TMBA 338: What is the World's Best Diet?

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As many listeners know, this show generally focusses on ways of finding success in business whilst still achieving balance in, and control over, lifestyle. One aspect that we’re occasionally touched on, but never really ‘deep dived’ into, is health – and particularly what we ‘should’ be eating.

In this week’s episode, Dan and Ian are having a mid-life crisis confronting this issue head-on.

Dan is fascinated by diets. It’s no secret that he’s experimented with a plethora of them over the years. But recently, aware of his own family history of heart issues, he decided to go on a quest for the ‘best’ diet in the world.

During that search, he stumbled upon the work of Dr. Michael Greger M.D., creator of NutritionFacts.org. He found Dr. Greger’s approach to nutrition something that, for once, not only made sense medically but also seemed to offer a balanced and sustainable way of eating long-term.

Transcript

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • What Dr. Greger believes is the best possible way to eat. (3:40)
  • Why heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. (5:28)
  • How Dr. Greger’s methods compare to traditional American health care techniques. (8:35)
  • Why most doctors don’t know enough about nutrition. (11:01)
  • Where people are living longer, healthier lives and what those people are eating. (26:22)

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian

Published on 05.26.16
  • Ricardo P Aquino

    Buying his book today!

    As a bacon lover, but also as someone growing more concious of the negative effects of factory farming, I find it more and more compelling to forget animal products and go all vegetables. If anything, I personally do feel a huge difference when I eat clean, non-processed foods, than when I don’t.

    I wonder though, if anyone else has experienced growing muscle mass on a fruits and vegetables only diet.

    Great episode!

  • Jeremy

    I have and do. Full vegan for many years. Now more relaxed with minimal eggs and cheese intake. There’s a lot of information out there about the protein myth and could better explain than I can here, which I think pertains to your question. Also Frank Medrano is a great example.

    I lift, build muscle, train bjj, run trails, and am full of energy and liveliness. Plus my concern and compassion for animals has increased due to my awareness of the meat industry.

  • Matt

    You should look into the Bulletproof diet if you care about your brain health.

    No offense but this was a terrible discussion. The thing that matters is what the meat, ate. I won’t touch “feedlot” mass-produced meat. But grass-fed beef, or pasture raised bacon is a health food.

  • RadPirateship

    I understand processed lunch meats or lunchables being terrible but would like to see the data on pasture bacon. I don’t see how that can be as bad or cancer causing (maybe in serious self denial as bacon is amazing).

    I think the problem with the diet discussion is that people from every side from vegans to strict paleo can point to studies showing success.

    I read an interesting article once that said the real trick aside from eating lots of vegetables (which almost everyone agrees on) is removing the irritants from your diet. If you don’t do well with dairy or processed wheat or whatever it is, once you remove those irritants that’s the key. Plant based diet, paleo diet, etc. tend to remove the most common irritants that’s why you can see success on both sides.

    Also, I’m not sure for me if the goal is to be a tiny Okinawan living to 105 off seaweed and fish broth.

    What’s Lebron James or Conor McGregor eating? I’m more interested in peak performance for the majority of my life.

    Overall a very interesting discussion but I think for these types of topics it would take it up another notch if you had someone on the other side like John Durant (author of paleo manifesto) or some sort of expert to push back.

  • http://ccansbjerg.com Cristina C. Ansbjerg

    I grew up in the Mediterranean Diet. I don’t mean pizza, pasta and gyros, but the actual diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, seafood, olive oil, hearty grains and an attitude towards meals: appreciation of healthy and delicious food, sharing with others, sitting down to eat and relaxing while doing it, etc.

    The benefits of this diet have been proved over centuries:
    – Protecting against type 2 diabetes
    – Preventing heart disease and strokes
    – Keeping you agile (reduced senior’s risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty by about 70 percent)
    – Reducing risk of Alzheimer’s
    – Halving the risk of Parkinson’s disease and
    – Increased longevity (Spaniards have the highest healthy life expectancy in Europe: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/05/spanish-highest-life-expectancy-europe).

    http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/mediterranean-diet.htm

  • Anna

    Great program. I especially enjoyed it as about a year ago I accidentally discovered tropical MBA when I googled sugar free diet. Have been a religious follower of the program since then ( what a coincidence I’m also a business owner) but I always since have wondered what Dan was eating. I’m a vegetarian and have been for over 25 years, but agree even I could eat more fruits and vegetables.

  • http://justagirlandherblog.com Donnie Lawson

    Loved this topic!

    Here are couple things you may find interesting as you explore this topic. The first is a book called Tripping over the Truth. It talks about cancer as a metabolic disorder. I think in the next ten years we will hear a lot more about this. Here’s the book: http://www.amazon.com/Tripping-Over-Truth-Metabolic-Illuminates/dp/1500600318

    Also, as a cyclist, you may find Dr. Peter Attia’s work interesting. http://eatingacademy.com/ Take a look at some of his earlier posts and n=1 tests on himself. Peter also gave an emotional TedX talk which is worth a watch.

  • http://justagirlandherblog.com Donnie Lawson

    I’m no expert but just a random guy with a blood glucose monitor that likes to test my blood sugar after various meals. I had a very high fasting blood sugar (pre-diabetic zone) so I decided to start testing things.

    The guests point on the insulin response of meat bothers me a bit. From my own experience I think he’s just telling half the story.

    When I eat a big slab of chicken breast and some cooked green veggies my blood sugar does increase significantly. I think it’s because over the years I’ve trained my body to get really good at converting protein to sugar — gluconeogensis.

    On the other hand, if I have a piece of protein but accompany it with veggies a good amount of fat like olive oil or grass fed butter, my blood sugar doesn’t move. It’s like the fat prevents my body from immediately starting the process of turning the protein into sugar. Just my personal experience. It’s super cheap to test myself. I use a precision extra monitor that was $30 at Walgreens.

    I do love how the doctor talks about insulin. I’ve heard people say before that all things being equal, the person who excretes the least amount of insulin over their lifetime will live the longest.

  • http://www.r32media.com EricTimmer

    I think what a lot of people forget to mention about people from Okinawa and Japan is… number one the portion size, and number two the amount of general movement in their lives compared to other cultures. Of course there are a lot of other factors but after living in Japan for a good 8-10 years I can say that’s what I noticed when it comes to weight.

  • Frederik Gylling

    I only have danish articles about the concepts I’m eating out from. However, basically it’s the traditional Chinese concept with balancing yin and yang (and dry/wet, etc. if you want it more complicated). It is not an alternative to his suggestion, but a way of building up and understanding your meal and the short-/longterm effect the different fruits, vegetables, etc. have on your body.

    Additionally, there is the 10 mainstream principles:
    1) Chew your food well

    2) Help your stomach digest – eat cooked/warm food, not too much cold/raw food and drinks

    3) Keep our spleen dry and warm when digesting food

    4) Eat smaller portion

    5) Eat the largest amount of food early on the day while your stomach is balanced

    6) Eat fresh food with high Qi

    7) Enjoy your meal.

    8) Be relaxed and focus while eatng

    9) Sit straight

    10) avoid processed food, too much salt, fat, sugar. Balance the meal: 40-45% cereal products, 35-40% vegetables and 10-15% meat, fish, nuts, beans o. lign.

    Ref.: http://ching.dk/pages/kroppen-i-balance/kost-og-livsstilsanbefalinger.php

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    Interesting link, I’m still amazed how cancer treatment hasn’t improved in the west one bit over the last 50+ years. Even thought there are a lot of money thrown at it with different startups and all it seems like either there is no “intention” of treating it (conspiracy alert) or all the underlying premises are just wrong to begin with. Anyhow as the show intends diet is probably the most crucial part of prevention and even treatment as from what I understand without going into detail malignant cells feed mostly on sugar.

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    as Socrates has said “Health is not everything but everything without health is nothing”, and another way to say it “we are as happy as much energy we have”. Even thought having freedom, ability to travel and do amazing things is great, but all of that requires energy which comes with having stable health.

    Now the diet is takes important part in that and eating veggies and fruits is common wisdom that everyone knows but few follow. One point I see that you haven’t touched on is that most of the plant based products available in today western shops are grown by the same principles as other products, meaning getting the most economic value. Therefore they are “designed” to have longer lasting shelf life, easier to grow (pesticides) and “mass produced” in large quantities without much consideration of nutritional value. Even though they might still be a better option than frozen precooked meals, but still I wouldn’t say that as an equal option as to what people are eating in Okinawa island. That’s why when I go shopping I like to search for these small shops that have local produce if any, but they are getting more and more harder to find. Though as with any market forces this is also depends what people are choosing to buy in other words driving demand and I remember one thought I listened to the bullet proof podcast recently that every time you buy you make a political choice in a sense for which food you want to be available on the market. So in these conditions I wonder do you have to move closer to some place where you can still have access to good fresh food or you basically have to compromise your diet if you’re living in a more urbanized city.

    The last tip I’ve heard and have been following it for quite awhile to reduce the insulin rush as they call it from excess carbohydrates is just after 10 minutes of a meal going for a walk or doing some light exercise (not to upset digestion too much), that will pump that excess glucose straight to the muscle instead of having to produce more insulin to deal with it. I haven’t tested this practically, but would be interesting to see with some monitor if the theory is true (note to self..)

  • Chris Reynolds

    This was a great podcast….but I am super bummed to learn that bacon is as bad as smoking….#brokenheart

  • http://spartantraveler.com Clayton Cornell

    The ‘bacon causes cancer’ thing seems a little overblown.

    Wired does a pretty good job of discussing a more detailed risk assessment: http://www.wired.com/2015/10/who-does-bacon-cause-cancer-sort-of-but-not-really/

    It’s probably a good idea to not eat bacon every day, but if I’m cramming down a lb. of kale (that I fried in bacon grease) at the same time I’m not going to worry about it.

    I’d also like to second what Donnie said below. If you don’t have metrics you don’t have any information about how ‘effective’ a diet is. The only place I haven’t seen this totally glossed over is in the Paleo community, e.g. ‘The Paleo Diet’, where you’re instructed to get a before and after blood panel.

    Basically, I would eat rubber tires if it moved my numbers in the right direction. And it will probably take a different diet to do that for me than for someone else (pretty sure we have that extremely rare hypercholestermia mutation).

  • Samuel

    Metrics are helpful, but cannot guarantee you’re doing the right thing with your diet.

    As far as I know there’s no reliable metrics for your cancer level, not until it’s too late anyway. On the otherhand there is ample evidence to show that smoking causes cancer.

    Similarly there are almost certainly eating habits that are good and bad for us. The smart thing to do is to look at the data gathered from large populations pointing to things to include/exclude from our diets.

    At the end of the day, even if you’re looking at blood panels you’re still assessing what is a good result using the science of what is believed to be right for the majority of people.

    People are far more similar than different. Even if you are somehow unique, it’s very unlikely eating things that cause illness in others will somehow be good for you. Therefore it would be wise to avoid foods shown to be harmful much like you’d be smart to avoid cigarettes.

    ANECDOTE IS NOT EVIDENCE. There’s too many people making stuff up in the diet world. There’s a million fads, ideas that sound good, and pseudoscience (e.g. eat right for your blood type anyone?).

    Michael Greger seems to have the right approach. We need to look at the data, the science as expressed in the population and draw conclusions from that. Not peoples vested interests, made up theories, and the large movements that form around them.

  • Samuel

    Oh, and to address your first point, maybe it is overblown, maybe it’s not.

    I think the bigger issue is if you live long enough, you’re most likely to die of heart disease, cancer or other illnesses most of which are linked to our diets.

    So it only stands to reason that you can improve your chances of living a long life in good health, if you can avoid the things that are known to cause these.

  • JoshFrets

    I saw his book at Costco and picked it up, but saw a factual error in the first sentence of the blurb on the flap… I was a little underwhelmed.

    That said, I liked this discussion more than I thought I would.

    Two things that got glossed over that concerned me though:

    1. Steak is bad because it’s high in the things that the USDA says we should avoid? Wasn’t he just saying that our gov’t recs are BS?

    2. Everyone loves to point to the WHO study that says processed meat is a carcinogen, and then list the other items on the list: smoking, etc. Know what else is on that list? Sunlight.

  • http://boutiquejapan.com/ Andres Zuleta

    So, Dan, did you go vegetarian?

    This conversation really reminded me of the fantastic book “Eat to Live.” I still haven’t gone vegetarian, but want to minimize meat/dairy intake, and maximize fruits/veg/seafood intake.

    Also, side note, but I never feel as healthy as I do when eating wholesome Japanese food every day (in Japan, of course).

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    mmmm love Japanese food :) I did not go vegetarian, I resonate very much with Dr. Gregor’s idea of defining eating habits primarily by what you do eat. In our house we’ve experimented by going largely plant based and have been really impressed by the quality of the meals and how we feel on them. When we go out to eat we don’t have rules, though :)

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    haha well then I’m back on the bacon! :) very good point on the poaching there, i agree.

    Yeah it’s easy for me to see how people with the plant-based agenda (and yeah, at some point it probably becomes an agenda) can let this stuff through the gates too easily. It certainly resonates with me, though, that future-people might think that our society should have eaten less of steak/bacaon

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    hehe re: rubber tires.

    i’m pretty sure I’ve eaten things in the past week about as healthy :P

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    huge letdown eh?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    good point there and thanks for the tip!

    one of the main resonance’s for me (and something that looking at diets like those of the people of Okinawa can help with seriously) is *how* to eat a diet of plants and veggies, for me as an American it’s a real problem, I imagined (not really, but basically) large bowls of brocolli.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    Makes sense to me. What is keeping your spleen dry though?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thank you Donnie!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    on this topic I heard that the quarterback Aaron Rogers was using a primarily plant based diet to try and extend his career / further his performance. There’s a lot of athletes speaking up about it. But one thing is for sure, you can find a study to support just about anything.

    Agree it would be a good idea to have a counter point as well.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    glad you dug it Ricardo and hope you enjoyed the book.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    the protein myth is certainly strong in our culture, i’ve seen plenty of muscle-bound folks who don’t chomp steaks every day.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    makes sense and no offense taken

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    damn well thanks!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    i have heard quite a bit about people’s bodies being trained to change their response, makes sense. think it’s interesting to test like you do! thanks for the tip

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    it’s very interesting to see how it often gets interpreted so differently for those dieters in say the US who have bought into the “mediterranean diet”

    the real thing sounds delicious

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