It really seems like Western medicine is completely devoid of common sense. Why is that?
With a majority of doctors prescribing pills for symptoms instead of treating the underlying imbalances, it’s no wonder the world’s health is suffering right now.
But today we’re here with one of the very best doctors I know, Dr. David Perlmutter, renowned neurologist, and the author of the newly revised and terrifically titled #1 New York Times bestseller, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers.
On this show with Dr. Perlmutter, you’re going to learn:
- Why you shouldn’t give up plants to do Keto
- Why Western medicine is devoid of all common sense
- How social media harms your brain
- How to start stem-cell therapy right now for free
- And much more…
Let’s go hang out with the doc.
Dr. David Perlmutter: From “Grain Brain” to “Brainwash”
Abel: Alright folks. I’m honored to say that returning to the show today is our friend, Dr. David Perlmutter.
Dr. Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist, and four-time New York Times best-selling author.
Thank you so much for joining us once again, Dr. Perlmutter.
Oh, I am very happy to be here. Thank you, Abel.
Abel: It’s always a blast talking to you.
You’re so eloquent in the sense that you can simplify very complicated things for people who may not be at all aware of what’s going on, whether it’s in the world of nutrition or our brains.
I can’t believe it’s been five years since we first spoke about Grain Brain when you first released it, but from what I’ve seen, it seems like most of the science has supported your claims at the time, which many considered to be outlandish or off the wall.
Can you catch us up on what the science says, and also your experience over the past few years?
Well, sure. And I would be the first to agree with you that five years ago when Grain Brain came out, it was very disruptive. Which is, I think, a very, very good thing, because the status quo wasn’t working.
Rates of so many inflammatory diseases were increasing at that time and unfortunately continue to do so for the same exact reasons.
In other words, the high levels of simple carbohydrates in our diets and the absence of good levels of good fat as well as fiber, as well as talking about gluten.
Those were the real premises of Grain Brain five years ago.
And now that our new 5-year revised edition has come out, we’ve been able to look at the literature over the past five years, and simply ask the question, “Was it supportive or was it not?”
And I think that now, it is much more accepted that the level of sugar in the diet, for example, can be very threatening to one’s health, one’s risk for chronic degenerative incurable conditions, I might add, and how we’ve got to welcome healthful fat back to the table.
The importance of dietary fiber, we talked about that in Brain Maker as it relates to the health of the gut bacteria. So, everything has really come together.
And now the notion of these recommendations is certainly far less disruptive.
But Abel, I would totally agree with you that 5 years ago, people really recoiled at the idea of eating higher levels of the dreaded dietary fat.
And basically what we were saying is that there’s one study that’s been actually a pretty extensive study that’s been going on a while.
That really confirms the idea that we need to eat less sugar and more fat. And that study’s only been going on for about 2.5 million years, so it’s really something of great value.
The notion of the Paleo ideology of trying to emulate the lifestyle of our ancestors, I think, has some very important lessons for us when we recognize that our DNA, our genome, has been honed over a couple of million years to respond to extrinsic signals many of which are food related.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, we have turned the tables on that signaling.
We have started to send messages through our food to our DNA, and what’s coming out of our DNA is not necessarily then good for us.
It’s interesting to note that, for example, until about 14,000 years ago, historically, the size of the human brain actually increased three-fold.
Whereas since 14,000 years ago until now, we noticed about a 10% shrinkage in the size of the human brain. We know this from looking at the fossil record.
We can determine how big the brain was based upon the size of the calvary, the volume of the brain space if you will.
So, something has changed that’s caused the brain to shrink, that’s caused our dentition to decline, that’s caused bone density to decline.
And the major thing that happened 14,000 years ago, was a dramatic shift, a quantum shift in human nutrition with the advent of agriculture.
Suddenly, we got away from non-grain plants, mostly good fibrous plants and good levels of dietary fat, to a very much higher carbohydrate resource.
And certainly over the past 200 years, that level of carbohydrate, especially simple carbohydrate, has increased dramatically while at the same time we’ve cut back on eating fat, and certainly fiber has left the human diet as well, to a significant degree.
And we’re seeing the consequence.
And when we know that in 2017 and 2018, for the very first time, life expectancy for men and women in America declined.
So, the notion that we’re making all these great strides in science, and health is getting better, that’s not what the data shows.
The Importance of Fiber
Abel: Right. I was looking at some startling statistics which are a bit all over the place, but by 2030, it is predicted that 85% – 90% of people are looking at obesity or being overweight.
And oftentimes a lot of the disorders and dysfunctions, and symptoms that come along with that are related to your lifestyle.
But one thing you brought up that I think is so important, that some folks may have lost sight of now that it’s trendy to eat more fat, is the fact that fiber is important, too.
When you look at our ancestors, the lack of fiber in our diets is also unprecedented.
So could you talk a little bit about that?
Yes, I can. And I want to relate back to something you said a few moments ago, about the increasing incidents of overweight and obesity.
And I’d like to talk about that with a visual in mind. Maybe you have the technology to make that happen. I’m hoping you do.
There’s a graph that’s easily obtainable on the internet that shows plotting carbohydrate consumption with obesity, and it’s actually a very surprising comparison, because we’ve seen carbohydrate consumption actually decline over the past few years, which I think to some degree is a good thing, but obesity and overweight continues to increase.
So, why did these two curves, which were really lined up for years, now suddenly begin to diverge?
And I think it’s really a good question, because we’ve been saying, “Well, if you eat less carbs you’ll lose weight.”
It’s a little more complicated than that.
And yes, obesity rates are increasing. What’s happened is, people are cutting back on total carbohydrate consumption and that includes cutting back on fiber consumption.
While at the same time that people are doing that. They are realizing the dangers of sugar and doing what?
Consuming higher levels of artificial sweeteners, which change the gut bacteria and lead to increasing obesity and overweight and diabetes, I might add.
Diabetes being a powerful risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
So, we’re really going in the wrong direction. It’s interesting to think about the whole concept of messaging.
I think what we’re seeing is the public at large got the message that, “Cut back on your carbs. That’s a good thing for you.”
But it has to be with some caveats that, “Don’t throw out all the carbohydrates.”
If the complex carbohydrates that are the dietary fiber, that are by definition non-digestible by you and me and everyone else, are important components of the diet.
They’re not just the baggage that comes along when you eat vegetables.
These dietary fibers that we consume are incredibly active biologically, especially as they relate to nurturing our gut bacteria.
And as such, that’s where the magic happens, in terms of controlling our metabolism, lowering our blood sugar, reducing our risk for obesity and diabetes, as well.
So that’s the big missing part that we need to really emphasize moving forward, and not just going and buying one of these off-the-shelf dietary fibers that you see advertised on television that may bulk up your stool, end of story.
You really want to get vegetable-derived fiber, especially from plants that have high levels of what we call pre-biotic fiber, and that’s a unique type of non-digestible fiber carbohydrate that nurtures the gut bacteria.
So these are foods like jicama, which is Mexican yam. We’re seeing more and more of that. Dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, chicory root.
You can buy a pre-biotic fiber at the health food store, that is derived from things like Acacia gum or baobab, really powerful and well-tolerated sources of prebiotic fiber.
Again, taking care of those 100 trillion bacteria that live within you, giving them what they want so they can, in turn, respond and reciprocate and keep you healthy, and help you maintain a normal body weight and help maintain your blood sugar.
As I was responding to your question I said, “Well, you can go to the health food store and buy those prebiotic fibers.”
What a notion is that?
That we have special stores that we call “health food stores” where the food is somehow cultivated to be good for your health, and that this is a unique type of store.
What does it say for the supermarket, and all the rest of the grocery stores? What are they?
But anyway, again the importance of dietary fiber, I think, is huge. And moving forward, that’s one of the most important things we can emphasize in the coming years.
Disconnection Syndrome: How Lifestyle Affects Your Gut Microbiome
Abel: One of the concerning things I’ve seen in the past five years is the explosion of the Keto Diet, but more in the sense of Atkins, when that exploded. Where all of a sudden you’re going to McDonald’s and getting two patties without the buns. And thinking that’s health food.
So, what I hear you saying is that it’s much more about balance than it is about cutting out this one thing, or going after this one thing, which is a very kind of western perspective.
But, how can we adopt a more holistic way of thinking about our own bodies when we eat something that’s affecting our guts, whether it has carbs in it, or not?
Well, a holistic perspective really I think is a point well taken, and we need to reconnect that in so many ways.
We need to reconnect with our microbiome, recognizing that so much of what they do, these bacteria, is dependent upon how they’re treated, over which we have control.
We need to reconnect with the messaging of our ancestors, in terms of the so-called Paleo ideology, which did include periods of time being in ketosis, that’s for sure.
We need to reconnect with ourselves, our neighbors, our communities, other countries, and reconnect with the planet.
So on multiple levels, we know we’re suffering from disconnection syndrome.
And here it’s worked, our ancestors were deeply connected to the signals of the planet, to the signals of their body, to the signals of the seasonality of their lifestyle choices.
And modern life is really very much disconnected, and it’s not just because it’s figurative. It’s really quite literal, that these re-connections are salubrious.
Meaning that we reconnect to the diurnal cycle of the day and go to sleep when it’s dark, and darken our rooms, and get restorative sleep. And reconnect to seasonality in terms of our food choices.
These are all important re-connections to Chronobiology.
The way our bodies are designed to respond to the rising of the moon, the setting of the sun and seasons, as well.
A lot of what we’re recognizing is the importance of that.
It’s beyond poetic. It’s really something that’s highly studied in research institutions around the world.
Abel: And to your point, when you were talking about fiber and prebiotics.
A lot of people are just taking all these probiotics because it says probiotic on the label, but it’s not just going to quite work like that. You also need the prebiotic and plant fibers along with that.
And beyond the notion of nurturing your gut bacteria, I think it’s really quite pivotal that people understand that some of their lifestyle choices are actually threatening their gut bacteria, as well.
We know that many of the medications people are taking dramatically affect the microbiome, meaning the bacteria, it’s RNA and its metabolic products.
Antibiotics for sure, change the array of organisms permanently.
There’s a strong correlation between the number of courses of antibiotic a person has taken and their risk for diabetes, for example.
The non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs are another very common assault upon the diversity of the microbiome, and certainly the acid blocking drugs that everybody believes they need to take, are really quite impactful.
There has been a lot of research recently indicating a strong correlation between the use of these acid blocking drugs and even risk for dementia and heart disease.
This is important literature published in wonderful peer-reviewed journals that we’ve got to take a look at.
You don’t get off easy by making these dramatic changes to the gut bacteria.
So, the threatening foods of course, the artificial sweeteners, the water that has high levels of chlorine, for example.
We know that increased gut bacterial diversity, which is what we’re looking for, is enhanced with more aerobic exercise.
We know that lack of sleep has a negative impact on gut diversity.
There are lots of lifestyle choices that we’ve talked about before, and we’re seeing more and more literature come to light, that I think really should be vetted and then presented to the public.
So that in terms of public health, people can make these preemptive changes long before a doctor makes a diagnosis of a chronic degenerative condition, like Alzheimer’s, coronary arteries disease, diabetes or cancer, which are at their core inflammatory.
When we recognize that inflammation, this pivotal mechanism in all of these chronic degenerative conditions, that the World Health Organization is telling us, are the number one cause of death on the planet.
They’re all inflammatory, and inflammation comes from the gut—that makes us really think about our food choices, because it gives us control.
The ball has hit back to our side of the court, now we have to play.
We have to figure out how we’re going to return the ball, we’re going to go deep into the corner and really have an impact, or decide not to play.
And unfortunately, so many people don’t think that they are involved in that decision making.
It’s pretty much a mentality of, “I’ll live however I choose, then when I get in trouble, I’m sure modern medicine is going to fix it.”
Well, at least as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease, that mentality doesn’t hold.
There was an interesting study published back in November of 2018, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, by aRichard Kennedy.
And what Dr. Kennedy did was what’s called a meta-analysis, and he looked at 10 different studies that have encompassed about 2774 patients.
And compared long-term outcome in those individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s whose family decided that they would take medications, and those who decided they would not.
What he found was really quite compelling.
Not only did the Alzheimer’s drugs not help anyone, but what he found was, that those individuals taking the Alzheimer’s drugs were actually worse off cognitively.
In other words, the Alzheimer’s drugs were associated with more rapid decline in cognitive function.
This is a one billion dollar industry. And what we’ve now learned, we’ve suspected at least, that they didn’t work, is that this is doing more harm than good, and absolutely violates the notion of Primum non nocere, above all do no harm.
It’s like giving somebody with high blood pressure a pill that’s going to raise their blood pressure.
Not what you want to do.
And this is in the context of our knowledge that our lifestyle choices play a huge role in determining our Alzheimer’s risk.
That’s the information that really needs to get out.
Bill Gates said recently that, “Treatment without prevention is not sustainable.”
And so we’ve really got to emphasize prevention.
Last year, I had the opportunity to speak to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, about Alzheimer’s and the global threat.
40 million people are currently costing us a trillion dollars, more than the market value of Google or Apple, and it’s a by and large preventable situation.
If you want to waste a trillion dollars, certainly not all of Alzheimer’s is preventable, but let’s begin that discussion.
Let’s get the word out to people, it’s what we did 5 years ago with Grain Brain.
It raised eyebrows, it continues to do so because we’re focusing on keeping people healthy. Not waiting for the other shoe to fall, and then hoping that there’s a silver bullet to treat the problem, because it doesn’t exist.
And as we’ve now learned, those so-called treatments are actually making people worse.
One other thing, I know it’s a long-winded answer to your question, but back in February of 2017, in the journal Neurology, they issued what is called a practice guideline recommendation for practicing neurologists like myself.
And it had to do with, what should we as neurologists be doing when we see a patient who does not have Alzheimer’s, yet, but does have some cognitive impairment? We call that Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI.
This is a situation neurologists find themselves in all the time. Should we start Alzheimer’s drugs? What should we do?
And what the American Academy of Neurology told us to do after extensive research, evaluating 14 different drugs, they settled on one recommendation.
Something that was proven in the literature, that could slow cognitive decline, just one of the things they looked at, and it was a drug by the name of—Exercise.
Think about it. It’s the only thing recommended by the American Academy of Neurology to practicing neurologists to slow cognitive decline in patients with mild cognitive impairment. To get them to buy a new pair of sneakers and do some exercise.
It’s astounding to me, because they went to that place. I’m joyful as I even tell you the story right now.
When you read the journal that is supported by advertisements from drug companies, that the journal decided, “You know what, we’re going to do the right thing. We looked at the literature, this is the only thing that stood up to statistical analysis and we’re going to publish it.”
Yeah, that’s great.
Abel: Wow. Well, to your point earlier, speaking about drugs, it really starts with childhood.
I was just on your website where I saw that ADHD meds have now been linked to dementia, as well.
Well, actually the blog that I posted looked at a study from the journal, Neuro-Pharmacology, and it was interesting because it was linked more to movement disorder, to Parkinson’s specifically.
They looked at tens of thousands of individuals, because we have the ability now to look at what’s called big data, and make these interesting connections. We’ll look at another one in just a moment.
And what they noted was that children who had taken stimulant ADHD medications, things like Ritalin and Adderall, that their risk as adults for developing Parkinson’s disease was increased nine-fold.
Now that’s breathtaking, because Parkinson’s is a disease for which there is no treatment.
Yes, the symptoms can be managed, the movement disorder can be managed, the rigidity and tremor are managed to some degree with medication, but the time course of the disease is not treated in any way, pharmaceutically, today.
Again, what a violation of the notion of, “Above all, do no harm.”
And perpetrated on our youngest, who are being placed on stimulant medication. Now as young as age 4 years as approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, while the brain is still actively developing.
So, it’s not like I make these things up. What I do when I blog, is I talk about a recent peer-reviewed study and why we should have a pause to look at what we are doing in terms of the utilization of medication.
That blog got a lot of interest, a lot of traction, because it really makes people become aware of things prior to making decisions. And that’s what the word doctor means. It means teacher.
And then let people make the right decision, hopefully.
Abel: So where did all the common sense go, in both the Western medicine profession, as well as the people who they’re supposed to be treating?
I don’t know. I think what’s happened, and a little cynicism here probably doesn’t hurt, is that over the past half century or longer we’ve seen this incredible insinuation between the doctor and patient of the entrance of the pharmaceutical industry, running the show, and really creating standard of care. That this is how you treat illness and if you don’t, you’re called out.
So that you have to treat high blood pressure with this list of medications, and that to emphasize exercise and weight loss that is clearly effective for high blood pressure, is not considered standard of care.
That diabetes is treated with drugs, Metformin, Actos, you name it, this is the “standard of care.”
I interviewed a woman, a physician named Dr. Sarah Hallberg, at Verta Health, who has reversed Type 2 diabetes by putting people on a ketogenic diet for one year.
Not just getting their blood sugars under control and reducing their medication, but curing them of Type 2 diabetes. That the medication does not do.
Again, emphasizing that lifestyle interventions are really important along with managing using medication. Because otherwise you remain on your medication and continue to gain weight, you use more and more medication in the future.
As Dr. Sarah Hallberg demonstrated that the group that did not go on the ketogenic diet after one year, was actually taking more medication.
So, a really powerful interview, and people like her get called out and get pointed to as not being in-step.
Several years ago, I visited the office of a very inspirational good friend of mine named Amar Bose. He created a company you may have heard of called Bose Audio.
Your headphones are probably made by his company.
Nonetheless, he had his office, his personal office was enclosed in glass, and he had a quote on his door by Maurice Maeterlinck that said…
“At every crossroad, on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by 1000 men appointed to defend the past.”
And it’s true, that every time we want to be out there and be progressive and challenge the status quo, there is pushback from people wanting to defend the past.
And if you defend the past and remain in the past, it by definition argues against making progress to the future.
So again, we have to make mistakes, too. That’s important. Everything we say and do will be challenged, and sometimes rightfully so.
And that’s a good thing. That’s how we learn and that’s how we challenge our current dogma and make progress.
The Efficacy of Lifestyle vs. Medication
Abel: Well, let’s challenge the belief that drugs will save us, for one, because we know the efficacy of exercise, which is pretty much a 100%, or at least as close as you can get if you actually do it right.
But when you look at drugs, they don’t always work. At least on the consumer side.
We’re kind of brainwashed by the commercials and the marketing and the messaging to think that they all do.
But as a doctor yourself, looking at the drugs compared to a lifestyle intervention, what does efficacy look like?
Well, I would say that if you look at what a drug is supposed to do, they’re pretty darn effective some of the time in doing what they are challenged to do.
Certainly pain medications manage pain, anti-inflammatories do reduce markers of inflammation.
Blood pressure pills work, blood sugar pills work, and they should be looked upon, and part of the armamentarium.
But I think the biggest challenge for physicians is to look upon drugs not as the final solution to the problem, because drugs generally treat the smoke but not the fire.
Meaning that they focus on the manifestations of an illness, while they completely neglect the illness itself.
And as I mentioned, with blood sugar, yes, they lower blood sugar, but the illness gets worse with time.
So, that is not really encompassing and broad scope beyond the fact that, there is hardly a drug you could name that I couldn’t list an important side effect.
And of the important drugs that are out there, or the commonly used ones, for example, statin medications are one of the most prescribed medications in America, certainly in the developed world, because cholesterol is obviously something terrible and we have to lower it.
And yet, when you recognize that published research for example, in the journal Diabetologia, demonstrates that in men, that statin medications are associated with a 46% increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
The Women’s Health Initiative, a study of thousands of women, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrated that women who take statin medications have a 71% increased risk of developing diabetes.
Now why is that important?
Well, number one, once you develop diabetes, of course, that adds more medications to your regimen.
From my perspective as a neurologist, when you become a Type 2 diabetic, you have as much as quadrupled your risk for a disease for which there is no treatment, and that’s called Alzheimer’s.
So, number one, your viewers need to know that Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with risk of developing Alzheimer’s, for which there is no treatment
And number two, that by and large, Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle choice, based upon foods that you eat.
So if we connect those dots, the foods that we eat play a huge role in determining your risk for Alzheimer’s.
That was the central thesis of Grain Brain, and that’s why people got a little annoyed by it.
Because suddenly we are shifting the responsibility back to the consumer to make these choices, and away from the doctor, who truly shouldn’t have this responsibility because there is no treatment for the disease we are talking about.
But here it is. It’s on a silver platter. It’s the keys to the kingdom.
If you exercise, which turns on your DNA to make something called BDNF, that allows your brain to be protected and actually grow new brain cells.
If you cut your consumption of sugar and eat more fat and lower your blood sugar in so doing, our best research, The New England Journal of Medicine in September 2012 demonstrates a powerful relationship between even subtle elevations of blood sugar and risk for dementia.
If you do these things, you already cut your risk for Alzheimer’s dramatically.
It is not by and large a genetic situation.
Certainly there are genetic markers that predispose you, that increase your risk, but they are not genetic determinants.
We can override, to a significant degree, the notion of bad genes causing this disease.
We can to a significant degree, take the diving board off the gene pool, and understand that, “Yeah, I might carry APOE4, or I might carry MTHFR, which gives me an elevated homocysteine, or all of these other technical issues.”
Certainly those are genes that increase the risk, but by and large, the big players here are the lifestyle choices that absolutely change our gene expression for the better, to reduce or risk for diabetes, coronary aorta disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s.
Abel: It’s just occurring to me how outrageous it is that the claim that you can help fix some of these problems with diet and exercise is considered outlandish.
It shows how crazy the status quo is.
It’s like we’re seeing progress, but we’re also seeing a lot of regression at the same time.
Self-reliance isn’t there as much as we’d like it to be.
Well, two things. I think it’s instructive to curse the darkness, but more beneficial to light the single candle.
I tend to push more for lighting the single candle, and showing and providing this information.
I think it is very important to call out the parts of this narrative that people don’t normally hear on the commercials for the drug.
It’s there, it’s actually there.
But when they’re reading that script about, “This drug shouldn’t be taken by anyone who has a vowel in their name or likely you’ll die.”
You don’t hear that because that’s when you get all these incredible visuals of the older man with his grandchildren, and they’re now running a marathon, who knows what it is, but we’re taking away from that.
We don’t hear that voice, that is quite literally telling us, “Hey this drug might well do you harm.”
That is certainly what the literature shows.
But I think to get to your point, that we become disconnected and that continues from the messaging of our own bodies, and the messaging that we can heal and we can be resistant to these very pernicious issues if we only get back to signaling our bodies appropriately with our lifestyle choices.
So it is very much about reconnection.
Fasting for Body and Brain Health
Abel: You could even get results doing nothing. I know you’re a big proponent of fasting as am I. I’ve been doing it for years, although it shows up in different ways in our lives.
So I’d love to check in with you about that.
How are you advising people handle fasting in their own lives, or how are you doing it personally?
Well, I don’t even know what it means, the term, because is it just protecting the time that you have your first meal of the day? Or is it not eating for three days or 40 days?
Or is it simply going on a ketogenic diet, that doesn’t necessarily limit carbohydrates?
And so there’s all sorts of permutations that we are seeing today.
For me, I generally eat two meals a day, and my first meal is probably 2pm or 3pm in the afternoon.
So, that gives me a really significant length of time between having dinner, most of the time by 7pm, and then having my next meal at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, which is when I break my fast.
Hence, the term breakfast. Who knew?
And during that period of time, your viewers know what time is it here? It’s 11:40am for me.
So right now, I’m powering my brain with ketones. I’m not burning carbs, there are none on board.
Does it work? Well I’m hoping that I can connect a couple of sentences and make sense. You be the judge.
That said, when we shift over to this type of lifestyle and allow our bodies to reconnect to burning ketones as fuel as opposed to sugar, especially as it relates to brain functionality.
I think the research is really clear that ketones, the type of body fat or the manifestation of using body fat after it passes through the liver and goes through a process called beta-oxidation, we create these chemicals called ketones. And using them as a fuel, has been called by Dr. Veech in the 1960’s, as a brain super fuel.
So, we’re really up-regulating the ability of our brains to do great stuff, while at the same time, reducing the production of damaging chemicals that are called free radicals, that are increased when the brain burns sugar, as opposed to burning fat.
And so it’s being a “fat-burning man,” who knew, is really pretty exciting and a very helpful approach.
And again, it gets back to a conversation we had earlier about emulating the lifestyle of our ancestors, call it Paleo if you will.
Our ancestors didn’t have ready access to caloric availability 24/7, like we do today. We did fast and often times it wasn’t a choice, but we did encounter caloric scarcity, which turns out to be a positive thing, by and large, if it’s not protracted too long.
Because when we have caloric scarcity, it actually amplifies survival genes, good genes, genes that make us more robust in terms of our immune function.
Genes that turn on this production of a chemical called BDNF that increases brain power, that helps us grow new brain cells, improves brain functionality, and memory, for example.
So again, it gets back to emulating the way it was for us, for a couple of million years.
Now, there are other good things that fasting does for us.
For example, as mentioned, one of the things that fasting increases is the production in our bodies of these ketone chemicals, that are good for us, that activate gene pathways that reduce inflammation, that increase detoxification that increase the production of antioxidants, that amplify BDNF production, that serve as a brain super fuel.
But we can allow the body to make ketones when we take things like MCT oil or even coconut oil.
This provides the raw material, these medium-chain triglycerides that are so popular at health food stores, that allows your body to make these ketone chemicals like beta-hydroxybuterate, that are really important.
And so again, to get back to the question, so fasting can be simply protracting your breakfast till later in the day, one day a week, or every day as I choose to do.
It can be with a total fast for a 24 hour period. That I choose to do as well from time to time, and it can be even longer, there’s so much work written.
Dr. Dominic Agostino University of South Florida, has published some incredible work.
Dr. Valter Longo has created what it’s called, the fasting mimicking diet, in which he is allowing the body to engage those genetic pathways without necessarily fasting to any significant degree.
Some incredible work that he’s doing in cancer and now in Alzheimer’s.
So, there’s a lot of good resources out there that you could tap into to learn more about it, and I think it’s very important.
Abel: I’m just marveling at the fact that so much of this is done by our bodies themselves.
So often we’re looking for something exogenous, that magic bullet, that new product, that new drug, or what have you.
But you know, a lot of times when we look at the science on the way that our body actually works, you can raise your growth hormone through fasting.
I was listening to your interview with I think Dr. Mercola or maybe it was Dr. Aman about stem cells, which is all the rage these days.
But your body does that too, right? You just have to give it the right inputs, like exercise.
Well, that’s a point well taken. Each and every one of your viewers can get stem cell therapy today, and it’s free, it’s called aerobic exercise.
That turns on the gene pathway to make BDNF, that turns on the growth of stem cells in your brain’s memory center where you need them most.
So you don’t have to go to Mexico, you don’t have to have your blood or fat removed, or who knows where those stem cells may come from.
You can make it happen right now, that’s an endogenous protocol that you can engage.
Turning Down the Stress Dial
Abel: And so is turning down the dial on stress, which is so important.
I know we have a lot of strong type A listeners that tune into this show, because I’m a recovering one myself.
So, as I understand, you have a vacation coming up, tell us a little bit about how you build that into your own life.
Well, I will. Let me comment on stress just for a moment.
I’m working on a new book co-written with another doctor, his name is Austin Perlmutter, MD.
And oddly enough, as fate would have it, that’s our son, and the book is called Brainwash.
And we wanted to look at stress, because it is so destructive on multiple levels, especially for the brain immune system, blood sugar, obesity, etcetera.
Brainwash focuses on modern day life and how so many influences are stressful that we don’t need to engage.
And one of the biggest areas of stress that we’ve identified is people’s sense that they’re not measuring up, that are challenged in terms of whether they are worthy or not.
And we’ve identified so many areas that we are challenged day-by-day, that we see the lives of others as being the perfect life, as portrayed on their Facebook page or in their selfies.
And that is the level to which we must aspire, and when our selfies are not universally loved and we get a lot of likes for whatever we post or we don’t, it imposes a really significant and a short-term satisfaction or more importantly, a longer-term stress.
People are seeking validation and satisfaction in a very short term way that plays upon, not upon happiness, not upon activating the happiness parts of the brain, but it’s more about the immediate gratification part of the brain, that dopamine surge pathway that gives you immediate gratification.
Like when we eat sugar or engage in online shopping, mindlessly, or any of the other addictive types of activities that are so prevalent these days.
And when we engage in those activities, it takes us away from reaching happiness, because it distances us from connecting.
Again, reconnecting a central theme to that part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, that fosters empathy, compassion, and understanding, and looking at the long-term consequences of our day-to-day activity.
What we connect to through neuroplasticity by continuing to engage in this online madness, if you will, is we strengthen our connection to the fear center of the brain called the amygdala.
That is the short-term satisfaction, the impulsivity part of the brain that doesn’t take into consideration long-term consequences of what we do right now, that makes us less compassionate and less empathetic.
So, that’s the purpose of Brainwash. It’s to allow people to understand what’s going on, to give them the tools with respect to understanding how diet influences these connections.
Lack of sleep or lack of restorative sleep, and even exercise, the incorporation of fasting for example, and certainly lifestyle choices.
To distance ourselves from this constant bombardment, which wants nothing more than to make us buy things and do things.
Truly, when you think about the real messaging on the social media platforms, it is anything but social media. It’s anti-social media, truthfully.
But that said, one of the things that we talk about is, it’s Shinrin Yoku idea, which is a Japanese term for forest bathing. Shinrin Yoku, that really taps into this new research area, showing measurable effects of getting out into nature.
And we recognize that getting into nature changes our immune response, lowers cortisol, and allows us to reconnect to those parts of our brain, for example.
This stage in my life, my wife and I realized that it’s very, very important. So we spend a lot of time on the water.
And our plan for this year is to take our boat from Washington State through the Inside Passage to Alaska. We’ll be on a boat, just my wife and I, for 4 months.
Catching fish, finding places to buy our vegetables, reading important things, meditating, exercising, and really doing our best to reconnect with each other, with ourselves, and with nature. I think it’s really very, very important.
Abel: It doesn’t always mean laying out and relaxing. Listeners, at this point, know that Alyson, my wife and I, travel all the time, usually by RV.
But what you realize is that stuff always goes wrong. And for me in day-to-day life, I’m not really a Mr. Fix It, I’m not going to go reframe a door, or anything like that.
But on a trip like this, you have to make yourself useful.
And I find that that’s a very important psychological benefit, sometimes, when we go on those challenging trips, like going from Washington to Alaska. Stuff goes wrong, and then you gain confidence and experience.
You know what, I’m not going to say I look forward to it because if I do, then maybe that’ll be put before me, but it is a challenge and I have always really enjoyed those challenges.
I’ve always liked fixing things, but I do want your viewers to understand that this re-connection to nature might be as simple as buying a potted plant and putting it in your living room, that has an effect.
Beyond that, getting outside and breathing fresh air, if that’s available to you, is something to consider.
Maybe making plans for this coming up weekend to get out and go to a place of nature, if that’s available to you.
But it’s just really about reconnecting, and as I mentioned, just even having a plant in your kitchen, that you take care of each day, is a powerful way to reconnect to nature. And that allows some very important download of good information that can help you be healthy.
Abel: Now we just have a minute or two left, but before we go, is there anything that you know or might believe to be truth, that others think is completely outlandish, but won’t be in 5 years from now?
What are you interested in and working on right now?
Well, I think what has become clear to me is the central importance of reconnection, and as a theme, and as I mentioned, it means reconnecting with our DNA, our microbiome.
Reconnecting with ourselves, reconnecting with those around us, families, family members, people in our communities.
Reconnecting to other countries, recognizing that diversity is key to survival, and reconnecting to the importance of listening to the signals that are coming from our planet, and abiding by those signals.
We have a long-standing relationship with the health of our planet, and when we threaten that relationship, the planet will suffer.
But the planet will recover, we will suffer, and we don’t know what our future will be.
So, this is the major push for me, and certainly my son, in writing our new book, and well beyond the book, our upcoming website is going to be at reconnectglobal.com (currently under construction).
We’re going to do everything we can to provide information to anyone willing to read it.
About what you can do as an individual, as a community, at every level, how to reconnect to your DNA, how to reconnect to the planet.
So, it’s really important, I think, and maybe some people feel that these ideas are out there.
Yes, and that’s probably a good thing, because again, it will be disruptive, and that always helps these days to move things along.
But I think that I would eventually say that everybody, when they think about it, recognizes the importance of this notion of reconnection. So that’s what the future holds.
Abel: Wonderful. Now, before we go, can you please tell folks what you’re working on and the best place to find you.
You can reach me at DrPerlmutter.com.
Our new book is called Brainwash, and the website for that will be brainwashbook.com (currently under construction).
And the website that we are working on in terms of reconnection is reconnectglobal.com. Those are all projects that are underway.
So, that’s something that will take shape over a period of years, and I think will be something that I’m hopeful will be a collection point for people to share information with the an eye towards the future.
Abel: Awesome. Well, Dr. Perlmutter, it’s been a pleasure, as always. Your work is so important
You’re a great example to everyone who’s listening, certainly for myself, and I look forward to following your work.
Pretty much everything you’ve ever done. I tip my hat. Thank you so much, and thanks for joining us on the show.
Well Abel, thank you and let’s not be strangers. Let’s not go another five years, let’s get in touch, and if I’m out where you live, I’ll give you a call.
Abel: Please do.
Before You Go…
Before you go, here’s a review that came in on Apple Podcasts from Runnergirlsrun she says:
Abel and Alyson are changing the world! I started listening to the podcast about a month ago and I am hooked.
I bought the book and started eating wild and have already lost 8 pounds!! Seriously loving all the guests you have on the show and your message of health.
In the world we live in today, podcasts like these are SUPER important to spread the word. Thanks so much for everything, Abel and Alyson. You guys ROCK!!
Well, thank you Runnergirlsrun for writing in, and for giving the Wild Diet a shot, as well as listening to the show and helping to spread the word.
Now, how about you? If you’re listening to this, if things are going well or if things are going poorly, get in touch.
Just sign up for my email list, and reply to the goodies that I’ll send to you. Let me know how you’re doing. Tell me your story, and let me know if you have any recommendations for people to get in touch with to have on this show.
It’s always awesome to get your perspective on things, because we’re all in this together. I’m not a guru. We’re lifelong students and learners. And we’re doing this together.
And here’s a quick note to let you know over the past year and change, I’ve also been learning about virtual reality and 360 video creation.
I started two new shows in virtual reality. One is called Adventures with Abel, where we go to volcanoes like Yellowstone and Capulin, Grand Tetons, America’s Stonehenge, the great Serpent Mound. All sorts of crazy stuff.
That’s all free at abeljames.com.
The other one, I’m putting out a ton more music and music videos. Some of them very silly, some more serious, and some are more laid back and chill. You can find all of that for free at abeljames.com.
Some of them are actually 360 3D music videos. I’m really experimenting with 180 3D, 360 non-3D, 360 3D, and all the different formats in audio and video. It’s great fun, and I appreciate you coming on the ride with me.
And if it sounds like I’m playing multiple instruments at the same time, it’s because I have one of those fancy looper things which allows you to record a little loop of you playing, say, saxophone or singing or playing guitar or playing piano or whatever, and then layer other instruments on top of it.
I have a lot of fun making a mess, and I hope you do, too.
So you can find all of the artsy stuff at abeljames.com, and fatburningman.com for all the health stuff.
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What did you think of this interview with Dr. David Perlmutter? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts.