Episode 83: Ken and Dawn host their first Ask Me Anything episode

// Feb 19, 2019

It has only taken us nearly three years to get around to it, but we’re finally doing our first “Ask Me Anything” episode. It’s hard to believe, but Ken and Dawn sat down to interview their first STEM-Talk guest back in 2016. And during that time, listeners have been emailing us questions.

So, in this episode, Dawn and Ken will be asking each other questions that listeners have directed their way. The show turned out to be a lot of fun and the chairman of the double-secret selection committee who chooses all the guests who appear on STEM-talk promises not to wait three years before getting around to do another Ask Me Anything episode.

If you want to check out Ken and Dawn’s bios before you listen to today’s show, be sure to click on the links above,  which will take you to their profile pages at Also, links to papers mentioned in this episode can be found at the bottom of the show notes.

Show notes:

[00:02:31] Dawn asks about Ken’s time growing up in Guantanamo while his father was stationed there in the Navy.

[00:02:59] Ken points out that Dawn spent part of her time growing up on a farm and asks her what that was like.

[00:04:46] Dawn asks Ken about visiting Navy gyms when he was a kid. Ken then talks about how much he enjoyed those times, but that gyms have now become fitness centers.

[00:05:43] Ken talks about his pet peeves during his workouts.

[00:06:40] A listener writes in to say that he tried a ketogenic diet, but was never able to get over the “keto-flu.” He asks Ken to discuss this phenomenon and whether the ketogenic diet may not be for everyone.

[00:07:44] Dawn follows up on the previous question and asks Ken for his thoughts on what constitutes a good diet if someone finds that the ketogenic diet isn’t right for them.

[00:08:30] A listener asks Dawn about the APOE genotype, which has been mentioned on STEM-Talk several times. The listener asks about Dawn’s research into the genotype and what that research uncovered in regards to its relation to brain health.

[00:11:09] Ken responds to a question about his views on the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet for older and middle-aged individuals, and why he thinks the diet might be considered an anti-aging diet.

[00:14:39] A listener asks Ken to explain what the Mediterranean diet actually is, given the nebulous nature of the term. The listener goes on to write that they have never seen any noticeable weight loss benefit for people on the Mediterranean diet, unlike what the listener has seen for people adhered to the ketogenic and Paleo diets.

[00:17:16] Dawn asks Ken how he would define the ketogenic diet, given that the Mediterranean diet is so ill-defined.

[00:19:58] A listener asks Dawn if she has ever attempted a vegetarian ketogenic diet, given that Dawn is a vegetarian. In answering the question, Dawn mentions that Dom D’Agostino’s website lists resources for vegetarians and vegans who want to know more about ketogenic diets.

[00:21:08] Dawn asks Ken for his thoughts on people on the ketogenic diet drastically limiting their protein intake.

[00:22:57] Ken is asked about his thoughts on exogenous ketones, and he refers to a promising ketone ester developed by Oxford and NIH scientists.

[00:24:34] Ken explains what sarcopenia is, and why people should want to avoid it.

[00:26:17] Dawn mentions that Ken has said that the maintenance of skeletal muscle is contingent upon the balance between muscle protein synthesis and muscle breakdown. She goes on to ask what some of the factors are that drive this process in one direction or the other.

[00:27:11] Ken discusses oxytocin, which is commonly thought of as the ‘trust’ or ‘bonding’ hormone and is important in reproduction.  Dawn asks about the role of oxytocin in the context of the age-related loss of muscle mass and function.

[00:28:22] Ken describes what oxytocin is and does.

[00:28:50] Dawn comments on how Ken mentioned that Conboy’s group at UC Berkeley used subcutaneous injections of oxytocin, and asks about other forms of administration, such as intranasal.

[00:29:36] Ken has received several questions along the lines of how oxytocin impacts weight loss, and gives his thoughts on the matter.

[00:31:14] Ken lists off some natural ways of increasing oxytocin.

[00:32:01] Ken closes his discussion on oxytocin with the aspects of the subject that interest him the most.

[00:33:11] Dawn mentions how Ken, and other researchers in human performance, have touted the benefits of sauna. She asks if there are any new findings in this regard.

[00:34:32] A listener asks Dawn why we never hear about free divers having the bends.

[00:35:40] Ken asks Dawn if she experienced any changes from living under water during her NASA NEEMO  mission the Atlantic.

[00:38:33] Ken asks Dawn how she sees genetics and genomics fitting into undersea or other extreme environments in regards to a person’s resilience and performance.

[00:38:39] A listener mentions an interesting blog post they read by William Davis about the benefits of Lactobacillus reuteri. The listener then asks Ken for his thoughts on the probiotic and if he has ever used it.

[00:39:23] Ken discusses his favorite performance-enhancing supplements.

[00:40:58] A listener asks what kind of coffee Ken enjoys.

[00:41:31] A listener asks if Ken reads fiction or just science and technology books, and if he does read fiction, does he have a favorite author.

[00:42:26] A listener asks Dawn to clear up an error in the media about the NASA twin study, where the media mistakenly said that there were thousands of changes to Scott Kelly’s genes.

[00:43:44] Dawn explains what the current research is in regards to the brain’s lymphatic system, also known as the glymphatic system.

[00:46:15] A listener asks Ken about his favorite recent meal, and also if one should eat breakfast on days when one isn’t fasting.

[00:48:57] A listener asks Dawn if she has had a favorite guest she has interviewed on STEM-Talk.

[00:49:44] Ken talks about his appointment to the newly formed National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and his role on the commission.

[00:50:43] Dawn wraps up by asking Ken about the house he and his wife Nancy are building in Wyoming.


NASA Twins Study

Oxytocin is an age-specific circulating hormone necessary for muscle maintenance and regeneration

Oxytocin reduces caloric intake in men

Oxytocin increases heart rate variability in humans at rest

Cardiovascular and other health benefits of sauna bathing

Coffee consumption and health

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Purity Coffee