joints. This is something I don't think a lot of people understand. Because they're called like joint kinesthetic receptors, you have receptors that monitor the positions of the joints, those can become more finely attuned. And so they can actually send feedback to the brain quicker and more efficiently, so that you can get better response time and reactionary time. So those types of things we know about, we see that in the literature, it's something you can train for, to some aspect, but it's not as simple as like, Oh, I'm just going to do this one activity, and then I'll become superhuman at it. Obviously, there's limitations to it. But at the same time, the body definitely does adapt at that neuro muscular level.

Philip Pape:

That's amazing man. This is this is one of the coolest interviews I've ever had just because you're coming with like unique things that people don't think a lot about. And I just learned something I didn't even know there was those kinds of neurons inside the joints. You said they were joint kinesthetic receptors. And that kind of makes sense. We use the terms muscle memory and all of these things. And I'm assuming that's what we're talking about when we develop a pattern, and we repeat that pattern. And then it gets reinforced to the point where it's almost automatic. And you're right, like the reaction time picks up as a result. And the fascial system as well. How does that come into play the fascial system? I'm familiar with that somewhat with like massage, for example, an injury rehab.

Justin Cottle:

So fascia is one of the most misunderstood layers of the body. And so the historically speaking from an anatomist perspective, fascia was the thing you removed to get to what's interesting. So for people to understand this, you were to remove the skin. Before you get to the muscle, there's this connective tissue layer that goes on top of the muscles. That's what we call the fascia. So fascia since it's been largely ignored. There has not been a lot of research and even today, it's controversial. What you'll see is people in the massage realm, right so chiropractic massage, physical therapy even will get in there. A lot of them are real big fans of fascia. But then if you look at say, like classical anatomist who are more academic anatomist, they're still kind of like it's not that big of a deal. In terms of like, you can definitely have fascial issues. But in terms of like boosting performance dramatically, a lot of people are skeptical. And I've looked at the data on all sides on all sides, and it's hard to really make up my own mind on where I sit with it. But the thing is, fascia is very richly innervated. So it's not just this connective tissue layer. There are plenty of neurons in there and what they're doing is they're sending feedback. To the brain about the position of muscles, the overall tightness because you have to think about like this, if you say like on your arm, so the arm, fascia wraps the muscles of your arm and creates what's called a compartment, and that compartment is pressurized, if you actually cut the fascia that reduces the efficiency of the muscles inside of that compartment by as much as 15%. So, what that also means is, let's say like, well, what impact end does hypertrophy have on the fascia? These are these are active and open questions that people are looking at to see how that can be reflected inside of performance. And we just unfortunately, don't have a lot of answers around it. Because it's been ignored for so long. The data we do have. And I say this with respect comes from people that are highly biased, right? Like the fascial research comes from the fascial Research Society or things like that, where not to say that it's outright wrong, but at the same time, it's like we need more data before we can really understand what's going on. So it's hard to really talk about fascia outside of the hype. Just understand there's a lot of active research going into fascia, because there does look to be some exciting stuff.

Philip Pape:

Okay, yeah, I mentioned the massage therapist, because I tried to get one every month. And she's like, Yeah, you know, she'll mention it. Again. I've heard it within the physical therapy realm. But it is pretty cool that there are obvious mechanistic and physical interactions that we can prove with, like you said, if you cut it or something, and so then what's the reverse on that in terms of how we can impact it? Very cool questions, lots of excellent questions. I guess. The last thing here, is there anything you wish I had asked you related to personalizing your training and nutrition around anatomy?

Justin Cottle:

You know, that's a really good question. I don't know. I think we got around, I thought we did pretty well today. I don't know that there's anything that just jumps to my mind. I think what I would like to tell people is that anatomy is oftentimes a boring science. And I say that as someone who loves it, because anatomy is a science of just classification. It's just like, here's, you know, this is your, you know, this is your flexor carpi radialis, you know, like it attaches here to, that's a pretty boring thing, but the power that comes from it, especially for those who are really interested in their body. You can't oversell it. It's an amazing science that I encourage everyone to look into. And there's plenty of fantastic resources online for it. But in terms of like, questions that I think we covered pretty much everything I generally speaking everything that I would have liked to, yeah,

Philip Pape:

no, it's awesome. I didn't know some of the things we uncovered. It's gonna get me to want to look more into anatomy in my practice, and for the podcast, as well. And I'll probably hit you up on like some of these really good resources besides you, which you're an amazing resource, of course, for folks, because I think we take what's the word, we take too much of an anecdotal approach sometimes. And some of these, these big questions are being answered out there. And we just need to start merging the different disciplines, even more powerfully. So where Justin, can people learn more about you and your work? Yeah, so

Justin Cottle:

like you mentioned, the Dissection Room is what I'm doing. There's a YouTube channel called the Dissection Room. You can find me on Instagram. I think my instagram handle is real Justin Caudill. Just you can send me DMS and everything going there. substack, the Dissection Room?

Philip Pape:

Those are the places to find me these days. Cool. Yeah. And guys, check out his YouTube channel because it's super highly produced for one. So kudos on like the production quality. But the topics are just they're Legion. I mean, they're across the board. There's, if you're just into geeking out on anything, whether it's technology or philosophy or whatever, he's probably got it covered in there. Very long library of really cool stuff, and especially a lot in the health realm as well because of the anatomy angle. Thanks again, man. Justin, this has been a lot of fun. We learned a lot. The listener learned a lot and it was a pleasure having you on. Thanks, Bill.

Justin Cottle:

Appreciate it.

Philip Pape:

Thank you for tuning in to another episode of wit's end weights. If you found value in today's episode, and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights. Please take a moment to share this episode with them. And make sure to hit the Follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

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