Max Lugavere (@maxlugavere) is a science journalist focusing on brain health, performance, and longevity. His New York Times Best Seller Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life is out now.
“In the modern supermarket, dietary diversity is a terrible thing!” -Max Lugavere
What We Discuss with Max Lugavere:
- Alzheimer’s disease isn’t just something that afflicts the elderly — what can young people do today to ward it off?
- What does modern science have to say about the USDA’s historical recommended daily allowance of grains?
- Problems like depression and brain fog can often be traced directly to our diet and lifestyle.
- How to arm ourselves for optimal brain function so we can wake up feeling awesome every day.
- How food companies spend big bucks on research and development designed to addict us to and overconsume their products.
- And much more…
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Many of us grow up believing that neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease only afflict the elderly, but science is increasingly telling us that the choices we make decades before first symptoms arrive can keep them at bay.
Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life co-author and Bread Head documentary filmmaker Max Lugavere joins us to explain what these choices are and how the benefits of making good choices go far beyond securing a better future to be enjoyed in our elder years. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Max Lugavere is a science journalist, director of the documentary Bread Head, and co-author of Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life.
Max’s mother — a fast-talking, high-performing New Yorker who owned her own business — was only 58 when she started showing signs of cognitive difficulty and memory loss. With neurodegenerative disease unknown in their family’s history, it came without warning.
“It seemed like her processing speed had slowed,” says Max. “sort of like when you have a Web browser and you have too many tabs open and you’re trying to watch a video and the framerate starts to stutter.”
What followed was a tour of the country’s top medical research facilities to try to pinpoint exactly what was causing this neurological degeneration. Some symptoms suggested Parkinson’s disease. Some suggested Alzheimer’s disease. She was medicated for both, but concrete answers were elusive.
Diagnose and Adios
“I’ve coined the term ‘Diagnose and adios,'” says Max, “because that’s what I experienced in every single doctor’s office with my mom. They basically prescribe a slew of chemical bandaids and they send you on your way. And it’s not the doctors’ fault. It’s not that the attending physician is being careless or reckless. It’s just that 90 percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s disease has only been discovered in the last 15 years.
“So when you take a neurologist who went to medical school 20 years ago — doctors by themselves are criminally undertrained when it comes to nutrition and even exercise — they don’t know anything for the most part about diet and lifestyle and how it affects the brain, which is this organ that was for a very long time believed to be held in isolation from the rest of the body via the blood brain barrier.”
Because of the uncertainty of his mother’s diagnosis even by the country’s highest authorities, Max was prompted to learn as much about neurodegenerative diseases as he could.
“I could have waited for the ‘experts’ to direct me, or I could have become an expert myself,” says Max. “I chose the latter. The stakes are too high when it comes to our brains to sit idly by, so I decided to arm myself and others with knowledge.”
A little bit of what Max has learned so far:
- Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease only start appearing when 50 percent of the brain’s dopaminergic neurons in charge of movement are already dead.
- Alzheimer’s symptoms first appear 40 to 50 years after the disease begins taking hold.
- There are currently no drugs yet known that will reverse or significantly delay the effects of either — and drug companies that have been trying for years without success are closing down trials as investment dries up.
An Ounce of Prevention
When weighing the astronomical costs of caring for someone with dementia versus the price of food with the nutritional value to prevent neurodegenerative diseases in the first place, Max believes the correct choice is obvious.
“People complain about spending a little bit more money on higher quality food in the face of all the evidence that really shows that food is medicine — you’ve got to pay the tab at some point,” says Max.
So what’s this higher quality food we should be eating? Isn’t it enough to take in something from the four food groups as dictated by whatever guidance symbols the USDA has recommended for us this decade?
While many of us remember 1992’s Food Guide Pyramid, the base of which was supported by “six to 11 servings” of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, recent trials have found no convincing evidence that grains provide any benefit to human health — just human commerce.
“Grains, especially in their most commonly consumed form, are incredibly energy dense and nutrient poor,” says Max. “The hallmark of any healthy food is nutrient density — a high amount of nutrients per calorie.”
Rather than grains, Max recommends a neuroprotective diet that focuses on whole, natural foods that aren’t concocted in some underground laboratory by scientists who are paid to make hyperpalatable delicacies filled with salt, sugar, and fat that we can’t resist overconsuming.
“I do believe that everybody is entitled to having a sense of health literacy,” says Max. “I think it’s as important if not more important than financial literacy.”
If you want a shortcut to health literacy for the next time you go out to eat or buy groceries, check out Max’s free Genius Guide to Hacking Restaurants and Supermarkets. And of course if you’d like a longer-format read about what Max has learned in his own quest for health literacy, you can pick up his New York Times Best Seller Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life today.
Listen to this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to learn more about what makes hyperpalatable foods so appealing to our human brains even though they’re bad for us, how depression is tied directly to what we eat, why we shouldn’t wait for bad news from the doctor to turn our bad eating habits around, the foods we should avoid at all costs (and what we can use in their stead), interrelated lifestyle choices beyond diet that counteract modern sedentary habits, what Max eats every day to keep his brain young, and lots more.
THANKS, MAX LUGAVERE!
If you enjoyed this session with Max Lugavere, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere
- The Genius Guide to Hacking Restaurants and Supermarkets by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal M.D.
- Bread Head
- Max Lugavere’s Website
- Max Lugavere at Facebook
- Max Lugavere at Instagram
- Max Lugavere at Twitter
- A Brief History of USDA Food Guides
- Whole Grain Cereals for Cardiovascular Disease, Cochrane
- Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan, The Mayo Clinic
- Dr. Joseph Mercola at Twitter
- Food and Mood Centre
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
- Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting by Darya Pino Rose
- Vanilla Sky
- Like Sweetgreen? Avoid This Toxic Ingredient by Max Lugavere
- SMILES Trial, Food and Mood Centre
- Ben Greenfield Fitness
Transcript for Max Lugavere | Prevent Dementia and Eat Like a Genius (Episode 7)
Max Lugavere: [00:00:00] Alzheimer’s disease begins in the brain 30 to 40 years before the first symptom. These diseases begin far earlier than the emergence of symptoms and that’s why when I thought about the fact that I had previously considered Alzheimer’s disease and even Parkinson’s disease as old people’s diseases, problems that you only get when you’re in your elder years, I realized that I was completely wrong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:23] Welcome to the show. I’m Jordan Harbinger and as always I’m here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. So today we’ve got something a little different. Usually we don’t do health and wellness, but this is an exception because of the overlap in cognitive health and science. My friend Max Lugavere, filmmaker, TV personality, and most importantly a friend of mine. He’s a health and science journalist and a brain food expert. He’s also the director of the upcoming film Bread Head and the author of Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life. Today, we’ll learn that brain problems like depression and brain fog, they’re not moral failures. They can be the result of our diets and lifestyles which are out of sync with the needs of our ancient brains. We’ll also explore how to arm ourselves for optimal brain function so that we can wake up feeling awesome everyday while also protecting against aging and its associated diseases. And we’ll discover why Alzheimer’s disease is something that even millennials should be thinking about. And that terrified me like crazy when I heard it, Jason. I don’t know if you were in that boat, but I was like, “Uh, oops. Okay, that’s bad. That means that this is happening now.”
Jason DeFillippo: [00:01:26] I’m a little post-millennial but yeah, that makes it even a little bit worse.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:30] Yeah, it’s worse for you. That’s the point. So I enjoy this episode with Max Lugavere. Max, thanks for coming on the show, man. I almost feel like you’ve been on the show before because obviously knowing you in real life, we hang out and so I’m like, “Oh yeah! Good to have you back on the show.” and you’re like, “Never been on. No big deal, ask the bunch. Never came on.”
Max Lugavere: [00:01:47] Well, it’s great to be here and congrats on the new show. I’m a big fan of you personally and so now I get to be a fan of your new show, which is exciting.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:55] Look, your story is incredible. I knew this when this was going on before I think probably right as you started your book, which is called Genius Foods, but I think at the time you were working on Bread Head, your documentary. Give us a little bit of background here because you know, normally it’s like, okay, you’re into nutrition. I’m not. The end. But this is a very personal thing for you.
Max Lugavere: [00:02:19] Yes, so basically my background is journalism. I got to sort of cut my teeth with the best of the best storytellers in the business working for a TV network that Al Gore founded back in 2005. It was called Current TV. And you know, my role there really was to expose truths that were being undertold through the platform that was mainstream media. It was a TV network and this was sort of before YouTube was really as ubiquitous as it would ultimately become. And I did that for five, six years. Really learned how to ask questions, how to reach out to experts in the field, no matter what the topic was that I was talking about, it was a tremendous learning experience for me. It was almost like grad school for journalism. When I left Current TV, basically in my personal life I was trying to figure out where I was going to go with my career. But back at home in New York City, my mother started to show symptoms of memory loss and I had no prior family history of dementia. Dementia wasn’t even really in my vocabulary, honestly. And I thought of Alzheimer’s disease as being something that only old people get.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:24] Yeah. How old was your mom at the time? Because I’m doing the math and you and I are roughly the same age. I think you’re a little younger, but you shouldn’t have had your first job out of college and then come home and find your mom having memory loss and dementia. That’s too young. The timing doesn’t work out in that.
Max Lugavere: [00:03:41] It doesn’t work out. It makes no sense actually. I mean she was 58 at the time. Again, I had no prior family history, so I mean, you know, it caught me completely off guard. She was blonde, she was youthful. She was as spirited as I think any New Yorker, you know. I mean she’s a fast-walking, fast-talking woman who ran a business and I would start to come home when I had more time to do so, I was living in LA at the time, but I was spending more and more time in New York City and I noticed that my mom sort of seemed like it had seemed like her processing speed had slowed to sort of like when you have a web browser and you have too many tabs open and you’re trying to watch a video and the frame rates starts to stutter.
[00:04:22] It’s basically like that. Or when your iPhone is low on batteries, you notice that the performance is just, for somebody like my mom who was essentially a high performer her whole life, it seemed like her brain had taken, you know, it was just like turn down, her processing speed had just downshifted. Yeah, exactly. And this, you know, manifest in a myriad of ways. But for one, you know, I would be in the kitchen with her cooking dinner for the family and I would ask her to pass the salt or something, you know, in the cabinets that she was standing next to. And it would take me shorter time to traverse the kitchen and reach into that cabinet to grab what I was asking my mom for than it would for her to make the connection that what I was asking her, that she should reach up and grab what’s essentially right in front of her. So I mean that was pretty shocking in and of itself.Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:15] Yeah, that’s scary, man. Look going through this with your mom must’ve been really terrifying and I’ll tell a brief story about my mom who listens to this show because she’s okay. So hopefully, I won’t get a call about this later, but I have a feeling I will. But me and Jen were visiting at home one time, recently, and my mom said, “When are you going to clean out your drawer?” And I said, “I cleaned it out with you two days ago.” And she went, “No, we have to clean out that drawer and your room.” And I said, “Mom, come here.” And we walked over and she goes, “It’s empty.” And I said, “I know. We did this two days ago.” And I’ll tell you that was really, really scary. And she’s never done anything like that before, but she’s never done anything like that since is why I’m telling it in this way because she even laughs about it now. But I’m just like, wait a minute. Okay, everyone has a brain fart. But what you’re talking about is far beyond that. And if this was the pattern, what were you thinking at this time? Were you, you must’ve been scared?
Max Lugavere: [00:06:13] Oh yeah, I mean, to be honest, I thought it was par for the course of aging. You know, I don’t know what I thought. I thought that there was something that was wrong, but it really ended up with me going around the country with my mom to some of the top neurology departments in the U.S. I remember literally Googling for the top neurology departments and stumbling upon the annual U.S. world and news report hierarchy of the top places to go for medical help and literally checking, creating checkboxes to basically to provide a plan for myself as to where I should go with my mom to try to find answers. It ended up with me going to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. We are fortunate enough to live in New York City where we have NYU and Columbia. We went to the neurology departments in both of those hospitals.
[00:07:03] And ultimately it all culminated in a trip to the Cleveland Clinic, which is, you know, at the time, what I knew about the Cleveland clinic was that they purport to be, like a hands on approach. They’d give you a team essentially for really complex medical cases to help try to come to conclusions. Because the problem is, medicine is a vast field and a lot of the practicing physicians basically look at small parts of the body. You know, there’s this reductionist approach that Western medicine takes. You go to the neurologist to look at the brain, you go to the GI to look at the gastrointestinal tract. But what’s unique or what was proposed to me about the Cleveland clinic was that they basically put all of these doctors in a room to look at the whole picture. And that was really enticing to me and my mom because we were unable to find a diagnosis for what was going on with her. She had an unusual battery of symptoms. She had the cognitive decline. But then also, I mean it’s as if that wasn’t bad enough, she also had changes to her gait. I aid the way that she walked.Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:07] Really? That’s so, and why would you even, I wouldn’t have even thought to link those things.
Max Lugavere: [00:08:13] I thought that was a muscular thing. I mean, how could the brain control the way you walk, right? What I know now, obviously it’s, you know, movement is intricately connected to the brain, but it was at the Cleveland Clinic that for the first time my mom was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease and was prescribed drugs for both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. And that, I mean, it was essentially like a bomb going off in my world, you know, from one day to the next, I ceased to be able to think about anything that I had been passionate about my career, the veil of ignorance that I had surrounding these diseases was just, I felt so completely hopeless and enveloped by fear that I became essentially after the trauma subsided. You know, because we, humans are pretty resilient. You can habituate to almost any emotional state. After the trauma subsided,
[00:09:06] I basically became obsessed with learning everything I possibly could about Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, partially because my mom’s symptoms didn’t fit neatly into either diagnosis. Again, she had, you know, Parkinson’s disease as a movement disorder. So Parkinson’s disease would explain changes to a person’s gait, for example. But it’s not the only neurological condition that would change a person’s gait. She also had symptoms that were more akin to Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why she was prescribed drugs for both. And so I became really interested in trying to understand to the best of my ability, the etiology of these two diseases.Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:41] So what are doctors saying? Are they saying, “Hey, your mom suddenly has both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; what shitty luck?” Because you know, and I’m not trying to make light of it, but it just seems like how do you get those two things at once and it’s not something else, right? I mean, maybe it happens all the time, but it just seems like why maybe there’s so much overlap in what those things are that they don’t really tell the whole story. Is that kind of what you’re hinting at here?
Max Lugavere: [00:10:09] Yeah, that’s accurate. Most of the time these disorders are related. Symptomatically, it can be hard to distinguish one from the other. And there’s often misdiagnoses. So for example, you know, my mother, it was originally believed that she had some kind of Parkinsonian disease and only later on did we find out that it was different than Parkinson’s disease, although related. And that’s the way that the field is really moving. At least from my perspective, it seems that it’s becoming less about trying to sort of pin a label on the disease and more about trying to do what it is that will benefit brain health as a whole. Because again, there are many overlapping features and symptoms and there’s genetic influence, but at the end of the day, they’re related in pretty intricate ways. And you know, these are not the things that doctors honestly take the time to explain to you.
[00:11:01] I mean, I’ve coined basically the term ‘diagnose and adios’ because that’s what I experienced in every single doctor’s office with my mom. They basically prescribe a slew of chemical bandaids and they send you on your way and it’s not the doctor’s fault, it’s not that the attending physician is being careless or reckless. It’s just that, you know, 90 percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s disease has only been discovered in the last 15 years. So when you take a neurologist who went to medical school 20 years ago, they and you know, doctors by themselves are criminally under trained when it comes to nutrition and even exercise. They don’t know anything for the most part about diet and lifestyle and how it affects the brain, which is this organ that was for a very long time, believed to be a sort of held in isolation from the rest of the body via the blood brain barrier. There’s this great saying that I learned, wait it’s not great, it’s actually pretty depressing and makes me sad.Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:58] Oh that went from one end of the spectrum to the other pretty quickly. It’s great actually. It’s the worst thing ever.
Max Lugavere: [00:12:04] Well Jordan, you have to develop, you know, I mean I’ve been in the belly of the beast, so to speak. I’ve seen the monster that is dementia and at a certain point I mean I see it every day, you have to develop some kind of way of dealing with it, whether it’s through humor, because otherwise it’s just the most heartbreaking disease there is. I mean that’s why it’s America’s most feared disease.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:30] Yeah. When I was discussing this with Jason before the show and with my wife, I was just thinking, my wife brought up the example that happened with my mom that I recounted earlier in the show. We were just thinking, wow, imagine you see this all the time and you’re just completely helpless. So did you feel completely helpless at that point with the ‘diagnose and adios’ cause you’re thinking, I’m not just going to feed my mom a bunch of Parkinson’s medication and Alzheimer’s medication at her age and just, you know, hope it works over time because you’re watching her get worse, I would assume. This isn’t like a static decline, right? This is something that you consistently saw getting worse over time.
Max Lugavere: [00:13:11] Yeah. I mean it’s a neurodegenerative condition and nobody’s ever recovered from Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease because in part the fact that these diseases begin in the brain decades before the first symptom. I mean, when you take Parkinson’s disease for example, Parkinson’s disease involves a part of the brain called the substantia nigra and it involves these neurons that produce dopamine. They’re involved in movement. By the time you show your very first Parkinson’s disease symptom, 50 percent of the dopaminergic neurons in that part of the brain are already dead. Alzheimer’s disease begins in the brain 30 to 40 years before the first symptom. These diseases begin far earlier than the emergence of symptoms. And that’s why when I thought about the fact that I had previously considered Alzheimer’s disease and even Parkinson’s disease as old people’s diseases, problems that only you only get when you’re in your elder years, I realized that I was completely wrong. I mean it could be, you could almost argue that this is sort of a, there’s a lifelong cascade that of insults that basically will ultimately determine whether or not a person develops Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:18] This is terrifying because if you’re saying these diseases begin 30 to 40 years before the first symptom, Jason, this is not good news for guys in their thirties and forties man, this is really bad news. This means that if you’re a millennial right now, especially an older millennial, you already have, if you are going to be subject to, or I should say, if this disease is going to come after you, this is already starting now.
Max Lugavere: [00:14:44] You are absolutely correct. And that’s why I honestly have dedicated myself to spreading the message of prevention because, you know, today if you make it to the age of 85 you have a 50 percent chance, a one in two chance of developing or being diagnosed rather with Alzheimer’s disease. And millennials are the first generation that’s going to live to 90 on average. So I mean this is a major problem for millennials unless we can take steps to prevent it. And that’s really the way that the field is going in at this point because 99.6 percent of drug trials, in pursuit of a treatment, of viable treatment, for Alzheimer’s disease fail. And in fact you see left and right pharmaceutical companies basically shuttering their trials or their attempts rather at finding a viable pharmaceutical cure. Pfizer just announced that they were going to stop looking basically because as an investor you would assume that anything that has a 99.6 percent fail rate is not a good investment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:39] No, generally not. No, that’s true, medicine or not.
Max Lugavere: [00:15:42] Medicine or not. And there are no disease-modifying treatments for any of these diseases. I mean that’s why the quote that I was going to bring up earlier is that neurologists don’t treat disease. They admire it because there’s only so many things in a neurologist’s arsenal to treat these diseases once they’ve emerged. I mean, you know, there are certain drugs, maybe if you’re talking about ALS that can very slightly extend lifespan, maybe by six months. You know, Alzheimer’s drugs have a pretty miserable success rate in terms of treatment. They certainly don’t have a disease-modifying effect. But when you look at things like diet and lifestyle, diet and lifestyle are immensely powerful in terms of reducing your risk for developing these diseases. But even for slowing the disease progression, which I think is incredibly important.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:32] Well from the pharmaceutical company’s perspective, I get that, although it is terrible that the incentives are aligned that way, because it’s kind of like “Dick doesn’t work? Oh we’re on this. Your brain doesn’t work. Oh you’re on your own, man. Sorry. It’s just too hard.” But it also highlights your earlier point, which is this has to be prevented because the odds that some medication or treatment can reverse it. It sounds like they’re even maybe finding that, look, by the time the damage is done, the damage is done and if maybe someday we’ll figure out the STEM cell thing and we can regrow those neurons, if that’s even how that works. But in the meantime, if this is going downhill, you’re kind of too late. And people who unfortunately also people who are suffering from this, often they’re already the, I don’t know what you would even call this, not lost leader, but the most costly demographic of a population. And I don’t know how incentivized, and this is very cynical, I don’t know how incentivized the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies really are in keeping especially insurance companies in keeping patients that are consuming this much medical treatment around longer, using really expensive treatment in the first place. Does that make sense?
Max Lugavere: [00:17:41] Yeah, it makes total sense. And you know, chronic diseases, one of the most expensive things there is. I mean you want to talk about breaking bank, I can personally vouch that the medical bills for somebody that has dementia and also the caregiving and just everything that needs to be done in order to facilitate the highest possible quality of life for that person are astronomical. So that’s why when people complain about, you know, spending a little bit more money on higher quality food, in the face of all the evidence that really shows that food is medicine. I think that you’ve got to pay the tab at some point and I really believe that spending that money up front on prevention, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’ll tell you that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:27] Did you just make that up? That’s very impressive.
Max Lugavere: [00:18:31] I’ve probably said it a few times before because I believe it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:35] I think so. Yeah. I feel like I’ve heard it before. It must’ve been from you. But all laughter aside man. Well, look, a lot of people right now are listening and they’re going, “This is really, I understand your motivation here and I understand you wanting to do this, but look, man, you’re not a scientist. Why should I listen to you? You’re not a doctor. Where do you get off? Giving us advice on this and I also understand your perspective, which is that you had no choice but to become an expert yourself because the experts really weren’t giving you any answers.”
Max Lugavere: [00:19:07] That’s a really important question and I’m glad you asked it. And I want people to question the information that they hear on podcasts. I mean, we live in the age where it’s more possible for anybody to basically become a health guru and amass a bunch of Instagram followers and start influencing things.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:26] This episode is sponsored in part by Wine Access. Never cared about wine. When they threw the sponsor to me, I was like, “Ah, I don’t know.” So me and Jen were told to go up to Napa and we’re going to meet with the Wine Access team. It was really awesome. The wines they selected for us were awesome and I’m telling you from a guy who doesn’t get it that they helped me get it. We met with the Master of Wines. There’s something like 47 of those guys in the whole United States. The team was cool. They pick all these small wines because if you go to a store, if you go to a big store, all those wines and that whole big ass aisle, they’re from 10 different wineries or 11 or something like that. Wine Access finds people that they know what they’re doing. They find these small boutique wines.
[00:20:08] They know what you like because they’ve got that whole website thing going on where you can learn about the different types. They send you wines, there’s a sheet along with it. They’ve got this great access to a team of Master Sommelier so they really know wine. And rather than spending hundreds on a bottle, with Wine Access, you can buy from these small boutique wineries for 15 to 50 bucks a bottle and any bottle you don’t love is on the house. Who guarantees alcohol consumption? That’s awesome. Okay. I mean that came out weird, but who guarantees that they’re going to like the alcohol that you bought from them? It just doesn’t. That doesn’t happen anywhere. So Wine Access is a valued supporter especially this early on of our podcast and has now created an incredible but limited time offer for of course, the Jordan Harbinger Show podcast listeners. Get 30 bucks off your purchase of $100 or more.[00:20:55] Super generous. Get 30 bucks off your purchase of $100 on more, no matter how many bottles are within that shipment, but you have to go to WineAccess.com/jordan for this special deal and to get the full deets. So go now while the deal is still available. WineAccess.com/Jordan. This episode is also sponsored by Varidesk. This year the office cubicle turns a sunny little chipper, 50 years old. They hail from an age when work was done on typewriters and you could smoke at your desk because that’s what you do at work. You smoke and you drink whiskey. I dunno. The workplace has changed both in technology and design and today employees are expecting a little bit more from their workplace. They want flexible and active spaces where they can collaborate and feel energized or at least get stuff done without crazy back problems. In Varidesk active workspace solutions make it easy to encourage more movement to any Workday.[00:21:46] You can be more active at work, you can stand more, you can sit less, you can improve your health, you can boost energy, you can increase your productivity and all Varidesk products from sit-stand solutions. In other words like they got this cool, well-made standing desk that is, well, it’s not exactly a desk, it’s the part that would sit on your desk. You put your stuff on it and it raises and lowers. Really nice. Great alternative to traditional office setups requires no assembly. You don’t have to freaking drill things in. Plus Varidesk products are made from commercial grade materials meant to last a lifetime. There’s no like razor sharp metal edges and there’s no, “Oh, the rubber thing came off”, this thing is well-made. This thing has a tank and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. You can try Varidesk risk-free for 30 days with free shipping and free returns if you’re not satisfied. See it for yourself. varidesk.com, that’s V A R I D E S K.com.Max Lugavere: [00:22:40] You know, I feel ultimately that my mother was victimized by the trend of misinformation, that guided nutrition policy over the past 50 years. And there’s not a single party that I can think of that wasn’t complicit in that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:56] Tell us what you mean by that. The nutrition stuff, because of course I’m thinking the four food groups, which is what we had when I was in kindergarten, soon to be replaced by the pyramid and it was like grains, dairy, meat, sugars, and I don’t know. Was it sugars and fats, I don’t know, four food groups. And I remember eggs were considered dairy and you had to get as many grains as you could and later on we found out that was because cereal lobbies are like, “how do we get people to eat this junk?”
Max Lugavere: [00:23:22] Yeah. I mean there’s massive commerce tied to perpetuating the notion that we need grains for good health.
[00:23:30] I mean if you look at the planted land mass in the United States, 65 percent of it is dedicated to growing wheat, corn and soy. Okay? Five percent of the planted land mass in the US is dedicated to growing vegetables, which we know that not enough Americans are consuming because 90 percent of are deficient in at least one essential nutrient and so that’s why over the past 50 years we were told to essentially load up on grain products. Seven to 11 servings of grains per day is what we were told by the USDA food pyramid. Now when looking at randomized control trials, which are the kinds of trials required to prove cause and effect, there’s no good evidence to say that grains improve health. This was published recently by Cochran, which in partnership with the World Health Organization is known for their systematic reviews of medical literature. They looked at the kinds of trials that we need to say whether or not grains can actually improve health, none are associated with good health and they found no convincing evidence.[00:24:27] And the USDA food pyramid is thankfully retired, but we haven’t successor still today, the USDA MyPlate and it’s still advises us to include grains at every single meal. So you know, people often cite the and you know, researchers, doctors, it’s well known that the Mediterranean dietary pattern is associated with reduced risk of coronary artery disease, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, and the Mediterranean dietary pattern as it is sort of described in the medical literature includes grains. But I argue in my book, Genius Foods and elsewhere that the Mediterranean dietary pattern is healthy inspite of grains, not because of grains. Grains, especially in their most commonly consumed form, are incredibly energy dense and nutrient poor. So the hallmark of any healthy food is nutrient density, a high amount of nutrients per calories. And when you look at grains, they’re essentially predominantly starch, which is glucose.[00:25:28] And that breakdown begins almost as soon as you begin chewing and very few nutrients. I mean a tiny amount of insoluble fiber and a little bit of B vitamins, but essentially it’s just cattle feed that we used to fill our plates and I’m not convinced that they benefit our health. In fact, when you look at the statistics, 50 percent of the US population is either diabetic or pre-diabetic, which essentially what that means is these people have become carbohydrate intolerant. So when you take a food that is predominantly concentrated carbohydrate, like your grain, your average grain, that’s something that these people can’t properly assimilate in their bodies. I mean, you take somebody who’s lactose intolerant, what’s the advice that you would give them? Don’t consume lactose. Right?Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:12] Right. Yeah. Get away from — no milk.
Max Lugavere: [00:26:14] Yeah, exactly. So the idea that spewed over and over and over again by the mainstream medical establishment that people that are diabetic or pre-diabetic should continue to eat low fat and include foods like pasta and low-fat tortillas and things like that in their diet, I think is completely misguided. And I’m not alone in saying this. so going..
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:39] Yeah. So where does this, where is this coming from now? I mean there seemingly, aren’t we kind of all hip to the grain lobby conspiracy or whatever? I mean, is this really still the results of that or is this just lazy science? I mean, what do you think is happening here? Doctors and health experts aren’t sitting around thinking, “You know what, how can we fool these people today?” And there’s plenty of independent doctors who could research their own stuff. And we’d find this with guys like Dr. Mercola, I don’t know if you’re familiar with him and people that are doing their own research that are coming to these similar conclusions. Why are these people so at odds with science? I originally thought it was just so they could sell their supplement that, you know, this is the one thing that staves off brain disease, you know, but you’re not doing that. You’re trying to save your mom.
Max Lugavere: [00:27:23] Well, I’m trying to save my mom. I’m trying to save myself and I’m trying to save, you know, my millennial generation. We’ve invested more in human capital than any previous generation. I think our brains are worth saving. But yeah, I mean it’s not just about grains. I’m not pointing the finger exclusively at grains. I think it’s processed foods in general. It’s the fact that our food supplies have become awash in very unhealthy oils. The grain and seed oils that now are found ubiquitously in the food supply. But you know, when you actually look at point of care, doctors are rushed because of the current healthcare system. They don’t really take the time with you to explain nutrition. They don’t know. I would not consider your average doctor an authority or an expert on nutrition. They’re simply not. They also are undertrained when it comes to exercises. Fact, this is not just me speculating and at the same time, there is on average, it takes about 17 years for what’s discovered in science to be put into practice into day to day clinical care. So there’s this huge gap when it comes to our brains. And then finally, you know, young people are not attuned to things when it comes to brain health necessarily. I mean, when I say the D word,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:32] I never think about this stuff, man. And if you’re talking about, yeah, the D word, dementia. Yeah. I’m thinking, “Yeah, yeah. Uh, sure, Max, call me in like, I don’t know 40 years and we’ll have a great chat about this. I’ll be really interested then.”
Max Lugavere: [00:28:44] Yeah, I mean, this is something that young people were sort of, you know, deaf to because they consider it to be an old person’s disease. But what I argue is that the same thing, the same steps, same foods, the same tactics that you can put into practice in your life that are going to help shield your brain against dementia according to the best available evidence. Also actually make your brain work better in the here and now. Neuroprotective diets are strongly associated with better cognitive function. And so rather than make it a conversation about dementia, I talk about things that I think is pertinent to every single human being. And that’s how to make our brains work better, knowing that the brain is the battery that makes life worth living essentially.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:22] Neuroprotective diet is a term that I love. I’m definitely going to have to use that. What I like about what we’re discussing here is for our purposes here on the Jordan Harbinger Show, because usually we don’t do health and wellness, these people know from listening to my other shows, but I wanted to have you come on not just because we’re good friends but also because your core message that you haven’t quite verbalized this, but brain problems like depression, brain fog, slowing down of the mental processing power. These are, we typically think of these things or at least I should say I do and I think a lot of people listening are the same way. We think of these as moral failures like, “Hey man, get it together. Wake up. You know, come on, have a cup of coffee, get your ish together or stop being so slow. Take care of yourself, get more sleep.” We save those types of things. We don’t say, “Hey, maybe your diet sucks. And so everything is downshifting. And no matter what you do, if you don’t fix your diet, your brain is not going to work the way it’s supposed to.” We don’t do that. We usually just say, “Hey, like snap out of it.” Right? We put a judgment attached to people’s cognitive performance in decline. And maybe that’s not fair.
Max Lugavere: [00:30:29] It’s totally not fair. I mean, yeah, problems in the body can manifest in the brain and the brain doesn’t feel pain the way an arthritic joint might, for example, in the face of inflammation. But instead the brain will feel depressed, the brain will feel slow, sluggish, unable to focus. So yeah, my goal is really to help people understand, you know, for a long time a link has been known in the literature between depression and poor diet. But you know, when we’re depressed, we tend to reach for unhealthy foods and the direction of causality was unknown. But we now know thanks to research published out of the food and mood center at Deakin University in Australia that by changing our diets for the better, we can actually improve our moods. Even if you have major depression, we can significantly improve our moods to the point of remission for some people.
[00:31:22] So this is something that I think is really important because yeah, as you mentioned, we tend to think of ourselves as, you know, having had some kind of moral failure when we feel depressed, right? Like when we feel depressed, we feel as though we did something wrong in our lives and we tend to feel really down on ourselves. But what if that bag of chips that you just ate, you know, these highly refined carbohydrates, deep fried in highly inflammatory soybean or canola oil are actually making you depressed. I feel like we’d be less inclined to reach for those chips for one. And we’d also be more inclined, I think to make healthier changes in our diets elsewhere because who likes feeling depressed? Nobody.Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:00] Well, yeah, I think the problem is eating things like that makes us feel good short term. And look, maybe I’m going a little bit too Eastern medicine woo-woo here, but when I eat something and it makes me feel good, it seems very likely from a — let me just say that my science begins and ends and the yin-yang when I talk about this type of thing. But some, it’s got to balance out later on. If I’m eating all this Cheetos and I get into dopamine rush from eating these Cheetos, aren’t I going to have a decline later on when I’m done with the Cheetos or the next day or a week later? I mean, that’s how that works, right? Your brain uses it. It’s got to build it back up. And if you keep eating it, you’re going to keep using it.
Max Lugavere: [00:32:39] Yeah. Well, the thing is, you know, these food companies have scientists on staff that are paid a lot more money than you and I that are literally working around the clock, like app developers, that you know, work tirelessly to get you to find new ways of addicting you to their software. But these food scientists are working tirelessly to find ways of addicting you to their food products. And one of the ways that they know that they can do that very easily is by combining salt, sugar, and fat, and usually wheat to make these foods hyper palatable. So basically when a food becomes hyper palatable, it sends your brain to a bliss point beyond which self-control is completely impossible.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:14] Is that the science between once you pop, you can’t stop?
Max Lugavere: [00:33:16] 100 percent, yeah!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:18] That’s literally what they mean, right? Like we know, we know you can’t stop because we hired millions of dollars worth of scientists and make sure that you can’t stop.
Max Lugavere: [00:33:25] 100 percent yeah. So these, so food scientists know that when they combine these mouth feels and these flavors basically, which were relatively rare and potentially life-saving for the vast majority of our time spent as Hunter Gatherers, they know that it basically sends off the equivalent of dopamine fireworks in the brain. And also, I mean one of the reasons for that is that these flavors and these sensations are not typically found together in natural foods. So these scientists take them, they combine them into these hyper palatable foods and when your brain tastes them, it’s the equivalent of the 4th of July in terms of the fireworks that it sends off in your brain’s reward center because sugar helps you store fat. Salt for the vast majority of our evolution was an essential nutrient, although that’s become sort of another demonized nutrient that today we’re sort of dealing with the repercussions of and fat, you know, fat is very calorically dense.
[00:34:20] It’s packed usually in natural foods with fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants that are important for protecting our brain cells against aging and oxidative stress. So, I mean there is, our bodies are — they have good intentions, but the problem is that these reward centers can be short circuited in the modern food environment. And so that’s why, you know, depression is not a moral failure. But today with the modern food supply, neither is over eating. So that’s why I think it’s really important to arm people with this sort of knowledge so that at least it’s informed consent.Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:53] Yeah, I can see what you mean there with informed consents. Like, “Look, I know these are bad for me. I may indulge a little, maybe I can use my own psychology against me.” Right? Maybe I can put 10 Pringles in a plastic bag instead of trying to eat from the can and then go, “Yeah, I know, I’m just going to stop when I’m good and ready,” because they’ve engineered those things so that you — we’ve all look, we’ve all eaten Pringles and put our mouth on the can and turned the can upside down at the end just to get the crumbs that have all that MSG here, whatever’s been sprayed on there. I’m not the only one who does that, right?
Max Lugavere: [00:35:24] Jordan, your attempt to eat these kinds of foods in moderation is swimming upstream against millions of years of evolution. Okay? So that’s why we shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves when we go through the entire bag of chips or the entire pint of ice cream. These foods are designed to be overconsumed and here’s a really good experiment for you. If you take a baked potato, okay? By itself, that baked potato is probably not going to be prone to overconsumption, right? I mean, you’ll probably have a few bites, even sugar itself. If you were to put a spoonful of sugar in your mouth by itself, you probably would not, it’s not that good. I mean, you’d probably be, wouldn’t be prone to over consuming it, but the minute you put butter with salt on that baked potato, it becomes this delectable thing that you basically can’t stop yourself from eating more butter on a sweet potato, for example. Or when you combine that sugar with wheat flour and fat from eggs and you create cookie dough, right? I mean it becomes hyper palatable. It’s essentially pornography for your mouth.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:25] Yeah. Nice. I like that. That’s exactly what it seems like and it’s kind of, you and I talked about this pre-show your brain is this unwitting combatant in the hunger games of nutrition and on one side is scientists and doctors who are like, “Here we spent millions of dollars studying how we can get people to pop and then not stopped so they buy more of these things” and on the other side of the equation is us and we’re like, “No, no. Trust me, I’ve got great will power because I need to lose 20 pounds because I’m pre-diabetic so I’m just going to try really hard.” It’s just like you said, swimming upstream, but it’s reminds me of that movie with Tom cruise and where he’s like a samurai and they’re just shooting them with machine guns and cannons. You can be as brave as you want, but you just can’t deal with the science coming at you in your face engineered to make you eat more of this crap. It’s just an unfair fight.
Max Lugavere: [00:37:18] Exactly. The best thing that I think anybody can do is to just not put it in their shopping cart. If you put a food in your shopping cart, it’s as good as in your stomach at the end of the day because these foods are not, again, they’re not designed to be consumed in moderation. That’s why the advice to eat everything in moderation makes absolutely zero sense in the modern food environment. You know, dietary diversity as a Hunter Gatherer, probably an amazing thing. We have 50,000 edible plant species around the world, but in the modern supermarket, dietary diversity is a terrible thing to be honest. I mean, if you look at the, you know, walk down any aisle in any modern supermarket, I mean, what you’re going to find are not foods. They are food-like products to quote food journals, Michael Pollen, you know, that’s part of my mission.
[00:38:04] I mean, again, going back to your question, which I think is so important. I’m not a medical doctor, but I do believe that everybody is entitled to having a sense of health literacy. I think it’s as important, if not more important, than financial literacy. Well, I would say as important. Financial literacy is pretty important and it’s another area where people are, you know, young people are not quite keeping up necessarily. I have a friend who is really, you know, all about that. But in terms of health, you know, again, a lot of these diseases are life-long manifestations. They don’t develop overnight and that’s why I think it’s so important.Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:40] This episode is sponsored in part by SmartMouth. Okay. I don’t have to talk up SmartMouth too much because everyone knows I freaking love this stuff. The bad breath has always been kind of like, I’ve always been self conscious about it even though nobody’s ever really told me that I had bad breath or anything. Just always worried about that when I was younger and I realized that it’s this nasty, embarrassing problem that a lot of people have and most people don’t know the cause of bad breath. Instead we throw a breath strip in and we throw a mint in. We’ve got this low tech method like gum to mask the odor, but when you smell bad breath, you’re smelling volatile sulfur compound, sulfur gas. Germs in your mouth consume protein and they produce these foul-smelling gasses as a form of waste, which somehow, Jason, makes bad breath even more disgusting knowing that it’s basically bacteria farts, but SmartMouth is the only activated oral rinse that’s clinically proven to eliminate existing bad breath and prevent the return of sulfur gas for a full 12 hours per rinse.
[00:39:35] It’s got a two-chamber bottle. Basically these things combine, they activate and it eliminates the germs’ ability to consume protein. Basically starves these things out for 12 hours so you don’t have any sulfur gas. You don’t have any bad breath. So if you want to solve a problem, you need science. Not a minty coverup. No one wants to be the guy with bad breath. And now you never will. So you can find SmartMouth at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Tarjay, Target. I probably can’t say Tarjay, huh? Amazon, wherever you shop or visit them online. SmartMouth.com if you want to get into the science behind the fresh breath. Support for the Jordan Harbinger Show comes from our friends at Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. This is the mortgage company that decided to ask “why?” In other words, why can’t clients get approved in minutes rather than weeks? Why can’t they make adjustments to their rate and term in real time without doing a bunch of paperwork and why can’t there be client-focus technological mortgage revolution?[00:40:26] In other words, why can’t this be done in a sensible 21st century way and Quicken Loans answered all these questions and more with Rocket Mortgage. They give you the confidence you need when it comes to buying a home or refinancing your existing home loan. Rocket Mortgage is simple. You can fully understand all the details and be confident you’re getting the right mortgage for you. Whether you’re looking to buy your first home or your 10th with Rocket Mortgage, you get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence to make an informed decision. Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans — apply simply, understand fully, mortgage confidently. To get started, go to RocketMortgage.com/forbes.[00:40:58] Equal housing lender licensed in all 50 States. NMLS consumer access.org number 3030.Max Lugavere: [00:41:05] Health care is not something that you get by visiting a doctor. You know, healthcare is something that really is a decision that you make moment to moment in your kitchen, when you are deciding whether or not you want to go to the gym.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:17] I went to a performance doctor a long time ago, one of those places where they get you on the bike and they do your VO2 max and then they do a Dexa scan for fat and, which by the way is a really humbling experience even if you think you’re in good shape, and then they run you on the treadmill and they take 7,000 blood samples. You know, one of
[00:41:34] those kinds of things. Kind of like the Russian guy in Rocky, where he’s going through all those tests. And this is a few years ago and even they said, “Hey, look, this is a chart of your insulin resistance. You’re fine now. If you keep on this path, you’re going to be pre-diabetic when you’re 50 or 60, possibly develop some diabetes later depending on your genetics, but most likely not, but you can reverse all this.” And that doctor, really sharp guy, one of the things he said was, “This isn’t something that you’re going to fix one week or two weeks. Every single thing you eat is a decision. Every time you decide to walk somewhere instead of drive because you have the time, it’s a decision and that kind of daily decision. Darya Rose, on another show that we did, Jason, she talked about this too. Just because you had a crappy breakfast doesn’t mean you have to have a crappy lunch and a crappy dinner. You know everything you put in your mouth is a decision.Max Lugavere: [00:42:25] Yeah, the screw it syndrome. It’s like, “Oh, I screwed up one thing today. Then I can just write off the rest of the day.” You can fight that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:32] Right. “The day’s a wash. Yeah, the day’s a wash. What the hell? You know, I already had some Pringles, so I might as well kill the can and then go eat pancakes.”
Max Lugavere: [00:42:40] Yeah. You know, one of my favorite lines from the movie Vanilla Sky as a filmmaker, I can’t help but quote movies. Cameron Crowe wrote, “Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.” And that’s particularly true of this, our body’s state of health, especially when we are healthy. But the problem is, you know, oftentimes we really become interested in our health once we already have a condition, you know, talking about diabetes or pre-diabetes, usually it’s diagnosed with your fasting blood sugar. If your doctor sees that your fasting blood sugar is creeping up, he’ll say, “Wow, you’re, you know, at risk for pre-diabetes or you’re a Type 2 diabetic. But the truth is blood sugar is what’s called a lagging marker. So you can be hyperinsulinemic, you can have chronically elevated insulin for 10 years before your blood sugar starts to inch up and chronically elevated insulin. Insulin is the body’s chief anabolic growth hormone, essentially. So again, I try to implore people not to wait until that the bad news from the doctor, you know, our health is a choice that we make with every bite that we take ultimately. So
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:48] The worst news about the lagging markers is that by the time you go to the doctor and you get a test for something, you’ve already had a health concern, most likely that you’ve ignored for awhile, hasn’t gone away. You go to the doctor, then they say, “Well, I’ve got to refer you do a few tests. You take the test, then you get the lagging marker months and months and months usually if you’re anything like me. Or weeks and weeks after that. And that lagging marker is already like, well, by definition a little bit behind the curve.” So by the time we get the info, it’s like, “Oh yeah, you know, you’ve been doing it wrong for a decade or two.” So you’ve got to prevent it. So what do we do now? What can we do right now? If I go into my kitchen, what should I be doing? Because yeah, it’s easy to say I’m not going to buy Pringles anymore. Sorry, Pringles obviously taken the brunt of my wrath today, but it’s easy to say I’m not going to buy junk food anymore. There’s got to be tons of stuff that we’re consuming that we don’t even know is bad, that has the bliss point programmed in hyper palatable that has these oils and stuff that we’re looking for. What are we looking for and what are some common enemies that we might think, “Oh, this is fine for you, but really isn’t.”
Max Lugavere: [00:44:54] Yeah. So nearly all packaged foods are hyper palatable. So I would say become aware of that response that your brain has to those kinds of foods. So you know how to look for them. Definitely foods with added sugar. I mean, the safest level of added sugar consumption is zero. But then also, you know, I think at this point especially, you know, you’ve got a pretty savvy audience. I think most people are aware that hyper refined grains are not good for you. But I also, I’m right about the fact that grain and seed oils are one of the worst toxins in the modern food supply. So canola oil, grape seed oil, corn oil, soybean oil, these oils are ubiquitous. They are very easily found in commercial salad dressings, but also in grain products, bakery products, pizzas, even granola bars, things like that.
[00:45:43] These oils are usually already oxidized by the time they enter your body, which is basically a form of chemical damage that promote inflammation in your body and also deplete your body’s own antioxidant resources.Jason DeFillippo: [00:45:55] So I cook with grape seed oil all the time. What is the alternative that I should be using? Because I found it’s great for cooking, but now I’m terrified, I’ve got to go throw it out. So what’s the alternative that I should be using?
Max Lugavere: [00:46:07] Yeah, so grape seed oil is actually terrible for cooking because it’s predominantly a type of fat called a polyunsaturated fat — a PUFA. And these are the most delicate and oxidation-prone fats in the food supply. These fats were typically consumed in trace quantities and whole foods for the vast, vast, vast majority of our evolution. Why? Because it requires chemistry labs and machinery to extract these oils from their foods.
[00:46:35] I mean, take grape seed oil. Grape seed oil is basically, it used to be, it’s a by-product of wine making. They have these seeds that they basically used to throw out over the course of the wine making process. When one industrious wine manufacturer said, “Well, these can actually be squeezed so that we can get this oil out of them and we could sell it.” By the end of their processing, they’re tasteless, they have a very high smoke point, but they’re refined. So that’s the case. But the temperature at which an oil becomes damaged and thus will inevitably damage you is a lot cooler than its smoke point. So smoke point actually is a culinary concern. It’s not a health concern. A smoke point, an oil smoke point is the point at which it starts to degrade and the flavor begins to change, but the temperature at which it’ll degrade and become oxidized is far earlier than that.[00:47:25] So I would definitely get rid of the grape seed oil and I would swap it out for oils that are, especially if you’re using it for high heat cooking that are more saturated because the saturated fats are chemically stable and they don’t as readily oxidize at high temperatures. So for example, butter, ghee, coconut oil, even avocado oil is a better choice or extra virgin olive oil. It’s a myth that you can’t cook with extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is about 15 percent saturated fat and the rest is mono unsaturated fat, which is again very chemically stable. Grape seed oil is very chemically unstable and it’s also a rich source of Omega-6 fatty acids which provide the precursors to our body’s inflammation pathways. So a lot of people talk now about Omega-3s and Omega-6s and the balance between the two as being really important for health. Well, grape seed oil has an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 700 to 1. Okay? So it tilts the scale way, way, way in favor of Omega-6s when that ratio should be more like 41 or even one-to-one. So I would say definitely get rid of that.Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:33] Going shopping today. Yeah, no kidding. So we got it. Okay, so we hunt through the kitchen. We look for polyunsaturated seed oil. Is that going to say polyunsaturated seed oil on the bottle or are they going to try and be clever and be like polyunsaturated something, something, something that sounds like seed oil but is using scientific terms. So we think it’s not there. You know how they say cane juice instead of sugar. Now on some foods they’re like, “Ah, they won’t know what this is.”
Max Lugavere: [00:48:58] Well, the easiest way to find them is to, you know, anything from corn, soybean oil. There’s always the mysterious vegetable oil. There’s canola oil, there’s grape seed oil, there’s safflower oil, sunflower oil. These are all predominantly polyunsaturated fat-based oil. So anything with those oils in them, you want to get rid of the only oil. Honestly, the only, the only culinary oil that you should use is extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and again, butter, ghee, things like that are good for higher heat cooking. But extra virgin olive oil is the staple fat used in the Mediterranean. And we know that not just from an observational perspective but from the standpoint of trials, randomized control trials that have used extra virgin olive oil in quantities of up to a liter per week have shown that they powerfully improve health. I mean, if you look in my kitchen, you’ll only find extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and I have some coconut oil and maybe some butter, for higher heat cooking.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:03] And I know a lot of people are thinking, man, that stuff’s really expensive. I’m looking at it at Whole Foods right now. This is ridiculous, but I want to bring up a point you made earlier in the show, which is, you’re investing in your health now so that you don’t have to be on machineries slash with home care, which is much more expensive than the right kind of oils to cook with later on in. And also, I want to, you might forgive me here on this, Max, but I think there’s a lot to be said for lifestyle choices too. It can’t just be about what we’re eating. Is it, I mean, there’s got to be other things going on that affect this. Genetics for sure but since we can’t control those, is it just what we’re eating and consuming?
Max Lugavere: [00:50:43] I think what we’re eating is a huge part of the equation, but you’re 100 percent correct in that, you know, lifestyle plays a huge role as well. So today we do less leisure time physical activity than we ever have. We’re sedentary, we’re sitting in our cars at our desks. You know, our body is designed to move and when we’re stagnant and when we’re sedentary, our brains and our bodies suffer. So, you know, being active, imbuing your day with more physical movement is very important. I mean, at the very least, it helps mobilize lymphatic fluid without your body. So these fluids don’t have its own heart. Basically, your blood is pumped around via your heart, but lymph fluid doesn’t have its own heart. So it basically relies on your moving to swish it around. And this fluid is really important because it’s essentially the body’s waste duct system.
[00:51:33] So moving is incredibly important just to keep your body detoxing if you will. And then I’m a huge fan of high intensity exercise, the research and now it seems to really be in favor of high intensity exercise as a really efficient way of boosting cardio-respiratory fitness and about a fifth of the time. So that’s really important. Being mindful of your body’s natural circadian inclination is also very important. You know, our bodies essentially want to eat during the day. We’re diurnal creatures, right? So, I mean, I’m big on intermittent fasting. When I wake up, I won’t eat anything generally until about 11:00 AM and I’ll stop eating by 8:00 PM or maybe even earlier, sometimes 7:00 PM. That gives the body a rest from digestion, certainly. But it also helps to sort of reel back in the balance that has been lost in the modern world between being in an anabolic or fed state and a catabolic or fasted state.[00:52:31] So these are all aspects of lifestyle that I think are critically important. I wouldn’t point the finger solely at diet as being, you know, the cornerstone of modern disease. But it definitely plays a huge role, but it’s also a lifestyle. You know, we’re spending more and more time indoors with minimal exposure to sunlight. Three quarters of the US population is deficient in vitamin D, which is a steroid hormone that controls the expression of five percent of the human genome. So, I mean, these are all factors that are completely related and they’re each very important. But the good thing is that tending to one of them usually makes it easier to tend to the others. So you know, when we improve our diets, our sleep improves. When we are exercising more, we tend to crave foods that are actually, you know, more beneficial for us. So they’re all intricately related.Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:21] I noticed that when I eat less and when I eat healthy stuff I don’t crave, I thought, “Oh man, I’m going to miss meat and miss pork and I’m going to miss sweet things.” I don’t miss that at all. It seems like a few days, really a few days of cutting down on certain types of red meat or not eating as much pork or just deciding I was sick of chicken. I don’t miss it at all and I really thought I was going to and I also thought, “Oh man, I’m going to crave junk food. I better have a whole drawer full of it for when I’m really craving it and I’ve got a drawer full of expired stuff that I’m never going to touch because it looks disgusting. Not because it’s expired, but because I don’t eat frappuccino straws anymore for lunch. They just seem disgusting to me and I didn’t realize how quickly my brain would be accustomed to eating differently.
[00:54:09] So if you’re thinking of changing your diet or your routine and you’re worried that you’re going to miss stuff or that you’re going to have a problem with it, I can tell you from my personal experience that is not what happened at all. I want to get down to a couple more brass tacks because we are all about the practicals here. Getting rid of hyper palatable foods in our kitchen. First things first, get rid of that stuff. And I love what you are talking about with getting movement in the morning, intermittent fasting. We’ve all covered on earlier episodes of the show, you know, a.k.a. skipping breakfast or eating during that eight hour window. But what can we do with food that can help make us, maybe this might be a stretch, but a little bit happier. How can food make us sharper? I know there’s studies you profiled on your website that show that food can act as an antidepressant. Let’s talk about this stuff. I think this is really important and frankly, if the cornerstone of your work.Max Lugavere: [00:54:58] Yeah, yeah. I mean, so you know, one of the major trials that has come out recently was the SMILES trial published through Deakin University, the Food and Mood Center in 2017 that showed that diet can actually act as a really powerful antidepressant. I mean, they took these patients with major depression and they put them on this sort of modified Mediterranean diet. It was a three month long study, decent population size, and on these depression scales, they found that people that were on this diet that was built around healthy vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, things like that, they found that 32 percent of the patients on this modified Mediterranean diet had scores by the end of it that were so low that they no longer met the criteria for depression. So you know, that in comparison to the placebo, 32 percent, only eight percent achieved remission in the placebo group.
[00:55:54] So it’s a really significant effect size. Mechanistically, it makes a lot of sense that diet would help to improve depression because depression has, in recent years, been strongly linked with inflammation. And the degree to which diet can modulate inflammation in the body is pretty profound. So I mean, you know, when an animal’s inflamed, usually in any zookeeper or farm scientists, animal scientists will vouch for this. Animals exhibit what are called sickness behaviors. They basically retreat from the herd. They become more antisocial. They stop grooming, they lose their appetites. It’s meant to sort of isolate the individual from the herd so as not to spread the infection because inflammation, historically, is a mechanism that our bodies have evolved to fight against infection and to prevent infection from spreading and to heal wounds and things like that, right? Today, our immune systems have become chronically active due to what we’re eating and how we’re living. But humans display the same kinds of sickness behaviors. I mean, it might be more at a subconscious level, but some speculate that major depression might actually be an extreme form of sickness behavior.Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:08] Really? So it kind of like keep people away from social interaction. Keep people doing their own thing are locked up alone because the body doesn’t want the infection. So this has evolved behavior is what some scientists are arguing.
Max Lugavere: [00:57:23] Exactly, exactly. And the model of depression, if you know, any listeners are interested in going down that rabbit hole, it’s the inflammatory cytokine model of depression and research like the SMILES trial that I just cited or you know, there’ve been other trials with single compounds like turmeric, which has a known anti-inflammatory compound in it, have shown some efficacy in terms of reducing symptoms of depression in people and why? Because probably they’re having an anti-inflammatory effect. It just strengthens the notion to me that by living in a way and eating in a way that is minimizing inflammation by cutting out the added sugars and the processed foods, all foods that drive inflammation, most of us, if not all of us, we’ll see some kind of improvement in the way that our brains work. It just makes sense.
[00:58:11] And in terms of cognitive performance of brain functioning in a low inflammation state is a brain functioning at its best. So you know, we’re at the very beginning of sort of doing this kind of research again, the first randomized controlled trial to use diet as a potential antidepressant, was published just last year. So we don’t have all the answers and there is a fair amount of speculation, but when you consider that for most people that are on selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors that these drugs work no more effectively than a placebo with the exception of people with major depression. It really has implored researchers to look in another direction, in another area. And so that’s where the research on diet and mood really excites me.Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:53] Let’s leave the family with something to do right now. We already know we got to look through our kitchen and get rid of damaging polyunsaturated seed oils, hyper palatable foods. What can you leave us with that people can start applying right now, knowing what we know having you because you told us.
Max Lugavere: [00:59:09] So definitely, I mean, I would recommend that everybody eat a large fatty salad every single day. That’s one of the hallmarks of my protocol. It’s something that I do every single day. You know, when we’re eating a huge bowl of dark leafy greens were checking off a myriad of our nutritional boxes. These are nutrient dense foods. There is no better vehicle for extra virgin olive oil than a bowl of dark leafy greens and eating a bowl of dark leafy greens every single day is associated with brains that look 11 years younger on scans according to research out of Rush University published recently. So a huge fatty salad and I don’t mean throwing cheese and you know, tortilla strips on top. I mean, you know, going heavy with the extra virgin olive oil, maybe throwing an egg in there. So that’s one of the most important things that I think a person can do. When it comes to greens, opt for, you know, try to skip the iceberg lettuce, which is essentially just water and fiber and go instead for spinach, which is packed with magnesium. It’s packed with folate, which is really important for healthy gene expression, I would say go for arugula, which, you know, calorie for calorie has more a nitrate than any other vegetables is really good at nurturing vascular health, which is really important. You know, the brain relies on 400 miles of estimated microvasculature. So arugula is a great choice and of course kale. Kale gets hate on all the time on the internet, but you know, you can’t beat it in terms of its nutrient density. Poor kale.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:37] Poor kale, always getting picked on. Screw you, kale. I’m just going to pile on on that one. Yeah. So have a super dark green fatty salad. And by fat, you don’t mean dressing cheese and tortilla strips. You hear that Jen? No more tortilla strips. And my wife is crying somewhere because she loves throwing tortilla strips on salad and she’s like, “Can I have more of these? I want extra of these.” I’m like, “you want a bag of chips on top of your salad that does not count.” But I understand.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:01:08] I have a quick question on the salad structure now. Where do you stand on vinegar? Because I like to have some vinegar on my salad. If I’m going to have an oil salad. Which type of vinegar would you recommend?
Max Lugavere: [01:01:14] I’m a huge fan of vinegar and honestly they’re all good. I’m a big fan of apple cider vinegar. I also like balsamic vinegar even though it has a little more sugar. It’s a source of tiny amounts of resveratrol, which is actually an antioxidant found in red wine. It’s found in the skins of grapes that has shown some promise in animal models in terms of being a longevity promoting agent. So you know, I love the taste of balsamic vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is great and one of the cool things about vinegar is that they are actually acetic acid, which is what gives vinegar it’s tart flavor, has been shown to inhibit disaccharide ace enzymes in the small intestine, which are basically the enzymes that break down complex carbohydrates. So if you take a shot of vinegar, for example, along with a higher carb meal, you actually absorb less of the glucose from those carbohydrates, which is, which is actually pretty cool.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:07] So the vinegar stops us from absorbing some of the bad stuff. I like it. Well Max, thank you so much, man. I know that I gave you a hard time both before the show, during the show. I’m not going to say I’m not going to give you a hard time after the show, but I think we both know that’s not going to be the case — having been friends for a few years. But I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your expertise, your expertise on experts, which was born from a place of really wanting to help out your mom. And I think that normally we don’t do health and wellness shows here on the Jordan Harbinger Show. But I just thought, you know, having food make us sharper, having food make us more social, having food maybe get us out of a rut. Really hits home from me and a lot of people around me right now.
[01:02:48] So I want to thank you for coming on and sharing your knowledge with us. Well Jason, we normally don’t do health and wellness, but I was kind of into this one because I’m like, look, we’re all getting, we’re slowly, apparently all of us are slowly getting brain disease, which is terrifying, but there’s something we can do about it and involves just kind of raiding the kitchen and making sure we’re doing the right stuff or not eating some of the wrong stuff and we can get rid of a lot of the stuff that causes brain fog now. And I think for a lot of people who are well-schooled in nutrition, they may be knew this, but it took me decades to realize that stuff like Cheetos and chips, if I overdo it, is the reason I feel like crap the next day. I never put it together because I just assumed that food made me feel good, was not going to make me feel bad later unless it was me gaining weight. But it really does have that counterbalance and it’s really dangerous for you.Jason DeFillippo: [01:03:35] Well, I was fascinated about was the just the dementia side of things just personally because I’ve had to deal with that in my family. So anything that I can do to help the rest of my family stave off dementia, I will do it in a heartbeat because it is just seriously the worst thing that you can go through. So I am really glad we did this and I am going to completely raid the kitchen when we’re done with this show and go shopping tomorrow for some healthy alternative.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:00] Sounds like a plan for sure. I’m definitely going to outsource that particular task to my wife, but you know how it goes. I’m on, we’re all on the same page here. Great big thank you to Max Lugavere. The book title is Genius Foods and naturally that’ll be linked in the show notes. If you enjoyed this one, don’t forget to thank Max on Twitter. I’d also love to hear from you on Twitter. I’m @jordanharbinger. You can also email me, firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram @jordanharbinger. Now, everything sounds like me, Jason. It’s so much easier. That’ll all be linked up in the show notes for this episode, which can also be found at, wait for it, jordanharbinger.com.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:04:31] It’s all about you, Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:34] It’s all, yeah, it’s all about me and it always has been and let’s just face it. Now that hits a little too close to home.
[01:04:40] You tweet me your number one takeaway from Max and I want to throw a little hat tip to my friend, Ben Greenfield. He runs the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. If you like, topics like this. Ben Greenfield is the guy for you to go and listen to. He knows all about health and wellness and nutrition and did us a real salad by shouting out the Jordan Harbinger Show on a recent episode of his show. So he’s a good friend and he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do. So if this tickled your fancy, go check out his podcast as well. This episode of the Jordan Harbinger Show was produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Jason Sanderson, with us in spirit. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty, booking back office and last minute miracles by Jen Harbinger. And I’m your host Jordan Harbinger. Please, if you’re new to the show and hell if you’re not, rate this new show, which should be new to you, on iTunes. We had 11,000 freaking reviews for the other show. Now I’ve got 300, which is a lot, but I would love to, you know, 10, 20, 30 exit. No big deal. Just has to happen one at a time. So please do share the show with friends, rate and review on iTunes. Share the show with those you love and even those you don’t. We’ve got lots more in the pipeline and we’re excited to bring it to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so that you can live what you listen and we’ll see you next time.
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