#158 Jan Venter, MD – How Ketogenic Diets Improves Memory & Brain Health

by Mike Mutzel


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Mike Mutzel Podcast High Intensity Health



About Dr. Jan Venter

Dr. Jan Venter is a board-certified Family Physician at our False Creek Health Centre. His past positions have included Physician at Shaughnessy Health, and Medical Director at Fusium Medical and Grandeur of the Seas. Dr. Venter obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of the Orange Free State, South Africa, later to receive his Masters in Family Medicine. He is certified by the Canadian Family Practice, Medical Council of Canada and the Institute for Functional Medicine. He is the founder of Fusium Medical and Brain Vault Health Systems. Fluent in both German and Afrikaans, Dr. Venter believes personalized medicine is the future of medicine and that patient-centred care is key.

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Books and Products Discussed in this Episode

Mitochondrial Renewal Kit

Omega MonoPure 1300 EC

PQQ Lozenge | 30 Lozenges | Provides 20 mg Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) per Lozenge | Physician Formulated | Seeking Health

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance

Show Notes


02:05 Dr. Venter’s Brain Health Journey:  Dr. Venter saw many patients from vehicle accidents with traumatic brain injury.  There was no effective means of assessment.  Treatment was a mixture of two antidepressants and hope for recovery. This was not good enough for Dr. Venter, so he dug deeper. A friend was using neurofeedback for evaluating fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It was a non-invasive way to see within the brain. EEG also intrigued him. The equipment became cheaper and smaller. It is a way to capture live data and compare it to a database to evaluate brain health: cognition, depression, concussion, ADD and more.

04:39 Neurofeedback and Quantitative EEG: These modalities assess electrical activity in the brain. EEG was a breakthrough in neurophysiology.  They were able to use GPS data technology on the skull to calculate where the brain signal originates. Then they attempt to match the symptoms to where the problem is. EEG is the technology to read signals. The reverse is done with neurofeedback. You only get feedback if you are able to enhance the signal towards a positive. Neurofeedback is giving the brain direct instant feedback. The brain does not like quiet. It prefers action and growth. Besides noise and video, a vibrating cushion, pulse light or magnetic energy to gently coax the brain toward a positive neuroplasticity plasticity.  It typically takes 6 to 7 sessions of 30 minutes each to see the conditioning brain.

07:14 Better than Normal:  Dr. Fenter has an executive health program called Brain Vault. They do a 10 minute strip of EEG and log it into the database. This provides a baseline. This can greatly assist in assessing future brain injuries and provide a trajectory for treatment.

08:34 Tools We Can Use: Dr. Fenter recommends the Muse App. For high performance athletes. Muse works best on frontal lobes, making it good for meditation and calm.   His friend Leslie Sherlin’s SenseLabs partnered with Red Bull to designed the Versus dry cap EEG.  The Dry Cup EEG costs $400 to $500 US. It works with Bluetooth. The Open EEG Project provides plans and software to DIY an EEG device.

10:16 Bluetooth Concerns: We do not know the effects of EMFs. Limited use of Muse or Versus, especially the newer versions, which have lower amplitude and less EMF emissions, may not be detrimental.

11:46 Cogniscope: Dr. Fenter recommends getting a baseline brain function evaluation, or cogniscope, at about age 10 or 12. For executives (and the rest of us), 35 to 40 is a good time.  These are important for anyone in a contact sport.

13:29 Getting Back to Baseline: MRIs do not always show the microhemorrhages until months later. On one executive patient who had sustained a traumatic brain injury, he was able to detect a vacuum on the brain and treat with low intensity laser for stimulation and  to increase cerebral blood flow. He also used low resolution electrical tomography, with its 7 mm resolution. On a functional matrix model, he had to work on the patient’s sleep, exercise, hormones and help him into a more regenerative capacity, along with structural assist with craniosacral therapy and vision therapy. The executive’s brain was then trained back to his normal. It took 4 or 5 sessions to return to normal.

15:22 Low Intensity Laser: It is different from those used by chiropractors and osteopaths. This laser was developed by NASA to help with wound healing. It is called a photonic stimulator.  It goes about 2 inches into the tissue. It gets hot and has a fan.  There is a certification process for its use.

16:35 PoNS Device: In about 2002 the progenitor of the PoNS device was revealed. Amazingly it can help blind people see, by stimulating the tongue using electrodes and a camera.  It stimulated a new pathway to the occipital lobe. The device is now available for clinical research and Dr. Venter is the principal investigator in Canada. The PoNS is now small enough to be a collar around your neck. The electrodes are smaller as well. It feels like Pop Rocks on your tongue. It stimulates two cranial nerves from your tongue into the brain stem. PoNS stands for portable neural stimulation device. It stimulates neuroplasticity. Dr. Venter’s current research is into whether it can help patients with traumatic brain injuries, specifically with dizziness and balance problems. PoNS is also being studied for migraines, Parkinson’s, and MS. The research studies are needed to garner FDA approval.

21:18 The State of Flow:  The book The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler hooked Dr. Venter into flow. The author had Lyme disease. He was depressed, suicidal and unable to write. He started surfing and entered into a state where his brain began working again. The process of flow is an optimum state of mind where you feel your best and perform your best. After a year of surfing and flow, the author’s Lyme disease began to reverse. In a state of flow, your brain releases a healing cocktail of dopamine, anandamide, and serotonin.  There are 17 triggers for releasing flow. Many are social triggers. Public speaking is one.  Novel and high environmental content is another.  This can be developed in a work environment and is being used at some high tech businesses to bring about creativity.

24:55 Typical Flow Cycle: It starts with a struggle or novel environment where you need to use your body. It should be something you haven’t done before. It needs to be 4% harder than you have done before.  This triggers a release of nitric oxide. This brings you into the flow cycle, which can last seconds, minutes, hours or days. No one can be in flow state continuously. The recovery period of 8 hours of quality sleep is critical.  To help his patients with sleep, Dr. Venter may have them use HeartMath, the Inner Balance app, nutraceuticals, biofeedback tapes, meditation tapes, and/or yoga. He wants to make sure that when they are resting, they are truly resting.  Red beet juice helps with recovery.  Running is Dr. Venter’s way to get into flow. Additionally, research shows that some trees release polyphenols that stimulate BDNF. For Mike skiing and motorcycle racing are great triggers.  Traveling to new environments can trigger flow as well. Also helpful is a “helper’s high” will release oxytocin, part of the rest/recovery cycle. Music concerts, virtual reality and group meditation are other ways.


33:42 Hormones, Supplementation and Cognition:  Estrogen carries glucose into the brain. There are progesterone receptors in the brain.  Your adrenal glands and your brain make Pregnenolone and DHA.  Hydroxocobalamin B12 injections are helpful as an antioxidant.  Magnesium L threonate has been found to be helpful in the hippocampus in low levels for dementia.  Glutathione IV,  curcumin and resveratrol work as well.  The US military gives up to 20 grams of fish oil, omega 3 fatty acids, to soldiers before battle so soldier’s brains are better protected from injuries. The military is also experimenting with probiotics for creating more brain cells.

39:35 Ketogenic Diet and the Brain: The ketogenic diet is a key therapy in Dr. Venter’s practice. Brain mapping shows that the volume of the brain increases with a ketogenic diet.  When you eat the right fat, your brain gets bigger.  Doctors are beginning to look at the APOE gene, especially APOE4 double alleles, where one needs to carefully monitor fatty acid consumption. Those of us with high risk dementia do very well with a ketogenic diet.

41:49 Dr. Venter’s Dietary Recommendations: Be a flexitarian. Eat as much like a vegetarian or vegan as you can.  He has his patients do a 21 day elimination diet, especially those with high inflammation or IgA.  Experiment.

43:10 Nootropics/Smart Drugs: Alpha GPC is part of the essential substrate of the nerve endings, exons, and myelin sheath, so Dr. Venter has no problem with it.  He has concerns about ramping up a brain that is starved of energy. Piracetam IV is used in South Africa for alcohol withdrawal and neuropathy. In addition, glutamine was used after major surgery or major trauma for neurotransmission and gut/brain connection.

47:14 Dr. Venter’s Morning Routine: He performs at his best when he starts his day with sprint intervals. He has an espresso and does some Inner Balance or HeartMath, when he can. He takes a multitude of supplements, including vitamin D and B12. He puts his patients on vitamin D and a probiotic. Interval training helps mitochondria divide and causes fission. He sees benefit in patients who are beginning brain health decline. Many of his patients report positive results from infrared sauna use.  Contrast baths seem to stimulate mitochondria.

51:40 Dr. Venter’s Favorite Nutrient:  B12 is his favorite: hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin, or adenosylcobalamin.  It is taken not simply because you are deficient in B12, but for many amazing properties. B12 plays many roles in the brain and central nervous system.

52:40 Dr. Venter’s Elevator Pitch: Since he is primarily working on preventing and reversing cognitive decline, he would like people to sleep better and avoid accidents/injury.

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