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Robb Wolf: Wired To Eat

Rewiring our diet for better health
Monday, March 20, 2017, 12:14 PM

Wired To Eat book coverHealth and nutrition expert, Robb Wolf, returns to the program this week to discuss the findings contained in his new book Wired To Eat.

As human animals, our genetic programming pushes us to optimize caloric intake while minimizing the effort expended. The food industry knows this, and has for decades been developing "foods" scientifically engineered to appeal to that evolutionary drive. The result? An explosion in obesity, chronic health conditions like diabetes, and a society shamed by itself.

Robb's guidance revolves around working with, not against, our primal wiring. Eating more, but of the fuel our body truly needs, is much better than merely eating less of the processed gunk sold to us in most aisles of the grocery store.

But -- and this is key -- not all of us are wired to eat the same foods. There is a remarkable amount of variety at the individual level, so understanding which foods work best for you is extremely important. Fortunately, it's relatively straightforward to identify which foods these are, and to design your own customized nutrition menu for a future of better health:

I really think that there is enormous value in the general kind of ancestral health template. Get appropriate amount of sunlight on your person, and you sleep in accordance with the daylight cycle. Get community, move, and feed your gut microbiome; eat largely whole unprocessed foods. That general starting point, I think, is very difficult to improve on. If you just wanted like a very simple 30,000 foot level kind of elevator pitch deal. 

But then beyond that, the granularity gets really complex. It really calls into question the notion that you can have any type of a one size fits all recommendation. 

This is a real big challenge for me in talking to the greater nutrition world, Because people love getting into quasi-religious camps. If you suggest that some people may do well on the high-carb, Some people may do well on low-carb, Some people may do well with legumes and others not; whichever camp that really buys into the particular thing that you may be saying another group may not do well with just freak out. They have no capacity to look on that other side of the fence and realize that other people may do fine on something that you individually do not do so well with.

I do really well on a quite low-carb, oftentimes ketogenic diet. But not everybody does. It was a long learning process for me to come to that reality.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Robb Wolf (47m:51s).

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. It is March 16, 2017. I am your host, Chris Martenson. Today, we are going to be talking with leading health nutrition expert and all around great guy, Robb Wolf. He has got a new book out titled, Wired to Eat, which follows his bestseller, The Paleo Solution; which helped hundreds of thousands of people lose weight following a low-carb diet. But the paleo eating regime, I will call it a regime, and not a diet.

It is really only a starting point, not a destination. This is where Wired to Eat comes in. If you are seeking to either get in better health; or to understand why our so-called modern diet is actually a complete disaster for most people, then keep listening. It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Robb Wolf back to our program. Welcome Robb.

Robb Wolf: Chris, thanks for having me on. I just have to say thank you for all of your work. Peak Prosperity has really been a north star for myself and my family the past, man, almost ten years. So, I cannot thank you enough for your work. It is a huge honor to be on the show.

Chris Martenson: Likewise, this is the mutual admiration society. We are having our inaugural meeting here, because your work has been absolutely foundational. I am a transformed person myself. Together, I think we are helping to transform the world, and in each in our own ways. I am really looking forward to this.

I know you put a lot of work into this book. But, the title; you and I, we are both biologists in our background. You called it…. I think we both have training in Gen X. But, you have this word wired. To me, that is intuitive. But for people who maybe did not come through our same background, what do you mean by wired?

Robb Wolf: The title of Wired to Eat; and what I try to do in this story. I still... I think so much of why I have found your work appealing is the fundamentals that you deal with; energy, the economy, and the environment. I have always – I am not that bright of a guy. I need simple stuff, the big picture heuristics that give me a lot of information without a lot of CPU usage.

The other E that I might throw into that story is evolution. People can get kind of weirded out about that, if they do not like evolution. Maybe we would call it nature. But, I see these formative elements or trends that occur in nature. When we understand our genetic predilections for certain things, then a lot of the challenges that we face are not that surprising. Like we have had a tendency to moralize things. Like the desire to eat all of the food, and to sit on the couch, and not exercise.

When you look at this from kind of a natural systems approach, this completely makes sense. Any organism on the planet and you; again, it is so interesting. Because you are describing this process just with our fossil fuel usage. You always need to extract more energy out of your environment than what you are expending to get it. Or, you have problems like death or implosion. If you can if you can wrap your head around that?

It is kind of hard for folks to think about. Because if you live in a westernized society, we have rarely gone hours without food, or shelter, or comfort; whereas in the natural world, any organism and humans when they lived as hunter and gatherers, or pre-westernized societies. If you had a meal today, there was not a guarantee that you had a meal tomorrow or the next day, or the next day.

There was a really hardwired tendency to eat as much as you could, save energy, and just kind of go about your business in that fashion. This is called an optimum foraging strategy. Any organism that moves to get nutrition, and to get its calories; and that follows this kind of thermodynamic economic process. But, the implication there for today is that if you have those drives to eat more and move less? But, we can work from our home, and sit in our underwear, and order food to our front door. We pop it in the microwave. It comes in a huge variety of flavors and textures and palate options.

Then, in a way, you could argue that we have kind of won the lottery on the optimum foraging strategy. Like we are burning virtually no calories personally. We are getting an enormous amount of variety. Quote, I will put nutrition in somewhat air quotes, and definitely calories. We have kind of maxed that system out.

But now, we have gone so far that direction. Our biology never really understood a condition of chronic plenty. Like there really is not a process for effectively dealing with that. That is what we are facing today. Often the challenges that folks have when they are trying to make dietary and lifestyle changes. There is a huge sense of guilt and failure. Because they just cannot figure out why this stuff is so darned difficult to deal with.

But, it is at that fundamental genetic wiring level. If folks can understand how they are wired to eat; which includes elements of sleep, and photoperiod, and community, and stress, and the gut microbiome. There are a lot of factors that go into that. But, if they understand that genetic wiring. How our neural regulation of appetite work.

Then, we can at least begin this process of decoupling from the current food system. Things like hyper addictive social media and whatnot, we can start that in a spot where we are not encumbered with guilt and this sense of moral failing. Because decoupling from these things is difficult. For some people, they navigate in a pretty effortless way. But, they are the exception and not the rule.

Chris Martenson: I am thinking of wired as a pretty good metaphor. If I turn on a switch on the side of my wall. It is wired to a light bulb. That light bulb goes off. That is what happens. If I can flick that switch all I want; but maybe my stereo is not going to come on, right. That wiring is essential. I know that as humans, we like to think we have free will.

But, let us just be clear about this. As organisms, we are wired with certain predilections that are just sitting there. Like I love a freshly mowed lawn of bright green grass in July. It is a beautiful thing. It smells great. But, I am not wired to eat it. I have never actually had any urge to eat my lawn, right.

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: A sheep wired differently would experience that totally differently, right?

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: That is what we mean by wiring, right. We are wired for certain things. Like roadkill, it does not do a lot for me. But the buzzards think it is amazing, right.

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: Alright.

Robb Wolf: Yeah. If you will keep going, and keep going.

Chris Martenson: We are wired in certain ways. I know that because you begin your book Wired to Eat by telling us in a chapter titled “It's Not Our Fault;” which, if I have this right. It makes the case that our biological roots have been and are being exploited rather mercilessly by food marketing industries. Have I got that about right?

Robb Wolf: You have got it a hundred percent right. It may sound a little bit tinfoil hat. But, I might be a among friends in that regard because of the stuff that you share with folks. But, it is interesting to me and really educational. The folks who are involved in making, or the food producers that are really good at making these hyper palatable, and super tasty foods. What is the Lay's Potato Chip tagline? Do you remember that one? I bet you cannot eat just one.

Chris Martenson: No, but yeah.

Robb Wolf: Man, I will take that bet all day long. But these folks early on started really studying neurophysiology, evolutionary biology, addictive qualities of drugs and other behaviors. They used that engineer the food that we are consuming. To make it repetitiously addictive. Similarly, when the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter…. They did not know initially why these things were so sticky. But, they knew that they were. Then, they got in and again started looking at the neurophysiology, the feedback loops, the dopamine incentive pathways.

They really started honing this whole process to make these things addictive. I do not use the addictive term lightly. It gets thrown around a lot. But, I mean, these things are legitimately addictive. They create this reward reinforcement pathway in the brain that is very dopamine driven. The same pathways that drugs like caffeine and nicotine and cocaine exploit. But, my point here is that the folks who are perhaps profiteering from our situation; the food producers and the social media moguls, and whatnot.

They understand this evolutionary biology and neurophysiology, and genetic wiring story at a remarkably detailed level. Then, we get out to the gate keepers; our medical providers, healthcare practitioners, the general media, and the government. Trying to even raise the question; hey, could this ancestral health model, or could this genetic wiring even be a concern? There is huge drama around whether there is any relevance to that. But yet, the people who are making money and really profiteering from our suffering, they understand this stuff at a really deep level.

Chris Martenson: By exploiting that, of course they can sell more of their product. These are perfectly rational things for somebody to do, if they are tasked with driving sales up for Lay's Potato Chips this quarter; or coming out with the next great little bar in a foil wrapper that is going to really sell well. Of course, of course you are going to take advantage of whatever we know. Because, if you do not, your competitors certainly will.

On the individual level, I get that. But when we back up and we look at the larger statistics. I love this obesity map put out by the CDC. It shows all 50 states. If your state is colored blue; and you have a BMI of less than X; or a percentage of people who are below what is considered obese.

Starting in the mid-'90s, this chart starts to pink up a little bit. Then, through that late '90s, early 2000s, there is just this explosion of red. The red meaning an explosion of obesity. It is a giant epidemiological disaster. You see it go off like a bomb. Instead of investigating that as a culture, what has happened is we do fat shaming instead; which is –

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: – Just like you fat people. I guess you have no willpower. But you get back to this idea that it is not your fault. What are you really getting at there?

Robb Wolf: If we do not. Let us back up just a little bit. Sometimes this is helpful. Sometimes it kind of gets out in the weeds. But, I love this concept of Moore's Law. This notion that like microprocessors get faster and cheaper There is this innovation. You can see Moore's Law in a ton of different places. It has so improved their understanding of biology and the natural world that we live in. Where it one point to sequence a human genome, it was about ten million dollars Now, it is pennies.

We are just awash in information. There were more than 30,000 peer reviewed articles with the topic of Type 2 diabetes published in 2013, that you can find on PubMed. We know more about the physiology, and the pathology, the biochemistry of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and neurodegenerative disease, on, and on, and on.

We know more, and more, and more about this stuff than we have ever known in history. But yet, these things are increasing at exponential rates. The question there for me. Our cell phones are not going backwards. They are not getting worse. Like we are not developing a rotary phone as the answer to the to the iPhone or the Android. We are moving forward. All of that is improving.

We are using innovation, and engineering, and science to make things like these technological devices better. But, our ability to intervene in an effective way for healthcare is absolutely failing. It is a potentially crippling element to the U.S. and westernized economies. This is not even getting into things like underfunded pensions, and the stuff that you routinely talk about. But, this is another potential existential threat.

You would think the fact that we know more about these topics. We could do something effective. But the main things that we are told are eat less, move more, and everything in moderation; which just seems like some great Mark Twain folk wisdom. Man, that just sounds great. But the eat less, move more story is in direct competition with our fundamental genetic wiring. If we buy into this kind of thermodynamic economic kind of story of organisms living in the natural world; eat less, move more is in exact opposition to our fundamental wiring.

The incentives that are woven into our genetics. In this notion of everything in moderation, I have no idea what that means when you walk down the snack aisle of the supermarket. Do people have moderation when they have a slice of cheesecake, and then some potato chips, and then some nachos, or some chili cheese nachos, or ginger chili cheese nachos? I mean, the palate options and flavors are literally infinite.

That plays beautifully to our omnivorous tendency to eat as much as possible, and get as much variety as possible; and do as little as possible. The main narrative that we get from the media in the medical establishment; eat less, move more, everything in moderation completely ignores the reality of our fundamental genetic wiring. Clearly it, even if that supposition; and let us say that people do not want to buy into that. Let us just look at it from an engineering standpoint. Is this working? Are the recommendations that are being made – are the pharmaceutical interventions doing anything to improve the general lot of folks? The answer is a clear no.

Chris Martenson: Even with that no, we still find the fat shaming goes on. But where is our craft in Unilever shaming? Where do I find that in the Wall Street Journal.

Robb Wolf: It is funny. If you dig back a little bit; and you do a little bit of digging. Back in 2012, Unilever opened up a division. They put 50 million dollars into it studying evolutionary medicine. It was what is what the article was. I do not know how that is going to manifest. Are they going to put some hats on and try to figure out how we avert this Titanic, potential catastrophe? Or, are they figuring out how to exploit these tendencies with these hyper palatable foods and drug like substances? It is unclear where that is going.

But again, one of these mega wealthy global reach entities absolutely sees the value in looking at this from a natural systems perspective. If you go into most dietetic departments around the world, the vast majority of healthcare providers. This notion of taking kind of a natural systems and the evolutionary medicine approach to looking at this problem is not on their radar at all.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. I do not. I mean, the cynic in me says that they will discover some important things. They will make those available to wealthy people or to those who can afford them. Because really in many respects, the feeding of the masses is really a little bit of a socioeconomic story. Because I will tell you that my own personal preference to eat organic to help save the bumblebee, and maybe have some benefits for myself. I do that mostly for the biosphere, and myself secondarily. But, that is why I do it. It is expensive. In this, I am sure you run across this a lot. Do people say, "Listen, I would love to eat well. But, it seems kind of pricey." What is the response there?

Robb Wolf: Yeah. I have done a few pretty good breakdowns on that where I will compare this type of eating pattern. Like kind of a junk food eating pattern versus a more whole food; but not necessarily organic; then a whole food and organic eating pattern. You can make a pretty credible argument. Let us say you are kind of a starving college student. Or, you are just getting your family going.

I could make a pretty strong argument that so long as you stuck with largely whole unprocessed foods; fruits and vegetables, meat, and seafood. Even if it is not grass fed, even if it is not organic. There are some pretty good benefit to be had there both ecologically and physiologically versus eating a junk food based diet. Then, as people get their feet under them a little bit, then I think that this is a little bit of the syntax that people who are maybe doing a little bit better financially. We do help to subsidize that organic and permaculture system.

It is interesting though. When you go to virtually any other place in the world besides the United States, and maybe Europe. I mean, you see this even in Australia and New Zealand. Grain finished meat is a premium. You pay extra money for it because it is more resource intensive. That fact is only hidden in the United States because of the complexity and ubiquity of the farm subsidy system. An apple and a Twinkie should probably be very differently priced than what they are. But again, this is kind of the funny thing. We talked about this a bit before we started recording.

All of this stuff kind of is an outgrowth of this fiat currency and the ability to just print money; and kind of figure out whatever programs we want to do. It was Richard Nixon back in the early '70s. He was really desperate for reelection. He was not doing so well in the polls. He reached out to the farmers effectively via farm subsidies; and really bought a lot of bandwidth from those folks. We have kind of lived with that legacy ever since then.

The costs are kind of complex. But again, on my website, I have done some breakdowns on this where it is not quite as expensive as what people think. Also, the hidden costs are kind of buried into our tax structure and subsidies. Again, an apple should probably be less expensive than a Twinkie and by quite a lot when you look at all of the energy and infrastructure that goes into making that Twinkie versus the apple.

Chris Martenson: The cost of course to our long term health. But, let me talk about something more immediately. My own recent health journey began with cutting out inflammatory foods, and healing a leaky gut. Those were my sort of diagnoses there with the functional medicine person I was working with. But the real key in that, I feel, was that I had a food sensitivity analysis.

This is at circulating IGG antibodies, the presence of those anybody. It says, "Hey, some of this food you are eating made it whole enough across your gut." That your body said, "Let us fight this." That had a low level inflammatory response. But, the key there was that sensitivity analysis I had was like a fingerprint. That it revealed my unique responses, me, Chris the assendity to a host of foods and food groups. You speak of a personalized nutrition in Wired to Eat. How important is this idea do you think to the average listener?

Robb Wolf: Man, it is critical. Again, I really think that there is enormous value in this general kind of ancestral health template. Get appropriate amount of sunlight on your person, and you sleep in accordance with the daylight cycle. Get community, move, and feed your gut microbiome; eat largely whole unprocessed foods. That general starting point, I think, is very difficult to improve on. If you just wanted like a very simple 30,000 foot level kind of elevator pitch deal.

But then beyond that, the granularity gets really complex. It really calls into question the notion that you can have any type of a one size fits all recommendation. There was some research that came out of the Weizmann Institute in Israel about two years ago. They did a fascinating study. They put a continuous blood glucose monitor on 800 people.

This thing measures blood glucose once a minute, every minute, for the duration of the study; which in this case was three weeks. Then, they these…. They also did a gut microbiome analysis on these people. They did a full genetic analysis on these folks. Then, they just started feeding these people different meals.

It was crazy, the variation and the blood glucose response to various people. Some folks would eat rice. They would have a barely perceptible increase in their blood glucose level. Other people would eat rice. It would be near diabetic levels.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

Robb Wolf: These folks were being equal amounts of carbohydrate. There were really wacky situations where like a banana would make a person look almost diabetic. Whereas a chocolate chip cookie, they had a barely perceptible blood glucose increase. Everybody's like, man. I sure hope I am a cookie profile. But there is some kind of interesting caveats to that. But, what was really interesting was that there was just massive variation from person to person. It kind of followed the glycaemic index to some degree.

But, there were, even then, it really…. There were some quite remarkable deviations from that process. I am glad you mentioned the food sensitivities story. Because our blood sugar control is not just predicated on how much carbohydrate we eat. If we eat what is called an immunogenic food; if it is a food that causes an immunogenic or an inflammatory response in our body. That causes a release of adrenaline, and cortisol. Those chemicals ping the liver. The liver releases glucose.

Because when we are under stress; and it does not matter if it is psychological stress, physical stress, or immunogenic stress. Our blood sugars go up. Because it puts us in a fight or flight scenario. People can eat some foods that may not have that high of an inherent carbohydrate content. But yet, their blood glucose levels are really quite elevated for long periods of time. But that is being caused from a stress response and not specifically from the carbohydrate content to the food. Again, this stuff is all over the map.

Chris Martenson: Right.

Robb Wolf: I have just been doing some experiments. I did a continuous blood glucose monitor. I ate a wide variety of foods. I tracked all of that. Now, my wife is doing this. Just kind of empirically, we have known that she is better at handling carbs than I am. We would eat the same meal. I would ask her, "Are you feeling okay?" She is like, yeah, I am totally fine. I literally would be drooling on myself and almost passed out under the table.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

Robb Wolf: We had some interesting things where both of us ate like a 50-gram aliquot of rice, white rice. For me, at two hours, my blood glucose was 186, which is darn near diabetic levels. For my wife, it barely got above like 120. She has a much healthier gut than I do. She has never had giardia. She had fewer antibiotics in her past.

Neither of her parents were Type 2 diabetics; both my parents were. My mother was likely gestationally diabetic. I might have some in utero factors. When we get into the explanatory piece, that can get really complex. But the fundamental reality is, if we test some of this stuff both subjectively and objectively, the subjective measures; how do you feel between meals? Do you have any foggy headedness from a particular food? What do your blood glucose numbers look like? We can get pretty granular on an individual level.

But, this is a real big challenge for me in talking to the greater nutrition world. Because people love getting into quasi-religious camps. If you suggest that some people may do well on the high-carb. Some people may do well on low-carb. Some people may do well with legumes. Other people not; whichever camp that really buys the particular thing. That you may be saying another group may not do well with.

They just freak out. They have no capacity to look on that other side of the fence and realize that other people may do fine on something that you individually do not do so well with. I do really well on a quite low-carb, oftentimes ketogenic diet. But not everybody does. It was a long learning process for me to come to that reality. I had a long history of confirmation bias where I found people who were similar to myself. They would benefit from what I was doing, which was a low-carb diet.

Then, I thought that I was a genius. I had all of the answers. Then, as I started working into larger and larger populations, I experienced people that this square peg and round hole kind of thing was not working. I thought the problem was them. But the problem was me and my inability to expand my reality to encompass this notion that not everybody is the same.

Chris Martenson: I am really intrigued by doing that carb testing just to get that data. Because for me, it was really important to get my fingerprint of foods that I was at least allergically responding to on one level. That is one level of response. But you are talking about an entirely different set of responses; which is it could be based on a whole host of factors, including my stress levels, and this, and that, and all of that; and maybe even stuff in utero, right.

You do not know, hard to explain why. But the what of it is easy enough. You get yourself tested. Then, you start getting some data. You discover white rice does this to me. That is part of my fingerprint at this point and time. I have been following on your Instagram account; which is dasrobbwolf. I assume d-a-s –?

Robb Wolf: Yeah. That is it.

Chris Martenson: Or, Robb d a s Robb Wolf.

Robb Wolf: Yeah, a little German twang, there, yeah.

Chris Martenson: Dasrobbwolf, yeah?

Robb Wolf: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, d-a-s Robb with two B's, of course; Wolf, and you can follow Robb there on Instagram. You have been putting your wife through a seven-day carb test. Does that include all of this testing we are talking about?

Robb Wolf: Yes, it does. Yeah. It has been fascinating. Because again she just has across the board much better glycaemic control than I do. She is 30 pounds lighter than I am and less muscle mass. There are a lot of arguments there just from a dilution standpoint that I should handle these carbohydrates better. But, man, if we had a UFC battle between her pancreas and mine, hers would beat me within the first 30 seconds of the fight.

Again, you can really go quite deep trying to explain the whys behind this. Maybe you are right. Maybe you are wrong, the early life history and what not. But, the reality and the liberating element of this is even though my wife kind of pulled the genetic lottery and epigenetic lottery. Maybe your gut is quite healthy. Maybe she has good genetics for handling carbohydrates and whatnot. I got dealt kind of a short end of the gene pool hand. But, so long as I figure out what foods allow my blood glucose levels to look like my wife's, I am going to have an equally healthy metabolic profile.

That is really the liberating piece of this story. Maybe you are not going to have as much latitude in what you can eat, but the amounts and the varieties. But I will figure out what part of the sandbox I can play in. What amount of it I can consume. Then, I am quite healthy. I am lean. My blood lipids look great. I am super productive. At 45, I have a lot of different pans in different fires. I have two daughters who are under the age of five. I am able to stay on top of all of that with the way that I feed and water myself.

But, if I just tried to grab a one size fits all approach and did not do a little bit deeper dive, it would be really easy for me to eat what would appear to be a very reasonable diet. It would be similar to my wife's. But, if I ate the carbohydrate level that my wife eats, I would be sick. I would probably be peri-diabetic and heading towards diabetes. For her, it is an absolute non-issue. It is where she does quite well.

Chris Martenson: Fascinating, and now, as I think through this; of course, of course editorially, of course what should happen is people should be able to go into their doctor's office or their health clinic. This would be the very first thing. Like this would be the starting point of all conversation. We are going to do this. We are going to get you a little fingerprinting going on here. We are going to figure out your glucose response and the carbohydrate response. We are going to check this out.

Here start here, as you said, Pareto rule, 80/20. I bet you 80 percent of our difficulties could be good very easily addressed there. The rest, it gets a little more sophisticated. But, we do not have access to that. Of course, my doctors still do not have time to talk to me about nutrition. You make a great point in this book later on where you said, great. If you have made it through these few chapters, you now know more than 90 percent of the healthcare professionals out there about nutrition; which is the starting point of it all.

It is just like what you were writing about. People should have more easy access to through the systems we have. What I write about should be in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. But, they are not. Here we are. The reason people are listening to you and I talk about this is because it is kind of up to us now to take care of ourselves in the scheme.

Because the systems have failed us and will continue to fail us because the interests of the keepers of the system are at cross purposes to our own personal interests. If you are wondering why you have to listen to things like this very common sense scientifically based inquiry and advice on a fringe blog as it were. It is because unfortunately, that is the world we live in right now.

Robb Wolf: Yeah. It is true whether we are talking financial management or blood glucose control.

Chris Martenson: It is true.

Robb Wolf: It is kind of ironic. There is some self-similarity there.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, it really is. The heart of your book here then is a 30-day reset. Talk to us about that. What does that really mean?

Robb Wolf: Yeah. The front part of the book really gets into the why. How are we wired to eat? What are all of the factors that govern that? It relates to sleep and photoperiod, stress, and gut microbiome. I try to build a picture about how the neural regulation of appetite is set up. How the modern world has kind of stacked the cards against us. Here is how we are going to decouple from this process.

We begin a 30-day reset. Prior to that reset, I make a really strong case to do a triage process. It starts with both subjective and objective elements. The subjective elements again are when you eat. How do you feel between meals? Do you get hungry? Are you clear headed and super energetic? That provides some really good feedback for us on a subjective level.

Then, we look at some objective measures like blood glucose levels over time; which is a test called a hemoglobin A1c, fasting blood glucose. Some really simple things like a hip to waist measurement that gives us kind of a rough and ready sense of our insulin sensitivity. But that whole picture kind of gives us a story about where we are with regards to metabolic health. Then, that will help us drop into this 30-day reset.

Although not everybody in the world is insulin resistant and inflamed, a whole lot of people are. As they go through this process, they are going to notice that they probably end up on this more insulin resistant, and kind of inflamed side of the spectrum. I provide some recommendations, which is kind of an anti-inflammatory lowish-carb diet. But the low is kind of relative. I give a spectrum between about 75 and 150 grams of carbs a day, which, if you are eating the types of foods that we are recommending; it is actually pretty aggressive to get that much down. You would be challenged to eat that many.

We motor forward for 30 days with that at a minimum. Then, we look back and just do something that is really a greasy used car salesman and non-transparent; which we just look back and say; "How do I look?" How do I feel? How do I perform? Is it better than what it was before? Is the effort worth the reward? I mean it is about as transparent a process as I can conceive of. It is like is the work worth the effort?

Generally, folks, again to your point; they will reach kind of a Pareto 80/20 point where generally they will say, yeah. I feel a lot better. My cognition is a lot better. My joints don't ache. Or, whatever their individual issues are. From there then, I recommend that people do a seven-day carb test where they use a simple inexpensive glucometer. they track a battery of meals that are basically composed of carbohydrates. We see what the what the mapping is. Where is the outer boundary of what your ideal blood glucose response is to things like white rice, and lentils, and things like that.

I do make a pretty strong case in the book for most people to remain gluten free. That raises a lot of eyebrows. There is a lot of contention around that stuff. I guess my sales pitch on that is a little bit indirect. But, I am suggesting. I am trying to be successful at selling books and like appearing credible, and what not. I am suggesting that people remove a food group that is arguably one of the tastiest and most ubiquitous on the planet. If I could figure out a way to get people to eat refined grain products particularly wheat, and still be healthy, I would sell more books than Harry Potter.

The reason why I make that recommendation is I really see people benefit from that. My real background was in cancer and autoimmunity research. That is what got me into this. For good or ill, I have kind of become the poop guy, like the poop and digestion expert. There are so many issues that end up improving dramatically with the removal of gluten containing items. That is kind of a long diversion on that.

But, we use that seven-day carb test to again map what our experience is with various types of carbohydrates. Then, we are able to take this information and then kind of ride off into the sunset. We have a pretty good sense now of what feeling good; it both feels and looks like. We have a good sense of what types of carbohydrates we do best with. If we have some carbohydrates, we really like. But, maybe we do not do spectacularly well with large amounts of it. Maybe we have some mitigating strategies.

We do a hard workout and then consume some of these carbs. Maybe you have a little bit of vinegar with it. Because a high acid environment in the stomach tends to slow glycemic release and blunt the insulin response. We do add have some mitigating strategies. But, until we test these things and we know where our boundaries are; we do not really know if it is a good idea or a bad idea to have a particular food or a particular amount of that food.

Chris Martenson: Well, I will tell you. My weakness is potato chips. I cannot think of a good mitigating strategy. Maybe if I super glued them individually to my leg hairs? That might work. I do not know. Otherwise, I would have to have them –

Robb Wolf: It might. I am pretty hairy. But would pretty quickly de-nude by body in fervor. It is kind of like it is on after that. It is like I will take that hit. I will probably eat 50 to 60 potato chips that are hairy. Then, from then on out, it is full steam ahead.

Chris Martenson: I will feel like a dolphin. It will be amazing.

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: But very quickly, you have mentioned it twice, this glucose monitoring thing. Once upon a time, people had to stick their fingers and get blood out. What is the state of – when you say a glucose monitor? What kind of a device are we talking about these days?

Robb Wolf: Man, now if we were in Europe where we have some interesting options.

Chris Martenson: Where there is freedom?

Robb Wolf: Yeah. Where there is certainly more innovation in the healthcare space. If we were in Europe, you could take this really slick wearable tattoo. That is an RFID device. You slap it on the back of your arm. That thing will last two or three weeks. You have a little scanner that you pop over it once every eight to nine hours. It would upload your blood glucose levels that are checked once a minute. It would be relatively cheap. It would be comparatively easy to get; which is interesting.

Europe is kind of squirrelly in that regard with the free access to some things. But in the United States, the continuous blood glucose monitors are pretty large and pretty clunky. There is kind of a monopoly in the current system. It is all insurance driven. It is about fifteen hundred dollars to get these things. Doctors generally will not prescribe them unless you are already diabetic. If you just go in and say, hey. I want to get a at CGM, a Continuous Glucose Monitor. Your doctor is like, well. You are not diabetic. You cannot have one.

There is really no reason why other than this is just kind of the convention. For most people, they are kind of left with going to their Walgreens, or CVS, and getting a ten to twenty-dollar blood glucose monitor that in involves the lancets, and the finger strips, and all that type of stuff. But it, probably five years from now, these wearable transdermal monitors are going to be ubiquitous.

The Apple Watch is theoretically able to do a pretty good job monitoring blood glucose levels. Some people know how to jailbreak for that. They can integrate it with some of these other platforms to be able to get some readings. Some of the hold up on that is Apple wants the Apple Watch to be medical device quality. They are kind of waiting on that process. But at some point, we are going to have some really easy measurements that do not involve this finger stick.

I do have to say like I really dislike needles. But these lancets are tiny. They are smaller than a human hair. They literally do not hurt. But even and still, I will admit that my heart rate probably skips up about 40 beats a minute. That is when I get ready to do it. I am kind of a coward in that regard. I understand that folks are not that fired up about that.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Now, so talk to us about some of the results that are coming in from your work here with the reset, and with people beginning to follow this, and with customization, and personalization starting to come. But what are you starting to see here? What can people look forward to, if they follow this path?

Robb Wolf: One of the first things that is really interesting is there is a lot of variation from person to person. I have a really good friend, Eva Twardokens. She is a two-time Olympian, and six-time giant slalom world championship, really an amazing athlete. It was fascinating. For her, white rice and white potatoes were good to go. But lentils, which I would be hard pressed to really even find much carbohydrate in lentils. It is really protein and fiber. I mean, they are a very low glycemic load food.

But for Eva, the lentils produced a near diabetic blood glucose level. It went on for like four hours. She just could not pull things back down whereas white rice and white potatoes, she cleared everything. Everything was good. Her cognition was great.

We have had a lot of interesting results like that where some foods that you would otherwise think that would not be a problem were problems for some folks. But generally, what we see. If people are getting their blood glucose levels right; I provide some recommendations in the book that are quite a bit more aggressive and controlled than what the standard of care is.

I actually want to fully avoid the potential of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. All of these things are now pretty well understood to have an underlying factor of poor blood glucose control, hyperinsulinemia, and stuff like that. I set these benchmarks pretty tight. Because I actually want to avoid these entirely, not just kind of slightly mitigate my risk.

But, what we are finding is if folks really get their glycemic control right, they spontaneously reduce caloric intake. They just feel good. They are satiated. They eat a meal. They are like, man; I could go six, eight, and ten hours without eating. They may get hungry. But it is not a crippling debilitating sense of hunger like they would have, if they are experiencing these really high peaks and troughs in blood glucose.

When people start spontaneously reducing caloric intake to a level that is amenable to just maintenance, they tend to lean out. They lose lots of body fat. Their blood pressure drops. Their glucose numbers improve. Cognition typically improves. Inflammation reduces, and physical performances, it goes up.

The results are all pretty remarkable. It is very consistent. If you get the numbers right for you, then you kind of get these outputs. But, it is inconsistent in that what may work for me may not work for you.

It is going to be…. I will about guarantee you. My wife is going to beat the pants off of both you and I. There is variability in that regard. You really cannot look across the table or the work environment and see what someone else is doing; and really let that inform you too much. It really needs to be kind of a personal exploration.

Chris Martenson: Alright. That fits with my own personal inquiry into all of this. This feels right. This feels like the direction we need to go. At the root of it though, can we just be clear? That the food industry in this country is pumping out stuff that is really actually not food in the sense that it is going to sustain us, and provide nutrition, and lead.

Here is the thing. Robb, here is what I think is wrong. I think that the way it is sold to us; and I think it is true given the environment we have created for ourselves. It is that health is something you achieve, right. You have got to work for it, right. I am here. I want to be healthy. It is a climb up. I am going to have to do stuff. I am going to have to give up things and work. I am going to eat less and move more, right.

Health is something I achieve. But, as soon as I relax for a minute, I fall back down, right. I think that is upside down. I think health is something that should be the baseline. That we should view anything off of that baseline as an accidental fall into a pit right that we should not be in, right.

Really, I think it is inverted, the whole structure. Health, my body is right now co-living with I do not know, 100 trillion other things. We are all making out fine. I get cancer every day. I hear. My body clears it out. It is astonishing that my body knows self from other. It can take this complex stuff that I put into this tube that goes through me and extract what it needs. It is an amazing process. I think health is actually the baseline. But it is not, if you are throwing bad fuel into the furnace.

Robb Wolf: Yeah. Again, to your point, all of the incentives, and all of the structures are aligned against achieving that health. Because it is so similar to what you talk about with financial resiliency and having solid community. The different types of capital that one may have. If you really make a decision to optimize your capital; and you talk about health as a primary capital. But what do you end up being is an individual that is largely decoupled from everybody that is essentially grifting, extracting some value out of your suffering.

It is like, hey man. You deserve that new car. You deserve that whole cheesecake. It is like, well. I do not know if deserve is the right term. But, it certainly caters to my ego. It caters to my impulse for novelty. It becomes an entrapping kind of process.

Again, it is fascinating to me. I do not know if it is confirmation bias. But it is interesting me to me the synergies between this food and health story. Everything that you talk about in energy, the economy, and the environment.

Chris Martenson: Yes. Well, it is absolutely a fascinating time to be alive. You know what? It is editorially, here I go again. I think it is unfortunate that we have to put this much effort into thinking about our food. But we do. Because this is the world we live in.

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: Maybe we know things now that our forbearers did not know 200 years ago. We do know. People got gout and all kinds of metabolic diseases back then, too. The good news in this is that, yes, we know that we have got some things obviously epidemiologically. Clearly, we have been harming ourselves. We know how to fix this, right?

Robb Wolf: Right.

Chris Martenson: That is what I loved. You have got a roadmap here in the book. Two other things I should point out. The back third is recipes, a lot of recipes in here for weight loss and beyond. Then my favorite thing; you have a shopping list in the appendix. Because that makes it simple for me. I am a fan.

Robb Wolf: Yeah. We have a ton of support material at Wiredtoeat dot com or RobbWolfe dot com. You can download all of those shopping and food guides. Really try to make it is easy as possible for folks to navigate this whole change.

Chris Martenson: Well fantastic, we have been talking with Robb Wolf, author of the new book just out, Wired To Eat. Robb, we can find that on Amazon. I assume and where else?

Robb Wolf: Anywhere books are sold, yeah, even Costcos and what not. Yeah. It should be just about everywhere.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic, well, thank you for writing it. Thank you for your time today. We will follow up, I am sure as the year goes on.

Robb Wolf: Thanks Chris, and thank you again for all of the amazing work that you and Peak Prosperity do.

Chris Martenson: You are most welcome. Thank you for that.

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11 Comments

Uncletommy's picture
Uncletommy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: May 4 2014
Posts: 379
What's in your pantry?

If you depend on someone else for your food and well being, you do run a risk of hard times sometime in the future no matter what your ethnic and cultural background may be. I wonder what the blood-glicose levels of the residents of Churchill is today.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/churchill-blizzard-grocery-shortage-1.4032105

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2010
Posts: 1317
Modern wheat is a genetic monster

Modern wheat is a genetic monster that causes all kinds of inflammation and then the Glyphosate sprayed on it before harvest to dry it kills good gut bacteria.  

Thankfully it looks like Monsanto is going to court (CBS covered the case recently).

If you have to go on an antibiotic for an acute bacteria infection, make sure to take a probiotic 3-4 hours after each dose.

 

Reinhart's picture
Reinhart
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 11 2014
Posts: 1
some thoughts

Hi Chris,

Interesting topic. From my understanding, the Atkins diet works well in the short term, but in the long run it doesn't seem to be that healthy. (or not for everyone, as Robb Wolf mentions). http://nutritionfacts.org/video/atkins-diet-trouble-keeping-it-up/

You might be interested in the book 'How not to die' by Michael Greger M.D. (http://nutritionfacts.org/book/) and the book 'The Starch Solution' by John A. McDougall, M.D. (https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/shopping/books/starch-solution/).

Cheers, Reinhart

P.S. The book 'How not to die' changed our life, just as your 'Crash Course' and Mike's 'Hidden secrets of money' were total life changers. Thank you for that!

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 4447
hard-wired

It must be a recent theme of mine - I keep seeing interviews and material that explains yet another piece of the hard-wiring we come with.

Epigenetics - in-womb effects "tuning" our biology, how our life experience can affect our offspring, and that signals from the outside are required to trigger the cell genetics (otherwise, people with 'the cancer gene' would have cancer at birth).

Evolutionary Biology - a huge amount of hard-wiring is about leaving copies of your genes behind; cooperation, motivation to cheat, to detect cheating, game theory, multiple partners, pair bonding, protection of family, mother-child bonding, identification of (and fondness for) relatives.

Backfire Effect - maintaining the stability of your worldview; worldview = identity, threats to worldview are treated as threats to identity, and met with violence.

And now eating.  We're hard-wired to eat lots, and then lounge around while using minimal energy.  That just makes so much sense its not even funny.  It calls to mind all those images of lions in Africa lounging around in the shade.  Puritan work ethic was a bunch of guilt layered on top; underneath, our biology is hard-wired to gorge and then sleep.  :)

Understanding that its hard-wired really helps to remove the self-blame from the whole thing.  If our bodies weren't tuned like this, our ancestors never would have made it out of Africa.  Once you know your wiring, you feel an urge for something and you can realize its just your body doing what it was programmed to do millions of years ago.

Truth is, in my survival class, "in between" gorging sessions, our stomach shrank so much that when we ended up striking it rich, "gorging" was actually not all that much food.  And then we were back to 600 cals a day.  And it all felt like plenty.  If I hadn't gone through it, I wouldn't have believed it.  I can really see how useful that hard-wiring was, in the past, and how sneaky the megacorps are for using our biology against us.

Uncletommy's picture
Uncletommy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: May 4 2014
Posts: 379
Maybe its not about our consumption. . .

Maybe it's not about our consumption as much as it is about what and how we produce it. Just out last month and well worth our consideration. (Think it's on Netflix, as well):

https://vimeo.com/116092253 

suziegruber's picture
suziegruber
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 3 2008
Posts: 175
The Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is another important piece to this puzzle of the experience of fullness. Here's an excerpt from an article on this topic:

The Vagus Nerve Controls How Hungry you Feel

One really important type of communication that runs up and down the vagus nerve is hunger and fullness signals. For example…

  • The physical bulk of food in the stomach sends satiety signals up the vagus nerve to your brain. This is how your brain knows to stop feeling hungry after a meal.
  • Nutrient sensing and neurotransmitters produced in the gut, like serotonin and ghrelin, can also send hunger and fullness signals up the vagus nerve to the brain.

Obesity is associated with a lower sensitivity of the vagus nerve to fullness signals, and there’s a lot of evidence that this is caused specifically by diet. Obesity-inducing diets can actually alter the sensitivity of the vagus nerve to fullness signals, so it takes more food for your brain to get the “full now” signal. And just like you might expect, stimulating the vagus nerve (to “turn up the volume” on the satiety signal) tends to cause weight loss in experimental animals – although it’s worth noting that studies in humans have mixed results.

The article mentions the vagus nerve as part of the rest and digest part of the threat response and the parasympathetic nervous system.  What the article fails to mention is that this nerve is also part of the freeze/collapse portion of the threat response which dominates when we experience threat that we interpret as inescapable.  Stephen Porges has done a lot work in this area. This has huge implications for our relationship to food.  If we our chronically stressed due to our trauma history or lifestyle etc, we may be living in a parasympathetically dominant state that prioritizes basic survival over food digestion, pleasure of any kind, etc.  Back to the article:

It’s a really important pathway, and vagus nerve activation is involved in obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular diseases, mood disorders like depression, and all kinds of other chronic health problems.

The vagus nerve ennervates all of our core major organ systems.  Here's an image:

The bottom line is that reducing stress and resolving old trauma is paramount to our well-being and preparation for what's unfolding so that we can respond rather than react to what's coming and live relaxed yet alert rather than collapsed, depressed, frozen, stuck in fight or fear etc.

 

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 698
Food Industry

Excellent podcast.  Now you have me wanting to monitor my glucose level and check for food allergies.

I'll admit, I'm less inclined to jump on the gluten free bandwagon.  

I worked for a major food manufacturer for 37 years, 12 of those years I was part of a cross functional product management team.  The corporation I worked for produced 13% of the food products in the nations grocery stores. 

I cannot guarantee that there isn't a shifty eyed, mad, food scientist in a secret lab somewhere finding ways to make manufactured food more addictive, but I never ran across one, or heard of any such research and I attended new product meetings spanning manufacturing plant conference rooms all the way to the executive wing conference room.  

However, we did have full time food science employees working on improving food taste.

Volume growth was driven more from a marketing perspective, with advertisement and packaging design targeting specific demographic groups and products manufactured to appeal to those groups.

But don't get me wrong.  I am not singing the praise of the corporate food industry, far from it.  Corporations don't much care if there is any nutritional value in the "food" they sell, as long as it sells.  They aren't concerned with what portion of your food dollar goes to covering advertisement and packaging vs what you eat.  Corporations will gladly cost reduce the food they are manufacturing to the point of absurdity, as long as it doesn't impact short term sales volumes and revenues.

If you could get your hands on a hot dog manufactured in, say, 1975 and eat it side by side with a hot dog manufactured today, it would be a real eye opener.  They are so different that the name shouldn't even be the same.

I was in a seminar once with a food scientist from another division.  She was cleaning up old files and found a 30 year old caramel recipe.  She and some coworkers decided to mix up a batch, just for grins.  She said that there was no comparison between the batch they made and modern caramel.

This is another one of those exponential curves we talk about.  If your corporate plan is to cost reduce each product line 3% every year into perpetuity, the results are... not so good.

My surprise is that corporations have been getting away with downgrading our food for as long as they have.

No, I'm definitely not a big fan of manufactured food.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 698
Glucose monitoring with Apple Watch

I cannot find a jailbreak app for the Apple Watch that monitors glucose levels.  

Does anyone have a link to the app?

Does the app require a separate device that transmits to the watch?

shastatodd's picture
shastatodd
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 16 2010
Posts: 42
low glycemic plant based diet (inexpensive and organic)

thanks for the great podcast!

i have been vegetarian since 1979 and for most of my life struggled with hypoglycemia, high ldl, high triglycerides, low hdl... (classic metabolic disorder symptoms). 

when my fasting glucose level moved into pre-diabetic levels and my physician suggested statins... i started researching. i learned about the glycemic index. i shifted away from bread, chips, rice, pasta, potatoes, sugar, honey etc. towards low glycemic veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds and some dairy. i use stevia for sweetening. my weight went from 165 to 138, my lipids are great and the blood sugar swings are gone! 

while everyone has different responses to food, it is pretty clear that sugars and high glycemic carbohydrates are best to avoid/ minimize. unfortunately this also includes alcohol.

here are two interesting university of california videos which address this:

Sugar: The Bitter Truth
 
and the updated version:
 
Fat-Chance-Fructose
 
todd
LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 698
Exponential Decline

After posting, earlier today, I got to thinking about exponential decline.  It occurred to me that it behaves differently than exponential growth, since the base is not increasing.  This means no hockey stick effect.  The curve of exponential decline would be a much more normal curve the exponential growth.

 

Cornelius999's picture
Cornelius999
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 17 2008
Posts: 312
A little good news.  Latest

A little good news.  Latest figures are that each of us has about 100 billion microbes in our bodies working on our behalf.  We are not alone.

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