December 5, 2023

How to get healthier as you get older with Dr. Michael Greger

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On episode 619 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we meet Dr. Michael Greger and discuss his book How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older.


Let's Say Hello

[00:03:34.070] – Allan

Hey, Ras. How are you?

[00:03:36.860] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:03:38.100] – Allan

I'm doing good. I'm doing good. I posted on my Facebook the other day it was kind of a joke, but not really a joke. And it was a principle of nobody starts a diet in November.

[00:03:50.900] – Rachel

Right. This is a terrible time to start, Allan.

[00:03:54.690] – Allan

Yeah. Who's going to start in the middle of November and then six weeks later is a much better time to start?

[00:04:02.060] – Rachel

That's right. Yeah.

[00:04:05.070] – Allan

And I got some good feedback and some good from folks on that, because they recognize it's like we do these little logic things in our head that really if you just took a step back and says, is that how I would do it? No, it's like, well, the check engine light came onto my car, but I really just want to wait till January 1 to take a look at that, that's not how we would approach it. So it was just kind of one of those things. And I'm going to probably be posting a lot of those. So if we're not friends on Facebook, come check me out. You can go to the Facebook group at 40 Plusfitnesspodcast.com group. But I also have friend people on my Facebook, so I post some things there. I post some things to the group. So if you're interested and want to have a little bit of fun, check both of those out. Cool.

[00:04:50.220] – Rachel

That sounds fun.

[00:04:51.500] – Allan

So what are you up to?

[00:04:53.390] – Rachel

Actually, funny you should say that. I'm kind of planning my New Year's goals. I got to wrap up this year. No, but actually, at the end of the year, I do like to have something to do between Thanksgiving and New Year's. It's the busiest time of year, and this is no different. I'm doing tons of things. I got lists for my list. But I always like to have some sort of an activity between Thanksgiving and New Year's. And this last year from 2022, I had a run streak. So we did a 1 mile minimum streak between Thanksgiving and New Year's. It was I can't remember, 38, 37 days, however many days it was. And I'm trying to figure out what I want to do this year. And the reason why I like to start at the end of the year, just like in your post, is that I need the distraction because holidays are stressful, they're busy, and sometimes we get so focused on all of the other things that we don't have time to take care of ourselves. So having some sort of a movement goal reminds us that we need to take time for self care.

[00:05:59.300] – Rachel

We need to take time to exercise and do the things that are good for us. So I don't know what I'm going to do yet for the end of this year or for my New Year goals for next year. But I've got something planned, figuring something out.

[00:06:10.740] – Allan

Yeah, well, I break it all down month by month. And so December is no different for me than any other month of the year. January, February, whatever. It's the month. And so what I do is before the month starts. So I've looked at what I want to do for the year, and as I get into the month, I'm like, okay, what do I need to do this month to move myself in that direction? It doesn't have to be a huge move. It's just what is it? And so I have all of those, and it goes across personal, professional, health, fitness, Lula's, my online business and stuff. And so I'll have all of these things that I want to accomplish. Some of them are relatively mundane. Like, I really do need to write a statement of policy or statement of position for Lula's on a lot of how things are done, basically. So basically how things work, and so someone else can do it if I'm not doing it. Because right now I'm the only one that knows how to do most of the back office stuff. And so it is what it is. I need to write that down.

[00:07:12.410] – Allan

I need to publish it in some way that someone could follow me if I don't want to do it anymore or I can't do it anymore. So some of that is that simple. It's like I just need to start writing these things. And then as I get into the month, it's like, okay, what do I want to write this month? Which policy? What's my movement goal? What are the other goals that I have in my life? And then each morning I wake up and I go through a thing, and there's a lot of affirmations and gratitude and all that, and then the goals, and they pop up. And because I know what my monthly goals are, I can then go into my to do list today and say, okay, what on this to do list actually does those things and what does not? And so a lot of times I'll have a list of all my to dos and they're dated and they're in order of importance or time of the day that I need to get them done, because there's some things I do each day that I need to do in the morning, and some things I can do later.

[00:08:08.800] – Allan

But I'll take a task and I'll say, you know, that's not really an important task right now. And I'll put it over under the parked list, and it just sits over there. And about once a month, I go through the parked list and delete a lot of those because again, it wasn't really built that goal, whatever. It wasn't really something that's going to move me. The to do was not going to move the needle for me. And it sounded cool. It was the shiny object of, hey, I should buy those new shoes. And then I get a month away and I look at back and I'm like, okay, well, why did I want those shoes? And are they really going to move me forward? And, oh, they're not going to last here in Panama. Stupid purchase. Yeah. And then they're gone. I might park them and say, no, I know I'm going to be doing a little bit more mileage next month or the month after, and so maybe I do want the shoes for that. But a lot of times, yeah, they just get written off because it really wasn't something that was going to move the needle.

[00:09:06.680] – Allan

So if you find yourself overwhelmed, break things down, figure out what your big rocks are, what the important things are, and that becomes my monthly thing. That's great. And I have an annual thing and then a monthly thing. And then literally every morning, I wake up and say, okay, what am I doing today that does one of these things? I love that, and sometimes they don't. I had an intention of writing an article to advertise, and with everything that's going on here, okay, what's the sense of telling people what the best beaches are in Bocas if we don't have the guests coming into the country the way that they would or could? So I'm not writing that article because I'm not going to put the time in to write something that isn't going to move the needle for the business or do what it needs to do. So it's not valid anymore. I'm moving it over into the parked items. I'll reevaluate it in December or January, and maybe I write it then, but I'm not writing it right now. Perfect.

[00:10:05.670] – Rachel

That sounds like a good plan.

[00:10:07.360] – Allan

So if you find yourself a little overwhelmed with the change that you want, the things that you want, just start with the big thing. Okay, I know I need to lose two inches off my waist. Well, you're not going to lose two inches off your waist today.

[00:10:23.290] – Rachel


[00:10:24.790] – Allan

Or maybe even this month. But what can you do consistently this month that's going to help you do that? And then each day you do that thing. Perfect. And so it's really a trickle down of breaking your bigger rocks into the bite sized pieces to keep it workable. And then, you know, you wake up in the morning, you look at what you got to do that day. Is it on my calendar? Yes. My movement is on my calendar? Yes. Getting this done is on my calendar. And then I go do it. And if I don't have the time in the day to do it, I have to prioritize and push some of it to tomorrow or park some of it, because, again, it just isn't going to do enough for it to be worth what everything else on my list is doing for sure.

[00:11:05.340] – Rachel

You can only do so much.

[00:11:07.430] – Allan

All right, well, you ready to have a conversation with Dr. Greger?

[00:11:10.640] – Rachel



[00:12:13.070] – Allan

Dr. Greger, welcome back to 40+ Fitness.

[00:12:16.470] – Dr. Greger

Thank you so much. Glad to be back.

[00:12:21.070] – Allan

I've watched your videos over the years and I'm just fascinated with how you can teach so much information in a three to five minute video. And then here you come out with this book and quite frankly called How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older. And I'm just going to call it right here. This is the most comprehensive health book I have ever read in my entire life, and I doubt anyone's ever even going to come close to matching the depth of what you put into a single book. Some would argue it might be a few books, but given the length of it. But this is really good stuff if you love understanding health and understanding how our body works. Dr. Gregor here, he's your friend. He's done the work, he's done the research, and he's put it together in depth. And it's all there from my perspective, again, because the end notes are there, but you have to go to a separate website to follow them through because otherwise the book would be twice the length that it is. Because I believe there were like over 8000 endnotes, and you probably referenced no less than maybe 300 or 400 videos along the way that could go deeper.

[00:13:38.090] – Allan

But this creates a lot of rabbit holes, particularly for those that love the science of health and fitness. So I'm going to say it was not a hard read, but it was a read.

[00:13:50.250] – Dr. Greger

Yeah. This is for all the longevity nerds out there. There's meat on them bones, and beyond.

[00:13:57.620] – Allan

The meat, there's actionable. Things you can do today to improve your health going forward. And so I love that because I'm all about action. And so let's dive in a little bit because again, there's so much again, I can read a book. A standard health and fitness book these days is about 250 pages, and I can read that in about 6 hours. And usually it's because I know most of what they're going to say because they're saying the same things that everybody else says. Your book is nearly three times that length, and you're not saying what everybody else is saying. You're going in and saying, well, this is what they looked at and this is how you can apply it. And so you do a lot of that. So I want to get as much of that in as I can in the limited amount of time we have, because I think I could actually probably talk to you for about three straight days without sleeping, and we could probably still not cover everything that was there. Like I said, you've won. The game is over. The competition is over. For what we know right now, based on the science that's been done today, this is the most comprehensive book you can buy.

[00:15:05.090] – Allan

Okay, so you talked in the beginning of the book, you brought up the I think there's eleven pathways of aging, and I want to dive into a few of them because I think sometimes there's a little bit of confusion when we start talking about certain things. So the first one that I want to get into is the AMPK. And where people may not have heard of that before, but they've probably heard of autophagy and how we can use fasting as a mechanism for reversing aging, improving our health. Can we talk a little bit about how that process works, just a little bit, and then how we can get into autophagy? Because I think there's multiple mechanisms you brought up in the book, but I think there's some misconnection of, oh, well, I can just do intermittent fasting and I'm into autophagy and I'm doing great. Okay, again, there's some misconceptions out there because it's old. If you do intermittent fasting, you're getting autophagy. If you're getting autophagy, you're slowing your aging. So can we just kind of dive into that a little bit? Sure.

[00:16:09.910] – Dr. Greger

Yeah. Autophagy is the kind of primary system for cleaning the body from the inside out, clearing out the cellular debris that may be contributing to aging. Some food components can suppress autophagy, like acrylamide, which is a compound concentrated in French fries and potato chips, whereas others, like spermidine and the antioxidants in coffee, can actually help your cells kind of take out the trash. So to boost this antiaging pathway, I encourage readers to consider, on a daily basis, 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity. Unfortunately, 20 minutes does not quite I mean, is wonderful for health, but not enough to boost autophagy similarly, fasting. See, the issue with fasting is fasting. Autophagy doesn't optimally ramp up to like 48 to 72 hours of fasting, which is really too long to go unsupervised. That's not just kind of legalistic mumbo jumbo. Our bodies go into kind of sodium conservation mode when we fast, but should that response break down and we continue to lose sodium, the symptoms we might experience are like fatigue, dizziness, something that could be dismissed until it's too late. So that's why prolonged fasts should really be only done under kind of medical supervision, but they actually kind of test your electrolytes and make sure your body's doing what it's supposed to be doing.

[00:17:42.480] – Dr. Greger

And so the studies suggesting that, oh, 12 hours of fasting can boost autophagy yeah, in mice, that's because mice's metabolism is so much higher. A few days of fasting can actually kill a mouse. They can lose, like, 40% of their body mass after a day or two of fasting. But unfortunately, yeah, in humans, it takes a little longer. But again, we don't have to walk around starving all the time. We can 60 minutes of aerobic exercise minimizing our intake of French fries and potato chips, trying to get about at least 20 milligrams of spermidine, and by incorporating spermidine rich foods in our diet. So that's tempeh, which is a fermented whole soy product, but any mushroom will do. Peas and wheat germ. So adding wheat germ to my diet was something new after this book because I wanted to get the spermatine to boost autophagy. And also, drinking three cups of coffee a day, either regular or decaf, can boost autophagy, thanks to glorinic acids.

[00:18:44.190] – Allan

Well, you've definitely got me to thinking, and I'm going to reestablish my big ass salad every day.

[00:18:51.850] – Dr. Greger


[00:18:52.320] – Allan

Yes, we're having some difficulties with delivery where I am right now, so it'll be a little while before I get the wheat germ, but that'll be something. I'll probably sprinkle a bit of that on my salad just to go along, but, yeah, big ass salads coming. Okay, the next one I want to get into, because there's a lot of talk about this, which there should be, because I think this is probably the biggest problem we have as people is inflammation. How does inflammation lead to aging?

[00:19:21.730] – Dr. Greger

Aging can actually be thought of as kind of part of an inflammatory disease. In part, a single measurement. Inflammatory markers like CD, CRP, ser, active protein, or Il six, interleukin six, can predict both physical and cognitive performance, as well as remaining lifespan in elderly individuals. Thankfully, excess inflammation can be kind of extinguished through changes in diet. There is something called dietary inflammatory index, which ranks each food in terms of how pro inflammatory or anti inflammatory it is. And those eating lower on that dietary inflammatory index, meaning less inflammatory diets are more likely to age successfully, which is defined as living independently with no major chronic disease, no depression, no pain, and with good overall self perceived social, physical, and mental health. So to help slow this aging pathway, I can encourage people to consider, on a daily basis, reducing both dietary and endogenous exposure to something called to these inflammatory advanced glycation end products. We can do that. That's a whole nother aging pathway. But basically we restrict ourselves to low glycemic lead foods so we don't have high blood sugars and make these AGS endogenously. And we reduce our intake of AGS which are found most concentrated in kind of high protein foods exposed to high dry heat.

[00:20:50.700] – Dr. Greger

So rather than grilling or barbecuing or frying or baking meat, we would like steaming, stewing, soups, that kind of thing would produce fewer of these inflammatory AGS. Also we reduce senescent cell inflammation. That's another whole antiaging pathway. These so called zombie cells spewing inflammation. As we get older, we can clear those out. I have a whole chapter on that. Boosting autophagy actually helps clearing out some of that inflammatory cellular debris. And you know what? One of the most interesting things in that chapter I ran into is applying an emollient skin lotion. So actually our skin layer, we actually have a breakdown in our skin barrier as we get older and that can increase systemic inflammation in our body. And they found that rubbing hairless mice with vaseline actually cut down inflammation. So they gave it a try with people and randomized people to try just every day applying a little full body molly and skin lotion and actually saw a decrease in inflammation which was so shocking, it's like, well, that's easy to do. So that's something I've incorporated into my diet and not in my diet, god into my daily routine.

[00:22:01.520] – Allan

Don't eat hand lotion.

[00:22:03.510] – Dr. Greger

Gregor said I should be eating and then avoiding the pro inflammatory foods. The pro inflammatory foods and increasing the intake of the anti inflammatory foods. So the pro inflammatory food components, saturated fat, endotoxins, which got new five GC sodium. So actually salt is pro inflammatory. People don't think about that. And then, so basically it's minimizing meat, dairy, tropical oils like coconut oil, the palm kernel oil, all these kind of junk food oils and as well as salt, I mean, one kind of lousy breakfast can double your creactive protein levels within 4 hours before it's even time for lunch. And then the anti inflammatory foods on the other side of the kind of balance sheet legumes, which are the beans, slippies, chickpeas, lentils, berries, greens, sodium free tomato juice or sodium free tomato paste. These processed tomato products without added salt, turmeric, ginger, flaxseeds, garlic, cinnamon, cocoa powder, dill beverages, chamomile tea, green tea, as well as kind of anything basically that contains fiber. So fiber rich foods, anthocyanin rich foods. Those are those brilliant kind of purple berry like pigments also found in, like, red cabbage or purple sweet potatoes, as well as salicylic acid rich foods, which is the kind of component, the antiinflammatory component of aspirin, not just found in willow tree bark actually found throughout the plant kingdom, most concentrated in, actually cumin, the spiced cumin, but found in a whole bunch of plant foods, and that also has an anti inflammatory effect.

[00:23:38.950] – Allan

And I think one of the cool things here is if you begin to eat less inflammatory foods, other good things are going to start happening for you. Like, your joints aren't going to hurt as bad. You're going to have more energy because your body is actually allowed to use that energy for you to do the things you want to do versus trying to heal, because that's what the inflammation is there for. And so just eating an anti inflammatory diet actually has these really quick turnarounds for you to feel better, look better, and move better. Now you hit on one, and as soon as I saw this written out, I was like, okay, now we're going to spar. We're going to spar a little bit, because I kind of like having a little bit extra muscle on my body. And so there's this concept called mTOR, and it's complex, I'm not going to lie. It's a very complex set of rules, but it's basically how we build muscle with mTOR. There's a little disconnect in my head I got to get through is having more muscle mass and being stronger, particularly as measured in grip strength, has been shown to help with your mortality.

[00:24:47.470] – Allan

However, having too much mTOR, which is part of the process for getting protein to turn into muscle, can also be problematic. Can you dive a little bit into mTOR and help me put that together? Yeah, no, absolutely.

[00:25:00.900] – Dr. Greger

So mTOR is an enzyme recognized as a major driver of aging, perhaps more so than any other single anti aging strategy. mTOR inhibition suppression disrupts a panoply of degenerative processes, explaining why the mTOR blocking drug Rapamycin is the most effective drug ever devised for targeted aging. No other drug has been able to show it works in every single species, even starting in middle age. But the problem is, the drug has some downsides. So then we turn to non pharmacological approaches. How are we going to slow this kind of pacemaker of aging enzyme? And we do that through the restriction of certain amino acids such as methionine and leucine. And how do we restrict those? Well, you can do full dietary restriction, and you're going to decrease your amino acid intake or eat the same number of calories, but just reduce overall protein intake, and that'll cut down. Or you can keep the protein intake the same, but just switch from animal sources to plant sources, most of which tend to be lower in methionine and the branch chain amino acids like leucine. And there's kind of a YinYang with AMPK. So anything that boosts AMPK can drop mTOR, like the barberries and vinegar and all the stuff I go through in the AMPK chapter.

[00:26:24.450] – Dr. Greger

And then it's really about reducing one's protein intake down to recommended levels, which is 0.8 grams for healthy kilogram body weight, which translates to about 45 grams a day for the average height woman, 55 grams for the average height man, and then choosing plant based sources whenever possible. Now, as you noted, mTOR plays a role in muscle protein synthesis. So the question is, well, wait a second. Do we have this kind of balancing act between aging and muscle mass? Thankfully, no. All we need is sufficient levels of mTOR activity to build muscle mass without excess levels. How do we do that? Again, recommended dietary protein intake over age 65. There's actually no benefit from adding protein in terms of muscle mass, muscle strength, or muscle performance. How are we going to maintain muscle mass into old age? One way and one way only? Well, there's actually a bunch of things that contribute, but the most important one is resistance training, right? Strength training. That is how we're going to keep our muscles. Particularly if you're doing something like caloric restriction or something critically important to maintain muscle mass. And we do that through exertion. Putting strain on our muscles and then adding extra protein in older age does not add that.

[00:27:46.180] – Dr. Greger

Add extra muscle mass. That's whether you're sarcopenic, you have excessive muscle mass, whether you're frail, et cetera. Excess protein does not help at those ages.

[00:27:55.950] – Allan

And one of the other ones I wanted to get into is oxidation. And the reason I want to talk about this is there are billionaires walking this planet right now that are selling antioxidants. That's true. And you're like, okay, well, if I take an antioxidant, then I'm going to be cool. Right. And I don't think that's quite the answer. Can we talk about oxidation and why some of these seemingly good things aren't necessarily doing what they're supposed to?

[00:28:26.050] – Dr. Greger

Yeah, this is one of the most interesting chapters to write in terms of that kind of nerdy part one section about the eleven aging pathways. So oxidation. So there's this mitochondrial theory of aging, which is kind of standard stood the test of time in terms of the dozens of aging theories out there. It explains basically the spread, why some animals live so much longer, in fact, 1000 times longer than others. The animals with the lowest rate of free radical production within their mitochondria, the little power plants within their cells live the longest, full stop. So we can slow the pace of aging by slowing the rate of this free radical production in our mitochondria. And there's really only two ways we can do that. Antioxidants don't work because it's actually the damage to our mitochondrial DNA happens so quickly, so close to the source of free radical production. Antioxidants just can't penetrate in time. But there's two things we can reduce. One is exercise. Again, nailing critical factor of exercise. And number two is methionine restriction. Cutting down on the amino acid methionine by eating healthier. Also in terms of so that's just for in terms of longevity.

[00:29:37.040] – Dr. Greger

However, oxidation does play a role in our health span as well. For that, we can cut down on prooxant foods, boost our antioxidant rich foods. Kind of similar to the inflammation story and actually kind of similar. Foods, right? The prooxin foods are the ones rich in cholesterol, salt, saturated fat and sugar, where the antioxidant foods are the ones berries, spices, as well as something called Nerf Two Activation, which is kind of our first line of antioxidant defense. On the second line is this kind of symphony of antioxidants we can kind of take from plant foods and kind of hijack them from our own needs. But our first level of defense is really our antioxidant enzymes that can detoxify free radicals and we can boost those through something called NRF Two Activation. And the two ways to do that one is green tea and one is cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens and so to slow the saging pathway, exercise, restricting methionine, where you can do that through protein restriction activating NRF Two eating green and drinking green. So eating your kale, drinking green tea and then eating berries and other naturally vibrantly colored foods because the colors are actually the antioxidants herbs and spices like the cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, margarum packed with antioxidants and then cutting down and added salt, sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol.

[00:31:12.000] – Allan

Latent foods, well, and all those you talked about, they make the food exciting and fun and taste good. So win win. And the exercise, of course, you've got my vote there because it does just a lot more. You feel better, you're stronger, you're faster, you built up a body that's capable of doing the things that you want to do. Now I'm going to dive into a few foods that some people will avoid for various reasons that they don't necessarily have to, but they at times avoid them that are really actually I mean, we can talk about superfoods, but I actually only want to use that title because it's been so overused and falsely so in many, many cases. But some of these foods actually are, in a sense, exactly what our body needs, but a lot of people don't eat enough of them. So the first one I want to talk about is beans. What makes beans?

[00:32:06.150] – Dr. Greger

Ah, beans. That's the centerpiece of all Blue Zones diets. These areas around the world with exceptional longevity as their chief source of protein, have some source of legumes which are not just beans, but also split peas, chickpeas, lentils. And so if you're talking about what are the kind of healthiest foods to eat, according to the Globe Burner Disease Study, which is the largest study of risk factors in human history for death and disease, the greatest lifespan extension would be achieved by eating more legumes. That's what they calculated of all the different food groups, eating more beans. If there's one thing we can do to live longer in terms of our diet, be eating more beans. And so though that's on a kind of per serving basis, but actually on a gram for gram basis, the food most associated with longevity is actually nuts. And so I also recommend like a palm full of walnuts a day, one of my kind of antiaging eight foods, but, yeah, definitely legumes. There's a reason why they associated. Like, if there's one question you had to ask in populations around the world in terms of assessing dietary quality, how many legumes people eat is the number one dietary predictor of survival in populations around the globe.

[00:33:26.130] – Allan

Now, you talked about nuts, and I think this is another area that people are kind of afraid because they hear, okay, nuts have a lot of calories and an almond, 16 calories or whatever. And so they thought that there's a calorie load to nuts, and therefore they'd be maybe better off eating something else. But there's a lot to be said for the nutrition, particularly the fats that we can get from nuts.

[00:33:52.310] – Dr. Greger

Well, yeah, I mean, a gram for gram basis, compared to any other food on planet Earth, consumption of nuts is associated with the longest lifespan, and you can get the maximum benefit for just that palm full, half of ounce of nuts a day, half to a full ounce maximum benefit. You don't seem to get more benefit eating more. In fact, you don't want to overdo it over a cup of nuts a day. You can actually get too many oxalates. Peanut butter does not appear to have the same benefit. Technically, not even a nut. And of all the nuts, probably walnuts are the healthiest. So, yeah, kind of a palm full of walnuts every day is the way to go. Improving artery function probably the primary cause. For example, in the PREDIMED study, those randomized to boost their intake of nuts had about half the stroke rate. And so you can think of that the other way. Not eating nuts kind of doubles your risk of stroke. So the cardiovascular protection from nuts is probably what is resulting in most of the longevity benefit.

[00:34:51.250] – Allan

Now, another nut that you don't necessarily want to overeat but is okay to have regularly is Brazil nuts.

[00:34:58.650] – Dr. Greger

Oh, yeah, well, yeah, I mean, even one high selenium Brazil nut is actually too much one a day, a single nut a day in terms of inflammation. So, yeah, that's something you really want to moderate because you can actually get solenosis. You actually get kind of selenium toxicity. It's known as the selenium is known as the essential poison because it is actually essential trace mineral, but you can actually get too much of it. And most concentrated dietary sources, brazil nuts. So, yeah, I would really hold back, I mean, in how not to Die, I talk about the study showing that four Brazil nuts once a month actually dramatically lowers cholesterol levels. But unfortunately, people read that to be, oh, four Brazil nuts a day. No, you could actually get a selenium toxicity. Even though I emphasize this, this is once a month. Pick a day of the month, your favorite day of the month. And like, okay, on the 13th of every single month, I'm going to eat four Brazils. Period.

[00:35:50.840] – Allan

That's it.

[00:35:51.700] – Dr. Greger

Unfortunately, people did not listen. Actually ran into people who got problems, who started getting, like, peripheral neuropathy, started losing sensation, and got tingling in their feet because they're getting too much selenium because they're eating too many Brazil nuts. So, yeah.

[00:36:09.430] – Allan

The sad part is, Brazil nuts are my favorite nut. But that said, I buy them in the shell. Oh, I have to go through the trouble actually cracking that shell. It's not easy.

[00:36:23.050] – Dr. Greger

Those are some hardcore shells. Oh, my God. You want grip strength. Yeah, I got your grip strength right there.

[00:36:29.740] – Allan

Exactly. But if you buy them in a bag shelled, it's just so easy to do like you do with everything else.

[00:36:36.530] – Dr. Greger

So that's actually a good idea. No, that's a good idea. We shall be like sitting by the fire with the nutcracker and just digging out little pieces.

[00:36:46.610] – Allan

If you can't crack it, then go do some exercise and come back when you can.

[00:36:51.330] – Dr. Greger

Yeah. Oh, my God. Those are hardcore.

[00:36:53.320] – Allan

Yeah. All right. And then actually my favorite besides cruciferous vegetables, I eat cruciferous vegetables every day, but leafy greens are my next favorite. That's why I was saying the big ass salad. So let's talk a little bit about leafy greens and what they're doing for us. Yeah.

[00:37:10.350] – Dr. Greger

So dark green leafies earn their place in the antiaging aid as the vegetable most associated with longer lifespan. So cruciferous vegetables, which certainly can be green leafy, but not necessarily something like cauliflower, is also cruciferous. They boost the first line of our gut defenses as well as boosting detoxifying enzymes lining our airways to help reduce our risk from air pollution. It's actually a leading killer of humanity. So particularly if you're in a city, live by a highway or something, cruciferous vegetables will help you deal with that kind of diesel exhaust. The longevity benefit, though, actually may come from the nitrates, the metabolic slowing that comes from nitrate consumption. Particularly athletes think of like beet juice. For nitrates, we're actually the most concentrated source. Dark green leafy vegetables also beets bee greens. And those nitrates actually slow down your resting metabolic rate, something you typically only see with something like severe caloric restriction. But instead of walking around starving all the time, big ass salad to the rescue. They can also improve age related declines in muscle mass. Age related declines in artery function. So you give people like a cup of cooked spinach worth of nitrates, you get a significant improvement in maximum power from the quads.

[00:38:25.900] – Dr. Greger

I mean, you can bulk up on muscle mass just reading spinach. And we think it's because of the nitrates. Although it's interesting, the magic of nitrates require the presence of certain good bacteria on your tongue to actually activate the nitrates. Otherwise they don't work. And those bugs are killed by antiseptic mouthwash. So you don't want to use an antiseptic mouthwash or an alcohol containing mouthwash and you can actually foster the growth of those good bugs by tongue scraping and regularly eating those nitrate rich vegetables which act as a prebiotic and keep them going. So that antiaging strategy only works if you got the right bacteria on your.

[00:39:07.180] – Allan

Tongue and probably all the way through your system because we are actually just one big biosystem of a lot of.

[00:39:14.230] – Dr. Greger

Things, not just most of our cells are not human.

[00:39:18.290] – Allan

Exactly. Now, sometimes I get really mad about how, for lack of a better word, our government gets in the way of us living healthy lives. One of the ways that you kind of detailed in the book is this kind of weird thing, the way they do things. And so what it is, is you think about the volume of food that you eat. So it's this big volume of food that we eat during a day, if you think about it. And then we're going to focus on one or two pills that are going to change our life for us and not focus on all that food we ate. The medical system doesn't train it. It's not followed. It actually doesn't make them any money. So they don't care to know about it or teach about it or talk about it. You're just told eat better and move more and you're good. But we're not, we're not healthy right now as a society. And one of them that came up was supplements because if you hear something's good and it's like, well, I don't really like that food or I don't have access to that food readily, it's not easy because I got to cook it.

[00:40:29.850] – Allan

Go figure. Is that the dietary supplements that we want to take to help improve our health? And I actually had someone I was talking to who's in this field and he and I were talking back and forth. He says we should get together someday and talk about our medicine cabinet and what supplements we each take. And I said, Well, I take one. And I said it's some zinc and magnesium that I take before I go to bed just because it helps me sleep better. That's the supplement. That's the one. And I live in a sunny area so I get plenty of vitamin D. If you're not in a sunny area or certain times of the year, you might need to supplement on that. If you are eating predominantly vegan or vegetarian, you might need B two. But you can do blood tests to know that stuff. The problem is that we have this industry that might not even be putting that stuff in the pill that we're taking. And the law that actually made this happen, you told me about it in the book, was the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act that came out in 1994.

[00:41:36.430] – Allan

And again, I want to go punch someone in the chest. Yeah.

[00:41:44.930] – Dr. Greger

Supplement industry is very powerful industry and people think of like Big Pharma. But actually Big Pharma owns many of the biggest supplement industries. So it actually is big pharma. And they got a law passed thanks to kind of duping people, and it'd be like, government is coming for your vitamin C. So we got to pass this law. So people have this incorrect belief that supplements must be approved for safety by some government agency like the FDA or something, before they're sold to the public, or the very least must have like a warning if there's some kind of side effects or something. And some even believe that supplements actually have to be shown to be effective at some level. None of that is true thanks to that law. So what that law did is it removed the burden of proof for quality control, basic quality control, safety efficacy from the submit manufacturer. So all of a sudden, it was great for the submen industry. They went from a $4 billion industry to like a $40 billion industry. Used to only be a few thousand products on the market. Now there's tens of thousands of products on the market, just absolutely skyrocketing.

[00:42:54.970] – Dr. Greger

But we don't have those standards. So you get some over the counter medication, for example. You like, buy some Tylenol or something. It actually must meet standards for safety efficacy, quality control. Meaning if it says it has this many milligrams, it has to have this many milligram, right? But dietary supplements, all dietary supplements are exempt. So it doesn't have to contain what it says on the label. It doesn't have to contain any of it. It contains something contaminants that aren't listed on the label, like house plants.

[00:43:26.430] – Allan


[00:43:28.930] – Dr. Greger

Actually. And this is right, this is not some just like, see me shady internet thing. They went into GNC. Walmart. This was a New York Attorney General. I mean, just like mainstream supplement and they just tested well, what's actually in these things, right? That was one of the things that came out, was just like house plants, just powdered house plants, like the cheapest possible filler they could think of and had nothing of the so called active ingredient. But then I talk about how, look, we hope it's just house plants because there's some really toxic contaminants, particularly in kind of erectile dysfunction and weight loss supplements often contain kind of these illicit hormones. Things have been banned for good reason, but just keep popping up on the shelves just because things are so poorly kind of enforced. And so now we have about estimates about 50,000 Americans every year are harmed by dietary supplements, usually kidney and liver damage. Now, look, you could say, look, Big Pharma doesn't just harm but kills over 100,000 people. Side effects of drugs. Absolutely true. So we absolutely have to make sure the pros outweigh the cause. Unfortunately, we can't do that with dietary supplements.

[00:44:39.910] – Dr. Greger

And so, look, if there is some supplement that you really want to make sure is what it actually is. There is a certification pathway, something called USP certification. It'll have a little USP seal. Now, that doesn't say it's good for you or it isn't bad for you, but it just verifies. That what says on the label is actually what is in the capsule. So you're actually getting what you're paying for. One of the supplements that I've been using on the road for jet lag, because I travel a lot, is melatonin. The problem is there's all these contaminants found in typical melatonin supplements. So actually go through a Canadian pharmacy, which isn't exactly legal, but very easy to do.

[00:45:21.160] – Allan

We won't.

[00:45:23.030] – Dr. Greger

So in Canada and in Europe, melatonin is sold kind of like prescription only. So it actually has to rise to all those standards, actually has to have what it says it has and not have contaminants in it. And so you can get kind of a prescription only melatonin. Any doctor should write you a prescription, but you have to get it from one of those places. But then at least you can get some contaminant free. So there's kind of a ways around it, but it's just so sad that the snake oil is still being sold and sometimes doesn't even have any snake.

[00:45:54.620] – Allan

In it at all. Right. But there's real food and most of this, what a concept. All of it you can typically get from whole food.

[00:46:05.650] – Dr. Greger

You're a radical, I tell you, man.

[00:46:07.800] – Allan

Look at this guy.

[00:46:09.510] – Dr. Greger

Wait a second. You mean we as a species survived before? There are pill bottles sitting on the shelf.

[00:46:15.200] – Allan

Yeah. There's no witch doctor giving me a.

[00:46:17.690] – Dr. Greger

Prescription for years without all our supplements.

[00:46:22.830] – Allan

Yeah. So if you feel like you need something, I mean, there are times you're going to need some vitamin D. And.

[00:46:28.330] – Dr. Greger

If you live in pregnant women, need to get folic acid. If you're an alcoholic, there are certainly scenarios in which supplementation with nutrients is useful. But buyer beware, unfortunately.

[00:46:44.610] – Allan

All right, Dr. Gregor, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay, you know, according to.

[00:46:57.200] – Dr. Greger

The Gold Burden Disease Study, again, largest study of disease risk factors in the world, funded by the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in these United States is the American diet. Bumping tobacco smoking to number two. Cigarettes not only kill about a half million Americans every year, whereas our diet kills many more. So the single most important decision we make three times a day is kind of what to put to the end of our fork. And so if there was just like the absolute simplest things, it'd be like if you could just add three foods to your diet and just remove three things from your diet. The three things I would add right off the bat beans, greens, berries. And the three things I would remove first, before anything else, are the trans fats these partially hydrogenated oils, processed meats like the bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, which cause colorectal cancer. And then number three, be liquid candy, the soda, sugar sweetened beverages. If we just get rid of those three, add the other three, you'd be a long way there. I mean, I really want to emphasize, yes, I get way into the weeds in this book, but it's simple, basic, common sense lifestyle factors can literally mean the difference of an extra decade to your life or not.

[00:48:06.960] – Dr. Greger

And what are we talking about? Regular exercise, not being obese, not smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables, like the basic, basic basics already right there. You got a decade, a whole extra healthy decade. Now, you want to tweak stuff? You want to push that a little farther, fine. I got a book, but it's important. And that's how I conclude the book is like, okay, let's take a step back. People. Don't get overwhelmed. Some really simple, important, basic stuff to nail first before worrying about all this other stuff.

[00:48:39.670] – Allan

And not only are you going to add a decade, it's going to be a better decade.

[00:48:43.180] – Dr. Greger


[00:48:44.470] – Allan

Doctor, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to learn more about you and learn more about your book, How Not to Age, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:48:54.330] – Dr. Greger

Send them to Nutritionfacts.org, where all my work is free and you can go to local public library and get the new book, which is out now, or your favorite bookseller. I don't get a penny from any of my books. All proceeds from the sales of all my books are all donated directly to charity. I just want you and your loved ones to enjoy the longest, healthiest life.

[00:49:17.120] – Allan

Thank you, Doctor. And thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness. Keep up the good work.

Post Show/Recap

[00:49:30.120] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:49:32.380] – Rachel

Hey, Allan.  There's a lot to unpack there. But first, I've got the 60 minutes of exercise. I drink a ton of coffee, and I love nuts. It's my favorite snack. So I'm basically immortal. At least today. That's right.

[00:49:48.890] – Allan

Nobody wants to see that. But no, I think the point being is that science can be very misleading if it has a bias. And you can't look at anything and not have a bias. It's built into the way your brain works. If at some point someone told you that milk was bad, you're going to have a hard time reading studies where it says milk is the best thing for you. It's a struggle. There are individuals that have read something in the past and that's just drilled into them.

[00:50:24.060] – Rachel

It's stuck, and it's stuck.

[00:50:25.760] – Allan

And so this is a book where because what he does over at his website, Nutritionfacts.org, is he does these quick little videos and he pulls up a study or he pulls up a concept, and he says, okay, so is red wine healthy for us. And he goes out and looks at all the studies, and some of it he sees it's like, okay, well, this was a rat study. I'm not a rat. Although some things we learn from rats are applicable, but not all. And so he says, okay. And then what you realize is, okay, the amount of wine that you would have to drink to have the same dose as this rat is 100 glasses of wine each night. Oh, dear. Probably not going to happen.

[00:51:10.580] – Rachel

Not good for you at that point.

[00:51:13.190] – Allan

And so there's those little bits. And so now what's happening is you have a supplement company that's selling a supplement that they say, this is equivalent of drinking 100 glasses of wine without the alcohol or all the delirious effects of having that much alcohol, and it might not even have that in it. Okay? Now studies, if they're doing a study, they do a little bit of quality assurance to make sure, okay, if I'm giving someone turmeric or cumin or something like that, I want to know what's in there. And so they do some work there. But supplements you might buy on the market may not be the same thing that you're seeing in that study because it's not sourced the same way. And that's why he was know, he sources some supplements outside the United States because he trusts the compounder, putting it together. But most of us, that's outside the realm of what we're capable of. Know, contracting with someone outside the United States to prepare a supplement for you. For most of us, we're just not going to do that. But he has a lot in this book about things that will age you.

[00:52:20.990] – Allan

And so at the beginning of the book, he starts out with the eleven pathways of aging, and he goes through those. And we talked a good bit about each one. And then in the end, he sort of did go through and say, what are the eight things that are practical, applicable? And I think he was kind of excited that when we got into the book and got into this conversation, that's where I tried to take the whole thing. You have to do a little bit of the work to understand, okay, when he's talking about AMPK or autophagy or mTOR oxidation, because when you're talking about these other foods and other things, these are the pathways that they affect, and in some cases more than one, because there's overlaps. And understanding how that works will kind of help you put this all together. And the basis of pretty much the whole book is if you're eating processed food, you're aging faster than the rest of us.

[00:53:11.520] – Rachel

That's a good point.

[00:53:12.700] – Allan

Yes, it's right there and there's no if, ands, or buts. It can say healthy on the label. It's aging you faster. It just is.

[00:53:23.430] – Rachel

Well, we absorb our nutrients better from the actual food itself. And not all these fortified items in boxes.

[00:53:31.080] – Allan

But even if we didn't even if we didn't, it's just the fact that there's a way that nutrition works on the way that we were adapted as animals through evolution. And it's literally we were not sitting there just eating one food all year round. We were eating a large variety of different foods because it's hard to fill up on blueberries. You're still going to eat as many blueberries you want, but you're going to want other foods, and if they're available, you're going to eat them.

[00:54:01.420] – Rachel

Well, that's the thing. It's about eating a diverse all the colors of the foods, like they say, all the leafy greens you talked about, big ass salads, which I'm sure is more than just spinach. And lettuce throw it all in there and just eat something different and unique every day as best you can to make sure that you're getting all these different nutrients.

[00:54:23.660] – Allan

Yeah. And that's really what it comes down to, is feeding your body good food, good movement, good rest, good sleep, good stress management. When you're doing these things, your body has these ways of protecting you, of healing you. And those things all the things being healthy helps you live longer. Go figure. And some of the stuff, when you look at the science, it's like, oh, well, actually, this is worse for you than what I thought the worst thing was. That doesn't mean go do the second worst thing. It just means that pay attention. You can sit there and well, you know, so what? I eat McDonald's every day. It's like, well, someone smokes two packs of cigarettes every day. So what? You're like, oh, that's terrible.

[00:55:16.550] – Rachel

Well, yeah, I suppose.

[00:55:20.550] – Allan

Well, of course McDonald's wants me to live. No, they want you to eat more McDonald's. They don't really care. They want you to eat more McDonald's. And that's their sole job. How can I get you to eat more? And that's what they do. They're not trying to kill you, but they're not trying to keep you alive, either. Yeah, that's not their.

[00:55:41.690] – Rachel

I just like we talk about all the time eating a wide variety of different foods, getting a number of different types of movement of exercise throughout the week, and just doing all the things that are important to maintaining our good health and fitness.

[00:55:57.320] – Allan

Yeah. Again, treat your body well, and it'll treat you well.

[00:56:01.270] – Rachel


[00:56:03.570] – Allan

All right, well, I will talk to you next week. Great.

[00:56:06.600] – Rachel

Take care, Ellen.

[00:56:07.490] – Allan

You too. Bye.

[00:56:08.460] – Rachel

Thank you.

Music by Dave Gerhart


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