Monthly Archives: October 2018
Monthly Archives: October 2018
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In this interview with Dr Brian MacGillivray (Dr Mac), we learn what glutathione is and how to properly what supplementation can do for us.
Note: Dr Mac is the medical director for Nanoceutical Solutions, a company that manufactures and sells supplements. I received samples of their products and a small fee to have him on the show. I have been trying to find a guest to talk about glutathione and this was the only opportunity I've found.
Allan (1:54): Dr. Mac, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Mac (1:58): Thank you for having me, Allan. I appreciate it.
Allan (2:00): I’ve been out there looking for someone that I could bring on to talk about the topic today, glutathione, because I’ve heard such great things about it. On one side though, I’ve heard things that are just completely astronomically wrong about it. I was listening to one podcast – and very large podcast, a huge listener base – and he was basically touting it as the miracle cure of, you can drink as much alcohol as you want and you won’t get drunk, you can do anything you want to your liver and this will fix it. So, there are people I think that over extol on glutathione, but it is such an important element in our body. I was really happy to be able to bring someone like you on to talk about this element.
Dr. Mac (2:42): I appreciate it. Most people have never even heard of it, but I think it was discovered 1888-1889, something like that. And it actually was part of the Nobel Prize for medicine in the 1920s. So, we know how important it is; doctors have known it for a long time. The biggest struggle with getting it to the public is exactly that. How do we get it in the public? Basically glutathione is the human body’s detoxification system, or the most important part of it, evolutionarily over time. We were talking earlier before the podcast about the exposure that people are having to toxins that they don’t even know about, but hundreds of thousands of toxins in our air, in our water, in our food, in our food supplements, our clothes and our pets. It goes on and on. Interestingly enough, evolutionarily, one of the reasons why we’re seeing so much significant disease over time is that we’re fatiguing our detoxification system.
Allan (3:49): I was reading a story. I think the number I’ve seen is somewhere like 130,000 different chemicals we’re exposed through air, water, what we eat, on our skin. I even saw something the other day that said, do not use vinyl shower curtains, because the heat causes the chemicals to come off of the vinyl, and you’re in the shower in an enclosed environment, breathing those chemicals. I don’t even know how I could possibly get rid of all of the chemicals, they seem to be so inundated. So, understanding how our body actually detoxes, I think is a very important thing.
Dr. Mac (4:25): And remember, we’re not just talking about things that are known to be harmful. Your body still has to get rid of things that are supposed to be beneficial, like if you take a Tylenol – we have to detoxify that and get rid of it. Medicines we’re taking, etcetera. You make a good point. I was just reading an article about children’s playgrounds, public playgrounds – that in the summertime when they heat up, certain toxins are released from the plastic and the vinyls and they’re causing cancer. So, even the ones where we think we know, we may not know the ones we don’t know yet. Sorry, go ahead.
Allan (4:58): No, that’s really my point, is I have this detox system. I want to delve in a little bit because our bodies do produce glutathione. We have to provide it with some precursors, but there is some limitation. Can you talk about the process for how my body’s going to create this element that I need, but why I might have some limitations to producing that, or producing enough of it?
Dr. Mac (5:24): That’s a great point. For now we’ll describe glutathione as a master detoxifier. Toxins come into the body both from normal metabolism – from oxygen metabolism and water metabolism, so the byproducts of these things we have to get rid of, or we would simply die. It would be a very short lifespan for us. And then also things that are directly toxic, like alcohol, for instance. It potentially has its good parts, but at the end it’s still a poison and we have to get rid of it. Glutathione is synthesized in every cell in the human body. Its master job – and I can get into the technical part if you really want to get dirty with it – is to reduce the amount of metabolic waste. We call those “free radicals”, if you’ve ever heard that term before. Free radicals go about the body, go about the cell, and they’re basically – the layman’s term is “sticky”, but they’re looking for an electron. They go and they’ll take it from any healthy organelle. They’ll take it from your proteins, they’ll take it from your DNA, they’ll take it from your cell membranes. So, they’re basically destroying your body to become stabilized. It’s that whole oxidation reduction thing, kind of like what rust is. As you spoke of, previously we didn’t have as many toxins, but over time evolutionarily, we’re being taxed more and more and more and more. The problem is that around age 20, primates start to reduce their production of glutathione. It’s about 15% every decade. So a male in their 50s will have lost about 50% of their glutathione. Now, do you find it coincidental that about age 50 is when you start seeing spikes in human disease? Maybe, but one of the things that glutathione does is not just to detoxify the things we ingest or come in contact with. If we have free radicals from normal processes in the body going on that are biting into your DNA and your proteins and your normal function – that’s pretty much aging by definition. That’s why we don’t look like we do when we’re 20. But also the things like cancers, for instance. Cancers are abnormalities in your DNA that become replicated as the norm, and your cells begin to grow erratically. So, glutathione isn’t just the antidote to every poison you’re taking in; it’s also to protect against the disease processes that we see associated with aging.
Allan (8:03): Basically it’s created in the cell. It’s inside the cell at that point, and then anything that’s going on inside that cell, any metabolic process that’s coming along, if it’s creating a free radical or if it’s dealing with a particular toxin at that point in time, glutathione is going to help to shuttle that out of that cell and keep that cell safer.
Dr. Mac (8:28): Loosely, yes. The process is that glutathione is a great donator of electrons. So that free radical that’s so hungry for an electron it’ll take it from protein, it basically says, “No, I’ll take it.” It gives it away and stabilizes that free radical so it’s not harmful anymore. But to your point, it also directly detoxifies certain molecules and things of that nature. Also, one of the coolest things about it is, it regenerates itself. I just told you it gave away an electron; now it’s got to find one to make itself ready to lock and load again. But it also regenerates other antioxidants like vitamin C and E, and other antioxidants. That’s why they call it “the master antioxidant” and why it’s vital for life. It is the stud-muffin antioxidant – we’ll just call it that.
Allan (9:19): I kind of equate it to – it’s not exactly like Asteroids, the video game we played when we were kids exactly – but it is helping us out from a protective perspective and if we ended up, let’s say, we couldn’t fire as rapidly or because we didn’t have as much glutathione. And as we age we know that’s the case, but we’re exposed to ever more toxins as we get older because there’s ever more that they’re creating and releasing to the environment. Plus oxidation is increasing.
Dr. Mac (9:52): You’re absolutely right. On the one hand we’re producing less of it as time goes by, and then we’re getting hit by more and more and more toxins and free radicals. And then again, over time this allows for things to start breaking down in the repair system, if you will, or the thing that keeps it from becoming more into disrepair begins to break down as well, which is an interesting topic. That’s one of the reasons we’re talking, is because it’s been so difficult to replenish glutathione. You’d say, “Just take the glutathione pill; that ought to take care of it.” Right? But again, I told you it was part of the Nobel Prize in the 1920s. There’s a long time that’s gone since then; why haven’t heard about it? It’s difficult getting it into the body.
Allan (10:38): Okay, let’s talk about that. The one thing I did learn from that interview that I talked about earlier was that you can’t just take a glutathione pill. There are some complications associated with that because our stomach will pretty much destroy the element before we could ever utilize it. I’ve heard there are injections and I’ve heard of having it in an IV, particularly when it’s mixed with other things like vitamin C and the B vitamins. Can you talk about those delivery methods, the pros and cons of each, and what that means for us?
Dr. Mac (11:12): For years and years and years, it wasn’t available, until the 1950s and 1960s. It was available through an IV, because it’s really a simple molecule. It’s three amino acids. It’s like the smallest piece of meat you can imagine. It really is. It was available through IVs, but again, the number of people that had a) the time and b) the money to put an IV in themselves for a supplement to be taken daily, is a little bit crazy. Injections are pretty painful. This is an entity that, if I could convince my patients to say, “Pop this into your heinie once a day”, they would colorfully tell me why that’s not a pleasant idea for them. Therefore many years went by, where very few people were getting any supplementation, and at that point it was all IV, because as you said, it been a tripeptide – three amino acids, the hydrochloric acid in the stomach will just bust it into its components, just like it would the last steak you ate, or hamburger. It would bust it into components, making it completely useless whatsoever. That’s been the big issue. And why we’re talking about it more these days is because we do have some modalities. I’m happy to be part of both the research for and the company that’s putting it forward – the ability to get it back into our systems in a convenient, realistic once-a-day type of setting.
Allan (12:36): Now, the one way I had heard, before I heard about your company, was that we could wrap this molecule in a liposome that would protect it through the stomach, and that has some efficacy. But you guys are coming up with a product that allows me to take it sublingually, I guess, is the word we use when we’re taking it under our tongue. I’ve used products before that I took that way, so I understand the basis of completely bypassing the stomach, because I’m not really swallowing it. I’m just letting it go in through the skin under my tongue. Can you talk about those two and why one would potentially be better than the other?
Dr. Mac (13:24): I’ll even add one more to it. The precursors, or individual components of glutathione, given it’s a tripeptide – cystine, glycine and glutamine – people are taking them as precursors. You may have heard some supplements that are, “Let me take the precursors for it, and if my body synthesizes it, maybe I can encourage it to synthesize it, just like if I took calcium to make bone”, kind of thing. Again, the problem that surfaces there is that, as I told you, the rate of synthesis goes down as we age, so independent of how much of the building blocks you put in, it’s only going to make so much of it. And unfortunately that wanes as we get older. The liposomal complexes were, in theory, kind of a great idea. They’re trying to mix the oil and water component such that it can survive, if you will, the journey into the bloodstream. And although they’re better than pills, pills don’t have a snowball’s chance in you know where of getting on board. There hasn’t, to my knowledge of the medical literature and studies, an effective route, if you will, of getting it on board. For a number of reasons, the liposomals typically don’t do well when they hit a water-based medium. It’s very “hit or miss”, and they’re a little more unstable on the shell. And so, nothing has been satisfying. Nothing has been, “Let me measure my patient Allan, who I’ve got on these supplements or precursors or liposomal products. Let me measure your glutathione level and I can prove to you that it’s doing well.” Nanoceutical Solutions is the company that’s put forth Nano Glutathione, and the basis that they created was to molecularly decrease the size down to less than a micron, which is really small. It’s a liquid, and you put a cc under your tongue and it simply goes across the membrane, the mucosa of your mouth and your tongue, into your bloodstream. And I’m really happy they’ve done studies, because what I do for a living – guessing is really not a good thing to do. I don’t know what it is about patients, they get upset when you tell them it’s going to save their life and it doesn’t. The studies that they did show up to an 800% increase, even after a single dose, which makes sense. We know a lot about sublingual medicines like nitroglycerin and things we want to get into the body quickly. So, I’m pretty excited about that. If you dovetail that with the things we know that glutathione does for the body, all the way from aging and some of the diseases that are now associated with a decreasing amount or a low amount, it’s pretty phenomenal.
Allan (16:10): I’m a big fan of precursors when you know your body’s already optimal, you know that it’s able to use those precursors, and you know there’s no ill effect to those precursors. So, in this case I’d say if you’re a meat eater and you’re getting those precursors as a function of your daily eating and you feel like your body’s detoxing, everything’s working the way it’s supposed to be working, and hopefully you’re on the other end, eliminating these precursors – that’s all good and fine. But I think most of us would like to have an opportunity to make sure that we’re maximizing the benefit of what we put in our bodies. If I’m going to pay for a supplement, I want to know that the efficacy of that supplement is as high as I can possibly get it. And you guys have actually measured that.
Dr. Mac (17:00): Absolutely, and that’s the exciting part. If you look at my history, with my patients in my office, I am a guy that will measure your iron, I’ll measure your calcium, I’ll measure your vitamin D, your B12. The things that if they’re not right, they’re going to have deleterious health effects, and we can either supplement them or change your diet to accommodate that. So, I’m not a guy that sends people to vitamin stores, if you will, that you should just take a vitamin. Why? Well, to make you healthier. It’s a little nebulous and a little bit non-scientific. When I came upon the company I was actually allowed to participate in the study and to actually see that and know what glutathione does. That kind of perks your interest up, because this used to be the undiscovered country: “Yeah, I know it’s great, whatever. But we can’t get it in the body. So, move along.” Well, now we can. So it’s really exciting.
Allan (17:56): I go in and get regular blood tests and I get really comprehensive blood tests. So I go to my doctor – vitamin D, B12, iron, calcium. Those are all in my blood work along with the cholesterol and all the other things you’d expect to see. But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen glutathione as anything that would be on my standard lab tests. Is that a lab test that a normal person can go out and have their doctor request?
Dr. Mac (18:22): You’d be surprised how many doctors, with respect to my brethren, know about glutathione, because again, the things that were taught are in the modernity, meaning, “We can do something about this. This has an effect here. Here’s your prescription pad, write this for that.” Again, it’s only come to light recently, and fortunately it’s still a supplement; it’s not an FDA-regulated component, because it’s made in every cell in the body. But you bring up a very, very good point. The answer your question is “No.” If you went to your doctor and said, “Measure my glutathione level”, they’d be looking it up in a book. You can measure the glutathione level. You can measure what’s called “oxidative stress”. What that means is basically the amount of free radicals versus the amount of glutathione. If that ratio is high, your environment in your cells is hostile, meaning the oxidation is going on and you’re breaking up proteins and you’re aging in front of us. You could actually measure either one. It’s just not commonly done because doctors like to say, “Here’s the problem, here’s your solution. Here’s your prescription for it.” And heretofore, there was no prescription for it. Now, I do IV glutathione in my office, but I don’t have anybody that comes in every day to be poking for an IV to get it done. So again, from my perspective, I’m very excited and my patients are excited, because I’ve been talking about this for a long time, that one day we’re going to get it. And the day has come.
Allan (19:55): Okay. So, you’re going through a process that I’m not very familiar with when I first heard about it. It’s the nanosizing of an element. I guess that just means breaking it down. I understand the technology is just break it down into a very, very small piece.
Dr. Mac (20:13): Absolutely correct. So, what Nanoceutical Solutions have hung their hat on is basically their mechanism and their patented process by taking… And there’s a big caveat here – it’s really easy to make something smaller, but the hard part is not destroying it in the process. So you’ve got to come up with a functional thing at the other end of it. Heretofore, again, glutathione was a great choice for them to apply it to, because this drug doesn’t work in the stomach and all we have is IV; we’ve got to find something else. And liposomal, again, was questionable. Anybody either in the lay public or physicians have been continually dissatisfied with that as above precursors, but not near IV. So, being able to nanosize that and make it stable – so it’s not refrigerated, it just stays on the shelf; you shake it up and put it under your tongue and hold it for 60 seconds. You can do that every day and your life isn’t very much upset. I’m a firm believer that the sky’s the limit on what it can do to prevent the things that we would associate with normal wear and tear, normal aging, disease proliferation and so forth.
Allan (21:31): I’m on board with this, as far as the product, as far as the fact that our body needs this element. So it is something I’m going to experiment with. I appreciate you guys sending me some of the product to test out. It comes as orange oil with something else, so it actually is very pleasant. Some of the things that you would take, like liposoms that I’ve used in the past, do not taste great.
Dr. Mac (21:56): The benefit and the problem with glutathione is it has a sulfur molecule, and the sulfur atom in the middle of the molecule is what’s responsible for donating and sweeping up electrons. It’s the functional part, but anybody that’s ever smelled rotten eggs – that’s hydrogen sulfide. So, it walks a fine line, but the tangerine flavor and almond oil is kind of what it is. So, it’s not too unpleasant.
Allan (22:23): No, not at all. And you guys have been nice enough. If folks want to give this a shot, they can get a 30% discount on their order if they go through a link, and I’m going to give you the link here. It’s bit.ly/40plusfitnesspodcast. That’ll take you to a page where you can order this. It tells you some more information about it. Try it, see how it makes you feel, see if it’s helping you deal with the chemicals in your life, deal with the oxidative stress in your body. It’s not a miracle, but it’s something that your body may be optimized better to deal with some supplementation. I’m not a huge fan of supplements – folks know that – but this is one where our body is going to make less and less. It does seem to have aging component to it where it’s going to help us fight oxidative stress and age a little bit slower. It is something that I’m going to take. I have a little supply of it now. I’ve got a blood test that I keep trying to get done, but I get busy. So I’m going to go in and get a blood test. I’m going to use this product and then I’m going to take another blood test and see how it goes. But if you guys want to get it at a discount, it’s bit.ly/40plusfitnesspodcast. And this is episode 347, so you can also go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/347, and I’ll have a link there.
Dr. Mac (23:45): Allan, in real time, I just wanted you to know that with the advent of making glutathione more available, more studies are being done and there are a number of actual health problems that are being studied because they are noted to have an absence of glutathione, most prominently Alzheimer’s. It’s really all over the news. Many of my neurologist colleagues are actually adding it to their regimen to keep the decline in cognition and short-term memory. Autism, asthma, heart disease. We’re looking at this as you might imagine, “Where’s the chicken and the egg?”, but the exciting part is, there’s a big association with a decline or a low level of glutathione associated with this disease. The questions that are now being asked in studies are, if we kept the glutathione up, with the heart disease, with Alzheimer’s, what level of that would it penetrate? So, it’s really exciting, and I personally as a patient would rather be on the end of, “Let me take this and make sure that if I get Alzheimer’s, it’s not going to be because I let my body be low on something – glutathione, if you will, that we could have done something about.”
Allan (24:53): I agree. That’s another thing. I’m going to talk to my doctor and ask if we can do some testing. We’re doing C-reactive protein, homocysteine, we’re doing most of them. We’re going to figure out how well this helps me deal with some of the aging numbers that I’m seeing in talking with my doctor. I encourage you guys to do the same. Dr. Mac, again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Mac (25:23): It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Allan (25:29): Now, as this episode’s going live, I am in the process of flying back from Ohio for a writer’s conference. I’m trying to learn some of the tips and tricks and things I can do to make The Wellness Roadmap a really good book that gets in the hands of a lot of readers. You could help me do that as well, and I really would appreciate if you’d go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and become a part of the launch team. I need to build this launch team up so that we can make sure that we make a really big splash when this book goes live. There’s going to be a lot of competition during the month of December and January when the book is just coming out, and I’m going to need your help to make it successful. So, please go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and become a supporter of and be a part of the launch team, so you can help make this book everything it should be. Thank you.
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Allan (1:15): Karen, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Karen Salmansohn (1:19): It’s great to be here.
Allan (1:21): Now, your book is Life is Long!: 50+ Ways to Help You Live a Little Bit Closer to Forever. I really enjoyed that title. It just kind of drew me in, because I’m on the other side of 50. When I got into the book I saw you promised your son Ari that you were going to live to 100. And I remember when I was in junior college, a friend and I basically made a bet. I don’t know that we’ll ever pay out on it, but I bet him that I was going to live to 110. So, I have kind of that forward looking. I think you had 57 different ideas and things to think about, as far as what you can do to improve your longevity. Many of these were going to add years, but quite a bit of them were actually more about adding quality to the years that you have as well.
Karen Salmansohn (2:09): Yeah, I say that I want to help people to live longer and younger. And there is a word that I read – I didn’t make it up – called “wellderly”, which are people that as you grow more elderly, you stay active and well. And that’s kind of what I’m going for.
Allan (2:27): Awesome. Now, we did used to see, I guess, 70-year-old bodybuilders, power lifters and marathon runners, or 80-year-old mountain climbers. We’re seeing that more and more, and I hope that most of us are realizing that the medical benefits and things that have allowed us to live longer doesn’t necessarily guarantee us that we’re going to be well when we get older.
Karen Salmansohn (2:53): True. But when you see role models like that, it helps you. It becomes a healthy, self-fulfilling prophecy the more you’re like, “That’s possible.” I write books in general that help to motivate people not just to live longer, but on other things. And there was a guy, Roger Bannister, that ran a 4-minute mile. Before he could run the 4-minute mile, everybody thought that would be crazy to try to run a 4-minute mile. And then after Roger did it, so many other people started to do it because they said to themselves, “Oh, that’s possible. If this Roger guy can do it, then I can do it too.” So if you start to see other people thriving as they get older, then it helps you to have a different mindset.
Allan (3:46): They are thriving, and I think that does give us that “possible”. And then there’s the other side of the spectrum – one of my best friends from high school died this last week.
Karen Salmansohn (3:56): Oh my gosh!
Allan (3:58): He was 52 years old, and he’s gone. These things just don’t happen. You have to do some things to make it happen. So, your promise to your son Ari, you’re doing; and you’ve researched and learned a lot of these things to say these are the things that you can do to make sure that you get there. And I think that’s the action. I don’t want someone to think it just happens, that there’s a day, it’s certain. You can prolong your life, you can live closer to forever.
Karen Salmansohn (4:29): Yeah, there are things that you can control, and some things are your choice. You can age quickly or you can age slowly, and some of that is your choice.
Allan (4:39): Right. I think there were 57 of these in here.
Karen Salmansohn (4:45): It’s funny, because actually when I wrote the book I was 57. I just turned 58 in August. So I didn’t even realize there’s almost a symbolic reason for there to be 57.
Allan (4:56): Yeah. And they say it has to be an odd number, so you couldn’t just stop at 50 anyway.
Karen Salmansohn (5:02): You know what happened actually behind the scenes? It was only supposed to be 50, but I got so passionate about research and wound up with over 100. And then I said to the editor I have trouble limiting it to 50, so she allowed me to add on another seven.
Allan (5:19): Good, because all of them are really, really important and I don’t think you could have cut any further into these and had it. You would have been leaving some on the table. So you’ve got a second book in you, that’s for sure. Now, one of my favorite ones is one that we talk about a lot when we get into nutrition, because a lot of the people that listen to this podcast do practice a ketogenic lifestyle so they’re eating more fat now. We’re getting away from the “fat is bad” mantra that’s been out there. But some fat is bad, and you say, “Give yourself an oil change.” Can you talk a little bit about that and how the oils that we eat can be good for us or they can be bad for us?
Karen Salmansohn (6:06): Right. There are high-quality fats and healthy oils that you can have. Some of the bad oils of course make people think that all oils are bad, but that’s not true. Are you on a ketogenic diet, low in carbs, high in fats from healthy oils?
Allan (6:26): Yes.
Karen Salmansohn (6:27): Is that a general ketogenic or do you do it every couple of months?
Allan (6:33): I do it seasonal. So, the way it’ll work for me is, I think about how my ancestors ate. And what I know is they’re Northern and Eastern European. So, I’m an all-white guy, and I cannot jump. But that said, they didn’t have access to berries and fruits during the winter, so they would not have been eating a ton of vegetables during that time of the year. They probably would have been hunting a lot more smaller animals. They would have been going for fish. So I eat a lot of fish, I eat a lot of smaller game like chicken and things like that, turkey. But that said, I know occasionally they’re going to get hungry enough and they’re going to sit there and see an opportunity to go kill an elk. So, a good high-quality red meat was an occasional thing that they had in their diet. And then when the summer / spring came back around, then there’s berries. And you walk out in the field and see a field of blueberries or blackberries – they would just eat, they’d just gorge. So I go through a season of what I would call “feasting”, and then I’ll go through a season of what I call “famine”, where I’m mostly on fish and meat, with leafy green vegetables and that type of thing. Some vegetables, but not a lot. That puts me into ketosis for a period of time. I just flip it, because I like football season and Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s. I don’t want to have to think about my food as much during my feasting season. I get to kind of do that; and high-quality beers and all the other. So, I have my feasting season and then I have my fasting. Or not so much fasting season, but my famine season. I just cycle through generally that way, for the most part.
Karen Salmansohn (8:16): Right. That’s great, because then you have the variety and you don’t get bored if it’s just the same thing. That can get people to cheat and go off of a healthy diet plan, but you created a system where it’s variety and change.
Allan (8:33): And when I’m eating the higher fat, moderate protein – because I do still try to stay with a moderate protein – I’m still looking to eat fish, because fish oil is important and it’s good. I’m a big fan of olive oil and avocado oil and that type of thing.
Karen Salmansohn (8:51): Avocado oil is my personal favorite. I have a huge bottle and I do everything with avocado oil. I love it. And it’s also good for your skin. I think we’ll be talking about it – I don’t like to put things on my skin, because that gets absorbed into your body, that have chemicals. So I try to keep my moisturizers as chemical-free as possible. But a lot of times when you tell people that aren’t familiar with the ketogenic diet to make sure that they have a diet high in fats, they think, “Oh great, French fries!” No, no, no, no, no. No fried foods. No, that’s not what this is about. I love avocados. It’s a great way to make sure that you get some healthy fats. I make a healthy avocado smoothie and it fills me up, because when you have foods with fats, it also helps you to feel fuller faster, which helps to make sure you don’t do those cheap eats because you’re feeling more full. So, that helps a lot. And then MCT – medium-chain triglyceride oil – that’s been known to help with your brain’s cognitive functions, as well as weight management, gut health and inflammation. There are people that add that to coffee – MCT oil. I’m sure you’ve read about that.
Allan (10:19): Yeah. Basically what this is, is an oil that has been derived typically from coconut oil, and it’s broken down into, like she said, medium-chain triglyceride. And what happens there is, the body really only has the option to use it for energy in the moment. When you have this stuff, your body’s going to immediately want to start using it for energy. So you’re going to feel an energy boost and a cognitive little pickup, which is why I think a lot of people like to add it to their coffee. But a note of caution – you have to ease yourself into using MCT oil, or you’re going to have a mess on your hands because it will cause some digestive problems if you’re not ready for how much you’re eating. I have some down in my pantry and I will typically do something like, let’s say I want to have a big salad for lunch. So I’ve got my leafy greens and that’s all set up. I will put some olive oil in, I’ll put some balsamic vinaigrette, and then I’ll put a little bit of MCT oil in there and shake it up, and use that as a part of the salad dressing. And I don’t have a 2:00 let down at all. A good lunch like that with heavy fat – I’m really going to be good until dinner. And sometimes that salad might be the first meal I even have that day. Naturally, because I’m in ketosis, I don’t feel hungry in the morning. And fasting was one of your other…
Karen Salmansohn (11:56): Intermittent fasting. We could talk about that too. There’s so much. It used to be that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, but there’s a lot of research that says that if you skip breakfast, that’s actually good for you. And the grazing throughout the day, which everybody said was great for you, is now coming back with research that says that that might not be so good; that intermittent fasting is better for your mitochondria.
Allan (12:27): I’ve done the self-study. I’ve looked at it both ways for myself, and I think that’s the important thing, to experiment with what works for you. If you’re going to eat carbohydrates, make that a good amount of your food. So, you’re going to eat the grains, the beans, legumes and all that. If that’s the approach you’re going to take, you’re probably going to want a good breakfast – steel-cut oats and those types of things, because your body is going to need the sugar. Whereas if you’re in ketosis, your body’s already producing ketones, it isn’t going to be as necessary. So I think it really depends on your way of eating as to how important that first meal is. I still call it “breakfast”, even if it happens to be 2:00 in the afternoon.
Karen Salmansohn (13:16): That’s funny.
Allan (13:19): Now, other oils – the oils we would want to avoid.
Karen Salmansohn (13:23): Processed oils. You should look on packages. It’s not just something that you cook with, but anything that you buy – if it has soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, cotton seed oil, sunflower, palm, the partially hydrogenated oils – all of that, keep away from.
Allan (13:46): I say if it’s in a can or it’s in a clear bottle, it’s probably not going to be a good oil for you because it’s so shelf-stable, it’s just going to sit there. They make it in such a way that it can just sit there and not go bad.
Karen Salmansohn (14:05): And I see now they’re trying to make potato chips with the better oils, but I still think that potato chips are potato chips are potato chips. It’s still processed food. Anything with a barcode, you have to be a little suspicious of.
Allan (14:21): That’s another one you slid in there.
Karen Salmansohn (14:24): I’m passionate about this.
Allan (14:26): I know you are, and that’s why I don’t think you could have left one out, because they interconnect and overwind so well together that also in planning this conversation, it was difficult for me to decide. At the beginning, I set my number at no higher than seven. So, we’ve got to get moving if we’re going to get all seven of these.
Karen Salmansohn (14:49): it also brings up why I wanted to write the book, which is that I wanted to curate the best tips, and write it in a fun, easy to understand way. I love reading. I’ve had this skillset for a while – I don’t know what it is – to read even boring, complicated research studies, and then I write it up with humor, and easy to understand. It’s something that I’ve always been able to do – write up boring, complicated things in a fun, easy to understand way. And that was my goal for this book, to do the hard lifting of reading and then narrow, focusing it down to the most important stuff and make it easy to read, with fun graphics. There’s an illustrator that we found and I just love her style. In fact, I’m bringing her back for my next book that’s going to come out next year. I just love her graphics. She’s so talented.
Allan (15:44): It is a beautiful book. And you’re right, you did take this, but you didn’t just say, “This is a rule.” You actually took the time to do the research. You point to the research, but you don’t get real dry into, “Here are all the things they found in this study.” You just place it out there and say, “I’ve done my research, and here’s where I found it. If you want to go down that rabbit hole, here’s the information. You can go ahead and really dive in and get deeper into this if you need to.”
Karen Salmansohn (16:14): One thing that I’ll say – I’m just thinking about this now as you’re interviewing me – I made the research and information so easy that I could actually talk about it with my eight-year-old son, because I wanted to get him on board. One of the tools that I mention is that you are who you eat with, which I think we might want to talk about too.
Allan (16:37): Let’s go ahead and talk about it.
Karen Salmansohn (16:38): Okay. Well, my son was eating all of this stuff like pizza, macaroni and cheese and bacon. So, when I was around it, it became more challenging to resist it. And potato chips and Doritos and all of that, like a kid. And I wanted to raise him so he could make the choice of knowing if he really wants to eat that. I spoke about everything with him in such a way that he could understand this. And also, he would be my accountability buddy and we could do it together. Now, I allow him because I want him to have a normal childhood, to have the pizza, the macaroni and cheese. But he knows to do it in moderation. He’s aware. The tools in this book are broken down in such a way that they’re so easy to understand that you could talk about it with your kids and get them involved in eating healthier. It’s written in such a way.
Allan (17:48): It is. I don’t want to say it’s a kids’ book, but you’re absolutely right. This is something that anyone can sit down.
Karen Salmansohn (17:58): It’s a logic, there’s a logic. My little guy is pretty smart for his age, but I do think that you could bring it in and talk about it with your family and get the whole family active in it, because as I say, you are who you eat with, and you wind up being affected by those around you and how they eat. So, you want to get people in your family who you eat with all the time actively eating healthier. They actually have other studies too, which is interesting, where people also sometimes take on the income of the people that they spend time with.
Allan (18:39): That’s a Jim Rohn quote where he says, “You are the product of the five people you spend the most time with.” And it’s because of both things. One is, you learn good habits from them, and we keep ourselves accountable.
Karen Salmansohn (18:57): Even there’s something called “emotional contagion”. You even become sometimes in the mood of the people that you hang out with. All of this is so interesting to me, how that winds up happening.
Allan (19:08): Yes. So let’s switch gear a little bit, because I really enjoyed your conversation in the book about supplements.
Karen Salmansohn (19:18): First thing I want to say is that I really do try to get all of my vitamins from food, rather than from a bottle. But I do have some supplements that I turn to. And I want to be clear that everything in this book, before you make any massive change in your diet, you should talk to your doctor, because everybody’s different. Everybody is body is different, and I don’t want to recommend something to somebody if they have their own health challenges or something that they might not even know about. They should see a doctor.
Allan (19:59): I totally agree.
Karen Salmansohn (20:02): That in mind, I am a huge fan of taking a vitamin D supplement, but I make sure that it has K in it – D3 with K2. My own doctor, who vetted the tools in this book, told me that pretty much everybody these days, at least here in New York City, where people spend a lot of time indoors versus outdoors, have a vitamin D deficiency. I take it in liquid form, by the way. I feel it goes into my system better. And I don’t like pills that much, I just don’t like swallowing them. They make me nauseous, I feel uncomfortable. So I get a bottle of liquid vitamin D3 that has K2 in it. The K2 helps your body to absorb it. It kind of works like a traffic cop to ensure that the D3 goes to the right places in the right amount, more swiftly. They call it “the sunshine vitamin” for people that aren’t getting enough sunlight. It has so many benefits – mind, body, spirit, all of those things.
Allan (21:13): You can actually go into your doctor and get a lab test that will look at your vitamin D levels to see if there is some level of deficiency there. You don’t have to be on vitamin D3 all the time. I actually live in the Sunshine State of Florida, and so I get a good bit of sunshine when I’m able to get out and walk around and do things. But that said, I know the vast majority of us in the Northern hemisphere, there’s going to be a period of the year where we’re not going to get enough sunshine, either because we’re indoors for inclement weather or the sun is just not at the right angle for us. So, we do need to check that. This is one of those times when you do want to go to your doctor for a wellness visit and if you’re concerned about your vitamin D and don’t want to take a supplement all the time, you can have it checked and decide if that’s the best course of action for you.
Karen Salmansohn (22:06): Out of curiosity, since you live in the Sunshine State, do you ever have a vitamin D3 deficiency?
Allan (22:14): I have not. My doctor still kind of wants me to take vitamin D3 because so many of his patients have a deficiency. But I just tell him to look at it quarter on quarter. Right now we’re finishing up the summertime. I know in most parts of the country right now it’s a little cooler. It’s still in the high 80s and sunny here, so I’m out and about getting sun pretty much every day, just doing normal stuff around the house. So right now, no, but sometimes around February it gets a little on the low side, and I do actually start supplementing.
Karen Salmansohn (22:53): Well, I’m a big fan. And here in New York, pretty much all my friends are on D3. It’s very common here in New York. The other one is Coenzyme Q10. Again, check with your doctor, but that one is well-known to help with longevity and energy, and pretty much helps everything – your heart, lungs, brain, immune system. It helps your mitochondria to burn fuel, and anything that’s good for your mitochondria is good for your health and your length of life. So, that’s one that I take all the time; I take it every day. What’s your thoughts on that? Have you heard about that one?
Allan (23:46): I’ve heard a lot about it. Typically when I’m talking to somebody and they get into that, it goes into heart health. Again, that’s the energy aspects of the mitochondria, when you have strong, energized mitochondria. Your heart is a muscle that has to have that energy to fire every single beat for the rest of your life, as long as that is. For a lot of people the question isn’t, “Should you take it?” It’s, “Why aren’t you taking it?” And then the other side of it is, your body can actually produce it and you can actually get it from food sources. Typically, we just aren’t getting enough and we aren’t producing enough.
Karen Salmansohn (24:31): The next one is green tea extract, which can get into your system more than just having a cup of green tea. They also make green tea powder, but they make a liquid extract. Green tea, as everybody knows, gives you a great boost of antioxidants. Again, antioxidants help to fight cell damage that’s caused by free radicals, all of that. It helps to reduce blood pressure, it improves your blood fat levels, it boosts your heart health. It helps with your skin, your memory, and it helps with cancer, research says. So, this is a basic one that doesn’t have some of the risks that some of the other vitamins and supplements have. But again, check with your doctor.
Allan (25:26): Yes. Now, one thing you mentioned earlier – you talked about using avocado oil as a moisturizer. And I think that is important to moisturize where you need it, for sure. But I think a lot of women are going to want to look a certain way and it’s become fairly common to say, “I need this makeup” or, “I need to do this with my nails”, “I need to go for this pedicure, that manicure.” We’re putting things on our skin with the knowledge, but not a true awareness of what chemicals are in some of these products that we’re putting on our skin.
Karen Salmansohn (26:09): Right. Well, I am very aware of that. Actually, when I was pregnant with my son, I had my baby late in life. I was 49 when I got pregnant. I had an estrogen patch that I was supposed to wear; I put it on my arm. Things seep into your body through your skin. Isn’t that how you stop smoking too, you put a patch on? I don’t know. I never smoked.
Allan (26:40): There is a product; I think it’s called NicoDerm or something like that. But there are patches, yes, that provide some nicotine through the skin. There are vitamin patches. Testosterone and estrogen are both done either through patches or through creams that’ll go through your skin. So yes, we do absorb these things into our blood system, into our whole system through the skin, because it is an absorptive organ that can take things in.
Karen Salmansohn (27:15): I’m very aware of what I put on my skin. I don’t want to plug a specific product, but I only buy one brand that smells great, and I use that. Or I could use avocado oil from the kitchen and put that on and feel like my skin looks fantastic. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. That’s what’s so funny. These companies sometimes charge you so much, but it might be better just to pick a natural product like coconut oil or avocado oil. I really watch having my nails done, because the more I’ve read about nail polish and even being in a nail salon, with the fumes from that nail salon – so many studies on that, that were very scary when I started to read about this. So, I actually cut back on nail polish, pedicures and manicures. And if I do go, I try to go to a salon during a non-busy time so there’s not much stuff in the air. I read ingredients on products and I really make sure that nothing has formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. Some of these things are so scary. Toluene is an additive they put in gasoline. Some of these I can’t even pronounce, and if you can’t pronounce it, chances are it’s really terrible for you. But even things with fragrance in them – the word “fragrance” has been linked to cancer, birth defects, and central nervous system disorders. So, I really watch it with the chemicals that I add into my body through beauty products.
Allan (29:04): Yeah. And it does take some research to find out what’s in these products. Right now there’s a new kind of industry out there of folks that are trying to put out really good products that don’t have these things in them.
Karen Salmansohn (29:19): They have nail polish now that doesn’t have some of these things, and I sometimes use that. But I definitely don’t like to go to the nail salons anymore because of what I’ve read with the fumes in the air.
Allan (29:35): I don’t go to nail salons, so I get to live forever. Now, I’m a huge proponent of telling folks, “You need to do wellness visits, you need to go see your doctor.” But you put in here, “An apple cider vinegar a day keeps your doctor away.” I appreciate the tie-in with the old statement we would have with the apple and the doctor. You do want to go to your doctor, but you don’t want to have to go to your doctor. I think that’s where we’re going with this. Can you talk about how apple cider vinegar is going to keep me from having to go to the doctor?
Karen Salmansohn (30:12): It’s actually been known to help with blood sugar levels. I don’t want to hype too many products, but I buy these really tasty ones that they make. It’s so funny – there’s a whole industry with apple cider vinegar-type products where they have funny labels and really funny names. In fact, right now by accident, not even thinking about it, I bought one today at a store called Fizzy Fox, and it’s really cute. It has apple cider vinegar with carrot, ginger and turmeric. And it tastes so good. I have that in the mornings. I love having apple cider vinegar in the morning because I feel like it gets my body cleaned out. At least that’s how I feel. I start my day with it; that way I also get it out of the way. They say it helps you with sugar cravings. I buy the ones that are mixed with other things, but you could just add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to water. You have to watch it. Oh my God, absolutely don’t just take a spoonful of apple cider vinegar; you will die. I mean not die die, but it’s terrible.
Allan (31:33): It is. I can attest it is an unpleasant experience. One time I didn’t dilute it enough. I put it in with about eight ounces of water and a tablespoon. That a little tough when I drank it. You do want to dilute it, and it may be something where you take half at one time and then half later. Sometimes I’ll squeeze a bit of lemon or lime in there, and that kind of changes the texture of it, the taste of it a little bit. So there are ways you can mask it, like you said, with the cumin, the carrot and the flavorings, if you want to go that route.
Karen Salmansohn (32:11): The one that I have right now is so yummy. I don’t even think about it as apple cider vinegar, but I know it is. That’s why I’m drinking it. I have ones in my refrigerator in the other room that come mixed, like an elixir. It might even have the word “elixir” on it. Those are the ones with the funny names, the funny labels. They put in things like maple syrup, and that helps, and really good flavors. I love those. I’d also recommend you Google it and you’ll see. I don’t want to promote a particular brand. The American Diabetes Association is a big fan of people having apple cider vinegar, because it helps control insulin and it’s been shown to help with appetite control, and it helps you absorb minerals like calcium. It has so many benefits. Big fan.
Allan (33:05): Yes. Now, we want to brush our teeth because we want the beautiful white teeth as we get older, and we don’t want to potentially lose those teeth as we get older. But there’s another reason to brush your teeth and floss. Could you talk about that?
Karen Salmansohn (33:24): There is oral bacteria in your mouth if you’re not taking good care of your teeth. This actually goes into your body, because your gums have blood vessels in them. And if your gums are not healthy, that means your whole body will have a consequence from this as well. So, you have to take really good care of not only your teeth, but your gums. The better you are at controlling your oral bacteria, the better your whole body’s immune system will be. So, floss, brush more than twice a day even, if you can, and make sure that you’re taking care of your gums as much as your teeth.
Allan (34:18): That’s one of those things that should just be a ritual to us, but take your time and clean your teeth. I don’t mean that to berate anybody; I’m just saying a lot of us get in a hurry. Bedtime rituals are really, really important, and when you get up in the morning, obviously that’s a good time as well. But make this a part of your nighttime ritual. We want to get away from screens, we want to make sure our sleep’s good quality. So, taking just a few extra minutes to really make sure that you do a good job there is, one, going to make your dentist and the person who’s cleaning your teeth very, very happy; but two, it’s going to help you live longer.
Karen Salmansohn (34:56): It’s so interesting that everything’s so interconnected, but your gum disease could affect your heart health. Everything’s interconnected.
Allan (35:07): Yes, it is. And that’s, again, why I think all of these work so well together, because you’re not just impacting one system. When you make a change like this, you’re really impacting a lot of them. People like simple rules. Well, here’s a simple rule, but the reality is it interconnects with 56 other rules. If you’re doing all of these, you’re really covering all of your basis. But I want to leave with what was my favorite one. As I was reading this one, I was like, “This is why Adam Sandler is going to help me live forever.” I could watch The Waterboy over and over and over again, because I love that movie and it makes me laugh every time I watch it. Why is Adam Sandler going to help me live longer?
Karen Salmansohn (35:59): This one, I had to squish in six studies. There are so many studies that the more you laugh, the better your overall health. It boosts your immune system, it helps with the free radicals. There are studies all around the world too, even in Japan, where I wouldn’t even think of that country as being huge proponents of comedy. But they found that laughter seems to lower levels of this dangerous protein, and it helped with progression of some kind of diabetes-type disease that causes kidney failure. They did a whole study on it in Japan, so now the Japanese are huge fans of Adam Sandler, I guess. It’s all over the world these studies have been done. I know that in general, happiness has been linked with longer health, but laughter in particular. They now have yoga classes that are laughter-yoga classes. I know that there have been studies that watching funny movies helps, just being with funny friends, looking at life with a more funny lens, trying to find the humor in things, not taking things so… It helps lower stress, and stress is bad for your longevity. So, definitely watch those funny movies, be with funny friends, try to find the humor in your life. And I tried to make the book funny, so hopefully you got a bunch of chuckles reading the book, so that helps you as you’re reading.
Allan (37:42): Yes, absolutely. And it’s just a really cool book. The illustrations are beautiful. Very simple rules per se, and source material. This isn’t just something you made up or thought this is what people would want to hear.
Karen Salmansohn (37:58): We had so much source material, Allan, that we couldn’t fit in the footnotes in the book. I had to put it up on my website, because I had so many studies that we’d have to add on another 10 pages in the back. So, the publisher said, “Can you just put this on your website?”, because I had so much research. It’s all up on my website, which is even interesting. People go to my website, they can find it over there at NotSalmon.com, because the research studies, when you read those, you find out even more. This whole topic of longevity, I find very fascinating.
Allan (38:36): Yes. And your website you said was NotSalmon.com?
Karen Salmansohn (38:40): Yes. My last name is Salmansohn, Karen Salmansohn, and everybody mangles it and they’re always going, “Salmonson”. I’m always going “Not salmon, not salmon.” So, I figured if I made my website Karen Salmansohn, three people would know how to spell it and I’d get no traffic. So, it’s NotSalmon.com.
Allan (39:01): Alright. Anything else? I know you told me earlier that your mom’s going to be involved in this project at some level. Could you share that with us?
Karen Salmansohn (39:11): One of the many tips in the book is, “Delay when you retire, delay when you expire.” And my mom is an actress and a voiceover narrator her whole life, and she is 87 and still going strong. And so, when the publisher said, “Let’s do an audio version of the book”, I thought, “I think I’ll give it to my mom because it will be a beautiful thing.” First of all, she’s still working, and the book is about celebrating staying active into your later years. And then I’ll have this forever recording of her. I went to the session with her and it was this mom / daughter thing with her recording it. And she did a great job. She’s funny and she made reading the book feel fun to listen to. So my mom is the voiceover on Life is Long!. My 87-year-old mom.
Allan (40:05): Awesome. I’m going to make sure to have links to that on the website and links to your website as well, so they can go see the research and all the cool things you’re doing there, because this is not your first book. There’s a lot of other great material and books out there that they should check out. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/346, and I’ll have those links there. Karen, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Karen Salmansohn (40:30): Thank you for inviting me. This was fun.
Allan (40:40): If you enjoyed today’s episode, would you please take just one moment and leave us a rating and review on the application that you’re listening to this podcast right now? I’d really appreciate it, and it does help other people find the podcast, because it tells the people that are hosting these podcast episodes out there on their apps that you’re interested and they know that other people like you might be interested. So please do that. If you can’t figure out how to do that on your app, you can email me directly and I’ll try to figure it out for you. Or you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, and that’ll take you to the iTunes where you can launch that and leave a review there. I really appreciate the ratings and reviews. It does help the podcast, it helps me, so thank you very much for that.
Also, I’d really like to continue this conversation a little bit further, so if you haven’t already, why don’t you go ahead and join our Facebook group? You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group, and that’ll take you to our Facebook group where you can request entry. It’s a really cool group of people, like-minded, all in our 40s, all trying to get healthy and fit. I’d really love to have you out there and have you a part of that conversation. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group.
I apologize if I sound a little bit hoarse today. I’m in the process of recording the audiobook for The Wellness Roadmap. It’s a lot harder than I thought it’d be. A lot of reading out loud, a lot of re-reading out loud, a lot of fits and starts, but it’s coming along. I’m really looking forward to getting the book released soon. If you go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com, you can be a part of the launch team and be on the front lines of launching this book, The Wellness Roadmap. So I hope you will go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and become a part of the launch team. I really need your help to make this thing happen, and happen the way it should. So again, WellnessRoadmapBook.com.
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In her new book, Think Yourself Thin, JJ Smith gives us tips for weight loss success. She also shows us how to eat a balanced diet, and look and feel our best.
The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
Allan (1:21):JJ, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
JJ Smith (1:25): Hello! It’s so great to be here today.
Allan (1:27): I want to thank you first for putting this in audiobook, because that’s actually how I ended up reading your book. I was thinking I’ve got to read these books, and I want to read it, and I wanted to make sure I got it done in time. So it was like, “Great, it’s an audiobook.” So I did want to let people know that this book is one of the few books, because there’s not many that come out and immediately have an audiobook. I wanted to thank you for that. That’s how I actually read your book.
JJ Smith (1:52): You are most welcome. It was fun reading it. It actually took a couple of days, but it was a lot of fun.
Allan (1:58): It took me almost no time to listen to because I had it on double speed. I really appreciated that you read the book and it really felt personal, effectively having a conversation with you through the audiobook. The book is called Think Yourself Thin, and I love the title, because I think a big part of what is missing on the market is how hard the mental game is when you start talking about health and wellness.
JJ Smith (2:27): Yeah. Not just hard; it’s not talked about enough. I say the mental mastery, the ability to get your mind right is the most overlooked factor in dieting and weight loss. I believe it’s the missing piece as to why people can’t actually get to their goal weight.
Allan (2:46): I completely agree. In fact, I have a book that’s coming out in about a month and a half. I spend 90% of that book talking exactly about that – how do we get our mind right, how do we set strategies that keep us on track? You’ve already done a lot of that grunt work for me here, because a lot of what I was talking about is actually now in your book. I’m really glad to see something like this out there that helps someone walk through and set up a mental framework to be successful.
JJ Smith (3:14): That’s right. So you and I are like minded. We are definitely on the same page.
Allan (3:18): We are here for sure. You use the term “SUCCESS”. I love acronyms and I love that you were able to use that acronym specifically. In SUCCESS you have seven mental strategies for weight loss. Could you take the time to share each of those and dive a little bit into what each one means and how we can use it to be successful in weight loss?
JJ Smith (3:41): Sure. What we’ve learned is that people actually like systems or regimens or things that they can actually follow. And what we did was put together the SUCCESS systems, which are the seven mental strategies that will give people new habits, new behaviors, a new mindset around how to think about weight loss. So the first one, “S”, is “slay resistance”. This is about stopping procrastination once and for all, but really giving a name to that lethargic, apathetic feeling of just not wanting to do what we know we need to do or we should be doing. The second is “use visualization”. We have to change the conversation we have with ourselves, and what visualization exercise does is allow you to engage your body and your mind, and set your intentions and say them out loud, so that everything can move in the direction of what your intentions are. The next is “C”, which is “commit”. I always say there are a lot of people interested in losing weight, but there are very few people interested or committed to losing weight. When you’re committed to doing something you make the necessary sacrifices in order to get to the goal. And a lot of people are not willing to make the sacrifices, but that’s the difference between being interested and committed. Number four – “control emotions”. I would say, don’t eat your heart out. We have to tackle emotional eating head on – the boredom, depression, loneliness, heartbreak, all those things that are causing us to use food instead of us being able to process through our emotions and feelings. Number five – “establish success habits”. This is one of my favorites, because this is so applicable in all areas, not just on your health and weight loss journey, but anything you can do to not have to rely on self-control. You want to be able to put success habits, you want to be able to put things in your environment that keep you away from temptation or allow you to have some consistency over anything you’re trying to develop as a habit. Number six is “support from others”. Studies show that those who have a support system have a lot more success than that don’t. We teach you about accountability partners, doing buddy contracts and other creative ways to have a real support system, and it’s not always your family and friends. And number seven – “supercharge your spiritual life”. A lot of us believe in a higher power, believe in God, but we have to be able to tap into our belief and our faith, and engage our spirit in our weight loss efforts. And that chapter goes into that in great deal.
Allan (6:25): What I really like about those is, every one of those is a piece of getting your mind right. And to me, even though this wouldn’t make any sense from an acronym perspective, it really does start with the commitment. When you make that commitment, it really does set the foundation for you to build all of these other things on top of.
JJ Smith (6:49): I agree. You have to be able to commit and understand what commitment looks like. In that chapter we delve into different types or ways to stay committed, different ways to put together a plan to make sure that you are executing. You have to be able to demonstrate and show commitment. It’s not just words.
Allan (7:06): Absolutely, and I think that’s where the other things come in. You have the accountability, because you’re reaching out to others. But the one I really want to dive into just a little bit deeper – again, I do think commitment is the most important to start, but for a lot of people it is that emotional control. I think for a lot of us it’s really the hardest thing to recognize when it’s happening, because it’s emotion-based.
JJ Smith (7:35): Yeah. The interesting thing about emotional eating – we delve deep into this with the 30-day mental mastery challenge. It’s a series of habits, behaviors and exercises that really gives you a foundation, so that when you run into challenges or you’re dealing with emotional eating, you now have new tools in your toolkit that you can rely on. One of the exercises in particular is called the Food Mood Diary. Why I like that one is, for the entire day, everything you eat, you write down how you felt when you ate it and how you felt after, because what you’re looking for are those emotional triggers, the things that actually cause you to eat, even if you’re not physically hungry. Physical hunger comes on every three to four hours. Emotional hunger comes on quickly, it’s urgent. You could have just eaten a half hour ago, but all of a sudden you want something to eat right now. So, you have to be able to identify your unique emotional triggers, because so much of making change is being aware. So when it happens again you’ll be like, “I’m not really hungry. I’m really bored, so let me get out of the house and go do something different.” So the exercises are intended to allow you to have new habits and new tools that you can rely on to actually make a change.
Allan (8:53): That’s what I like – beyond giving us these principles, there’s practice in this. Your 30-day plan literally goes through and explores these various things. The way I read it as I went through the plan was that these are meant to be stacked, so each day you’re learning a new tool and now that’s there, but you keep using it throughout the month.
JJ Smith (9:13): One per day. For some people, a single exercise can literally transform the way they think. As a matter of fact, there was a woman in our private VIP group. She said she only got to page 45 because she had an “A-ha” moment reading the book. Literally she had a change of thought about the way she was viewing her entire weight loss journey. She said, “After page 45, I got it. It clicked. I put the book down. I started the 10-day green smoothie cleanse and I’m back on this journey again.” So sometimes you’re actually just looking for a different way to think and see things.
Allan (9:50): I agree. As I talk to a lot of people, if they’ve committed, which I find a lot of people who were struggling really need to go back and review that – whether they truly have this innate commitment and the self-love aspect of that commitment, the same way that they would commit to, say, Jesus or how they would commit to a spouse. There’s this emotion, this deepness to it that goes beyond who you are as a human. I think once we kind of get that commitment down, the tactics that you have, like you said, those tools in your tool chest that are going help you get through these harder times are the times that you would have failed in the past.
JJ Smith (10:31): I totally agree.
Allan (10:33): Now, in the book… And I love this, because I like action. I just love action. You put in 12 principles for clean and balanced eating, and I really like that. Would you mind sharing those 12 principles?
JJ Smith (10:48): Okay. Do you want me to go through all 12?
Allan (10:50): if you don’t mind, because I think every one of them is extremely valuable.
JJ Smith (10:54): Alright. Number one is, choose nutrient-rich foods, not empty calories. Give your body nutrition, and not a lot of junk. Sometimes we can be full, but we haven’t given our body any real nutrition. The second one is, eat protein with every meal. Even if you eat carbs and fat, protein is what’s going to balance them out to minimize blood sugar spikes. And that will minimize how much fat we store in the body. Number three – always balance carbohydrates with protein. This is more about the balancing of how you eat foods. I always say if you only eat one thing, make it protein, but if you are going to eat carbs, make sure to balance it with some protein. Number four – don’t overeat carbs. Almost any weight loss or diet plan you follow, one thing is going to be common – low carbs. Minimize carbs, minimize sugar, breads and pasta. That’s never going to change. Number five – avoid excess sugar, salt and trans fats. Basically there are enough studies to show that sugar makes us fat, unhealthy and sick. Need I say more? And then too much salt has its own challenges, as well as trans fats, which are in a lot of fried foods. Principle six is, eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables do the body good. A lot of times if we just make sure to get those in our diet, they can still give us healthy nutrition throughout the day. Number seven – limit your intake of red meat. A lot of people don’t like to eat red meat, but the reality is, it is the healthy protein when it is lean. And there are lots of people who enjoy red meat. What you don’t want to do is be eating red meat every single day, but just once or twice; a few times a week is perfectly fine. Number eight – eat two healthy snacks per day. This is just a method to keep the metabolism revved up throughout the day. Number nine – eat at least 30 grams of fiber. There are lots of studies that show that fiber’s good for the body and it has a lot of heart health benefits. Why I like it is, studies show that if you eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day, it will significantly reduce the amount of weight you can lose per year. I am a green smoothie drinker, so I always put a scoop of fiber in my smoothies. Principle 10 – drink plenty of water. Most places will say, drink half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, that’s about 100 ounces. But honestly anytime you’re trying to lose weight, detox, or get healthy, proper hydration is key. It is what keeps all the systems in the body functioning well. Then number 11 – eat four to five times a day. A lot of studies say to eat more small meals, but eat more frequently throughout the day. And then principle 12 – buy organic as much as possible. Anytime you can avoid hormones, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics in foods, that’s always going to be better and healthier for your body.
Allan (14:05): Yeah. That’s why I liked all 12 of them. I think if you try to just apply one or two, you would see some benefits. Obviously, if you’re eating whole foods, you’re going to see benefits. But really, if you take all 12 of those and you wanted to roll them up, it basically says, just make sure you’re getting your fiber, keep your carbs in a moderate zone, stay off the sugar, the salt, the trans fats and fat fried foods, and drink plenty of water. So, you take those together and that gives you the rules. You can take this and walk through your house and figure out what’s in your cupboard that doesn’t belong, because it doesn’t fit these criteria. And then print this out and put it on your refrigerator, so that you’ve constantly got that front of mind. I think if you follow these 12 principles, you are going to be successful in your weight loss.
JJ Smith (14:55): Yeah. I always tell people, focus on getting healthy and the weight loss will follow. What these principles do is they allow the body to get healthy, and you’ll find that weight loss will be less of a struggle for you based on how you live.
Allan (15:07): I’m going to flip things around a little bit. Normally I would ask the question and then I would say a couple of other things, but I’m going to let you. When we get done, I want you to close out with your 10 commandments of looking young and feeling great. But I want to flip it around a little bit and have one little side conversation that I would have used to close out. Obviously the book is Think Yourself Thin, and you’ve done this green smoothie cleanse thing and a lot of people have seen success. And it’s in your book. You have all of these success stories. They’re wonderful stories. Every one of them by itself should motivate you. If you just went back and read one of them a day, I think it would be one of those things to keep you fired up as you start your day. I wanted to thank you for sharing those stories and thank the ladies that let you, because those were just awesome.
JJ Smith (15:58): Yeah. They are great stories. People on the weight loss journey sometimes need inspiration. And you read someone’s story and you’ll say, “That is me. I’m experiencing the same thing.” And then we also wanted you to know you don’t have to get to your goal weight to have some success. A lot of women there had success, they’ve lost a lot of weight. They’re still on their journey, but their progress deserves to be celebrated as well.
Allan (16:23): Yes, absolutely. They’re all celebrations and they’re all wonderful. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book and your programs and what’s going on, where would you like for me to send them?
JJ Smith (16:37): They can go to JJSmithOnline.com, and they’ll be able to get more information about this book and some of the other products and books that I offer.
Allan (16:45): Great. I want to thank you for being on the podcast, but before you leave, because this is one of the things you said when you do your talks – you like to close out with your 10 commandments of looking young and feeling great. Would you mind sharing those with us?
JJ Smith (16:58): Absolutely. So, whenever I do a keynote or write a book, I always share the 10 commandments for looking and feeling great. The first one is, “Thou shalt love thyself.” Self-love is essential to survival. There are no successful, authentic relationships with others without self-love. Number two: “Thou shalt take responsibility for thy own health and wellbeing.” If you want to be healthy, take the time to learn what is involved and apply it to your own life. Number three: “Thou shalt sleep.” Sleep is the body’s way of recharging the system. I always say it is the easiest, yet most underrated activity for healing the body. Number four: “Thou shalt detoxify and cleanse the body.” Detoxifying the body gets rid of poisons and toxins that have built up over the years, and it can really speed up weight loss and restore great health. Number five: “Thou shalt remember that a healthy body is a sexy body.” Where do women’s bodies look beautiful? It’s about being healthy, having style, being confident and comfortable in your own skin. Number six: “Thou shalt eat healthy, natural, whole foods.” Healthy eating can really turn back the hands of time and put your body in a more youthful state. What’s the fastest way to slow the aging process? Watch what you put into your mouth. Number seven: “Thou shalt embrace healthy aging.” I always say I don’t mind aging, as long as I look and feel great. The goal is not to stop the aging process, but to embrace it. Number eight: “Thou shalt commit to a lifestyle change.” No more bad diets. Commit to making changes in your mindset and your lifestyle for life, and you will have more success with your health and weight loss journey. Number nine: “Thou shalt embrace the journey.” This journey will change your life. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle, so be supportive, applaud yourself for every small accomplishment. You might slip up, but you do not have to be perfect to get great results. And number 10: “Thou shalt live, love and laugh.” Laughter is good for the soul. Live your life with passion. Never give up on your dreams. And most importantly – love, because love never fails.
Allan (19:22): I adore every one of those. Thank you for sharing that. I really do; I love that. And again, I can’t thank you enough for sharing that. Thank you, JJ, for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast. This has been an awesome conversation.
JJ Smith (19:34): My pleasure.
Allan (19:36): The book is Think Yourself Thin. I encourage you to get this, because this is going to help you get your mind right and get yourself on track. And like you said, it might be something as simple as reading a certain passage in this book that just flips the switch and you’re there. And beyond that, you have the actionable 30-day plan that walks them through getting these things incorporated in their life, so they will be successful in weight loss.
JJ Smith (20:01): Absolutely. Thanks for having me today. It was absolutely fun.
Allan (20:05): Thank you.
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Dr Kenneth Pelletier has written a wonderful book called Change Your Genes, Change Your Life, where he discusses the linkage between epigenetics and health.
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Allan (1:23): Dr. Pelletier, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Pelletier (1:29): Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Allan (1:31): The book is called Change Your Genes, Change Your Life. The topic of genes and what we’re learning in the last couple of decades has been fascinating to me. It’s one of those things, whenever I see an article or a book, I want to read that, because I know that we’ve learned so much and we’re learning so much now, that I’m going to get something valuable out of it. And I definitely got some value out of your book.
Dr. Pelletier (1:58): Thank you, that’s good to hear. And you’re right, genetics testing and the promise of genetics or the lack of delivery on the promise of genetics really is the hot topic in the last five years and it’s going to be really into the near future.
Allan (2:19): When they went through the process of sequencing the genome, or basically understanding how this was supposed to work, there was this flood of news out there that they were going to be able to fix practically everything. That didn’t quite play out. What we learned when we were in school was, your eye color, other things are determined by a gene, based on families. We learned that; I’ve unlearned a lot of it since then. There’s really only a small percentage of our genes that are really fixed like that, where this gene is going to affect eye color or this gene is going to cause maybe potentially this particular disease. But it’s really a small percentage of them that work that way, right?
Dr. Pelletier (3:13): Yes, actually a very small percentage; it’s probably as low as 5%. Those are known as fully penetrant genes or monogenic genes. So, conditions like lateral sclerosis, that are clearly genetically caused – those will show up usually in the first six months of life, and that’s in effect the 5% that we know is monogenic or fully penetrant. After the first six months of life, the vast majority of what we see as late life chronic disease is caused by the interaction between the gene and the environment, and that’s the basis for epigenesis. So, epigenesis means above and beyond, or over the gene. It’s all of the influences that impact the gene after that first six months. Now, there are late life conditions that show up that do have a genetic expression, but the reality is, again, we may have an 80% likelihood of a certain condition at any time in our life, but it means that people who have the identical same gene, there are 20% of them that never have that disease show up. The question is why? And that is the fundamental question that’s now come up with epigenesis. And it’s interesting because James Watson of Watson and Crick – the discoverers of the structure of the DNA in 1954 – was the first human to have his human genome completely mapped. That was about five, maybe six years ago now, and it’s a great quotation that if he brought his completely mapped human genome to his family doctor, that he or she would know 1% to 3% more about his health than from just doing a good physical. One to 3% – that’s a pretty insignificant amount.
Allan (5:18): It is. It’s hard to see that though. I’ll give you my story. My father and my mother split up when I was very, very young. So I never really spent time with my father or knew much about him. But more and more now that I am getting to know him and that side of the family, there are so many similarities between my father and I, from the way we look, the way we act. Almost everything we do, I’m very like him. You see that on the outside – there’s this genetic component that’s, I guess, driving me to look and behave similar to my father. But what we’re seeing is still only a very small percentage of what’s out there.
Dr. Pelletier (6:03): That’s a great example. In the book, I’m very clear. I’m not denying the reality of genetic predisposition. That’s very real. In fact, there’s a whole chapter in there where I look at, what do we really know about genetic inheritance? And you’ve just rattled off color of your hair, certain looks, certain features. If you think about it, those are relatively superficial. But what we’re looking at are the deeper issues of what kinds of illnesses will you have, how healthy will you be, how long will you live, what’s going to happen to your cognition, your mental acuity, your physical fitness levels? What are your dietary preferences and what’s the impact on you as an adult? Those things are governed by a deeper layer of biochemistry. And that’s really what we’re looking at, is what things do we have within our control that we can influence day in and day out, that change the predisposition? The title of the book, Change Your Genes, is actually a trick title, because the genes actually don’t change. Genes are fixed. What does change is the expression. So, whether a gene becomes expressed or suppressed depends on everything that happens between it, other genes, our internal environment, our physical environment, radiation exposure, environmental toxins, etcetera. We have genes that do give you a certain look, a certain high color, etcetera, within your family. But then we have all of the other influences happening throughout our life that govern pretty much most of what constitutes our adult life and functioning.
Allan (7:53): I want to go past the language, because I had always thought of epigenetics as turning a gene on or off from an expression perspective, but you mention in the book that it’s not always an on or off. Sometimes it’s more like a dimmer switch.
Dr. Pelletier (8:07): Actually it is a dimmer switch. The common language is a gene turning on or turning off, but that’s not really the case. It is precisely like a dimmer switch. The gene itself is surrounded by a molecular coating; they’re called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, which is really a mouthful. They are referred to SNPs, and these SNPs are what interact with the biochemistry within the cell, which is like an ocean. So the gene is in an ocean within the cell, and the ocean is influenced by everything in our life, our diet, our stress. That’s really how the gene gets regulated, and the term really is “regulated”. So, it is like a dimmer switch. You can either turn up an influence, or turn it down. You can’t turn it off altogether. You can turn it on full board; in most cases we don’t want that to happen. But that mechanism of dialing a rheostat on a light dimmer is actually exactly how the gene expression occurs.
Allan (9:16): Okay. There are seven, what you call biologic pathways, that cause this dimmer switch to be adjusted. Do you mind going through the seven?
Dr. Pelletier (9:26): No, not at all. This is basic human biochemistry, but there are really seven pathways in the human body, and each of those pathways is governed by a multiplicity of genes. Those seven pathways are at the end of which determine your state of health and illness, and the way it shows up in our body is you have biomarkers. So you’ll have an indication of inflammation or not, or a degree of inflammation. Some inflammation is good, too much is bad. So just to rattle them off, and we can discuss any one of them in detail.
Methylation is a molecule that is like the period at the end of a sentence. It tells a gene, “That’s the end of your statement, period. End of discussion.” That’s methylation. And the other is inflammation that we’re all very familiar with. There’s acute versus chronic inflammation. There’s oxidative stress, so it’s literally the stress induced in the act of metabolism. Every time we metabolize any food product, it involves oxygen, and there are more or less degrees of oxygenation that occur. So oxidative stress is the third. Detoxification is the fourth. Our body, our liver, our intestinal tract is constantly detoxifying things from the environment and our food, etcetera. The fifth is immunity. The basic function of the immune system is to differentiate self from not self, who you are from every other pathogen person or thing in the environment. That distinguishes kind of a border between us and our environment, between us and other people, is your immune system. It maintains the integrity of your biochemistry. The sixth is lipid metabolism. That’s basically how well we digest and utilize fats. And the way that this has a very direct impact on many people is, we have the statement – we’re all supposed to eat a low fat diet. That’s simply not accurate at all. There are some people that can consume an enormous amount of saturated fats, both animal and plant-based, and they have no problems whatsoever. They don’t develop heart disease, it isn’t a predisposing factor. There are other people who are highly sensitive to lipids and they have to really restrict their diet. We can talk about how this whole area of epigenetics helps us identify really optimal diets, as opposed to general guidelines. And the last is mineral metabolism. Those minerals are all of the nutrients and trace elements in whole foods. How well the body manages that is the basis for hormone production, for basic body chemistry. Those seven pathways, again, are basic human biochemistry. That’s in virtually every biochemical text, but what we’re now finding is that each of these are governed in turn by genes, and usually a collection of genes. And how those genes regulate and get in the way – we talked about a rheostat – these pathways result in biomarkers or changes that we can detect in the human blood, and that in turn affects our organs, our state of health, etcetera. So it’s this chain reaction, if you will, from the bottom on up.
Allan (13:09): As I kind of understand this then, from a health perspective… Right now we’re getting into some of those chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s – what we’re doing in our lifestyle, our behaviors, some of the chemicals we’re exposed to, inflammation that we experience, and oxidative stress – all those things are working within our bodies based on our gene profile and which of our genes have been ratcheted up or ratcheted back down.
Dr. Pelletier (13:46): Absolutely. You just described very accurately the whole process. Exactly. Again, these are standard pathways, whether you’re looking at integrative medicine or conventional medicine. These all exist within the human body. What’s really new is that we’re finding that these pathways are under our influence. These are not biological mechanisms that are set in place and invariant and just run. These are influenced by everything we do, day in and day out. I think that’s both the good news and the bad news. Someone might say, “That scares me. I don’t want to have that much control over my life and my destiny and my health.” And other people say, “Wow, that’s great. It means I have a greater influence over my own health and longevity and wellbeing than ever thought.” And my book really comes down on the latter case, which is, this is good news. If you know what these pathways are, if you know what your genetic predisposition is, and if you know what you can do about it – that’s all good news.
Allan (14:50): It is. It’s like if someone knows, “I lost my grandmother to diabetes, I lost my father to diabetes.” So you see that family lineage – that’s not your destination. You may be more predisposed to diabetes, but there are things that you can actually do to prevent that from happening.
Dr. Pelletier (15:09): Absolutely. There are many studies of identical twins, and what those studies indicate is that a very, very small percentage of major chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome – very few of those are actually the same in adult twins. So you have identical twins that have exactly the same genetic code, if you will, built into their cells, but as adults you have maybe 30% of them manifest the same cancer, maybe 10% manifest the same heart disease. So the actual percentage of a disease in a person’s gene among identical twins is very low. That means that everything that each of them has been doing differently in their lives is really the governing factor. Again, to me that’s very exciting news, because genes are not our destiny. They’re clearly a push, and some of the pushes are good. Again, it’s not always vulnerabilities.
There really are two basic models that you see in the public information literature on genes. One is a disease model. 23andMe gives a prediction about the likelihood of you having a particular disease. That’s a disease model, and I honestly am not supportive of that, because you and I would submit our genes and we would have virtually the same information come back. So it’s not really a predictive model; it’s statistical. It says you have a 60% chance or a 40% chance. What about the other 30% or 40%, or sometimes more than 50% of people with the identical profile who don’t have that particular disease? The other is the area of healthy biomarkers, which is what we’re really talking about, which is how do you identify when these markers are telling you that you have a higher than normal inflammation or lower than normal inflammation? And what can you do about that to maintain this optimal zone? So it’s really a health model. You’re using the same technology, but you’re reading it differently. One of the analogies I use is that if you walk into a supermarket, everything has a barcode. If you could read the barcodes, you would know a tremendous amount about that lettuce, or that soup, or that cereal – it would be where it came from, what the date was, some certain contents, etcetera. But we don’t have the means to read the barcode, so we just look at it. It’s a mystery. It’s exactly that same way with genetics. We are born as human beings with a barcode, and now we’re learning to read it. That’s what’s really fascinating.
Allan (17:59): What I liked about this was that one, it helps me understand why two people can basically do the same things, live the same way, but have very different health outcomes. I’ve always felt, from an eating perspective, someone will sit there and they’ll say the Inuits ate just fat and they did just great. Someone else will sit there and say you just need to eat fruit and vegetables. I actually did the 23andMe, and I was more fascinated about where my ancestors were from than anything else. I don’t know what the 2.6% Neanderthal actually means, but that’s out there. My lineage, everybody above me, is from Northern and Eastern Europe. Looking at that as a lifestyle, what they would have eaten – they would not have had access to tropical fruits.
Dr. Pelletier (18:58): Correct. You’re absolutely right. In fact, just as a side note, you mentioned about 2.6% Neanderthal in your chart. Virtually every person that’s tested will in fact show up as having Neanderthal genes, because at certain points in evolution, Neanderthal and what we now know is Homo Sapiens interbred. So, there are these Neanderthal genetic predispositions in our bodies. That’s quite a recent discovery. And one of the avenues of thought is that because this is in effect a more primitive genetic predisposition, that some of what we see as violence or post-traumatic stress syndrome or other kinds of hyper regression in individuals may in fact be this Neanderthal gene manifesting itself. So that’s another little subset of genetics, which is kind of fascinating.
Allan (19:52): So I could just tell someone, “Don’t bring it out. I’ve got this 2.6% out here.”
Dr. Pelletier (19:58): That’s it. And you’ve really hit on the essence of what the book is about, which is once you know… So, if you know that both parents were smokers, or both parents had obesity, or whatever the predisposition is, and you get your genes test and you found you have a low lipid metabolism quotient so you’re predisposed not to metabolize fats very rapidly or completely. Once you know that, then you say, “I then have to pay more attention to my diet. I need to, in fact, have a low fat, Mediterranean, ideally, kind of diet.” So it’s that knowledge that you can use to change your, in effect, destiny into something you can regulate. Diet is the single most potent influence on gene expression that we know of. Stress is another, and certain biochemical exposures from the environment. But diet has a huge part to play in genetics. Whenever I’m at conferences and you hear one speaker after another; there’s one saying the ketogenic diet, then another one says, “No, Paleolithic.” And then there’s high fat and low fat, and no fat, and various forms of fasting. Those are all general guidelines, general recommendations. It’s like a suit of clothing or a dress. If you buy it off the rack, that’s fine, but it’s never going to fit you perfectly. It’s all in the tailoring that makes it uniquely you, makes it look good, makes it look like a high-quality piece of clothing. So, all of these guidelines kind of fit someone but they don’t fit anyone. And until you know your own biochemistry, your own composition, your own genetic code, then you don’t know which of those match up with you. Maybe you really are a Paleo diet, maybe you really are a non-fat diet, maybe you are a periodic fasting person, but you don’t know until you get this code deciphered. And it will tell you sometimes things as specifically as to consume walnuts, not almonds, because you can digest walnuts by your genetic predisposition and pathway, but almonds are relatively indigestible for you, or you even have an allergy to almonds. Some people have peanut allergies – that’s a genetic predisposition. So again, it’s a matter of specificity. I think you’ve heard this phrase – we’re hearing “personalized medicine”. Even Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, uses the phrase “personalized medicine”. That’s what we’re coming to, where you use these tests, these assays, this knowledge to really make these general guidelines applicable to you.
Allan (22:49): Okay. So, if I want to buy a suit off the rack, as far as how to eat, and then I want to start tailoring it myself, what approach would you start with, and then how would you go about deciding your tailoring needs?
Dr. Pelletier (23:04): That’s a great question; maybe very personal. When I look at all of the dietary recommendations, there really is only one diet that has a large body of research over decades, where both the biochemistry makes sense, the epidemiology makes sense, the disease outcomes, etcetera. It’s basically the Mediterranean diet. And the Mediterranean diet is literally the diet that is consumed by countries along the southern part of the Mediterranean – so Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, North Africa even. That region has a very particular diet, which has predominantly fish as a protein source, not red meat. It is high in vegetables and fruit, and deeply colored vegetables and fruits. You can think about carrots and tomatoes, or apples and oranges. So, fruits and vegetables that are deeply colored, leafy green vegetables, etcetera. It has a moderate alcohol consumption, which is kind of a nice thing. It’s basically high fiber, and all in effect natural ingredients. These are not ideally products that are grown with a great deal of chemistry involved in their growth. So, the Mediterranean diet is kind of the optimal diet, with the most research underlying it. If you think about many of the other diets that are touted, in terms of fat content, fasting, not fasting, high protein, low protein – they’re really variance of the Mediterranean diet. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in the last year that looked at seven or eight of the common diets that are touted in public, and they followed people out, they looked at the outcomes at one year. What was interesting is there were no differences. There were weight losses on all of the diets, or improvements in health status on all of the diets for about three to six months, and then there was what’s called “regression to the mean”. Basically people went back to their usual baseline, and at one year these positive changes that had shown up in three to six months were all gone. People had gained weight, they were back to eating how they were, they had unhealthy biomarkers. So, basically all the diets are either equally good or equally bad, depending on your perspective.
Allan (25:49): I would think that might be the Hawthorne effect, if you’re familiar with that. When you’re being watched, you tend to be a little bit more spot-on. They looked at it from the work perspective – workers that were watched worked harder. I think maybe in that first three months, they know they’re being tracked and at that point they’ve got this, “I want to be good.” Then after a while, the Hawthorne effect wears off. The observer is still there, but they begin to ignore the observer. I think that might just be a human behavior thing, more so than to really say that a diet worked or not, because I think a lot of people probably just fell off the wagon at that point. Or were they still really trying to eat that way?
Dr. Pelletier (26:31): Absolutely. You hit it right on the head. Any dietary change that forces you to pay attention to what you’re eating, you will lose weight and your health will improve, period. It doesn’t matter what it is. So, pick any diet that you think is going to be the wonderful diet that’s going to cure all your ills, and if you stick with it for 10 to 12 weeks, you will get benefits. You’ll lose weight, you’ll look better, feel better, until you go off it. The issue is not, “Can we change our diet and improve our health?” The issue is, “Can we change our diet and sustain it for a lifetime?” That’s the biggest challenge. In integrative medicine, or even in conventional medicine, the biggest challenge is not, can you help people, can people stop smoking, can they reduce alcohol, can they reduce weight, can they increase exercise? The answer is “Yes” to all of those. That’s unequivocal. We’ve got tons of research that demonstrates that. What we don’t have is research on how people could sustain that change. Going back to the JAMA study, to me one of the most amusing things was that the diet that actually showed a sustained weight decrease, sustained over one year, was Weight Watchers, and the factor that you just said about the Hawthorne effect. The nutrition value of Weight Watchers is okay. It’s not great, it’s moderate. But the difference is they have support groups. They have partners, they have diets, the foods are supplied to people, so it’s sustained. It’s that psychological group support, psychological commitment to that dietary program that is responsible for the sustained weight loss and health benefits. It’s not inherent to the diet per se. It’s not a particularly healthy diet, but it’s one that people stay with because of the surrounding program. There’s a lot we can learn from that.
Allan (28:32): Yes – get help, get accountability partners. And they go in for weekly weigh-ins, so there’s a constant reminder that Monday is coming up and they’ve got to do their weigh-in. So they’re paying a little bit more attention over the weekend to try to make Monday not such a day.
Dr. Pelletier (28:52): You’ve got it. Absolutely. Absolutely correct.
Allan (28:57): One of the things that I’ve been dealing with and really focused on from a health perspective over the course of the last year, has been stress. I had a very stressful corporate job. I was laid off. I actually now look at that as a blessing, because now I can actually focus on my life and my stress. And I have choice, which I feel really, really good about. But stress is also one of those things that can really impact how our genes express and what’s going on with our bodies.
Dr. Pelletier (29:32): Absolutely. Other than diet, probably the second, in some cases primary influence on genetic expression is stress. You also cited in your own case a really critical term, which is “choice”. When we can influence external events and realize we have a choice, not over the external event, but we have a choice of our response – that one insight is critical. There’s an apocryphal story about William James, who’s the founder of modern psychology. He was in a profound depression. He suffered from depression his whole life, and he was in a very deep depression. And what roused him out of his deep depression was the realization that he had a choice between one thought and the next. That infinitesimal moment when he could choose between one depressing thought and another, versus a depressing thought and a happy thought – that roused him out of his depression and gave rise to much of what he wrote. So, you’ve hit on the critical factor of choice.
Now, with stress, it’s interesting. Stress is a complex subject, but let me try to be brief. There are really two kinds of stress. One is short-term, immediate, when the source of stress is identifiable and resolvable. If you think about it, you step off the curb, a car honks its horn, you jump back on the curb and that saves your life. So, the short-term stress, which in my book I call “type 1 stress” – the body is built to take that, we owe our survival as a species to it. If we didn’t have it, we’d be dead. Then there’s a “type 2 stress”, and that occurs when the source of stress is not immediate, not identifiable, and not resolvable. If you think about it, most of the stress in our lives – worry about income or children or career planning or a conflict in a relationship – those are all long-term, not even always identifiable, and not readily resolvable. That’s the culprit. The type 2 stress is the killer. That’s what affects our genes, and the effect is through pathways. As one example, excessive stress would increase inflammation. Inflammation predisposes to diabetes, heart disease, rheumatology diseases, irritable bowel, and a whole rash of other conditions. So, this type 2 stress is the worst.
Now, the common pathway between both of those is that if you perceive something to be threatening – so again, it’s this matter of perception – if you think something is threatening, your body will react as though it’s a real physical danger. So if you think that a change in your income is a threat to your physical wellbeing, your body will react as though you’re being stalked by a saber tooth tiger. It goes on red alert, all of your stress hormones, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and your body chemistry changes to one that’s a red alert. For a short period of time, no problem – our bodies are meant to take that. In fact, if you think about a pleasurable activity – sky diving or whatever your thrilling pleasure is – we voluntarily enter into these situations to get that high. So, short-term stress actually gives us a high, it increases perception and judgment, road to recall, etcetera. It’s a good thing. When it goes on for too long, normal increases in body chemistry, normal increases in biological changes become a problem. So blood pressure will go up in the short run. If it stays elevated, that’s hypertension. Our heart rates become slightly arrhythmic and rapid. If it goes on too long, that becomes tachycardia or various forms of life threatening arrhythmias. Our bodies become rigid so we’re not pushed over. If that goes on for too long, we have musculoskeletal contractions and pains and headaches. The last one would be if blood flow to the periphery of the body shuts down in type 1 stress, it’s like with any other animal. If we’re in a fight and you’re cut, you won’t bleed as much and you won’t succumb to loss of blood. In the long run, it becomes things like peripheral artery disease, Raynaud’s syndrome, a whole host of other conditions. So it’s this type 2 stress that’s the culprit.
The solution, and this is where the perception comes in – think about it – just identify, how do you know when you personally are under stress? For some people, their mouth gets dry – that’s the normal response. Neck tension, loss of appetite, racing thoughts, a stomach upset. Something tells you you’re under a lot of stress right now. If you can identify when you are moving down that type 2 pathway, you can then initiate a stress management technique. That could be meditation, it could be yoga, it could be simple abdominal breathing, it could be reciting a poem or a prayer that’s meaningful to you. It could be seeing an image of being on a beach or walking in the mountains, or whatever. That will interrupt that cumulative type 2 destructive response into a short-term type 1 interval which you can manage and recover. So the trick is not avoiding stress. It’s to cycle in and out of this optimal zone, where you have enough stress to be stimulated, to be excited, to be thrilled by what you’re doing, but not so much that it’s taxing on your body. That’s the difference. So, the type 1 stress does not have an adverse effect on your genes. Your genes are set up for short-term responses that basically preserve our integrity and our lives. The difference with type 2 is that it upregulates, in effect overexpresses that genetic predisposition in a way that’s ultimately destructive. So that, if you will, in a perhaps too long-winded answer, is really how stress affects our health, but also interacts with our genes and determines how well we do or do not manage the stress in our lives, which is inevitable. Stress is life. If we weren’t stressed, we’d be dead. Stress is certainly not bad. Excessive stress is simply destructive.
Allan (36:36): What I would find is that if there was an acute stress, I just need to move, in some form of movement. Sometimes it was throwing around heavy weights, sometimes it was just going for a walk in nature, and the acute stress, that type 1 stress would go away very, very quickly. If I found myself shallow breathing, just basically chest breathing – that’s when I would start to recognize that I was consistently stressed. This was something that had been going on longer than just a few minutes. And that’s where I found meditation and box breathing or something like that would be a good practice for me at that point in time to kind of let some of that go. Unfortunately I wasn’t, and in my mind I’m still not really, really good at relieving stress as well as I should. So that’s a practice and some things that I’ve been working on in the last several months, because I see that as the next big rock for me to be dealing with on my health. I’m pretty good about my food, and now I want to deal with that one. I appreciate you taking the time; you didn’t go too long at all. That was actually excellent. I appreciate that.
Dr. Pelletier (37:51): You just took out exactly in your own personal situation what we’re talking about. So, for you, the shallow thoracic breathing – that’s hyperventilation. When we’re under stress, your brain needs a lot of oxygen. You begin to breathe shallowly and slowly, a lot of oxygen to the brain for rapid reaction time. When it’s over – think about it – you usually take a deep sigh, right? You go, “Phew. That was close. It’s over.” That tells your diaphragm, “Unlock, start to breathe more abdominally.” If you can do that, which is what you’re practicing, then that’s the way to break the type 2 into type 1. The other critical thing that you said – again, you’re right on target – is, practice. If someone said, “I want to learn to play the piano”, you’d say, “You’re going to need lessons and practice, and it’s going to take you time.” And they’d say, “Yeah, of course, I know that.” But if the person says, “I want to learn how to manage stress better”, and you say, “It’s going to take practice. You have to learn it, it’s going to take time.” They look at you like, “Really? Why should that be the case?” The point is, it’s a skill. Like any other skill, you can learn which one you need, when to initiate it, and as you do more of it, you get better over time. And quite literally there’s research that shows that as you practice a stress management technique, most of the benefits that you accrue initially are imaginary. You think that you’re relaxing, and really you’re not changing your blood chemistry very much at all. But as you practice, the convergence between perceiving that you’re managing it well and it actually happening on a physical level, happens. Initially people say, “I give up” or, “It’s not really working.” It’s true initially, but over time it will.
Allan (39:38): Good, thank you. The book is Change Your Genes, Change Your Life. Like I said, this topic just fascinates me to no end. It’s a really good book. If someone wanted to learn more about you and the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Pelletier (39:57): I have a website, and it’s very simple – it’s DrPelletier.com. It has information on the book. I post articles, most of which have come from the book, out of the original sources for it. There are some videos of lectures I’ve given, all the way from Singapore to Istanbul. It’s a good site; it’s just DrPelletier.com – very simple. Thank you for asking.
Allan (40:29): So you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/344, and I’ll be sure to have a link there. Dr. Pelletier, thank you for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
Dr. Pelletier (40:41): Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed this discussion, and you’re very knowledgeable. I appreciate the fact that you’ve obviously really thought about this. So thank you for letting me be your guest.
Allan (40:51): You’re welcome. Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. Dr. Pelletier is a fascinating man and his book is so well done. If you’re interested at all in epigenetics, this is the most recent research. He really did a great job with the research and did a really great job of explaining things in the book. I’d encourage you to reach out and get that book. If you enjoy the podcast, I’d like to ask you if you wouldn’t mind stepping in and becoming a patron and supporting the show. I want to thank the folks that have already done that. You’re helping to cover the cost of posting and all the support I get from audio and the show notes and everything that goes into getting a podcast done. We are doing some extra episodes this month, so there are some additional costs. I appreciate anyone and everyone that stepped up to become a patron. And you can as well, by going to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon. Of course you can go to the show notes of this episode at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/344, and I’ll have a link to Patreon. You’ll see that right on the top there. And I list the patrons that contribute at least $4 a month, so it’s about $1 an episode for most months. It’s about $0.50 an episode for the month of October. So, please do go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon and become a patron of the show. Show your support and help me make this podcast is wonderful as I can.
And if you haven’t already, please do check out WellnessRoadmapBook.com. I’m building that out right now to support the launch of the book, which is expected to happen in the early part of December. I’m working on getting everything synched up there, but I’m putting together the materials there so you can learn a lot about the book. And if you want to learn any more, you can go ahead and sign up to be a part of the launch team. The launch team gets weekly updates that I don’t share anywhere else, and they’re also going to get some pretty cool bonuses and surprises as we go along. So, thank you for those that have joined the launch team. I really appreciate you. And if you haven’t joined the launch team, please do – go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com. Thank you.
Dr Jonny Bowden is the co-author of The Great Cholesterol Myth and in this book he and Dr Stephen Sintra get to the truth about cholesterol levels.
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Allan (1:15): Dr. Bowden, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Bowden (1:21): My pleasure, Allan. This is round two. I enjoy it the first time.
Allan (1:26): Yes, it is. The first time was great, and I’m very, very happy and feel privileged and honored to have you back on.
Dr. Bowden (1:33): Thank you.
Allan (1:34): We really had a good discussion about cholesterol in that one. And the name of this book is The Great Cholesterol Myth. We’re going to talk about cholesterol some more today, but I think what I took out of this book that was a little different than other, I guess, anti-cholesterol books or those kinds of books in general…
Dr. Bowden (1:55): Cholesterol skeptic books, let’s call them that way.
Allan (1:56): Skeptic books. Okay, let’s call it that. You and Dr. Sinatra didn’t just say cholesterol doesn’t matter. You took us to that next step to say, “Here’s how you can use those numbers in some way.” But then there are these other four things that are actually what we ought to be paying attention to, and we’re being distracted by this number.
Dr. Bowden (2:21): And those four things I call “The Four Horsemen of Aging”. And here’s an interesting factoid. When we did The Great Cholesterol Myth, we looked at the factors that actually promote heart disease – the real ones, not cholesterol; that’s a minor player – but the real factors, and we isolated four of them. But what I want to tell you that I think is interesting is a previous book of mine, which was originally written in 2008, called The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer, is now being revised in a revised and updated edition for 2019. And guess what? The same four factors are what contribute to early death. So not only are these four factors that I’m about to tell you major promoters of heart disease, they’re major promoters of every disease. In fact, every degenerative disease you don’t want to get, whether it be Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease – they all have these four factors playing in some proportion or another. So these are not just about heart disease. Now I guess you want to know what the factors are, right?
Number one is inflammation. Inflammation is a silent killer. We’ve known that since that famous Time magazine cover about 20 years ago that said, “Inflammation: The Silent Killer”. Nobody knew what it was back then. Now people are talking about it, but I don’t think people really understand the enormity of the contribution of inflammatory processes to just about every disease they get. We get stuffed noses and colds – we know we’ve got inflammation. We get a splinter caught in our shins, and we know we see inflammation. We see it will get all red, but we don’t really comprehend the damage and destruction of chronic inflammation that flies under the radar. Not the stuff you see – not the abscess on your tooth, or the growth of a pimple or any of the inflammation signs that we’re all very familiar with, but the stuff that goes on under the hood – in our arteries, in our veins that we don’t see – that’s the inflammation that kills us, and that is the number one of the four things that we identified as The Four Horsemen of Aging. Inflammation.
Now we can stop right there. I’ll give you the overview. And I’m sure these are many things that you’ve covered on your shows, because these are core subjects that everybody who’s interested in health looks at at one time or another. So inflammation was number one. Number two is oxidative damage. So everything you ever heard about antioxidants – they’re all about fighting this Horseman of Aging – oxidation, oxidative damage, the kind of thing that happens inside your body that parallels what happens when you leave metal out on your front yard and in the rain – it rusts. And when you rust from the inside, you’ve got oxidative damage. So, fighting that is one of the big goals I think of any kind of “anti-aging” program, or any heart disease program for that matter. The number three is something you and I were talking about offline, which is stress. And I know we have a lot to say about stress, so let me put it in context. It’s one of the four biggest promoters of disease, magnifiers of disease, amplifiers of disease, causes of disease. It’s just an enormous factor in all diseases, especially in heart disease, and I can give you some examples of that a little bit later on. And the last one is something that people may not be as familiar with. It’s called glycation. And actually they’re not in any order, because all of these are equally destructive. The fourth Horseman of Aging is sugar, because there’s no glycation without sugar, so we might as well forget about the biochemical process known as “glycation” that ages you from the inside and outside, but let’s talk about the cause of the glycation, which is sugar. So there they are, The Four Horsemen of Aging – inflammation, oxidative stress or oxidative damage, stress, and sugar.
Allan (6:16): Okay. Now, one of the things I harp on my clients, and I probably shouldn’t harp on them because it probably stresses them out a little bit, but I explain to them that we get ourselves kind of locked into one metric. And that metric for most of my clients is going to be their weight. They want to lose some weight, so they’re focused on that one metric. And I keep saying, “If you’re eating whole foods and the scale is not moving, what are the things that are happening inside your body that are good because of what you’re doing, that you just don’t see?” I think inflammation and oxidation and glycation are all those internal things that we could go decades without recognizing that it’s killing us, but we also can go decades when we’re improving our health to just not see the needle move. What are some things that I can look for under the hood? I can go in for blood tests, other things. What are the things I can look for to know that I’m kind of on the right track with regards to those three?
Dr. Bowden (7:26): First, Allan, I want to emphasize and underline what you just said because it was profoundly true, and it’s something we forget about because we’re in such an instant gratification kind of environment. We all are programmed to want results and want to see results overnight. And the drug culture amplifies that, because we all know if you take a Tylenol, your headache is gone, so it’s an instantaneous kind of result. What you were just talking about so wisely and so correctly was the fact that there are many things that don’t show up for a decade or more. For many men – I don’t have the figures in front of me, but they are available, they’re in the National Institute of Health, you can look them up on Google – I’d say it’s for a double-digit percentage of men, a heart attack is their first symptom of heart disease. The heart disease didn’t start with the heart attack. Diabetes has no symptoms. I’m not sure what the number is. I’m not as much of a data nerd as I guess I thought I was, but a very high percentage of diabetes cases are undiagnosed because people have no symptoms, so they don’t go to the doctor. High blood sugar doesn’t have a symptom, neither does high blood pressure. And these things are destructive forces in the body. I often use the smoking example, because people get that right away. If I started smoking tomorrow, I wouldn’t get cancer on Wednesday. I might not even get it in a month or two or six, but I’m going to get it, or I’m going to have my odds of getting it increase by 80%. So, understand that there’s a latency period on a lot of these measures, and that doesn’t mean they’re not important. They’re damn important. You just might not see them as readily as you would see a change in your weight. I just wanted to underline that because you said that.
Now, what are some of the things we can look for since we’re not seeing it on the scale, for example? I always start with energy. There is not a person who has a ton of energy in the world who’s feeling bad, so energy is a good marker for how you’re doing. You can’t fake it. If you’re not getting it from some external source like a drug or a lot of caffeine or something, your energy is going to be generated naturally, and that’s a very good metric for how you’re doing. How you are sleeping is a pretty good metric. How you are feeling about life and about people is a good metric, because your brain and your emotions and different centers of fear and pleasure in your brain are all effected by your environment and your nutrition. So I’d look at those basic ones. How do I feel? How am I feeling about life? Do I wake up with any kind of energy and spring in my step, or do I wish I could sleep 10 more hours? Those are the metrics I’d look at while you’re waiting for the scale to change.
Allan (10:05): I think that’s really hard to do – the energy part of it – when you’re constantly in this state of eating sugar or simple carbs. It’s one of the beautiful things when you start understanding what healthy fats are, because they’re fats that are not going to cause the inflammation or oxidative damage. Can we recap what some of the good fats versus the bad fats are, so we don’t fool ourselves?
Dr. Bowden (10:35): I would love to do that, and I would urge everyone listening to understand the division between good fat and bad fat that I think more and more people are accepting. Even people I know that really know nothing about nutrition and you talk about fat in the diet, they say, “There’s good fat and bad fat.” It’s like everybody knows that, right? Here’s the next level of knowledge. You’ve got to understand that what we think is good fat and what we think is bad fat, is not good fat and bad fat. We have been taught that bad fat is fat from animals. Bad fat is saturated fat. Good fat is anything that doesn’t come from an animal or isn’t saturated, like vegetable oil and corn oil. Big, fat lie. Big, fat deception here.
Bad fats are damaged fats. It has nothing to do with whether they’re saturated or not. There’s been a wealth of evidence since 2010 that has absolved saturated fat from a causative role in heart disease. It’s damaged fat. It’s overused vegetable oils that get rancid and form carcinogens and trans fats and things like that that are really, really bad. And vegetable oils do not get a free pass. Just because it came from a vegetable like corn or soy or cottonseed or safflower does not necessarily make it healthy. Those fats are actually pro-inflammatory, and the Omega-3s are actually anti-inflammatory. So we need to be in a balance. We’ve got to forget everything we learned about saturated versus unsaturated. Here are two great examples. Coconut oil is a saturated fat that is really good for you. People are beginning to get that. But one of the ones they’re not yet really getting on board with enough, as far as I’m concerned, is Malaysian palm oil. That still suffers from all kinds of bad ideas from 20 years ago, and a different source of palm oil and a time when it was tainted. Modern Malaysian palm oil is a health food. First of all, it’s got all these tocotrienols, which are healthy for the brain. It’s a sustainable fat. It’s made without a lot of high heat or chemicals. It’s non-GMO. And people worry because it’s a saturated fat. It’s a great fat. I use Malaysian palm oil all the time. I use coconut oil all the time. And I use saturated fat from healthy animals all the time, like grass-fed beef and pastured pork and free-range chickens. Those are not the fats you need to be afraid of. What you need to be afraid of is too much of those fats that look all healthy and they come in those plastic things, and they’re corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil. Too many of those lends towards inflammation, not towards anti-inflammation. And we want anti-inflammation. So that’s the first thing about fats. What else did you want to talk about?
Allan (13:26): I guess the other side of was… And this is always the funny thing. One day I’m probably going to just say this to my doctor if he tells me to eat egg white omelets again. I’m just going to say, “It sounds like I shouldn’t try to lose weight, because I’m pretty sure that the body fat that I would be trying to lose would be saturated fat, and I don’t really want that as a fuel.” That’s one of those things that always strikes me, is why would we store fat as a saturated fat if we weren’t supposed to be eating saturated fat?
Dr. Bowden (14:04): I’d ask your doctor even more pointed questions. This is what amazes me about these guys that tell you to eat, whether they’re doctors or not doctors, anyone who continues to advise egg white omelets – my question to them is, even by their standards, and their standards are that anything that raises cholesterol is going to be bad because cholesterol causes heart disease – even by that outdated, wrong theory, we already know that eating cholesterol doesn’t change your blood cholesterol. So, why are they still telling us to throw away the best part of the egg? Even the National Institute of Health and USDA no longer consider cholesterol a nutrient of concern, because the data is in – dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect your blood cholesterol. Even the people who still believe in this cockamamie theory, why are they still advising egg whites?
Allan (14:55): I guess it’s just really hard to walk away from a paradigm you’ve been telling patients forever. Our prior generations, when they went to the doctor, the doctor told them, “Here, put this leech on you.” They would take the leeches.
Dr. Bowden (15:15): My parents’ generation would let them. My parents’ generation believed anything. Then the doctor was in the community, we knew him, they were in big, impersonal places. We had a relationship with them, and there was kind of, “Doctor knows best.” With my parents, you could not question anything that Dr. Leo said; you just couldn’t. I hope we’ve come a little further than that. They are not the keepers of the faith and the guardians of our health. They are members of our healthcare team and we need to be more proactive and stop buying into every paradigm that they give us that was given to them by the pharmaceutical industry and it’s kind of out of date right now.
Allan (15:52): Yeah. Talking in terms of pharmaceuticals, a question I’ll often get from my clients is, “Should I supplement, and what are some things I should supplement with?” I always direct them and say, “You can go get some blood tests for the basic vitamin D, vitamin B, some of these other things to kind of just see.” But in the book you do go through what I would call some of the core supplements. There are things, like you said in the book, that are going to help you have a healthier heart. The first one is Coenzyme Q10.
Dr. Bowden (16:28): If I may, let me back up one step before we go there, and just put supplements in an overall context. I’m going to guess you’re more like me than the average person, but I probably take 38 to 40 something pills a day, or potions or drinks or some combination of nutrients in different delivery systems. I’m probably taking 40 or 50 things a day, and have for most of my adult life. They’ve changed, depending on what I’m particularly trying to do and what I’m experimenting with. I’m a very committed biohacker that way. I don’t recommend to people that they start out with 40 or 50 things. They don’t need 40 or 50 things. Most of the people who I interact with on Facebook, Facebook Live, my website – JonnyBowden.com, “Ask Dr. Jonny”, our Clean Eating Magazine – they are generally well-informed consumers who really don’t want to take a lot of pills and they want to know what’s the best overall program they can be on with the least number of things they have to take. So I would like to at some point address that, and then we can go onto what you mentioned, which is I’m sure going to be Coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine and things like that, because those are specifically chosen for people who have issues around their heart. And those were things that Dr. Sinatra has also found to be incredibly helpful over the years, but he also, I’m sure, would agree with me that you’ve got to start with your basic stuff.
Not everybody needs all the nutrients for the heart, not everybody needs all the extra support for the liver, like some people who might have hepatitis. Not everybody needs additional support for the brain. It would be lovely to take all these things, but you’d be taking about 100 things a day. You’ve got to do a little picking and choosing when you decide how to target things. All medicines might be great, but you don’t take them for every single disease. It’s the same thing with this. You want to cover your basics, which I can talk about in a minute. I can do that with four items and it’s pretty easy for most people to wrap their minds around. And then we can talk about how these additional nutrients like Coenzyme Q10 or L-carnitine might help someone in a particular situation, such as strengthening their heart.
Allan (18:38): Yes, please do.
Dr. Bowden (18:42): Here are my four basic supplements – a multivitamin, magnesium, vitamin D and fish oil. I just gave you the headline, and if you want to stop listening, that’s all you’ve got to know – a high-quality multiple, an absorbable magnesium, a good vitamin D, and a high-quality fish oil. Now, let’s get into why one brand over another or why you would make one choice over another. Multiples usually range from… I’m not going to disparage a brand, but we all know the kind – you take one every day and the big-box store has it. This is minimum wage nutrition; it’s generally the cheapest form of the nutrients – for example, magnesium oxide instead of magnesium citrate, that kind of thing. And it’s usually the minimal dosages that are really RDA. There isn’t a nutritionist alive who believes the RDAs make any sense or that they are in any way optimal levels for people to take. So, a high-quality one means one that is really well-formulated by people who know what they’re doing, and use the right dosages and the right amounts. I have brands for all of these and I’m going to tell people, because these are the ones that I use. For multiples, I’m 100% for Rainbow Light’s Vibrance line. That’s like your Lexus line. They were the first company to do vitamins from foods only, the cold food vitamins. They’re very advanced in the advisory boards that they use. And I’ve looked at their formulas. Those are the ones I recommend to friends – the Rainbow Light Vibrance line for any multiple. They make a teenage boy, a teenage girl, a young woman, young man; they make it for every stage and age in life, and they’re very well-formulated.
Magnesium. We’re going to talk later about stress, and magnesium is one of mine and Steve Sinatra’s number one remedies for stress. But what we’re talking about here is a basic. I like at least 400, if not 800 milligrams of magnesium a day. I personally prefer to drink mine. I use Natural Vitality’s Calm. It’s a drink that fizzes up, and I kind of like the whole ritual of it because actually it’s interesting where it dissolves and that’s the oxygen combining with the carbonate and making your magnesium citrate available to you. It’s kind of cool, but it’s one less pill I have to take. It’s easy to remember, and I take them in the little travel packets that go with you. So I take the Natural Vitality magnesium.
Then vitamin D – I’m not partial to brands because it’s a very easy nutrient to make, as long as you get the D3 form. And the actual dosage is going to vary. The Vitamin D council has some good recommendations for how to bring your vitamin D up, but I would recommend to everybody that they get the OH-25 vitamin D blood test when they get their blood test, because we should all know our levels. The people who I think are the most accurate and are thinking about this in the most clear way are recommending that your ideal level will be around 50. It’s not 20 or 30 the way the government says it should be. So, you want to bring that level up, and it’s very easy to do it with supplements, assuming you receptors work well.
And then the fourth supplement that I think is a must for everybody is fish oil. I am an enormous believer. My great nutrition teacher, the great late Robert Crayhon used to say, “If I could do one thing to increase the health of the American population, I’d put every pregnant mother on fish oil.” And I know, knowing him many years, that he really meant that for the entire population. But you could certainly start with pregnant women. And I’m a big fan. I just think they’re the most anti-inflammatory molecule, they undo so much damage of inflammation on so many different levels. They help with circulation, they help with the brain, with the heart. There’s a form of them that I recommend, because so many people tell me they burp them up or, “My kids won’t take them. It’s brutal hard to get them to take them, and they need it very badly.” There is a formula called Seriously Delicious Omegas. It’s an emulsified Omega-3. It’s made by Barlean’s. In fact, the children’s version just won the next year award at Expo East for the most innovative product in children’s products. It’s an emulsified Omega-3 that actually tastes a little bit like a fruit compote and it’s delicious, and you can get kids to eat it and it’s actually even better absorbed than the oil form. So, those are the four things I recommend – the Rainbow Light Vibrance brand for multiples; whatever your particular demographic is – if you’re young, old, middle-age, there’s a formula for you. The Natural Vitality Calm magnesium drink. Vitamin D by any reputable company that makes a vitamin D3. And Barlean’s Seriously Delicious Omegas for the Omega-3. That’s my four cornerstone products that I can pretty much recommend across the board, and they’re going to benefit about 99% of people. Now we can talk about some of the specifics for things like heart or liver or brain, as we’ve been talking about the heart.
Allan (23:47): Yeah. I don’t take quite as many supplements as you do. I really do base it on my blood test, on the time of the year. If I’m eating a lot of fish, then I’ll probably take less fish oil. If I’m getting outside like I am now, and it’s still 90 degrees and hot, humid here… I get out and get some good sun from my walks that are half an hour to an hour, so my vitamin D levels are smack on. When it starts getting cooler, then by all means, yes, I’ll start doing that. So, those are also the four that I would say I take the most often. I don’t take them every day, or it’s just a standard stack regularly. I do base it on what my current nutrition profile is and lifestyle and everything else. I probably need to kick up my magnesium, and we’ll get into that in a minute. But let’s jump into these others, because I hear about these, but we really haven’t spent a lot of time talking about them. Coenzyme Q10.
Dr. Bowden (24:49): Great. So, Coenzyme Q10 is called a ubiquinone, because it’s ubiquitous. It’s in every single cell in the body and it’s manufactured in every single cell in the body. The best and simplest way to think of it is a spark plug that creates energy for organs that need it and cells that need it. And there’s nowhere where it’s more needed more consistently than the heart, because the heart doesn’t get a vacation; it beats 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, constantly. It’s a huge consumer of energy. It’s like the American fossil fuel – we just consume the oil. And like many things, nature plays a trick on us and we make less of it as we get older. It’s one of the many things we make less of – collagen being another one, hydrochloric acid in our stomach being another one, testosterone being a third. And sure enough, Coenzyme Q10 is one of the things that we don’t make as much of as we get older. And of course the heart doesn’t stop needing it. So, for cardiologists like Steve Sinatra, Coenzyme Q10 is like a spark plug of energy and very, very important for our heart.
A second more insidious reason that it’s important is that statin drugs, which is what all the conservative, all the mainstream, the conservative wing of the American medical establishment is still very much in the throes of the cholesterol hypothesis. They still very much believe blood cholesterol is a causative factor in heart disease and must be controlled by statin drugs, which they think are the seventh wonder of the world. So, you are very likely to be prescribed a statin drug if you are an American going to a conventional doctor for elevated cholesterol. This is not the approach I would take or that any of my colleagues would take, but it is the approach that much of mainstream medicine takes. So if you are very likely on a statin drug, your Coenzyme Q10 is being depleted, because one of the things statin drugs do, they’re called HMG reductase, coenzyme reductase inhibitors. They inhibit an enzyme that makes cholesterol, but it also makes Coenzyme Q10. Too bad for you. So now when you need it the most, you have the least amount of Coenzyme Q10. So Steve recommends that people who are on statin drugs take at least 200 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 a day, and that’s a lot. I recommend about 100 for everybody who’s not, just as a preventative or as a general antioxidant, 60-100. But if you’ve got issues with the heart, and God knows if you’re on a statin drug, you need more.
Allan (27:27): Right now I don’t want to go down that argument of the statins, because I had such a horrible experience with them. I’m not a cardiologist, I’m not a doctor. I had my experiences with them and it was horrible.
Dr. Bowden (27:39): I’m not telling anyone to throw their statins away. That’s got to be done under medical supervision. But I can certainly point you to the research on side effects, that they are quite considerable, they’re under-reported. This is all in the research. It’s all documented in our book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, complete with the studies that show this. They do have a lot of side effects. And in my opinion and Steve’s opinion, their benefit is way less than we’ve been told it is, and it certainly doesn’t extend to a lot of the population who are getting prescriptions for statin drugs and they really never show any benefit from them. So, I’m all for trying to see if we can decrease the number of prescription drugs we’re on. I think as a general rule that’s a good idea.
Allan (28:19): But if you’re on a statin and you can tolerate it and you’re working with your doctor, Coenzyme Q10 is going to be something you want to make sure you’re taking.
Dr. Bowden (28:27): Yeah. And by the way, that’s not controversial. Merck got a patent for a combination of statin and Coenzyme Q10, or for Coenzyme Q10 – I’m not sure which it was, but they didn’t pursue it because they didn’t think anybody really knew about it or cared about it. But it is very well-known and noncontroversial. Even your conservative doctor, if you bring it up, will admit that in fact statin drugs do deplete Coenzyme Q10. That’s not a controversial piece of information.
Allan (28:58): Okay. Now, I’ve had Dr. Know on the show and he and I got into D-ribose. I know that D-ribose is one of those helper cells for mitochondria. It helps mitochondria. How does it help my heart?
Dr. Bowden (29:18): D-ribose is a sugar, and it appears to have some energy-producing. I’m using that in the most general sense, because that’s not how science talks about it. But what people report is that it seems to help them with energy. It works with Coenzyme Q10. I guess the best way to say it is, there is a currency called ATP – that’s the cellular currency of energy. We run our economy on money, on cash, on checks; the cells run the body on something called ATP. This substance, ATP – it stands for adenosine triphosphate – is actually the cellular currency of energy. So you need ATP to blink your eyes, you need it to run the marathon, you need it to sleep. We need it right now to be talking on microphones. ATP is needed for any movement, any thought, anything that the body does. So how does it make it? D-ribose is one of the ways that it actually helps your little cellular energy factories, which we call the mitochondria, to produce more ATP. It’s like we said in the book – metaphorically D-ribose acts like a little elf shuttling the material needed to make ATP to the factories where it’s made. So, they’re a great adjunct in the creation of cellular energy, and that’s why they’re in the book. D-ribose.
Allan (30:47): Okay. And then L-carnitine?
Dr. Bowden (30:50): L-carnitine is like a shuttle bus. So, I live in LA; I’ll use the Hollywood Bowl analogy. You can’t ever really get too close. The bus drops you at the bus stop and then you take a shuttle over to the Hollywood Bowl, so that you don’t have to park there. Carnitine is like a shuttle bus. What it does is it shuttles fatty acids into the mitochondria, of which we have been speaking, which is basically the energy-production organelle in the cell. It shuttles the fatty acids into the mitochondria so that they can be used for energy. I will say there’s a good argument that most people have enough carnitine from their diet. This is not true for vegetarians, by the way, or vegans, because carnitine is not in anything but meat products. Sorry. So if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, this doesn’t apply to you, but many people do have adequate carnitine stored. However, it has long been thought that since it plays such a central role in the transport of fatty acids into energy-burning factories in the cell, that people who are either overweight or maybe whose heart is not working at top performance levels could possibly use a little bit of extra help with that shuttle bus.
Allan (32:08): Alright. So now, the topic that’s really kind of near and dear to my heart. I guess of all the things that you can focus on for health and wellness – be it food, exercise, sleep – my current focus now is really much more on stress and stress reduction. Why is stress such a bad player when it comes to heart health? It’s one of The Four Horsemen. How did it get that title of being part of The Four Horsemen? Because there are other things – obviously the inflammation, the oxidation, and the sugar – we see that time and time again. But stress now, in your book you’re indicating, it’s just as big a player.
Dr. Bowden (32:57): You have to think of what happens in the body when you’re under stress. There’s a number of ways to demonstrate this. Here’s a fun one. Have your listeners Google the term “voodoo death”. There are documented cases of voodoo doctors putting hexes on people and them dying. Why do you think that happens? It doesn’t happen because something magically goes in the airways and poisons their food. They die from the stress of knowing, because they buy into that system. They very much believe in that whole, whatever the religious order is that allows that to happen – they believe in it and now they believe that somebody with authority has just put a hex on them, and the stress level kills them. It’s called “voodoo death”, and it’s been documented.
Everyone should understand that what we think about has a profound effect on our physiology. This has been demonstrated a zillion times. You can demonstrate it for yourself by sitting calmly and picturing something peaceful, wonderful, loving, feeling safe and protected, and watch what happens to your heart rate and your blood pressure. And then if suddenly you were to think about a horrible car accident with someone that you loved possibly in it, what would happen? You would not have moved from your chair, but your blood pressure will have gone up, your heart rate will start to elevate. If we were measuring your hormones, your cortisol would be above the roof. Your adrenaline would be pumping. So, what we think about, these stress reactions, which involve very powerful adrenal hormones – they have a profound effect on our health. They’re inflammatory, for one thing. Cortisol has an effect on belly fat, it has an effect on energy, it has an effect on insulin sensitivity – all things which we all know to be major factors and players in heart disease. We have to think, Allan, what did nature, or the genome organizing device, or God, or however you conceptualize it – why were we given these stress hormones? What were they supposed to do? When you think about it, they were supposed to get us out of an emergency. So, if we’re a caveman and we hear some rustling in the leaves and it’s a wildebeest coming to eat us for lunch – immediately our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure starts to rise, the blood starts to pump into the legs instead of the digestive system, because we’ve got our start to run like hell. They are the “fight or flight” hormones. They are meant to either let us fight and prepare our bodies for that, or let us run and prepare our bodies for that. That’s what the “fight or flight” hormones work for. They’re short-term solutions to a danger. They’re like first gear on a car; they get you out of a ditch. Here’s the problem. We’re running on the 405 North at 70 miles an hour in first gear, because those stress hormones are only supposed to be elevated for a minute here and there to get you out of an emergency. Then it’s good and adaptive stress. We live under 24-hour stress. It’s chronic stress. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t even stop when we go to bed. And that kind of chronic elevation of these stress hormones wrecks metabolic disaster. So that’s how stress kills. It starts a cascade of events that we’re fine if we’re on short-term, like first gear, but if you drive in first gear for a long time, you’re going to strip your transmission. And that’s what happens in the body.
Allan (36:21): I like that metaphor, because I think so many of us can relate to the fact that we’re in this stress perspective and there’s nowhere to really run. I was writing a story, putting it together for the book, and I was thinking in terms of, I’ve had moments of chronic stress and I’ve had moments of the acute stress, just that moment where my boss calls me on the phone and says, “Come up to my office, I need to talk to you.” Suddenly your heart rate’s going and everything and you’re like, “I can’t go and burn this off. I can walk up the stairs or I can get on the elevator and I can go up there and see him.” Then afterwards I know I need to go to the gym and burn that off. But I was in a situation where the CEO was not really happy with me; we were constantly at odds. And every day I knew I’ve got to sit in front of this guy and I’ve got to do my job and I’ve got to just not react to what my body is screaming at me to do, which was fight or run away. Neither one of those would have been a good solution.
Dr. Bowden (37:31): Right, but that energy stays in you; it’s not like it just dissipated into the ether. It’s now running its hormonal game on you and all kinds of things are happening physiologically that are probably not the best for you.
Allan (37:45): So, if we know we’re in a situation and we can’t, in the short run, do something about it – get out of that job, get out of that relationship – what are some things you would advise people to do to manage their stress?
Dr. Bowden (38:03): I would start with deep breathing. I think I told you offline – Michelle and I started meditating last July, so we have just completed a year and a month or so of meditation. It’s taken me my entire life to be able to find a context, a way to do that. I was one of those people who found it incredibly difficult, and I could not keep my mind still and I couldn’t concentrate and do all the other stuff they tell you to do. And I found a method that works for me and I do it every day, twice a day and really, really rarely ever miss. I think even if you’re like me up to a year ago and you couldn’t do the full round of meditating twice a day or even once a day for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes – try deep breathing. Try this little thing I used to do myself for years, where it’s just like a four-minute timeout. You sit at your desk and you literally close your eyes and you lower your heart rate, and you just breathe in deeply on a count of four – 1, 2, 3, 4, and you hold just a bit, maybe another count of four, and then you exhale on a count of seven. Just long exhale. And the number doesn’t even matter; you could reverse it, but the point is to keep some number in mind, say seven, inhale on four, hold for six or seven counts, exhale. You set the timer on your iPhone for four minutes and do that a couple of times a day. It’s so little time out of your day, but it will act as a partial reset of your brainwaves, your blood pressure, your cortisol levels. It will be like a mini vacation. I think that it would be great if you could work up to an actual meditative practice, but any kind of deep breathing.
Walks in greenery seem to have remarkable restorative powers. There’s an entire discipline of psychology and it’s called ecotherapy that has to do with seeing greenery, walking around in your neighborhood. If you’re lucky enough to have trees, look at them, because there are studies even showing that in hospitals, those who have views of lawns have better metrics. There’s something about seeing greenery that really is stress-reducing.
I am a big fan of, going back to supplements – Natural Vitality’s Calm. It’s called Calm for a reason, because actually magnesium’s very, very calming. Anybody who’s ever had intravenous vitamin drips knows this, because if you have an intravenous vitamin drip with magnesium in it, you will sleep like you’ve never slept in your life. And I speak from personal experience. I used to have these drips all the time. So, I’m a big fan of taking that Natural Vitality Calm. And I like it also because for me there’s something calming in the ritual. It’s not just popping a pill; it’s pouring a spoonful of this into some mortar, watching the fizz, wait until the bubbles come up. There’s a 60-second ritual to doing it. And I’m a big believer that rituals are calming as well. I try to do my same four or five things every morning like clockwork, and it tends to be very calming and grounding. So, I think all these things can be helpful to reduce stress. Exercise certainly can help; walks can help; meditation can help; better sleep can help; and certain supplements can help, like Natural Vitality’s Calm as one example.
Allan (41:29): Alright. This is episode 343. Are there any links or anything where you’d like for me to send people to learn more about you and what you’re up to?
Dr. Bowden (41:41): I’d love them to come to the website, especially in a couple of weeks when it’s being all redesigned. There’ll be all kinds of good, cool free stuff and e-books and things like that. So just check in with my website, JonnyBowden.com. And you can follow me on Twitter @jonnybowden. Just remember, no H in Jonny.
Allan (41:57): Cool. As I said, this is episode 343, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/343, and I’ll have those links there. Dr. Bowden, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Bowden (42:11): Allan, it’s my pleasure, anytime. You were just a wonderful interviewer, so passionate. You actually know so much, so your questions are so pointed. Your listeners are very lucky to have you, and I’ve been just honored to be on your show. Thank you.
Allan (42:23): Thank you.
I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t quite sure that I would get this episode out on time. As you may know, I live in Pensacola Beach and we just had a Category 4 storm – Hurricane Michael – come through and did a lot of damage. Fortunately, we were on the safe side of that hurricane and sustained almost no damage or problems around here, other than the scare of it. But my heart and prayers go out to the people who were affected in the panhandle of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. I know this is a devastating storm and has done a lot of damage, and I’m sure there’s going to be some loss of life involved. So again, my heart goes out to you if you’ve been affected by this. It is a time of year. We don’t typically get storms of that magnitude, so this was kind of a freak one. I hope that it’s not something that we have to deal with. I hope the season’s over for 2018 and we can move into a better time of the year.
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