What To Eat For Health And Longevity - Transcript

Mark Hyman: The most powerful tool you have to change your health is your fork. Food is not just calories or energy. Food contains information. It literally talks to your genes and it turns them on or off and affects their function moment to moment. Food controls your hormones, [00:00:30] your immune system, your brain chemistry. It even controls your gut microbiome and your detoxification system. And of course, it controls your structural system because it's what you're made of. You are literally what you eat. So ask yourself, do you want to become a Twinkie or a raspberry? The most exciting thing I've heard in a long time is that the Rockefeller Foundation is supporting a research effort to map out the tens of thousands of molecules in food, things we've never discovered before, [00:01:00] and what they actually do using the most advanced technology and artificial intelligence, creating a literal periodic table of medicinal molecules in food. I get excited about that. I don't know about you, but it makes me really happy. It goes way beyond what we think of as food. Of course, protein, fat, carbs, fiber vitamins, minerals. Yeah. That's food. And they dig deep into the realm of food as medicine, exploring the realm of what we call phytonutrients. These are plant-based [00:01:30] chemicals that have medicinal properties. When you eat, if you eat a whole foods, plant rich, nutrient-dense diet, you are literally eating your medicine every single day. Food is the fastest acting and most powerful medicine you can take to change your life. And it works fast, literally in minutes, to regulate almost every single function of your body for better or worse, depending on what you eat. Yes, we are stuck with the genes we got from mom and dad, but [00:02:00] here's the headline news. You have amazing control over how those genes are expressed and the biggest factor controlling your genes is what you eat, or sometimes what you need that you don't eat. Think you for your genes as the software that runs everything in your body, just like your computer software. Your genes only do what you instruct them to do like with the stroke of your keyboard. The foods you eat are like the keystrokes. They send messages [00:02:30] to your genes, telling them what to do. They create health or they create disease. We know that poor diet is linked to many preventable lifestyle diseases like type two diabetes, many cancers, heart disease, dementia, and lots more. We also know that a real, whole foods diet that's rich in these phytochemical-dense plants, that has clean protein, plenty of fiber and healthy fats can prevent, treat, and even reverse most chronic diseases. You see, food [00:03:00] impacts each node of the functional medicine matrix that we discussed in episode one. It can boost your vascular system, your immune system, your hormones, your detox system, your energy system, your microbiome and everything in between. And there are specific functional foods and super foods that assist with things like DNA repair, stem cell activity, and that feed the healthy bugs in your gut. This means that there are foods that can actually fight [00:03:30] disease. More importantly, there are foods that literally create health. Let's just take COVID-19 for example. Just one study found that if you have good levels of selenium in your blood, you are three times more likely to be cured of COVID and recover. But if you have low levels, you are five times more likely to die. That's a 500% increased risk of dying. That is massive. And that's just one nutrient and it's easy to get from [00:04:00] a few Brazil nuts. But of course don't have more than two to four a day because you can OD. Now I don't know about you, but I want to incorporate as many of these disease-fighting foods as possible. In this episode of the Longevity Roadmap, my team will walk you through our favorite functional and super foods that can help you make your health span equal your lifespan. Now, I don't want you to think that you can eat a diet of junk food and just incorporate a few of these superfoods to live longer and healthier. Extending your health span and making [00:04:30] your health span equal your lifespan requires a complete lifestyle overhaul. So we're also going to discuss how to personalize your diet, how to test your nutritional status, how to balance your blood sugar and lots more. So let's dive in. So the Pegan diet essentially was a goofball joke I made once on a stage with some friends who were fighting, a paleo doc and a vegan doc. And I just said, "Well, if you guys, a paleo and you're vegan, I must be Pegan." But then I thought about it. And what [00:05:00] are the common principles that most diets, even in the diet wars, have in common? And what I realized was there is far more in common with being paleo or vegan, which were the extremes, than with the traditional American processed SAD or Standard American diet. And what are those principles? Well, both agree that we should be eating a plant rich diet that's full of colorful fruits and vegetables that are incredibly nutrient- [00:05:30] dense and full of phytochemicals. We should be eating good quality fats like olive oil, avocados. We should be eating Omega 3 fats, which are so essential from us. So we should be eating a diet rich in high quality seafood that doesn't have heavy metals and mercury, things like sardines and mackerel and herring and anchovies and things that I love and my wife doesn't love. That we should be eating a diet that's got whole grains and beans, but not whole grain flour. [00:06:00] So not whole wheat flour, not even brown rice flour, those are dangerous. But literally whole grains. And the more weird the grains, the better. Things like black rice or quinoa or red rice or buckwheat. I mean, buckwheat is an interesting one. There's a form of buckwheat from the Himalayas that is the most powerful super food on the planet. It's anti-inflammatory and regulates all these pathways. And the good quality beans that aren't too starchy. So these are the basic principles. And if you're eating animal products, [00:06:30] you want to make sure they're regeneratively raised. There's an incredible body of research now, showing that grass-fed regeneratively raised animals actually contain phytonutrients which are plant-based compounds that you wouldn't expect to see in animal food but that are there because of what the animals are eating. So you're not only what you eat, you're whatever you are eating already ate. So we have an incredible strategy for eating a diet that is rich in all [00:07:00] these things and is including all these protective foods and removing all the harmful foods. So getting rid of the starch and sugar. A little bit it's fine, but we shouldn't be eating flour on a regular basis. Whatever it is. We shouldn't be eating a lot of sugar or any form of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Occasionally it's fine, but it's not a staple. It's a treat. And we definitely shouldn't be eating things that aren't food that are in our food [00:07:30] like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, those just snap in our food. And another principle is, if we're eating dairy, we should be very smart about what we're eating. Most modern dairy is conventionally grown, has got a lot of hormones and a lot of inflammatory proteins because of how we've raised the animals and bred them to produce a certain type of casein that causes all these consequences [00:08:00] of inflammation and gut issues. But if you have, for example, heirloom cows or sheep and goat, you don't get the same level of casein. And if you can tolerate it, those are fine to include in your diet. But for most people, they don't tolerate it so much. And most people are lactose intolerant. So those are the principles of a Pegan diet that we can include in designing our daily meals. So for example, yesterday, I had Shakshuka, which is, I cheated, but it's a Moroccan dish with [00:08:30] red peppers, tomatoes, spices. It's made from whole ingredients. And I put it in a little cast iron pan. I broke some pasture-raised eggs in there and I baked it. So it's like baked eggs and it was a delicious breakfast. I actually made something the other day, it was fun. I made cashew waffles because I don't really eat waffles very often, but I had a friend over, a little kid and I made cashew waffles which is cashews and eggs and almond milk, pretty simple. And [00:09:00] it turns into waffles believe it or not. For lunch, I would often have a salad, so I'll make a nice, big salad with tomatoes and olives and avocados and pumpkin seeds. I'll open a can of mackerel or sardines or herring often on the side and eat that with it. That's lunch. I use olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, really simple. Dinner is usually some form of high quality proteins. I sometimes use tempeh or tofu, I'll have grass-fed beef, occasionally, pasture-raised chicken. [00:09:30] I've had a fish. For example, I like black cod and salmon and some of these other fish that are low in toxins. I'll make a lots of veggies. So I'll literally have the protein as a side dish and I'll have a mountain of whether it's stir-fried bok choy or broccolini, artichokes. So I'll make two or three side dishes of vegetables and I might have a piece of dark chocolate after dinner. So that's essentially what I eat. And it's essentially what is going to help [00:10:00] promote longevity. I use a lot of spices. I use a lot of good quality fats. I use a lot of veggies and colorful veggies, and I really try to focus on not the five to nine servings, which is the minimum, right? That's the minimum and a serving is half a cup. So that would be like two cups of vegetables. I think we should be having eight to 10 cups of vegetables a day and it's not easy to do, but I like to do it. Sometimes we make what we call an [inaudible 00:10:27] shake in the morning which is lots of veggies, [00:10:30] cucumber, celery, greens, avocados, blend it all up. And my wife likes to take all the vegetables and freeze them. So we have them in packets and we just throw it in the blender. And then we have this nice cold green smoothie in the morning. There's probably like five cups of vegetables. So there's a lot of ways to sort of hack your process, but getting your veggies and your phytochemicals is so important because so many of the pathways related to aging have to do with including these phytochemical [00:11:00] rich compounds, whether it's green tea or quercetin, which is found in onions or resveratrol is in grapes or turmeric, which is curcumin which is in curry. Including all of these as a regular staple in your diet. And if you do that day after day, day after day and are consistent, you will see the benefits over the longterm in terms of your metabolism, you'll increase your organ reserve. You'll decrease body fat, you'll increase muscle mass, you'll reduce inflammation, [00:11:30] you'll increase your antioxidants and enzymes. You will boost your mitochondria, you improve your brain chemistry, all the things that we want as we age. So food is the most powerful drug on the planet. It is the place to start and it works any time at any age for anybody. Elizabeth Boham: So carbohydrates are a necessary macronutrient for our health and wellbeing. But as most of you know, there's a wide range of carbohydrates. So on one end may be something [00:12:00] like simple sugar or soda. That's a carbohydrate that's really broken down and absorbed really quickly into the body causing insulin spikes which causes inflammation. And we all know that's not good for us. And then on the other end there may be something like broccoli, right? It's also a carbohydrate, but it's slow to get digested and absorbed into the body. And it influences our body in a much different way. So all carbohydrates are not equal as we know. And carbohydrates are a really important, [00:12:30] necessary food for our health and wellbeing. We just want to make sure we're making the right choices of carbohydrates. We want to be choosing those healthful carbohydrates. And of course, most of us all know, okay, we want to avoid the simple sugars and we want to eat more of the vegetables. But so what about the in-between part? The in-between part is where people have a lot of confusion many times and they're like, "Well, what about bread? And what if it's gluten-free? And what if it's whole grain? And what about potatoes? And what about? [00:13:00] And what about beans and legumes even?" So there's a continuum of carbohydrates. We've got our vegetables and then we've got our beans and legumes. For most people, beans and legumes are a wonderful food that's rich in fiber and is good for us. For some people, they could be too high in carbohydrate. And so we have to think about that. And then we've got the refined and processed carbohydrates, right? We know we want to eliminate those. We want to avoid [00:13:30] things like cookies and crackers and baked goods most of the time. And even things like breads and pastas. They're not usually very nutrient dense, which means per calorie, they're not giving you all the nutrients your body needs as much as let's say a sweet potato. So you always want to think about, I want a better carbohydrate option. So my root vegetables are going to give me more vitamins and minerals per calorie than something like pasta or bread would. [00:14:00] It doesn't mean for most people, they can never eat pasta or bread, but those are better choices, right? So, where does somebody fall in terms of how many carbohydrates they can tolerate? You want to just listen to your body to figure out what's the right amount of carbohydrates for you. First of all, you don't want to just have your meal be all carbohydrate. I don't think I've had any patient who feels good with that, right? Pancakes with syrup and orange juice, all carbohydrates. And most [00:14:30] of the time, people don't feel very good after they eat a meal like that. What is the amount of carbohydrates that your body can tolerate? Monitor how you feel after your meal? What's your energy level like, how is your weight? Are you still gaining weight when you don't want to? If you're still gaining weight when you don't want to, maybe you need to cut further back on carbohydrates. If your digestion doesn't feel good after eating some higher carbohydrate meals, maybe even the root vegetables or for some people the beans and legumes, they may need to cut back there. So it's very personalized when we determine [00:15:00] how many carbohydrates somebody can tolerate. For all of us, we want to eliminate the simple sugars and the refined carbohydrates. And then the amount of whole grains, root vegetables and beans and legumes somebody can tolerate really does depend on their individual health. So for example, if you've got somebody with a lot of insulin resistance, they've got high fasting insulin, they've gained a lot of weight around their belly. You're seeing skin tags that may indicate insulin resistance. Their hormones are out of balance, their [00:15:30] periods are irregular if they're a woman. If they're a man, their testosterone is low, right? If we're seeing signs of metabolic syndrome, we typically cut back further on carbohydrates. That helps people feel more satiated and when we increase fat a little bit in their meal, make sure they're getting enough protein and cut back more on the grains, even if they are whole grains. Sometimes people just feel better and they'll get to their goal faster. If your metabolism is really good and if you don't have any signs of metabolic syndrome, you may not have to worry [00:16:00] about whole grains and you can enjoy some of those whole grains that are rich in fiber, like quinoa and brown rice and even some whole grain breads within your meals and feel really good and satisfied with that. So it really depends on the individual person. The other area we really look at when we're personalizing somebody's diet is we're looking at what are their symptoms? What are they concerned about? What are they complaining about? And we talked about if somebody has the metabolic syndrome or [00:16:30] the pre-diabetes picture, we're cutting back more on carbohydrates, leaning more toward vegetables for their carbohydrate source, getting a good source of fat, healthy fat, and protein at every meal. Protein is an essential macronutrient for our health, and we want to make sure we're getting enough. We don't need too much protein, but we also don't want too little protein. So just the right amount is really important for overall health. So about one gram per kilogram per day is what's recommended for protein intake. So if you [00:17:00] are about 150 pounds or 70 kilograms, you want to be getting 70 grams of protein in your day. What I recommend people do in general is to divide that protein throughout all their meals. They don't want to eat it all at one meal at night. They want to have some protein at each meal of the day. So if you eat three meals, you would want to have 20 to 25 grams of protein at each meal. That really helps with everything from focus and keeping your blood sugar more stable to healing in your body. Protein's [00:17:30] necessary for your cells to heal, for good collagen production and for detoxification. As we get older, we need more protein. There's a few reasons for that. One, we tend to eat less calories as we get older and we don't always digest and absorb our protein as well as we get older. So, for patients after the age of 65, maybe, or 70, we're recommending more protein in their day. So they need more like 1.2 to 1.5 [00:18:00] grams per kilogram per day. So for that 70 kilogram patient, we try to get them up to 105 grams of protein in a day. And that can be hard for some people because they're eating less calories and they're not always reaching for protein rich foods. In general, I recommend that people balance their protein sources. So you don't want to get all your protein from animal products. But for some people, [00:18:30] if they get all of their protein from vegetable sources, we can see deficiencies over time. So in general, we work on balance. We work on a balance of animal and vegetable proteins. So, mix it up, try half the time getting your protein from beans and legumes and nuts and seeds. And the other half of the time, getting it from wild caught salmon or sardines or grass-fed beef or eggs, mixing it up so you get some from both animal [00:19:00] and plant sources is a great general way to get what your body needs. Sometimes, we see people showing signs of protein deficiency because they're not digesting or absorbing their protein well. So if we see things like weak nails or hair loss or lackluster skin, or maybe they get bloated after they eat, maybe they feel really full after they have some animal protein or it just feels very uncomfortable in their stomach, it feels hard [00:19:30] for them to break it down. If I see any of these signs, I say, "Oh, maybe somebody is not digesting or absorbing their protein well." And then we have to ask that question why. We have to look for things like antibodies and auto-immune disorder that can damage the cells in the stomach called the parietal cells that produce acid. And that's a very common cause of having a hard time with breaking down protein and absorbing it. We also look for things like dysbiosis or an imbalance in the good [00:20:00] and bad bacteria in the digestive system. Because if there is that dysbiosis, that can cause more inflammation. And then, if there's inflammation in the digestive system, your digestive enzymes don't work as well and you don't digest and absorb your protein as well. So if that's the case, we've got to work to rebalance that gut microbiota. Many times people will benefit from some sort of digestive aid for a period of time like a digestive enzyme or something to increase stomach acid like bitters or betaine HCL for a period of time to help them break down [00:20:30] and digest and absorb their protein better. If somebody has more concerns with auto-immune disease, maybe they've got a lot of auto-immune disease going on, they've got a lot of joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe they've got a lot of digestive issues. Maybe they've got a lot of inflammation in their body. Many times, we'll try some elimination diets. Elimination diets are a great way to clear the playing field to see if any foods are triggering inflammation in that person's body. We're able [00:21:00] to see if any foods are triggering that autoimmune process, to see if any foods are triggering their digestive issues, to see if any foods are triggering fluid retention and weight gain or headaches, for example, or asthma. So comprehensive elimination diets are a diet where you pull away very commonly eaten foods as well as you pull away alcohol and caffeine, you pull away gluten and dairy for a period of time. You even pull away corn and [00:21:30] soy and red meat sometimes, foods that are very commonly eaten and foods that commonly increase inflammation in people's body. And most people, when they're doing a comprehensive elimination diet, work with somebody like a nutritionist to make sure they're doing it in the right way. But there are some good elimination diet programs out there that you can try on your own as well. And when you remove those foods, you want to remove them for at least three weeks. That can help give you an idea of how [00:22:00] much that food is impacting your health. The most important part of an elimination diet is the reintroduction. So when you reintroduce those foods, you want to introduce them one at a time and really get a sense of is that food causing my symptoms? And that's a great way that you can see how much food is impacting your health. Todd Lepine: I would say that any foods that nurture the microbiome, so things like fermented foods, sauerkraut, kimchi are also great foods for nurturing the gut [00:22:30] microbiome. I would also say that spices, things like turmeric, which is also a good food for overall immune function. Mushrooms are fantastic. Mushrooms have multiple, multiple health benefits. They actually are very good prebiotics and they also help, some specific mushrooms can raise natural killer cells. So things like Shiitake mushrooms, Maitake mushrooms are excellent for the gut microbiome also. So quercetin [00:23:00] is a phytonutrient. It's found in things like apples and teas. And what we find is that quercetin has benefits, multiple benefits and it has a polyphenolic component to it. And it also actually helps with the synthesis of the tight junctions. So having quercetin in the diet can actually keep the gut healthy by keeping the tight junctions healthy. [00:23:30] So for those who don't really conceptually understand leaky gut, a simple analogy to leaky gut is having a house with a screened in door. And the screen door allows the air to come in, but it keeps the bugs out. And when your screen door has holes in it, the air comes in and the bugs come in and that's essentially what's happening when your body has increased intestinal permeability which is really sort of rampant. Every time anybody eats a food that contains gluten, you'll get transient leaky gut. [00:24:00] If you overeat fatty foods, and we've all experienced that where, I call it the post Thanksgiving day dinner, where you get a lot of food, there's a lot of fat and you get that sluggish sensation, part of that is that you're getting transient, metabolic endotoxemia. And you don't want to have that all the time. And these high-fat foods, specifically processed fats, not that fat is bad for you, but it depends on the quantity and the type of fat, those types of things will increase [00:24:30] leaky gut. And then also, making sure that you're not exposing yourself to things like the non-steroidal medications, things like Ibuprofen and Naprosyn. Antibiotics can affect it. Proton pump inhibitors can do it and stress. So all of those things that we can use to protect our gut are really important. And then again, a simple thing to do is to have high quercetin in the diet. Oftentimes when I'm treating patients therapeutically, I'll actually use prescription [00:25:00] strength or nutraceutical forms of quercetin in powder form which I'll add to other things to help heal the gut. Elizabeth Boham: Our body is always regenerating itself. We have stem cells in our body that help our cells heal and regenerate after there's been damage or injury. We know that foods like chocolate and tea, they have a lot of components in them that actually can help repair damage to our DNA and help repair damaged cells in our body. We know that purple potatoes, for example, [00:25:30] the phytonutrients in them can have a tremendous benefit in terms of helping heal DNA damage in our body. Turmeric is a bright orange root vegetable that's a phenomenal spice that's used in cooking all the time. It's rich in curcumin that has a lot of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity in it. Turmeric is a wonderful spice that can be added to many different foods. We know that when foods have more spices added to them, we see less inflammation after [00:26:00] a meal. If you take two the same meals, one that has two tablespoons of spices and one that does not, all other things being equal, the food that had the extra spice in it, people have less inflammation after that meal. They can look at that with markers of inflammation which is pretty phenomenal. So spices are part of those phytonutrients that have a lot of really helpful benefits in our body and we want to incorporate more spices into our day all the time. We also know that things like sulforaphane, [00:26:30] black tea, coffees even, are also really rich in these phytonutrients that can help with DNA repair and stem cell production in the body. So there's a lot of foods that we can eat that can help improve the functioning of our immune system. So we know that oysters are a wonderful food that are rich in zinc. Zinc is really important for overall health, but also for overall functioning of the immune system. We know that people who don't get enough zinc, their immune system does not work as [00:27:00] well. They may have more allergies,. They may have more autoimmune issues and they may have more frequent infections, colds and flus. Oysters are great because they have the highest amount of zinc per calorie of all of the foods. We also know that pumpkin seeds and lots of other nuts and seeds, other animal proteins are also rich in zinc. Garlic and onions are rich in thiols. These are sulfur rich compounds that help support the body's detoxification capacity. So you want to incorporate these [00:27:30] garlic and onions into most meals of the day whenever possible. Mark Hyman: So the research on stem cells is exploding and what's exciting is that there are some simple things we can do every day to enhance our stem cells. Things like food. Food is medicine. Fish oil, for example, curcumin which is basically coming from turmeric that you make curry with, green tea and lots of other plant phytochemicals, these compounds in food [00:28:00] that are from colorful fruits and vegetables that help to enhance our health in many ways, including stem cell production. There's a whole field of regenerative medicine out there. And these therapies are not your typical therapies. Drug therapies typically work on one pathway that either help or hurt or interrupt some function to change your biology. That's what drugs do. They also have side effects and they also are not always so effective. [00:28:30] They're marginally effective. But there's a whole set of tools out there that are emerging that are regenerative therapies that do things in a broad way that aren't treating a specific disease or pathway that activate all the healing mechanisms that we need to activate to age well. They reduce inflammation. They increase your antioxidant systems. They increase the function and number of your mitochondria and energy production, [00:29:00] they enhance brain repair. They enhance tissue repair and healing. They decrease fat storage. They increase lean muscle mass. They increase cognitive function and brain chemistry. And they do this by a mechanism in the body called hormesis which is essentially where a stress is induced to then create a healing response. So a little bit of stress on the system creates a healing response. [00:29:30] And I'll give you a great example of how this happens in nature. Have you ever had a wild strawberry? A wild strawberry is like this big but the explosion of taste and flavor is unbelievable. Now you might get a conventional, commercially raised strawberry that looks red and beautiful, but tastes like cardboard with very limited flavor and juiciness and ripeness. When you look at why does that wild strawberry have so much flavor, it's because [00:30:00] it's hard to be a wild strawberry. You don't have somebody taking care of you and taking the weeds out and watering you and giving you fertilizer and doing all these things. You have to work hard. And so this stress on the wild strawberry creates a whole series of increased protective compounds called phytochemicals that help that strawberry defend itself from all sorts of injury and danger. Well, we're like the conventional strawberry. We don't have any of these stressors on our system [00:30:30] and we don't really respond in this way and organic food's a little better, regenerative food's great but wild food is the best. If you want to turn off the genes that create disease and turn on the genes that lead to health, you have to focus on the quality and the type of food you eat. And one of the best things you can do for your health today is to shift from a nutrient-poor diet, to a nutrient-rich diet, abundant in plant foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and seafood, and even [00:31:00] regeneratively raised animal foods, which surprisingly contain good levels of phytonutrients because of the grass they eat. This way of eating improves the expression of hundreds of genes, thousands of genes that control insulin function and obesity and may help address almost all chronic diseases. For example, the array of colors and veggies contains 25,000 beneficial chemicals. Our hunter gatherer ancestors ate over 800 varieties of plant [00:31:30] foods. We don't consume a fraction of that anymore. I always say, "Eat the rainbow." Load up on reds, greens, blues, purples, and yellow foods. Focus on lots of superfoods that we discussed in this episode. Also include healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, seafood, rich in Omega 3 fats and organic and grass-fed meat and animal food. Eating this way can reduce inflammation. It'll boost your detox system. It'll bounce your hormones. It'll improve your brain chemistry. It will enhance your ability to produce [00:32:00] energy in your cells and it will provide lots of antioxidant production, preventing disease and keeping you younger longer. Now, if knowing all this doesn't make you want to upgrade your diet and upgrade your biology I don't know what will. So thanks for tuning in and I'll see you next time for episode seven.