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- Judy Murphy
Dr Pat Luse takes his 30+ years of practice and describes how The 7 Systems Plan can help you turn your health around and live an optimal life.
Allan (1:19):Dr. Luse, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Pat Luse (1:23): It’s nice to be here with you.
Allan (1:27): When we met at the writers’ conference and you were winning an award, I was like, “I definitely want to get this guy on the podcast. I want to find out what his book’s about.” Now that I’ve had an opportunity to read the book, The 7 Systems Plan, I can tell you, you definitely deserved every bit of the kudos you got for that award. That was a wonderfully written book. Thank you for sharing this with me.
Dr. Pat Luse (1:50): Thank you. It was a great honor. I was surprised that that happened, but I’m very pleased.
Allan (1:57): I think it’s well deserved, to be honest with you. It’s a really, really good book. Very well researched and obviously practiced. This was not just something that you’ve come up with over a course of a year saying, “I want to write a book. So what can I call it? And seven is a really good number to throw out there.” This is from years and years of practice, working with clients to help them optimize their health, lose weight, and get back to the way they should be living their lives.
Dr. Pat Luse (2:27): That’s right. Actually the book is 30 years in the making. I’ve been doing this with patients for that long and I’ve been refining my program. And I decided, “This is exciting. I want to help more people than just the ones in my office.” So, I wrote the book and have the course, and now I’m helping people all over regain their health and have amazing health transformations.
Allan (2:54): As humans, we tend to want very simple rules. Calories in / calories out sounds like a wonderful model for us to design our lives around if we want to lose weight. But then people forget that there are other systems in our body, and they don’t just operate independently. They all collaborate to bring about this human condition, to bring about what we’re able to do and what we can’t do, and how we age and how our health goes. You’ve identified seven systems that are all interrelated and related to our health. Can you define the seven systems that you use in the book and how each of those affects our health?
Dr. Pat Luse (3:37): Yes. I lay the chapters out similarly – I give you a brief overview of what the system is; I give you a patient story of a patient that had a problem with this system; I tell you how the system can be broken and how you can fix it; and then I give you simple steps. So the first system is the structural system. It is your most important system. That is your frame. It’s your bone, it is your muscle, and it is fat that hangs on that frame. Those are the three critical parts. And in America we have some significant problems with fat. In fact, we have made that fat angry and it’s now working against us. It’s attacking us rather than working for us. The second system is the digestive system. A lot of people are familiar with that, but they’re not mostly aware of how important your gut microbiome is, your gut bacteria. And over the next couple of years you are going to hear endless studies showing how critical that is to your health. Weight is just one of the things that that can affect, but everything else – diabetes, inflammatory problems, autoimmune disorders – all can have their origin in the gut. Third system is the delivery system, and this system picks up the nutrients from the digestive system and takes them to the cells. As you know, we have a lot of problems with this delivery system – the heart and blood vessels. Number one killer in America is heart disease at this time, and it is significantly reversible. We have some miraculous reversals of arterial disease. They’ve actually got imaging studies that show that this reversal of blockage and plaque begins in three weeks after following a plan like The 7 Systems Plan.
The fourth system is the energy system. So you’ve delivered the food to the cells, now the cells have to turn it into energy, and that’s where your mitochondria come in. Mitochondria are little power plants inside every cell of your body. What most people don’t know is that you can have a lot of these or you can have very few of these. And most people have very few, but there are some simple steps to increase their numbers and increase their productivity tremendously. In fact, studies show you can have 600% more energy if you optimize this system. The fifth system’s the communication system. All these seven systems have to be able to talk to each other, or you’re going to have problems. And they communicate by hormones – a few of them are critical to your health; nerves, and neurotransmitters. We show you how to identify problems with these and optimize them. The sixth one is your defense system. This system defends your body against outside and inside attacks. As you know with our problem with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and all kinds of other bacterial and viral problems, we need to have this system working for us. It is the system that is responsible for causing chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation is the root of almost all disease. And the last system in your body is your detox system. This system just cleans up. There are some significant things you can do to make this system work for you instead of against you. And it needs to be, because we are overwhelmed with toxins today. There are more toxins for this generation than any other generation in thousands of years by far. So this system needs to be working correctly.
Allan (7:33): And like I said at the beginning of this, the reason I like this approach is, it looks at your body across the board. It doesn’t sit there and say, “This is just a food allergy” or, “This is high blood cholesterol, so take this pill.” This is a, “Let’s figure out which systems are being impacted that are causing this”, not, “Let’s get rid of the symptom.” I really like the way you approached each of these. Now, one of the protocols that you talked about in the book was fasting, or the fasting mimicking diets. I was familiar with Valter Longo. Currently he is selling a product line that’s what I would call low calorie, high nutrition plan, that you can mail order and he’ll ship it to you. As I understand it, it’s somewhere around 600-700 calories just to get you the basic nutrients that you’d need to go through a fasting mimicking diet. But the fasting mimicking diets that you were using were more of the intermittent fasting style and they’re mimicking what would happen in our body during an extended fast. Can you explain what are the benefits of fasting, and then the types of fasting mimicking diets that you use in your practice?
Dr. Pat Luse (8:57): Fasting is in an extremely powerful tool in regaining your health. I give you some simple fasting techniques in Chapter 1 of my book, and it kind of eases you into it. You don’t have to do water-only fast to have significant benefits. Now, water-only fasts are very powerful and I do use them in my office. But to kind of prepare for that, there are methods of eating that trick your brain into thinking you’re fasting, while you’re actually eating food. A simple one that I like to use is the 17-hour fast. All that means is skip breakfast. Start eating at noon, finish your eating by 7:00 at night. Restrict the time that you eat. Powerful benefits of doing that alone. A second method is the 23-hour fast. Now we’re going from eating in a seven-hour window to eating in a one-hour window. So you would skip breakfast and lunch. And in that one meal that you have, it’s important to have a nice, balanced meal. We don’t want to have a tremendous number of calories in one meal. Significant progress with patients using those methods. So those are two of the things that I personally do and I have all the patients that join my course and program try these things. I usually get them eating a good diet for a month, getting the main 10 food groups in, that I outline, and after that experiment with some of these fasting techniques. The third one that I really like is called the 5-2 plan. On the 5-2 plan two nonconsecutive days per week, you restrict the calories to 500 for women or 600 for men. And that alone has been shown to have significant health benefits.
So what are the benefits of fasting? You want to clean house; your body does it in a very powerful way when there’s not food coming in or there’s not food coming in all the time at least. So you get elimination of waste products. Your body doesn’t have food to eat, so it focuses on getting rid of dangerous cells, like cancer cells. It may get rid of some extra skin that you’ve got hanging on to you because you’ve been losing weight. Fasting has been shown to reset your metabolism higher. A lot of people have a slow metabolism. There aren’t many ways to boost that, but one of the powerful ways is to use one of these fasting techniques. And also, if you want to control your hunger hormone – the hunger hormone is ghrelin; that comes in waves in your body. If you want to make those waves smaller, so you have less waves and they’re less powerful, less cravings, less hunger – fasting is a powerful way to do that. And I could go on and on. There are just tremendous benefits from fasting.
Allan (12:01): My favorite is the autophagy aspects of it, because your body needs certain things. It’s going to need amino acids to rebuild muscle and to do the things that it’s doing. It can get those amino acids from weak cells, from cells that our bodies should be getting rid of, but because we’re eating in many cases too much food, we’re not giving our body that opportunity. And for me, the other side of it is, the reason that fasting seems to make sense, beyond the fact that from a religious perspective, religions have been doing fasting forever as a protocol of refreshment, as a protocol for life, is that our ancestors didn’t have refrigeration or preservatives. So, they would go without food for even a couple of days, while they were on a hunt or while they were foraging, looking for something, particularly in the colder months when it was less plentiful. To me it really fits with what I think our bodies were designed for.
Dr. Pat Luse (13:12): Yeah. Never in our history have we eaten so frequently or constantly. If I just look back to when I was young, we had three meals a day – that was basically it. And now we have snacks in between those meals and we have something to eat before we go to bed. We are eating constantly. And some people even get up in the night to eat. Eating in the late evening or in the night is very damaging to your mitochondria, or your energy system that boosts your energy.
Allan (13:51): I’ve brought this up before on the podcast, but there was this term that’s come up and it’s now actually a thing. It’s called “second breakfast”. So someone will eat their first breakfast, and then by 10:00 they’re feeling hungry or they believe they’re hungry. And McDonald’s and others have loved this, that’s why they offer breakfast all day long. They want you to have that second breakfast around 10:00, because that’s just more business for them. And I say that because I think we think we’re hungry often times when we’re actually not hungry. In the book you outline some physiological and some psychological sources for hunger. I want to go through these, if you don’t mind, real quickly, because I think if people really started assessing what they’re feeling that we associate as hunger, it could go a long way towards saying, “No, I just need to go do this and not eat as much as I probably would.” Can you go through those sources of hunger?
Dr. Pat Luse (14:57): Actually, each of these seven systems can cause problems with hunger and eating, and that’s why it’s important. If you’ve got weight problems, you don’t want to just focus on restricting calories and eating better. That’s important, but if you don’t address all the other things, you’re not going to maintain your progress. You won’t make as quick a progress and you won’t keep the weight off once you to do. That’s why 99% of people gain the weight back after they’ve lost it. So, some of the things that can cause hunger are ghrelin – that’s the hunger hormone. It is that growling you get. It’s the “grow me” hormone and it signals you to eat. Here’s what we now know about ghrelin. You can train that to be too active, to give you those waves of hunger more and more frequently and stronger, but you can also train it to get weaker. Ghrelin does come in waves in your body. So what happens if you ignore the wave? It goes away. What happens if you act on the wave and you eat? It goes away. That’s one of the first things I teach my patients, that it’ll pass. Just give it 10 minutes, drink a little water, have a little coffee, and that wave will pass. And again, I said, fasting helps reset that.
Your fat cells, we now know, when you make them angry – and I talk about angry fat in Chapter 1 of my book – those angry fat cells can make you hungry, can give you cravings, can make you want to eat more and more. And fat cells produce a powerful hormone called leptin, which is your weight control hormone. When you get too many fat cells sending out leptin to the brain, it stops working and your brain thinks, “We don’t have any food. We don’t have any fat. We better up the appetite and slow down the metabolism.” This is a hormone that we need to fix. We now know that bad bacteria in your gut can actually cause hunger cravings. The good bacteria in your gut make you have cravings for things that feed them, like vegetables and fiber-rich things. The bad bacteria – that’s not what feeds them. They like the junk food. So if you get a craving for junk food, it could be that bad bacteria in your gut.
We also have a volume sensor in our stomach. We have no calories sensor. You can eat all the calories you want; your stomach will never say, “Alright, I’ve had enough.” But volume is something that it does respond to. So, we want to put lots of high volume, high nutrient-dense foods into our stomach, not the things that have very little volume and a tremendous number of calories. Low blood sugar can cause cravings and hunger. Just being low on water. Imagine this; this pertains to a lot of your listeners. You just ate your evening meal. It was a nice meal, you’re full. And 30 minutes later you’re hungry. Well, that just can’t happen. So it’s not lack of food that’s causing that. It could be lack of water. That dehydration signal, that thirst signal can seem just the same as a hunger signal. So, drink a big glass of water, wait 5-10 minutes, and if it’s gone, that was a water signal, not a food signal. Food addiction can be a source of hunger. Stress and elevated cortisol in your body can cause an increase in hunger too. So, a good number of things. Figuring out which of these things are causing your hunger cravings can be helpful.
Allan (18:55): A lot of what you talk about there – one is, stay hydrated. To me that’s an easy one. If you stay hydrated, then you typically know that it’s not a thirst that’s going to signal this hinger. Eating high quality foods, so you’re feeding the good bacteria, you’re getting the nutrient density that you need. Actually vegetables and fruits, high fiber fruits particularly, have a good bit of water in them. So again, it’s that natural blend of, if you work to improve the quality of your food, you’re going to be touching on most of those systems one way or another. And then dealing with the stress and paying attention to the signals your body’s giving you over time, I think is going to give you a good barometer of knowing when enough is enough.
Dr. Pat Luse (19:45): That’s right. You can actually stretch and increase the size of your stomach, as we have done. When you eat large meals, you can increase your stomach size, so it takes more food to trip that volume sensor. So I encourage my patients to not really stuff their stomach. And most of my patients in a short period of time, their cravings go down, their appetite goes down, and they just cannot eat as much as they used to eat, which is a very good thing to have happen.
Allan (20:19): What I’ve found is, when I’m really focused on the nutritional density of the food, I just don’t eat as much. If I go out for a good meal in a restaurant, I order their steak. I know it’s not grass-fed, I know it’s not the best quality meat, but it’s delicious and I need to eat, so I eat it. But I end up eating the entire 8-12 ounce portion, which is really two or three portions of steak. When I’m at home and I’ve bought some high quality grass-fed meat, I could eat about four ounces and feel completely satiated. Pairing that up with some good vegetables, getting a good mix on my plate. So I think the higher quality foods may seem to cost more, but in the grand scheme of things from a health and illness perspective… But also you don’t eat as much because you’re getting the nutrition that your body needs.
Dr. Pat Luse (21:18): That’s correct.
Allan (21:20): Now, if we’re going to do some fasting and we’re going to not listen to the bad gut bacteria until we get rid of it, because it’s going to take a little bit of time for that stuff to go away, and we’re not going to necessarily eat until were full, and we’re going to remember to try the delay or the water tactic as a way of getting past the hunger, the surge of ghrelin or the wave that’s coming in, so we can make sure it is what it is – a lot of people will then have to depend on this finite resource we call “willpower”. And I say “finite”, because a lot of folks will notice as their day goes on and they have to make more and more decisions about things, they just get this fatigue. And it’s so much easier to have bad food, have a glass of wine when you told yourself you weren’t going to. Those types of decisions become harder and harder; our willpower becomes weaker and weaker. In the book you share six willpower helpers. Would you share those with us?
Dr. Pat Luse (22:29): Sure. I tell my patients from the start, if you are going to depend upon your willpower to succeed, you’re not going to make it. It just will not happen, so you cannot do that. Willpower actually comes from a part of your brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, and it is about one inch straight back from my finger. Pup your finger on your forehead, go back an inch – that part of your brain controls your willpower. But it also controls several other things – emotions, task performance, decision-making. So imagine using that part of your brain all day, and then getting home and expecting it to make your willpower work. It’s just not going to happen. You can get about 15 minutes of work out of that part of your brain for willpower, and then it’s going to fatigue and not work as correctly. So you need to have things to help your willpower. I mention six of them in my book. First of all, you’ve got to have a desire, you’ve got to have a want to. So, Mary – actually she’s on the poster right back here. She came in to me at age 60. She was diabetic, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, morbidly obese. But here’s what she said: “If I don’t do something, I’m not going to be here for my grandkids.” That was her desire, her want to, her “Why”, and that’s a very powerful one. When I hear that from a patient – alright, we’re going to help you make.
New skills and abilities are very helpful. This is actually the classroom where I teach. I’ll be teaching a class tonight. This is the same class that I teach online. I give my patients lots of new skills and abilities. The more that you have, the better health you’ll have. You need a cheering section. So in this room, this is my cheering section. They support each other and cheer each other along. But everybody needs someone who’s encouraging them and helping them along. You’ve got to find that. You need a coach. So, in this program, and in my book, I’m the coach. That’s very helpful. You need a coach in every part of your life; health is no different. Rewards and incentives. So when my patients begin my program, I say, “What’s your reward going to be? You get that first 10 pounds off – what’s your reward? When you hit 30 pounds off? When you finish the program, how are you going to reward yourself?” And it doesn’t have to be huge things, but those little things along the way help you to keep going. They support your willpower. And the last thing is a health-friendly environment. If you expect to succeed in gaining health, losing weight, and you’ve got junk food at home, it’s not going to happen. If you’ve got junk food in the car or at work, it’s going to make it much more difficult. So I have my patients, day one, purge their house, get all of that stuff out of there. So you don’t have to depend upon your willpower; there’s just nothing bad to get you in trouble around.
Allan (25:45): Because then you have to actually make the decision to get in your car and drive to the store to get those things. What you just said, I love the path of that because that really follows the way I work with a lot of my clients, and we’ve talked about it here on the podcast – you do have to have a powerful “Why”, a deep emotional, like you said for Mary. And you share Mary’s story in the book, and a lot of other stories that are all really compelling, to help us understand how people bridge this gap. For some of them it was really, really good. And others had some difficulties that they had to fight back from. I really appreciated those stories, because they really brought all this to life. But you have to want to do this. It has to be, like you said, a good desire. I use the word “Why” with my clients, and we go over it and over it and over it until it’s ingrained and I know it’s emotional and it’s deep and they’re fixed on it. That gives us such a good framework then to use these other tactics of, don’t have it in your house if you don’t have to. I know for a lot of folks the kids are going to want it, your spouse might want it. Segregate it. Put it in a different place where it’s going to be out of sight. You may know it’s there, but having to make the effort to go to a different pantry to get it is just that little stop that you could take and say, “I have a ‘Why’ I’m doing this.” For me, it always comes back to that one, but the others are great, great tactics. So, if you find you struggle with willpower, which I don’t think I’ve found anyone that has what I would call great willpower. I’ve seen people put up with a lot in my life, but at the same time we all have our weaknesses, and until we recognize those and address those, we’re not going to be as successful as we can be.
Dr. Pat Luse (27:48): That’s correct. So with that “Why”, the reason you’re doing it – actually write those out. I have my patients give me four or five “Why’s”, put it on a 3 by 5 card, and then put it somewhere where you’re going to see it all the time.
Allan (28:02): Absolutely. Make it your background on your phone and on your computer, so it’s there all the time. Now, Doctor, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Pat Luse (28:22): That’s a very good definition of “wellness”. I would sum it all up in one thing, and that is your seven systems. So that would be the thing I would say, if you do that, you’re going to have significant improvement in your health in a very short period of time. If I had to list three things that were probably the most powerful things, the first one would be, eat real food and take some supplements. Real food is the most powerful thing that you can do to regain your health, and it’s not that difficult. There are 10 food groups that I teach about in my course and there are some very simple ways to get all of those groups in every day, and very tasty ways. And a few supplements are key. We won’t have time to get into that today, but everybody needs to take a good multiple, vitamin D, probiotic and Omega-3. Those things are extremely helpful for your systems function. So that’d be number one. Number two, I’d say protect your gut bacteria. Now, this one didn’t use to be in my top 10 things of importance for my patients. It is moving clear to the top. Your gut microbiome is extremely helpful and powerful if it’s working for you. If it’s working against you, you’re going to have difficulty making progress with any health problem. The third thing I would say is, balance your hormones. You’ve got 50 hormones in your body. You don’t have to worry about all of them, but there are a few of them that are key, like insulin. Your insulin has to be working correctly. Insulin is the fat storage hormone. It makes that fat go into the fat cells and it prevents it from getting out. So my patients that come in here and can’t lose weight, I always check their insulin, and every time I find that insulin is too high. We lower the insulin and their weight loss takes off. Cortisol – the stress hormone – that’s another key one. You’ve got to do things regularly, daily; just some simple techniques to lower that stress hormone. So, that’s the third part – keep your hormones working for you instead of against you.
Allan (30:37): Great. I love those. And The 7 Systems Plan, your book, lays out a lot of ways for us to methodically approach each and every one of those. Thank you so much for that, Dr. Luse. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book and all the things you’re doing, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Pat Luse (30:58): I have a website, DrPatLuse.com. I’ve got a lot of free resources for patients there. They can get my book there. My book’s available at Barnes & Noble; it’s called The 7 Systems Plan. It’s got some additional resources that are connected with it. And I also have an online course. My patient in life is helping patients have amazing health transformations. We get people off medications, we help them lose weight, we reverse diabetes. Every time that happens with the patients, I just get a buzz. I really enjoy that. I want to create more and more of these amazing health transformations.
Allan (31:46): They are. Every one of them in the book is a brilliant story of someone turning their life around. So, thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
Dr. Pat Luse (31:57): Thank you. It’s been great being here with you.
Allan (32:05): I want to thank you for helping to make The Wellness Roadmap an Amazon bestseller. It really is an honor that you’ve reached out and got the book, and the book has been so well received to make bestseller status in three different subcategories. That was a really big thrill for me, and an honor, so thank you so, so much. You can get The Wellness Roadmap book by going to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Book. That’ll take you directly to the Amazon seller page, where you can get the book. And while you’re out there, consider buying it as a gift to your friends and family that are over the age of 40 and interested in regaining or maintaining their health. It makes an excellent Christmas gift. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Book. Thank you.
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