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.
Before I go though, I did want to reach out and ask you if you didn’t mind helping the show out a little bit with a little bit of support. There are two ways that you can support the show. The first one is that you can leave a rating and review, and if you haven’t done that already, please do take the time. On your app right there, there’s going to be a way for you to review the show. Please do that. That definitely helps us get out there, get noticed and let people know that we’re still active. And the apps see us and they want to show us a little bit more when they see that you’re engaging with us.
And then, I’ve come up with a new way that you can support the show, and it’s really cool. It’s a service called Patreon. And what Patreon lets me do is provide additional perks, if you will, for people that do want to financially support the show. I’ve set up four levels that allow you to be even more engaged and involved with the creation of the show, mentioned on the show notes among a lot of other things too, even being live with the recording when I’m doing the interviews. So, you’ll actually be there when I’m asking the questions as we go and be a part of the creation of the podcast. So, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon, and that’ll take you to our Patreon page. They make it really easy for me to give these extra perks out and for you to support the show. So go check it out. I put a little video up there to explain it a little bit better. So, please do go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon and help support the 40+ Fitness podcast, and let me help even more people the way I’m trying and working to try to help you.
In Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence, Dr. Daniel Siegel teaches us how to use meditation for a better life, better relationships, and stress reduction.
Allan (1:07): Dr. Siegel, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Siegel (1:12): Allan, it’s great to be with you.
Allan (1:14): You told a story in the book Aware how you had, I guess, someone who was a student or someone that was listening to one of your talks, and she came up. And due to where her head was, her awareness and the way she looked at the world, she misconstrued your name, Dan Siegel, to Dancing Eagle.
Dr. Siegel (1:34): That’s right. Dance Eagle.
Allan (1:37): I thought that was interesting because a very similar thing happened this morning, or a story my wife was telling me that happened yesterday. We’re traveling to Hattiesburg for a tailgating event this weekend for football. I’m going to go to the football game. And as we were planning that trip, I wanted to know if she was okay with us leaving early Saturday morning. So, I typed a text to her real quick, “Are you okay to go to Hburg (Hattiesburg) early Saturday morning?” And I sent that to her. Now, what I didn’t know and what happened was, because she had forgotten her lunch, she had gone over to Whataburger to get a burger, and they talked her into upsizing to the fries, so she was a little disappointed in herself. And she sees the text and she sees the term “Hburg” and she immediately reads “hamburger”.
Dr. Siegel (2:27): Oh my gosh.
Allan (2:33): We sometimes see reality one way and it’s not actually what’s happening. It’s just shaped by all these other things that are in our heads.
Dr. Siegel (2:41): Totally. You get primed, your mind is ready to look a certain direction when actually the things going around you are going in a different direction.
Allan (2:50): One of the reasons I reached out for your book in particular was, I haven’t talked about meditation, so I wanted to get someone on who was a real deep thinker in this topic. And I was really glad to see your book come out so we could have this conversation. You took me on a journey that I was not expecting. When I’ve looked at meditation in the past, I’ve always thought of it as more of a stress management, Zen kind of activity, but there are a lot of other benefits that we can get out of meditation.
Dr. Siegel (3:26): Absolutely. And meditation is a word that sometimes gets people confused, or they have certain emotional reactions to it. It just means some practice to cultivate your mind, to develop your mind in a positive direction, to strengthen your mind really. When you look at it that way, there are different aspects of the mind of course, like focusing attention or how you have certain kinds of intention, and you can actually strengthen those abilities. So, in the book I wanted to really review what does the science tell us of meditation, and then how can you actually learn to do what science says is really helpful for your mind, your body, your relationships? That’s why I wrote the book Aware, to put all that in one place.
Allan (4:12): I actually think the human brain is fascinating, and the way that we do things, like, Hattiesburg and hamburger. You went really, really deep on this, but to start the context of it, you gave me what I thought was a very brilliant tool to manage this practice, and you call it “The Wheel of Awareness”. Do you mind going through and briefly defining The Wheel of Awareness and how we can use that to, in a way, better structure a meditation practice? I know I’ve gone through walkthroughs with people, or the guided meditations, but this one was one of the, I guess, most comprehensive, but easy to understand methods I’ve ever seen.
Dr. Siegel (4:56): I’m so happy to hear that, Allan. My daughter will be happy to hear it too because she helped me with the drawings in the book. She’s in her 20s, she’s a meditator. It was really important for me in setting up this book, and for Maddie, my daughter as the illustrator, to try to make things as direct and clear and understandable as possible, while at the same time not leaving out anything about the incredible richness and depth of what we know from science and what you’re going to experience in your own meditation practice. So, The Wheel of Awareness is a really simple and accessible tool. It’s an idea that’s also in meditation, where you take two scientific concepts, which are really foundational in the work I do, and bringing them into one approach. Those two ideas are this – health and wellbeing come from a process that we can simply name “integration”. And integration is where different things are brought together, where you link or connect differentiated or specialized things. If you think about walking, your left leg and your right leg need to be different from each other, but to walk smoothly, you need to link them – left, right, left, right. That kind of thing. In a relationship like with your wife, when you’re going to go tailgating, you want to know, “I would like to leave early and I need to check with her to see what her needs are.” So you were right there, Allan; you were differentiating your needs. But in reaching out to her and asking her, even though she interpreted “Hburg” as “hamburger”, she was being linked to you. So you were offering an integrating experience, knowing she’s different from you. That’s the differentiation. But then reaching out with compassionate, respectful communication – that’s the linkage. So, whether it’s an integrated relationship or an integrated brain and body, that seems to be the basis of wellbeing. It’s remarkably simple, but incredibly supported by science.
The second scientific statement is that consciousness, being aware, is needed for change. When you want to intentionally try to change something, like the plans for when you’re going to the tailgating thing – you both have to be conscious of what you’re doing. So I thought, what happens if you integrate consciousness? And there’s a table in my office with a glass center, and I said, if consciousness is simply defined as having the knowing, like if I say “Hello”, you know I said “Hello”, but there’s also the sound “Hello”. If we put the knowing, called “being aware” in the hub of a table, in this case that’s called a wheel, a hub of a wheel; on the rim, we would put the knowns, like in this case the sound that we know from hearing or sight, which is basically light coming into us, or smell, taste and touch. So you have the first of four segments of the rim, which would be the outside world coming into you that you touch, you smell, you taste, you hear. Then you move the spoke of attention over, this singular spoke, and then you explore the interior sensations of the body, like the feelings in your muscles or your bones or your organs like your lungs, for example. You move this spoke over again to the third segment of the rim, which is all the different thoughts and feelings and memories, your images you might have, mental activities. And then you move this spoke over one more time to your sense of relationship, like your feeling of connection to your wife, or your friends who are going to be at the tailgating party. Those are interconnections in the relational world in which we live, and we can open up to sensing them in this fourth segment of the rim. And then in a little bit of a more advanced step, we actually take that spoke of attention and bend it around and just explore the hub itself. Pure awareness. I did this with patients and they started getting better from anxiety, mild to moderate depression, dealing with trauma and dealing with some issues just to finding meaning in life. It was really helpful. And then I did it with my students who are therapists. They found it helpful. So I started doing it in workshops, and then as a scientist I just decided to do it systematically. So I did it with 10,000 participants in workshops. I had them take the microphone, and for those who took the microphone, recorded those results, and then saw universal patterns around the planet, because I did it all around the world, and then tried to explain from a scientific point of view, what does the wheel do for us that can bring such health benefits? And then, what does it tell us about the nature of our minds?
Allan (10:07): I think that’s where at first, sometimes it’s a little easy to get lost on this. But to recap, the way I interpreted this was, if I think of a wheel – a top of a table, or a wheel – I’m in the middle and this is my current state of awareness, my current knowing. And then there’s this other stuff coming in. I’ve got what my eyes, ears, nose and everything is telling me about my world. I’ve got the information that my body is giving me about what’s going on – pains, aches, stiffness, soreness, itching or all that’s coming in from my body. And most of the meditations I’ve done had been there, and I never really turned around and say, “Let’s talk about my state of mind. What am I thinking and what do those thoughts mean? Am I interpreting from a place of goodness and good intention?” That to me was a next step. Then you get to that fourth level or fourth part of the circle on the outer rim, where now you’re thinking about what other people mean, can I emote and understand their perspectives and their communication and those kinds of inputs, awareness that’s there? And as you do this, you didn’t say this so much in the book, but I kind of felt like you start to try to expand that hub in the middle, that the hub actually would feel like it’s getting bigger.
Dr. Siegel (11:40): Yes, exactly. That’s an analogy, like if your hub is just the size of an espresso cup, it’s small. And if life dishes out a challenge, like a tablespoon of salt, and you dump it into that small container of awareness, let’s say it’s like water – it’s too salty to drink. But if you expand, just like you’re saying, Allan – if you expand that hub so it’s like a 100–gallon size, which you can do with The Wheel of Awareness practice – then when life dishes out a challenge, which is the analogy of a tablespoon of salt, you’d dump it into 100 gallons; it’s fresh to the taste. So, it’s really important that we cultivate that hub of awareness, and in the book, you learn how to do that.
Allan (12:25): You based this on what you call “three pillars of mind-training”. I think it’s really important for us to understand that, because if you use these three pillars, I really do believe this gives that practice, the energy to make it succeed. Do you mind going through the three pillars of mind-training?
Dr. Siegel (12:44): Absolutely. This is what scientists have stated are the three, and there’s probably going to be more in the future, but right now these are the three that are foundational, because they build the structure of a really solid meditation practice. The first of these three pillars is “learning how to focus attention”. You’d be surprised how accessible this is for children or adolescents or adults even, to strengthen their ability to focus attention, notice when a distraction is there, and redirect back to their intended target of attention. When people learn to focus attention, you strengthen those areas of the brain, of course, that you’re using for attentional processing. That’s the first pillar – focused attention. It lets you see with more clarity, depth and detail, because you’re stabilizing your ability to hold attention.
The second pillar is called “open awareness”, and this is where you are basically learning to sit in the hub and invite anything in from the rim. It’s a kind of “bring it on” attitude, and this amazingly has a different kind of impact on the brain, but it allows you basically to distinguish a spaciousness of awareness in the hub from the particular things you could be aware of on the rim. So instead of like the focused attention thing where let’s say you choose sight for your particular focus at that moment, or hearing, instead now what you’re doing is you’re saying, “I’m not going to choose a point on the rim. I’m actually going to rest in the hub.” And that further differentiates hub from rim, which is very important, as we can talk about in a moment.
The third pillar beyond open awareness and focused attention is, I call it “kind intention”. Other people call it “loving kindness” or “compassion training”. If you think about the mind, the mind can have a mental set, kind of an attitude, if you will, and that attitude can be angry and hostile, or can be kind and caring. When you cultivate a kind and caring attitude – we’ll just simply call it intention – it really sets the whole tone of the day. It sets your emotional responses to things, it sets your responses to yourself and others, it sets your responses in terms of how you’re going to behave. And the research is really clear. The more kindness you have in your life, the healthier your body is, the healthier your relationships are, and overall the healthier your whole life becomes. So, kindness is not just icing on the cake, and it’s not even the cake. It is the main meal. You can cultivate it. And when you put these three things together, I call it “three pillar training”, research shows it’s going to do a number of really, really positive things in your body and your brain, that if we name them, if you hear this list, you would say, “Oh my gosh. If there’s a vitamin that would give me that, I’ll take it every day.” And it’s not a vitamin, but it’s a very simple practice, just like you brush your teeth every day. You can develop a regular practice of doing these three pillar trainings, and they’re all embedded into one practice of the wheel, fortunately. So, if you run around finding different practices, you could just do one practice; you get all three of the pillars.
Allan (16:23): Yes. One of the reasons that I’ve had a renewed interest in meditation in the last couple of years is stress levels. Right now, that’s one of my core goals in life, is to do some things that help me reduce and/or manage stress. When I got into the book, as I said, it really took me in an entirely different direction to understand the true value of meditation. I really related to the story you told of Zachary as he went through, because he, like me, was working in a kind of environment where he couldn’t necessarily be himself or didn’t feel like he could be himself and be real. As a result, he had a lot of relationship issues with work and otherwise; he had pain even. And using the practice, it really did change him. I’d like for you to, if you don’t mind, go through and tell us a bit about Zachary’s story.
Dr. Siegel (17:26): Absolutely. Allan, thanks for pointing that out because first of all, in terms of your first statements, a lot of people turn to meditation because of stress. I think it’s a most common view that you hear people say is, meditation or mindfulness is a stress reducer. And while that’s true, as you’re pointing out, it is so much more, and Zachary’s story is a beautiful example of that. I started doing The Wheel of Awareness in workshops, and there was one center, Ed Bacon’s Episcopal Church in Pasadena, where Ed is the pastor. He wanted me to do a Wheel of Awareness seminar. So we did a 3-day workshop, and it was filled. We had 300 people come, and one of the participants was a fellow we’ll just call Zachary. When Zachary came, his brother brought him. He had just a little bit of a restless feeling at work, like maybe it wasn’t exactly as fulfilling as he hoped it would be. He was very successful financially, had a spouse and several kids. The family life was great. His wife was very happy with him, he was happy with her. Everything was going fine, but as he told later on, something just wasn’t quite right. And so his brother said, “Let’s see what happens. Come to this workshop.”
So, he comes to the workshop, and when he’s doing the wheel practice, two things happen in the workshop. We do the wheel several times. The first was that he had had a pain in his body, and I remember where it was in the actual person, but I don’t remember how I changed the pain in the book. Let’s just say it’s in the shoulder, chronic pain in his shoulder. May have been his knee or his hip or something. So he has this chronic pain, and during the wheel practice, as he’s going through exploring the signals from the outside world in the first segment, the inner sense of the body, becomes aware of his shoulder of course, because you go through the whole body. When he gets to exploring mental activities and opening awareness, suddenly the pain hugely decreases in intensity. And then when he bends his spoke around, something shifts and it’s kind of a tingling sensation in his body. He does the wheel a second time – same thing. And at the end he comes up to me and says, “I don’t know what happened, but I’ve had this pain for like 15 years, and it’s gone.”
And if it was just Zachary, I would have been like, “Oh my God, what a weird thing.” But this happens an every workshop I do. When you do it with 10,000 people, you get a lot of data. It turns out that there’s a whole set of research studies on this, where practices with the three pillars that some people call “mindfulness practices”, other people wouldn’t put the kindness in there for that. It’s a big debate in the field. Don’t worry about that. But anyway, we’ll just call it “mind-training practices”. They do have not only a decrease in the subjective feeling of pain, but when you put a person in a brain scanner and you look at how pain is registered in the brain before and after the meditative practice – sure enough, there are far less signals in the brain registering pain. So it’s not just like a person’s ignoring it; it’s actually less pain. That was remarkable, and that really affected him that you could do something with your mind that affected you so powerfully.
The second thing that happened was when he bent the spoke around into the hub itself and just explored the hub, he said what quite a few people have said actually. It’s hard in this context just to say it, but he experienced a feeling of love and connection to other people, and this interconnected feeling of being a part of a larger world, of nature, of life, that he had never felt before. And it brought tears to his eyes, and it gave him this, in his words, feeling of meaning that he then began to realize was missing in the kind of work he was doing. So, a year passed and Ed Bacon asked me to do the workshop again. And this fellow came with his brother to a lunch we had right before the start of the next year’s workshop. It was amazing, because we all had lunch together, and he said that that first workshop gave him such a powerful experience of losing the pain and gaining a sense of meaning and connection, that he felt he really wanted to pursue more about that and had made plans to switch to a new career, where he could involve The Wheel of Awareness and practices like that, that could get you in touch with a deeper sense of purpose in life. The second workshop had the same kinds of results for him and others as well.
And he’s not alone. People find this clarity when they distinguish hub from rim and integrate consciousness, where they realize you could live a life of meaning and connections, life with purpose, that research shows is actually a fabulous way to bring more fulfillment to life, bring a feeling of things being really powerfully significant. So, rather than what he was doing before, which was good – he was successful financially, bringing in financial resources for the family – that’s important. But he really felt something had been missing. And now, years later of course, he is pursuing this career where he can make this a part of his life, and he’s thrilled about it. Even the way he holds himself, you can tell when you speak with him, is just very different. He’s very alive, and every day feels like an incredible gift for him.
Allan (23:56): That was what resonated with me with this story, that he wasn’t necessarily looking for these as he got into the practice. But by following a set practice like you’ve put together here with The Wheel of Awareness and using the three pillars, it opened him up to release those things and find more meaning, and the pain went away. Those to me are magic, when you break it down. But it’s founded in science. I’ve had other authors on, like Dr. Tatta and his book Heal Your Pain Now. That’s one of the things he was saying, that you’ve got to get your mind as a part of the solution for the pain, and it works. But again, the book was really, really deep. It goes into the way the brain works, it talks about a lot of the science, which I thought was fascinating, because I really do enjoy kind of geeking out on some of these things. But to take this back down, The Wheel of Awareness and the three pillars – that is a basis. I was fortunate I bought the audio book, so I was able to listen along as you talked us through the practice. I know you have some of that on your website as well. If someone wanted to learn more about the book, learn more about you or get the information you have on the website, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Siegel (25:20): I think going to the website is a great idea. Allan. It’s DrDanSiegel.com. There you’ll find free resources. So you can go to the Resource tab and do The Wheel of Awareness practice if you’ve never done a practice like that. You could do the Breath practice first for a little bit. The videos we have up for free, and all sorts of stuff, are really intended to let people get familiar with these ideas, because just as you’re saying, there is a practice you can start doing that’s going to really help bring health and connection and meaning in your life. If you’re interested, like Allan is, and as you said, geeking out of really learning about this stuff, the way I divided up the book is, the first part you learn the practice, and that’s it. You don’t need to read the science. But the second part you learn some of the science if you want to learn it. You don’t need to learn it at all, but if you do, you realize how. And when you get into the third part of the book, how did Zachary change? Where does meaning and connection come from? I’m an educator and a clinician and a scientist and a father and all sorts of things. I really want to know how these things happen. So, if you’re up for it, in part three, you explore the life situations of five real people and how when you understand the science, you do get to a really deep clarity about why Zachary was able to change and what the wheel meant for him. And then in part four, it basically says, “Let’s see how you can weave this way of living essentially with an expanded hub. How can you bring that into your life in a regular way?” We have things called “dedicated” or “formal” practices that we do 10 minutes, 20 minutes a day. But the real integration happens when you weave the learnings from that time into how you live your whole day. That fourth part of the book says, “Let’s talk about that. Here’s how you can do it.”
My hope is that the book will be a very practical guide, including the science for people who want to dive into it, but you don’t need to dive into it, so that you know. As Louis Pasteur, the scientist, once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” So, even if you just get a glimpse of what the science is saying, get a feeling for it, workshop participants have told me even though they didn’t understand all of the science, and no one does, even people presenting it – you get a glimpse of it, and that glimpse gives you a clarity about what something like the hub really means and why accessing and expanding it is so helpful for you. You’re integrating your brain. Literally, you’re going to strengthen the structure of your brain. You’re going to make your immune system function better, reduce stress, optimize your cardiovascular functioning. You’re going to reduce inflammation. This blew my mind – you’re going to even optimize an enzyme that repairs and maintains the ends of your chromosomes. And when I turned the book into my colleagues who had written about that, Elissa Epel – one of them – wrote me back. She said, “Dan, this is a great book and everything’s accurate, but you left something out.” And I go, “Oh my God, I have to write another chapter. What did I leave out?” And she had written a book called The Telomere Effect with the Nobel prize winning Elizabeth Blackburn. So Elissa writes me back and she says, “You need to say that these trainings that the wheel has, slow the aging process.” So I wrote back to her and I said, “How can I say that?” She goes, “Because that’s what it does.” And this is the world’s expert on aging.
Allan (29:27): I’ve had her on the podcast. We talked about The Telomere Effect, and yes, it actually does.
Dr. Siegel (29:32): It’s amazing.
Allan (29:33): But the cool thing is – and this is a bad analogy for me to use – is that you’ve lit a fire under my butt to really ignite and start doing my meditation practice. And I know I should pick a calmer analogy, but nothing comes to mind.
Dr. Siegel (29:47): No, that’s good. We’ve got to light each other up, Allan. That’s what we’ve got to do. That’s a good analogy, I love it.
Allan (29:52): Alright. If you want to find that website, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/342, and I’ll be sure to have a link there to Dr. Siegel’s website and to the book. Dr. Siegel, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Siegel (30:08): Allan, it’s a pleasure. Thank you.
Allan (31:17): 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, likeminded, 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.
October is really shaping up to be a busy, busy month for me. As you know, we did the Ketofest a few days ago, and that turned out really good. Really enjoyed spending time with folks there, and I hope you enjoyed it if you were there. Of course, I’m putting out the extra episodes each week; I hope that you’re enjoying those. I know I enjoy the conversations. I’m recording a little bit in advance just to keep up with it, because it’s a lot of work putting on a podcast episode. And then of course there’s the work on the book. Even though we finished the manuscript and it’s going into the phases of getting it turned into a book, and now an audio book, there are still so many moving parts to that. I want you to be in the forefront of that. I want you to be on the team with me, please. So, go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and join the launch team. I’m not going to ask a whole lot from you there, but you’re going to get a lot of bonuses, a lot of extra content, things I can’t share with anybody else, things I won’t share with anybody else. You’re going to be on my select team to be on the forefront of launching this book. I think this book is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people, and I want you to be a part of that team. So, go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com. Thank you.
With the book The Back Pain Relief Diet, Dr. Todd Sinett shows us how to stop back pain by changing the foods we eat.
Allan (1:00): Dr. Sinett, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Sinett (1:04): Thank you so very much for having us.
Allan (1:06): The book, The Back Pain Relief Diet, I think this might be one of the more important books that are out there, because quite frankly, just about everybody at some point in their lives, particularly as we get over 40, is going to be dealing with some form of back pain. I injured myself, so my issue was more of an acute “Allan did something stupid thing”, but there are a lot of people that are suffering from back pain and they really can’t find answers to what’s going on in their lives. So, they keep doing what they’re doing and the doctor is like, “I’m doing these MRIs, or I’m doing this. Let’s try that.” Then they start getting into the pain relievers and the warming things, and just trying to get past this moment of pain, because pain is one of those things, you can’t ignore it. It’s there. But you’re approaching this from a very different perspective, in that we might be doing something that isn’t even related to our backs, but more related to our stomachs, that can actually be causing the problem.
Dr. Sinett (2:11): Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. Just to give your listeners a little bit of background on back pain or stats on back pain – 85% of the world is going to suffer from back pain. It’s the leading cause of job disability, it’s the second leading cause of missed workdays, and it’s a healthcare epidemic. The reason is that when I look at these statistics, it’s not that back pain is inevitable; it’s just that our paradigm is so wrong. Essentially the doctors are missing it. We’re completely screwing it up, and that’s the conclusion that I’ve reached.
I have a very pivotal story, which happened to my father. He was a chiropractor and he actually bent down to pick up a tennis ball one day and his back went out. And for nine months he was flat on his back as a chiropractor. He earned his living helping people with their back pain, and he was completely bedridden for nine months with back pain. And no one could help him. He went to chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedists. They wanted to do exploratory surgery on him. He could barely get out of bed, he could barely walk, he certainly couldn’t work. He wound up seeing this doctor who examined him very differently and asked the question, “Why are you having these back spasms?” And he told my father, “Other than your back spasms, you seem very healthy, you didn’t have an injury. Back pain doesn’t come from nowhere, so we have to figure out where it’s coming from.” Back then, as long as you were thin, you could eat whatever you wanted. So my father’s diet was filled with sugar and caffeine. The doctor surmised that his diet was upsetting his digestive system, and then subsequently his digestive system was affecting his muscular system. So his back pain was coming from his diet and his digestive system. That’s not something that you ever learned in school or ever heard of. But between the choice of having exploratory back surgery or changing your diet, it’s not a very difficult decision to make. So we changed his diet; within two weeks he was 100% cured. This was way back in 1974, mind you. And it put us on a crusade to change the approach in both diagnosing and treating back pain. I’m very excited to be able to share this book called The Back Pain Relief Diet to tell people that their back pain could be caused by their diet, and subsequently could be solved by their diet. So it’s very, very exciting.
Allan (4:32): It’s always interesting to me that someone will sit there and say, “I can take this little bitty pill that’s going to effectively cover my problem.” And they don’t imagine all the food and liquids and things that they’re taking into their mouth throughout the day, and they’re completely discounting that that could have any effect on our health and wellbeing, but recognizing that that pill is going to do something substantial to our bodies.
Dr. Sinett (5:00): When I tell patients their back pain’s coming from their diet, a lot of times they’re very disbelieving because it’s not something that anyone’s really ever told you. And quite frankly, most doctors don’t even look for it or even know about it. But I say, “Have you heard of, if you have back pain, people will give you an anti-inflammatory?” And they’ll be like, “Yes.” What happens if we gave you a diet that was anti-inflammatory? Couldn’t that work the same? And the answer is, yes, of course it can work the same.
Allan (5:24): And costs a lot less.
Dr. Sinett (5:26): Exactly. And a lot less side effects.
Allan (5:28): Yes. So in the book you have the 10 basic principles of back-diet connection. I thought this was really, really cool. A lot of people say, “I eat healthy. I eat really good foods – salads and the grass-fed meats and the kale. I eat really well.” And they’re still suffering. You go through these principles that kind of explain why that’s so.
Dr. Sinett (5:56): Yeah. I’m just going to take you through the principles, if that’s alright with you.
Allan (5:59): Yeah.
Dr. Sinett (6:00): Number one – I said regardless of your diet, your diet can be the cause of your back pain. So whether you’re having coffee, a donut, soda, pasta, pizza, cake, or even if you’re having a green drink, smoothie, kale salad and quinoa – regardless of your diet, you can create a back pain. Anything that can upset your digestive system can upset your muscular system. So we have to essentially figure out what’s the diet that’s right for you, because we need to cut down on the inflammation from your gut. The next thing I’ll say is regardless of the severity of your back pain – so, whether you’re having severe back pain and can’t get out of bed, or whether you’re dealing with a nagging back pain where you’re kind of living around it or have to lift carefully or bend carefully – regardless of the symptoms, the diet could be the cause of your back pain. The third thing, which I think is vital is, before undergoing any invasive procedure, rule out diet first as the cause. As a doctor and a patient, you always want to do the least invasive thing first, and then go more and more invasive. Unfortunately I see a lot of patients in my office who have had surgeries or injections and stuff that actually hasn’t helped, before they ruled out something so simple as to change your diet. Another principle is, you’re going to know your answer within a month, and very likely you’ll know within two weeks. So, we change your diet; within two to three weeks, you’re going to know your answer of whether your back pain is caused by your diet or not.
Another principal is, causes of back pain most likely isn’t just one cause; it’s multi-factored. It can be some structural imbalance, it can be some postural imbalance, could be you worked out too heavy, but it can also be your emotions, your stress and your diet. A lot of times it’s multi-factored. Another principle is, just because a food is deemed healthy, it may not be healthy for you. So for some, let’s say kale could be this undigestible type of food that gives someone a lot of gas and bloating, whereas someone may feel better if they have a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, as opposed to a big bulky salad. We need to not necessarily look at foods as what’s deemed healthy and what’s not healthy. You have to deem it on what’s healthy for you, which gets us to our next principle – the quality of your bowel movement evaluates the quality of your digestive system. And the health of your back can very much be evaluated based off the quality of your bowel movement. In the book we have a picture of what’s known as the “Bristol Stool Chart” that will show you how your bowel movements are because that’s an indication of how your body’s ridding itself of its waste. A lot of times if your body’s not ridding itself of its waste properly, your body’s building up toxicity, with bloating and gas in the digestive system. That will affect the muscular system. Number eight on the principles is you want to cut down on the crap, but too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. You want to have balance in your life. Eating too many large salads, having too many green drinks, can be just as bad as having too much soda or caffeine. So, everything in variation and variety. Again, principle number nine is, anything that can cause digestive upset can create your back pain. And the last thing, which is a very important principle – variety is vital. You must mix it up. You have to have three different types of breakfast, three different types of lunches, and three different types of dinners. Every food comes with a different nutrient makeup, digestive process, digestive time. And if you keep eating the same foods over and over again, you can really upset the digestive process. Those are my 10 general principles when it comes to the back pain relief diet.
Allan (9:41): I agree with you on the front end of this. Your father had the option to go for exploratory surgery, which actually scares the crap out of me. It’s like, you can’t take a picture or an X-ray or MRI or something; you’ve got to cut me open and try to figure it out. So I do understand why he was willing to try something that even if it didn’t work, it only cost him another three or four weeks. But like you said, he was back on his feet within two weeks. What we’re doing here though is we’re actually trying to figure out what kind of foods our body needs, versus the kind of foods that cause us problems.
Dr. Sinett (10:19): Exactly.
Allan (10:21): What you have in the book is a nutrition test, where we could do a diagnostic.
Dr. Sinett (10:25): Yes. There are actually two tests. The first test is the digestive inflammation test, and that will tell a reader or a patient whether we think that your back pain could be diet-related. I don’t want to sit there and tell everyone to start changing all their diets, because what they may be doing maybe right, and their back pain cause could come from stress or a structural issue. So the first thing is the digestive inflammation test. It’s going to ask about if you’re constipated or having diarrhea, changing medication, stomach viruses, bloating, gassy, repeat meals, etcetera. Based off your scoring, we’re going to know if we think that your back pain is coming from your digestive system and your diet or not. Then once we do that, and let’s say we found that we think your back pain is coming from your diet, then there’s a diagnostic nutrition tests that can point you in the right direction of essentially four different types of diets that we think are going to be right for you, because again, no diet is right for everybody. There’s a diet for someone who’s having the pizza, the pasta, the wine, the cookies, the cakes, and the coffees. So we want to cut down on their inflammation. There’s another diet, where someone’s having too many healthy foods, so it’s called the “digestive rest”, where we’re cutting down on the raw vegetables, cutting down on the raw fish, and we’re going to more cooked vegetables and foods that don’t create so much upset. There’s also a diet called the “FODMAP diet”, and that’s someone who’s having some specific irritable bowel syndrome or symptoms that they need specific diets and specific foods that calm down the digestive system. If you calm down the digestive system, you calm down the back pain.
Allan (12:08): Okay. Now, I want to go through those, because I think anyone can relate and say, “If I’m eating crap food – the pizzas and the beer and everything else, and I’m hurting, then there’s the potential that that’s a cause.” And I can even say this myself, because I do what I call “seasonal ketosis”. So, for part of the year, I eat really, really clean, I’d be in ketosis, and I tend to be very pain-free. Then I’ll go through my season – it tends to be football season when we’re tailgating and hanging out. I want to have a few beers. If someone brings dish, I’m going to eat it. Thank you, Carol. Please bring the deviled eggs; I love those. But there’ll be other foods there that aren’t the deviled eggs and aren’t nearly as healthy for me. And I’ll notice little things like tendinitis in my elbow will start to flare up, maybe some headaches, and like you said, my bowel movements aren’t quite as comfortable or as regular as they would be otherwise. So, I think most people understand that if they’re eating garbage, then that’s a pretty simple fix. But I think it really can confuse people when they’re saying, “I’m eating everything that I’ve always been told was healthy.”
Dr. Sinett (13:22): Yeah. That’s the interesting thing. I think the real question is really, what’s healthy for you? I have really great patient stories in the book, where a patient of mine decided to go gluten-free and went gluten-free and wasn’t having any breads, was having a lot of green drinks, smoothies, salads and lean fish. And she was as gassy and bloated as can be. And when you’re gassy and bloated, that’s going to create a lot of back pain. So for her, we had to dial it back a little bit and we said, “No more raw vegetables. Let’s cook your vegetables. Have a turkey sandwich instead of that large salad. Let’s have some eggs or let’s have some whole grain bread with some whole peanut butter and jam, as opposed to a green drink in the morning.” And that was the missing link for her. That was the answer for her. Again, you want to listen to your body because there are a lot of foods that are deemed very healthy that can create a lot of gas and bloating. You want to have the variety. You want to listen to your body. And the diagnostic nutrition test is going to point you in the right direction of what diet we think is right for you.
Allan (14:30): Okay. Let’s take a minute and talk about the FODMAP diet and why that would be beneficial for some people.
Dr. Sinett (14:37): The FODMAP diet is really ideal for someone who has something called “irritable bowel syndrome”. Essentially that particular diet is targeted for someone who’s having trouble digesting specific carbohydrates. FODMAP stands for Fermanable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols. And it’s for people who are sensitive. What the diet does is it pulls the dairy, some of the fructose or fruits such as apples and pears, it eliminates wheat and garlic. It eliminates beans and lentils and a lot of sugar alcohols, such as honey, agave, corn syrup and alcohol. It’s a very unique diet, because it targets a specific person who does eat healthy, but again is suffering from an irritable bowel. When you find that right patient, it could be absolutely life changing of eliminating those foods.
Allan (15:28): Okay. So basically, I go through and I take the two diagnostic tests and I realize it might be my diet that’s at least a factor in this. It might not be the only factor, but I’ve got enough of the positive read on this diagnostic to know changing my diet might be a good answer for me. And then I go do the other diagnostic test that’s going to give me the eating plan that’s most recommended for me to deal with this issue. What can I expect over the course of the next two to four weeks?
Dr. Sinett (15:59): We want to see some changes. Ideally we want to actually see some positive changes. So, we want to see your body feel less gassy and bloated. And then what’s the goal? The goal is to get rid of your back pain, or your neck pain, or your shoulder pain, or your muscle aches. The goal is for you to feel better in your back. This is a back pain relief diet. And I truly believe that if you follow these diets and it resonates with you, your back pain is going to be much better.
Allan (16:24): So these are not really so much elimination diets as they are trying to find an eating way that’s going to give your body the nutrition it needs, like you said, having the variety; and then also making sure that we’re not doing anything to inflame our gut or to upset our bowl, so that we basically are as clean as we can be for what our body needs.
Dr. Sinett (16:46): You said it perfectly.
Allan (16:48): Good. Okay. The other thing in the book that I think was really cool is you actually put some meal plans in here. You didn’t just tell me to go eat Paleo and I’ll go figure it out somewhere else. You gave me a one week or two weeks, I forget. There are some of them that had two weeks and some had one week.
Dr. Sinett (17:03): The great thing is I have nutritionists at my office. We’re able to put together all the meals, menus and suggestions. So, each one has somewhere between 10 days and two weeks’ worth of food. If you’re somebody who wants to follow a regimented menu and recipe, we have that. If you’re somebody who wants to be a little less regimented and you want to follow lists of do’s and don’ts – we have that as well. The nutritionists do a great job of writing out how to go shopping, what to buy. If you’re buying chicken breasts, they’re using chicken in three different days. It’s really nice, easy and simple, because we’ve got to make it simple; otherwise people won’t use it. It’s got to be not complicated.
Allan (17:46): That’s what I liked about it. This is the whole deal where you go through, you understand why this is potentially the case by going through the principles and thinking through it, because it actually makes sense. And then you say, “What about me?” And the quizzes are there, so it’s all right here in the book. The meal plans are there for you to go ahead and give this a shot, and then you know, “I need to be more of a FODMAP-style eater, because that’s what hurt my back.” I might find myself at a picnic and there’s some beans and I go ahead and eat them, and I notice I start feeling a little achy the next day. Ding, ding, ding, ding! I know my answer – I shouldn’t have had those beans.
Dr. Sinett (18:26): Exactly. That’s what we want. This is a self-discovery journey and it’s really important. So in the back part of the book, we have a complete symptom journal. We want to have the person track their pain levels, track their meals, track their hunger levels, and really be able to help use that information so that they can get the feedback and figure out what they can get away with and what they can’t, what they should be eating, what they shouldn’t, and what the price they pay is if they go wildly off the diet and what’s going to happen to them. That all works for us.
Allan (18:58): Yeah. And that’s what I liked about it – it’s very simple. Whenever we start thinking about surgery or we’re going into the doctor over and over again and they’re really not giving us any answers, the pain pills are not going to be the answer for the long term. I think we all know that intrinsically. So we’ve got to try to find an answer that works. And it might be stress, it might be a strain. When I hurt my back, I knew exactly the moment I hurt it, so for me I knew what it was. Same thing, I know when I’m going to go tailgating, I’m probably going to get some tendinitis, because that’s just what ends up happening. I think we can know that there’s an opportunity here for us to make some, in many cases, subtle changes to our food and feel a lot better for it.
Dr. Sinett (19:41): I can’t emphasize enough my frustration of seeing day in and day out with my patients how they’re suffering and suffering. I had a patient this past week who’d been to eight different doctors, he could barely sit down. He was losing his entire quality of life, and it was because of his diet. We took an X-ray and we saw immediately on the X-ray there was gas all over his digestive system. We pointed to the gas and said, “There’s your problem.” In the book we have pictures of X-rays of what a normal X-ray should look like, and one that has a lot of digestive upset. Again, within 10 days to two weeks, he changed his diet and he got his life back. And it’s the simplest thing. I can’t urge your listeners enough to try it. I know it sounds crazy. No one is discussing the link between back pain and your diet. But why can’t you change it? Why can’t you just try it for two weeks and see what happens?
Allan (20:37): I completely agree with you there. It’s a lot cheaper than the medication, it’s a lot safer and easier on you than surgery. And it’s frustrating to go to doctor, doctor, doctor, and not get an answer for something that might just be self-inflicted, which is some of our food choices. Dr. Sinett, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about what you’re doing at your practice or learn more about this book, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Sinett (21:07): My website is DrSinett.com. All of my books are on Amazon, and my back pain relieving product Backbridge is at Backbridge.com or it’s all available on my website as well.
Allan (21:21): Cool. This is episode 341, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/341. I’ll have a link to Dr. Sinett’s site and a link where you can preorder the book on Amazon. Again, Dr. Sinett, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Sinett (21:37): I truly appreciate it, really. Thanks so much.
Allan (21:44): 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.
In his book, Ketotarian, Dr. Will Cole gives us a guide on keto for vegetarians and vegans. Many people believe that keto and vegetarians and vegans are two different paradigms, but Dr. Cole shows us that we can have the best of both worlds.
Allan (1:05): Dr. Cole, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Cole (1:10): Thanks so much for having me.
Allan (1:11): The book is called Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings, and Calm Inflammation. And just to start out with, I have to thank you profusely for writing this book. If I see another “bacon, bacon, bacon” conversation about keto, if I had hair I would pull it out. It’s one of those things. Yes, we want high fat, but that doesn’t mean that you just do away with the fact that our body needs the nutrition from the food, and not just the fat. So, I really did appreciate your approach to, one, how you explain the process of this working, and two, you actually put it together for folks with recipes and everything else.
Dr. Cole (2:01): Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. And that’s honestly one of the main reasons why I wrote Ketotarian, was to bring something new to the conversation. Like you said, the “bacon” conversation has been done. We don’t need another conventional ketogenic cookbook or health book out there. So I think something fresh, a plant-based, ketogenic conversation has been started.
Allan (2:26): Yes, and that’s why more and more of my clients are asking about this, like, “I really don’t want to eat a lot of meat and I’m trying to stay more vegetarian or more vegan.” There’s been this conversation that’s swelled up from behind me on this. I eat a lot of plants, but it’s within the realms of knowing my macros and knowing what my body can tolerate. Could you take a few moments to explain what ketotarian actually means and how someone would consider doing something like this?
Dr. Cole (3:00): Sure. Ketotarian is a book that we’re talking about. It’s my plant-based ketogenic book. Half of the book is science and health tips and functional medicine sort of perspective, which is where I come from, and ethos of why we’re doing this. And the heart of wellness that I think has to be at the foundation for sustainable wellness is really having self-respect. Self-care is a form of self-respect, and eating healthy foods and taking care of yourself is a form of self-respect. It’s a different conversation that’s being started for a ketogenic book, but I think seeing patients I realized for someone to sustainably be successful for any way that they’re eating, it has to be coming from a place of self- respect, presence, and loving your body enough to nourish it with good foods. So that’s really the cornerstone of Ketotarian in the first half of the book, plus all the health benefits of ketosis and the health benefits of being plant-based, and all the science and research. It’s heavily referenced, as far as the scientific literature is concerned.
And then the second half of the book is recipes, meal plans, all this practical stuff and pretty pictures. There’s over 81 different vegan, keto, vegetarian-keto and pescatarian-keto, or what I call in the book Ketotarian – another play on words – plant-based, but with wild caught fish and shellfish. So people can eat one way, they can just be vegan-keto, or they can eat a mixture of vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian options. And it’s this 8-week, plant-based keto experience for people to shift their body from being a sugar burner to a fat burner, get the anti-inflammatory benefits of ketosis. That’s what they’re doing in ketotarian. So it’s a play on words. I had somebody point out to me, I kind of created a celebrity couple name out of the title of my book. So, like Brangelina, this is ketotarian. It’s this amalgamation of the best of both worlds of being plant-based and keto.
Allan (5:15): The interesting thing is, I have a lot of keto authors on here, and I have a lot of vegetarian and vegan authors on here. It’s because I don’t want to be prescriptive about what someone’s going to eat. I need them to be comfortable that this fits their lifestyle, this fits them as a person. I’ve even said that to people, that when I talk to someone who’s on the keto side, who’s really successful at it – has gotten rid of their inflammation, is healthy, or I talked to someone on the vegan side who’s healthy, they’re always talking about whole food. They’re not talking about packaged things. Some of them do go a little under the bacon side on the keto, but that all said, I think it created this “us versus them” that really didn’t have to exist.
Dr. Cole (6:02): Absolutely. It’s a very strange thing, but I think tribalism is really deep in America right now on many different levels. And I think that this is just one sort of weird aspect of tribalism where it’s completely unnecessary. The dogmatic sides of both camps is just unnecessary, because we actually have way more in common than we don’t. I think Ketotarian illuminated the fact that there are so many commonalities there. And ketogenic, that way of eating, really can be any modality of eating. It could be pescatarian, it could be vegetarian, it could be vegan, it could be more Mediterranean with the fish too. There are so many ways to do it. And then obviously we have the carnivore diet that’s coming up, which is a form of ketosis, a higher protein ketogenic approach. So you have really all these different forms of ketosis, therefore it doesn’t have to be this “us versus them”. It’s just a way of using food to our advantage, to put our body into this anti-inflammatory, fat-burning state.
Allan (7:12): One of the cool things that you brought up in the book is, this is really about being aware and mindful of the food that you are eating. So this is not just happenstance. Obviously, yes, if you eat a predominantly meat-based diet that’s not lean meats, you’re probably going to go into ketosis at some level. If you’re eating a high fat diet with bacon and all the other stuff that’s coming out of boxes that are marked “keto-friendly”, you’re going to go into ketosis. It takes a little bit more, I think, mindfulness and a more sound approach to food when you’re trying to do it from the vegan or vegetarian aspects. And you had this term you used in here called “ketotarianisms”. Could you take a minute to go through those? I think this really highlights what I’m after here, about how you start getting a lot more mindful about your food, you start focusing more on the quality, and you end up a lot healthier for it.
Dr. Cole (8:10): Yeah. So ketotarianisms are the basic tenants of this way of living and eating. It is basically when you are having a healthy fat, add a green, not-starchy vegetable, and then conversely, when you have a non-starchy vegetable, eat a healthy fat. And then eat when you’re hungry, eat until you’re satiated. These are some of the ketotarianisms that people can live. These are basic principles that really are common sense when you read them, if someone wants to keep it simple. In Ketotarian, I wanted to show all the biohacker, science stuff where people can lean into, or they want to take their wellness to the next level, but I realized there are going to be a lot of people that are reading Ketotarian that are new to this, that feel overwhelmed or, “Where do I start?” I think things like the ketotarianisms or the “keeping it simple” options in the book are really a good segue for people to lean into it and still get the benefits of these healthy, real foods without feeling like they have to go zero to 60 and understand all the science to get started. It’s really not necessary at all.
Allan (9:29): I had a client and he was telling me it’s blueberry season and he can’t help himself every time he goes to the farmer’s market. He wants to eat low carb. And our ancestors, when berries were abundant, they ate the berries. There’s nutrients in the berries that your body needs. Enjoy the berries while they’re in season, because you’re only going to get them for a few more weeks, and you’re not going to have the berries. I think a lot of us get tied up in the “We have to eat this way” or “We have to eat that way.” And there’s so much what I would call “biodiversity” of how each of us handles carbs, our insulin resistance, those types of things. One of the things that you had in the book that is a little different than the guidance I see from a lot of the keto space is that instead of focusing on total carbs, which the 20 grams of total carbs is the earmark out there – you’re going to go into ketosis if that’s what you’re eating. But you focus more on net carbs, which allows us effectively to eat a lot more high fiber vegetables. Could you talk about the net carbs? Having net carbs someone could probably get away with and still get into ketosis or get the benefits of the low carb eating. And then compare and contrast that with total carbs.
Dr. Cole (10:45): Sure. So, total carbs are the sum of all fiber, sugar and sugar alcohols and everything. Net carbs is subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols, if there are sugar alcohols in wherever you’re eating. But basically the fiber, the soluble fiber and the insoluble fiber, we’re subtracting in ketotarian, and many other ketogenic resources you’ll find in books and online too. But Ketotarian definitely does talk about how when we’re working on and focusing on real non-starchy vegetables and real plant foods, that’s when you use net carbs. You do not use net carbs whenever you’re eating junk food and boxed foods and you’re just trying to make yourself feel better by having carbs. At that point it’s not in its whole food form, it’s not in alignment fully with nature, and you can manipulate numbers, I think, for the sake of dieting that isn’t going to produce the same results as if you ate an avocado with tons of fiber, or any other vegetable with lots of fiber when it’s in this whole food form. That’s what we’re talking about when we’re considering net carbs.
So, in the book for all the recipes, I give the net carbs because it is basically subtracting all the fiber. What I allow for, or what I recommend I should say, in Ketotarian, is the first week or so – and sometimes people should do longer than a week – they should do about 25 grams of net carbs throughout the day. So every day their max should be 25 grams of net carbs or less. From there they can find their carbs sweet spot during these eight weeks of being in ketosis from this plant-based approach. Now, the max allowance in ketotarian is 55 grams of net carbs a day. I just wanted something basically average to allow people to have lots of vegetables in, but I know as a functional medicine practitioner that there’s biological variability. I realize that there are some people that will do better with a little bit less, there are some people that can get away with a little bit more. I have some people in ketosis up to 100 grams of net carbs from non-starchy vegetables, because they’re insulin sensitive, they don’t have a lot of inflammation, and they’re fine there. They’re fasting and they can get away with this. But most, I think 55 grams. Why I put it in the book is because it’s the middle of the road for most people to get the benefits here. They can implement it into intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding, and we talk about that in the book. They can still get all these cool benefits while not restricting their plant foods.
Allan (13:33): The great thing about this is, so many of us, when we first start getting into ketosis or thinking about ketosis think we can’t have fruit. A lot of your recipes do actually have fruit in them. So this is an area where we are, because we’re going to go for the high fiber type of fruits. We are going to be able to eat more fruit with this. When I think about the number of how much food you can eat of non-starchy vegetables with that many grams of carbs – that’s pretty substantial. This is going to be the bulk of your food. This is going to be your entree, and not a meat entree. This is going to be your main source of energy and food, less so the proteins that we would normally have in a steak or something like that.
Dr. Cole (14:26): Exactly. It’s plant-centric. I think that people can pick their level of where they want to go with this. I’m not saying everyone has to be a vegan-ketogenic eater, but definitely when we bring the vegetarian options like the eggs or the ghee, or the pescatarian options with the fish or the shellfish – it’s still plant-centric. These are just different food medicines to bring into this clean, keto way of eating.
Allan (14:54): And that’s what I really liked about it – it said, “Here are the nutritional aspects of how you’re going to eat. These are the net carbs you can get.” And then beyond that, it went through and said, “If you want to make it a little easier to do this, then here’s the option for you to do the vegetarian versus the vegan, and here’s an add-on if you want to include some fish or shellfish. It’s going to have these particular benefits.” So, it’s something that somebody can really look at their way of eating and be thinking about, “How do I make this work for me?” It’s not just this fixed go. And your recipes also break that down, where there are some recipes that will have fish, some that will have eggs, and others that are completely vegan.
Dr. Cole (15:36): Yeah. And I think to your point, with your client with the berries, that’s something that I really wanted to have, this grace and lightness to food. We shouldn’t be stressing about and obsessing about our food and making food this arduous, negative thing. I wanted to recalibrate the conversation, especially in the keto world, which I think can be a little bit too obsessive with foods, and shaming, and orthorexic in a way. What I wanted to say is, “Let’s do this for eight weeks. Let’s shift the body into ketosis. Let’s get the benefits of ketosis.” But from there, like you said, seasonal ketotarian is mentioned in the book, because during the summer if you want to have more fruits and more natural carbs into your life, you normally buy seasonal fruits – then do that. Some people love that and enjoy that, but during the colder months they’re more in ketosis naturally and eating more of this primal way of cycling ketosis approach throughout the year. And some people do that cyclic approach throughout the week, where they’re doing two to three days higher carbs, the other days in ketosis. Again, this is all in the context of real foods. This, I think, needs to be talked about more in the ketogenic world, because so many of them are very dogmatic in the sense of, if you leave ketosis, you’re somehow doing your body an injustice, and that’s not the point of the ketogenic diet and it’s basically all or nothing. I don’t think it’s all or nothing. If you really say “all or nothing”, you obviously haven’t talked to patients or clients and seen biological variability, because you’ll be proven wrong all day long, hanging your hat on one way of doing anything when it comes to food.
Allan (17:28): They would have to kick me out of the Keto Club, because I do the seasonal ketosis. And that’s because there are certain times of the year where I know it’s going to be easier for me to maintain the low carb and just get a little bit tighter on things. And then there are going to be times when we’re in football season and we’re going to come up on New Year and things like that, and I’m going to want to have a beer. My brother owns a brewery, so I’m going to want to have a beer here and there. But I pick my times, I pick my battles, and I’ll go out of ketosis for a period of time. It’s something that’s natural to me, it’s something that feels good. And I don’t have any kind of metabolic problems, so it’s very easy for me to shift fuel sources, depending on how I approach food.
Dr. Cole (18:11): That’s great. That’s the goal of this eight weeks – to build that metabolic flexibility. And you’re right, not everybody has that. Some people with insulin resistance or diabetes or inflammatory problems can’t get away with that. But the goal is to build as much metabolic flexibility as your body allows you to.
Allan (18:31): Yeah. That’s the other aspect of it – some of us are going to go right into ketosis, not have a big problem with it. Others are going to suffer a little bit more, or some really are going to struggle to get into ketosis because their metabolism is a little bit racked and needs some repair. In the book, you share some tips for individuals that are struggling to get into ketosis. Would you mind sharing some of those tips?
Dr. Cole (19:00): I’m just thinking off the top of my head what’s in the book, but one is, if you’re eating a certain level of real food, net carbs or eating plant foods – I would try lowering the amount of carbs as your body adjusts. The state of ketosis – this metabolic, fat-burning, anti-inflammatory, brain-fueled state that we’re talking about here – is through carb restriction. So it’s not necessarily eating tons and tons of healthy fats, even though healthy fats can increase ketones too. But it’s really the carb restriction primarily that will do it. And then secondarily, it’s what do you fill in from that carb restriction? So, lowering your carbs more. If you’re higher net carbs, maybe lower it below 25 for a time as your body gets more fat-adapted that way.
Another tip to get in ketosis if you’re not in ketosis, is to help your body out with getting the benefits of ketosis and raising blood ketone levels with exogenous ketones. You can use MCT oil or different exogenous ketones in drinks or supplements, or you can increase the amount of circulating ketones in the body to get the benefits of it – basically get your boost of energy, help with brain function, etcetera. So if someone’s making that, they’re in this sort of metabolic purgatory where they’re not becoming a fat burner overnight. It may be they’re going through insulin resistance or other health problems, whether they’re slow to make that transition. You can kind of help your body along with some exogenous ketones as you’re making that metabolic transition.
And then some maybe lesser known ideas to help your body get into ketosis is to deal with stress levels and look at sleep, because cortisol fluctuations when someone’s in stress – that can impact the blood sugar, blood pressure, and ketone production. And looking at sleep levels, sleep optimization, which is another thing to consider. Those are some things that are maybe less commonly thought of when you’re talking about, “I’m going to go keto and get the benefits of going keto. I’m going to lose weight”, or whatever it is. You have to look at stress levels; these are important.
Another thing to consider is intermittent fasting. If someone’s not intermittent fasting, which will produce increased ketone levels as somebody is intermittent fasting, they should consider that. That’s another way to produce more ketones, get the benefits of ketosis, but it’s also the effect of ketosis. As someone becomes more and more fat-adapted, it’s a natural result of that. You’re just less hungry, your blood sugar’s more stable, you’re less irritable and hangry. So you just randomly will intermittent-fast, not because you’re trying to or you’re thinking about it, but because, “I’m eating when I’m hungry, and if I’m not hungry, I’m not going to eat.” If that involves not eating breakfast or having a lighter meal at a certain part of the day, these variations of intermittent fasting can happen too. So these are some ideas if someone’s having a difficulty, but we have other ones mentioned in the book too.
Allan (22:21): One of my favorites – obviously I’m a personal trainer, so I’m going to like the “movement” one. It’s interesting though – a lot of people will advise people starting into ketosis to actually avoid exercising. And I’ve always had the opposite opinion. While you might not want to exercise at the same intensity, the stress and the cortisol, there is some value to movement and exercise when you’re trying to get into ketosis.
Dr. Cole (22:47): Absolutely. That’s a great one. I think that movement and staying active should be a part of it. It shouldn’t just be food. I think movement is an important part of wellness. Like you said, you may adjust what you’re doing physical activity-wise, but you shouldn’t stop it.
Allan (23:06): Outstanding. Now, if someone wanted to get in touch with you to learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Cole (23:15): Everything’s at DrWillCole.com. There are links to the books, but it’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in independent bookstores too. But everything’s there. I’m seeing patients throughout the week, and we have primarily a virtual clinic where we do webcam consultations for people. So they can get a free health evaluation on DrWillCole.com too.
Allan (23:41): Cool. This is episode 340, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/340, and I’ll have the links there to Dr. Cole’s site and to the book on Amazon. Dr. Cole, thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
Dr. Cole (23:59): Thanks so much for having me.
Allan (24:06): 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.
October 5th, here in Pensacola Beach. If you’re anywhere close, you should come down for this. I’m going to be teaching a cooking class on how to cook for Thanksgiving and remain keto. Also, we’re going to have talks from Carl Franklin of 2 Keto Dudes, and myself. It’s going to be a great time to meet other people in the area that are passionate about keto or want to learn more about keto. So, wherever you stand on that spectrum of either being keto and loving it or wanting to know more about keto, this is going to be a great opportunity for you to connect with people and learn a lot more about it. So I’d encourage you to go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest, and that’ll take you to the Eventbrite page. There’s a low fee, $15, to attend. That’s really just to offset some of the cost of food. I really want to help you learn about keto, I really want to make sure I get a good event out there, so I didn’t charge a lot for this. I want to make sure it’s accessible to most folks. If you’re anywhere in the area near Pensacola Beach, I’d encourage you to come down for it. It’s October 5th and it’s going to run from 4:00 until 9:00, and of course, maybe a little later than that. You don’t have to be here for the whole thing. It’s really just about learning about keto, learning how to cook keto, and tasting some of the delicious food, because dinner is included. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest, and that will take you to the signup page for our little Keto Minifest. And again, Carl Franklin will be here, so it’s a great opportunity to meet him in person.
And then finally, I am still working on the book, and I do need your help. I need your help to be a part of the launch team. If you can go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com, you’ll see a little form there where you can sign up to be on the launch team. The launch team is going to get a lot of extra goodies that are not going out with the book. They’re going to get some previews, they’re going to get some bonus materials that you’re not going to get if you wait for the book to come out. I know you want to learn about the book, I know you want to be a part of it, so please go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com. Thank you.
Nicolette Richer is a Gerson Method trainer. She runs several businesses; a collection of organic cafe & juice bar called the Green Moustache now with seven locations across Canada and the Richer Health Retreat Center is a sanctuary in British Columbia, offering transformational retreats for people battling cancer, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, depression, and many other conditions. She's also the founder of Sea to Sky Thrivers, an education and support group for people and their families who want to reverse cancer and other chronic diseases. Her mission is to empower people to take their health into their own hands, to demonstrate how food can be used as healing medicine. And show people that leading a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be boring. It can be colorful, inspiring, and fun.
Today we talk about her book, Eat Real to Heal.
Allan (1:35): Nicolette, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Nicolette (1:40): Thanks, Allan. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Allan (1:42): I’m really excited about your book, which is Eat Real to Heal. I’m really appreciative now because more and more I’m talking to more people in the medical profession who have begun to recognize the importance of food in our health. And I really appreciate seeing a book like this where you’re actually giving us evidence and showing us how we can use food to heal ourselves.
Nicolette (2:07): I am excited by it too because the research has been there for the last hundred years, and within the medical community, they’re only taught certain things in school and they’re not taught nutrition. Even now in 2018, most doctors don’t receive more than an hour to four hours of nutritional training. So, to be able to teach food as medicine is very exciting, and more and more health professionals are definitely working at the research.
Allan (2:34): The other thing that you got to, that we’re not going to get into too much detail here, but it is a conversation point that I’ve had with my audience here on the podcast. I’m also talking about it in my book that’s coming out soon, is that it’s actually disappointing to me that we have to use a term like “whole food” or “real food” at all.
Nicolette (2:58): I agree with you. It’s so crazy. But I’ve worked with thousands of clients, and one thing that I know is most people think that they eat healthy, but once I get into their kitchens and into their cupboards and fridges, their definition of health is very, very different from my definition and probably your definition as well. This whole concept of real food I think has been so lost over the last hundred years that people think if something’s marketed or packaged as organic or whole food or vegan or gluten-free, they think that’s healthy. They’re forgetting the origins of food – it’s the stuff that comes from your garden, the bushes, the trees and the ground.
Allan (3:36): An apple doesn’t really advertise itself as heart-healthy with a label the way a box of cereal might. I could write the word “healthy” on arsenic and give it to you, and that doesn’t mean it is.
Nicolette (3:50): You’d laugh to know that we received a letter at our restaurant in the first couple of years that we were open. We’re in Canada, and it’s the FDA. The FDA is not in Canada, so I pretty much ignored it. But it pretty much told us that we need to stop using the word “healthy” in our restaurants because there’s no way to prove that our food is healthy. And at the end of the day, our food is only whole foods, 100% percent plant-based. There are no refined foods in our restaurant at all. So I just laughed at that letter that they were trying to tell us that we couldn’t use that word.
Allan (4:20): They don’t own the word, but anyway. So in your book you go through five things to know, and I really do believe that these are the critical aspects of health and wellness, particularly with regards to food. Could you go through your five things to know?
Nicolette (4:38): Yeah. At the end of the day we have to turn back to real food, so that’s the first thing. So we need to turn back to the food that grows from a seed, and then basically it’s removed from the tree, the bush, the garden, the ground. And then maybe it’s cooked slowly or roasted or turned into a super juice or a salad, and then we eat it. So it doesn’t enter into any kind of manufacturing process, other than your kitchen, or maybe a fantastic restaurant that doesn’t use any processed food. So the food needs to be real, it needs to be whole, it needs to be unprocessed, and it definitely needs to be unrefined.
The second thing that we need to do to be able to… The work that I do is to reverse disease with my clients, so we absolutely need to look at the nutritional deficiencies as well in the body. We can get a lot of our nutrients through food. However, because we’ve been eating this way for the last 50 to 75 years, our food’s really become depleted from all the processed food, but also from the farming practices. So a lot of us have these nutritional deficiencies that we need to look at. Understanding what yours are is really important. You might need to take a few supplements to be able to restore that, but most of the supplements are really around the things that help our organs already. So it’s not actually putting more nutrients; it’s not saying you need to take glutathione, because your liver actually produces that. Or glucosamine or things like this. It’s really the basics. It’s more like the digestive acids or restoring the iodine deficiency and maybe supporting your thyroid and things like that.
The third thing to look at, which is critical, is that once you start turning to real food as medicine, your body will just take it in, absorb it, it’ll love it. But then it’s going to have a counter balance, and that is that it’s going to start to flush toxins into your blood stream, out of your tissues, out of your organs. Your body is going to be changing over, your bones are going to start reabsorbing nutrients, your organs will do that. There’s a regeneration process that happens, and when that happens, your body gets flooded with these toxins and this metabolic waste. We need to get that out of our bodies quickly because most people in our society now, their organ systems, their detoxification systems aren’t really strong enough to support them in their detoxification process once you switch to real foods and clean foods. So we need to support through detoxification as well, just so we’re not putting any extra damage on the organ systems.
The fourth thing to look at is getting additional nutrients from whole foods. We do that through juicing. Juicing currently is a trend or a fad. In a lot of people’s eyes, they think that it’s showed up in the last decade and it’s going to be gone in the next. What a lot of people don’t realize is that juicing has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, back to when even medical doctors used to tell their patients to use a cheese grater and grate their vegetables and fruits. And then put it through cheese cloth and just twist the cheese cloth, and you would produce juice. What I tell people is that juice is like an IV bag of nutrients going directly into your bloodstream and being absorbed without having to affect your digestion. So juicing is critical, but the one thing I do want to say is I don’t promote juice cleanses. You need to have all the fiber and the additional carbohydrates and all the other things that come along with eating the food whole as well. So that’s important. But to restore those nutrient deficiencies that you can’t get through food alone or through supplements, juicing comes into it. And it’s critical, especially for my clients that are on a deadline, like they have a timeline to reverse their health so they can avoid a surgery, or if they have cancer or any other life threatening disease.
And then the last thing that people need to remember is stress. Stress and rest go hand in hand. For your body to be able to regenerate, it absolutely needs to be in a place of rest. We’re never going to get rid of stress, but definitely giving our body the time to recuperate and regenerate through really good sleep, taking a break from all these excessive exercising regimes that everybody loves doing, and just giving your body time to rest. So that means resting for long periods of time, and that also helps the body to regenerate as well. So when we do all of those five things, what we see is a really, really fast reversal of disease in a lot of my clients.
Allan (9:12): This protocol – I had not heard of this before your book, so I did learn a good bit here – is the Gerson Therapy and protocol. You basically present it as a five-week protocol to go through. Although the thing I’ve found is when someone tries something like this and it actually works, most of them don’t go back. But you present it as a five-week protocol. Could you tell us a little bit about Gerson protocol and exactly how someone would go about this?
Nicolette (9:44): The thing to remember with the Gerson Therapy is that it started off as the therapy for Dr. Max Gerson back in the early 1900s, when he suffered from debilitating migraines. He found that when he ate clean, real food, he wouldn’t get migraines. When he ate processed foods that are smothered in refined oils, salts and refined sugars, then that would trigger a migraine. So when other people learned about this and they started doing this and other doctors started prescribing his protocol to people with migraines, what they found was that people would have migraines, but they would often have other chronic diseases like tuberculosis and Crohn’s disease and hundreds of other disorders. But all of those disorders would clear up as well from this one so-called “migraine therapy” that Max Gerson had designed. So he became really curious, because most doctors are taught there is one diagnosis and there’s one treatment. For example, if you have a headache, you might take Tylenol or aspirin or something like that. But if you had, let’s say, another chronic disease like Crohn’s disease, you’d take an entirely different medicine that was designed for that. But what Max Gerson found is that his one protocol, which was clean, real, whole foods, no salt, no oil, no refined sugars – when you ate just lots of food in abundance like that, all these diseases would clear. So ultimately he saw that the body had this innate ability to heal itself, which he had never been taught in med school, amongst all the other students he went to school with.
The Gerson Therapy then of course became a tuberculosis care because there was a clinical trial done with 450 terminal tuberculosis patients, and they were quarantined in a medical hospital. They were administered the Gerson Therapy and all of them healed 100% percent from their incurable tuberculosis at the time. That was really one of the first trials that was done. Then it became known as the tuberculosis cure all around the world, and it was actually known as the Gerson-Sauerbruch method, and all the doctors all around the world practiced it and administered it to their patients when they could. Then of course people who had cancer started doing the Gerson Therapy, and Max Gerson started seeing a complete reversal in his patients who had cancer. And then when he had to flee from Germany just before World War II, he ended up in New York City. So he had to flee, set up practice again, and then he started treating people in the United States who had stage four terminal cancers, and then they started healing. So, it really became known as the cancer protocol after that, which consists of 13 juices every hour on the hour, all day long. And then three meals a day. There’s a liquid detox portion, which we’re going to get to later. And then there’s of course the juicing and the supplements. So, it’s a really intense protocol.
Now, when I got trained in the Gerson Therapy over a decade ago, it was really to work with people who had end stage cancer and wanted to try and reverse the disease. And those are the people who would come to me. Most people don’t come to me when they have a migraine. Most people are happy to live on their medications for long periods of time, and it’s only when they hit rock bottom that they would consider doing the Gerson method. And so, I designed the five-week program because for some of my clients I want to say, “Maybe just drink three juices a day. Eat all the food. If you want to take the supplements, you can, but if you find that you don’t want to order them, then don’t do that. And then at least do one of the coffee enemas a day to support your liver and your body to detoxify.” And what I started to see was that even when my clients with chronic diseases would do this very, very modified version of the Gerson Therapy, they would heal. And with some of the stories that I have, they made their doctors’ jaws drop and their endocrinologists’ jaws drop. They were able to cancel surgeries, they got pregnant after being told that they were infertile, they didn’t have to get hysterectomies and brain surgeries and all of that. I noticed that there was still value in doing the Gerson Therapy, even at a modified method, so I started the five-week program to teach this and I would take people through all five steps of the Gerson Therapy over five weeks. And the reason I chose five weeks is that I knew if I could get them through 30 days, that they would probably never go back to their previous lifestyle. And if I could just add one more week onto there, then they would probably stick with it for a lifetime. And that’s what I’ve come to realize, is that around 95% of my clients end up living this way and they actually can’t go back to the way that they used to live, because they find the foods they used to eat revolting and almost toxic in themselves, and they have no appetite for it.
Allan (14:35): It’s so interesting that a doctor would not recognize the body should have this innate ability to heal itself. If I cut my finger, there’s a full expectation that my body will heal the cut. If I break a bone, there’s a full expectation that if we set the bone, it will reheal. I don’t understand why the doctors wouldn’t somewhat recognize our body wants to be healthy and it’s going to do what it can to get healthy. A lot of the things that we call “chronic diseases” today are pretty much self-inflicted, for lack of a better word. And changing our food and going to real food is to me somewhat of a no-brainer at that point in time. I really do appreciate learning about this protocol. I learned something else in the book, about vegetables and a new way to cook them, because I’d never thought about what you call the “long and low” as a way to cook vegetables. It tends to be stir fry or eat them raw. Can you talk about the long and low and the value of cooking your vegetables this way?
Nicolette (15:32): With the long and low method, it’s interesting because when my clients cook it for the first time, they usually call me and they’re like, “It’s like eating baby food.” It’s quite soft and some of the vegetables even become a little bit mushy, almost like a stew. So people think that they’re losing all the nutritional value when they cook their foods for a really long time on a very low temperature. So that’s what the long and low method is. You don’t add any water when you prepare your vegetables this way. So you would chop up all the vegetables – let’s say onions and tomatoes and squash and colored greens and beans that you want to cook. And you would just layer those in a pot, and you don’t add any water and you put a lid on it. You want a tight-fitting lid so the steam is not going to escape. Then you put that on a stove and you turn it up to a medium temperature, and you just sweat the vegetables for a few minutes and you have the heat build up in the pot. Once the heat is built up, you would turn the temperature right down on your stove. Some stones are actually even too hot for this method. They run too warm, so you’d have to have a heat diffuser in between the pot and the element. Then you crank the stove right down to the lowest temperature and you just cook it for about an hour to an hour and a half this way. And what it does is that because the food is cooking in its own liquids, it’s reabsorbing its own liquids, and then pouring them back into the pot. So most of us only like to boil our vegetables or we’ve been taught by our mothers, let say, to boil vegetables, but all the nutrients get brought out and sucked out of the foods and into the water. We toss that water and then we basically just eat a bunch of fiber, with minimum nutrients left over whatever’s remaining.
Now, when you do the long and low method, you would never throw out the remaining water that naturally comes out of the vegetables. You would actually add it into a soup or you would use it as a vegetable soup broth or something like that. Or you just drink it or eat it with your meal. The reason this method is really critical is it not only helps to maximize the nutrient retention in the foods, but also when people come to me and they have a chronic disease, their digestion is really, really destroyed, and it’s probably been like that for a long time. So, similar to, let’s say a six-month-old baby, when you go to feed them the first time, number one, you would never give them raw foods. Most parents have to cook the foods. They don’t have the microbiome built up in their little bellies to be able to get down the food, to digest the food. That would be too much on a six-month-old baby, so you would cook the food and you would mush it up and then you’d give it to them. Then you’d let their microbiome built up over the next six months by introducing them to a diversity and an abundance of different fruits and vegetables. Then when they’re about a year old, that’s when you start to introduce some more of the harder to digest grains, and maybe the foods that people might have more of an allergic reaction to. You don’t give babies strawberries in the first six months of feeding them, and you don’t give babies nuts and seeds in the first six months. That’s because they’re too hard to digest, and as well their digestion can’t break that down and it might trigger often an allergic reaction to it. But that allergic reaction really comes down to having leaky gut, where your tight junctions in the digestive system are too open and they’re allowing these proteins to enter into your bloodstream. So by doing the long and low method, it’s actually like treating your digestion, just like you are treating a baby’s, and letting it become more robust slowly over time. That’s when you can start to introduce more of the raw foods after that.
Allan (19:15): I liked that for a couple of different reasons. One is, it’s simple. It’s one of those, you can set it, not necessarily forget it, but it can be doing its thing and you can be focused on something else at that time. If you were to do batch cooking, it’s brilliant for that, as you mention in the book. And the other thing is, with the current state of farming in the United States and other Western countries and how the soil is depleted and the vegetables we are buying, even when they’re organic, they don’t often have necessarily the nutrient profile that food had 80 years ago. So as a result, you want to do everything you can to retain as much of that nutrition as you can. And this is a great way to know that you’re not damaging the nutritional value of the food, because you’re in a healing mode. You’re also kind of making it easier on your digestive system to deal with the food, which means you’re probably going to absorb more. In my mind, it’s really a good win-win-win as a way to prepare vegetables.
Nicolette (20:11): Exactly. This is why I believe we see the healing happen so quickly, is because people are getting maximum nutritional value for the volume of food that they’re eating, compared to the standard American diet, which tends to be very, very high calorie, low nutrient food. This is the reverse. It’s actually very high nutrient, low calorie food. You eat it and really every bite of food that you put into your mouth is maximized on the nutritional level, and the digestibility level as well.
Allan (20:39): That’s excellent. Now I want to shift gears again. I’m sorry on this interview I’m bouncing all over the place with this, but I just found so much cool stuff in this book that I want to talk about. But anyway, you have a very interesting twist on goal-setting. Up until the time I read this I really had not given it a lot of thought, but it makes perfect sense. Can you talk a little bit about the goal-setting process that you have and how that works?
Nicolette (21:06): I use a lot of different goal-setting processes in the book. We have a few different exercises that people can do, and I find that they’re really effective and I think it’s the reason why so many of my clients stick to this as a lifestyle. Often when people are changing their diet and changing their lifestyle, they’re not looking at the outcome that they want to achieve necessarily. They’re just looking at the tasks that they need to do to be able to eventually get whatever results are down the line. I use a backcasting approach, and this is from my days in government, in sustainability planning. It’s that you look at the outcome that you want to have. Tony Robbins talks about this as well, and so many life coaches talk about this.
So one of the things that we do, number one, is just giving yourself permission. A lot of people don’t give themselves permission to do anything. They want to achieve these goals that they set for themselves, but they haven’t given themselves permission to, let’s say, buy organic food or even spend two hours cooking, or saying “No” to going to restaurants with friends and just inviting them over and cooking for them. They often feel an obligation to go to a birthday party for friends and drink the wine and eat the cheesecake and have the steak. So, this is giving them permission to say “No” to things like this and giving them permission to say “Yes” to doing everything that’s going to optimize their health to reverse their disease. One of the things in the book that we have is the permission exercise. So, you identify a goal that you want to achieve – let’s say it’s to do the Gerson Therapy for five weeks, or do the Eat Real to Heal program for five weeks. That’s your outcome. And even more specifically, it could be, “I want to lower my cholesterol by X number of points” or, “I want to reduce the insulin that I’m taking by X number of points” or, “I want to be migraine-free by this date.” It’s even better when it’s more specific because then you are more inclined to take the actions to get yourself there.
After that you actually have to identify the steps you are going to take to achieve that goal. A lot of us set these big, beautiful goals, but we don’t realize it’s a ton of sub goals that we need to also achieve. So it could be, “I give myself permission to buy a juicer by this date, and then I am going to get rid of all my pots and pans that are coated in Teflon and all the other coatings that are not conducive to optimal health. And I give myself permission to spend X number of dollars on a set of airtight stainless steel pots and pans.” Or, “I gave myself permission to tell my husband to f-off” is another one, because I can’t tell you how many women especially say, “Oh, I can’t eat like this because my husband needs his steak. He’s not going to allow me to buy organic food.” And that’s when I turn around and I’m like, “It’s the year 2018, ladies. You don’t need permission from your husbands to do anything, I’ll tell you that.” So giving yourself permission to tell your husband that if he wants to eat his steak and French fries, then he’s going to have to cook them himself. And this goes vice versa too. I don’t want to put men in a bad place. I definitely have had lots of male clients who have said that, “My wife needs me to make sure that the kids eat X, Y, and Z”, and often those foods aren’t healthy so there’s a battle in the household. So, you need to get that taken care of before you start this, because when you’re making a lifestyle change, you can’t have any of those additional stressors on your plate at the same time. So, this permission setting exercise just seems to work, and what I find is that some of my clients give themselves permission to do things just for fun, like, “I give myself permission to do this, but also to dance.” So, they sign up for a dance class. Doing these things seems abstract and not connected, but it’s often how you need to do the things that you really desire in life and allowing yourself to actually take steps to doing them. Then the outcome of that is actually tenfold; it’s 10 times greater than you could’ve ever imagined. So that’s one of the exercises that we do. There are a few other ones that we do that I’m happy to talk about.
Allan (25:11): One of them that I found extremely valuable… And I agree with the permission-based thing here, because I’ve used different words to say the same thing – “You can set a vision for yourself, and that’s where you want to go. And then you have your ‘Why’. And if you’re going to ask your family to deal with something or you know that you’re going to have to change your pace or do something a little bit different to make things happen, it’s going to affect them at some level. And so letting them know why you’re doing this.” So this is not just, “I’m doing this to make you suffer.” This is, “I’m doing this because I’m unwell, and this can’t be my future state. I need to be well.” And wellness is not just health and fitness; it’s happiness. There’s three legs of the stool that make wellness. So, the dance classes are an excellent example of, what are the things that make you happy? When you’re happy, healthy and fit, that’s the vision. That’s the thing that you put out there in the future that you wanted for yourself and you make that happen. You need the people around you to at least understand why you’re doing this, and they’re actually probably a big part of the “Why”. So once they hear that emotional part of what you’re after and the healing that you need, I can’t imagine that there’s a husband or a wife out there that’s going to say, “No, this is how I need it to be for myself.” I think if that is the case, we’ve got a much deeper problem there than just this wellness journey.
One of the other things you had in your goal-setting, which I thought was just brilliant, was, I guess you had a patient and she went away with the plan and then she came back the next time and she had not done anything. And you’d said that you asked her to do an exercise about the things that she would give up by being healthy. And because she was ill and she was out of work, she had some additional freedom that she had not had before. And she knew maybe just subconsciously, not necessarily consciously initially, that by getting healthy she would have to return back to work. I found it very interesting that there can be a downside to wellness that we have to deal with as well.
Nicolette (27:26): I’m a psych-kinesthetic facilitator as well, so that’s looking at the psychology and the kinesthetics of the body and how they go hand in hand, and really looking at how the beliefs that we have in the world, the subconscious beliefs, 95% of them guide our actions. We tend to think that it’s coming from our conscious mind and that we are these willful beings that make solid, rational decisions all the time. But most of us are really, truly operating from this 95% subconscious mindset that we have. I find that a lot of coaches when they’re working with clients, they focus just on the goal, and the outcomes they want to receive, and the tasks they need to do to get there. This takes it a step further. Any time that you are doing anything in life, when you are making a change, there’s always going to be that tradeoff you talked about. Most people don’t want to identify their tradeoff. Tim Ferriss talks about this. He talks about identifying your fears, so this this is an example of that.
In that particular case with my client, I asked, “What are the adverse consequences of achieving the goal that you set for yourself?” And in her case it was to be healed from cancer. And she said, “That’s weird. There are no adverse consequences to being healed from cancer. I’d have my health back, I’d have my life back.” And I said, “But is there any adverse consequence? You’re going to do this therapy, you’re going to be healthy. What would life look like after that?” She really thought about it and one of the things that she mentioned is that she’d have to tell her teenage kids that they’re assholes. Excuse me for swearing. But she’s like, “I’d have to be honest with them and tell them that they’re just jerks. And what kind of mother would I be if I told my kids that?” And I was like, “You’d be an honest mother, and then who knows what would come from that?” Another thing she realized as well is that she’d have to return back to work. She had never known what she wanted to do with her life, so she’d always just taken jobs to earn money but never been satisfied. She really felt that if she was cured from her cancer, she’d be at a loss. She wouldn’t know what to do, but she could never go back to just working any odd job. So for her, that was actually trying to figure out who she was and what she needed to do with her life and what she wanted to do with her life, and really to find her purpose.
Ultimately, that was something she wasn’t willing to do. And she realized that that challenge was far greater than being faced with cancer and her illness. And in the end she just said, “I’m really fine with dying.” And she made peace with it. She was in her 60s. She had sold her house, she had given up everything because her doctors had told her that she was going to die, which is fine too. At the end of the day, it’s a life journey for all of us. And she had one of the most peaceful, beautiful deaths that I’ve ever witnessed. But that was my first time being faced with a client who actually said, “The challenges of life are just not worth it being healed.” But I would say 99% of my clients say all of those adverse consequences are totally worth it. I even had one client who said, “If I heal from this, I’m going to have to tell the world that I’m gay.” And I was like, “Amazing. So are you still willing to heal from this disease?” And they were like, “Yes, I am.” And sure enough they did heal, and did come out and told the family and the community that they were gay. And they are in a wonderful place now. That was something that potentially could have stopped them from healing, if they hadn’t acknowledged that.
Allan (30:52): One of my first clients, we were seeing great results, so I was feeling really good about our progress. Then all of a sudden it’s like she started getting noticed. Family members started commenting, and she was not comfortable with that. She was not comfortable being the center of attention. She was used to being kind of in the peripheral. She would babysit her grandchild and she couldn’t keep up with the grandchild, so that’s part of the reason she came to me. She knew she needed the capacity to continue to babysit her grandchild, but she was not able to keep up with her and it was starting to trouble her whether she was going to be able to do this for her daughter. In the end though, all the comments actually turned her off. It literally just shut her down because she couldn’t handle the new her and the way people were now talking to her and about her. So she actually fell off and I was really sad to see it happen. But it was a learning experience for me of at least knowing as I go through with my clients to recognize when you get to the end of this journey, you’re not going to be the same person you were when you started.
Nicolette (32:00): I love that, especially because you got to go through that. I imagine that when you’re working with clients now you can recognize when there’s that self-sabotaging happening. That’s when you get to jump in and acknowledge and say, “What’s going on here?” And sometimes just understanding it and bringing it to light is… They’re sabotaging themselves because, “I’m not used to having all of this attention. I didn’t like it.” Instead of going off their therapy or the protocol or the lifestyle change, “I can stay with it, but let’s address this other part: I don’t like being in the limelight.” And that’s very different step forward that you would take in that way.
Allan (32:40): Absolutely. I could not let you leave this call without talking about the coffee enemas, because I’ve heard of these before, but you gave a complete protocol for it, and I’ll let them get the book to go through the protocol. But the purpose and what this does for us is really what I want to get into, because I had just considered the coffee enema a really good way to clean out the pipes, for a lack of a better word, but there’s a little bit more going on than just that.
Nicolette (33:09): There’s so much more going. We have a Nutrition and Detox coaching program, and one of the things that I teach our students who go through our training is how to do good research. So this is scientific research; it’s not just the “look on Facebook” research. It’s the diving deep into journal articles. But going further than that, how can you identify good studies from bad studies as well? Now, when it comes to the coffee enemas, it’s so funny because a lot of my clients will say, “I read about the coffee enemas after our session together and I heard that somebody died.” So, I want to address those first before we go into the coffee enema. And yes, there is a story that one woman did actually die from doing coffee enemas, but that’s because she was doing 13 of them a day. She wasn’t doing any of the food, the juicing, she wasn’t neutrifying. So she ended up probably suffering from, I imagine, an electrolyte imbalance. There is another case of a woman that burned herself because she put hot coffee into her rectum, and I highly advise not doing that. But as you can see, that’s about as far as the research goes.
There was actually a clinical trial done on coffee enemas. It was a doctor out of Austria. And the way he did it is he didn’t apply any of the other methods from the Gerson protocol, but he just applied the coffee enemas to his patients who were going through surgery. So he administered the coffee enemas prior to the surgery and then post-surgery. And what he saw is that when people did the coffee enemas, the test group needed less pain medications than the control group, and they healed faster. And there was a significant difference as well, so that’s important to note. What he said is that obviously there’s a further need for studies on the coffee enema. But if you can imagine, a lot of these studies cost $50 million dollars to do – do a double blind placebo, randomized control trial. So we’re still waiting for somebody to cough up the money to do that on the coffee enemas.
So, going into the science of the coffee enema and why you want to do them – people often ask if they can use something besides coffee. Unfortunately not. Coffee seems to be the one product that contains everything that you absolutely need. Another myth that I want to bust is that it’s not a high colonic. A high colonic is when basically you get a fire hose shoved up your butt, and it really washes out your colon, your lower intestinal tract, and it’s scrubbing away everything. So it’s really taking away your good flora, your good bacteria, and the bad bacteria. For some people a high colonic might be necessarily a few times if they really are in a terrible state, where they don’t even have the capacity to make the dietary changes and lifestyle changes to treat their disease. I’ve seen it beneficial for some people, but you can’t do colonics long-term without suffering consequences from them.
Coffee enema is not to clean out the pipe. What it does is it actually triggers your liver and supports it to detoxify. So when you do the coffee enema, you’re actually laying on your right hand side. The coffee gets transported directly to the liver through the hepatic portal system, hepatic portal vein. What the chemicals in the coffee do is they stimulate the production of bile, so more bile gets produced. There are also so many other systems that it supports. Your liver is responsible for over 500 different functions that we know of today. I guarantee there’s probably thousands of different functions that we still don’t know that the liver does. So it’s really meant to support the liver in detoxification and it’s absolutely necessary when you switch your diet to a plant-based, whole foods diet, and especially if you’re adding the juices to it as well. There’s going to be so much flushing of toxins from the tissues into your bloodstream and your liver has to take care of all of that. So if you’re already suffering from a weak liver and the liver is not functioning as well as it should, then it’s not going to be able to handle that influx of extra toxins. You absolutely need to do the coffee enema to support the liver. And that’s where the coffee enema is different from cleaning out the pipes, and it’s the one thing that our clients definitely will continue to do for the rest of their life. Even if they don’t do all the juices, even if they don’t eat all the foods perfectly cooked Gerson style, they will still continue to do the coffee enemas because they see how well it supports the body.
Allan (37:47): The protocol itself is very, very interesting, and if you’re looking to heal yourself, this is definitely something I would say, take a look at it and give it a shot. It’s five weeks, and typically if you’re talking to a doctor, they’re trying to schedule a surgery or some other type of treatment. This is an alternative that’s not going to cost you a whole lot because even though organic food does cost a little bit more, I find that you actually end up eating less of it than you would if you ate the regular food that you would buy, because it’s just so much more nutritious. In the book, you also get into supplementation, you get into a lot of other general things that we can do to deal with stress, to help ourselves through this whole thing. Each of the five things that we talked about at the very beginning of this podcast are detailed in there, all the different pieces of this protocol. They can help you. Nicolette, if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book, learn more about the treatment center that you have, Green Moustache, the restaurants that you have and the coaching and things that you do – where would you like for me to send them?
Nicolette (38:48): For the health consulting – if somebody has a chronic illness and you’re faced with a surgery, or you’re on drugs and you want to get off them, or if you have heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, anything. So if somebody is saying you need to be on meds or you need to take out organs, give us a call at Richer Health. And you can reach us on our website at RicherHealth.ca. Now, if you are traveling and you happen to be in British Columbia, in any of our locations where we have our restaurants, we do serve 100% plant-based, organic whole foods, unrefined foods. So a lot of grandmother-style cooking in our restaurants. A lot of people who are doing the Gerson Therapy actually seek us out and they’ll come visit us at our locations, because it gives them a break from having to cook for themselves in their own kitchen. We can do it for you. So, you can check us out at GreenMoustache.com. And then for people who want to dive in and learn the practical aspects of doing the Gerson Therapy and doing this protocol as well, even if it’s the Eat Real to Heal – the modified Gerson protocol, then you can come and experience it firsthand. We teach it to you at our wellness center, and that’s located in Pemberton, BC. And you can find more information at RicherHealthRetreatCentre.com. We’re located in Whistler and Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada.
Allan (40:21): Cool. This is going to be episode 339, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/339 and I’ll be sure to have all of those links there in the show notes. Nicolette, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Nicolette (40:37): Thank you, Allan. It’s been a pleasure listening to your podcast, and I can’t wait for your book to come out as well and have you on our podcast so we can talk more about that.
Allan (40:46): Outstanding. Thank you.
I want to leave you with just a couple of announcements. We’re fast approaching the first ever Keto Minifest here in Pensacola Beach, Florida. I’ve paired up with Carl Franklin from 2 Keto Dudes to hold a Minifest here in Pensacola Beach, Florida. This is this Friday, so if you haven’t signed up yet, you’ll want to get there and do that. There are limited seats and we’re probably going to sell this thing out. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest, and that’ll take you to the Minifest that we’re going to be holding. The invite is there. I’ve made it very cost-effective. Dinner is included, there’s a cooking class and talks from both Carl and myself. It’s going to be a really fun time. Get out of the cold, come on down to Pensacola for the weekend. This is Friday night; real easy, 4:00 to 9:00. Come on down. Again, 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest, and you can join Carl and I for this first Minifest, at least the first one outside of Connecticut.
Also, I need you on my launch team. We’re building that launch team up, we’re getting closer and closer. The book is coming probably around the end of November. So far my publishers tell me we’re straight on track. We’ll know a lot more once I lock the manuscript, which I’ll be doing in just a few days here. Once we’ve locked the manuscript, we start work to get the thing put into the print versions and it’ll be ready to go. So, you want to go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and join the launch team. WellnessRoadmapBook.com. I’ll be putting new stuff out there about the book, doing all the marketing things and letting people know what’s going on. But if you really want to be on the inside and watch what happens with the publishing of a book and be a part of the conversation with me as we go, go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and join the launch team. Thank you.