Sugar Cravings, Red Meat, and Your Health | Max Lugavere | EP 456

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Sugar Cravings, Red Meat, and Your Health | Max Lugavere | EP 456

Coming up (00:00:00)

  • Alzheimer's disease causes a 50% reduction in the brain's ability to derive energy from glucose, leading to organ failure.

Intro (00:00:16)

  • Max Lugavere, a journalist, scientific researcher, and popularizer, joins the discussion.
  • Lugavere's interest in dementia research was sparked by his mother's experience with a form of dementia involving the degeneration of Louis bodies.
  • Lugavere believes that dementia, including Parkinson's, may be preventable with early dietary interventions.

Where psychology and nutrition meet (00:02:43)

  • Despite his primary interest in psychology, Lugavere has learned that many conditions previously considered psychological disorders, such as endogenous depression, schizophrenia, and manic depression, may have physiological causes.
  • Chris Palmer's research projects have shown remarkable success in treating these disorders with dietary interventions.

The Genius Trilogy: how diet plays a role in mediating mental health (00:03:53)

  • Max Lugavere wrote a trilogy of books exploring the intersection between diet, lifestyle, and brain health.
  • The first book, "Genius Foods," focuses on the science of dementia prevention and nutritional psychiatry.
  • The second book, "The Genius Life," provides a lifestyle-centric guide.
  • The third book, a cookbook, brings everything together.
  • Lugavere's personal experience with dementia in his family motivated him to write these books.
  • Lugavere's mother was diagnosed with Louis body dementia at the age of 58.
  • Symptoms included movement-related issues such as rigidity, balance problems, and stiffness.
  • She also displayed cognitive dysfunction, with her thought processes becoming slower and less efficient.

Watching a degenerative neural disease take hold, “a profound call to action” (00:06:51)

  • Max Lugavere's mother was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease in her late 20s.
  • He felt a profound call to action to understand why this happened to his mother at such a young age.
  • He was compelled to transform his life to help his mother.
  • Health literacy is a huge unknown, with many people having significant knowledge gaps.
  • People often outsource culinary, financial, and health literacy to others.
  • These knowledge gaps become apparent when faced with health challenges, leading to increased fear and uncertainty.

The food pyramid is a scam, obesity rates and risks (00:09:32)

  • The food pyramid, promoted by the Department of Agriculture, is considered a scam as it encouraged high consumption of grains, leading to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
  • The demonization of natural fat-containing foods, such as animal-source foods, is unwarranted, while ultra-processed foods now make up 60% of the average American's diet.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is seen as an important voice for addressing the issue of corporate actors who contribute to public health problems.
  • Obesity rates in the US are projected to increase, with one in five Americans expected to be morbidly obese by 2030.
  • Obesity is a disease and should not be reduced to a matter of willpower.
  • The overconsumption of ultra-processed foods, particularly those that are pathologically delicious and high in sugar, is a significant factor in obesity.

Parkinson’s disease is a mid-life condition that only shows symptoms in late life (00:16:29)

  • Parkinson's disease is a neurological condition where symptoms appear when significant damage has already occurred.
  • By the time Parkinson's disease is diagnosed, about half of the dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra are dead.
  • Chronic non-communicable conditions like Parkinson's develop over decades before symptoms appear.
  • Verbal fluency measures in people's 20s can predict the probability of developing dementia later in life.
  • Inflammation plays a role in reducing cognitive function.
  • Weight loss can improve cognitive function in overweight individuals.
  • Fluid intelligence, a measure of cognitive ability, starts to decline in early 20s.
  • Aerobic and non-aerobic exercise are the best ways to maintain cognitive function.
  • Regular exercise benefits the brain due to its high metabolic demand.

Bridging science and journalism to tell important stories (00:20:08)

  • Max Lugavere's background in film and psychology, combined with his personal experience of his mother's illness, motivated him to create informative content about overlooked health topics.
  • Despite lacking formal scientific training, Lugavere's passion for nutrition and health, coupled with his journalistic skills, allowed him to effectively analyze medical literature on dementia prevention.
  • He spent six years diligently researching and reading thousands of scientific papers, dedicating himself to understanding dementia prevention.
  • Lugavere gained access to academic credentials that enabled him to freely download taxpayer-funded research papers, recognizing the importance of accessibility.
  • Through attending scientific conferences and sharing his knowledge, he earned the respect of physicians and researchers in the field.
  • Despite financial challenges, he returned to New York to care for his mother and used his media connections to collaborate with experts, raising awareness of dementia as a potentially preventable condition.

Richard Isaacson: from learning to collaborating (00:27:16)

  • Max Lugavere collaborated with his mentor, Richard Isaacson, a neurologist at Weill Cornell New York Presbyterian, on a paper published in 2019.
  • Isaacson is known for pioneering the field of dementia prevention and advocating for clinical trials in this area.

Most physicians are not scientists (00:28:26)

  • Most physicians are technicians and have become paper pushers for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Pharmaceutical companies used to serve an educational function for general practitioners but have since become corrupt and captured physicians.
  • The pharmaceutical industry's economic motives, such as the high cost of producing and marketing new drugs, contribute to this issue.

Forty percent of Dementia cases are attributable to modifiable risk factors (00:29:37)

  • Modifiable risk factors contribute to at least 40% of dementia cases.
  • Non-modifiable risk factors include age, gender, and genes.
  • Modifiable risk factors include obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity.

Diabetes and age adjustment for diagnoses (00:32:24)

  • Blood sugar curves used to diagnose diabetes are age-adjusted.
  • Many 60-year-olds would be considered diabetic or pre-diabetic using 20-year-old curves.
  • Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia and is underdiagnosed in people over 60.

Hypertension, the SPRINT MIND trial (00:33:47)

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a modifiable risk factor for dementia.
  • About 50% of adults today have hypertension.
  • The SPRINT MIND trial found that aggressive pharmacological treatment of hypertension significantly reduced the risk of cognitive impairment and mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to dementia).
  • Lifestyle modifications, such as diet and exercise, can be as effective as drugs in managing hypertension.
  • Hypertension damages the blood vessels that supply blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the brain.
  • Balance of Nature fruit and veggie capsules are a convenient way to get essential nutritional ingredients from fruits and vegetables.
  • They use an advanced cold vacuum process to encapsulate fruits and vegetables into whole food supplements without sacrificing natural antioxidants.
  • The capsules are free of additives, fillers, extracts, synthetics, pesticides, or added sugar.
  • Use promo code Jordan to get 35% off your first order plus a free Fibrant Spice supplement.

Nutrition is not the only risk factor (00:35:52)

  • Air pollution, especially exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), increases the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
  • Certain environmental pollutants, such as industrial solvents like trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene, are associated with an elevated risk of Parkinson's disease and related conditions like Louis body dementia.
  • Occupational exposure to compounds like TCE, commonly used in dry cleaning and as a metal degreaser, significantly increases the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
  • Certain herbicides and pesticides can also be occupationally linked to conditions like Parkinson's disease.
  • Some compounds can easily bypass the blood-brain barrier and contribute to cognitive decline, dementia, and even Parkinsonism.
  • A decline in the sense of smell is an early preclinical sign of cognitive decline.
  • Reducing exposure to toxic compounds is essential for maintaining brain health.

Toxic exposure (00:41:38)

  • Plants have potent chemical defenses against being eaten.
  • Some people believe that food toxicity or immunological reactions may be responsible for certain health issues.
  • A robust gut microbiome may allow individuals to derive value from plant defense compounds.
  • The average health state of the typical person raises questions about the extent of dietary and toxic exposure risks.

Hearing loss is a newly identified risk factor (00:44:30)

  • Hearing loss is a newly identified risk factor for health issues.
  • Hearing aids may be beneficial for health in individuals with hearing loss.
  • Social isolation resulting from hearing loss can contribute to depression.

The majority of cases are likely preventable — you have agency (00:46:00)

  • Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are likely preventable.
  • Anti-cholinergic drugs, such as certain allergy medications and over-the-counter sleep aids, are associated with an increased risk of dementia.
  • Alzheimer's disease is not genetic, but there are genetic risk factors.
  • The apoe4 alal is the most well-defined genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, but it is not deterministic.
  • The vast majority of Alzheimer's disease cases are late-onset sporadic, which is not deterministic.
  • Parkinson's disease has a low heritability of 1 to 2%.
  • These conditions are mediated in large part by the environment.
  • Genes may make individuals more susceptible to environmental assault.
  • Moving to a less industrialized part of the world can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease for individuals with the apoe4 alal.

Where to shop in the supermarket, the incredible benefits of extra virgin olive oil (00:49:20)

  • Whole foods are found around the perimeter of the supermarket.
  • Extra virgin olive oil has brain health benefits and anti-inflammatory effects similar to low-dose ibuprofen without the negative side effects.
  • Spices are concentrated sources of hormetic compounds that support a healthy gut microbiome.

Whole Foods, not ultra-processed food-like products (00:51:16)

  • The author advocates for the consumption of whole animal source foods and whole plants.
  • Ultra-processed foods are food-like products that cannot be made in a home kitchen.
  • Ultra-processed foods often come in boxes or bags with a long shelf life and should be avoided.

Food deserts, ultra-processed foods impact behavior like a drug (00:53:16)

  • Food deserts are areas where access to affordable, fresh, and whole foods is limited.
  • Ultra-processed foods are highly palatable and addictive due to their high fat and sugar content.
  • Consuming ultra-processed foods can lead to overeating and weight gain.
  • People are often not aware of the profound impact that these foods have on their behavior.
  • The food industry spends a lot of money to ensure that these foods are hyper-palatable and addictive.
  • It is possible to cultivate a healthy relationship with these foods, but it is very difficult.
  • One strategy is to avoid having them in the house to minimize temptation.

Are you training your gut microbiome to crave sugar? (00:56:35)

  • Microorganisms in the gut can affect complex organisms in unimaginable ways.
  • Sugar-centered gut biome may contain microorganisms that produce sugar cravings, giving them a survival advantage.
  • The body adapts to regular food intake and starts craving those foods.
  • Taste, satiety, and reward systems are separate.
  • People may still have room for dessert because different taste categories have separate satiety and reward systems.
  • Bitter foods, like olives, are initially disliked but can become favorites over time, demonstrating the modifiability of taste and satiety systems through experience.
  • The body adapts to what a person eats, reinforcing the importance of healthy eating habits.
  • Red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • Processed red meat, like bacon and sausage, is particularly harmful due to added chemicals and preservatives.
  • Red meat contains saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease.
  • Heme iron in red meat can damage cells and contribute to cancer development.
  • The World Health Organization recommends limiting red meat intake to 3-4 servings per week.
  • Substituting red meat with healthier options like fish, poultry, and plant-based proteins can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • People who stick to a limited range of simple flavors and textures, often referred to as the "12-year-old-boy diet," tend to prefer foods like french fries, hot dogs, and ketchup.
  • Consuming a diet consistently leads to the body becoming better at processing the components of those foods.
  • For example, a high carbohydrate diet leads to better glucose burning, while a ketogenic diet improves fat burning.
  • This can result in physiological insulin resistance, where consuming something like blueberries can cause a significant increase in blood sugar due to the body's adaptation to burning fat.

If it has an ad on TV, avoid it (01:01:30)

  • The book "Genius Foods" differentiates between whole foods and ultra-processed foods.
  • Ultra-processed foods are manufactured by large corporations, often advertised on TV, and should be avoided as much as possible.
  • The book highlights specific foods that support brain health, such as those rich in nutrients and phytochemicals.
  • Dietary carotenoids, found in both plants and animal tissues, play a crucial role in eye health and preventing blindness.
  • Red meat is considered a health food due to its diverse range of nutrients and the presence of carotenoids.

Red meat is a health food (01:04:02)

  • Max Lugavere believes red meat is a health food based on data, not financial relationships.
  • Red meat is incredibly nutrient-dense.
  • Cows naturally ultra-process the food they eat, making it easier for humans to digest.
  • Despite its nutritional value, red meat has been demonized for various reasons, including ethical concerns and climate change.
  • The demonization of red meat is not supported by strong evidence and is often based on weak correlational studies.
  • Beef consumption in the United States has declined in recent decades.
  • Despite this decline, obesity and other health issues have continued to rise.
  • Red meat is a whole food and a pristine source of dietary protein.
  • It contains various nutrients that play a role in good health, including phytonutrients, creatine, taurine, carnitine, and carnosine.
  • The demonization of red meat is a problem because it is not supported by strong evidence and may have negative consequences for public health.

Fortified grains are not a whole food (01:08:07)

  • Most grains consumed today are refined and nutrient-impoverished.
  • Fortified grains have added nutrients to increase their dietary value.
  • Grains are essentially pure energy and can be compared to cattle feed.
  • Grains can play a supportive role in health, especially for exercise performance.
  • The first-world problem of obesity is more prevalent than starvation.
  • Solving food scarcity has led to new problems related to food quality.
  • Grains are not the best option compared to other nutrient-rich foods like grass-fed beef, wild fatty fish, sardines, and eggs.
  • Sugar cravings can be a sign of underlying health issues like nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.
  • Processed foods and refined carbohydrates can contribute to sugar cravings.
  • Eating a balanced diet with whole foods, healthy fats, and protein can help reduce sugar cravings.
  • Red meat can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.
  • Grass-fed red meat is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
  • Processed red meat, such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, should be limited due to their high saturated fat and sodium content.

Food propaganda has a serious effect, correlational dietary studies are not plausible (01:11:28)

  • Food propaganda has a significant impact on people's dietary choices.
  • Correlational dietary studies are not reliable because they cannot control for all variables and measure all outcomes.
  • The demonization of eggs due to concerns about heart disease has led to a decrease in choline consumption, which is crucial for brain health.
  • Dietary cholesterol is not as harmful as previously thought, and low cholesterol levels can lead to an increase in suicide due to decreased serotonin production.
  • Sugar cravings can be a sign of underlying health issues such as nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.
  • Red meat consumption should be limited due to its association with increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  • Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, should be avoided due to their high levels of saturated fat, sodium, and preservatives.
  • Grass-fed and finished red meat is a healthier option compared to grain-fed red meat due to its higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of saturated fat.
  • Organ meats, such as liver and kidney, are nutrient-dense and provide a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.

The carnivore diet: clear advantages and potential dangers (01:14:50)

  • Fruits and vegetables have positive health effects, but access to them can be limited due to the prevalence of ultra-processed foods.
  • The carnivore diet, particularly an all-beef diet, can be beneficial for people with a predisposition to autoimmunity and can help with weight loss.
  • Elimination diets that remove all fruits and vegetables can be helpful in addressing certain immunological problems.
  • Adding back certain foods to an all-beef diet can be beneficial but requires careful planning and experimentation.
  • Factors such as immunological status, birth method, antibiotic usage, breastfeeding, travel, infections, surgeries, chronic sedentary lifestyles, ultra-processed food diets, and industrial chemical additives can all impact gut microbiome resilience.

Changes in cooking habits, environment, and food access (01:27:12)

  • Changes in cooking methods, such as using fast-rising yeast instead of slow-rising yeast, may have reduced the edibility of certain foods.
  • Increased urbanization and cultural mixing have led to a more diverse range of food products becoming available, which may have immunological consequences.
  • Hunter-gatherers had a diverse range of food products but introduced them gradually, unlike modern humans who frequently introduce new foods.

Fraud in the field of Alzheimer’s drug research (01:30:31)

  • Alzheimer's conditions manifest over decades and are essentially diseases of midlife with symptoms appearing in late life.
  • Alzheimer's drug trials have a 99.6% fail rate because treatment is attempted well past the point where a simple pharmacological solution can have any practical impact.
  • By the time a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, their brain's ability to derive energy from glucose is diminished by about 50%, leading to failure.
  • The brain is a ravenous consumer of glucose, making up 25% of the basal metabolic rate despite only accounting for 2-3% of the body's mass.
  • There is significant fraud within the field of Alzheimer's drug research, with a fraudulent 2006 paper that claimed to have identified a subtype of amyloid-beta responsible for cognitive decline.
  • This fraudulent paper renewed interest and funding for the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease, leading to a glut of research money going down a fraudulent pipeline.

Slowing progression (01:35:33)

  • Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and later pancreatic cancer.
  • Exercise is important for people with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
  • Despite medical interventions, her condition worsened, and she passed away three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • The author witnessed firsthand the profound sickness and limited treatment options for neurodegenerative diseases.
  • He visited renowned medical institutions in New York City, including the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and NYU, seeking the best care for his mother.
  • Realizing that these conditions develop over decades, he became passionate about sharing scientific knowledge to help others.
  • The author's book, "Genius Foods," is a comprehensive nutritional guide for brain health.
  • It serves as an encyclopedia of information and has stood the test of time, with minimal changes needed since its publication six years ago.
  • The book provides individuals with the knowledge they need to improve their brain health.

‘Little Empty Boxes’ — a must-see film (01:37:44)

  • The documentary "Little Empty Boxes" explores dementia prevention and offers support to those affected by the disease.
  • Alzheimer's disease begins decades before symptoms appear, and its rates have increased significantly.
  • Dietary choices, stress management, sleep habits, and toxin avoidance play crucial roles in brain health and inflammation.
  • The film provides an intimate look at caregiving and dementia while suggesting preventive measures.
  • Max Lugavere's new book, releasing in mid-June, will further discuss sugar cravings, red meat, and overall health.

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