EPISODE 10: KETO: A PHYSIOLOGIC PARLOR TRICK
with Dr. Michael Klaper and Dr. Doug Lisle
In part two of this continued exploration on the pitfalls of the popular paleo and ketogenic diets, we enlist the expertise of Dr. Michael Klaper as well as Dr. Doug Lisle, clinical psychologist at the TrueNorth Health Center, on why these two popular diets are nothing more than a physiological parlor trick you play on your health.
Like a trusty old car, the human body is amazingly resilient. In the same way that you can go several thousand miles without a proper oil change and maintenance, you can also load your body over time with processed acidic foods. The effects of this neglect and accumulation of “dirty fuel,” may not be immediate but, rest assured, they will swell into serious health issues in the long-term.
As Dr. Lisle says, “The keto diet is a credit card. It can make you feel rich, but you’re really just accumulating a tremendous amount of debt.”
The cost? Your health. Don’t trade years of a vibrant life for a few pounds on the scale.
Support for this week's episode comes from Nutramilk - the easiest and fastest way to make your own plant milk at home! Enjoy a $50 discount and free shipping with code PLANTSTRONG.
Seeking a solution for making the plant-strong lifestyle convenient and inspiring? The Plant-Strong Meal Planner offers 1000s of recipes customized to your preferences, an integrated shopping list and grocery delivery! Our Engine 2 Coaches are on hand to offer support and answer any questions - all for $1.90 a week when you sign up for a year. Visit our Plant-Strong Meal Planner today!
Dr. Doug Lisle
Dr. Doug Lisle received his PhD from the University of Virginia, and taught at Stanford University before becoming the director of research for the TrueNorth Health Center in Northern California. He is the co-author of The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness. Dr. Lisle also serves as the psychologist for The McDougall Wellness Program, and is in private practice in Santa Rosa, California. He is the founder of a new perspective in motivational psychology called Esteem Dynamics.
Dr. Michael Klaper
For more than 40 years, Dr. Michael Klaper has served as a physician, consultant, and educator to thousands of clients and patients around the world on their journeys to reclaiming health and optimizing well-being. As Dr. Klaper says, “I have the deepest respect and passion for the healing abilities of the human body. Each day, I witness countless ‘miracles’ when the body is provided optimal fuel: pure, whole, plant-based foods.” A talented teacher, known for explaining complex medical topics in plain English, Dr. Klaper will assist you in taking your health to the next level.
Transcript of Episode 10: KETO: A PHYSIOLOGIC PARLOR TRICK
Rip Esselstyn: Support for this episode of Plant-Strong is brought to you by NutraMilk the fastest, easiest, and most economical way to make your own plant-based milk on the planet. You simply throw in your walnuts, almonds, cashews, oats, or whatever milk you're in the mood for and voila. In addition to making plant based milks, the NutraMilk can make nut butters, sauces, dips, veggie stocks, spreads, smoothies, you name it.
Rip Esselstyn: This past weekend we played around making our own veggie stock using the NutraMilk and we were blown away at how easy it was. Veggie stock is the base of much of our cooking, so we were excited to have a fast and convenient way to make our own, eliminating waste, and using up all the vegetable scraps. Can't recommend it enough. Visit the thenutramilk.com and type in the code, "Plant strong" to receive a $50 discount and free shipping on your purchase.
Doug Lisle, PhD: The ketogenic diet, what it does is it places people artificially into ketosis. By doing a bizarre thing, which is to eat a non-carbohydrate-based diet, which is what humans eat, is a carbohydrate-based diet. But by having them eat a diet that excludes carbohydrates, you put them into ketosis where they start to burn fat, and when they do that, when the brain shifts over into ketones, as opposed to carbohydrate, guess what happens? They're not very hungry. The damn ketogenic diet works. People will lose weight on this bizarre diet, which is actually only meant for a dire emergency situation. When you're eating your own fat, it's perfectly healthy, but when you're eating a bunch of fat and protein from animal products, for example, you're just asking for all kinds of trouble, particularly in the cardiovascular system, and just general inflammatory process and everything else. Actually, this is a really stinky dirty diet that works.
Rip Esselstyn: There's a saying, "In every good lie is an element of the truth," and that's what we're seeing with the paleo and keto diets. There's an element of something good there, but the good we're seeing is super superficial, it's weight loss. But the weight loss derived from these diets comes at a major cost, and that cost is your overall health. Let that sink in for a sec. People on these diets are trading years of a vibrant life for pounds on a scale, not a trade you should be willing to make, because you can also lose weight in a better, safer way on a plant strong diet. In fact, you absolutely will lose weight. But way more importantly is what you'll gain, and that is your health and years of a vibrant life.
Rip Esselstyn: This episode is part two of the discussion we started last week on these two mega trend diets, paleo and keto. This week, we're going to talk about paleo's big brother, that's even more of a bully on your health, keto.
Dr. Klaper: There's a keto phenomenon.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, yeah so is that... that's kind of a-
Dr. Klaper: That's even worse.
Rip Esselstyn: That's kind of a offspring of paleo.
Dr. Klaper: Right.
Rip Esselstyn: I'm going to let you loose, but I had never really heard of the keto diet until three years ago, it was just paleo. paleo was hard and it was everywhere. It's almost like when we get tired of paleo, we're going to take it to a whole other level. What's the difference paleo and keto, from your eyes?
Dr. Klaper: Right.
Rip Esselstyn: Why is it worse?
Dr. Klaper: Because it's even more extreme. The paleo problem, it's just the sheer amount of meat in the diet. But do they allow any fruit at all? They may. You don't necessarily go into ketosis on a paleo diet, but that is the purpose of the so-called ketogenic diet. What is this? When we stop eating carbohydrates, when we stop eating fruits and vegetables, and grains and beans, after about 48 hours your body runs through its stored sugar, the glycogen in your liver and blood sugar out in the blood. Then the body has to dip into your fat stores and start running on fats. This was fairly routine in ancient times. A million years ago on the Africa savannas you can imagine there would be four or five days before your wandering, foraging tribe found the next berry bush with fruit on it. We would have to go four or five days a week just running on our fat stores. The body shifts into this gear when you start burning fats these molecules called ketones come into the bloodstream. Initially, they have some very beneficial effects, they send a chemical signal to the body to shift into this gear of ketosis and the body becomes very efficient. It turns off inflammation. It turns off cancer growth. It's a-
Rip Esselstyn: Hunger drive? What about hunger drive?
Dr. Klaper: Hunger goes down which is a brilliant mechanism of the ketone. That's what you'd want if you were in that wandering tribe, you don't want to have gnawing hunger. It's a wonderful state and I'm a big fan of once a month to go on a four or five day water only regimen and slip into ketosis for a few days. It probably is like-
Rip Esselstyn: By fasting, you can achieve that same state?
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely, when you're on a water only fast you go into ketosis. To be in ketosis for four or five days once a month or so is a wonderful thing. There's clearly proven benefits to that. But we're Americans, if a little is good, more must be better, so you stay in ketosis five days, I stayed in it for three months or for six months, you want to stay in ketosis all the time. No you don't.
Dr. Klaper: ketones are acidic molecules. Acetone, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, acetoacetic acid, these are acidic molecules. Well this is an acid load that your body's got to deal with day after day after day. This is hard on the liver. This is hard on the kidneys. This is hard on the bones. We are not meant to stay in this ketotic acidic state month after month or week after week. They thought, "Oh, stay on it all the time." It's an emergency state. It's [inaudible 00:06:51] to passing gear on your car. When you go out there on the freeway, you have to pass a truck you pull out into the passing lane, you hit the gas, you get this wonderful surge of power and you pass the truck, and you pull in, and then you get back into the regular driving gear. That's wonderful for passing a truck, but if you're in Los Angeles you don't want to drive to Seattle in passing gear, you're going to burn out your engine if you do that. ketosis is like passing gear here.
Dr. Klaper: Plus, it's an extremely high fat diet. Brenda Davis, the dietician, did a beautiful presentation on the realities of the keto diet. She saw it's like 90% fat if you really do it. These people all go insulin resistant, they all develop pre-diabetes. They eat so little carbohydrates that it doesn't show, but this is not a healthy state to block your insulin receptors like happens with this state of severe ketosis from this high fat diet, what it's doing to their arteries, what it's doing to their hormone levels, what it's doing their cancer, I don't want to think about because I know what's going to happen. You're going to see the articles "Keto Diet Associated with Diabetes" associated with-
Rip Esselstyn: Can you talk for a sec, because I know a lot of people are having success losing weight-
Dr. Klaper: Yes, you lose weight.
Rip Esselstyn: They're losing weight, how are they losing weight? [crosstalk 00:08:19] is it because they're not taking in enough calories? Is it because they're losing water?
Dr. Klaper: Right, yes.
Rip Esselstyn: What exactly is it?
Dr. Klaper: Those, but also, the paleo folks say some things I agree with. They say no caveman ever milked a dairy cow, so they're down on dairy products. Yay paleo, they're right.
Rip Esselstyn: But keto, I think, is a fan of high fat dairy products.
Dr. Klaper: They are, absolutely.
Rip Esselstyn: Yay for paleo with no dairy.
Dr. Klaper: Right, right. They say no caveman every ground wheat into flour and made donuts, so they're down on baked goods. The keto folks would be down on baked good. The paleo folks so no oils either, the keto folks are for oils, which are also going to damage their artery walls. But if you eliminate the baked goods, and oils and dairy, you're going to lose weight. That's why the keto folks and the paleo folks do. Weight loss alone will improve your cholesterol levels and it even the diabetic folks initially will notice lower blood sugars, but it's not a healthy lowering of the blood sugars. It's because they're not eating any sugar.
Rip Esselstyn: They're not getting to the root causation of what's causing [crosstalk 00:09:32] their insulin resistance.
Dr. Klaper: Exactly.
Rip Esselstyn: It's [crosstalk 00:09:34] smoke and mirrors a little.
Dr. Klaper: Exactly. It's a physiologic parlor trick.
Rip Esselstyn: I love that.
Dr. Klaper: There's no free lunch, so to speak. The diseases that are going to be spawned from this are serious business. They get this initial weight loss and they start feeling better, et cetera, because they've eliminated some of the crap from their diet, but then they assume, well that's the diet I'm supposed to stay on the rest of my life. It's a phenomena, we are not meant to stay in this state week after week after week. We're going to see the inevitable bad consequences from it.
Rip Esselstyn: It's funny to me, we had paleo, paleo it seems like it's kind of on the outs. It's now all about keto.
Dr. Klaper: Yep, right.
Rip Esselstyn: I have a friend who just went to a huge conference in Austin, Texas. It was called paleo f(x) conference, 1,000s of people were there-
Dr. Klaper: You bet.
Rip Esselstyn: ... from medical doctors to trainers, you name it. The newest thing, keto has been three years, so it's time for a new zombie to appear, a new iteration. You have any idea what it's called?
Dr. Klaper: No, I'm bracing myself.
Rip Esselstyn: No, brace yourself, hold on to your hat.
Dr. Klaper: Oh no.
Rip Esselstyn: It's called the carnivore diet.
Dr. Klaper: Oh man.
Rip Esselstyn: It's called the carnivore diet. It's going to be the next big thing. You just wait. It's 100% [crosstalk 00:11:05] meat, 100%.
Dr. Klaper: Oh my, this is [crosstalk 00:11:09].
Rip Esselstyn: ... getting the most amazing results.
Dr. Klaper: This is malpractice. This is just disastrous. The colonoscope makers are going to do very well off of this. The amount of colon cancer and colitis and diverticulitis that are going to be spawned from this, the heart disease, the strokes, this is nutritional malpractice. Fasten your seat belts, you can see this disaster coming. This is the Titanic. This is not who we are. The thought that our ... Look at the gorillas. You get a bunch of gorillas, go out and let's go bag an antelope, the 20 gorillas surround an antelope, ring its neck and tear at its flesh. No, they're vegan animals and the bonobos. No simian it's 100% flesh diet. This is bizarre. There's nothing natural or scientific about it. They just love the taste of steak in their mouth and that's what this is really all about. I hope they've got good malpractice insurance and my colleagues promoting this should be ashamed of themselves. They know better and they're being seduced and deceived.
Rip Esselstyn: I'm taking a break from an Engine 2 emersion to pull Doctor Doug Lisle into this conversation on keto and paleo diets. Doug is a brilliant evolutionary psychologist who lectures frequently at our events on such topics as the motivational triad, the pleasure trap, calories density and getting along without going along. He's an expert at what he calls esteem dynamics, or how our ego gets in the way or is involved in everything that we do in life. The debate between the various food philosophy tribes has some serious esteem dynamics and ego at play. But let's first look at the evolutionary side of the argument.
Rip Esselstyn: Doug, I think I've told you a little bit about this podcast. We're working with Joe Inga-
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: ... who's this Bronx firefighter.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yeah.
Rip Esselstyn: Joe is in trouble. He's trying to reclaim his health that has disappeared from him over the 12 years since he's been a firefighter. We're really doing everything we can to get him on to the whole food, plant strong path. As you can imagine, he's got a lot of distractors.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yeah, sure.
Rip Esselstyn: Especially at the fire station.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Right, yes.
Rip Esselstyn: A lot of these guys, they're eating not only the standard American diet, but they're following the paleo or I guess you'd call it the newfangled keto program. I'd just love to hear from you, now that you've been in this field for 30 plus years, what is your take on paleo, keto, and why are these programs dangerous? What can Joe do to go down his own path and be okay with it?
Doug Lisle, PhD: Obviously the first thing is that he needs to know what direction it is he needs to be going. The most important thing that anybody learns probably in health, your number one threat to your health is cardiovascular disease. Obviously, it's actually vascular disease more generally because cerebrovascular disease is just as dangerous. A deadly stroke is just as deadly as a heart attack.
Rip Esselstyn: As I've talked about in previous episodes about my dad, the number one killer of fire fighters - heart attacks on the job.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Sure, there you go. We already know what the biggest problem is, the biggest preventable problem is. We also know the solution. The solution is to be either whole foods type diet or something very close to it. Any of these paleo style diet or a ketogenic diet, these things take us a long ways away from this. They take us right into a very neat, concentrated, actually neat and fat, highly concentrated diet that are inconsistent with anything that's ever been shown to reverse atherogenesis. It isn't that people can't live on these things, they can. You can survive eating Twinkies and Coca-Cola, and peanuts, and you will probably live a long time, but you won't live very well. If you have any kind of family history that shows a vulnerability to cardiovascular disease you may not live that long if you do this wrong.
Rip Esselstyn: I have people all the time telling me, "Listen, I'm doing paleo. My numbers are beautiful. I've lost weight. My Type II diabetes, my blood glucose numbers are good." That, to me, it's confounding that eating primarily meat they can get good numbers like that.
Doug Lisle, PhD: It shouldn't be. Let me explain the paradox and that is that the reason why they were in deep trouble because they were eating horrendously. A paleo diet can be an improvement. If you were to grade maybe someone who's a conventional eater or even a really lousy conventional eater, we're going to give that person an F. In other words, they have a horrendous diet. They can survive, but by mid-life they start showing evidence of pathologies very often. This is where you get Type II diabetes raising its head by age 40. Actually, in some areas of the world where people have naturally very thick genes it's actually occurring by age 10, you an start to see evidence of Type II diabetes. But in America, typically we don't see that until somebody's in their 30s, or 40s, or 50s. But that's because they're eating a horrendous diet in order to cause that to happen.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Now if you go to a paleo diet, that diet can be an improvement. It goes up to a D or maybe even a C. In other words, done diligently, there could be a lot of natural food in a paleo diet along with, however, a super high concentration of animal food. When you do that, the best you're going to get is a C, but that can improve your numbers. That can actually make you look healthier. This is one reason why a lot of paleo advocates can be so convinced of their position because they've seen improvements over horrendous. There's a big difference though between getting a C in a class and getting an A in a class. That's where we are. We're sitting on A level diets here when we're talking about a whole plant foods based diet. This is the only dietary style that has ever been shown to reverse atherogenesis and probably will be the only one that ever will.
Rip Esselstyn: Also, the only one that I think truly can reverse Type II diabetes. Yes, your numbers may look good when you follow paleo, but you're not taking in enough carbohydrates that really test your insulin sensitivity. Is that correct?
Doug Lisle, PhD: Not necessarily. It wouldn't shock me to find that someone could reverse a Type II diabetes, in other words, get out of the diabetic range. They could get healthier. In other words, you don't know where they came from. They could have been eating and probably were eating trash with both hands. It turns out that they've got more natural resilience than they know. All they had to do was get from an F to a C and by God, their numbers look "normal". That doesn't mean they're very healthy. It just means that they're healthier than they were.
Rip Esselstyn: From your perspective, why is it that this paleo/keto, why does have it have so much traction?
Doug Lisle, PhD: It's like one of these zombies that just keeps coming back to life in another kind of form. There's several reasons why it can capture people's imagination rather quickly. It has a way to grab attraction over people that are desperately seeking to lose weight, for example. One reason is that when you have normal glycogen stores in you from eating normal starches that human beings would normally eat, if you eat bread of any kind, if you eat any kind of carbohydrate, potatoes, rice, beans, corn, oats, any of the major carbohydrates that are eaten worldwide by people, if you were to eat any of that stuff what's going to happen is that you're going to store glycogen. You're going to store it in your liver and you're going to store it in your muscles. You could easily have, for example, a pound of glycogen in you, and you probably do a lot of the time.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Now when you have a pound of glycogen in you, the way that nature works for people is you'll also store an additional two pounds of water for every pound of glycogen. You're walking around with ... Like right now, I probably have a pound and a half of glycogen in me, just because I don't feel very hungry right this minute. That's probably what I've got. That corresponds to probably 2,500 calories that are in me in order to be utilized before I would run out of glycogen, which is kind of like your gas tank running dry. Then your emergency fuel system is fat. Most of the time you're never burning up any fat of your own body because what you're doing is you're just burning through glycogen. You put gas in the tank, take gas out of the tank, put gas in the tank, gas out of the tank, and that's how it works.
Doug Lisle, PhD: On a ketogenic diet what's going to happen is that you're going to take the carbohydrates out of the diet. Guess what? The first thing you're going to burn is your glycogen because that is the preferred fuel for humans is to burn that fuel. Your brain knows that this is how you're supposed to do things. You will burn through your glycogen stores. When you do so, you will now dump two pounds of water in addition to that pound of glycogen, for example. Now you step on the scale after three days on the ketogenic diet and you're down three pounds. Well you can imagine how exciting this is for people.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Let's go the other direction. Let's suppose that you've been on a ketogenic diet for three weeks and let's suppose you're down seven or eight pounds from where you started. You're pretty happy with the situation except your breath is bad, you're constipated, you feel a little ill all the time. But hey, you're doing your dutiful thing that you think is the smart thing to do. Then you choke in the clutch and you eat some spaghetti at a friend of your house. You go ahead and do this and you're craving it because you're designed by nature to crave these natural carbohydrates. You now eat yourself a plateful of spaghetti and you wake up the next day and you're three pounds heavier. It's because you now have some glycogen in you and you've absorbed some water to support that glycogen.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Now you think to yourself, "Oh my God, it's just like the keto geniuses say, carbohydrates make me fat." Well they don't make you fat. You haven't gained any fat at all, in the same way you didn't lose any fat those first few days on the keto diet, but your rate dropped. Because people are using the scale as the method for tracking they're very confused and seduced by a ketogenic diet. That's one reason why the ketogenic diets will always have tremendous popularity. It's kind of like a credit card. It makes you feel rich, when in fact, you're just digging yourself into debt. That's one reason.
Rip Esselstyn: what's another?
Doug Lisle, PhD: Well another reason is that people are not designed to be in long-term ketosis. When we were in long-term ketosis we were in an emergency situation, so it's going to turn out that a widespread adaptation in the animal kingdom is to go through a set of adaptations in what we call water only fasting. When you have no food at all what will happen is after the first 24 hours or so you will burn through your glycogen stores, just like I was talking about. Then the gas tank is empty and now you're in an emergency situation. What's happening now is you will start to burn fat. If we take all of the glucose out of you, now you will start to burn fat stores. Now something else happens, very often when animals, including humans and protohumans, the reason why they didn't have any food is that they were either very sick or they were badly injured. It's very interesting that those are two characteristic features that will lead to water fasting.
Doug Lisle, PhD: A third would be starvation, but it's going to turn out that's not going to be as common as being sick or being injured. It will turn out that when people are water fasting, when they don't have any food, what will happen is they surprisingly become not very hungry. This we believe is a deep, brilliant evolutionary solution to the problem of being badly injured or ill. Basically, you need to get yourself to a place where you're not too far from water supply that you're hidden, where you're protected. Then it will turn out that nature will not cause you to be very hungry while you are eating your own fat stores. This is well-known.
Doug Lisle, PhD: I've been involved True North Health Center for 35 years where we are the preeminent research facility in the world for long-term water fasting. We will routinely fast people up to 40 ays. What you'll find is that after two or three days on water fasting, very few people are hungry. You're very hungry the first 24 hours as you enter the fasting state. After you kick over into ketosis you are surprisingly not very hungry, and sometimes not at all. It's an evolutionary trick that helped our ancestors make really good decisions when they were ill or sick. Don't go out there and walk on a bad injury trying to find food when what you need to do is stay protected and make sure that you don't get bumped off by a predator. You don't want to have anything see you limping.
Doug Lisle, PhD: When you're very ill you don't want to be out there in the wild moving slow and clearly compromised. You want to be as safe as possible. A behavioral adaption that evolved was to get still and get comfortable enough, and not be ravaged by a hunger drive that you would think would be escalating the longer that you fast but in fact does not work that way.
Doug Lisle, PhD: This is well-known in the animal kingdom, it's well-known. Farmers will tell you when an animal is sick they don't want to eat. Then once they resume eating you know that they're well. The ketogenic diet what it does is it places people artificially into ketosis. By doing a bizarre thing, which is to eat a non-carbohydrate-based diet, which is what humans eat is a carbohydrate-based diet. But by having them eat a diet that excludes carbohydrates you put them into ketosis where they start to burn fat and when they do that, when the brain shifts over into ketones, as opposed to carbohydrate guess what happens? They're not very hungry.
Doug Lisle, PhD: The damn ketogenic diet works. People will lose weight on this bizarre diet, which is actually only meant for a dire emergency situation. When you're eating your own fat, it's perfectly healthy, but when you're eating a bunch of fat and protein from animal products, for example, you're just asking for all kinds of trouble, particularly in the cardiovascular system, and just general inflammatory process and everything else. Actually, this is a really stinky dirty diet that works.
Rip Esselstyn: Yes. I've heard you say numerous times it's a dirty fuel.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: It's a dirty fuel source.
Doug Lisle, PhD: It absolutely is a dirty fuel source. Any physiologist or physician could tell you this that's done any studying at all. Certainly, it's well-known that the high protein diets are very tough on the body, it's very tough on the kidneys. This is not a place to go just in general. There's a lot of housekeeping that needs to take place. The bloodstream winds up moving itself over into an acidic range, which is difficult and requires compromise. Not to mention, that it's generally highly inflammatory. This is why when people move to a healthier diet that excludes or vastly reduces animal foods they wind up with essentially a benign situation with respect to the pH balance in their blood. They will very often wind up with a significant anti-inflammatory which can make them much more comfortable with a variety of pathological conditions from ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Krone's disease, all kinds of things.
Doug Lisle, PhD: That same inflammatory process, by the way, is involved in what's going on in the cardiovascular system that is so damn dangerous. This is the work that your dad has done. Essentially, your dad put people on a spectacular anti-inflammatory diet that enabled everything to calm down for people to get healthy. For Joe or anyone else that has any kind of cardiovascular risk which is actually most people.
Doug Lisle, PhD: It is foolhardy to actually continue to eat a standard American diet and it's probably worse to eat a paleo diet. It depends on what that paleo diet looks like. If you were to eat a true paleo diet that 80% of it was from unprocessed plant food and there was a modest amount of animal food, hey, you might be in pretty good shape. But that's not what this has turned into. What this has turned into is good news about your bad habits. The problem is, people are attracted to really rich foods. It isn't just people, it's all animals. All animals love, the higher calorie density the food is, the better they like it. Animal food is very rich in calories. As a result, that's why people did go to the trouble of hunting animal food. That is why they sought out in Paleolithic times, they did what they could do to get that animal food, but it wasn't the basis of their diet. It was an important edition for a creature that was struggling to get enough calories to survive. We now can tell you can't solve the problem of what people should be eating by what you believe that they ate in the past. This is what's called an appeal to nature fallacy. This is actually a fallacy in philosophy and it's a fallacy in science.
Rip Esselstyn: Sedona is possibly the most beautiful place in the continental U.S. In my opinion, there's no better backdrop for personal transformation and reflection than those red rocks and glorious sunsets. I invite you to join the Engine 2 team this fall from September 30th to October 4th for a 5 day retreat focused on helping you launch a successful path into living your biggest, brightest, most beautiful life. We'll reinforce the right daily habits and build a strong foundation that you can continue at home. We'll do before and after weight, blood pressure and blood work, so you can see with your own eyes how powerful plants are on your inner biochemistry in as little as five days. We've taken 1,000s of people on this voyage and it never gets old. Witnessing the transformation and the confidence people find when they empower themselves and take back their health, nothing better. Visit engine2.com and click on events for more details and to join us.
Rip Esselstyn: Would you consider this another reason right now? Because we talked about-
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: ... the first thing was how basically no water.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yes, right. In other words, you have rapid weight loss.
Rip Esselstyn: Rapid weight loss, right.
Doug Lisle, PhD: That's correct.
Rip Esselstyn: Because you're not doing the carbohydrates.
Doug Lisle, PhD: That's right.
Rip Esselstyn: The second one is basically it fools our hunger mechanism.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: We're actually like wow, I'm losing weight, I'm feeling good, and I don't have all these hunger pains.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: Would this be considered another one?
Doug Lisle, PhD: This would be ... Good, I forgot where I was going earlier. But this is where we're headed and that is this an appeal to nature fallacy. A lot of bright people look and human beings and they say well we didn't arrive here yesterday and we didn't arrive here 500 years ago. This creature has been around for a long time. If we're having health problems that look systematic, in other words, we're having some problem that comes up more than other problems, diabetes, for example. Type II diabetes is something that is arriving in mid-life for goodness sakes. Why would that be true? That doesn't make sense. That looks like the organism has a relationship between itself and its environment that isn't natural.
Doug Lisle, PhD: One of the things that we want to do is maybe try to figure out what we know about human pre-history and see if we do things the way they did things in pre-history, whether this kind of a problem would go away. It's not an unreasonable thing to be thinking about to be looking at human pre-history to try to see clues for what might be a better decision with respect to diet and lifestyle issues.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Now I can think of several things that make a lot of sense. For example, people are pretty sedentary today. They're more sedentary than they were 10,000 years ago and they would have been in better physical condition 10,000 years ago because of that. They're probably not sleeping as much because we've got the electric light bulb here in the last 100 years, so that's probably another things that's fairly significant.
Doug Lisle, PhD: We also have a lot of drugs, alcohol, caffeine, all kinds of other things like this that you didn't have 10,000 years ago. If we remove this from the diet we're probably, from human behavior, we're also going to see improvements. The question is though, and a big one, but it's not the only exclusive question, a big question is what about diet? What did the ancient human diet look like and how does it differ from the diet that we eat today? Well there are several mistakes that get made here. One huge mistake that is made by the paleo people is to assume that there's been no human evolution in the last 10,000 years. It turns out there's been quite substantial human evolution in the last 10,000 years. Our digestive systems have not been constant. A great many things are different about humans than they were 10,000 years ago. That's actually one thing that we begin on the table.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Second of all, it's going to turn out that there is already considerable evidence that human beings were eating large amounts of carbohydrate-based foods over the last 500,000 years. That takes us, by the way Rip, way back before modern humans. The modern human that we know, that you and I know-
Rip Esselstyn: How far back is that?
Doug Lisle, PhD: It would be pretty brutish, but you would recognize and you could talk to it 200,000 years ago, but it would be a pretty tough human, not very friendly. Human beings have evolved considerably in the last 200,000 years. The Paleolithic diet is really an echo of Paleolithic times. Paleolithic period goes back two million years, long before modern humans. We're not really interested in what protohumans were doing 400,000 years ago, it's not very important and it's not very interesting to our dietary considerations. What would be more interesting would be the last 100,000 years. Well the last 100,000 years we see considerable evidence of people in Africa digging up large amounts of tubers and using those as a staple, in other words, a high carbohydrate diet.
Rip Esselstyn: Is that when our brains really started to grow and flourish?
Doug Lisle, PhD: No. Our brains have been growing for a long time. Our brains were about the same size. They've actually been shrinking a little bit in the last 100,000 years, but there's a different reason for that and that's because we've actually become nicer. Wild animals had bigger brains because there are certain rage centers or essentially intensification of emotion for a wild animal. Those get reduced as animals become domesticated, and human beings essentially domesticated themselves through trade, through agriculture, et cetera. Human beings have become a nicer species in the last 100,000 years and with it the brain size is slightly smaller.
Doug Lisle, PhD: No, protohumans, probably a predominantly plant food diet for the last million years, but it was supplemented by hunting without any doubt. The question is, just because they did, is there anything there that you need and the answer is absolutely not. Human beings can use that additional fuel if they need it. They went to considerable risk and effort to get that fuel, but it's not a necessary fuel at all for humans. The original chassis of the original protohumans were definitely heavily vegetarian. We know this because our closest cousins in the animal kingdom are essentially vegetarians.
Rip Esselstyn: Who's that, who's our closest?
Doug Lisle, PhD: The chimpanzees and gorillas. The chimpanzee diet is about 97% plant food. They will eat an occasional, tiny amount of animal food. But their pattern of eating and what it is that they eat is actually quite different then humans. You couldn't survive on a chimpanzee food diet. They eat things that you can't eat and we eat things that they can't eat. Creatures specialize, human beings have definitely specialized towards the starches. We can tell this by large amount of genes that code for the enzyme amalyase that breaks down starch that make your saliva. That is a checkmate on any hardcore paleo thinker that there is. There's no way that could happen if you don't have an human being that isn't getting a huge evolutionary advantage for using the starches.
Doug Lisle, PhD: You are mostly a starch-based eating creature, which means by the way folks, it doesn't mean white stuff in your closet that you add to baking. No, by starch we mean the starch molecule which is the fundamental basis of the sugars that run your life. Those come from rice, beans, corn, potatoes, wheat, oats, those kinds of things. Those things, you are built to east those things and when you eat those things, if you have significant pathologies, particularly in the cardiovascular arena, you will reverse those pathologies. That will never happen on a paleo diet because it can't.
Rip Esselstyn: For people that don't know, what are the macronutrients that are in meat and what is it missing out on? You mentioned it just a second ago, but just for people that aren't sure.
Doug Lisle, PhD: What meat is, it's just basically fat and protein. It's missing out on carbohydrate, and it's missing out on fiber. It's missing out on all of the anti-oxidants that would be consistent with what it is that would be ideal for human biological functioning. It's a horrendously stripped down isolated food, and I believe that our ancestors did quite well if they were eating a huge amount of unprocessed organically grown plant food along with their meat.
Doug Lisle, PhD: If I was talking to a Paleolithic scholar we would talk that through and there would be interesting discussions about what evidence indicated how much animal food do we think a given people ate. Those estimates, I've seen those estimates, it's highly speculative. Most scholars think it's maybe around 25% of calories from animal food. There have been a few scholars that have believed that it might have been as much as 50%. But I think that's wild guessing and it's also looking at a wide range of people all over the globe in different habitats. Probably not a bad guess might be 25. But that means 75% of your food is coming from unprocessed plant food folks. The animal food wasn't adding anything other than calories for survival. It wasn't adding anything positive to the diet. It was simply making sure that people didn't starve to death.
Rip Esselstyn: These paleo people, these keto people, they don't think cholesterol is a bad thing, that you can eat extemporaneous sources of cholesterol, red meat, eggs, and what not. What would you say to that, to the saturated fat? They don't believe saturated fat is bad.
Doug Lisle, PhD: Well I would say this, that is that the human body is amazingly resilient. It's kind of like eating these kinds of foods, eating animal foods in any quantity at all, and eating processed, stripped down, denatured plant food as well, junk food. This is like putting little dents in your car door. It's just ding, ding, ding, ding. It's kind of like also not changing your oil very often in your car. You can get away with it. You can go 5,000 miles, 6,000 miles without changing your oil. However, you're not going to see evidence of the trouble right away. You got to wait until you go 70,000 or 80,000 miles, then we started winding up with a big bill. That's what happens when people wind up flat on their back in a hospital at 64 because they got serious trouble and they got 3 stints in their heart.
Doug Lisle, PhD: My long answer is, the reason they aren't worried about it is because the effects are not immediate and they are not graphic. They are long-term, they are subtle, and they can put up with a tremendous amount of abuse. People can do this, they can abuse themselves and it could like everything's fine.
Doug Lisle, PhD: But the truth is, everything is not fine. That's why we have science to give us a microscope into your microbiology so that we can actually see what's happening inside you that you can't see with the naked eye. That's why we have great research institutions and fine scientists that look at these things very, very carefully. That's why we have a Doctor Esselstyn, that's what we have a Doctor Campbell, that's why we have a Doctor Barnard. That's why we have these people that can see for us what you can't see with the naked eye. Unfortunately, there will be fad diets and the gimmicks that will trick people into thinking that they have skinned the cat and that they've found some shortcut around the laws of nature. It's not going to happen. Unfortunately, people will ultimately pay prices that they wish that they hadn't have paid.
Rip Esselstyn: In many ways we've just scratched the surface when it comes to the pitfalls of the paleo and keto diets. As Doctor Doug Lisle points out, it's kind of like a credit card, it makes you feel rich when what you're really doing is digging yourself into debt. As Doctor Klaper reveals, it's really nothing more than a physiological parlor trick. Of course, we haven't even begun to talk about how these diets disrespect the animals and trash the planet. I think you can rest assured we'll be revisiting the ills of the paleo and keto in future episodes of Plant-Strong.
Rip Esselstyn: I want to thank my co-creator of the podcast, Scott Battishill, 10% Media, Laurie Kortowich, Producer extraordinaire and the Engine 2 Director of Events, Bumble Media for this podcast production, and Brandon Curtis for everything in between.
Rip Esselstyn: Thanks to Whole Foods Market for believing in me and giving me a platform for the last 10 years. Special thanks to Joe Inga, our Bronx firefighter for your courage to not only change your life, but also allowing us to share your story along the way. Lastly, I want to thank my father and mother, Doctor Caldwell Esselstyn, Junior and Ann Crile Esselstyn, as well as all the plant strong pioneers who have been pushing this boulder uphill for more than three decades. As they say, "We are standing on the shoulders of giants."
Rip Esselstyn: Remember, if you're digging the show, please rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. With that, let me say peace, Engine 2, keep it Plant-Strong.