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November 30, 2020

How to keep your health instincts from making you sick with Dr. Rob Barrett & Dr. Lou Francescutti

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Dr. Rob Barrett and Dr. Lou Franchetti are a Ph.D. from the world of social science and an M.D. from the world of medicine, they combined forces to bring this emerging human crisis to light. In their book, Hardwired: How Our Instincts to Be Healthy are Making Us Sick, they share fascinating facts and little told stories to weave together real life cases that describe how our ancient evolutionary drives are propelling us toward ill health and disease.


Let's Say Hello

[00:00:53.780] – Allan
Raz, how you doing?

[00:00:55.670] – Rachel
Good, Allan, how are you today?

[00:00:57.560] – Allan
I'm doing all right. We are we are doing the traveling around the country and we're just dodging left and right to try to avoid this covid thing. People around us are starting to get tested positive. And so far our testing has been negative. And I have a thermometer that I now carry around with me and we check our temperatures. And so, you know, trying to do the right responsible thing, wearing masks in public and doing those things.

[00:01:23.000] – Allan
You can have your position about all of that. But the reality of it is, do you really want to take your chances and get it?

[00:01:29.690] – Rachel

[00:01:30.500] – Allan
You know, if I got it, I would say, OK, I got it. And I'd hunker down somewhere for two weeks and then I'd say, OK, I'm probably going to be fine from here on out. But I know a lot of people don't have that. And if you're around someone who's ill, you really have to think about what your behavior is potentially doing to them.

[00:01:47.270] – Allan
My daughter staying with her mother this week because it's closer to her workplace and her mother got tested positive. So, you know, not that either I'm done anything wrong. It's just I got exposed in some way or another and now they have to deal with that. And now I have to somewhat deal with that and go get tested again just because of the exposure. So, be aware that that stuff's out there and it's going to get probably a lot worse before it gets better.

[00:02:17.510] – Allan
And even though there's vaccine coming out and the testing and things that'll have to go on with that, that's a ways off for all of us. It can seem kind of pretty exciting when they make an announcement like that, like, hey, we've got this thing. They don't have this thing that they have this this potential other thing that they have to start building and manufacturing and apparently keeping below a certain temperature, below freezing, which most freezers don't do today.

[00:02:44.000] – Allan
So there's a lot of logistics. A lot of things will have to go on before we can actually say we're out of the woods on this. So just be safe. And that's what I'm trying to do as we travel through the United States is, make sure that I'm staying safe, get myself tested when I can. And if I get exposed, then go get tested again. You know, that's going to be our life going forward for a little while.

[00:03:05.570] – Rachel
Yeah, I suspect that's the case for a lot of people. You know, Mike deals with this for work. Covid is an important part of his health and safety responsibilities for his work. So but we do see time and time again how mask wearing and hand washing has been, really helpful with keeping the count down. And I know the whole world is actually going through a whole new wave of it. And this one is going to be really hard, especially in places like where we live in Michigan, where it's going to be cold and we're going to spend a lot of time inside.

[00:03:35.810] – Rachel
But, again, if you just take a few of those extra steps and wear your mask and wash your hands, it really can do a lot to protect you. And like we've also talked about, Allan, being healthy, you know, just taking the extra step and taking care of your physical health will also be a huge part of the process of keeping you healthy in the long run.

[00:03:57.320] – Allan
Absolutely. Well, let's go ahead and jump into the interview then.


[00:04:31.490] – Allan
Dr. Rob, Dr. Lou, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:04:35.600] – Dr. Rob
Thanks for having us.

[00:04:37.510] – Allan
So the book is called HardWired: How Our Instincts to Be Healthy are Making Us Sick. And, one of the things I have to say about this book is it's very unusual that I will read a book and learn more than one or two things because it had so many guests on in health and fitness. And honestly, most books are just repeating something I've read somewhere else.

[00:05:00.610] – Allan
And occasionally someone will pop in with some new ideas, some new thing I've never heard. But I got to the first chapter and I'm like, oh wow, I didn't know that was that bad. And it's the next chapter. And like, hmm, that's very interesting I've never heard about those people before. And then the next one. Oh, so that's what was going on with me. It was just like every chapter I'm like just kind of a new thing in my head. And so really, really great book.

[00:05:26.240] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, thanks very much, part of that was was by design, we when Dr. Lou and I sat down and realized that we're both asking the same question, why do we do the things that we do but from different standpoints, Dr. Lou, being an E.R. physician. So he sees that in the medical world and me seeing that mostly in the social science world, when we started to look at the intersection of those two, we started to discover all of these amazing facts, as you say, and stories that can be told about how these things play upon each other and affect us in our everyday life.

[00:06:01.250] – Dr. Rob
So I'm glad you found that we were actually, as we as our journey was over many years writing this book, our journey was the same. We were shocked at how much our social world is now directing our health, our biological health as well. And that was that's one of the true takeaways of the book.

[00:06:21.640] – Dr. Lou
You know what, the aha moment for Rob and I when we were doing a previous interview was that humans, as well, designed as they are, are running on outdated software.

[00:06:34.180] – Dr. Lou
So the software we're running on served us well for the previous million years. But the fast-paced environment of today's world leaves our brain confused as to what to do. And Rob explains quite nicely that we have too much choice, too much choice in food, too much choice in social media, too much choice in everything. And with that choice comes the consequences of bad decisions that are driven by something that's hardwired into us. I mean, dopamine drives humans.

[00:07:07.240] – Dr. Lou
You get rewarded for water, you get rewarded for food. Finding water, finding food and having sex and having sex is the greatest dopamine release in your brain. And that's because humans want to be around for a long time. But if you have access to too much food, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we have to sort of ask ourselves, why is this obesity epidemic all over the world? It's not just in North America.

[00:07:34.390] – Dr. Lou
It's all over the world. And we really believe that we're not wired properly. And so what we need to do is patch our software to make sure we can live in these modern times.

[00:07:45.540] – Allan
Yeah, you know, one of the first things you got into in the book was, quite frankly, was terrifying. I worked in the oil and gas business and so we were safety, safety, safety. And, you know, we any anything that went wrong, like you just you took a step wrong, you know, walking up the steps. You were supposed to write up a paper of a near-miss. And, you know, so safety was just drilled into us. In fact, it was actually a part of our bonus. If we had safety events above a certain threshold, we didn't get that portion of our bonus, which made sometimes me question a lot of the reporting.

[00:08:21.750] – Allan
And as an auditor, that's, you know, part of what I was like, OK, how are we doing this? Right. What what astounded me was that the same problems I would see we were seeing in the oil field. With health and safety are happening in our hospitals, and I think the stat that kind of blew me away was 440000 deaths per year due to a mistake.

[00:08:48.620] – Dr. Lou
There was a study that came out of Hopkins that basically said hospital related injuries were the third leading cause. And it's not as if as a health care provider, I go to work wanting to hurt someone. But it's like you said, oil and gas are so far ahead and taking safety seriously that the health care industry, unfortunately, still doesn't believe this is a major problem.

[00:09:11.970] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, it's interesting, we put in some really interesting numbers around preventable error in hospitals and one of the kind of the little math stats that we put in there that was really fascinating for Dr. Lou and I, as well is if you look at comparing hospitals and modern hospital to, say, the Iraq surge in 2007. So we remember the Iraq surge was one hundred and sixty thousand troops that went to Iraq and they experienced a death rate of nine hundred and four servicemen and women. In that same year, 35.1 million people visited modern US hospital. And if you use that number of roughly four hundred thousand preventable errors and deaths, then really it was more dangerous to visit a modern U.S. hospital in that same year than it was to serve in Iraq during the deadliest year in Iraq.

[00:10:04.020] – Dr. Rob
That is just astounding. And now one in four people that visit a modern hospital are at risk of experiencing a preventable error in hospitals.

[00:10:15.180] – Allan
Now, part of the solution of this is obvious. Don't go to the hospital, but you need to go to the hospital. If you have an acute issue, if you're having a heart attack or a stroke or something like that, you absolutely need to quickly get to a hospital. What else can we do to help prevent us from being a part of that statistic?

[00:10:36.520] – Dr. Rob
Well, I mean, one of the things that we look at is why are these happening? What's the nature of these errors that are happening? And it's really not a lack of understanding of medicine anymore. Of course, there's always room for improvement there. The technological advances is really not that we don't have these available. Sure, there are some cognitive biases that play into diagnostic error, what have you. But really, these are non-technical errors, non-technical errors and what we've learned a lot.

[00:11:07.090] – Dr. Rob
And we use we use the comparison in the book as well as aviation safety. Aviation, the same thing, same thing. They looked at these aircraft that are so sophisticated now that really the types of errors that we're seeing are of a non-technical nature. And that's the area that's the main domain that we need to improve upon. But as the book suggests, our hard wired parts of ourselves mean that we're very social creatures. And that means that we have to dance and play around in groups, even in very serious settings like the hospital as well.

[00:11:40.510] – Dr. Rob
And some of that group dynamic and that interplay, that psychology of being part of the group. Some of the hierarchies that are built into the hospital system mean that it's sometimes difficult for us to communicate effectively. So there's leadership issues, there's communication issues. And Dr. Lou sees that a lot more than than I do, obviously, on a day to day basis in the in the hospital environment.

[00:12:05.170] – Dr. Lou
Allan, in emergency department, there's three documented biases that emergency physicians have that lead to error, and that leads us into a similar situation in industry condition known as procedural, intentional noncompliance so that people do bad things knowing they're doing bad things.

[00:12:27.460] – Dr. Lou
And so you have to try and figure out, well, why would somebody take a shortcut when they know they shouldn't be taking a shortcut? Well, if it's the end of an eight hour shift, then they're exhausted and they just want to get out of there. They'll come up with a diagnosis and confirm in their mind that that's the right diagnosis. When if that patient had been seen at the beginning of the shift, maybe that wouldn't have happened.

[00:12:52.000] – Dr. Lou
There was really good study done out of the UK where they had staff wear red badges and green badges and their red badges were people that were fatigued and the green badges were people that were fresh. And the patients had a choice of who they wanted to take care of them. And they always chose the person that had the more sleep and that was relaxed. So when you said, what can people do? First thing is make sure your health care provider washes their hand right in front of you before they touch you.

[00:13:20.050] – Dr. Lou
And if they refuse to, then don't allow them to touch you. Raise a stink. And the other thing is ask them how long they've been up and if they've been up, you know, for a 36 hour shift and they're proud of it, ask for another health care provider. Two simple things. And bring an advocate for yourself as well. You know, you need someone that's going to help you advocate through the system. And unfortunately, if seniors go into health care facilities, which they're more prone to, most of the time they're still, a little maybe too respectful of the health care profession. And don't question what's going on.

[00:13:54.310] – Dr. Lou
Well, we know that Institute of Medicine study done in the States showed that 35 percent of all health care dollars spent in the US are totally wasted, totally wasted. So there's more than enough money in the system to develop a better system. But like you said earlier, and the ideal thing I always say is we should try and get rid of the patient so you don't have to use health care in the first place.

[00:14:16.870] – Allan
Yeah. So avoid the hospital when it's appropriate by staying healthy by a lot of things we're going to talk about here is if you keep yourself healthy, you're in the hospital less. And if you're in the hospital less then you don't have to worry about it as much. But then when you are advocate for yourself, ask those questions.

[00:14:32.810] – Allan
I got what I like. So I was just shocked that there was there was not a check balance or something to say that they had to wash their hands between seeing patients. I just, I don't know. You assume some of these things are just going to happen, because if anyone knows what they're doing, it's the guy that's walking in there with the white coat. But we need to ask more questions. We need to we need to be on the medical team with the doctor.

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[00:16:22.880] – Allan
I don't think anyone right now doesn't know that willpower is a finite resource, and if we get fatigued, sometimes willpower just gets weaker. That's why it's easier to eat ice cream after dinner than it is. You would not necessarily eat it for breakfast because you know better.

[00:16:40.220] – Allan
But you talk about actually taking some of these tactical indulgences. And as I was talking to a client today and he said he just he just loves candy corn and he's lost 150 pounds and he's like, but I love candy corn. So this time of year when it rolls around, I'm going to buy myself a small bag of candy corn. And he says that keeps him on track for a whole quarter. And he says then he knows around Thanksgiving, Christmas, he'll give himself another little treat.

[00:17:07.640] – Allan
Can you just talk about why tactical indulgences are a great way to bolster our willpower or at least help us through those times?

[00:17:15.770] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, for sure. Well, if we start with the idea that, we do have this hard wiring. So if we're stuck with this hardwiring for now, that means we have this reward system in our brain that's constantly turned on. It's constantly wanting reward all the time. So we can either try to fight it or we can try to we can try to work with it somehow. And if you're trying to fight it, you end up, this idea of building resilience all the time doesn't necessarily work.

[00:17:41.360] – Dr. Rob
It becomes more and more difficult. So the idea of these tactical indulgences means that you are allowing yourself to feed the reward center of your brain, but in more perhaps and more positive, ideally in more positive ways as well, taking a little breaks. So willpower is almost like the gas in your car. You can run out of it, you can burn through it and run out of it. You have to keep adding it. You have to keep replenishing it as well.

[00:18:06.620] – Dr. Rob
So there was a great experiment that illustrates this, and it was the cookie and radish experiment. And what they did was they had people have either some cookies or some radishes in a control group, and then they had to do some math problems afterwards, some really challenging math problems. And they found that the ones that had the cookies did a lot better and they were able to last a lot longer with the math test. And that's because they were able to free up some of that willpower by this some small indulgence that allowed them to not have to sort of double up on their willpower. Like, eat these radishes while other people are having cookies and then go into this tough math experiment.

[00:18:44.450] – Dr. Rob
And that was kind of a doubling up of willpower. So we have to be able to allow ourselves and this flexibility to have these small indulgences. And we've we see that even in athletes. And that we we talk about that in the book. And this is very fitting for the theme today as well. So in elite athletics, obviously, athletes are extremely disciplined. They are among the most disciplined people on the planet to be able to get through these excruciating workouts.

[00:19:15.470] – Dr. Rob
But between those workouts, they allow themselves downtime and they maybe have a race and then they watch a corny movie. They eat some indulgent food. They allow their their brains and their bodies to be able to have this tactical break before they have to start again. And that allows them to refresh the system, to add that willpower back into the gas tank. So it's a very, very powerful tool. And it's one that that a lot of people don't necessarily understand how to use. And if we are truly hardwired, we have to work with that reward system. We can't work against it.

[00:19:51.770] – Allan
It's interesting you said that because with the covid pandemic, everything that's going on, a lot of football games in the pros are getting shifted around. And so, it's interesting that we're interviewing this guy and said, you were supposed to have a game and then you didn't have a game. And now it's been 16 days since you having a game. What did you do? And he said, I sat with my wife and watched a movie and had some wine, like that was something he would never have done during the season. But because he had that break, he just used that opportunity to basically have an indulgence.

[00:20:25.130] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And it's really, really important. And we so we see that in top performers all the time. I've talked to people who are executives as well. Maybe some of your listeners relate to this where they are. They have to be on all the time. They have to be on their game. And then they go and travel, you know, on an aircraft somewhere, maybe overseas. And that that break to be able to sit down, put on the headphones, watch a crazy movie just to relax.

[00:20:52.340] – Dr. Rob
And they say that it almost resets them. It's that refreshing way of resetting your brain and then you can go back to your A-game again afterward. So these are these are feeding our reward system. It's the same dopamine pathways that we're feeding, but we're trying to feed them in more positive and conscientious ways.

[00:21:13.230] – Dr. Lou
Allan, sort of related to that is people don't appreciate the importance of volunteering. So volunteering your time releases something within you and people that volunteer are, it's estimated, 40% happier than people that don't volunteer. So your listeners, if they're not currently volunteering right now, they should try it and see if it makes a difference in their lives. I mean, happiness is 50% genetic. You either have it or you don't. 10% of it comes from having more money. But we know that 40% of it comes from volunteering and strong social support network. So people should not underestimate the power of volunteering.

[00:21:59.060] – Allan
Yeah, and that rolls right into the Rosetto Effect. This was fascinating. I guess. Rosetto was a town in Italy and especially long-lived folks, and they moved to like it was Pennsylvania. Right. And they set up another town called Rosetto. And it was all these people were immigrants coming over and staying in that one town. And they didn't have heart disease. And it was fascinating. And they started studying them. And then two generations later, all that's gone. And you calling that the Rosetta Effect, could you talk a little bit about that?

[00:22:34.160] – Dr. Rob
Sure. I mean, Dr. Lou may want to talk about the clinical side of that, but what I think what to start off, it's very interesting case because, yes, the population, despite their lifestyles, first of all, they worked. They were hard working. They lived and worked in mines that worked in mines they didn't have especially great diets. They drank gallons of wine. They so the typical behaviors that you might associate with having a fantastic cardiovascular system weren't necessarily there.

[00:23:10.010] – Dr. Rob
But yet they were noticing that they were lacking a lot of coronary artery disease or coronary diseases. So they wanted to look into the effect of that. And the traditional medical analysis of them wasn't necessarily yielding an answer. So they had to look at other areas. And one of the most fascinating and seemed like the determinant factor was the sense of community that they had. So Dr. Lou mentioned volunteering, and it's that social support, that network that seems to be absolutely critical to our health.

[00:23:43.280] – Dr. Rob
And we know that intuitively. If you feel that, you know, your family or your friends have your back, you sense that, that if you were to fall on hard times or whatever you need to pick up the phone and call them that they would be there to help you in a second. That intuitively feels good. It's a stress lowering mechanism in your life. And so that was one of the most fundamental findings of that.

[00:24:11.030] – Dr. Rob
And it's a great case for the book as well, because it does illustrate that nexus or that point between our biological medical selves and our in our social world and how our social world is so very important.

[00:24:26.420] – Dr. Lou
Tying into Rob's comments, that's why the UK has a Minister of Loneliness, that's why the United Arab Emirates as a Minister of Happiness, because the literature is now starting to show us that loneliness is worse for your heart health than smoking. That's pretty powerful when you stop and you say that somebody's loneliness is worse for your health than smoking. And so, volunteering is part of a strong social support network as part of it. And this all ties in with the increase in suicide rates that we're seeing as well. That ties in with a lot of social media factors that hopefully we'll talk about. But, you should be saying to yourself, come on, guys, you're trying to tell me that loneliness and volunteering are these are such basic things that don't cost anything. You're absolutely right. They don't cost anything. But the impact they have on you is phenomenal.

[00:25:22.370] – Allan
I think I read in your book it said that loneliness actually changes the shape of your heart. The left ventricle.

[00:25:31.830] – Dr. Rob
Yeah. We do talk in the book about the changes in our body. There's one that is a an effect almost like the broken heart effect and that is a that's a clinical presentation. And Dr. Lou may know a bit more about it, but it's a clinical presentation which is like having a heart attack. And that can happen in times of a very high acute stress. We see it they call it a broken heart effect because you see it oftentimes with the death of a spouse, you're going through that that that horrible grief that is so very stressful for you.

[00:26:11.240] – Dr. Rob
And that can actually play out in the actual way that you're that your heart is working. And the the the the widow and widower effect is very real, where the risk of dying after the death of a of a long time spouse is very high within the first year or two, much higher than the general population as well.

[00:26:36.120] – Allan
Now, I told you I had worked in the oil and gas field, and as you might imagine, when that when the market's good, everything's great, and when the market's bad, everything's really bad. And so I went through about three years of just continuous layoffs until finally my name was on the paper with along with everybody else. It turned out to be a blessing because I said I was I'm not definitely not going back to that kind of lifestyle.

[00:27:05.670] – Allan
You brought up something called allostatic load, which is basically, I guess, an accumulation of stress. And I have to believe that was my problem because I got to a point where everything hurt. Everything just bothered me.

[00:27:20.610] – Allan
I really felt like I had no resilience to stress and I really feel like that's what it was. Yeah. Can you talk about allostatic load and what causes it and what we can do about it?

[00:27:33.250] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, yeah, so we talk about allostatic load and allostasis, we're talking about the cumulative stresses that impact us on a day to day basis and chronically as well as you say, it's that it's the idea of that wear and tear that happens on the body over time with all of those stressors that can be psychological, it can be social, and it can be physical as well. Doing night shifts and all this kind of stuff all adds to this sort of wear and tear. So we want to be able to manage that, of course. And if we go to we obviously we start to venture too far into the stress side of that of a so-called bell curve. If we if the middle is the optimum, then then we're constantly living with stress. It's a chronic stress condition and that will obviously bring us down over time.

[00:28:20.500] – Dr. Rob
And the same thing, if we're under stress as well, that that can be a challenge, a different type of challenge. But we want to kind of stay in the middle and really we talk about having almost like a flow state. You're staying right in the middle. You're on your game. You're optimum. But your body and your brain are essentially evolved to be able to manage this type of stress.

[00:28:42.950] – Dr. Rob
And what we're seeing and we talk about in the book, Hardwired, is that we are in a super saturated ecosystem, essentially, that is creating so much stress that we're having a very difficult time staying in that happy place right in the middle, that optimum. And so now we're walking around with all of this weight of the world, stress on our shoulders, and it's having a real health effect in terms of our actual physical health as well.

[00:29:09.700] – Dr. Rob
And Dr. Lou probably sees that that all the time in terms of stress in the clinical environment.

[00:29:15.560] – Dr. Lou
Yeah, let me let me just add onto that and back up a little bit, so if that stress is present in a pregnant female, that stress actually has an impact on the fetus, so much so that it can change the genetic structure of that if that fetus it's called epigenesis and so that in combination with adverse childhood events. So that's child abuse, child neglect, child malnutrition will stick with an individual and manifests itself later in life with increased cancer rates, increased diabetes rates, increased asthma rates, increased obesity rates.

[00:29:52.550] – Dr. Lou
Just about every chronic disease can be linked back to adverse childhood events. And the stress, especially in a pregnant female, is directly transferred to the fetus. So, you know, as far as I'm concerned, the most important members of our society are obviously pregnant females and kids. You know, in the first 18 months of life, what happens to a child in the first 18 months of life regarding adverse childhood events is going to be with them for the rest of their lives.

[00:30:22.280] – Dr. Lou
Some of your listeners may wonder, why am I still behind the eight ball? Well, you know, if you were to go and do a little bit of a forensic analysis of your upbringing, a lot of the reasons why you are who you are today, can go right back to when you were in your mom's uterus.A

[00:30:43.100] – Allan
lot of people and I fit this list at one point I've tried to move away from it. I don't carry my phone with me unless I have to. So right now, I'm recording this in a spare bedroom and my phone is in the living room. And my wife, she couldn't stand that. If her phone was in the living room, she's in the living room. And because she uses the video games and the social media almost, she feels like a stress release for me. It's the exact opposite. I feel stress every time I get on social media.

[00:31:17.330] – Allan
But you brought up the term called Nomeophobia. First time I'm hearing that word. Can you explain nomophobia and then kind of why? You know, obviously we didn't have social media when we were designed. And it's a new thing, a really new thing. I know some folks out there might not realize it, but we were all born. If you're over 40, social media didn't exist when we were born. Kids are being born into it now, where there are on social media playing these video games before they really even look like they should be able to hold a phone.

[00:31:50.030] – Allan
Can you talk about this? Because this is this is actually, I think, becoming this is going to be big. This is this might be, in my opinion, going forward, one of the biggest health risks that we have in front of us.

[00:32:00.560] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, nomophobia is is it kind of fun word, but it's basically a fear of being without your phone. It's that panic. Where's my phone? And you're padding your pockets and you're looking for your phone and you know, so but is that fear of being with or without it? It's not it's not necessarily a fear of losing it, it's a fear of not checking it all the time. So so it's funny, the spouse thing, there's about 20% of the population would rather not see their spouse for a week, then go without their phone for a week. That's a sad statistic.

[00:32:33.000] – Allan
It is.

[00:32:34.100] – Dr. Rob
Yeah. And about 90% of the people out there will check their phone and look at their phone before bed. And there's all sorts of, you know, things that happen in your brain with a light that comes off the phone that, the blue light that affects you with melatonin. But really, it has to do with the social side. And it's that ability to not disconnect yourself from what's happening on the phone, the content on the phone as well.

[00:32:56.390] – Dr. Rob
So we especially see this in young people. So about 90% of them sleep with their phone like right beside them in bed. And about one in five people will, especially younger people, will wake up in the night to check their social media because it's so arousing for them to do that. So there's a couple of things. One is that, as are our brains, get a very positive reward from looking at our phone.

[00:33:21.770] – Dr. Rob
So we get this, as Dr. Lou had mentioned, this dopamine reward center in our brain. It lights up when we look at our phone. Every time you pull your phone in your pocket, you look at you're getting hit of dopamine. There's other things that they've come out with some of the research too. So oxytocin, which is the cuddle hormone, the love hormone that you would have between a mother and a baby, between a couple that have been together in a long, loving relationship, that that oxytocin, the feel good hormone is also released as well.

[00:33:51.950] – Dr. Rob
But we also know that very heavy social media users also have higher rates of depression. So you have this sort of positive thing that's happening. But in the long run, in the big picture, it's quite a negative one. And a lot of that, again, has to do with the hardwired part of our brain. That has to do with us being in groups and wanting that social reward. So, we're social creatures, we want that social reward to happen. And so all of these likes and everything else that we get on social media stimulate our our brain. And we can't get away from it. We can't get away from it.

[00:34:28.810] – Dr. Rob
But at the same time, a lot of times social comparison in itself doesn't make us feel great. We compare ourselves to others. And it's sort of that, you know, comparing yourself to the Joneses sort of thing, the neighbors. And when you compare yourself, you can't help but look at the things that are in social media that you might not have, that you wish you had. And a lot of times it makes us feel a little bit negative about ourselves.

[00:34:56.140] – Dr. Rob
Dr. Lou talks about that all the time, about how that, you know, that that the ability to appreciate yourself and that self-love is still very important.

[00:35:05.480] – Dr. Lou
It's a matter of then coming and doing a reality check so you can create whatever persona you want online. It's very simple to do right. So what you do is you create this image of yourself and your family and your life. But reality is that's not what it's like. And the reason you do that, as Rob said, is you want to belong to part of a group. Right. That's how we've survived as a species for so long. And so when you get the like, you get the dopamine hit. When you get, you know, people retweeting you, you get the dopamine hit.

[00:35:34.520] – Dr. Lou
But, you know, it also brings out the worst in us. All you have to do is take a look at Twitter and sometimes what happens with Twitter. And it's like people check their filters at the door. And if it's on your mind and you should have slept on it and you don't and you tweeted and you can't pull it back. And so that just perpetuates a cascade of things. And for our young adolescents, belonging is so important. That's why they constantly feel that they need to be present, because if somebody makes a comment and they don't respond, then everyone else seems to gang up on them.

[00:36:09.560] – Dr. Lou
And I don't think it's a coincidence that suicide rates amongst our adolescents have shot up by 35% in the last little while. I see kids in our emergency department on a regular basis that are self-mutilating and attempting suicide that I've never seen before. I teach at the university and whenever they pool or university students, suicide is on their on their mind. Mental illness is on their mind.

[00:36:35.750] – Dr. Lou
We're raising a generation that's not going to live as long as we did. That's the first time in history that we're losing traction. And part of it is the opioid crisis. And so you start taking all these things together. And I think the book is a wake up call to everybody, to our politicians, to our policy makers, to our teachers, to our doctors, to our podcasters, to our influencers. We've got to sort of put things on hold for a second and say, hey, wait, it's not as if we don't have enough money and we're not spending enough money, but we're just not doing it so that everyone benefits from it.

[00:37:13.610] – Allan
At one point in time when I got Facebook, I was like, I'm only going to have people on Facebook that I really know. And I would go through a process about once a year if I had more than 150. And I think that actually it was ironic that that's also the number you said we have connections in our lives, about 150 real connections. And so if the number got over 150. Being a numbers guy, being an auditor, an accountant, I love even numbers like a 50 or two hundred or whatever. So I was at that 150 number and I pare back down and pare back down and it would get harder as I went along and then, OK, maybe I can let it go up to 200.

[00:37:53.210] – Allan
I might have three hundred and fifty Facebook friends right now. And I bought an application that that takes all the political posts and hides them. It takes all of the fluff stuff and just hides it. And any word I want to put in there. So if I just decided for a day I didn't want to see anything about covid, I could hide it and I wouldn't even see it. It puts my timeline in order. So it's not Facebook playing that algorithm to dance in my head. It's in the order it was posted. And I can go back to the last post I saw and know that I've seen my whole feed and there's no reason for me to be on Facebook anymore because I've seen everything that's there.

[00:38:31.610] – Allan
Then I put the phone down. I don't let Facebook send me any other videos or other things they think I want to see because they're playing into this whole dopamine, get you on there, keep you on there, and then just keep feeding you the content. It's a formula and they've got it down really, really good.

[00:38:48.140] – Dr. Rob
Yeah, absolutely. The other thing that happens, too, is we especially with the 24/7 news cycle and obviously the political, you know, conflict on both sides of the fence there. And we get caught in this sort of fight or flight response all the time. We're always whenever we pull our phone out, we're looking at the news. It's activating that part of the brain that is really stuck in almost that very prehistoric evolutionary fight or flight stage.

[00:39:16.130] – Dr. Rob
And there's all sorts of chemistry in our body that then gets affected by fight or flight. The cortisol levels and everything else is, you know, we're bathed in this and that is very detrimental to our health and our fitness and everything else in our routine. And then in the young people, too, if they're stuck in fight or flight, either because of screen time or because they're getting caught up in some of the political drama and they're confused and afraid about the world, then everything starts to become a threat and they lose that ability to sit back and use that sort of executive function of the brain and say, hey, I can filter this and I can make sense of it in a more rational way.

[00:39:59.150] – Dr. Rob
They get stuck in that fight or flight. And what you end up happening is they start to become. Hyper-reactive to the world around them, and if you're hyper-reactive, then once again, you get on social media and you see the back and forth of the arguments going on in social media. And you start to become very reactive to that and you start to take a side and you start to get involved in that.

[00:40:22.180] – Dr. Rob
So it's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. This this fight or flight is very difficult to get out of. And so, as Dr. Lou said, the generation that is now coming up, the young adolescents, the kids, the adolescents and the emerging adults, the ones that are the college and university age. Those are the ones we're seeing the effects of this now that we're talking about in the book.

[00:40:50.140] – Allan
Yeah, but I would say it's even happening for people over 40. I'm seeing it more and more and just the people I interact with, something will blow up and that's not who this person is. I was sitting with them at a restaurant and we were having dinner. That's not something they would say. But something here is driving them to an extreme behavior. And again, it's the stress of the whole thing. They want to be right. I guess they want to be right. But it just that blow up and it's really kind of bizarre to see that kind of behavior in someone who wasn't on social media 15 years ago.

[00:41:27.880] – Dr. Lou
Yeah. So one of the things that I would suggest for your listeners is that they become familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence so that they have a really good understanding of their emotional intelligence. And there's plenty of good books out there that you can buy and do this assessment and get a printout of what your emotional intelligence is like. And then the next most important tool that they need to have in practice and get good at is the art of having a crucial conversation.

[00:41:57.700] – Dr. Lou
Most people don't know how to have a crucial conversation. And unless you can get a really good check on your emotional intelligence so that you know, when you're about to enter a crucial conversation, otherwise you'll end up with road rage. Like road rage is a perfect example of emotional intelligence gone wild and inability to have a crucial conversation. Because once you get into that situation, it's like Rob said, humans will do three things. You'll either freeze and try and camouflage and blend into your surroundings. You'll turn and run or the hair on your back is going to go up and you're in a full fight mode.

[00:42:39.490] – Dr. Lou
And I see this every shift in emergency, somebody gets their face punched out because they looked at somebody the wrong way or said the wrong thing. And it's pretty frightening. Good advice I can give your listeners as you're driving and somebody cuts you off, lay off the horn, ignore them. You don't know what's going on in that individual's life. You don't know what happened to that woman that day.

[00:43:02.260] – Dr. Lou
You don't know what happened and you don't know what they're on. You know, with this opioid and meth epidemic that's out there, somebody will kill you just for the sake of killing you. So I don't want to frighten people, but just have a really good check on your emotional intelligence. And if you do get into a conversation where you sense it's not going to be a good one, just say, hey, listen, we're about to have a crucial conversation and let's follow these certain rules.

[00:43:31.180] – Allan
Absolutely. I appreciate that,

[00:43:33.550] – Allan
Dr. Lou. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:43:43.120] – Dr. Lou
Well, it all depends. So most of your listeners probably are at the advantage that they have a roof over their head, they have some sort of income, and they have the ability to want to get better. I would say the first advantage would be let's make sure everyone has a roof over their head. Let's make sure everyone gets as educated as they can so that they can find a good job, keep a good job, find a good mate and create a nice, strong family that's healthy for you.

[00:44:12.190] – Dr. Lou
The other thing is we have to understand that we're in far more control than what we think we are. And I think the last one and Rob can remindthem, I think the last one is to just understand that we're running on outdated software. And that's why life is so difficult for all of us. And, the sooner we understand that we have to work even harder at it and develop our own strategies and our own sort of patches to make sure that software is operating in the twenty-first century and not to be afraid of saying I'm lonely, things aren't working, I'm not happy, I need help.

[00:44:47.920] – Dr. Lou
That's the first sign of getting better is saying that you want to get help and stop comparing yourself to others because you'll always find someone that's worse and you'll always find someone that's better.

[00:44:58.330] – Allan
Thank you,

[00:44:59.530] – Allan
Dr. Rob, I'll ask you the same question I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:45:10.020] – Dr. Rob
All right, I'll just build off of what Dr. Lou was saying there. I think that we talk about in the book is and I think the book's purpose, really, as Dr. Lou was saying, is a great word, is a wake up call. Really, it starts with with understanding. So it's understanding ourselves and our bodies. And that's always what we want to do in fitness and health, is that how do how does my body work? How do I get better at everything?

[00:45:31.500] – Dr. Rob
So really, this book is about understanding. It's like a health enlightenment, really. So we talk about the whys. So Dr. Lou's always said, you know, why, why? Why can't I get healthy, why can't I lose weight or why can't I stick to this diet that I'm supposed to be? And, you know, as a doctor, he gets those questions all the time. And really this book is to try to help you understand the whys.

[00:45:52.830] – Dr. Rob
And you've mentioned it right off the bat, that this you know, there's some really interesting facts and figures and understanding yourself. I think that's the first thing is understanding ourselves. And we do that in health and we do that in fitness right off the bat, that the next thing I think is really understanding what parts of us are hardwired in. What what what does that software, Dr. Lou was saying that we're running on, that we need to respect, that we need to understand. And knowing that, for example, the reward system in our brain, how that reward system works. Can we, as we talked about, feed that in more positive ways that frees up some of that capacity that we have to be able to live a healthier life and not get dragged down. And I think the final thing we've touched upon it is real social connection. That is the potentially the the biggest thing that can change your life today almost immediately is having real human connection.

[00:46:52.770] – Dr. Rob
I know it's tough and covid, but that means, you know, having a kind of connection with immediate family, those who you see every day, spending more time with them, walking in nature with them, having more quality time with them, and not just typing on phones in terms of how you communicate with others, but having real face to face conversations with them as much as you can. That social connection bit, and Dr. Lou mentioned it to the loneliness aspect, is probably one of the biggest takeaways from the book.

[00:47:22.140] – Dr. Rob
It not only gives you good health, it gives you happiness as well. So one of the longest studies in the world out of Harvard University, which they started in the 1930s when they looked at, in this case, it was men over the course of their lives, those from fairly privileged backgrounds and know from and those from less privileged backgrounds. They found that at the end of their life course, they essentially said, it wasn't the money that made the big difference. It wasn't the great job that that that was that made the big difference in my life in terms of happiness, even though they thought that was going to make them happy. It was the social connections and the strong social networks that really, really mattered. And those that had the strongest social networks had the greatest health biometrics when they tested them.

[00:48:07.230] – Dr. Lou
One thing that listeners should understand is that you're given two ears and one mouth. So you should always be listening twice as much as you're speaking. And that's a very hard thing for most of us to do. But if you want to connect socially with others, you have to become a really good listener, like a really good listener. And the best way to do that is to repeat what you heard back to the individual so that they understand you're really listening. And the other advice is St. Francis of Assisi said use words, but only if necessary. So in other words, don't yap too much.

[00:48:42.360] – Allan
There you go.

[00:48:42.900] – Allan
Thank you for that, Dr. Rob. Dr. Lou, if someone wanted to learn more about the book, Hardwired or anything else that you guys are doing, what would you like for me to send them?

[00:48:54.660] – Dr. Rob
We each have websites. So, my website is DrRobertBarrett.com And Dr. Lou's is drlou.ca.

[00:49:13.140] – Allan
Excellent. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/462 and I'll be sure to have links there. So Dr. Lou, Dr. Rob, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:49:24.690] – Dr. Lou
My pleasure.

[00:49:25.200] – Dr. Rob

Post Show/Recap

[00:49:32.080] – Allan
Well, welcome back, Raz.

[00:49:34.180] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. Wow! That was a lot of information in that interview

[00:49:39.760] – Allan
We jumped around and the book is really good because it has a lot more than I was ever able to cover in any kind of podcast. But there were those few highlights where I was like, I need to get into this. I think I mentioned during the interview it's just like every chapter running into something I'd never read before. Stats, I didn't know.

[00:50:02.230] – Allan
Don't go to the hospital, find ways to avoid being hospitalized. Work on yourself because being hospitalized increases your risk of death. Significantly. Which I was just, again, shocked and appalled a little bit. But, it is what it is just, now we know advocate for yourself and try not to go to the hospital if you can avoid it.

[00:50:26.650] – Allan
And I don't mean to not do something that you need to get done to prolong your life or to improve your life. But just realize that you're taking a risk and you have to be proactive as a participant in your health care.

[00:50:40.630] – Rachel
Mm hmm. Yeah Going under the knife is not an easy decision. But, we've always heard my mom's a nurse, so we have a lot of health professionals in my family. And that's always the last thing. That's what the doctor tells you. Going under the knife is always the last thing. And so if there's anything we can do to prolong that or change our lifestyle or nutrition or whatever, that might help keep you out of the hospital.

[00:51:04.330] – Allan
Absolutely. And then I think one of the other cool things that I got into there and, I do this because I do seasonal ketosis, but they called it, what was it?

[00:51:15.070] – Rachel
Tactical indulgences.

[00:51:16.000] – Allan
Tactical indulgencies. Yeah. It makes sense. And I have a lot of clients that talk about that. And, you know, with seasonal ketosis, I have a period of time when I'm allowed to go do the things I like to do. I have some beer, enjoying myself, watching, you know, football, that kind of thing. But I do make sure they're good beers, you know?

[00:51:36.670] – Rachel
Make it worthwhile.

[00:51:37.630] – Allan
It's worthwhile. Right. I'm not just going to sit there and throw down with a national light beer brand, pick your pick poison. But I'm going to go have a nice IPA. I'm going to find a local brew and I'm traveling, that kind of thing. But it is a tactical indulgence. It's a period of time. I know when I'm doing it and I know when I go back that I'm back to who I was and who I am.

[00:52:01.420] – Allan
That's the thing. So, you know, a lot of that is about knowing yourself. And that's why I don't just do it for one meal or one day. I make it a period of time, that's a set period of time because I'm an all or nothing kind of person. I'm not going to have the capacity to sit there and say I'm going to have two beers and then be done. I'm going to have beers till you know, we're done doing what we're doing, so it's a football game. I'm just going to sit there and enjoy myself not driving afterwards so boom, have some fun. I think I think that's a really cool concept to think about in as far as your self-awareness is how do I react to certain things and do I need that reward?

[00:52:42.940] – Allan
I have some clients and they've told me it's like every once in a while they want to do that thing. And I think that's cool, especially when you compare that with the Rosetto Effect, which is spending time with each other. And it's one of the examples I use quite often is, if your significant other invited you to Hawaii, you're going to have a Mai Tai. You're going to eat the pineapple, even if you're keto. You're going to enjoy those things and you should, because that's a part of putting joy into your life. And that's a big, big part of long of longevity. And that's how when I say I'm defining wellness, I include that. I probably should have used the word joy instead of happiness. But to me, they're somewhat synonymous. If you have enough happiness, I think it's called joy.

[00:53:31.110] – Allan
I think that's the key, surrounding yourself with people that you care about, having a purpose and spending time with people because, we're social animals. You need that social, and I've said this before. I hate that they use the term social distancing because that's not what we need to be doing. We need social adherence. We need to be close to each other socially. Now, we might need to physically distance, which is the case if I'm testing positive, I'm not going to subject someone to covid just to be close to them, but I am going to physically distance.

[00:54:09.600] – Rachel
Mm hmm.

[00:54:14.730] – Allan
It's really, really important when you're looking at wellness

[00:54:17.250] – Rachel
For sure, they mentioned the Rosetto Effect and having the social support group and how that is so critical for somebody's happiness. And that's really hard right now with covid. And a lot of places throughout the year have had to quarantine. We had to shelter in place in Michigan where a lot of states did. It's hard. And even now, getting outside with normal groups is really difficult and limited. It's hard.

[00:54:46.200] – Allan
It is hard. It is hard. We talked about social media on the show. Social media is not necessarily the answer to being socially connected. I think it can be as simple as picking up the phone. You know, Zoom is an excellent tool. We're using it for this interview or this discussion. So I can see Rachel right now. We're right here. And even though I guess we're probably driving distances, we're recording this about a little over two hours away. You know, we can have this kind of conversation and we could have this conversation even if I were still in Panama. So I think that's what makes this technology pretty powerful, is you can still visually connect with someone. You still be engaged with someone, and you don't have to necessarily physically be in the same room with them. So we do have that. But, you know, when you can call your mom, visit your mom, you know, go see your dad, spend some time with them, have a beer with them if it's a tactical indulgence.

[00:55:47.772] – Rachel
Yep. Yeah, we've done a lot of that this summer, actually, since the weather's been so nice, we've been able to organize activities outside. So we'll sit out on the back patio at my parents or my in-laws house and just spend time and it's it's safer outside. You can social distance easily. And the weather's been great for that, although it's going to be much harder to do the same thing this winter when it's going to be as cold as it gets up here in Michigan. Not quite the same.

[00:56:17.310] – Allan
I don't understand why you moved that far north.

[00:56:20.730] – Rachel
I miss Florida sometimes. Let me tell you it mostly in the winter. But Zoom is the next best thing. And that's how we're going to have our Thanksgiving. It's how we're going to have Christmas. And our birthdays have been consumed this year and it's the next best thing.

[00:56:36.750] – Allan
Yeah. Well hopefully again they've got the vaccine together and they're working on that and you know, provided it doesn't turn into the movie Legend, you know, super zombies running around everywhere because they've got the innoculation. Hopefully all that will start to work out and buy, you know, particularly by this time next year covid will be somewhat of a memory. But still one. So, you know, I'm not one to push for an end of 2020. And a lot of people like, oh, this is the worst year ever. I think they had it worse and some of their like 1818 and 1918. And if you kind of look back at history, this, we were actually in pretty good shape when you break it all down.

[00:57:23.010] – Allan
But, I'm not one to let days go. I'm going to make every day count and enjoy every day. I'm not going to say let's get to 2021 and any time sooner than we need to get there, you know, enjoy your day and find joy in every little thing. If you don't have a gratitude practice, get one on. Sit down for just five minutes each day, if you want to journal it, that's awesome, too. But find those things that bring you joy and then spend more time doing that, even if it's a little five minute increments.

[00:57:54.120] – Allan
Spend more time doing the things and socializing with people and being with people that bring you that that that thing, and that's going to be so much so much more benefit for your longevity than me even telling you what to eat or me telling you how to exercise. It's really about putting it all together in a balanced lifestyle that makes sense for you.

[00:58:18.030] – Rachel
Yeah, yeah. Happiness is such an important part. And whatever it takes to bring you that joy every day, it's important to really search for that, to go after that and not just let it happen. Happiness just doesn't happen. Sometimes you need to go for that. And for me, I like to exercise. I love my run clubs. I've got a really positive relationship with social media, mostly because I follow runners who are always inspiring and motivating. But it's important to take some time out of your day to do that one or two things that really helps you find overall happiness and joy.

[00:58:53.850] – Allan
Absolutely. All right. Well, Rachel, anything else we need to go over before we sign off?

[00:59:00.450] – Rachel
No, this is a great interview. I think I might need to read that book.

[00:59:04.050] – Allan
It is a good book. Like I said, every chapter was something special in that book. I learned a lot from the book and having done almost 300 interviews for me to learn something new, not just once or twice, but practically every single chapter, this really is something that I think is well worth the time and effort to read. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. All right.


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