As a collective, are we getting smarter or dumber?
Let’s be honest.
Intelligence—the capacity for learning, logic, understanding, critical thinking, planning, self-awareness, problem solving, emotional knowledge, reasoning, creativity—is a whole brain-body phonomenon.
And in order to harness your natural intelligence, it’s important to support your brain and body with the right foods, and turn down other inputs, like pollution and toxins that can drag us down.
Well, I’m happy to say that returning to the show today is our friend Mr. Max Lugavere.
Max is a filmmaker, health and science journalist, host of The Genius Life podcast, and New York Times bestselling author of Genius Foods.
And on today’s show, we’re chatting about:
- How to eat for your brain health
- Why it’s important to eat the rainbow (and not the sugary Skittles kind)
- The metabolic “free ride” of protein
- How to get smarter in a confusing and divisive time
- And much more…
Let’s go hang out with Max.
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Max Lugavere: Eating & Training For Brain Health
Abel: Alright, folks, returning to the show today for the third time is our friend, Mr. Max Lugavere.
He’s a filmmaker, health and science journalist, New York Times best-selling author, and the genius behind The Genius Life podcast and the brand spanking new book, The Genius Life.
Max, thanks so much for coming back on the show.
Thanks, Abel. Being friends with you, it’s always such a pleasure to get to talk to you and to dive deep, and I really enjoyed having you on my podcast, and I’m excited to have this conversation.
Really excited about the new book, and just couldn’t be more thrilled to be at this place now where I think that with all the research and science that we have coming out by the day, we can actually provide a roadmap for people to feel better, to get healthier.
It’s kind of funny because before we started rolling, you and I were talking about the fact that now in nutrition, despite all this amazing information, it’s become a double-edged sword because we see these warring factions in the nutrition space, right?
So, I think that my approach is among the most balanced that you’ll find, which can almost seem like an extreme viewpoint today.
Abel: Isn’t that weird?
In body balance? Yeah, it’s super weird.
Finding Balance & Learning From Each Other
Abel: Yeah, being balanced is extreme.
I’m kind of like a rebel in a similar way where everyone’s attacking me for saying that people should probably eat their vegetables.
I was like, “What? No, I’ve been saying that the whole frickin’ time, stop that.”
Abel: And we were talking about this a little bit before the show, too.
The thing that concerns me is I think it’s totally cool if people want to be carnivore and eat that way for a while, and vegan, eat that way for a while.
I’ve essentially done both sides and I think everyone should practice finding the edges.
But what shouldn’t happen is these people who, in many ways, empower others through health and through their message.
The health nuts out there shouldn’t be pointing fingers at each other for their little differences and arguing when our collective health is falling off a cliff.
It should be obvious to everyone that the health nuts can’t be fighting if we want to save these other folks who are having a really hard time now.
And it’s not just a little hard, it’s not like people are soft and have a few extra pounds, like I felt when I was getting started around 2010 or whatever, and when we first met each other.
It felt like things were getting better for a little while, and now it’s like, “Good luck trying to get any message through,” right?
Yeah, yeah, you’re right.
I think it’s so stupid that people literally have developed reputations online and build huge followings for being essentially professional stone throwers.
And to me, it’s so unfair because at the end of the day, I think everybody is really trying to just help in the mission to get people to reach their healthiest selves.
We live in a time now where the obesity epidemic is skyrocketing, the type two diabetes and prediabetes epidemic is skyrocketing.
I was reading a study that came out positing that by the year 2030, one in two adults in the U.S. are going to be obese—not just overweight but obese.
Abel: That’s insane.
Arguing about these different nutritional factions, it’s like arguing about religion.
At the end of the day, we’re all trying to get our followers to the top of the mountain, and inevitably, there are going to be multiple roads up to that top.
As the author of what are essentially “diet books,” I’ll tell you, if you go to your local bookstore and you pick up any of the diet books that are there and you adhere to them, they’re all going to work.
It’s not that one is necessarily better than the other.
You’ve have to find the plan that’s going to be the most sustainable for you, because really, that’s what it’s ultimately all about from a nutritional standpoint.
So, we have people from the vegan camp, we have people from the carnivore camp.
And look, I’ve interviewed carnivores on my podcast and I always learn from them.
Abel: We should all be learning from each other, really. We’re all doing our own little experiments, aren’t we?
Exactly. So, I actually got into a little Instagram battle fairly recently with somebody who claims to be a science-based food advocate.
And we were discussing the merits or a lack thereof of organic versus conventional.
And my general rule of thumb is if you’re going to eat the skin or peel of a piece of produce, you should opt for organic.
Abel: I agree.
Yeah, I mean, the organic system is not perfect, there’s lots and lots of commerce tied to it.
The mere nature of the food industrial complex today and the way that food is processed means that organic food isn’t necessarily going to be free of having synthetic pesticides on it.
Sometimes, there’s a cross-contamination effect that occurs.
Also, organic foods are not without pesticides, in general. They have non-synthetic pesticides on them sometimes.
So, we were just getting into this raging debate.
And at the end of the day, I just think that it lacks acknowledgment of the public health crisis and that people need to make decisions in the here and now when they’re pushing their carts through the supermarket, and they need to know what it is that they can buy.
And so, at the end of the day, I think it’s important to be nuanced and to discuss the pros and cons, and to be as transparent as possible.
But, yeah. So, it was just a funny argument to get into.
And just to close the loop on that, my stance is:
If you can’t afford organic or you don’t have access to organic, do not let that be a barrier to eating fruits and vegetables.
But if you can comfortably afford it, then it’s probably worthwhile, both from a health standpoint and from an ecological standpoint to buy produce organic, again, where you eat the skin or the peel.
I don’t think it’s as important to buy organic animal products, necessarily. If you’re buying red meat, for example, it’s more important that the cow is grass-fed than organic.
Abel: Yeah, so this is all just semantics now.
Abel: And I think it’s super confusing going down these rabbit holes.
But the way I like to see it—and I think you do too, you can explain it in so many different ways—you want your food to be as clean as possible, to not put further burden on your body by being something we’re not well-adapted to eat, or something covered in synthetic chemicals, or even natural chemicals.
And the reason, at least that I try to explain to people, that organic is, generally speaking, better than whatever else is out there, isn’t because organic is perfect and you can stop thinking about it right there.
It’s not like this thing where, “Oh, we found it. It’s the organic aisle, and I can eat everything here, and it’s healthy for me.”
That’s never going to work with whatever label you slap on anything.
But on the spectrum, there’s permaculture, there’s organic, and there are other kinds of just like mom and pop clean farms, and that’s where you want to be getting your food.
And then on the other side, there’s industry and industrial monocrops and all of these chemicals, that, yeah, maybe GMO chemicals work with GMO plants, but what do they do to the rest of the environment and all the birds and animals and the water systems, and cancer years later that we all get but can’t be directly tied to it?
So, it’s a big conversation.
But if you just look at the spectrum and you try to keep your food as clean as possible and you think about it every time you put something in your mouth as food, it’s like you have to think about it every time, it’s never going to be totally easy.
So there’s no free lunch, as they say.
Yeah. And it is a privileged point of view to have to say that we ought to know what every ingredient is and exactly where our food comes from, and that’s just sort of the nature of the world that we live in today.
I mean those of us who can afford to support a healthier agriculture system should do so, and that’s the way to sort of even out the divide.
And that’s what I do. That’s what I try to promote.
Even when times were tough, I always made an effort to vote with my wallet.
And as a result of how I’ve chosen to live my life, but not just me, how people in general seem to be, and where the trend seems to be heading in, now you’ll find organic at Walmart.
You’ll see grass-fed beef and wild fish at Costco, things like that.
And that’s all a result of those consumers who have been able to demand higher quality food, have done so.
And that I think is ultimately for the betterment of everybody.
It’s the rising tide lifting all boats at the end of the day.
How To Avoid Information Malnutrition
Abel: Yeah, and there’s a lot of bickering that could be done.
The thing that’s bad, I think, is that there’s more and more and more bickering, and the conversation gets more and more surface-y.
What do you see as a possible solution to that?
I think long-form conversations like this one help, especially when different leaders of health get together and talk through things and what have you.
But what do you see is the way forward?
I think it’s being open-minded, I think it’s always being willing to challenge your assumptions and your beliefs, and having civil discourse.
Remaining skeptical, but never being a cynic. Being skeptical, but not cynical.
Be skeptical, but not cynical. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
I think that there’s an important distinction between those two characteristics.
Oftentimes what you’ll see online, because it’s just so easy to be an armchair expert these days—especially on social media—because we’re able to hide behind the veil of the disconnect when we’re commenting on other people’s posts, people can be pretty unkind.
And I’m very lucky that the vast majority of comments that I get are actually nice and they’re positive.
But whenever I post anything that’s even remotely controversial, people will come out of the woodwork and say nasty things to me.
And I’m just trying to help people with my work, as are you.
I posted the other day, a good example of this, I saw somebody on their feed post a stack of books that they said was just like a life-changing stack of books.
Like, “Which of these books have you read?”
So, you look through the books, you look at all the book titles, and it’s really a who’s who of the plant-based doctors.
Abel: Because I’ve seen posts…
You’ve seen posts, yeah. It was The China Study, it was The Alzheimer’s Solution, it was Forks Over Knives.
I mean you name it, basically. It was How Not To Die. Those kinds of books.
Where, you can go through, how many things were represented by the dozen or so books that were in the photo, and you won’t see anything positive stated about the value of animal products.
And in fact, all you’ll find are negative statements about the value of animal products.
And so, I screen-grab off that bookshelf, and I put it up on my Instagram stories, and I didn’t say anything unkind.
But I said, “Talk about an echo chamber. There’s no alternate viewpoint infiltrating this information, and if you’re basing your information diet around just those few hand-curated nutrients, that’s essentially going to lead to is information malnutrition.”
Which, I think that we’re seeing become a pervasive phenomenon today.
And somebody saw that story on my feed, and sent me a message, calling me a literal cancer for just saying that, that this is an echo chamber, that you might benefit from having an alternate viewpoint thrown into the mix.
And thankfully, I have thick skin.
I grew up in New York City, so it didn’t really affect me. But if I didn’t have such a thick skin…
Abel: Use of the word “literal” there bothers me.
Yeah, literal. I don’t know about that. Maybe a figurative cancer or a metaphorical cancer.
Abel: No, people using words wrong is one of my little things, you could probably see in the poetry book.
I just, I go mad when people use words incorrectly. Even “carnivore.”
I understand what you’re doing and I don’t want to judge anyone.
But it’s like, if you’re calling yourself a carnivore and you’re drinking any coffee or you’re eating any little bit of plants or you’re taking any herbs, you’re an omnivore.
You’re not a carnivore. You’re just eating a lot of meat.
You’re not a carnivore. You’re just eating a lot of meat. Click To Tweet
You’re an omnivore. Yeah, a thousand percent.
You could argue the semantics of calling yourself plant-based if you’re a vegan.
I eat a plant-based diet with meat.
Abel: The Wild Diet is plant-based mostly by volume, but you could totally, by calories, make it animal-based if you wanted to and you can explain these things in all sorts of confusing ways.
But why? Stop.
Yeah. It’s like, you’re a carbon-based life form. You’re made in part of carbon, but you’re not a diamond.
I mean, you are Abel, you are a diamond.
Abel: Thank you, Max.
But if you are solely carbon, you’d be a diamond. So yeah, I think we need to be a little bit more careful with language.
The Language of Health & Wellness
Language is important and that’s one of the things that I learned as a journalist, actually, working for six, seven years for Current TV, which was my first job out of college, that language is important.
You say the wrong thing to an audience of 100 million people, and you just got to be really careful.
Abel: Words are confusing enough without kind of like abusing them.
Abel: And actually, I think, if the internet and social media have done anything, it’s buying and selling words without agreeing on the meaning of them.
If the internet and social media have done anything, it’s buying and selling words without agreeing on the meaning of them. Click To Tweet
And then now, the meaning of all these words is extremely confusing.
You look at something like keto, which a lot of well-intended health nuts jumped on that train, but you walk into Whole Foods or another health food store or whatever, that may or may not be owned by Amazon.
And you see all these keto products that have a ton of sugar in them, which inherently is not keto.
But people who are buying it don’t know that because it’s all lowest common denominator salesmanship.
And that’s what we’re up against. It’s bad.
Yeah. We are. I’m glad you brought that up.
We are seeing a proliferation of ultra-processed foods now with the keto halo.
And I don’t think that these are any better for us, really.
They might prevent glucose excursions that you might get from a grain-based product.
And so I think that they’re probably better used if you have glucose tolerance issues like many people do.
I think these keto products can be a choice.
But if you’re trying to lose weight or even just cut up a little bit, these products can be so high in added fat.
And I was looking at a keto protein bar the other day, and it was really a fat bar.
The way that I look at it is, it depends on your goals.
If I’m trying to lose weight, or even lean out just a little bit, every additional gram of added fat that I’m consuming is another gram of fat that I’m not vacuuming out of my own fat supplies, like the area around my waist with me.
Abel: And double the calories of the other macros too.
Yeah. Double the calories of the other macros.
So actually, the nutritional recommendations that I make in my new book, The Genius Life, are different from those that I make in Genius Foods.
Because in this book what I’m really trying to do is to help people shift their bodies to a more optimal composition, both in terms of the ratio of lean mass to fat mass, in a way that doesn’t actually have them obsessing over macros or even calories.
I think we see a lot of people now in the fitness world who are obsessed with calorie counting and macro tracking and things like that.
And I think it’s important to remind people that, if you look at any of the world’s remaining hunter gatherers, or even at our ancestors, what you’ll notice is that they all possess bodies that anybody would describe as being athletic, and yet none of them are on MyFitnessPal.
None of them are tracking macros on spreadsheets or anything like that.
So, I think it’s really important to reframe the conversation around food.
And now we’re at this amazing point where we have science to really free us from this obsession with macros.
And I think it’s important because today we live in a time where most of the calories that we consume come from ultra-processed foods.
And I think that really, if you can kind of just minimize your consumption of these processed foods, you’re really going to see the most bang for your buck. And this is not carbs, this is not fat shaming or anything like that.
Metabolic “Free Ride” of Protein
Since releasing Genius Foods, there was actually a great study that came out from the National Institutes of Health, led by obesity researcher, Kevin Hall.
It was a cross-over study where they found that, basically, people were given an ultra-processed food diet, when they ate to satiety, it was an ad libitum feeding system, they basically over ate by about 500 additional calories.
So it put them automatically just eating to satiety in a calorie surplus, which is going to cause you to gain fat.
When they switched over, and they had them eat predominantly a whole foods diet—so foods like grass-fed beef, wild salmon, eggs, dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, things like that, single ingredient foods—they actually came in at a calorie deficit and they ate to the same degree of satiety.
So for people that are sick of counting calories, I mean all you really need to do, I think, is to kind of just look at the quality of the food that you’re eating and start there.
The other recommendations that I make, it’s really the kind of the 2-10 polls of the nutritional recommendations that I make in the new book are that.
The other thing about processed food I think most people are not really aware of, is that when you eat whole foods, a significant portion of the calories that you’re consuming actually pass through you.
So there was a study that just came out. It was funded by the USDA actually.
What they found was that whole nuts have actually about 30% fewer calories than was previously thought because when you eat whole nuts, particles in the nuts actually pass through you undigested.
Abel: I didn’t see that. Interesting.
Yeah, it was super interesting.
And how they did this study was they basically took subjects, human subjects, they gave them whole nuts to eat.
And then they looked at the calorie residue in their stool. So, it’s a gross study, but needed to be done.
And what they found was that about 30% of the calories they had consumed, that you might count when looking at the serving, at the nutrition facts label on those whole nuts, actually went straight through.
And so when you take nuts and you turn nuts into nut butter, which is basically processing it, almost pre-digesting it in a way, you absorb 100% of those calories.
So, the mere processing of foods affects how rapidly we digest it.
If we’re talking about higher carb foods, how rapidly that sugar gets absorbed and infuses into our bloodstreams.
So, processing might be inherently fattening for that reason, and the fact that these foods make us over-consume them.
There’s probably also a relationship between the degree of food processing and the rate of mastication and how fast we consume it.
It’s a lot easier to chew and swallow processed foods.
So yeah, I think that’s really where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck.
And again, if you look at any of the world’s Blue Zones, hunter-gatherer communities, you’ll see wide variations in terms of their diets.
You’ll see some communities on low-fat diets, you’ll see some communities on low-carb diets.
But the common thread among all of them is that their foods are minimally-processed, so that’s it.
This is not a dogmatic recommendation at all. It’s just about avoiding, to the best of your ability, ultra-processed foods.
The other recommendations that I make, I really put the focus on protein in the new book.
Which, the fitness community is well aware of the value of protein.
But this is not something that I think most people, like the masses, really know about, especially when the media tells them every other day that we’re eating too much protein, and that protein is somehow harmful to us or harmful for our kidneys if we’re healthy. Which we know at this point, that’s not true.
You mentioned earlier that fat has about twice the calories per gram of carbs and protein.
But I think what’s super interesting to know is that protein, because it has the highest thermic effect of either fat or carbs, you actually burn off about 30% of the calories that you consume from protein.
So protein, actually, you might almost consider protein having three calories per gram, which is sort of the metabolic free ride for a third of the food that you’re eating if it’s a high-protein food.
Abel: Especially if you’re hungry because protein is so quickly filling, I find, especially if you don’t go crazy on the fat. If you have a fair amount of fat versus outrageous amounts of fat, there’s a big difference.
There is a big difference, yeah. It’s called the protein leverage hypothesis that basically posits that our hunger mechanisms are driven by a requirement for nutrients like nitrogen and amino acids.
And that when we under-consume protein, we over-consume fat and carbs, which are basically energy.
But we’ll eat until we basically meet our requirements for nitrogen-containing amino acids, essential acids.
Yeah, so it’s a super powerful tool for people. It is the most satiating of the macronutrients.
Protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
You’re going to have a higher thermic effect in a piece of protein, whether that’s a chicken breast, a piece of beef.
Conversely, you get the lowest thermic effect in processed foods.
So again, the way that we metabolize processed foods is different than the way we metabolize whole foods.
You’ll actually see double the thermic effect in whole foods compared to processed foods.
And carbs and fat have the lowest thermic effect, regardless of where the carb and fat come from.
So you’re doing your metabolism a favor by, at every meal, prioritizing protein. I think it’s super important.
And also, it’s a great way to avoid what I call snaccident.
Have you ever had a snaccident, Abel James?
Abel: Never! It just never happened once in my life.
Never happened once. Yeah, I’m just as prone to this phenomena as I think anybody else.
When you have a bag of, I don’t know, let’s just say Paleo Puffs sitting in front of you.
Abel: Sure, yeah, you can go right through those things.
The ones that evaporate in your mouth, right?
The ones that disappears so that you can never fill up on them?
Oh my god, yeah. Well, it’s this phenomena with processed foods.
I find that it really short circuits your brain’s reward center.
Whenever I put one of these snacks in my mouth, I’m literally thinking about the next bite while I’m chewing the current bite.
That’s the degree to which they become addictive.
It’s not any one macro nutrient that’s more addictive than the other. I don’t think that.
I think that the claims around sugar being addictive have been a little bit overstated. You don’t see people munching pure sugar.
I think it’s the combination of sugar, fat, salt, wheat, that take a food and make it really, make it hyper-palatable, make it prone to over-consumption.
And that’s why I think people have these snaccidents, where they open up a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream.
They only intend on having a little bit, but before you know it, the entire pint is gone.
Protein is a great way to basically prevent that from happening.
By reaching for higher protein snacks, whether it’s pork rinds with nutritional yeast on it, which is an amazing snack, grass-fed beef jerky, which I’m a huge fan of, salmon jerky, even.
Because protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients. It’s essentially like taking a sniper rifle and shooting down your hunger in its tracks.
Abel: Yeah, a couple hundred calories, you really don’t need much more than that. Especially if a large portion of that is protein.
I find that out on hikes or when I’m traveling, just one of those tiny little healthy grass-fed version of a Slim Jim, or a little bit of jerky, like you mentioned, nuts, sardines, oysters, all these things. That’s a full meal.
And that might be my three o’clock meal, and I won’t need to eat again until probably three hours later, like six, and then I’ll have my actual meal.
But you feel great. You still feel like you have plenty of fuel.
You might be a little bit hungry, you could still eat, but you feel good, like you have proper fuel. And protein really does that.
Yeah, protein really does that. For a long time, I’ve prioritized protein whenever I eat.
I prioritize protein whenever I eat. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
That might be coming from a bias that I’ve always had towards weightlifting and fitness and things like that, which I think are crucially important.
But the research now is coming out suggesting that the RDA that asks us to get 0.8 grams per pound or per kilogram of protein every day might actually be about half of what we actually require for optimal health.
So, the latest research findings suggest that about 1.6 grams per kilogram of lean mass really seems to be the most effective in terms of growing and maintaining lean mass, helping shift our bodies to a more optimal weight.
And because, Abel, I’m super passionate about brain health.
There is an interesting study that I found that drew a pretty strong association between higher protein consumption and less amyloid beta in the brains and the cerebrospinal fluid of subjects.
So, whether or not it’s the protein that’s providing that protective effect, the dietary protein that’s providing protective effect, or the fact that eating more protein is going to make us less inclined to eat carbon fat laden junk foods, that remains a question mark.
But I think protein is such a very powerful tool for anybody, and prioritizing it at every meal, I think is super important.
As we both discussed already, it’s so satiating.
It’s like most people can’t recall a time that they overindulged on chicken breast or fish or lean meat or anything like that. It just doesn’t happen.
Abel: It’s hard. It doesn’t really work.
Yeah. It’s hard to do. Yeah. It’s hard to do. You just lose taste for it after a while.
Again, it kills your appetite. And yet, you can very easily think about the last time you overindulged on carbs and fat.
So, yeah. I think it’s cool.
I think providing this information for people, freeing them from this dogma that to be healthy today, you have to count your calories and track your macros.
Yeah. I think it’s cool.
And the other thing that I think is important is acknowledging that nobody’s going to be perfect 100% of the time.
So, this 80-20 rule, I think is actually really valuable.
Rather than thinking about having your hyper-palatable processed food as a cheat meal, I think it’s probably more worthwhile to think of them as planned indulgences.
Abel: Yeah. And life gives you those.
Yeah. Life definitely will throw you those indulgences. I think it’s a more positive way to think about eating, whatever it happens to be, whether it’s an entire bag of dried mango, which I’m prone to consuming if you put anywhere within 6 feet of me, or ice cream, or whatever.
Well, by having these planned indulgences, actually can benefit our metabolisms and can lead to higher adherence to our dietary plans.
And yeah, super, super crucial.
Addressing Environmental Toxins
Abel: Now, another thing that I’ve heard you rail on is sous-vide cooking, microwaving plastics.
It doesn’t matter how clean your food is if the way you’re preparing it or storing is infusing it with plastics or other crap.
Let’s rail on that a little.
Yeah. So one of the major topics that I cover in The Genius Life is environmental toxins.
And my goal really in writing the book, and I hope I’ve achieved it, is not to fearmonger but to just alert people and implore people to become more curious about the environmental industrial chemicals to which they are routinely exposed.
And plastic and plasticizing compounds are among the most common, what are called endocrine disruptors.
Certain compounds are able to affect the way that your finely tuned system of hormones works.
And the two most common that you’ll find in the environment are phthalates and bisphenols.
Most people are familiar with bisphenol-A or BPA, and there’s a growing consumer concern around BPA.
And so, what you’re seeing now is manufacturers are removing BPA from their products, but they’re replacing it with other chemically similar compounds like BPS or BPF.
And there’s no reason to suspect that they’re any less problematic.
The problem with these compounds is that they’ve—BPA, for example, has been known for a century at this point to possess profound estrogenic properties.
Meaning it can block the way that the hormone estrogen works in your body or it can activate receptors for that hormone.
And we know that certain cancers are sensitive to estrogen and other hormones.
The dose that somebody would typically be exposed to BPA in the environment today can alter insulin function in the body. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
And we’re inundated with these compounds, whether it’s flame retardants in our furniture or phthalates in our food storage containers or in fragrances that we use to make our home smell nice.
Or BPA which is found in everything from the inner linings of aluminum cans to plastic reusable storage bottles to coating the store register receipts.
Even at big healthy supermarkets, you’ll find store receipts that are just coated with BPA, which, again, is a potent endocrine disruptor.
And the danger with these chemicals is that, as an adult, they can affect everything from, as I mentioned, the way that the hormone and insulin works, to our predisposition, to fat storage, to our risk for certain diseases, to our brain function, to our energy levels, to libido or sex function, things like…
Obviously, estrogen is a sex hormone.
But if you’re exposed to these compounds earlier in life, they could potentially have lifelong effects.
So, that’s why I think they’re all deserving of a little bit more scrutiny, especially when we touch these store register receipts.
Side note, when we use hand sanitizer prior to or after handling those receipts, it dramatically, by at least an order of magnitude, increases the permeability of our skin to these environmental toxins.
So, you want to minimize your exposure to these heat-sensitive store receipts and you certainly don’t want to use hand sanitizer before or immediately after handling them.
You want to wash your hands after touching them.
Store receipts: wash your hands after touching them. Click To Tweet
But think about how treacherous it is that we handle these receipts and then we hold the hands of our loved ones where these compounds can enter our circulation.
We get them in our mouths because humans, whether we like to admit it or not, we barely practice hand-to-mouth behavior.
So it’s just a major problem. And so in the book, what I do is I alert people to the most common endocrine disruptors in their environment.
I have become passionate about the work of an organization called the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, which people should check out.
I think the website is tedx.org. And I interviewed the executive director on my podcast.
And it’s an organization dedicated to raising awareness for and tracking all of the endocrine disruptors in the environment that a human may plausibly interact with on a daily basis.
And they’re tracking 1,400 known compounds ranging from certain heavy metals to fluoride, to phthalates, BPA to BPS, parabens and things like that.
And so it’s not that any one of these compounds is going to cause me harm, I don’t think.
But the overall burden of toxicity today has just become so overwhelming for our defense systems that I think wherever you can minimize your exposure, I think that’s probably worthwhile.
And then I talk about detoxification in the book.
Detox is something that has become co-opted by the wellness industry. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
It’s a term that you slap it on anything, suddenly that product has a halo effect.
And people are spending lots and lots of money on these detox teas and things like that.
So, what I talk about in the book is how to detox without any of that crap.
Essentially, the three P’s of healthy elimination are to pee regularly, to poop regularly, and to perspire regularly.
And just making sure that you’re doing those things, you’re going to the bathroom on a regular basis, you are staying hydrated, because a solution to pollution is dilution.
A solution to pollution is dilution. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
So, making sure that you’re drinking fluids throughout the day, or consuming produce that contains water, or drinking herbal teas and broths and things like that.
And then perspiring on a regular basis, so making sure that you’re sweating regularly, whether that means sitting in a sauna or exercising regularly, doing some hot yoga.
I don’t sweat that much when I workout, so sometimes I’ll just wear a hoodie in the gym until I build up that sort of level of body heat where I start to sweat.
Yeah, so it’s really about just giving people the tools to take ownership over their health and their surroundings.
And I know that you’re a big advocate for that as well.
Why You Should Protect Your Ears
Abel: Yeah, absolutely. We’re actually coming up on time, but I want to make sure we talk about this too.
I heard you talk about it recently on another podcast as well, is the fact that wherever you’re going, you’re protecting your ears.
You actually carry a decibel meter. This is another thing that I do as well.
I’ve seen a lot of people, especially in the music world, lose their hearing, which is not a small thing, especially if you’re a musician or you do what we do, it’s like we need our ears so bad.
But I would love to hear some of the environments that you found yourself in that surprised you how loud it was, because it’s not always what we expect.
Yeah, so I talked about the fact that loud and annoying noise exposure can actually stimulate the body’s sympathetic nervous system and fight-or-flight response without your consent, and how that is now being tied to dramatically increased risk for any number of chronic diseases:
Type two diabetes, heart disease, and even worse, an impaired executive function in children.
Just chronic noise exposure.
We know that it’s disturbing, but it also stimulates the body’s fight-or-flight response which can lead to chronic elevations of the hormone cortisol, which we know it actually can negatively affect brain function and actually shrink the memory center of the brain.
So, it seems to be the case of people who live close to busy intersections and are regularly exposed to road noise, or noise pollution, you can call it, or even what is referred to in the literature as noise annoyance.
So, living close to an airport, for example, regularly hearing planes go overhead. It can actually be damaging to one’s health.
So, what I recommend for people is to invest, if you’re in one of those situations, to invest in a pair of noise-blocking headphones that you can use or earplugs, so that you can make sure that your environment is quiet.
Insulating your apartment for sound is going to be a little bit more pricey, but I think it’s worth it if you regularly experience noise pollution in your home.
And then when it comes to the health of our ears, that’s going to go a long way, to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
This discussion reminds me of the fact that hearing loss is actually dramatically related to having increased risk for dementia.
So, the more closed in we get into our own environments, I mean that feeling of loneliness and isolation can be damaging to our cognitive health.
And I make the recommendation that if people aren’t consuming adequate magnesium, that they should look in their diets to find ways of optimizing that or even to take a magnesium supplement.
It’s one of the few supplements that I take every day.
There have been a number of studies that have found that magnesium can actually reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
So, yeah, they do this with people on army bases that are regularly exposed to gunfire.
Randomized control trials find that the supplementation with magnesium can actually prevent noise-induced hearing damage.
Randomized control trials find that the supplementation with magnesium can actually prevent noise-induced hearing damage. @maxlugavere Click To Tweet
So, if I regularly find myself in a loud environment or a nightclub, if I get dragged out to one, I come home and I take a little bit extra magnesium.
Abel: I didn’t know that trick. That’s very cool.
Yeah, you can Google it, magnesium.
There have been a number of studies published on PubMed, dating back to, I believe the ’70s, that you’ll find that magnesium seems to be an effective prophylactic for hearing loss.
Abel: Wow. And I can vouch too, just the power of putting something over your ears that protects you from outside wind, sound, just distraction.
It can be a great focus aid even if you don’t have any music on or any noise in there, even if you’re just getting some silence going, that can be very powerful for focus and for sleep.
Yeah, couldn’t agree more. I mean humans can get used to persistent noise.
So white noise can actually be a great way to drown out the more spontaneous sounds that might act as a source of noise annoyance and negatively affect your sleep.
Abel: True. Yeah.
So I’m a big fan of white noise. But yeah, generally making sure that you are tending to your hearing.
Our sense of hearing is the only sense that we can’t consciously disengage.
So, you have to be really careful about what you allow to enter your ears.
You also have to be conscious of what you allow in your skin, about the light that you allow to enter your eyes.
But hearing, just because we can’t consciously disengage it, I think it becomes all the more valuable to be just cognizant of the noise that we are routinely exposed to.
Especially because once your hearing goes, it doesn’t really… It’s unlikely to come back.
Abel: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Where to Find Max Lugavere
Well, Max, we’re just about out of time, but please tell folks where they can find your new book, your podcast, and all the other cool stuff you’re working on.
Yeah, thank you, Abel.
So, my new book is called The Genius Life. You can order it wherever you buy books; Barnes & Noble, amazon.com, or you can go to geniuslifebook.com and order it from there. But it’s available everywhere.
My podcast is also called The Genius Life, remember to hit subscribe.
Abel’s been on it, and I think we’re about to record his second appearance soon. So I’m looking forward to that.
And then I’m very active on Instagram, @maxlugavere. Come say hi.
Abel: Right on. Max, we need you more than ever, man. Keep doing your work.
Anyone out there who hasn’t listened to Max’s podcast, read his books, or checked out—I mean you’ve done a lot of projects over the years, I can’t wait to see what you do next.
Thanks so much for coming on, man.
Thank you, brother. Thank you so much.
Before You Go…
Here’s a review for The Wild Diet that came in from where Ryan. He says:
The Fat-Burning Man strikes again with an all out assault on GMOs, non-organic, fast food corporatism bringing light and influence to the farm-to-table lifestyle that’ll put into perspective how our modern world has changed us.
Great book. Great recipes. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to regain control over their life! – Ryan
Hey Ryan, I’ve got to say, reading this review, it’s one of the best written wordsmith reviews. I can tell you have fun with words in a similar way. You’re probably even some sort of artist or a musician, as well.
I really appreciate your sincere note here, and I appreciate that you like the recipes, as well.
If you’re out there and you’re looking for some free recipes, by the way, make sure you checkout the Recipe section of the website.
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You’ll see boiling mud pots, erupting geysers, elk mamas nibbling veggies, and me playing guitar out in the woods, my natural environment.
Again, you can find all that over at AbelJames.com.
And finally, if you’d like to support this show, please visit wildsuperfoods.com.
That’s where we have all of our line of supplements that are lab tested for purity and potency, and formulated according to the latest cutting edge developments in research, science, and medicine.
These are the nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals that my wife and family and close friends in our community have been taking now for years. People seem to really like them, even kids seem to like Future Greens.
Future Greens is a combination of over a dozen different superfoods that we’ve used to help detox, keep our energy up, and just generally fill out that nutritional spectrum.
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What did you think of this interview with Max Lugavere? How do you eat and supplement for brain health? Drop a comment below!