Nelson Vergel, author of the landmark book Testosterone: A Man’s Guide, joins to share his story of overcoming a deadly diagnosis, helping to pioneer the use of anabolic steroids in HIV/AIDS treatment and his perspective on life goals and awareness.
We started with Nelson’s background growing up in Venezuela. Nelson wanted to get into medicine but opportunity was limited, so instead he got into the oil and gas industry as an environmental engineer before emigrating to the US in 1984. Shortly after settling down in the States Nelson was diagnosed with HIV, at that time the equivalent of a death sentence. In fact, one counselor told him, “Go home, pray, and take care of your business.”
Nelson pulled himself up, telling himself, “I refuse to die” and soon he spotted an opportunity. “I became obsessed. I found out the CDC for the first time was training volunteers who wanted to inform themselves and become counselors.” This had a major impact on him, “It really helped me. I really got it. I got what it is to help others get out of your head, get out of your self pity, get aware of your power. Power even in the worst situation in your life, not to let that rule you and define you.”
Nelson jumped at another opportunity, this time to join a study for a new drug called AZT. He seemed to be doing well, even hiding the illness from co-workers. It was later revealed that Nelson was in the placebo group, which turned out to be a blessing, as patients receiving the real AZT in the study were wasting away. Nelson lost so many friends to HIV in the 80’s that he stopped counting at 35, including his boyfriend who was also in the AZT trial. “I feel like I aged a lot in my soul...Every week was a memorial service. I shut down.”
Nelson was transferred to LA and joined a support group where he encountered bodybuilders for the first time. With nothing to lose, Nelson started taking supplements and alternative therapies and immediately felt more energy. Once again, Nelson’s dream of working in medicine and health resurfaced. He started researching, subscribing to the top AIDS newsletters in the country, often reading till the early hours of the morning.
This led to a major turning point, where Nelson came across an article by a “Dr. X” who was HIV+ and had risen from his deathbed by using anabolic steroids. Nelson, with the help of friends, connected with him and other researchers and doctors. Through these relationships and his own research, Nelson began working on his book and then lecturing across the country, eventually delivering over 600 lectures.
Nelson gets messages everyday from people who’ve been impacted by his writing, “Every time I give, I get a lot more back.” Jay agreed, “Once you align yourself with being generous, paying it forward, always being of the mindset to help other people, it’s amazing what comes into your life.”
Nelson shared his perspective on ego, “You’re going to have an ego voice that’s going to try to tell you that you’re not worthy. That you’re not good looking, not smart enough, or whatever.” He went on to explain you’re never really cured, but you can come to a place where you recognize the ego as something outside of yourself. It’s not you.
Drawing from his incredible story and wealth of research, Nelson’s continues to mentor and inspire through relationships with people all over the world. We hope you come away from this interview inspired to pursue your dreams, help other people and reach new levels of health and wellness.
Nelson Vergel is the best-selling author of Testosterone: A Man’s Guide and founder of Excel Male, a platform where men can exchange cutting-edge and evidence-based health information. Nelson is also the Founding Director of the Program for Wellness Restoration and Development & Outreach Director for the Research Access Network.
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How do you choose your supplements? In our latest episode, Kamal Patel, Director of Examine.com, joins us for a wide-ranging conversation on supplement quality, chronic joint pain, ketogenic dieting, intermittent fasting and other high impact lifestyle changes that are more effective than any supplement.
We started with Kamal’s story, how he came to the world of fitness and nutrition and eventually became Director of Examine.com. Kamal explained “Like a lot of people, I got started in nutrition to simply look better...Up till probably sophomore year of college I had never lifted a weight in a gym.”
First Kamal gave his opinion on ketogenic and other forms of low-carb dieting. “You require carbohydrate for joint health especially when it’s injured. But that’s not even the primary thing, your immune system needs, say, 100 grams a day of carbs for optimal function in most people...So I’d be very careful not to dip carbs too low...There’s no huge benefit.”
Next we go into intermittent fasting: Kamal pointed out that it’s reasonably effective for body fat loss but the best reason to use intermittent fasting is longevity. Jay pointed out, “The neuroprotective effect of fasting is amazing” Gut and intestinal tract health is getting more attention, and Kamal explained that it’s probably more important to look at gut health more any other individual element. He mentioned that there are a couple great elements of a low-card diet on the gut, but on the whole, a vegan diet is much better for gut health.
Next we cover how to handle the chronic joint pain, and Kamal have an interesting recommendation “You don’t want to take supplements while you’re doing other things that have a higher chance of working...taking micro-breaks during work... or even incorporating standing for maybe a half hour or hour a day, that’s probably greater than any individual supplement for knee and ankle issues.” He also pointed out that Vitamin D, K2 and magnesium are the holy trinity of things people overlook for joint health.
Then we turn to common supplements like creatine and protein. Kamal pointed out that creatine may have mental health benefits such as preventing Alzheimer’s and depression and potentially have some pain-reduction effects. As for protein Kamal prefers to experiment but has not seen major differences but prefers cold-processed to get glutathione benefits.
We finished out the interview with thoughts on limiting or blocking blue light at night, wearing blue blocker sunglasses for 30 minutes before bed is a great way to prepare your body for sleep. We also covered mindfulness meditation, it’s effectiveness and taking first steps into that method.
Kamal made a couple important distinctions - quality of supplement doesn’t mean effectiveness, and how you handle blue light can have a greater effect than any supplements.
Kamal Patel is a nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and is on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition in which he researched the link between diet and chronic pain. He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics. Kamal has also been involved in research on fructose and liver health, mindfulness meditation, and nutrition in low income areas. Visit http://examine.com/ for independent analysis on supplements and nutrition.
Click here to get Your FREE Copy of the Amazon Bestseller: The Definitive Testosterone Replacement Therapy MANual. The book has helped thousands of men around the world reclaim their health and vitality by presenting practical information about the best ways to maximize TRT.