Our guest for this week is David O’Brien, fitness manager, and co-founder of 5th Element Wellness.

David approaches the question of achieving fitness and health with a goal of combining knowledge and perfecting his own personal theory. He prefers to take into account various standpoints seemingly opposite or different and figure out a way how to connect them into a system that utilizes the benefits of each method. But building on this holistic approach further, he understands the fact that not every solution fits perfectly with every person. He recognizes individual differences in terms of health and fitness based on unique needs and requirements.

He co-founded 5th Element Wellness with the idea of providing a holistic approach to health and fitness. His company is a world-class health club, which provides all the knowledge and tools to achieve great results and optimal wellness.

This is David’s second time on our show! In our previous episode, we talked all about the 5 elements of wellness. We also discussed David O’Brien’s habits, hacks, philosophies, and tools that have formed the threads of his success, happiness, health, and wealth. Check out the full episode here!

Connect with David:

Building Strength

Strength is like the seed. So you want to plant the seed… watch it grow, and let all the other fundamental things build around it.” – David O’Brien

Out of the 5 elements of wellness, David places building strength to the very core of any approach involved with improving your well-being. He goes into details of why we need to focus on developing muscle fiber and how it affects other aspects of our performance and health. David also reflects on the connection between strength and movement, explaining in much detail how we can apply an exercise plan based on complex movements in order to get the most out of our workouts.

Detoxification and Gut Health

“Detoxification starts in the gut and it finishes in the gut.” – David O’Brien

David debunks the classical understanding that focuses all of the responsibility of the detoxification process on the liver. He introduces to us the importance of gut lining and the role it plays as part of our immune system. He uses a lovely waterfall analogy to explain the process of digestion and all of the elements that play their part in determining our level of gut health.

It’s quite intuitive that nutrition has an enormous impact on our gut health. But David reflects also on stress management and how that can also be of great importance in this segment of achieving wellness. At this point in the podcast, you get to witness what the holistic approach to health is all about. We move the narrative to the psychological and explore the connection between emotions and the subsequent effect they have on the gut lining. Listen to the full podcast to find out which 4 key emotions play a role in protecting your immune system!

Is Stress Necessarily Bad?

“What I need to listen and to understand as well… I mean I’ve gone through this period myself, is where we sort of demonize stress.” – David O’Brien

There’s a tendency in our society, whether we’re talking about our work or private life, that we need to avoid stress at all cost. David defines this as the “demonization of stress”, arguing that, in fact, stress plays a very important role in our development. Using the analogy of a seesaw, he explains how our organism goes through these periodical changes in terms of needs, and he suggests that at times we’re going to have to be eating more, and at other times we should be eating less. As usual, David goes into meticulous details to provide scientific arguments and explanations for his claims, and we talk a lot about hormone production, physiological effects of fasting, and the connection between resilience and stress. Bottom line is that stress can have a positive influence on our health and our development, but it needs to come in specific shapes and forms. The scientific term for this type of stress is eustress.

“It’s all about repair and recover so that, when we face that stress response again… your stress resilience is better.” – David O’Brien

Blue Zone Analysis: In Pursuit of Longevity

“Last year we actually did our first retreat to a Blue Zone area and we actually went to Sardinia where they have some of the highest longevity statistics in the world.” – David O’Brien

Blue Zones are parts of the world where the average life expectancy is much higher than in other areas. Dan Buettner has identified five blue zones which are:

  • Okinawa (Japan)
  • Sardinia (Italy)
  • Nicoya (Costa Rica)
  • Icaria (Greece)
  • Areas populated by the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California

David intends to study these areas in order to discover patterns and try to incorporate them in his personal, ever-expanding theory of health and fitness. In this section of the podcast, he goes on to present the characteristics of diets in some of these areas, particularly in Sardinia and Okinawa.

David’s Message of Inspired Evolution

This has been one of the most information-packed podcasts we’ve done and David has provided us with amazing details about nutrition, physiology and he’s shared the intricacies of processes necessary for achieving wellness and optimal health.

Throughout the podcast, he blesses us with an array of inspired messages we can take with us into our everyday lives and use as a stepping stone to explore the potentials of our health even further. It’s really difficult to settle for just one but if we had to, we should probably go with eliminating prejudices and cognitive biases related to food and its consumption. It is true that what we put into our bodies is of the highest importance, but building a culture of fearing food will hardly do anyone any good and will definitely have a negative effect on the development of the generations to come. That is why David’s message of inspired evolution is:

“The demonization of food needs to stop.” – David O’Brien