Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast, then weekly podcast where Dr. G. gives you the tools you need to boost your health, and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry (00:16):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast, and no, if you’re watching on video you are seeing me in an interesting pair of glasses, which we’re going to talk about for this entire episode. So, believe it or not, according to the Nielsen Global Connect, a company that gathers consumer and marketplace data, the average American adult spends nearly 11 hours a day looking at a screen. Now, considering that the average person is awake 17 hours a day, that’s a huge chunk of our existence, and this isn’t just hard on your eyes.
You see, computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices with screens, along with LED and fluorescent lights, emit an artificial light called blue light. And since so much of our days are spent soaking up blue light, it’s natural to wonder how is this affecting our health? Well, on today’s episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast I’ll be speaking with Matt Maruca, founder of Ra Optics, R-A like the Egyptian god, a blue light blocking eyewear company to understand what the heck blue light is, how could it be affecting you, and ways to minimize your exposure. Matt, welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast.
Matt Maruca (01:50):
Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure.
Dr. Gundry (01:52):
So, I understand that you struggled with health issues since you were a teenager. Can you tell us briefly about your journey, and your aha moment when it came to blue light?
Matt Maruca (02:06):
Absolutely. So, I began looking for answers when I was 14 going into high school, because I was daily having headaches, gut issues, allergies, and all these sorts of things, and the actual first aha moment I had was largely influenced by your work and the work of folks in the Paleo movement when I realized that the food I was eating was such a huge problem. I cut out the highest lectin containing foods, grains, legumes, and other toxic modern processed foods, and had such a huge improvement in my health from a previous vegetarian diet that I thought, “Oh, my gosh, what else do I not know about how the body works? Everything I know, for all I know, could be a lie at this point.”
So, as I began to advance on diets, I would get to a place where I thought maybe I had made 75% improvement, but I always felt like there was a little bit more that I could do, and that’s when I started looking into what influences other factors in my body that drive health such as, for example, sleep and mitochondria. I didn’t have those search terms in my head initially, but I came across some work that indicated that if our mitochondria, if our cellular engines, which are these bacteria that live in our body much like the gut bacteria, which you speak of very often, if they’re not working optimally, how are we going to be functioning?
It turns out that this entire modern indoor lifestyle we’ve created is absolutely catastrophic for our mitochondria so that even if we eat a, for example, perfect diet, if our lifestyle is lacking in its light spectrum that is necessary to optimize the mitochondrial function, then we will not be able to function as an optimal human no matter how great our diet is. So, that kind of led me into figuring out how can I block the wavelengths that we’re getting too much of in the modern world, and then of course go back out in the sun to get the remainder of the full spectrum that is critical for a lot of processes like vitamin D synthesis, proper blood flow and so on in the body.
Dr. Gundry (04:26):
So, are you trying to tell me that a light can affect my mitochondria? I mean, come on.
Matt Maruca (04:35):
Yeah, actually, exactly.
Dr. Gundry (04:38):
So, give us an example … Blue light, I mean, is that a blue light special at Kmart in the good old days, or what … blue light’s a part of natural light, right?
Matt Maruca (04:52):
Correct, yeah. So, blue light is just one of the … we call it blue, but if we were physicists we would just call it 400 to 500 nanometers of light on the electromagnetic spectrum, and that’s what we perceive as blue. It’s just a range of electromagnetic wavelengths just like the rest of the colors that make up the rainbow. So, in the sun, blue is a large component of the light and it controls a number of our biologic processes, primarily the timing of our circadian rhythm via these nonvisual optical pathways that go from the retina of the eye directly to the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the brain that controls the circadian rhythm and a huge number of processes throughout the entire body, because it is the master clock and the hypothalamus is the master regulator of our metabolism.
So, blue is okay when it’s found in sunlight. However, the modern lights that we have today, such as for example, cool white LEDs which are the basis of modern screen devices and tremendous amount of modern lighting, many people are familiar with the extremely bright headlights on Audis in the new cars can almost blind you and kill you when you’re on the road, those are cool white LEDs, and they are enriched with blue light in order to be much brighter. But this comes at the significant cost of disrupting our body’s natural circadian rhythm and signaling processes, which are controlled by blue light in ways that are non visually perceived.
Dr. Gundry (06:25):
Whoa, dude, hold on a second, you’re really hitting my suprachiatic nucleus. Speak English for us for just a second, so what you’re saying, let me summarize, is that normally sunlight and blue light would activate some circadian rhythm awake cycles in us, and what effect would that have on us?
Matt Maruca (06:57):
Well, one of the primary effects is that when we’re exposed to light, in the beginning of the day in particular, it will increase the secretion of our stress hormones cortisol. So, putting it in plain English, light, in particular blue wavelengths, they wake us up. They wake us up, they turn off the secretion of our sleep hormone and repair hormone, melatonin, and then turn on the secretion of our stress hormones and wakefulness hormones and so on. For example, serotonin is another neurotransmitter associated with wakefulness and so on, and its production is largely stimulated by light exposure on the eye impacting the brain and so on. So, this is sort of how blue light from the sun is designed to have a positive benefit for our body, but when you have it at night it disrupts our important sleeping repair processes, which can create some serious havoc in our body.
Dr. Gundry (07:54):
Well, in my original book I pointed out that summer was a time of long daylight, and we were actually designed with that increasing light exposure to be hungry and to go find food, because summer obviously was before the winter and it was a really good idea to get as much food as possible before the hard times. I wrote about movie theaters knew long ago that if the screens reflected blue light, particularly on the previews, that you would head to the concession stand and double up on your popcorn order and your Junior Mints just from that stimulation of that light. So, this has actually been known about by people wanting to sell us things. So, you’re saying though that this incredible now 20, almost 24 hours a day exposure to blue light emitting lights, like for instance an LED light or a fluorescent light, instead of an incandescent light bulb is really screwing us up?
Matt Maruca (09:15):
Absolutely, that is exactly right.
Dr. Gundry (09:18):
So, what made you cognizant that maybe your exposure to blue light was a piece of the missing puzzle after you got your diet squared away?
Matt Maruca (09:33):
I think that’s a fantastic question. So, as I was improving my health with my diet, like I said, there was still a bit of a lapse in, or a gap between where I was and where I felt intuitively that I would be able to go. Lots of the research and the blogs and articles of many of the Paleo diet authors led me to believe that I didn’t have to deal with, for example, allergies, and immune issues, and gut issues, and energy issues, and yet no matter how strict I was on my, for example, Paleolithic diet template, for example, even autoimmune Paleolithic diet, or even GAPS diet, gut and psychology syndrome diet, I still was having trouble improving my, or fully clearing my symptoms.
So, that was the point at which I began to come across some work about the importance of, again, our environment and mitochondrial function, and the best analogy that I like to make is that the body is, in a sense, a lot like a car. In particular, our mitochondria, our cellular engines, are a lot like car engines, because both our engines and a car engine use some form of organic matter, a hydrogen based fuel source, which has electrons excited by sunlight, whether it’s an ancient fossil fuel, or a brand new fresh banana, or an animal that ate a banana, we use that and burn it with oxygen that we breathe just like a car engine breathes oxygen in order to generate energy in different forms.
So if, for example, you were driving your car, or tried to start your car one day and the engine was misfiring, it wasn’t starting, or if you started accelerating and it was blowing black smoke and it wasn’t going, you might say, “Well, okay, I must be using bad gas. So, let me go to the gas station and put in some premium gas instead of regular, or whatever cheap stuff they were using at the other gas station.” You put in premium gas, you drive down the road, and the same problem’s still happening. So, you basically say, “Okay, well, I’m putting in premium gas, why isn’t my engine working better?” The issue of course is that the engine itself might have a worn out spark plug, but if you’re looking only at the gas you wouldn’t notice or realize that you actually have to take the car to the mechanic and get the engine fixed.
So, same thing in the body, when we’re exposed now to … based on what I was starting to learn at that time, when we’re exposed, for example, to blue light at night this leads to a lowered production or secretion of melatonin, then that leads to less quenching of free radical molecules that are generated throughout the day, such as reactive oxygen species, and so on, that leads to increased levels of mutated mitochondrial DNA, and basically just suboptimal energy production is the best way to put it when we have worse sleep. So, when this happens we could eat a really great diet, but the best way to put it is a perfect diet still can’t fully combat the effects of an indoor lifestyle, we kind of have to get both right.
One thing that kind of adds some more context is I have good friend, he’s a recently graduated MD, and he was working at a functional medicine clinic, and what he observed that caught him very much interested and surprised was that certain treatments they would do on elderly people, or slightly older people, would have great results, but if they did those same functional medicine treatments on a young kid who spent all day indoors and played video games and never went outside, even though they’re younger they wouldn’t actually receive the result that someone who was older was. So, that sort of could very likely be because of mitochondrial damage and so on going in these kids, and the loss of that innate ability to heal, which is often the presupposition of many of these diets, and so on, you remove the bad stuff, and the body’s going to heal itself, maybe not now in the modern world, and I think that was the case for me.
Dr. Gundry (13:34):
Yeah. So, what made you … okay, so you need to get your blue light out of your life, that sounds like a incredibly hard undertaking in the modern world. So other than getting it out of your life, what do you do?
Matt Maruca (13:59):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, the biggest focus for me is the importance of sunlight exposure. So, although we’re talking about blue light and the risks and so on, simply put, humans, and like most organisms, evolved under the full spectrum of sunlight for billions of years as far as we know, and just as life takes energy from the environment and uses it to grow, and do all kinds of … basically carry out all of our functions, we wouldn’t just ignore the tremendous amount of energy present in the sun, it just wouldn’t make sense evolutionarily, and sure enough that’s the case. When we look at our bodies, we have a ton of different processes that are powered by the sun directly in addition to the fact that we consume food, which is a secondary source of energy coming from the sun.
So, for example, some of these processes are the well-known synthesis of vitamin D, but less well-known is, for example, the power of near infrared light in the sun to significantly enhance ATP production, energy production in our engines, in the mitochondria. So, of course, you’re familiar with these red light devices, maybe you’ve interviewed some of the companies that make these, this is huge, and of course it’s cool that this is being done today to help people who live an indoor lifestyle, but looking at the data indicates that it’s really something that we’ve been doing all of history, and now we’re just trying to add this back to our lifestyle.
So, really it’s just, in my opinion, most important to mitigate blue light exposure at night, and just try to get back in line with a really healthy circadian rhythm so that we can have optimal production of all of these hormones. Same thing just like with your work on lectins and the toxins and all these plant foods, it’s something that finally people are starting to realize is not good. I mean, there’s been research obviously longer than just now, but people are really starting to wake up to it now, it’s kind of the same thing with light, although it’s even a little bit less well-known at this time, but it is so critical to have healthy light exposure in order to have our body working properly on all fronts.
Dr. Gundry (16:09):
Well, in The Plant Paradox, and subsequent books I’ve written about the seven deadly disruptors, and blue light is right up there, and in my forthcoming book, The Energy Paradox, I spend even more time talking about blue light and the dangers of blue light. Are certain people more sensitive to blue light? How would you know if you’re more sensitive to blue light?
Matt Maruca (16:40):
Yeah, that’s a really great question. So, I was talking with Ben Greenfield and he was telling me that his gene test, something he did show him that he’s one of the people who are less sensitive to blue light, and so he thinks he’s going to be able to avoid it, or I should say not necessarily-
Dr. Gundry (17:01):
Get away with murder?
Matt Maruca (17:02):
Yeah, get away with it and not necessarily need to wear blue blockers, for example, when exposed to artificial light at night, or that it won’t have a huge impact. But based on the research that I’ve done, it seems to be the case that … it’s certainly the case that all humans have this pigment in our eye called melanopsin, which is the blue light photosensitive pigment, which basically transmits those electrical signals specifically from blue light directly to that part of the brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus or the master timekeeping center.
So, I would say that everyone is very sensitive to blue light. It’s kind of like saying, or asking, “Are more people sensitive to oxygen deprivation, or are less people sensitive to oxygen deprivation?”, like maybe there’s small variants among different types of people, like for example people who live at the tops of the Himalayas can do with less oxygen, but generally speaking it’s sort of a biological certainty or a biological constant among almost all living organisms that we have these circadian rhythms, they’re set by light, if you disrupt them in the modern world, and we’re the only animal plus our pets who are able to do this, so we will have this disruption going on no matter what we do.
It just, on that note, it is interesting to note that, for example, wild animals typically, as far as we know, don’t get cancers and all sorts of diseases, but the ones we bring into our houses with our disrupted light cycles and all kinds of other factors we have in our life, and we feed them grains of course, they’re the ones that get cancer. So, it’s a very interesting situation there.
Dr. Gundry (18:46):
When we started this show we talked about the amount of screen time that we’re all having now, and screen time’s a big topic among parents. Som how does blue light affect children, and you got any thoughts on screen time for kids?
Matt Maruca (19:04):
Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. So, honestly that’s the root of the issue, and I’m glad you ask about it, because it’s a big concern. So, screen time, of course, is one of the biggest sources of blue light for a person. For example, and I’m talking about harmful blue light, again, being outdoors in the sun you’re getting a lot of blue light but it’s balanced by the red wavelengths of the sun. So blue light, in a sense, is causing some more inflammation, it’s a bit more stressful, in a sense, on the body, but we have a ton of red light in the sun which quenches the damage that blue light’s doing and essentially heals our cells simultaneously. Now, if we have these LED screens which have a huge spike in the blue range of emission and significantly less red than the sun, then we’re going to have a serious disruption in these processes.
And so for example, looking at lights is one thing, or I should say being around lighting is one issue, because the lights are above you, or around you. Now, looking into it … the blue light, just to be clear, it has the biggest impact when it’s directly focused on the inner retina, because the melanopsin, and I should say the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which are these intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which are these nonvisual photoreceptors in the eye, they contain this pigment melanopsin, but they’re specifically located in the inner retina, and when we’re looking at a screen we’re getting all of this light directly in that part of the eye, whereas most of the time when you have lights around, even if they’re bad lighting, you’re getting a reflection, they’re around you, it’s peripheral exposure, but with screens, it’s right on the eye.
So, absolutely, screen use is tremendously damaging, because not only is the blue light disrupting the hormone secretions of these children, the neurotransmitter secretions and so on, via its disruption of the hypothalamus, and then the hypothalamus’ disruption, for example, of the endocrine system, of all kinds of other systems throughout the body, it’s also able to just directly damage the retina because this is high-energy blue light that we’re getting a very, very large amount of, again, unbalanced.
And then if you add the fact that many of the lighting sources we’re exposed to are plugged into the electrical grid, they oscillate or they flicker at 60 hertz. So, a lot of people will find that they get migraine headaches, or headaches in general from being indoors under fluorescent tubes, because those flicker so much imperceptibly, so they cause people to just break out in migraines. And that was a huge issue I had for the longest time, and since I just started spending more time outside and less time indoors under these kinds of lights I essentially haven’t had … I have not had a migraine at all in many, many years just since making that small change, even though I had them frequently as a kid.
Dr. Gundry (22:01):
So, is there any research that, for instance, wearing blue block glasses if you’re forced to be indoors, and of course many people are, or that you’re going to have a lot of screen time, can that have an impact on migraines? You obviously have a personal experience with that.
Matt Maruca (22:24):
Of course, yeah, so specifically with migraines there is not a lot of research on blue light blocking glasses in particular, but research around the blue blocking glasses does … there is a lot around the impact of blue blocking glasses on melatonin. So, for example, participants in studies, double-blind randomized controlled studies show that people wearing blue light blocking glasses have increases in their melatonin secretions often upwards of 100% increase in melatonin, so after a few hours of using the glasses.
Now, there’s not nearly as much research yet, we’re looking at getting into some more studies and trials in the near future with different universities and so on, but of course because, and again, this is something I’m sure you’ve got a lot of pushback, or I should say it’s been a big obstacle for you, these huge drug pharmaceutical companies, they have tons of money to fund all the studies they want and cherry pick the results they want. If they have to do it 10 times, they’ll do it 10 times. For products and things that are not as, for example, mainstream or well-funded, it takes a little bit longer, but again, the research will come out.
The great thing is that there is so much research from a clinical side of things on how blue light is damaging, not just to the eyes but to the entire organism to sleep and so on. So, it does fairly logically follow that if we can eliminate that disruption, whether it’s by wearing blue light blocking glasses, or for example, just by reducing the brightness or even changing the lights in our house for nighttime, then we can have some serious benefits on sleep and health.
And for example, I’ll just add that there is some Israeli data on what they call ALAN, A-L-A-N, which is artificial light at night, and they’ve been able to see that as artificial light at night exposure has increased in Israel and around the world there has been a significant corelation, or a corelative increase in a ton of other diseases following that. Again, if one understands the relationship of blue light on melatonin and sleep quality, and then sleep quality on the risk of these sorts of diseases, it becomes pretty understandable that chronic sleep disruption from our lifestyle is going to lead to increased risk or just increased rates of these diseases overall. Again, combined with all the other stressors, the diet, the food we’re eating, toxins, it really creates a perfect storm for people to get these diseases.
Dr. Gundry (25:00):
Now, you mention nighttime light bulbs, can you give us an example of maybe your personal practice, or what can people do? Can they go to Home Depot or Costco and find nighttime light bulbs, or what do you do?
Matt Maruca (25:17):
Yeah, absolutely. There’s plenty of different options. My personal practice, just to start there, is pretty much darkness. So, after the sun goes down … I treat the sun hours as the waking hours, because the sun’s there to power consciousness, wakefulness, and so on, and activity. So, I’m awake usually just as the light comes up, or a little bit before, and then especially with where I am I do have a good number of hours of light still even in the winter. So, I’ll be able to do everything I need during the sunlight hours, and as soon as it’s 7:00 ish, I’m not working anymore, I work on my own schedule, anyhow, but I start to wind down. I generally avoid using artificial lighting after sunset to the extent possible.
Again, sometimes I’ll use my computer, and lately I’ve been using it a lot after sunset because I’m doing a lot of work with my business and so on, so what I’ll so is I have a software that I recommend to everyone called Iris, Iris Tech, that anyone can download, it’s very inexpensive, it’s maybe $10, to remove the blue light from the screens, and it’s more effective than some of the competitors like f.lux. This is an amazing option for screen devices. And then for iPhone’s, for example, the most common cellphone people have, there’s a setting hidden in the accessibility shortcuts where you can basically remove 95% of the blue light and turn the screen basically red. So, if anyone just YouTube searches how to turn the iPhone screen red, you’ll find it absolutely first result, and those are really effective.
Now, the reason the glasses are so important and beneficial, the reason I started the business, is because if you have your screen and your phone hacked you’re going to reduce the issue by 50% or more, but then when you got out on the street, or if you’re out with friends having a drink, or having dinner, or something like that, you’re going to be exposed to all the light that you cannot put a software on. And that’s when the glasses become the most beneficial, because they can absolutely protect the brain and the body from circadian disruption on a regular basis.
So, as far the light bulbs go, to your question there, I would recommend people using light bulbs from a website like lowbluelights.com that have very low blue light, or on Amazon you can find red or orange bulbs. Again, red, yellow, and orange are the warmer … they’re the less circadian active forms of light compared to blue, and green, and purple, which are more energetic and more prone to disrupt our natural sleep cycle.
Dr. Gundry (27:52):
Yeah, I’ve told all my patients who are parents, or who have newborn babies, and we know they’re going to be up at night, one of the most important things is in the baby’s room get one of these lights, and it’s amazing the difference in their sleep quality. Yes, their sleep is going to be interrupted, but if you breastfeed, for instance, using one of these lights, it makes a huge amount of difference in the ability to go back to sleep.
Okay now, tell us more about Ra. Now, a lot of people when they think about blue blocking glasses, they think about this is really cool, and I look like John Lennon, and I’m going to wear these forever, but you’re out with your friends, and maybe we really don’t want to do that. You can get lenses like these, and I’m putting on a pair of lenses that are ridiculously clear, you really wouldn’t know there’s a change, and you’ve got them kind of on, too.
Matt Maruca (29:01):
Dr. Gundry (29:01):
So, is there a difference here other than the really cool factor in terms of blocking blue light?
Matt Maruca (29:10):
Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. So, there’s two categories of blue blockers, and this is a really great subject to get into, because the buyer has to beware when dealing with blue light. For example, sunglasses are something that is now very well-known about, and people wear sunglasses all the time, that’s a separate subject we could talk about. I do not actually recommend … I recommend against the use of sunglasses-
Dr. Gundry (29:32):
Oh, say that again, would you please?
Matt Maruca (29:34):
Yeah, I highly, highly recommend against the use of sunglasses, because of the disruption to the natural secretion production of hormones, because of the stimulation of light on the eye, and they totally … not only that, I mean, so not only when we’re wearing sunglasses do we prevent the body from making optimal levels of serotonin, and melatonin, and for example, cortisol in the morning and whatnot, we also create an opportunity for our eyes and our skin, but our eyes first, to become tremendously damaged, because part of what ultraviolet does is it creates the pupillary contraction response essentially. And so if we’re in a bright place, the pupil will get a little smaller and let less light through.
Now, if we’re wearing sunglasses and we block the wavelengths, particularly that stimulate that, the pupil will stay wider. So, the ultraviolet might be gone, but there’s a ton of high energy blue wavelengths that are still passing through, and just overall high intensity of the rest of the colors of light. So, those come through tremendously, tremendously strong. For example, someone who people might look up to and know is Laird Hamilton, the big wave surfer, and I spoke with his wife and she told me that any time someone is wearing sunglasses he’ll actually yell at them and give them a hard time, because he’s done his research and knows that this is seriously damaging and disruptive. But of course, all the L.A., Malibu types, movie stars, actors and whatnot, everyone wants to wear sunglasses and look cool. But I believe it’s a huge, huge risk.
The second thing that I notice being down here in Mexico, and it just clicked for me recently, is that when someone’s wearing sunglasses, for example, for me, I’m of Irish descent, German, and all these other European heritages, so I have light skin and light eyes. So, I can get a good amount of morning sunlight, but when it comes to midday, the strong ultraviolet, my cells aren’t optimize for that, it’s going to be too much. I could burn, and that’s when we start to have issues when we burn and whatnot. Anyhow, so the light intensity coming through my eye in the middle of the day signals to me, okay, that’s enough. It gets very overwhelming, and stressful in some sense if I’m on the beach at 12:00 noon.
Now, if I slapped on a paid of sunglasses it’d be like taking some sort of drug that basically knocks you out. I’m not very familiar with a lot of painkillers and drugs, and that sort of thing, it’s not my thing, but something that would just totally make you immune, or just not immune, but unaware of what’s happening around you where you could basically sit in the sun from 12:00 to 2:00, the strongest hours of the day when you should not be out if you have light skin, especially in the summer, and cook yourself, and fry your skin, get burnt, basically create the ground for skin cancer and that kind of stuff, and that’s all just because you’re wearing sunlight and turning off your body’s natural danger mechanisms to when you’re getting too much sun. So, people think sun’s bad, it’s like, no, we have all these mechanisms to get just the right amount, like when we get too hot and all this stuff, but we just destroy those mechanisms by using sunglasses.
Dr. Gundry (32:41):
Well, you heard it here first, folks. Yeah, actually I have one pair of sunglasses that I almost never wear and it’s an ongoing discussion between my wife and I, and I really totally agree with you, I think sunglasses are one of the dumbest inventions, and I know I’m going to get a lot of-
Matt Maruca (33:06):
Dr. Gundry (33:07):
… emails about this, but they … I mean, absolutely get UV filters in your glasses, and get some blue blockers. Speaking of which, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that the blue blocking eyewear is just silliness. What say you?
Matt Maruca (33:26):
Yeah, I would just turn the question right back at you and say what is the American Medical Association, or the American Nutrition Association say about lectins? They put them right at the bottom of the food pyramid and they say you should eat as much of them as possible. So, generally speaking I would not … for very obvious reasons I would be very, very skeptical about the recommendations of bureaucratic government or large bureaucratic bodies such as these. But essentially, yeah, the science is very much contradicting their position that blue light is essentially harmless and that blue blockers cannot do anything.
But I would say for anyone who’s interested, they should do their own research, they should try the product, for example, with my company we offer people the option to return the glasses if they don’t like them at our expense, and whatnot. So, this is something people should just try, see if they feel better, if they sleep better just by using candles in their house in the evening rather than using, for example, bright lighting, and then they make a decision.
Dr. Gundry (34:33):
There was an old saying that Thomas Edison was the father of all modern diseases when he created the light bulb, because prior to that all evening light, as you know, was yellow and red spectrum from lamps, from fireplaces, and it was the advent of white light at night that screwed everything up. I wouldn’t go so far as he caused all the problems, but it’s an interesting comment that I’ve always kept to heart that maybe white light at night isn’t a very good idea.
Matt Maruca (35:16):
Yeah, I would say there’s definitely, I believe, a lot of truth in that statement. If you’d like I can just touch on the difference between those two glasses to your previous question. So, day lenses, or day blue blocking glasses are these clearish lenses, and the reason they’re nearly clear or they have a slight yellowish hue, some daytime lenses will have more of a yellowish hue which means they’re filtering a bit more blue light, those are okay for day, because they’re just reducing blue. You don’t need to filter out all the blue in the day, of course you want to have some. So, just reducing it is more than adequate, and it has to be the right range though between 440 and 460 nanometers approximately, that’s what these LEDs are kicking off.
Most of the blue light blocking lenses that can be purchased on Amazon, companies like Felix Gray, companies like Zenni Optical, Warby Parker, the biggest online retailers, they’re selling coatings on the lenses that are blue anti-reflective coatings that block blue light, but only up to about 420, and a little bit up to 440 nanometers. So, they don’t block almost anything between 440 and 460 nanometers, so essentially they’re blocking blue light but not the wavelengths that are emitted by screens. And this is, I know it’s shocking, but it’s a big marketing gimmick that your audience needs to be aware of, because again, if you’re blocking 100% to 420, and 30 or 40% to 440, and none pass 440, and the issue begins at 440 nanometers, you’re basically being taken advantage of based on a lack of understanding.
So, again, the biggest optical companies in the world, all of them are selling this concept as a half truth, and the issue is that they believe that the masses or people today aren’t willing to accept a colored lens, a lens with any color, which could be true in some senses, but when you remove blue light that is actually present in the environment, the lens is … it has to take on color, because it’s a visible color, and the lens is clear when all the wavelengths on one side come to the other side unchanged. So, when you remove a significant portion of the blue, anything that’s going to make any difference, there is going to be a slight yellowish hue in the lens.
So, the nighttime lenses now, they block all the light up to 550 nanometers, those ones you’re putting on, and we want to block all the way into the green range up to 550 nanometers, because those are the wavelengths that are going to effect melatonin, and we want it all gone basically. So again, it might be a bit of a statement, but in the modern world I believe it will actually catch on pretty quickly, and we have thousands and thousands of people who love our glasses, wear them every night, and are just having the greatest results. So, it’s clearly something that’s here to stay.
Dr. Gundry (38:01):
So, this is great information because I was just at Costco last month getting some lenses into my, I think, 30th pair of glasses, and they said, “And would you like the blue light blocking lens?”, and I said, “You got that now? Wow, you are so advanced.” I didn’t, because I knew I was going to talk with you, but what you’re saying is, is that’s basically just a filter and isn’t going to get the blue light that I want to block?
Matt Maruca (38:32):
That’s correct. The best analogy I’ve come up with so far is, for example, if you’re on a battlefield somewhere in Germany in World War I, and you’re being bombarded with chlorine gas, and you’ve prepared yourself with a gas mask that can only block out fluorine gas. So, you got a gas mask on, and it’s blocking something, but it’s not blocking the actual gas you want to block, and it’s the same thing with the blue blocking lenses. All of the … or probably 90% of the blue light lenses that are sold, the coatings that optometrists offer to put on top of lenses, they’re blocking light up to 420 or 440 nanometers, but very little or none at all usually around 455 nanometers, which is again the main spike of emission from these blue LEDs.
So, in order to really have a significant of blue reduced there is going to be color in the lens, and the color is what is causing, or basically is the effect of the reduction of the blue, because there’s pigments in the lens that are absorbing light and only transmitting through a certain remaining amount, and that’s what both offers the protection and causes the color.
Dr. Gundry (39:49):
And besides, you’re probably going to look really cool when people notice that you got a little color in your lens, right?
Matt Maruca (39:55):
Yeah, it’s becoming very hip.
Dr. Gundry (39:57):
Or really hip like this, yeah.
Matt Maruca (39:57):
Dr. Gundry (39:59):
All right, so I’ve written all about blue light like I talked about, and I’m really happy that you’re spreading the word, and you got a great product, how do they find you? How do you get Ra Optics, and I’m holding up one of the kid glasses, and I mean, if you want your kid to be hip here in L.A., I mean, golly, and they’re stretchable and fun. Can dogs have these, too?
Matt Maruca (40:29):
That’s exactly something I was thinking about, it’s so funny you ask. I think that would be a great idea to protect people’s dog’s circadian rhythms because as far as we know they’re diurnal, too, and they use melatonin to repair their cells, too, so we are also hurting them with our light. So, to find us people can go to ra_optics, that’s R-A_optics on Instagram, and we have a bunch of great information we post there on a regular basis about the benefits of sunlight, the risks of blue light. Then on raoptics.com people can find our business and our website, and we’re going to have a bunch new frame styles coming in with new seasons, new website and so on, more and more information just as this concept begins to develop, we’re doing all that.
And the personally I have a Instagram page I use called the light diet, so just the diet of our light, essentially, and what I’m doing now from a more educational standpoint, because this is more my passion, the business is my business, and my livelihood, and my other passion, but the light diet is my fascination, so I’m launching a podcast sometime maybe a little later in the year to discuss mitochondrial health, and so on, and maybe that’s something we’d even get you onto at some point, and have a conversation about The Plant Paradox, and all these sorts of things.
Dr. Gundry (41:52):
Well, yeah, believe it or not my next book coming out this fall is The Energy Paradox, and I’m going to second your idea that light may be the best energy source for our mitochondria yet. So, good for you.
Matt Maruca (42:10):
I’m looking forward to that one, it’s going to be awesome.
Dr. Gundry (42:13):
All right. All right, great, so getting back to light bulbs, what’s your opinion if you had a choice between incandescent and LED bulbs?
Matt Maruca (42:24):
Absolutely I would go for incandescent bulbs. The reason being that LEDs typically, not always, you can have warm LEDs, but typically they have a lot more blue light, so that’s one issue, and also they have this flicker effect, so there is a significant … how can I say, disruption to the brain when the lights are flickering at these imperceptibly fast levels. The brain picks it up even though we don’t visually even see it. So, incandescents typically do not deal with this issue, these bulbs. Also, a benefit of incandescents is they produce heat, so they are actually providing, just by being around us, a little bit of these red and infrared wavelengths that are generally deficient in all LEDs. So, that’s the best way to put it.
Now, the issue in California, someone was telling me recently you can’t even order incandescents from Amazon to California, they’ve made them outlawed. So, you’d have to do a run … I would do a run to Nevada or something, pick some up, and come back, because of the energy inefficiency. But here’s the issue is they’re energy inefficient because they kick off more energy, but that’s actually energy that our cells use. So, by being energy efficient in the light bulbs, we’re being less energy … getting less energy for our mitochondria and cells, and then we’re going to be spending way more energy in health care costs and hospitals down the road as a result of these kinds of decisions, I think.
Dr. Gundry (43:49):
Also, people should realize that it is actually technically possible to make an extremely long lifed incandescent bulb. In fact, I talk on one of my videos about the 100 year bulb, which is still burning, an incandescent bulb 100 years continuously.
Matt Maruca (44:11):
Dr. Gundry (44:11):
So, when people say they don’t last very long, that’s because manufacturing makes them so that they won’t last very long. Consider the sources. All right, well, Matt, it’s great having you with us, and good luck with your endeavors, and we will get some blue blocking Ra glasses from you, thanks.
Matt Maruca (44:40):
Likewise, it’s been a pleasure.
Dr. Gundry (44:42):
All right. So, now it’s time for our audience question. In response to a discussion I had with Dr. Joseph Mercola about fasting, Robert Demini, iRobert on YouTube wrote in and asked, “How do you sleep easily during a longterm water fast?” That’s actually a really interesting question. I noticed one of the things that when I first started doing time restricted feeding now, oh, about 15 years ago, during the winter, as many of you know, from January through June on the weekdays, I eat all my calories in a two hour window at 6:00 to 8:00 at night. So, 22 out of 24 hours I’m fasting, and I have done three day fasts, and I have done one six day fast, and Mercola and I had a lot of talk about fasting, and we’ve talked about that.
One of the things that I notice whenever I do these fasts, or when I switch over to a very limited time restricted window of eating is that I, the first few days maybe in a week, don’t need much sleep. It’s not that I can’t go to sleep, it’s not that I wake up, it’s just that I don’t need much sleep. And I actually view that … and I have an Oura ring, I have a WHOOP band, and it actually tracks that I get a lot more deep sleep during these time periods, and my heart rate variability actually increases during these time periods.
So, I don’t view that less sleep during these times as a negative, I actually view it as a sign that, getting back to Matt’s point, I think my mitochondria become far more efficient, and far more revved up, and believe me I want, as I write about, I want a turbo charged, super charged, four-cylinder engine that makes 1,000 horsepower that could only been achieved with a 12-cylinder engine, and that’s called efficiency, and if most of us who write about this are right, the more efficient I can make my mitochondria, the longer I’m going to be around doing well. So, don’t be afraid of your sleep, and if you’re really worried about it, get yourself an Oura ring, or a WHOOP, or both, I like to compare the two, and see what happens. But that’s a great question.
All right, so that’s it for The Dr. Gundry Podcast, we’ll see you next week, same time, same station, or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and if you want to watch each episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast you could always find me on YouTube at YouTube.com/drgundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you.