EPISODE 9: PALEO: THE DEVIL'S BARGAIN
with Dr. Michael Klaper
This week on the podcast, Rip dives head-first into the paleo-keto debate after he and Joe discussed how popular the meat-centered and carb-limiting diets are in firehouses across the country. I bet it's taking over in your circles too. At first blush, it may seem hard to debate the merits when the paleo diet does result in weight loss and the ketogenic diet does reduce blood sugars (temporarily). But at what cost? Dr. Klaper has been practicing on the front lines of medicine for almost 40 years and knows a thing or two about how the body works. He also knows a poorly designed shortcut when he sees one. Listen in and hear all about the pitfalls of paleo and how it really is like making a bargain with the devil!
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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 9: PALE: THE DEVIL’S BARGAIN
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Dr. Klaper: This is a diet of death, as far as I can see, as far as the diseases it's going to spawn.
Rip Esselstyn: Well it's not only a diet of death, it's a diet where you're eating death.
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely, yes. It kills the animal, it kills the people who eat it, and it's going to kill this planet too. I mean if they think that the paleo diet is the best diet and everybody should be eating paleo, they're talking about a flesh-based meal three times a day for a billion people on this planet. It's going to destroy the entire ecosystem. It's a totally arrogant, unsustainable, elitist type of approach to nutrition that has no basis either in scientific fact or in medical common sense.
Rip Esselstyn: I'm Rip Esselstyn, the founder of Engine 2, and I want to help, Joe, our Bronx firefighter. I want to give him the support, the information, and the motivation that he needs to make the decisions that are going to save his life, and I want to give them to you too. Welcome to Plant-Strong.
Rip Esselstyn: There's no question about it, there are two diets out there that are getting a lot of attention right now, the paleo diet and the keto diet. They're basically kissing cousins, and essentially they both seek to pull out the carbohydrates from your diet and increase the amount of meat that you're consuming, which is equated with protein. Which somewhere along the line got equated with strength and health.
Rip Esselstyn: Now, there are two big problems that come with this. One, our bodies are designed to burn carbohydrates for energy, and study after study prove that high fat diets promote chronic Western diseases in spades, and that's exactly what both of these diets are. Two, these diets are both sorely deficient in fiber, which is not doing you any favors when it comes to your health, your bowel movement function, or your microbiome.
Rip Esselstyn: Now, people lose weight on these diets, but the truth is there are a lot of unhealthy ways to simply lose weight, even at a common sense level, having a diet that consists largely of meat and ribs and bacon and eggs, I mean, come on. But as always, I'm going to do more than appeal to your common sense. Let's dig into the science. So for the next two episodes, we're going to focus on the paleo diet and the keto diet. I brought in two experts to talk about what happens in our bodies when we eat this way, to dispel the lies surrounding these diets, and to further demonstrate the power of a Plant-Strong way of eating. Let's get after it.
Rip Esselstyn: So I'm here with Dr. Michael Klaper. He's one of the patriarchs of the plant-based movement. Michael has been I think deep in the weeds for a good 40 plus years. You must be stunned and amazed about where we are now in 2019 from where you started.
Dr. Klaper: Oh, it's exciting to see. After all those years with a cold-faced stare, the wheels are starting to turn. It's really gratifying to see the awareness that's sprouting up everywhere, the importance of plant-based nutrition.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. I mean from my vantage point, I don't know really too many other people that have been in this as long as you. Yeah, I mean you got McDougall, but my father started in like '84. Do you know what year it was that you started?
Dr. Klaper: I read John Robbins' book in 1986, and that woke me up big time.
Rip Esselstyn: So it's been over 30 years.
Dr. Klaper: It's been well over 30 years, yes. Going on 40.
Rip Esselstyn: Amazing. I mean I like to refer to you as the Gandalf of the plant-based movement. To me that's a huge compliment.
Dr. Klaper: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Rip Esselstyn: I hope you take it as such.
Dr. Klaper: I do.
Rip Esselstyn: What I'd love to talk to you today about, and I'd love to have you on the podcast numerous times, but today what I'd love to talk about is the paleo-keto diet that's out there that just seems to be picking up traction everywhere you look. I'm working with this Bronx firefighter named Joe Inga who's trying to turn his health around, and it just so happens that a lot of the guys at the firehouse are following the paleo-keto program. It goes far beyond the firehouse with all these men. I mean it's out in America, big and wide.
Rip Esselstyn: So first question for you is why do you think this paleo-keto keeps rising and has so much traction?
Dr. Klaper: Oh, because people like the taste of steak in their mouth, and now they've got a rationalization for, "Oh, it's what the caveman ate, and that's going to make me big and strong like a caveman. So pass the beef, pass the ribs." It gives them a rationale for eating all this animal flesh, and they think they have a good reason for it.
Rip Esselstyn: So it's really kind of just a brilliant marketing campaign?
Dr. Klaper: It really is, on a number of levels. I mean there's no real precedent for this in history. When you look at the fossil record, when you look at the ... Let's take a step back. The image is that every Neanderthal had a mastodon in the freezer and spent all day eating mammoth meat, "Because I'm a caveman and that's what I do, I eat mammoth meat." But the reality is when you look at the fossilized fecal droppings, they're called coprolites, and when you see what these people really ate, you see the massive amounts of fiber in the diet. These people are eating 100, 150 grams of fiber. Most Americans eat about 20 grams maybe.
Dr. Klaper: When you do the caloric analysis, turns out the majority of calories that were brought into the paleolithic camp was not mammoth meat or any type of animal flesh. Most of the calories were gathered by the women, who spent all day foraging for roots and tubers, and these are starchy roots that we were eating. We were starchivores back then. We are starchivores now, and it was the plant starches that really provided the calories. It's not the animal flesh. But guys like to taste that steak, and so they'll cling to this image. But it has no factual basis in historic truth.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. I know that you have a whole lecture that talks about the pitfalls of the paleo program.
Dr. Klaper: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rip Esselstyn: Can we talk about some of those things?
Dr. Klaper: Oh absolutely. You talked to me about being the patriarch of the movement, but I'm a physician, and that's my greatest concern. These folks, and they're mostly young, who are pushing this, and when you're 25, nothing seems to pose any threat to you. But the reality is that my fear as a doctor is that people who are following this diet, who are packing their colon full of meat three times a day, who are running all this saturated fat through their arteries, are setting themselves up for an epidemic of colon cancer, clogged arteries, heart attacks, strokes.
Dr. Klaper: The bacteria that meat based diets spawns turns carnitine into this molecule called Trimethylamine oxide, which damages the arteries. The meat, all meat comes from the slaughter house, so there's a covering of gut bacteria from the animals on the surface of every steak. And when this-
Rip Esselstyn: Are those endotoxins? Is that what that's called?
Dr. Klaper: Endotoxins. When these bacteria die, their cell walls break up and form this endotoxin stuff. Nasty stuff, that sets off blood coagulation and histamine release. Very importantly, makes your gut leaky. So food proteins start flowing out into the bloodstream and flowing through joints setting off arthritis and autoimmune diseases. And the bacteria that the meat based diet spawns is very irritating to the gut wall itself, and that opens the door to ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. This is a diet of death as far as I can see, as far as the diseases it's going to spawn.
Rip Esselstyn: Well it's not only a diet of death, it's a diet where you're eating death.
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely, yes. It kills the animal, it kills the people who eat it, and it's going to kill this planet too. I mean if they think that the paleo diet is the best diet and everybody should be eating paleo, they're talking about a flesh-based meal three times a day for a billion people on this planet. It's going to destroy the entire ecosystem. It's a totally arrogant, unsustainable, elitist type of approach to nutrition that has no basis either in scientific fact or in medical common sense. These folks are going to wind up ... I've already seen my first case of colon cancer in a paleo woman.
Rip Esselstyn: Do you know how long she's been eating paleo?
Dr. Klaper: About three years, and maybe she had it earlier, but she may have had the seeds of it going, but certainly this diet will fan the flames of malignant growth.
Rip Esselstyn: I've met a lot of people in the last, it just seems like the last six months, that have told me they have an aunt, an uncle, a mother, a father that have either died or have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Can you explain for people what causes colon cancer and how can eating a whole food plant-based diet help prevent that?
Dr. Klaper: Of course. Well, nobody eats raw meat, and so you've got to grill that steak. You've got to grill that burger, and the very act of cooking animal muscle inevitably produces a whole array of cancer causing carcinogenic hydrocarbons on the surface of the meat that gets mixed in with the bowl of fecal material that that meat becomes. And as the fecal mass gets down to the colon, the colon by its very nature and design, holds the fecal material in there for a good day or so until the water can get absorbed out of it, what colons do.
Dr. Klaper: During that time, you've got this mass of carcinogens rubbing on the colon wall, and due to the shape of the colon, it winds up in the same spot all the time. Every fecal mass winds up in the same-
Rip Esselstyn: So it's almost like causing a blister of sorts.
Dr. Klaper: Yes, in a way.
Rip Esselstyn: Or a callus.
Dr. Klaper: Yeah, or like scraping your knee. It's a raw area there, but you do this month after month, year after year, and you keep angering those cells with carcinogens, they'll respond by sprouting out a cancer.
Rip Esselstyn: So is the first sign then a polyp?
Dr. Klaper: A polyp will begin, yes. And the doctor who does the colonoscopy can see what the guy's been eating because all the polyps there, but it just takes one polyp, because most of them will go malignant eventually. That's a red flag that your colon is waving. They're not supposed to develop. Rice and beans and greens don't cause polyps to sprout out of your colon. This is an artifact of an irritative flesh-based diet, and so we're certainly going to see far more colon cancer from this.
Dr. Klaper: Once the colon starts undergoing malignant change, it can. They know not what they do, in that when you eat a piece of meat, all the amino acids that make up that animal muscle protein flood into the liver, and the liver responds. Like Dr. Greger says, it's like giving an eight-year-old boy a box of Tinker Toy parts. What do you think he's going to do? He's going to build something. And the body responds the same way. You flood all these amino acids into the liver, the liver responds. It responds by putting out this hormone called insulin-like growth factor number 1, IGF-1.
Dr. Klaper: This is the most powerful growth promoting hormone in the body, and if you've got a little colon cancer just starting to sprout down in your intestine, and there's all this IGF-1 coursing through your bloodstream, that's like throwing gasoline on a fire.
Rip Esselstyn: It's like fertilizing.
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely. That cancer's going to grow. It's a safe bet.
Rip Esselstyn: Explain to me again, the IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor number 1. Is it in the meat? How is it?
Dr. Klaper: No, the liver produces it.
Rip Esselstyn: The liver produces it as a reaction-
Dr. Klaper: To all the amino acids.
Rip Esselstyn: To the amino acids.
Dr. Klaper: Right. These are building blocks. The liver says, "Hmm. Let's build something with it." And it's a wonderful mechanism when you're a growing child. You know, that's fine. But if you're an adult guy with early colon cancer, that's the last thing you want.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. So it's a reaction to the animal protein.
Dr. Klaper: Yes. Absolutely. High protein diets spawn high GF-1 levels, and you don't want that as an adult, because you start spawning growths in places you don't want it. The woman who's got a little breast cancer growing in her breast and she's eating this paleo diet, she's going to find that little cancer gets to be a big cancer pretty quick. It's a scary thing to do, just for that taste of steak in your mouth for a few seconds. They don't realize what happens downstream from that.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. You know, another thing. I find that the paleo people, they're fans of saturated fat. I mean it seems to me like the preponderance of a scientific research is very clear that saturated fat does what?
Dr. Klaper: Oh, it causes great damage in the body in a couple of ways.
Rip Esselstyn: And it's not necessary.
Dr. Klaper: It's not necessary. This study came out, which was a very distorted study, a couple of years ago that showed that saturated fats weren't that harmful when compared to white flour and white sugar, et cetera. So, along comes The TIME Magazine cover, "Butter is back. Saturated fat is good." They took this and ran with it. There's certainly no scientific evidence really supporting this, and the evidence is very clear that saturated fats, one, they injure the artery walls. Second, they inhibit the liver's ability to excrete cholesterol into the bile, and so cholesterol starts piling up in the bloodstream. That leads to artery clogging. Finally, saturated fats are pro inflammatory. They fan inflammatory reactions throughout the body, and now we're seeing so many diseases from, well, artery disease to autoimmune diseases, arthritis, have an element of inflammation going. The saturated fats are part of those pro inflammatory molecules.
Rip Esselstyn: Then what about Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance?
Dr. Klaper: Oh, absolutely.
Rip Esselstyn: It contributes to that, right?
Dr. Klaper: This is one of the most bankrupt infuriating aspects of the paleo philosophy from the doctor's point of view. There's no question that fats, they clog up your insulin receptors is one way to look at it. They make you insulin-resistant. All these folks who are eating all this fat, fat, fat, are making themselves insulin resistant. But because the amount of sugar that they're eating, "Oh, you don't want to eat those carbs," even though we're carbohydrate burning creatures, because they eat so little sugars, they see their blood sugar go down and they say, "See? It's a great diet. It keeps your blood sugar low. It keeps your insulin low."
Dr. Klaper: Then if they eat some carbohydrates, eat a potato, that low blood sugar goes way up because their insulin receptors are clogged up, but they use that to say, "Aha, see. Those carbs are bad. You shouldn't be eating that." When really they've made themselves basically pre-diabetic, and of course they can't handle sugars now. But this is not normal physiology, this is not healthy in any way, shape, or form. This delusion, like Dr. McDougall says, people love to hear good news about bad habits. That's what this is all about.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, on episode two, no, episode three of the podcast, I interviewed Dean and Ayesha Sherzai. They talk about how saturated fat is really, really awful for brain health, dementia, Alzheimer's, and all those things.
Dr. Klaper: Sure. And these young guys pushing this paleo diet, you know, they're 25, they're 30, but man you see them when they're 50, they're going to be putting their car keys in the refrigerator. How did this happen? How did this happen? Well, garbage in, garbage in.
Rip Esselstyn: The paleo, they also seem to think that you can have all these egg yolks. You can have all this cholesterol and that the cholesterol, it's like somehow a different type of cholesterol. What do you say to that?
Dr. Klaper: The cholesterol is not a healthy fuel for the human body. We make all that we need. When you eat other animal's cholesterol, it starts piling up in the bloodstream and it certainly is harmful. Again, this is a massive self-delusion here. There's no way that this is going to turn out to be a healthy diet, and when ... I put a hundred dollar bill on the table that the articles are going to start showing up in the medical journals in the next, I don't know, two years, five years, "Paleo diet associated with colon cancer. Paleo diet associated with autoimmune disease. Paleo diet associated with dementia." My left eyebrow won't go up this much. Yep, about time, right on time these articles. They're going to show.
Dr. Klaper: These folks are going to be the sorriest folks in town, and the folks who promoted this, who pushed it, they're going to have to answer for misguiding the public so severely. They set themselves up as nutritional experts, and I read book once by Loren Cordain that we should be eating lots of meat, and they know not where with they speak, and they're causing a lot of damage.
Dr. Klaper: Then I tell my colleagues, my medical colleagues, "Do no harm, including dietary advice as well." You can really cause a lot of harm by misdirectioning your patients as far as what a healthy human diet really is. We are not carnivorous apes. We have the same digestive systems that our gorilla and bonobo cousins have, and they're up in the trees eating fruit and leaves. And basically we should have the same herbivorous fuel as well.
Rip Esselstyn: You just mentioned doctors, and one of the things that I find absolutely infuriating, and I can't imagine you because you are a doctor, but when I'm out giving talks and I have people come up to me and say that their expert cardiologist advised them to go on the paleo-keto program. It's like, "Oh my gosh. These cardiologists, are they not up on the peer-reviewed research?" As Dr. Kim Williams says, what, there's two different types of-
Dr. Klaper: Of cardiologists.
Rip Esselstyn: Cardiologists. Do you want to say it?
Dr. Klaper: What a classic. There's only two types of cardiologists. There are vegan cardiologists, and those who haven't read the medical literature yet.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.
Dr. Klaper: I mean there's no question, a whole food plant-based diet is by far the healthiest for our arteries and our heart. And I hope those cardiologists who are pushing a paleo diet, I hope they've got good malpractice insurance, because it's just a matter of time before an angry widow walks in their door saying, "My husband dropped dead." Or, "My husband died on the operating table last week during a four vessel coronary artery bypass last week, and I just read that this was a totally avoidable death." I hope they've got good lawyers and good insurance, because this is bad advice they're handing out.
Rip Esselstyn: Let's talk for a sec about some of the bad substances that are in meat, whether it's red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, all these animal products that are so popular in the paleo-keto programs. I think you've already mentioned animal protein.
Dr. Klaper: Yep.
Rip Esselstyn: We talked about cholesterol.
Dr. Klaper: Yep.
Rip Esselstyn: We talked about saturated fat.
Dr. Klaper: Yep.
Rip Esselstyn: What else do you want to add to the list? You said TMAO.
Dr. Klaper: Indeed, absolutely. These animals are confined in these feedlots where they are fed bushels of grains every day, and these grains are heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesticides and growth promoters. The animals are fed antibiotics, and these are fat soluble molecules that wind up in the animal's flesh, and you run into this phenomenon of bioconcentration. Week after week that poor cow or that poor steer is eating all these sprayed corn and soy beans, and these pesticides and herbicides are concentrating in their muscles and in their fat.
Dr. Klaper: Every time you bite into that burger or you chew on that chicken leg, you're getting the bioconcentrated herbicides and pesticides. They feed these animals antibiotics, Lincomycin and Rifampicin and tetracycline, that winds up on your dinner plate as well. And the water that they give these animals to drink is not pure water. It's contaminated with heavy-
Rip Esselstyn: Heavy metals.
Dr. Klaper: Heavy metals. Lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury. That winds up in the animal's muscle, that is a foul piece of flesh that is being sold to the public as, "Our paleolithic ancestors ate this." Well no they didn't. And meat was a rarity in their diet by and large, if they ... You got this image of people feasting on the mammoth carcass, but the truth is most hunts were unsuccessful. Most times the guys came back empty handed, 9 out of 10 times the hunts were unsuccessful.
Dr. Klaper: If you had a starving infant at home, they were going to starve to death if it weren't for the starchy gruels that the women were making up to keep us all alive. And if they did manage to snag some animal and drag the carcass back in the camp, there was no refrigeration. It rotted within days and it became a dangerous substance to eat. The idea that this was the best food that we could be eating, certainly today's version of meat is far from healthy, that's for sure.
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Rip Esselstyn: Let me just throw out some other things, and if you feel like talking about it, great, and if not we'll just keep moving on. What about heme-iron?
Dr. Klaper: Heme-iron, that's another one. People think, they've got this image that, "Oh, iron makes for hemoglobin, makes for big muscles, and yay. It's a good thing." Well, it's not it turns out. There's two kinds of iron in the diet. The heme-iron comes from animals, and it's in the center of the hemoglobin molecule and the blood of the animal. You're eating the animal's blood. Then there's non heme-iron. It's found in plants, and spinach and green vegetables have iron. So what's the difference?
Dr. Klaper: Well, without getting too much into the biochemistry, the problem is that too much iron is not healthy. Iron is an oxidizing agent, you see that on your car bumper. Iron will oxidize, and you don't want iron overload in your body. Well, heme-iron comes into the blood stream and into the body without any throttle placed on it by the intestine. The intestine just lets all the heme-iron in that you eat.
Dr. Klaper: Well, it starts accumulating in the walls of the arteries, in the bone marrow, and oxidative damage starts happening. This injures the artery walls, and one of those things that contributes to artery damage.
Dr. Klaper: Non heme-iron in plants, the body's very selective. It has the ability to decide how much of that stuff it wants to let into the body. So non heme-iron from plants is the safer type of iron.
Rip Esselstyn: So it can actually regulate it?
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely. But the folks who are eating all this meat, they're facing iron overload. Us guys, we can't get rid of iron. And if you're a post-menopausal female, she can't get rid of the iron either. We're talking about adult human beings here. So these folks are giving themselves iron overload with all this meat, meat, meat, and that's going to bite them-
Rip Esselstyn: What's that called, when you have the iron load? Is it called hemo-
Dr. Klaper: Well, Hemosiderosis. Hemochromatosis is a disease of that, but basically that's a genetic issue. But just plain old iron overload is epidemic because we're eating all this meat, meat, meat. And that is not healthy. We should get iron from plants. We should get all our nutrients from plants.
Rip Esselstyn: So that's contributing to all the oxidative stress load.
Dr. Klaper: It certainly is a major contributor to it, sure.
Rip Esselstyn: Got it. What about Neu5Gc?
Dr. Klaper: Oh, that's interesting. So this is a ... If you've already got the laundry list of reasons why you shouldn't be eating meat, there is this substance. It's a sialic acid called Neu5Gc. Only animals make this substance. Plants don't make it. But this stuff is very pro inflammatory. It sets off inflammatory reactions throughout the body. If you stain for it, you can find Neu5Gc in the atherosclerotic plaques in your arteries. The folks with the rheumatoid arthritis, you can find Neu5Gc in their inflamed joints. It's a real incendiary molecule, and our paleo friends are eating it three times a day and giving themselves jolts of this pro inflammatory molecule. Then when they walk in the office, "Gee doc, I feel so achy. I don't have the energy. Gee, my joints feel swollen." Because doctors never ask, "What are you eating?" They'll be given some ibuprofen, which makes their gut leakier. But again, this is not the natural diet of human beings. We are not mountain lions, we are herbivorous eating creatures. We weren't supposed to be eating Neu5Gc three times a day, and that's going to bite these paleo folks. It's really an unfortunate situation.
Rip Esselstyn: The other thing you touched upon early on, but maybe we can revisit it. That was the heterocyclic amines. The HCAs.
Dr. Klaper: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: And those are formed when?
Dr. Klaper: When you cook meat.
Rip Esselstyn: Any meat.
Dr. Klaper: Any meat, whether it's fish, whether we're grilling that salmon or barbecuing that chicken or grilling that steak, you are creating these nasty polycyclic hydrocarbons, and they carcinogenic, no question about it.
Rip Esselstyn: So basically those char marks are like carcinogen marks.
Dr. Klaper: Yeah, that's exactly what they are. When you think about that, as soon as you eat it, you're smearing carcinogens around the back of your throat, and it slides down your esophagus into the stomach. Then out the small intestine, but you wonder about the oral cancers we see, the esophageal cancers, the stomach cancers. Well, how much of this is from smearing cooked animal muscle on your tissues two or three times a day, that are full of carcinogens?
Dr. Klaper: So yeah, we don't get away with anything.
Rip Esselstyn: Another thing that I know you talk about is the high level of methionine.
Dr. Klaper: Yes.
Rip Esselstyn: What is methionine, and what does high levels of methionine lead to?
Dr. Klaper: Yeah. Methionine is an amino acid. All proteins have a little bit of methionine in it, but meat has a lot of methionine in it. And when the body metabolized methionine, it takes off a methyl group, and that turns into Homocysteine molecules. This is not friendly stuff. This stuff is very irritating to the artery walls, and it along with the heme-iron and Neu5Gc is one of these pro inflammatory molecules that inflames the walls of the arteries. And people who walk around with high homocysteine levels wind up with clogged arteries and heart attacks and strokes. Again, another sign from our metabolism we shouldn't be running a lot of animal flesh through our bloodstream. You don't want a bunch of homocysteine that comes from this methionine ingestion. So another reason, another red flag.
Rip Esselstyn: It just seems like these red flags are just popping up all over the place.
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely. And the paleo guys put on their blinders and, "Well, my caveman ate it." Well yeah, the cavemen died at age 30 or so. I don't want their lifespan, thank you.
Rip Esselstyn: And you also, I know that I've heard a lot about how hard eating a paleo-keto type of diet is on the bones.
Dr. Klaper: Yeah.
Rip Esselstyn: Can you address that?
Dr. Klaper: Well sure. These are very acid promoting diets. Meats turn into acids on various levels, and it's an acid forming diet. There's a lot of sulfur containing amino acids, methionine being one of them, but cysteine, cysteline, taurine. These are very abundant in animal flesh, and they all have little atom of sulfur. So you put sulfur in water, it turns into sulfuric acid, sulfurous acid. So this is a high acid diet, the flesh based diet. Well, all this acid flows through your bones. Your body's got to neutralize this acid somewhere, and it does it by dissolving the bones and the calcium and phosphorus that comes out, neutralizes the acid, but meanwhile you've lost bone mass. High protein diets are inextricably linked to low bone density, to osteoporosis.
Rip Esselstyn: 99% of our calcium stores are stored-
Dr. Klaper: Stored in our bones.
Rip Esselstyn: In our bones. So would it be fair to say that by eating this high protein diet, by eating all these dairy products where the protein actually trumps your body's ability to store calcium, that you're little almost kind of peeing your bones away?
Dr. Klaper: Yeah, that's exactly. Good image, sir. Yes, that's another bargain that these paleo folks are making with the devil here. Yeah, really, they're trading their skeletal health for it.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. What about, you hear a lot about people, at least I do, that get gout, kidney stones. Is that also related to eating too much meat?
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely. Gout is-
Rip Esselstyn: Can you explain that?
Dr. Klaper: Sure, right. Gout is when crystals of this molecule called uric acid start depositing out in your joint membranes. And a gouty joint, ugh, it's painful to look at. It's so red and swollen. It feels hot when you put your hand over it. It's a fire burning in your joint from these very irritating uric acid crystals. Well, where does uric acid come from?
Dr. Klaper: It's the breakdown product of DNA, the chromosome molecule there. Well, when you are eating a piece of animal muscle, you're eating a huge load of that cow's DNA, and your body can only process it so far until it starts generating lots of uric acid. So the high meat eaters, they've got this big uric acid load to deal with. And if they're not good excreters of that uric acid, if it doesn't go out in the urine, then it builds up in the joints and they get clinical gout.
Dr. Klaper: But even if they are able to excrete it through the urine, if they're not drinking enough water and their urine gets all concentrated, that uric acid will precipitate out as crystals that form these hellacious uric acid kidney stones. They have little spikes coming out of them. They're fierce looking stones under the microscope, and it's just a hellaciously painful episode that puts you on the operating table while the urologist tries to fish that stone out, or has to cut you open to get it out because they don't pass easily.
Dr. Klaper: So uric acid is not something that you want to have in large amounts, and the meat eaters are generating lots of uric acid from all that DNA they're eating in the meat.
Rip Esselstyn: Another reason to stay away-
Dr. Klaper: Another one, exactly.
Rip Esselstyn: So we talked about some of the substances that meat have that are not beneficial that we want to stay away from. What are some of the substances that meat don't have that whole plant-based foods have that make them a weak food source?
Dr. Klaper: Yeah, sure. We have this gloriously long intestinal tract that thrives on a high fiber diet, a diet that has lots of plant fiber, and it creates these big, soft, easy to pass stools that glide through the intestinal tract, don't require a lot of pressure to build up. The fiber, the colon bacteria will turn that into Butyric acid and beneficial molecules that nourish the colon wall.
Dr. Klaper: Well, meat has no fiber in it at all, and it turns into these hard little balls of stool that the colon can't get a purchase on to push along, so the colon has to squeeze really hard. That raises the air pressure in the colon, and if there's any weak spots in the colon wall, those little weak spots will herniate out and you get these diverticular pouches popping out all over that get infected. Then you get diverticulitis, and that'll put you on the operating table, or at least a course of antibiotics to push these hard constipated stools out.
Dr. Klaper: The veins around the rectum wind up bulging and becoming varicose, and you get these nasty hemorrhoids. We are not meant to eat a fiber-deficient diet.
Rip Esselstyn: And what is, I think the latest stats that I've read are that 97% of America is deficient in fiber?
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely. People, when they hear that people are plant eaters, where are you going to get your protein. Protein's not an issue. All plant foods have protein. Beans and greens are full of protein. The real issue is where are you going to get your fiber? And meat and dairy products have none of that to offer, to base your diet around a flesh based diet is buying yourself a fiber deficient diet that's going to bite you.
Rip Esselstyn: And the other thing that meat doesn't have that the paleo people actually tout as being good are carbohydrates. So I mean can you speak to that? It's kind of ludicrous, but tell me ... But they find a little bit of a shred of truth, and you and I both know that 90% of America's carbohydrate consumption is coming from refined carbs that are bad.
Dr. Klaper: Yes, absolutely.
Rip Esselstyn: Trashy.
Dr. Klaper: Right.
Rip Esselstyn: So they're good there, I mean they're right there.
Dr. Klaper: They're right there, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rip Esselstyn: But so I think that they use that as kind of their argument that, "Oh, you don't want to eat carbs. You want to eat meat that doesn't have any carbs." So it's got weak protein, it's got weak fat, and no carbs. So what is it with the carbs?
Dr. Klaper: Oh, it also is another example of how shoddy the science behind this, how they pervert the science here. There's no getting away from it. We are carbohydrate burning organisms. The krebs cycle enzymes in your mitochondria burn glucose. We are sugar burning organisms. Fat is an emergency fuel. When there were no berries on the bush there during our foraging days, we had to dip into our own fat storage. And you can get by for X number of days on that, but that is not our daily fuel. Our daily fuel is carbohydrates.
Dr. Klaper: Now, the problem is the conflation that you just mentioned, the paleo folks are right. Oreo cookies and granola bars and Twinkies, "Oh they're full of carbs." Well yeah, those are refined sugar, but it's really fallacious and a bit scurrilous to take the big broad brush of carbohydrates and tar not only the Oreo cookies, but include apples and bananas and kale. These are all high carbohydrate foods, all plant foods are high in carbohydrates, that's what stems and leaves and roots are made of. But that's what we're meant to run on. And for them to say, "Oh, carbohydrates are all bad," and to then, as I said, conflate the good carbohydrates that come from whole plant foods and from beans and greens and fruits and vegetables, to equate those with the same refined poisonous simple sugars that are in the high fructose corn syrup and soft drinks and all of that and call them all carbs and assume they all have the same bad effect in the body, that's scientifically scurrilous. That's outrageous.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well it's egregious isn't it?
Dr. Klaper: Pardon me?
Rip Esselstyn: It's egregious.
Dr. Klaper: It's egregious, absolutely. It's dishonest, and it's sloppy science. It's not even science. It's propaganda.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, yeah. So people unwittingly, they are doing the paleo-keto and they're depriving themselves of-
Dr. Klaper: The very fiber and the very high good carbohydrates our body really requires, absolutely.
Rip Esselstyn: To be supremely healthy.
Dr. Klaper: Absolutely. Look at all the plant based athletes. You see all the rippling muscle all these fabulous athletic and feats these guys do on plant based diets. To negate that in any way is just outrageous.
Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, and then to take it a step farther, you got these books that are being written about Grain Brain and about how grains and bread are just so absolutely awful. They talk about, I mean they're bashing beans and grains because of lectins and lignins. Do you know anything about that stuff?
Dr. Klaper: Yeah, and these docs like to sell books, so they make these outrageous claims. It's really disheartening to see my profession prostituting itself through these guys. "Don't eat beans, they have lectins." Well, people have been eating beans for thousands of years, and when you look at the Blue Zone Diet around the world, people live to be over 100, they all eat beans. If lectins on beans were that toxic, then none of these people would make it to 100.
Rip Esselstyn: Well, and once you heat them up, the lectins are gone.
Dr. Klaper: The lectins are gone.
Rip Esselstyn: They're gone, yeah.
Dr. Klaper: They all disappear.
Rip Esselstyn: Who eats their beans raw?
Dr. Klaper: Nobody's eating raw beans, and as you cook the beans, the lectins disappear. Again, they're just spawning fear.
Rip Esselstyn: I think everyone will agree that Dr. Klaper knows the body and how it's supposed to work. Today, he has systematically dismantled any pillar the paleo diet is trying to build upon. It is, as he says, all propaganda.
Dr. Klaper: But one thing I want to mention that we shouldn't brush over, there's a keto phenomenon. That's even worse.
Rip Esselstyn: Next week, we'll talk more with Dr. Klaper about the keto diet from his perspective as a physician. Then we'll take a deep dive with my friend Dr. Doug Lyle. He'll share his view on the keto diet as an evolutionary psychologist, and spoiler alert, it ain't pretty. Doug will laser in on why ketosis is no shortcut to health. Instead, it's overriding our body's divinely designed system, and like any beautiful machine, it will break down and overheat on a dirty ketogenic fuel source. Let's filet the notion that paleo or keto are good ideas, because they aren't.
Rip Esselstyn: I want to thank my co-creator of the podcast, Scott Battishill and 10-Percent 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. 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, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., and Ann Crile Esselstyn, as well all the Plant-Strong pioneers who have been pushing this boulder uphill for more than three decades.
Rip Esselstyn: As they say, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. 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.