The science behind food is both confusing because much of it is financed by the companies with the most to gain by the outcomes. Dr David Friedman helps us understand how to get to the real answer in his book Food Sanity.
Allan (1:28):Dr. Friedman, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Friedman (1:31): Great to be here.
Allan (1:32): Your book, Food Sanity, is probably one of the most researched books I've ever seen. I've been doing this for a while. I've interviewed over 175 authors, all of which have their own ways of looking at things. You did some deep, deep digging, and I'm using that as a pun, but we'll get into that. Now, you had a reason to want to do this because you were seeing all these different guests come on your show, like I do. And many of them were saying, “You should eat like this”, and others were saying, “No, you should eat like that.” On the surface they're very different, almost contradictory in many aspects. And then you were like, “I've got this really, really smart cardiologist telling me I need to stop eating meat, and then I have this other very smart cardiologist telling me it's fine to eat meat.” So you get confused, and it is very easy to get confused in all this. But you've put together a very good model and you've gone through a lot of this yourself. So do you mind sharing a little bit of your story?
Dr. Friedman (2:36): Yeah. Basically I wrote Food Sanity after the 18 years of frustration that I went through as a syndicated TV and radio health expert. And like you, I've interviewed hundreds of scientists, doctors, bestselling authors, hoping to share information that would help my audience reach their optimal health. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Instead, every guest would contradict the previous expert, leaving everybody, including me, more confused. You've got the proponents of the vegan, the Paleo, Mediterranean, the gluten-free and low carb diet. And let's face it, the opinions are as different as night and day. I remember oatmeal used to help balance blood sugar and research proved it. Now we’re told to avoid grains, because they spike our blood sugar. Coffee used to be considered unhealthy. Today we're told it helps prevent disease. Actually three weeks ago it caused cancer and they just announced a new study, about I think a week ago, that's saying it actually prolongs our life, that it’s good for you now. Eggs used to cause high cholesterol; now research shows eggs contain lecithin, which helps lower cholesterol. So I was very frustrated with all the conflicting opinions. I wrote Food Sanity; it really breaks through all the facts, fads and fiction, and finally answers the big question: What are we supposed to eat?
Allan (3:49): Part of your approach, which I really appreciate, because quite frankly it's common sense – is the DIG model. Can you go through that DIG model because I really think this is probably the best tool overall I've ever seen for a way to think about food and food choices?
Dr. Friedman (4:09): Yeah, and not just that. A lot of people are calling it the “lie detector test” to pass the DIG method to find out if it's true or false, even beyond food. I've been getting a lot of emails saying that works in other areas as well. It’s really neat that you can kind of dive in and, as we say, dig in. Basically in Food Sanity I used the “common science meets common sense” approach for figuring out the culinary conundrum. Unfortunately, we can't solely rely on the scientific studies, because as we just talked about, that changes sometimes weekly, like the coffee – that changed in a week. Plus many of them are biased, meaning studies are bought and paid for. So I show the reader how to avoid these paid for unreliable scientific studies, tap into their instincts and trust their gut instead of relying on what they hear in the media. Then we explore the biology of the body and if we’re designed to eat it. When you combine these three things, these are the DIG. D is “discovery” – that’s the science. I is “instinct”. And G is “God”. That's not necessarily biblical, but how our Creator created our body – our biology, our teeth, our enzymes. If you combine the science, instinct and biology, you have a foolproof blueprint that shows you what you should and shouldn't eat. It's kind of like a tricycle – without three wheels it can’t function. And my three little processes are really what other diet books are missing. In Food Sanity I don't use this “my way or the highway” approach. Instead I help the reader make up their own mind on the best way to eat and lose weight and prevent disease.
Allan (5:41): I was reading one study, and I think it was a Harvard scientist. He basically said that they were testing cholesterol numbers against mortality rate, and they basically weren't finding that when they lowered cholesterol with the statin that it was really giving them the results they wanted. So his complete conclusion was, we need to give them more statins. I can't wrap my mind around what this guy is saying. It's like we gave them statins and it didn't stop the heart attacks in the way that we intended. So therefore we think we just need to give them more statins. I had to question the guy’s motives or where he was coming from. It really just confused me. So I've made a practice now – if I’m going to rely on a study, I have to actually go read the study, because the headlines are going to skew it one way. The study may have been skewed one way in the way it was set up, or just the way they frame their conclusion is completely unsupported by the way they did the study in the first place. So the science is really where I get stuck the most, because you're right, there are people who are bought. So basically Monsanto pays for someone to do a study on Monsanto, and lo and behold, it's awesome. You should eat this for breakfast. And many of us do. But then there are those ones where I think while they might not have a complete buy-in, they have a paradigm that swings them to set the study up or run it a certain way. So that throws me off sometimes, but you don't necessarily know that unless you actually get in and see how they set up the study, which is a shame.
Dr. Friedman (7:31): So true. The saying is, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” So if your boss is paying you millions of dollars to find a specific finding of a study, you're not going to let your boss down, you don't want to lose that money. So the American Dairy Association funds a study and let's say they pay a big organization, Johns Hopkins, and say, “We want you to show that milk builds strong bones. Here’s $40 million.” If that study comes back where it doesn't show that it builds strong bones, they're not going to publish it. It behooves everybody to keep the boss happy, and that's what I’ve noticed. But if you find a study that’s not paid for by somebody that has vested interest, then you can dig a little bit deeper and say, “This is a sound study. Now let's research and see the findings.” If it's biased, I don't even look at it. It’s not fair.
Allan (8:18): And I think the same thing sometimes of animal studies as well. I don't necessarily place a whole lot of credence on them. There are data points, but maybe not as reliable as we'd want to think. You even said in the book, cats are carnivorous, and we don't necessarily have to be. Or rabbits are vegan, and we don't necessarily have to be. So a study they did on cats or rabbits or mice isn't necessarily going to give us the best information. What I'm getting at is, a lot of the experts that get really passionate about one side of this or the other without having the objectivity, I think they find the study that fits their cognitive bias and they run with that. The expert finds these sets of studies and says, “I have 12,000 studies and you have 12,000 studies.” And they write their books, and there you go.
Dr. Friedman (9:10): That’s why you have to jump into your instincts, and also the biology. So you're right, we can’t really rely on science, and a lot of these authors just spit out the science. And you can battle science against science all day long. I’ve interviewed the plant-based and they’ve great science. I’ve interviewed the Paleo and they’ve got great science. But it’s not all about science. You've got to really go in and do the full DIG.
Allan (9:31): That's why I like your model so well. It puts a little bit of common sense behind the way we approach these things. You do a little bit of digging into the science, you learn more about it, and then you can just apply your model from what makes sense and what your biology is all about. Then the other side of it, I've always found is after you start eating a certain way. You saw this with meat – once you stopped eating red meat, your health improved dramatically.
Dr. Friedman (9:59): Correct, yeah. And that’s really what made the foundation of, “Let me explore what foods are good for me, what are bad for me.” The first one that was my own self-study is, “I feel better when I get off red meat. Why is that?” Then I researched, are there other foods that maybe I shouldn't be eating? And that's what led into Food Sanity, where I explore every single food group, if we’re supposed to eat it, what the science shows, does that make sense? And is our biology set up for us to eat it?
Allan (10:27): As we start having this conversation about biology, invariably the conversation comes up to, what did our ancestors eat? And then that takes us over to the Paleo movement and the people with the big flags with the bacon on it saying, “This is what we ate. This is what we ate.” And you've done a little bit of digging into the Paleo Diet, which I thought was fascinating. So I'm going to let you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on what our ancestors actually ate. Like I said, I did a little bit of a dig myself, and we can kind of have a compare and contrast there.
Dr. Friedman (11:04): There are few subjects out there that raise more controversy and heated opinions than food and politics. And when you look at plant-based versus Paleo Diet, it’s kind of like Republicans versus Democrats. Hopefully when they’re done with Food Sanity, they find we can all eat and dine together, because I’m getting some praise from the Paleo and also from the vegan, even though I’m from neither one of those. I’m kind of a mix between. But really, vegans and vegetarians believe a diet void of meat is the secret to optimal health and longevity. And of course proponents of the Paleo Diet say we need to eat meat like our caveman ancestors did. In Food Sanity I show how this belief is based on a serious distortion of human history. Caveman are portrayed as these big, strong, savage hunters, able to stab and kill mammoth-sized animals, carry their dead carcass over their shoulders. That may be how the cartoons and the movies portray them, but it's far from the truth. Cavemen were actually short and fat people. In fact, they were not much taller than 5 feet, they weighed 171 pounds, the size of their body was an evolutionary adaptation for cold weather, since that extra fat consolidated heat. According to the National Institute of Health, this is considered clinically obese. A short obese man certainly could not have the speed or the endurance that it would take to run fast enough to hunt and kill a mammoth, lion, tiger, bear. Cavemen were not the predator hunters that we've been led to believe they are. In my book I actually show how they were the hunted, not the hunters. They carried weapons for defense.
Using forensic analysis scientists showed our cavemen ancestors ate primarily plant-based diet, but forget the science, forget the forensics. Let’s get to talking about instincts. What do our instincts show us? If they were able to catch a lion, tiger and bear, which I show in the book is very difficult… It’s difficult now, if I gave you a sword and I told you to go out and catch one – it's not easy. But if they did, that meat was good for about five hours before it would rot and make them sick. So it was good for one meal. So, are they going to spend all day hunting the one meal, or since they had hands, which are designed for picking, wouldn't it be logical, common sense instincts to say they probably picked fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, because that would last longer than five hours? And if that ran out, there's nothing left but meat, would they eat meat? Absolutely. They weren't vegetarians, but if you really want to talk about our ancestors and we should be eating like a caveman like we're told, but in fact there's only a 1.6% difference in another ancestor, the chimpanzee. So there is a 1.6% difference between a chimpanzee’s DNA and ours. We both have fingers, thumbs, fingernails, similar reproductive system, gestation is nine months, 32 teeth. We're the only species able to use tools. Chimpanzees’ diet is 90% to 95% plant-based, with the remaining percentage being insects, eggs and baby animals. They will eat meat, but only if they’re left with no other choice. Having said that, why aren’t there diet books out there telling us we should eat like a chimp instead of a caveman?
Allan (14:17): I agree with you there, but one of the thoughts that hit me as I was going through this section and thinking about this was, it’s pretty obvious that we’re food opportunists. If there's a drive through available, we're going to drive through it. If we leave bad food in our pantry, we're going to eat it. Some of the advice is, avoid the drive throughs, don't have bad food in your pantry because then you're more inclined to eat it. So I see humans as very opportunistic eaters, particularly when food was not necessarily always abundant. My ancestors would have been in Northeastern Europe, so there were winters and times of pretty bad famine where there wasn't much food around at all. So I do agree, they would be digging up roots and they would be doing other things. That said, they were very smart. They had tools and they were able to move and do things. They didn't want to get hurt any more than the others. If all these leafy greens and root vegetables were there, and everything they needed from a vegetable perspective – that vegetable is not going to strike back. I might get a thorn when I'm picking a berry, but that's going to be the worst of it.
But then the other side of it is when we start talking about – and we’ll get into this in a bit – fish and poultry, at least birds. They're not very dangerous to hunt, unless it's a piranha or a barracuda or something like that. But for the most part, fishing and killing birds is not a dangerous pastime, and not a bad thing. It's more difficult than picking off of a bush, but like I said, it's there. So I do believe that they probably would go out and do some hunting for small game. If they find a nest with eggs – they’re opportunistic, they would do that. They’d kill the bird, then they've got the bird. They’d go fishing if they have an opportunity to do that, if they're in an area where water is abundant and there's some fish. So, I think they're going to be opportunistic. Now, if a mammoth or some other bear or something is in the area, I do agree that they might pack-animal hunt that bear, if they felt like they could get it without hurting themselves and they felt like it would provide them with a really good meal and everybody would eat off of it. And then you're right, the rest of it would probably get wasted.
Dr. Friedman (16:40): But that bear probably was a lot quicker than the cavemen, so if you wanted to outrun them and eat them, you’d go a lot quicker, or they’re going to be gone.
Allan (16:49): But I think we would go as pack animals. I think we would surround them, we would use our intellect and we would have methodologies. I don't know if it's true, but there was a story of how Indians would effectively try to herd a buffalo off of a cliff, as a way of killing it, so that they didn't have to get hurt. Or when they had access to guns, one of the ways that they would want to hunt a buffalo would be to surround the buffalo and get it moving away from them. And if it didn't take care of itself, it's going to fall off the cliff, and then they've got what they were after. So I just see us as opportunistic eaters. If it's there, we're going to eat it and we're going to eat, I would say, the easiest sum game of effort versus benefit.
Dr. Friedman (17:35): The pathway of least resistance.
Allan (17:37): Yes, exactly. So I would see us like that, which would tell me when meat is there and it's easy to get, we'll get it. I don't know about you, but I do enjoy fish, I do enjoy chicken.
Dr. Friedman (17:51): So you and me eat the real cavemen diet, because that’s it.
Allan (17:56): And occasionally if our tribe had an opportunity to kill an animal that was going to provide red meat, like a bear or whatnot, I think we might rally the forces and say, “Hey, that last bear we ate tasted pretty good. Why don't we go get another one?” If it's opportunistic. I think that's really where this all comes about is, it's really difficult to say they would have only eaten vegetables, because they had to eat something else. When the vegetables were gone, what did my ancestors eat? Did they just go five, six months without eating at all, waiting for the vegetables to come back?
Dr. Friedman (18:33): The Paleo advocates and their philosophy is they tend to go against the grain, pun intended. And advocates of their diet tell us to eat a lot of red meat and stay clear of grains and legumes, which cavemen supposedly didn’t eat because of their lack of agricultural techniques. But using advancements in modern technology, fossilized remnants of beans and barley have been discovered between the teeth of cavemen. In fact, the University of Utah says 40% of the cavemen’s diet, we’re talking 3.5 million years ago, was our gluten, grains containing gluten. So that whole thing that 10,000 years ago is when we started eating grains, has been debunked. That’s another thing when we look at our ancestors. It really raises the question, what did we eat and do we really care? And my point is this: I don't care what the caveman ate. I just had this find out, because everyone's always saying to eat like a caveman. I care what our great grandparents ate, because that’s our direct line. If you look at our great grandparents, they were thinner, they were healthier, they didn’t have the cancer, they didn’t have the diseases we do. And I challenge people that are overweight and blame their genes; I say you can’t blame your genes on why you can’t fit into your jeans. Because in the early 1900s, 3% to 5% were overweight; today it’s 70%. But if you can show me a picture of your great grandma or grandfather and they were overweight, then go ahead and blame your DNA. So I tend to say, let’s eat like our great grandparents did. They didn't eat the hormones, the chemicals, the coloring, they didn’t eat the processed food. That's more my view, rather than Neanderthals, who didn't have stores back then. We do. Let’s eat like our grandparents did.
Allan (20:14): When I walk into a grocery store, I just cringe. I look at millions and millions of empty calories sitting on the shelves. About three quarters of my cart ends up being vegetables, and then I'm walking around the outside of the store getting the rest of my foods. You also went in and did the DIG method for the vegan diet as well. Can you spend a little bit of time on that?
Dr. Friedman (20:41): Yeah. It’s interesting, how we talked before about the one thing that people agree on is fruits, vegetables and plant-based have benefits. Not everybody agrees that the beef and the red meat does. So if you look at studies out there, the fruits, vegetables and grains… And we can talk about the gluten – that’s an interesting topic. Basically there’s still good and bad, because it is processed, you still have to deal with pesticides, you still have to deal with the soil. There are certain goods and bads with all food, including fruits and vegetables. So in the book I kind of show the good, the bad and the ugly of everything. But when you look at nature, when you look at natural-derived that’s not processed, that's not touched by Monsanto – fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are great for us. There's no if, ands or buts. But man has kind of tainted a lot of that, and that's why you really have to start looking for organic, non-GMO.
One quick little tip to know if it’s organic – if you see the fruit, the vegetable, and you're not sure, look at the PLU code – it’s the Price Lookup Code. If you see a 9, it’s organic. If you see it starting with an 8, it's GMO. The saying I use is, “Nine is fine, eight isn’t great.” So if you see a 9 in front of it, it’s organic. That’s a little quick tip. And you want to go organic as much as you can. Some people ask if they should do everything organic. No. Here's the quick little rule of thumb, rather than memorizing the Dirty Dozen that people talk about by EWG, I say if you can get your fingernail and you can puncture the skin, probably you're going to get pesticides in there just as easy as you puncture the skin. So if it's easy to puncture, get organic. If it's not, don't worry about it. Avocados – don't worry about it. Bananas, pineapple, kiwi – not so much, because you can’t penetrate that. So that's just an easy little Friedman way of knowing, take the nails test. Don’t do it though in the store, you’re going to get in trouble. Just know if you've got grapes, you can puncture it – that's organic. Apple, puncture – that’s organic. Pear, easy to puncture – organic. Strawberries, that’s super easy to puncture – organic. Just a little easy way to know what fruits and vegetables you should and shouldn't have that are organic.
Allan (23:01): I like how you said it in the book as well. And my mantra is to buy local. You’ve got farmers that are growing seasonal vegetables right there in soil, and you can actually ask them, “How do you grow this? Do you use any pesticides? Do you use any fertilizers?” And talk to them about it. Find that farmer at the farmer's market or the co-op that's doing the things the way you want them done. It’s being transported less, which means it's going to retain more of its nutrition. In many cases when I’m talking to them, they picked the tomatoes they're selling me that day, that morning, right before they came. They got up at 6:00 in the morning to make the 8:00 farmer's market. They picked all those tomatoes themselves that morning. So I know that's going to be an awesome tomato, and it's organic, as it should be. It's going to give me much more nutrition than if I stopped at the local grocery store and picked one up there. Even if that one said “organic”, it's been transported for a lot longer distance and isn't quite as good for me.
Dr. Friedman (24:11): A lot longer, sometimes thousands of miles. There is no such thing as fresh food in Atlanta if you're buying it from California. It’s not fresh. It shipped all the way from there. When we talk about fruit, it's amazing what a bad rap it’s getting. I talk to all these experts that are saying to get off of all fruit because it contains sugar known as fructose. There's so many health advocates that recommend totally eliminating it, and what they believe is that fruit creates a sugar overload that can lead to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes. In my opinion that’s taking things way too far. Fruit is an important part of the diet. It does have sugar, but so do vegetables. One cup of sweet potatoes contain 6 grams of sugar. It is the perfect food for diabetics. One stock of broccoli contains 2.6 grams of sugar. The reason eating sweet potatoes and broccoli won’t spike your blood sugar is because they contain a lot of fiber, which buffers out the sugar content. So when deciding which fruit to eat, it's important to look at the glycemic index. This measures how the fruit you eat will affect your blood sugar levels, and the best way to keep your blood sugar in balance is to eat fruits that have higher fiber and contain low GI. So instead of reaching for grapes and banana, opt for fruits high in fiber that have a low GI, like apples and blueberries. Even though these fruits are high in sugar – blueberries have a whopping 15 grams of sugar per cup – because of the fiber content, the natural fruit sugar is released slowly into the body, won't cause an unhealthy sugar spike. In spite of the high sugar, blueberries can actually reduce the risk of diabetes by 23%. Another option is an apple that’s full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals. It contains lots of fibers and it buffers out the fructose, keeping you from having an insulin spike. But don't peel the apple because that defeats the whole purpose. There's so much research out there showing that people who eat five or more apples per day are least likely to develop diabetes, and same with blueberries, which are loaded with sugar. So the whole concept, “Stay away from all fruits” is just ludicrous to me.
Allan (26:16): I have to admit, I’m a little bit more on the other side, and the reason is this. Like I said, I think people are opportunists when they eat and I think that we have a major sugar addiction problem in our country. And I think that when you start trying to get people off of sugar, one bit of advice that’s fairly common is to get off all of sugar for just a short amount of time. And then you can add the berries back in, you can add fruits like apples and pears and things like that in. And then to a lesser extent, some of those tropical plants, which have a higher glycemic index. I would typically say what I would do is just not eat fruit for a short period of time, till I got my sugar under control. And then they say, “What about the artificial sweeteners?” I say drop that too, because that's still teaching your body to want the sweetness from the foods. And if you get your palate set back down a little bit by not having the sweetness from the artificial sweetener and to some extent from the fruit, you get to a point where the fruit tastes better when you come back to it.
I remember when I was a kid, we used to add white sugar, just pour it on strawberries. We needed to do that. We’d do that with watermelon. We’d put sugar on our watermelon. And now if I eat a strawberry, it's one of the sweetest things I can taste. If it's a good, organic, fresh strawberry, it's awesome. Same thing with watermelon. I’m down in a part of the country where they grow a lot of watermelons, so it's available during the season. It's so sweet, so delicious, but it's because I've reset my palate to just not want those sweet things. So I think sometimes taking a break from it – not permanently, but a break from it to let your palate reset – isn't necessarily a bad idea.
Dr. Friedman (28:22): Then you don’t have to add the sugar to the strawberries because they already taste sweet.
Allan (28:26): Exactly. That’s where I was going with that, was to say, if you have a sugar addiction, I think that there's an opportunity for you to consider how fruit is contributing to that in the short run. If a short hiatus from it is going to make you appreciate it that much more, I think that's not a bad idea.
Dr. Friedman (28:43): Right. But they should never go back on those artificial sweeteners, because those are lousy. What’s so funny is there's no research showing that they help you lose weight or curb your appetite. When I researched it, it’s the opposite – they make you hungry, they make you eat more. University of Texas did a study showing there's a 41% increased risk of obesity for every one diet soft drink you consume that has these artificial sweeteners. And the average person doesn't drink one; they drink five. So you can imagine. And people that drink these artificial sodas think they're losing weight. Most of them are overweight, and years and years later, how's that working for you? It didn’t help.
Allan (29:19): It didn’t. That’s the calorie model. And I think they’re sugar-addicted, and that artificial sweetener is just causing them to eat more sugar across the board.
Dr. Friedman (29:29): Exactly. It makes you crave something. You're teasing your brain. It’s like, “That’s not real. Give me more.” So it makes you crave more carbs and sweets.
Allan (29:38): The research you did for this book just blew my mind. I was looking at the citations – there were over 700 citations in this book. You could have written eight books with that many citations, but you got this down into one good, concise thing. I think your simplified DIG model is a brilliant model. It's not simple, but it's easy to think through. It's a model that I think will work for anyone. You've done that, and now obviously with everything you've done with all the interviews, going through this process, what do you eat today?
Dr. Friedman (30:13): I live by a Flexitarian Diet, which is a marriage between the word “flexible” and “vegetarian”. Basically I'm eating like our real ancestors did, dealing with more plant-based and about 20% animal. I did look at all the different animal food and there's one that you really need to stay off of, and we can talk about deep into that. There's just so much science – like you saw, I looked at both sides – and that’s the beef. One thing that’s interesting, four years ago, the National Academy of Sciences shared a major discovery. They found a unique sugar called Neu5Gc, which is found in abundance in cows, but it's not found in humans. And when we eat this sugar, this molecule, it triggers an immune response that our body attacks. This leads to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to colon cancer, and among all victims of cancer, colon cancer is the second leading cause of death. So the more red meat you eat, the more likely you are to get colon cancer. The most authoritative report on colon cancer risk today was published by the World Cancer Research Fund International. They concluded almost half of colon cancer could be prevented if people just ate less red meat. And interestingly, Neu5Gc – inflammatory sugar – is just one atom different than a molecule that lines our blood vessels called Neu5Ac. We share this molecule with chickens and fish, so eat those foods with no inflammatory reaction. When we eat red meat our immune system can't tell the difference so our body ends up attacking our own blood vessels. This explains why red meat has been shown to increase heart disease. So more and more research out there. And it's so funny that you’ve got Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Harvard all saying red meat is not good. The good I found was endorsed by the American Cattle Association. So that's the one thing I’d stay away from. I do organic chicken – I think that's great. Fish – I’d love to chat more about that. That was my favorite food, and I debunk that mercury myth by far in my book. My big “a-ha” moment was discovering that. I think that's something that's never been discovered, and I had to dig because fish is not a moneymaker. They really make that the redheaded stepchild when it comes to food.
Allan (32:23): So basically primarily plant-based, and occasionally eating pastured organic chickens, pastured organic eggs, and then fish which is wild-caught and delicious.
Dr. Friedman (32:40): Yeah.
Allan (32:48): I think you either like fish or you don't like fish, but almost in no cases do I find a lot of people where fish is a staple for them. It's an occasional treat that they'll have. I don't think enough people eat enough fish.
Dr. Friedman (33:05): And I share this in the book. It's the least advertised, it’s the least promoted, it’s the least endorsed. In fact, the FDA says to stay away from it. It causes mercury, it’s polluted waters. And every expert that I’ve heard says to cut back on fish, mercury, mercury. I love fish. And I used to preach the same thing. It’s like I’m preaching what they told me to preach. I was like, “Let me dig in. Is it true?” So I actually went in and looked at this mercury thing, and the truth is that the oceans are not the mercury-laden cesspools that we’re lead to believe. In Food Sanity I debunk this myth. There are cultures around the world that eat fish daily, sometimes three times a day, and their blood tests, Allan, show no mercury toxicity. They're the epitome of good health. And then I looked at pregnant females that are scared, that avoid certain types of fish because they supposedly contain mercury that can harm the unborn fetus. There's simply no credible resource to support this. In fact, evidence shows quite the opposite. Cultures where pregnant females eat a diet primarily of fish, mostly tuna, have healthier children with higher IQ scores than mothers avoiding fish. Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in soil, air, water and food, and we hear so much about the dangers of mercury in fish, but cattle products contain mercury, and mushrooms, and high-fructose corn syrup contains it. That's our fruit juices and cereals. Here’s why the mercury in fish is not a concern. Mercury cannot cause harm unless it occurs in extremely high enough levels to inhibit selenium-dependent enzymes, which naturally protect the cells of the brain. So in other words, if fish contains more selenium than mercury, it cancels out the mercury that is absorbed by the body. In Food Sanity I have a chart of 18 of the most commonly eaten fish. All of them, except the mako shark, have more selenium than mercury. Folks, play it safe. If you’re at a restaurant and you see mako shark on the menu, don’t order it. The other wild-caught fish are good for you. Enjoy them, you’re not going to have mercury poisoning. It’s just not a factor.
Allan (34:57): I was actually happy to hear that, because I had moved away from swordfish. I do eat some tuna, but a lot less. I’m more on the sardines. In this part of the country, in Florida, if you don't eat grouper and red snapper and cobia – shame on you, because they're delicious, and they're local. So, Dr. Friedman, thank you so much for this book. I know I say this to a lot of my guests, but you did your research, you've put together an awesome model for us to think about food. You've blended ideas of the two sides of an argument that seldom see the same as the other. And the basis is, let's eat whole foods. Let's get the nutrition our body needs by finding the most nutritious, healthy food we can find, and let's just eat that. I really think that's the core message of the book. So, thank you for sharing Food Sanity with us. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Friedman (36:04): For the book they can go to FoodSanity.com. And as you see, the book was so thick. I actually had 92 pages of recipes that I couldn't include. So I actually created an e-book and that book is for free. You can download that at FoodSanity.com. It’s a nice compilation book that goes with Food Sanity. So that’s available, and you can have over 30 recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to see how easy it is to eat healthy. You don't have to compromise taste. And then to stay in touch with me and learn more, you can go to DrDavidFriedman.com, and you can see some of my blog posts, articles, and you can get all my social media contacts as well from DrDavidFriedman.com.
Allan (36:43): Cool. This is going to be episode 331, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/331 and I’ll be sure to have links to everything Dr. Friedman mentioned there. Again, Dr. Friedman, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Friedman (36:59): Thank you, Allan. It was a lot of fun. I appreciate it.
Allan (37:06): I do hope that you enjoyed that conversation with Dr. Friedman. His DIG method and the book are excellent, and something I think you should read, see how he's applying the DIG method to various types of foods. It really is a great conversation that he's having with you in the book to explain exactly why a food may or may not be good for you. Going through the science, going through instinct things, and then of course getting into how this really fits ourselves using this DIG method. It is really a wonderful tool and a wonderful book, so I do encourage you to go out and get that book.
It has been a really, really busy couple of weeks here, as I was working on my book, working and preparing my presentations for Ketofest. I did go to Ketofest and had a great time. Did four training classes. The classes were relatively small in size, which made it even nicer because I had a chance to really work directly with folks and help them through the exercises. I had all the way from advanced to beginner. There was something in there for everybody, and I got a lot of good feedback from that. My talk went really well. We did have some technical issues. I was the first speaker of the day, so you kind of have to expect that’s going to happen. I had to start a little bit late and the streaming didn't work and I don't think the recording worked. So, a lot of the technical stuff. But I had a great audience and I feel like I had a really good talk. And I got a lot of good feedback after the talk. It’s one of those things where I just enjoy sharing and having those opportunities to help people. And it's really nice to have that face time with them. And so I met some new people. I was able to see Richard and Carl from 2 Keto Dudes again, and some people I knew from last year. I actually even got to have dinner with a client, which was really, really cool. So, Ketofest is over.
I'm about a week out, I think, from getting my final draft to the editor. So I think the heavy lifting on my book is done and I'm kind of excited about that because I have this thing in mind called The Wellness GPS Challenge, and I'm going to launch that in a few weeks' time. Normally my challenges will have upwards of 100, 200, almost 300 people in some of them, but this one I'm going to have to limit to 20. So what I'm going to do this time that's a little different is I'm creating a waiting list, and if you're interested in joining the waiting list, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/GPS. From there you can get on the waiting list. You'll be the first to find out about it. And if the 20 slots fill up from just me sending the email to the GPS waiting list, then I'm done. I won't announce it on a podcast, I won't announce it in the Facebook group, and I won't email anyone else. I'm only going to email this waiting list and give them some time to sign up.
This challenge is going to be a 7-day challenge to help you set your Wellness GPS, which is in my mind the single most important thing you have to do if you want to be successful in your health and fitness. A lot of people will start something and then they fizzle out, and the reason they fizzle out is because they never really set their GPS. I see people start things and hurt themselves, and the reason they hurt themselves is because they never set their Wellness GPS. The Wellness GPS is a tool I've developed to help people get a really, really good start, and each and every time they're starting to struggle in their journey, they'll always have that GPS with them to keep them on track and on their way. So it's a really cool tool. It works with my clients today, I use it, and I'm looking forward to teaching 20 new people exactly how to do the Wellness GPS. Like I said, I'm working with you hand in hand, so this is not a phone in an email kind of thing. I'm literally with you, so I can only handle 20. They come from the waiting list, so do join the waiting list by going to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/GPS. I look forward to seeing your name there and I look forward to connecting with you and getting on with this challenge. It'll start in a few weeks, but I just want to get the waiting list going, so I know who is interested and I can talk directly to you. Thank you.
Another episode you may enjoy