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Sep 21, 2019

This episode is all about light, but it's certainly not light on content!

See, the last time I was in Malibu, myself, music producer Rick Rubin and today's guest - Matt Maruca of RA Optics - spent plenty of time geeking out on all things light.

I've known Matt for two years now, and consider him to be one of the world's leading authorities on what is called "photobiomodulation" - or the use of specific wavelengths of light therapy to cause some very beneficial health effects, and also a guy who knows more about blue-light blocking glasses and limiting the harmful effects of artificial light than just about anyone I know.

Today's episode is a special two-parter.

The first section is yours truly filling you in on how sunlight makes you skinny and blue light makes you fat.

The second part is a special solosode from Matt, in which he fills you in on the some little-known aspects of how to use light and how to block light in a way that will affect your energy, sleep, mitochondrial health, and much more, including history of the use of sunlight for health, why the sun and skin cancer isn’t black and white, lots of research on how light affects human biology and the benefits of sunlight, how artificial light affects the body and much more.

Just to give you a "taste" of what you're about to hear: after preparing this episode, I asked Matt: "can you point me to a post or research on "best time of day to cheat if you are going to cheat" based on circadian rhythm/sun exposure? You alluded to it in the audio." He replied:

"I think it would be morning/mid-day. One of the factors leading me to say this is Ayurveda which I imagine you're familiar with. An Ayurvedic doctor I started working with explained this to me in their terms.

Basically, in the middle of the day as the sun is stronger, the metabolism is more active. They call this energy "pitta", or fire. So, we can burn through stuff pretty well. This is why they generally suggest eating "heavier" food in the middle of the day for lunch.

And, it's a no brainer to me to fast through dinner because then the body can completely burn through everything you've consumed.

As for the Western Research, Satchin Panda from the Salk Institute leads the way. I recommend watching his TED talk where he explains their experiments on mice.

They basically found that mice eating healthy food when their metabolism is turning off had way more problems than mice eating unhealthy food when their engines are running full force. Because they are nocturnal the times are reversed for them relative to us. So for us the best time would be late morning to mid-day. To me, when eating this way I wouldn't even consider it a cheat because the body can move through stuff so well.

If you are comparing to someone who is usually eating a "healthy" dinner at 7 or 8 PM, I am 100% convinced that it would be healthier to "cheat" every day in the middle of the day and fast through dinner then to do what that person is doing. Based on the research, there really is no such thing as "healthy food" after 5 PM or within 4 hours of sleep.

During our discussion, you'll also discover:

-The impact of light on human biology, for better or worse [8:10]

  • Deleterious effects of artificial light have been well researched
    • Recent studies show artificial light linked to breast cancer and sleep disorders
    • Exposure to artificial bright light at night suppresses melatonin secretion and increases sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep)
  • LED's are replacing fluorescent bulbs (for better efficiency)
  • LED's cause retinal damage, cell death in eye tissue
  • Dimming, color changing features make things worse (flicker)
  • Flicker can cause irreversible damage to the retina
  • Oxidative stress damage
  • Photobiology: The study of the effects of ultraviolet, visible and infrared radiation on living organisms.
  • Book: The Influence of the Blue Ray of Sunlight
  • Red light used to treat smallpox in 1903
  • Phototherapy becomes therapeutic intervention
  • Book: Light Therapeutics by John Harvey Kellogg
  • Light affects metabolism
    • mTOR in the summer; AMPK in the winter
  • Being careful with light exposure allows you to strike a proper balance  between anabolism and catabolism

-10 light biohacking tactics to optimize your body and brain [17:30]

  • Use healthy light bulbs
    • Color rendering index (CRI)
    • Look for a CRI of 97 or higher in LED bulbs
    • Lower than 3000 color temperature (kelvin)
    • Avoid incandescents coated in white
  • Get as much morning sunlight as possible
    • Morning fasted walk in the sunshine
    • Eat a diet rich in fatty acids (Vitamin A and D)
  • Block blue light as much as possible at night
    • 400-485 nanometer wavelength
    • RA Optics
  • Avoid artificial light (night and morning)
  • Use Iris Tech on all your monitors
  • Use anti-glare computer monitor
  • Use Light Dims while traveling
    • Bright light on the skin can affect the circadian rhythm
  • Install a Drift Box on your TV
  • Don't overuse sunglasses
  • Use photobiomodulation as much as possible

-How Matt Maruca became interested in light and blue-light blockers [41:55]

  • At age 14, didn't feel good in general; had acne issues
  • Changed diet to Paleo
  • Previous common health issues fixed themselves (thought they were genetic)
  • Influences: Ben Greenfield, Mark Sisson, Chris Kresser
  • Discovered epigenetics
  • Wandered from diet to diet with no real positive results to show for it
  • Discovered cold thermogenesis
  • Dr. Douglas Wallace linked dysfunctional mitochondria to chronic disease
  • Focused on the fuel rather than the engine as the cause of his illnesses
  • Explains why some people thrive on certain diets and others don't
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction is the problem; light is the solution

-The study of light exposure throughout history [58:00]

  • Several civilizations have studied the efficacy of light on human health
  • Egyptian Pharaoh was excluded from the annals of history because he believed in the power of light to enlighten his people
  • Hippocrates prescribed sunbathing often
  • Ancient Greek athletes used heliotherapy in their training
  • Christophe Hufeland, pioneer in macrobiotics, wrote of the deleterious effects of a lack of light on the body and spirit
  • 90% of kids had some sign of Rickets Disease during Industrial Revolution (lack of Vitamin D)
  • In 1903, Niels Finsen discovers UV light from sun kills TB of the skin (wins Nobel Prize for Medicine)
  • Auguste Rollier opens heliotherapy clinic in Swiss Alps in 1903
  • These discoveries create a "sun craze" - high in enthusiasm, low in knowledge
  • The modern indoor lifestyle causes our body to crave sunlight; however, the skin has not adapted for the level of sunlight we crave, hence the problems we see today

-The horrors of working and living under fluorescent lights [1:12:30]

  • 1980 study found the incidence of malignant melanoma is much higher among office workers; lowest risk was sunbathers
  • Can cause mutations in culture of animal cells
  • From 1957-80, no change in ozone levels in Norway; yet rate of malignant melanoma raised among men
  • Skin cancer rates have skyrocketed since 1900; yet most people work indoors
  • 2016 study showed that avoiding the sun is worse than smoking
  • You can develop a tolerance for sunlight with "solar callouses"
  • Know when your body is warning you

-How sunlight affects the body [1:19:00]

  • Benefits of ultraviolet light
    • Activates synthesis of Vitamin D
    • Lowers blood pressure (release of nitric oxide)
    • Increases efficiency of the heart
    • Improves EKG readings and reduces cholesterol
  • Avoidance of the sun is a form of malnutrition
  • You can never mimic ultraviolet light
  • Light is our life source; cells are designed to attract and capture light
  • Organisms emit UV light for up to 18 hours after dying (soul leaving the body after death)

-The importance of the circadian rhythm to our health [1:26:45]

  • Circadian rhythm
  • "Circadian" comes from two Latin words: circa (approximately) dias (one day)
  • Jesus spoke of the eyes as an indicator of our overall health, physical and spiritual
  • Eyes use a disproportionate amount of energy relative to its weight and size
  • Light coming into the eyes regulates the hypothalamus, which regulates the autonomic nervous system
  • 1953 study showed a circadian rhythm in every living creature
  • Blue light blocking glasses need to block only light that reaches the inner retina, not all light
  • The Circadian Code by Dr. Satchin Panda
  • BGF podcast w/ Dr. Panda
  • If we're ingesting even healthy substances when our engine needs to be shutting down, we're shooting ourselves in the foot
  • Melatonin optimizes our body, repairs mitochondrial DNA
  • Artificial light:
    • Created to extend work hours
    • Contain tremendous amounts of blue light
    • Harms our circadian rhythm

-Matt Maruca's Light Diet Protocol [1:49:50]

  • Sleep (and wake) with the sun
  • Rise with the sun and bathe in the morning light
    • Go to sleep early enough to rise with the sun
    • Set an alarm for 30 minutes before sunrise for 7 days
    • Avoid exposure to artificial light
    • Practice sun gazing
    • One hour walk outside can affect seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
    • Sunglasses are disruptive
    • Pink skin isn't a bad thing
  • Live outdoors during the day
  • Consume fatty seafood
    • Good for the eyes and the brain
  • Consume clean spring water
  • Bathe in cold water
  • Avoid manmade electromagnetic radiation
  • Cultivate your inner light
    • The light is who you are (your soul)

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-RA Optics (Matt Maruca's blue light blocking glasses company. Use code BEN10 for 10% off)

-Ben's new book at - which has a whole chapter on light and other hidden environmental variables that affect your health

-Article: Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.

-Uvex blue light blocking glasses

-True Dark glasses

-Felix Gray glasses

-Iris Tech

-Light Dims

-Eizo Flex Scan monitor

-Drift Box

-Vie Light


-The Circadian Code by Dr. Satchin Panda

-BGF podcast w/ Dr. Panda

-Blue Light Has a Dark Side (Harvard Health)

-BGF podcast w/ Jack Kruse

-Blue free bulbs

-Vintage Edison incandescent light bulbs

-The Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald Pollack

-BGF podcast on cold thermogenesis w/ Dr. Jack Kruse

-Defender Pad

-Cornet ED88T EMF/RF detector

Episode sponsors:

-Ben's newest book: Pre-order Ben's new book Boundless or receive updates on its release via email

-Kion Coffee: Carefully selected and roasted for taste, purity, high antioxidants and health. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.

-JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a nice bonus gift with your order!

-Vuori: Activewear and athletic clothing for ultimate performance. Vuori is built to move and sweat in, yet designed with a West Coast aesthetic that transitions effortlessly into everyday life. Receive 25% off your first order when you use discount code: "ben25"

-Harry's RazorsTry the shaving company that’s fixing shaving. Get a $13 value trial set that comes with everything you need for a close, comfortable shave when you go to

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Matt or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!