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Let Food Be Thy Medicine



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(calm music)

- I want to open with a quote from Thomas Edison.

He said the doctor of the future will no longer treat

the human frame with drugs, but rather it will cure

and present prevent disease with nutrition.

Are we there yet?

- We're on route.

- So tell us about what you do at

the Center for Integrative Health

and Center for Integrative Nutrition.

- So at the centers we have a broad based

set of integrative approaches to healthcare.

The one that I'm particularly passionate about

among all of these, well I'm passionate about all of them,

but particularly about nutrition and food as medicine.

And we've been developing programs,

clinical programs, research programs, educational programs,

community outreach on all levels to try and really

help create what we think is the medicine of the future,

which is actually the medicine of the ancient past.

- Yeah, Hippocrates said it best, right?

- And Hippocrates probably learned it

from ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

So this has very, very deep roots.

- It's a perfect lead in. Tell us about Ayurvedic medicine.

I know you're a medical doctor,

a Western medical certified doctor but

you also have a big focus on Ayurvedic medicine.

And not necessarily everyone

understands or knows what that means.

- So yeah, I did my medical training in the

conventional Western medical model,

and then got out into practice.

I'm board certified in family medicine.

So I practiced for many years,

and realized I didn't really have all the tools

that I needed to help people.

And my parents are from India.

And so I knew a little bit about Ayurveda.

I thought it was kind of home remedies and things like that.

Somewhere when I decided to learn

a different way of helping people heal,

Ayurveda really resonated with me.

It's a mind, body, spirit approach to medicine.

So it's a thousands of year old health and healing system.

So it's a very comprehensive healing system

that incorporates many, many different modalities.

But really the foundation in Ayurveda is that

food is your medicine, and digesting your food.

And so there are lots of quotes and different sayings

in Ayurveda about how important it is to

eat properly and have good digestion.

And that's the core of your health.

And then everything else is complimentary.

But it's a really rich medical healing system,

that's really based on prevention as well as the root.

And then there are lots of treatments

for health conditions when they happen.

But really the principles are based on prevention,

and empowering people to be their own healers.

That's The thing that I think that interested me

when you and I first chatted is that Western medicine

often deals with the symptoms of the problem,

you're treating the symptoms.

Whereas Ayurveda would say that's number six,

and we go back and start at step one.

And I think that's really fascinating,

thinking about prevention, or perhaps if you're on

a certain trajectory it doesn't mean

that you're predestined to end up there.

You can take steps in your diet, and your activity,

and eliminating toxins and so on to change that.

And I think that's really fascinating.

Now tell us a little bit about

what you do at the Gerson Institute.

- Okay, at the Gerson Institute we're a local nonprofit.

We have another anniversary actually celebrating.

We're 40 years old this year.

And we were developed as an education

and training and information and referral agency

for the work to support people that would

like to follow Dr. Gerson's work.

He was trained as an internist.

He was a neurosurgeon.

He was a soil scientist in his own right.

And he even, for a period of time,

served as the agricultural consultant

to the Prussian government at that time,

and also the Bavarian government

before he came to the United States in the '30s.

And he originally developed the Gerson therapy

to treat his own migraine headaches.

And he did that through a diet elimination program.

And then that progressed and developed to his using it

to treat skin tuberculosis at that time,

and then developed into pulmonary tuberculosis.

And soon after that, he was asked to also try it

for cancer, which he refused at first,

because he said I know nothing about that, and this is so.

But he was starting to realize

that he had a systemic program here.

He came from the attitude and the concept of totality.

So he looked at everything.

He looked at the air quality issues, the water issues,

besides the nutrition, it had to be fresh organic.

He developed of course, individual protocols for people.

But there were similarities.

And some of the basics were just like salt restriction,

potassium enhancement, some natural supplementation,

protein restriction initially and developed,

continued to develop the program

to treat very seriously ill people.

So that's, we're now training doctors around the world

in cyberspace and the tele education program,

and expanding our ability to help more people.

So it's very exciting to see

the interest coming from everywhere.

Not just that it's necessary to eat healthy,

but that it can really be used as a treatment for

very, very serious illnesses to bring the body back

into total balance, and to move to

a vibrancy, and a vitality of life.

- It's been said that a food

can either be the best medicine, or the slowest poison.

And so we have a little yin and yang

on this panel today to talk about both sides

of that coin, because it's important.

As we talk about what you should choose,

maybe sometimes we have to talk about

what you should not choose, and depending on the discipline,

or the focus that that answer may vary.

But I want to use it as a segue to my friend, Zen over here

to talk about the work that you do, Zen.

- Oh, thank you so much.

Well, I'm Zen Honeycutt for Moms Across America.

We're a national coalition of unstoppable moms.

And our motto is Empowered Moms, Healthy Kids.

And we raise awareness about GMOs and toxins,

all kinds of toxins from all kinds of exposure.

And we offer GMO-free and organic solutions.

And through supporting local leadership,

we are creating healthy communities together

in collaboration with many different organizations.

And that means offering free materials,

supplies, training, talking points

to go to City Council, or join into 4th of July parades,

or to reach out to your food director at your school.

And so I'm very excited to connect with people from

all across the country, and now around the world.

We have Mothers Across the World as well.

And to see the results that children are getting better.

Our children are the most vulnerable to these toxins,

and they are getting better by changes through diet.

In fact my three sons,

who were in the back, are examples of that.

They had life threatening allergies.

My son almost died from pecans in a stuffing

on Thanksgiving, and also autism symptoms,

asthma and autoimmune issues.

And all of them have recovered through

using food in their diet, eating organic,

taking care of the gut biome,

which I'm sure we'll talk about.

And so I know that we can do this as a country.

We can recover our children and our families,

and we can turn around the food industry,

and the health in our country.

- Thank you.

I know, John you also have some background in GMO.

That's in generally your scientific expertise,

but you also have a laboratory.

Tell me a little bit about what it is

that the laboratory does.

What is it testing for, and how does it work, and why?

How does it relate to what she's doing?

- Oh, very good.

What the Health Research Institute is designed to do,

is to create transparency in the food system so that

everybody can make better choices about the food they eat.

That has to do with the good things,

the nutritional aspects, and also the bad things,

the pesticides, the GMOs, all of those sorts of things,

the have the metals that might be there.

And so what we do is we carry out testing,

which then is used by organizations, such as Zen's,

and many others around the US to inform

the public about these issues.

And our belief are, and we're very confident of this,

is that when moms and dads have better knowledge

about the quality of their food they can,

and they will make better choices

about what they feed to their families.

And that is going to have a cascading effect

all the way through the food system.

It creates demand for better food.

And ultimately farmers are going to need to figure out ways.

They're very creative and innovative,

and ingenious individuals.

And they're gonna figure out ways to produce food

without these nasty chemicals that harm our physiology,

and produce food that is actually higher in nutritional

value, because both of those can be really measured,

and connected with the practices of agriculture.

So that's what we're working on.

Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people.

- So we're dealing both with the soil microbiome,

the gut microbiome, and sort of all of the effects

that can have positive and or negative,

in terms of overall health.

Now, since we're in the dirt,

maybe we ought to go to the farmer on the panel.

Tell us a little bit about how you

got into farming from your last career.

- So my name is Stephanie Norton.

I'm the founding farmer of Dickinson Farm.

This is nothing that my husband and I ever expected to do.

Nowhere we expected to be.

If I follow my original life plan right now,

I would be finishing up in Kuwait and heading back.

I went to a deployment.

Just prior, in our predeployment workups,

I was on Sycomine Island and I got bit by a tick.

Military medical system is amazing

if you've been shot, or have a broken leg.

But anything else, they really don't know how to deal with.

So the medical system looked at me and said well,

you have a plane to catch,

and we have a deployment to go on.

So 10 months in another country,

I was at Guantanamo Bay dealing with the detention centers.

There were days that I couldn't walk.

If I stayed standing I could stay standing,

but anytime I laid down to go to sleep,

I couldn't really move my body.

And it just kept on getting worse and worse.

I came home and the

attitude then was now I could figure out what was going on.

So I got bounced around to a whole bunch of doctors,

and then finally landed with a misdiagnosis,

which landed me with an amazing doctor.

So I'm very thankful I had a misdiagnosis

of ankylosing spondylitis and the attitude was,

it's okay 'cause it'll stop hurting

when your spine fuses together.

So we ended up with an amazing doctor here in San Diego,

who was considered the best for ankylosing spondylitis,

and was gonna give me somewhat of a life.

That day I could walk slightly.

And I came in and he said, you don't have it.

Pretty sure I know what you do have.

We're just gonna take some blood,

and we'll talk in a month.

And in that month I got married. We went on our honeymoon.

And, I'm gonna tear up, about a week after

we get the diagnosis, and that day I was told

for the next two years, you're gonna be in an I.V. chair.

And we're gonna start today.

And I said no no, no no. I'm on active duty military.

I have to run up, I have to tell my unit. I can't do this.

And the attitude was you'll be here Monday,

or you'll be in a hospital.

I had, my bacterial load was active.

Typically in remission for lyme,

your bacteria load is about less than 200.

And mine was 27,000. So I was a Petri dish.

Undiagnosed in my tissues, my bone marrow.

And we started I.V. therapy.

And his thing, he's an amazing doctor,

but he said you're gonna be mad.

You're gonna go home and do whatever sailors do.

You're gonna drink, you're gonna smoke,

whatever you gonna do, but I'm gonna tell you

if you watch what you're doing,

and you don't inflame your body anything more

than what lyme is already doing,

the medicine will work better, it'll work quicker,

and you won't destroy yourself anymore.

Because I'm gonna kill your immune system.

I'm gonna kill everything in you

to get rid of this bacteria.

So if you do this, it'll help you.

And he's like, take a week, be angry. I'll see you Monday.

And we spent about three months dealing with other,

we did CSAs, we tried a personal chef,

we tried all these things.

And as a military family, we were like we're gonna go broke.

There's no way.

My husband was on duty at nights,

and taking me to treatment during the day.

And out of desperation I was finally like,

I said to my doctor, if I go vegetarian

and just grow my own food, can I do that?

Will you tell me? I don't know how to be a vegetarian.

Can you tell me what I have to eat to get through this?

And his answer was, you think you want

to spend your time not here, growing your own food.

And I was like yeah, that's personal, completely rational.

He was like, don't let her kill herself.

Do whatever you're gonna do.

And my husband, and my cousins, and my dad

built me some raised beds that I could sit on the edge of.

And in the evenings and weekends,

I grew my own food with no experience.

I'm from Orange County, my husband's LA.

And we, it turned out very well.

- You started a new program this year.

- We did.

- Tell us about pharmacy. I love this.

- So with this we've been,

we started farming in '14, we went to market in '16.

And then last year we were, I was talking with nurse.

And just how are you? How's the community?

That type of thing.

And when we were talking, I was like yeah,

we're selling to our community, our neighbors.

And she reminded me, in the way that best nurses do,

that your community is the people

that sat next to you for two years in an I.V. chair.

Your community is the people that,

that had the same struggles.

And don't forget that

those people still sit there every day.

And new people still fill their chairs.

And they're who need your food.

And we grow 100% heirloom.

We don't take anything that's past World War II.

We only use very, very little organic pesticides.

And that's when it's just, the load is too high,

and we're gonna lose the whole farm.

And in four years, the only thing

that we've sprayed is organic copper.

And we're really considerate of that,

for my health and our customers' health.

So after thinking about it, and I reached out to Christina.

We had worked together before, and she does amazing work

with heirloom greens and heirloom vegetables,

and they do cook differently, and she can work with them.

And I was like hey, I want to do this thing.

I want to get our food in front of patients.

And everything from the, I just got my diagnosis

and I can't even stand up to cook for myself,

to the hey, I'm doing well and I want to get back

to cooking for my family, and everything in between.

So we launched it, and it's been amazing.

- Thank you.

Let me ask you something, Gordon.

It's been my understanding for a long time

that nutrition wasn't sort of part of

the required curriculum for medical doctors.

Is that still the case?

- It's changing, although gradually.

- Seems a little counterintuitive.

I'm just a lay person, but. (laughing)

- We got training in biochemical nutrition.

We all had to learn how to recite

the Krebs cycle forwards and backwards 16 times.

But that has no clinical practical application.

It's found its way a little bit.

They're teaching maybe a little more

about the epidemiology, the nutritional epidemiology

of heart disease, diabetes, some of the chronic diseases.

- So how food relates to those specific conditions.

Don't eat this, eat that.

- In some quarters it's just lip service.

In others there is an effort to try and

ingrain it into what people do in practice.

- [Michelle] How does that differ from what you do?

- We are fully focused on using food,

either as an adjunct or as the sole therapy for any patient,

for any health condition that comes in the door.

- You have something that I've seen, a pyramid

of what's called, or what you call, the therapeutic order.

Most of us who've been to the doctor, had a condition,

we know that typically we're told to take this medicine,

and/or potentially have this invasive procedure.

That's not where you start. Where do you start?

- So years ago when my dad was sick,

when he had developed cancer,

trying to find a way to help him.

And his doctors at Johns Hopkins told my family

that he would likely die in less than a year.

I realized Western medicine didn't have the answer.

And I just started searching,

reading on the old microfilm machines

in the bowels of Johns Hopkins medical library.

And I came across-

- They still have those. They do don't they?

- I'm dating myself here.

- Me too, it's okay.

- My eyes bugged out when I read the story of a physician

who had healed himself of advanced prostate cancer

through a major change in his diet.

And he was as skeptical as anybody,

but he had this experience.

And I found out him, met him,

and met a community of folks who are doing similar things.

Part of me thought that this is some kind of

a strange cult that I'm slipping into,

people who claim to be able to use food

to treat all these diseases.

And yet, when I started to change my own diet

to have a support for my dad, I realized wow,

I'm feeling better than ever in my life.

And I then learned that all of the chronic health conditions

that we're facing, the epidemic diseases

as well as the chronic ones like heart disease,

diabetes, and cancer all have strong nutritional links,

strong dietary factors.

- It seems that food is somehow involved with

the top two to three killers that we know of, diseases.

How's that differ, or is that similar to your work?

- Yeah, absolutely.

Again, it starts with the digestion and the food.

- What about digestion?

'Cause that's a specific focus in Ayurveda.

Tell us about that.

- Yeah, it's very interesting because

although food is the most important factor.

And in fact, I think I had sent you the quote.

There's an ancient proverb,

and this is thousands of years old.

When the diet is wrong, then medicine is of no use.

When diet is correct, then medicine is of no need.

So there is this philosophy that you have to eat properly.

However, and we see this quite a bit,

there are a lot of people who are eating

what's considered the right foods.

And in Ayurveda we all have different mind, body types.

So I think that's where people struggle a bit-

- No one size fits all.

- Exactly, yeah.

And you really have to look at everyone as an individual.

The food should be organic, and non GMO,

and from nature, and all of those things.

And then how you prepare it is very important

as to how you're gonna digest it.

- [Michelle] Whether it's raw or cooked?

- Raw or cooked, and also there's this principle

of the six tastes in Ayurveda.

In Western medicine, it's very reductionist.

We look at this one food and we say oh,

that's carbohydrate, that's bad.

But if you eat it with the micronutrients that you need,

and spices, and they don't have to be hot spices,

but just savory spices,

that's what helps you digest that food.

So there's this concept of

how you're going to digest the food.

Are you optimizing your digestion?

And a lot of the foods are all about,

now we know with science,

which has been really fun to do the science,

that a lot of these healthy foods

are shifting the microbiome.

And they do most of the digesting for us.

But in Ayurveda again, it's the six tastes.

So we focus on macronutrients,

which is what we learned in medical school,

carbohydrates, fats, proteins, how much do you need of that?

Those are the energy foods, and they're important.

But that's one taste in Ayurveda.

And the other five are all about the micronutrients,

and what you're putting in your food to support

your own digestive process, so that you don't have

to take other things to help you digest your food.

You're optimizing your internal mechanisms for healing.

And so when you combine a little bit of sour,

and a little bit of salt, and the pungent,

and then the bitter and astringent,

those are all the micronutrients, then your body will-

- This is all to improve digestion.

- It helps you to improve the digestion

so that you can extract the nutrients from the food.

And also there's this concept of synergy

even in food science now where when you,

one plus one doesn't just equal two.

One plus one can equal 10,

if you're combining foods in the right way.

There's this concept of food synergy.

So I think that's what these and a lot of other

traditional healing systems recognize when

a lot of ethnic cooking naturally has

a lot of these flavors all mixed together.

And that's what my mom did.

She just knew what to put in the food.

She didn't necessarily know it as a scientist,

but she was a food scientist, right in the kitchen.

And so any food you made, you knew what to put in it.

And then in my analytical mind,

now I look at all these recipes,

and I'm like oh yeah, it's got all-

- There's a reason for it.

- Yeah, and it's interesting too that each of those tastes

has a very specific purpose of what it's doing

in your body to help you digest.

Because again, otherwise you can eat healthy food

and still not digest it, absorb it,

use the micronutrients the way they're meant to be used.

And so it's very, it can be very complicated.

It's a very sophisticated sort of science, but honestly

it's the easiest way I ever found to figure out how to eat.

And it's fun.

I taught my kids, these are all the six tastes.

And then we would look at our food and say,

did we miss one of the tastes?

And sometimes you just have to add one little thing,

and it makes it a complete meal.

And that's, again, optimizing your internal healing.

Because Ayurveda's all about using

what your body already knows what to do,

but things have just gotten in the way of it.

Maybe you're not giving your body

what it needs to do the healing process.

And again, food is key in that process.

But also optimizing the internal

mechanisms that we have for healing.

So we, Gordon and I talked a minute before the show.

I brought a couple of kale salads.

and I forgot that he had told me

that it would be best to cook some of the kale.

I could have one raw kale salad,

and one partially cooked kale salad.

Because a lot of people can't digest raw kale.

I'm a big kale fan. I know no one likes to admit that.

But then you had a very specific answer as to why it is.

And so I was thinking about, as you were talking,

that people think I can't eat that good ingredient.

But it might be they can eat it raw,

or they can't eat it cooked.

Tell us a little bit about that,

because you were just talking about that earlier.

- This really gets to what Sheila was talking about,

what Dr. Patel was talking about, about the digestion.

There's a concept in Chinese medicine

referred to as the digestive fire.

And they call it agni in Ayurvedic medicine.

And it really is talking about the ability of the body

to extract the good things from food,

the nutritional components, the healing properties,

and to expel the waste product,

and to do that smoothly and easily.

And when we get sick, that ability starts to weaken.

And we end up not fully nourished,

and not able to easily eliminate,

and holding onto toxin and waste.

And so the most foundational thing you can do

is to strengthen the agni,

it's to build up the digestive fire.

And sometimes when people's digestion is very weak,

you have to cook your food in a vessel outside of the body.

You put the digestive fire into it,

in essence predigesting it a little bit,

so that then your weakened power of digestion

can be aided by your cooking method.

- That's also true of fermenting and sprouting, as well.

Those are sort of predigested foods,

are easier to for the body to assimilate, right?

- Correct.

- A little bit of breaking the food down

before you ingest it can help then the body,

so it doesn't have to do as much.

And then as that agni gets stronger,

then you may find you can eat things that

you couldn't eat when it was not so strong.

Although there are some people, again in Ayurveda

that just naturally don't digest raw foods very well.

And there are these kind of different mind body types.

And that might not be so good for them

if they try to do that, so it's very interesting.

- I thought you raised something very interesting earlier,

Anita, when you were talking about one of the things

you do at Gerson is reduced protein intake.

And I know from my own research that

Americans on average eat about five times more protein

than the World Health Organization recommends,

and still twice as much as our own USDA recommends,

nevermind that we also waste 40%.

But importantly, I'm curious about that.

Because protein is one of those things

that for some people is harder to digest.

So tell me why that's part of what you do at Gerson.

- Yeah, let me put it in the context first of the fact that

the majority of our patients are very seriously ill.

And I just want to comment first about food, too.

On the Gerson therapy,

cooking methods are a very big part of it.

And the food is cooked very slow and low, and waterless.

And a lot of people experience it as being mushy,

but that's that purpose of, it's not only what you eat

it's what's important, is what you assimilate.

And therefore, for a body that is stressed

and already compromised to have that,

like you say, predigestion done by that.

So the protein is a temporary restriction

during at least the first six weeks of the therapy.

Because we're trying to mount in that patient,

some healing reactions and some strong detoxing.

And then by protein, we mean after six weeks there could be,

for some people it could be shorter, it could be longer

introducing organic low fat yogurt,

or some lentils, that type of thing, so it's still-

- That's an important point, when we say protein

we always tend to think of animal products.

But there are lots of vegetables that have protein as well.

- That's right.

Yeah, and then also on the therapy,

it's a tremendous amount of food.

If a person's able to tolerate the full regime,

we were talking about this last night,

it's 20 pounds a day of fresh organic produce,

but about 15 to 16 pounds of that

is because there's such an intense juicing regime.

And so four carrot juices a day,

four carrot apple juices a day, and four green juices.

The remainder of that is still for three meals.

- This is very different when,

from you and I we talked a little bit about official

medical food, as used in Western medicine.

And what that is versus what she's talking about.

Tell us what medical food is,

not within your practice, but in general.

- Well generally it's very precise,

chemically defined compositions, supplemental foods

that are given to people with a very precise,

usually FDA approved definition in mind.

- [Michelle] But bot real food, then,

powders, supplements, liquids.

- They're almost the diametric opposite of real food.

- It's sort of one of those ironies, isn't it,

that medical food in the medical profession is not food?

It's sort of like how vegetables,

under the farm bill, are specialty products.

It's one of these things that sort of boggles my mind.

So yeah.

- Honestly, the most healing foods are the plants.

The other foods that, and it's not that

you have to be 100% vegetarian, although there's

a huge amount of data that shows that

a whole food plant based diet is the healthiest diet,

as far as prevention of chronic illness, et cetera.

But if you do have some sort of animal proteins,

that should be a small part of your diet, it's energy food.

But all of the healing foods are plant based.

It's nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits,

a lot of the things that people think

they have to cut out for reasons that really are just myths.

That's where the healing foods are.

And we need energy foods of course,

which can be from plants as well.

But it's very interesting, the balance in

the typical American diet is swayed way over to meat.

- This seems, I think a lot of people feel

sometimes overwhelmed by the information,

and the sources of information.

How do I know what choices to make?

What's right for me or my family?

Is there an easy fix, or an easy source?

Where does, and anybody please.

Where does one go if they say I want to do the right thing?

And we're not talking about diets,

and short term restrictions,

except maybe in the case of fasting.

But how do I know whether I'm eating

the things that are good for me, or bad for me?

- It is so individual.

Because, for instance, I was directed to the GAPS diet

when my son's had severe allergies,

but one son was allergic to eggs.

The other son was allergic to nuts.

And the gaps diet has a lot of almonds and eggs,

and so that just wasn't gonna work for us.

So I first looked at eliminating the processed foods,

taking things away, the processed foods, the sodas,

and the chips, and all of the processed junk foods.

And adding in fermented foods,

because that's something I could easily do.

And with the fermented foods, I had to give some gold stars

for a little bit with my son to get sauerkraut into him.

But after a while it became a habit at dinner, yes.

So they are used to now eating sauerkraut

with dinner almost every day.

And one tablespoon of sauerkraut has

a trillion good bacteria in it.

And that's something that's a shift for

a lot of Americans to think about.

We think of bacteria as a negative thing.

And we really do need to reintroduce this idea

of the bacteria and the microbiome being our friend,

and something that's necessary to take care of.

So I like to think of, okay first

the easy step is to get the junk out of the house.

And if there's a parent out there that says well,

but my kid will only eat these foods.

Well, that's because you're buying them.

We are in charge of what we buy.

We are in charge of what's in our house.

We can put healthy food in our house.

We can experiment with, you can make healthy

chicken nuggets, if it's organic,

free range, pasture raised, all that.

And you can also substitute with other types of foods.

So I like to start with replacing their favorite foods

with something that's healthy, and adding in

the fermented foods to help the gut.

- Then you can also add them in

in small doses to a meal or a dish-

- Yes, and you can sneak them in a sandwich.

You can do all kinds of things that are fermented-

- [Michelle] Sneaky tips on your fight.

(laughing)

Kefir cheese, and yogurt, organic yogurt,

things like that that they do like, that they will have.

You can sneak some good fermented food in there.

- There's an organization locally, Olive Wood Garden.

And they bring students in to plant,

and then harvest produce.

And then there were a group of volunteer chefs,

and I helped on many occasions.

And we would teach them, prepare a food

using that vegetable they had just pulled out of the ground.

And a lot of the kids didn't know the vegetables,

and didn't really want to try it.

And I remember one of the chefs.

Julie Darling would always say there was a one bite rule.

You had to take one big bite

before you were allowed to say no.

And I always think of that when I try to,

usually it's my husband, try to ask him

to try something that might be green, or has kale in it.

So there's the one bite rule.

And then usually if you've done your job well,

then they'll actually like it, much to their surprise.

I wanted to ask you something too, as a followup.

Because some of your work has been really focused on

gene expression and how that's altered by food,

by toxicity, as well as obviously

more recently also meditation.

But as we're talking about the way food affects us,

most of us think calorie in calorie out,

fat, carbohydrate, protein.

We're talking a little bit about within the family

of carbohydrates there are better and worser.

So but tell us about, but that's just for this moment,

I think oh my goodness,

should I eat the Cinnabon or the oatmeal?

But more specifically, you talk about how,

yeah well, okay sorry, oh we failed, dang.

You talk about how it's not just affecting you

at this moment, but in fact how genes express themselves,

and this creates a trajectory.

Explain that a little bit for people

like myself, who are not science people.

- So think about food as being,

not just those macronutrients, the protein,

the carbohydrates, the fats.

Think of them as intelligence,

as information that influences your physiology.

And what we're, so food has that energy,

and protein building is a value to it.

But it also has this ability to

give your physiology signals,

move the physiology's functioning in a better direction.

And that's really what happens with gene expression,

is that you're altering things so that,

and those gene expression effects,

the effects on the way that our genes

are being expressed can happen in seconds,

and then go away in the next few seconds.

If you eat that Cinnabon, there are enzymes, there are genes

in your liver that will be turned on immediately.

You will produce enzymes that will allow you

to deal with that Cinnabon, okay.

For better or for worse.

And it will have to do with accumulation

of glycogen, and fat, and all that sort of stuff

- So not just affecting you at that moment, though.

You're creating a future path.

- That's the point that comes next, is that

when you are eating a certain kind of diet,

it affects your functioning,

your gene functioning longer term.

Has anybody heard the term epigenetics? Epigenetics?

What happens with epigenetics is that

when there's a certain impact on your physiology,

the effect of that can actually change

the way that your genes are chemically functioning.

It doesn't change the sequence of the genetic alphabet,

but it changes the actual ability of that DNA

to be turned on, or expressed or not.

And this effect can be longterm.

In fact, these effects can be inherited,

so that if there's an epigenetic change

that occurs as a result of your diet,

that can influence your son or your daughter's diet.

And when they continue, it can go on to their children.

So these effects can be longterm.

And of course, they sort of you might,

if you don't continue the, what would you say?

The stimulus that's giving rise to it,

then it falls off in a few generations.

But this is something that

strongly affects the physiology longterm.

And there's now evidence

that this occurs with the pesticides that you eat.

Anybody heard of atrazine?

Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides.

It's used in corn, it's used in many crops.

There's now research that's been done showing that

the effects of atrazine on, this was done in mice.

If you feed a mouse atrazine in their diet,

and then you look, you will see changes in their genome.

You'll look at, and behavioral changes.

You'll look at the next generation, those will be there.

And you look at the third generation, and they'll be there.

So this happens both from the good things in our diet,

and from the bad things.

- This is a little heavy and so-

- Sorry. - No no, but it's important.

Because we're looking at our history

of our own choices in life,

our families, and looking back perhaps.

What's really great about food as medicine is that

the choice to change that trajectory

can happen as soon as the next meal.

So that's a beautiful thing.

And so that's what you really focus on, and you as well,

how to flip from, and avoid some of the toxins,

both in the food, on the food,

or in the environment generally,

and/or how to counteract that by limiting those toxins,

and choosing food for health.

- And there's studies that show that within one week,

90% of the pesticides reduced in a family in Sweden

that went organic, and within two weeks 100%

were out of their system and other body.

So it is, it can be done very quickly.

- That's very encouraging, I think.

That's the beauty of it.

Maybe you don't know exactly which foods are right

for your dosha, for your body type, and you might want

to do some research online or go see a professional.

But what you do know is, if you can avoid the bad

and shoot for the good, then you're on the right direction.

- What you were just describing, Zen,

what that says to me is that we have

a profound ability to change our health.

And that's probably the most singularly

most important thing is not even worrying so much about

pesticides or contaminants, but just simply

choosing healthy food, because it will be restorative,

not quite overnight, but almost so.

Within a week, two weeks.

We see changes in the pattern of

the gut microbiome in a matter of days.

And we can influence this-

- They did eat organic though.

They were purposely avoiding pesticides.

- Sure, sure.

Oh, I'm not advocating that people continue eating

even plant foods that are contaminated.

- [Zen] Okay, great.

- But I mean, but the thing is that just simply

stopping that, and replacing it with healing foods

that help to bind and take toxins out of the body,

and replace them with really good things,

can have a profound, almost overnight effect.

And with regard to the gut microbiome,

we talk a lot about the fermented foods,

and I'm a big fan of them.

But the singularly most important thing we can do, again,

is a whole food plant based diet that provides

the fiber, and the resistance starch

that nourishes the microbes that are already there.

It feeds the good guys, and it doesn't feed,

it actually sort of starves,

although I don't want to use the negative term.

but it doesn't feed the opportunistic ones

that overgrow and cause so many problems.

So just simply, the singularly most important thing

is change your diet in this healthy way.

And the effects are profound.

- That's certainly was your experience.

This made me think, as we're talking here,

this is your life, this is what you did,

and what happened to you.

It's interesting because not,

I think a lot of us want to eat healthy.

We hear all these things.

We hear GMO, non-GMO.

We hear organic better than organic.

If you're in the farming community, some people

will tell you that organic has lost its real meaning.

All these different kinds of labels

that get slapped on everything.

We heard them all before we started doing this.

We shopped organically.

When you're in Guantanamo Bay, you shop with

whatever's there, so it's a little different.

But when we even started growing-

- [Michelle] No farmers market

- Yeah, yeah.

We just got our seeds from the local seed store.

I mean nothing, didn't really pay attention

to how they were grown, and where they came from,

and whether or not they were manually hybridized

or any of that, and we were growing.

And I was having responses to corn.

Which I'm a California kid.

I mean three world tacos are a part of every college here.

And I was having this severe reaction to corn.

I would have a mini seizure, my face would tic.

And we're talking very quickly.

And then the next handful of days all my joints would be

really sore, I'd have trouble walking again.

And it took us awhile to figure it out.

And finally I did, just a sensitivity test,

not necessarily an allergy test, and it was showing up

as number one then, those, corn and plums.

And my thought process was,

you can't not eat corn in the United States.

It's in everything, it's in your medicine,

it's in makeup, it's literally everywhere.

We tried it, and we were getting,

the medicine I had to take compounded,

and it wasn't making a difference.

And for me, when we talk about making these changes,

there's kind of the, there's the perfect world.

And then there's also the,

I'm already overwhelmed, I have a diagnosis,

I'm just trying to keep my life in order.

I just need to know what I have to do today

to make sure I get to tomorrow,

and then I'll figure it out tomorrow.

And for me, corn was the thing

that I was like, this is absurd.

I don't know how I'm gonna do this the rest of my life,

and not, and really just live.

So I took some time and I read a lot about heirloom,

and heirloom varieties, and how that people

that were having sensitivities, to even wheat,

that they were able to eat heirloom varieties

and not have a reaction.

So I convinced my husband to listen to me.

And we planted a small patch of heirloom corn.

And when we were harvesting it,

my dad and I standing there and we peeled it.

And Mike stopped me. When I met him, he was a paramedic.

And he's like, my job here is to save. That's my job.

I wear a cape. My job is to save you.

If you have a reaction,

I don't ever want to hear corn again.

Suck it up, we're done.

And dad and I sat there, and pulled it off,

and we're reading sweetcorn just standing there.

And no reaction.

And literally, within the next two weeks,

we pulled everything out, and we converted 100% to heirloom.

Because it took it from. I'm not a scientist.

I don't have that background.

It took it from all this stuff that we hear,

and this group says this, and this group says that.

And it took it from this anecdotal,

I don't know who to believe, everybody's arguing,

to the I can tell you if I eat this,

my body literally physically reacts

in a way people can see, and it's negative.

And if I eat this, it doesn't.

And that's that change that

even with organic, it's one step further.

And the hard part with organic is for a lot of years

all of the genetic testing for GMO

was too expensive for these agencies to even be doing it.

So you have grains that people are saying they're organic,

but depending on when you kind of made that transition.

California Organic Cert, I've spoke to them

just this past year and they said the tests are cheap.

They test every time green comes into California,

because that happens to be a big thing that's

genetically modified, that they're actually testing it.

But the problem is is that, if you're eating a varietal

that is either manually hybridized,

and you're allergic to one part of that.

Pluots is a a good example.

I'm allergic to plums, so I can't have plots.

I also have some trouble with some of the tree nuts,

'cause that's all in that family.

So if it's hybridized with something to give it

a better shelf life, or to give it a different flavor,

and you don't know that, you're gonna have a reaction.

So for me, going completely organic, or completely heirloom

was the change that made the huge difference.

And trust me, like as any normal.

We have people that say oh, and let me guess.

Amazon's never at your house.

And you don't use toilet paper, you use cloth,

and just all this crazy stuff.

And I was like no, Amazon's at my house every day.

It's the cheapest way to run a farm.

And I still eat food that's not heirloom, that's life.

But I can tell you I can walk, and I'm not twitching,

and I'm not lifting my legs at the end of the day

when I eat the way that I know my body needs me to eat.

- This is some. Oh sorry, go ahead.

- No no, I was just gonna say

you bring up a really interesting point also,

that we're always trying to get people to.

You can give people guidelines,

because we have some information about general principles.

But it's about listening to your body.

If you eat something, even if your sister, or your whoever,

spouse says this is really good and you should eat it.

And your body says no, and if we're listening it'll tell us,

then that's not right for you.

And then you try something else.

And you say oh my gosh, I feel amazing when I eat this.

And then you know that too.

And you have to be honest with yourself,

because minds can trick us and say,

we're eating our Cinnabon every day, feeling great.

- The Girl Scout Cookie message is incorrect. Okay, got it.

- Yeah, and I do. I tell people follow an 80, 20 rule.

Because also we add a lot of stress by saying

I have to 100% of the time eat this perfect food.

And our body's pretty resilient when we're

out of that really, really sick stage

that we can sometimes have that food.

But most of your diet should be,

like what your body is healthiest with.

- The important thing though, is to not give up.

She pursued it, and she went after the heirloom corn.

You could have just said, that's it no corn ever again.

Like we did with my son, it was no nuts.

Once he almost died from nuts.

We said no nuts, not ever again.

And we were just resigned,

and doubtful that anything could change.

Until one day he said mom,

I wish all my allergies would go away.

And I said, me too, buddy.

But in my head I was saying, that's never gonna happen.

And then I realized, wait a second,

that's not empowering, that's not what I'm committed to.

What if something could be different?

What if there is some other Ayurveda, or some other way

to have an opportunity happen and something could happen?

So I asked him, would you like to maybe one day

eat a slice of pizza at a birthday party,

which he couldn't do at that time.

Because we knew a cousin who had gone gluten free,

and eventually she could have it.

Once she healed her gut, she could have it later on.

And he said, yes.

And I said, well then would you be my partner?

Would you partner meet with me in your health?

Would you drink green drinks,

and try alternative medicines and all that?

He said, yes.

And I said, then I promise you, you're going to get better.

And that promise, whether you do that for yourself,

or your spouse, or your child is very important.

Because then that has you do things

you normally would never do.

Like when you go to a doctor,

and you make that promise to follow that protocol.

You step up and you do things

that you normally never would do.

So the important thing is to not give up,

and to keep trying new things,

and to promise somebody else that you're gonna do this.

- Well, and the easy answer is not always.

What we tend to do is say I can't eat wheat,

or I can't eat avocados, but let's remember.

What kind is being grown?

And is it a very hybridized, modernized version?

Or is it a heritage or heirloom variety?

Sometimes they call them biblical.

On the other hand, and then therefore how has it grown?

Is it grown organically?

Is it grown conventionally, and/or GMO,

which means that it's likely to carry

a significantly higher toxic load.

And of course, then again on top of that,

it depends on which kind of vegetable you're talking about.

I don't know if you guys are familiar,

but Environmental Working Group

puts out something called the dirty dozen.

And they say look not everybody's perfect.

None of us buys 100% organic all the time,

or most of us don't.

And so there are certain foods

that are more likely to carry a toxic load.

And these are the ones they say, buy organic.

These other ones, they might still have it,

but they don't carry quite the toxic load.

So again, it's not sort of

a one size fits all on these things.

I had a reaction to, an allergic type reaction,

white blood cell buildup.

So my body constantly felt tired and sick,

because it thought it was fighting these foreign invaders.

And once you go through a process to eliminate,

and clean, and detoxify, then your body

is just sort of focused on itself again,

and can move forward instead of constantly in fight mode.

Is that consistent with what you experience in your work?

- I wanted to just pick up on Zen bringing up empowerment.

Because we know from the research that when people

are engaged in their own healthcare, even things

like monitoring your blood pressure, your glucose.

So what's any more involvement

than your daily preparation of food?

And also, I've always heard that

if you're trying to make changes in your life,

a lot of people kind of go to all or nothing,

instead of realizing that if you'll make some small steps,

that can make some big differences.

If you just go home and get rid of one or two things

in your home that you feel is the most destructive,

or that you don't feel good about.

The other thing too, is to have a plan.

And on Gerson, do we ever have a plan?

We tell people exactly every hour

what you're doing, and what juice, and what kind of,

what meal, and what things need to be involved

in that meal, and then what you're gonna do

the next day and that kind of thing.

But that same thing applies to us

in our day to day lives too.

Nothing's any more empowering than to literally quote,

excuse the pun, step up to the plate,

and take care, take charge, take charge.

- But for some people it is 100%, at least for awhile.

Just make that commitment to go 100%.

For instance, like gluten,

getting gluten or dairy out of your diet.

It takes months for that to come out of your body.

So it is important to go 100% as much as you possibly can.

And don't give up.

And I do want to add that my son did get better.

His allergies went from a 19 down to a .2 and so

he no longer has life threatening allergies to nuts,

which typically get worse, not better.

And he did that by healing himself.

- And I think one of the disservices we do

in really conventional medicine is disempower people.

And I think the worst thing you can tell a patient is

this is what's going to happen.

And I, as an integrative provider, I do primary care still.

I send people to specialists if they need certain tests.

And then they'll come back and tell me oh,

the GI doctor, they said diet has nothing to do with this.

And it's like oh my gosh.

- The GI doctor who focuses on digestion.

- The cancer ward that serves donuts.

- And they'll say the rheumatologist, or the whoever

said that this is what's going to happen with this disease.

And so I need to do this, medicine or whatever.

And not to, I'm kind of on both sides

in the sense that I do see what happens

when people don't do anything.

And yes, that is true.

That would happen if you do nothing.

However, if you do these things, like change your diet,

then you can shift that trajectory.

And it doesn't have look like that.

And just giving people that sense

that our body is constantly changing,

and that every choice we make affects that change.

It's a dynamic process.

It's not necessarily just you're headed down this course.

That may be true if you don't change what you're doing.

'Cause that's kind of what, how you got here.

And so I think just giving people that little sense of

empowerment and a different perspective that

this is really a dynamic process going on right now.

Like we were talking about,

the microbiome can shift in a couple of days.

One bite of food you take can shift your gene expression.

And then you start to realize wow,

I can really affect what's happening.

- I think that sometimes that empowerment

is also daunting, because then it means

that I have a responsibility as well.

And I think these things are sometimes in turmoil.

Obviously, no one here is saying that

anything and everything can be 100% cured with diet.

On the other hand, can you alter the trajectory

that one says that you are on dramatically?

I think the answer is clearly yes.

You like you want to jump in.

- There's really a continuum of possibilities.

There are some things where diet, some diseases where diet

probably will have a marginal if little effect.

It might help your health in other ways,

but not necessarily address the disease.

On the other hand, there are some diseases

on the other end that are diet driven.

And some of the most common and important ones

are very much on that end of the continuum.

- The top two or three, right?

- Yes.

You were asking before about the concept

that I was gonna mention about this therapeutic order.

- Oh sure, your pyramid.

No no, this is good because most of us are used to

the sort of Western paradigm, which is

what drug do I get, or what procedure do I need?

Let me keep eating my honey bun or Cinnabon. But no.

So how is yours? Yours is very different.

You're very different.

- Well, years ago when I studied

some of the more ancient healing systems,

Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic, it was intuitive to me

that you started with food, food and lifestyle.

And you change, you create

the conditions for health with these.

And then only when those aren't sufficient,

do you then go up sort of the ladder or the pyramid

toward increasingly invasive kinds of things.

If you're in a car accident,

you go straight to the trauma center.

You don't waste your time

with diet, and herbs, and all that.

(laughing)

- Write that down, folks.

- If you're unconscious,

that's not the time to do psychotherapy.

(laughing)

Well, actually a calming influence is always a good thing.

And healthy food, when a person recovers

is the first thing after the crisis has been resolved.

So we have to use really good judgment.

But in naturopathic medicine, they came up with

this concept called the therapeutic order.

And it really holds that

diet and lifestyle is the foundation.

Most things, before we ever even medicalized them,

and give them a label, and scare people

with all this workup and evaluation,

they'll simply resolve if we change

the health conditions through diet and lifestyle.

And then if that's not sufficient,

we use targeted natural therapeutics, herbs, acupuncture.

Allopathic medicine, when that's not sufficient.

And then of course-

- [Michelle] What's allopathic medicine?

- Allopathic is Western medicine,

the way the common understanding of disease

or symptom focused, and pharmaceutically

or surgically based interventions at the forefront.

- Well, I think this is really important.

We've been talking a lot about how we might use food

to deal with a particular problem.

But again, if we go back to sort of

body fundamentals, and immune system,

and gut as the origin of the good or the bad.

Maybe what we're doing is we're creating

a lean mean fighting machine,

so that when the incoming comes,

we're better able to ward it off.

Is that true? It sounds really good.

Star Warsy like, but I like it.

I mean, that's so, right?

- Children used to play outside barefooted on the Earth.

They weren't slathered with the antibacterial soap.

As a kid, I ate dirt.

I tasted everything on the farm.

My mother would wait, she'd see me coming down the lane,

and she'd wait with a garden hose to hose me down

so that I could go in the house,

because I would step on anything.

I tried to drink water out of the dog's bowl.

Those kinds of exposure to just those

what we're talking about.

And as we know now, it says in the soil, so in the gut.

And so she was very wise in a lot of ways

to have given me that freedom.

- So your immune system is stronger because of that?

- I have a very sturdy immune system, yes.

Charlotte, Charlotte Gerson tells me

that if she had done to her body what I did,

that she'd been gone a long time ago.

And she's 96 years old,

but she's lived very clean, eaten very clean.

- And if there is a crisis, by living this way

we've created resilience within ourselves

that will help us enormously during that crisis.

- That's what I wanted to hear a little bit more about,

because I think that's, we're not just talking about.

Again, if we think about disease or symptom focus,

now we're backtracking to young, healthy people.

How do we keep them that way and strong?

I mean, and how does it do that? And why does that matter?

- We really need to start with how we educate our children,

start with what we are feeding our kids.

Maybe that's the most, singularly most important thing,

or place to focus if we want to build

a healthy population, healthy society.

- So they have had healthy habits of their own.

- And so that for them it's, they know what a vegetable is.

They know where it grows.

And then that helps them develop their intuition

about how to heal themselves, or what they need to do.

- And I think that ties into just lifestyle in general.

Are you taking your kids outside,

or are they inside all the time?

Is there just overstimulation?

And stress is a huge factor with digestion,

and how you digest your food,

and your immune system, and everything.

So when, 'cause we teach meditation

and lifestyle in addition to food.

Food is a big component.

And again, when you're doing all of these things,

and you're reducing the stress response,

and you're connecting to nature, and all of these things,

and teaching your kids how to do that.

Again, sometimes things do happen,

and we do need medications for things and certain people.

But your body's going to be able to use

anything you give it in a much better way

when the foundations are there.

- It's important to trust your children too,

that they can do much more than

a lot of us think that they can do.

For instance, my middle son had autism symptoms

when he was about eight and a half, a sudden onset

of autism symptoms, hitting and yelling,

and grades dropped from As down to Ds.

And it was not like him.

And so I took him to the doctor,

and he tested him for fungus and bacteria in his urine.

I said, why are you testing for fungus and bacteria?

He said, because oftentimes the bad gut bacteria

can lead to inflammation in the brain,

which can lead to behavioral issues.

And I thought wow, that's what glyphosate does.

That's what's in Roundup, that's sprayed in our food.

And it occurred to me that that son was eating wheat,

which is sprayed with glyphosate,

or Roundup as a drying agent.

It does not wash off.

- [Michelle] And not even GMO, just conventional.

- Yeah, it's not GMO.

It's just, so wheat, wheat, legumes, beans, peas,

tea, sugar, oats are highly sprayed with glyphosate

as a drying agent, if it's not organic.

And so he was eating this gluten food, because my other

two sons were gluten intolerant but he was not.

So he was the only one that was eating gluten.

And at that time we tested, again very important.

We tested his urine, and his urine was eight times higher

of glyphosate levels than was ever found in Europe.

And so there was Roundup in my son.

And we realized that we needed to go strictly organic,

and he needed to not eat sugar.

And this was between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

And he promised to do that. And he did that.

And we went strictly organic, 100%.

Even the canned chicken, we had to get that out,

'cause that's not organic.

And we did put in probiotics, and colloidal silver.

We did have to do a compound antifungal medicine.

But that was $650 a month.

So when people tell me they can't afford organic,

I remind them the cost of medicine.

It is much more expensive.

And then within six weeks we retested him for glyphosate.

His levels were no longer detectable,

and his autism symptoms were gone, and have never come back.

But he did that also by not eating sugar.

He made that choice and we trusted

that he would do that in partnership with him.

And so I think we need to trust our children

and our family members, even if you have a mom or a dad

that you're like oh, they're never gonna change their diet.

Don't do that to them.

Show them the movies like, "GMO OMG,"

or, "Genetic Roulette," or there's

a great movie out now called, "Modified."

There's a new movie called, "Secret Ingredients."

It's all about people healing through food.

There's a movie that's coming out

pretty soon called, "Food Cure," right?

So there's great educational tools

that you can use out there.

Just have faith that they will be inspired by one of them.

- I'm glad that you mentioned some of the desiccation,

and the use of glyphosate in that process.

'Cause I think a lot of people assume that Roundup

is only associated with GMO crops,

and not conventional crops that aren't,

haven't been modified to withstand the spraying.

But all of these grain crops

get sprayed at the end for desiccation.

And interestingly, if you're not aware, you can look at.

Food Democracy Now did some testing

of basic breakfast cereals.

And one of the things that for me was most horrific,

was to see that of all of the cereals they tested,

the one that had the single highest residual rate

of glyphosate was ordinary Cheerios.

And I think to myself, what is the one food

that every parent in America carries around

in a small Ziploc, or Tupperware to feed to their child?

It's Cheerios. And that has a really high toxic load.

And so there are some foods, and that that's one of them,

that you really may want to pay attention to eating organic,

if you want to reduce that toxic load,

and how it might affect you.

- And it's very important also that vegans

and vegetarians understand that hummus and chickpeas,

garbanzo beans had the highest levels, along with wheat.

So if you're feeding your child a plate of chickpeas

and hummus, and they have oatmeal for breakfast,

and then they have buckwheat noodles for dinner,

they are eating the highest levels of glyphosate exposure

that you can possibly expose them to.

- [Michelle] Unless you buy organic.

- Unless you buy organic.

So it's very important to not just be vegan and vegetarian,

if that's what you're doing, but to also purchase

organic food in order to avoid glyphosate.

- I think it's also important

to not put the focus just on glyphosate.

I'm not saying it's a healthy thing at all.

But the same kinds of dietary changes that will

reduce glyphosate, also change the food in many other ways.

When you're eating refined products,

they have a thousand things, including glyphosate perhaps,

but also many other negative attributes.

And so we can't just pin it on the glyphosate,

and say that's the evil thing.

'Cause we're like the seven blind men with the elephant,

and saying it's just the trunk, or it's just the tail.

We really need to think about,

and not even focusing on villainizing things,

but on focusing in a positive way on what we want,

what we want to move toward.

And I come back again, like a broken record,

to a whole food plant based diet.

Not a refined diet but one that is,

that has intact colonel whole grains, not villainizing them

because oh, they may contain gluten,

or they may contain glyphosate or whatever,

but because they are rich in healing properties

that nourish the microbiome from underneath.

Create that balance.

Create good gut brain connections.

Activate genes in the brain.

Change the expression in the brain.

The code for neurotransmitters that make us happy,

reduce our stress, reduce our anxiety.

So changing the dietary pattern in this way,

I think, is really that.

I want people to focus in a positive way

on what they can do to help themselves and not-

- [Michelle] Stay on the edges of the grocery store.

- Yeah.

- Can I just have time? Can I just have time?

- I agree with you. That really is the foundation.

But in this day and age,

we need to look to these indicators of impurity in our food.

And we look at glyphosate as being

an indicator of other things.

In meat products, there are also indicators,

a few things that you can measure easily

that are indicators that you don't want to eat that chicken.

You want to eat another one.

And it's critical that people be given

the ability to make those choices.

And Zen talks about glyphosate because that's been

an indicator that's made a big deal,

big difference for her family.

But we need to go deeper than that.

And we need, in a way what we're finding in our work,

because we've tested hundreds of products at this point.

And what we find is that the difference

between conventional and organic is striking.

And so by making the choice of going organic,

or growing your own, and especially even going to

the ancient varieties, this making that choice,

however you can personally make it, has a huge effect.

And so we can then, from that foundation,

begin to make good choices about what we eat in there.

It's very important to avoid these things.

- I hear, and I agree with what you're saying, John.

My concern is that if we focus just on the negative thing,

like ooh stay away from that, in a kind of phobic way.

And we don't put equal or greater emphasis

on moving toward healing foods,

and thinking about the richness,

and focusing on the diversity of taste,

and the balance of the foods and understanding

how the healing properties within us,

we're gonna compromise our ability for self healing.

So yes, you definitely want

to understand the toxic load of foods.

And I'm not advocating them in the least.

If anything I would,

that's one of the first things I warned people against.

But I think the emphasis needs to be a positive one,

an affirming one toward life,

and foods that are rich and life energy.

- This is always an eat this, not that kind of dialogue.

And this is a bit of a yin and yang kind of conversation.

But of course, we're talking about all the things

that you should eat, and what they do to the body,

and how they can create a stronger immune system,

and how they can deal with even specific ailments and so on.

You can get down into the weeds,

like here's a food that's good for the brain,

or the liver, or in has great numbers of lysine, great.

Or you can sort of focus on

Michael Pollan, eat food, mostly greens, not so much.

I mean sometimes, I always come back to that again and say

that that's sort of the fundamentals.

On the one hand, you don't want to get,

these are important issues, extremely important issues.

But you also don't want to become fearful of food.

I had someone come over the other day, and said

I don't want to eat your romaine lettuce out of your garden.

I hear it has E. Coli, and I said

well, not this one, I think, I hope.

But that's an important point because we can

all focus and agree on eat real food, not processed food.

Okay, step one.

And then we can talk about whole, nutritionally dense foods.

Great, we all agree.

Now, as we get down and we say okay,

so then we have organic, conventional, GMO.

We probably all agree on which of those is the best as well.

But I think it is sometimes good to stay here.

We don't want to make people fearful of romaine lettuce.

I think about that.

- But then there is a study.

There was a study out recently that showed that women

who are doing IVF to get pregnant,

they were eating fruits and veggies.

The ones who ate the fruits and veggies

with pesticides on it, had lower levels of success.

So it's not factual to just say eat your fruits and veggies.

If you really want to be healthy,

and to get pregnant, and to have healthy children,

it does need to be organic

fruits and veggies for the best outcome.

- Well actually, Zen, I would totally turn that around

and I would put veggies way before fruit,

and I would put whole grains and veggies at the top,

because people have a misconception about

what is even healthy within a plant based diet.

Fruits are important,

especially when it's the right season for them,

but we want to have greater diversity.

And when we're encouraging people

to have clean versions of these,

and life energy filled versions of these, we don't I think.

I also wonder when you mentioned people who,

women who are undergoing IVF,

and didn't have as good a result.

It may have been a function of what was in

the fruits and veggies they were eating,

or maybe they were missing other things

in their diet that were healing.

It may have also been that their awareness of that

was a reflection of other, or lack of awareness of that,

was a reflection of other things.

Were they more likely to be smoking,

to be drinking alcohol, to not exercise?

So I think we have to be careful to say oh,

it was their non-organic fruits and veggies

that was the cause, when it was part of a larger pattern.

- Well, but when we know that there's pesticides

that cause endocrine disruption, and impact fertility.

We know that now, especially with glyphosate.

So it's just not factual, I'm just saying,

to tell people to eat whole fruits and vegetables

without addressing the issue of pesticides that can.

I mean, we have 100 endocrine disruptors

in the United States, Sweden allows three.

These endocrine disruptors impact fertility, sterility.

We have, sperm quality level of men now

is 50% of what their grandfathers were.

We have an issue in the United States.

And it is primarily stemming from, I believe,

and many doctors believe now, the toxic burden.

And that toxic burden is primarily introduced

to our population through the food and the water.

And that's coming from GMO chemical farming.

- And other sources, I mean.

- That's the primary.

- The point is, the point that he's making.

And you guys actually are agreeing,

but it's just that as a legal matter,

you can't point to a single cause in most instances because

our toxic load comes from a variety of sources.

Those are two big ones, but there are others.

And it's one of the reasons why, in the law,

it's often hard to prove these kind of cases.

- And as a scientist matter, as an epidemiologist,

I know that we have to be careful when we assert

this is the cause, that's the effect,

when there are multiple potential causes

that are associated with one another, that go together.

And so we really don't know.

I'm not at all arguing for GMOs,

or for toxins in food, quite the contrary.

But to say that's the cause, that's the effect.

I get a little concerned.

And I think we may weaken our argument,

or the force of what we're arguing for,

because people can find the potential flaw in the reasoning,

and then dismiss everything else we're saying.

So I want us to be really strong

in our arguments, and really grounded.

- Can I put out a unifying concept?

That we should be going for

nutrient dense foods that are toxin,

lacking the toxins that you put-

- Lowest toxic load.

- And then you're in good shape.

And if you look at, and the key thing.

It's easy to say yes, fruits that are

infused with nutrients, and we want all of that.

But for the mom or the dad, it's well, where do I get those?

How do I tell if this zucchini is better than that zucchini?

No, no no. Let me finish.

The key thing there, is that we do have some indicators.

There is quite a lot of research out there indicating

that organic is more nutrient dense than conventional.

And also that organic is

lower in these toxins than conventional.

And so it's pretty illogical to use that as a big guide.

It's not enough. It really isn't.

And this is what you experienced.

- Well no, just wait.

I just want to go back to wat I said a minute ago,

about the Environmental Working Group study,

and what they have on their website.

Which is, look I think we have to be honest.

I think in a perfect world eating organic 100% of the time,

and some people are, but not everyone is.

And maybe not everyone has access to that.

So for the majority of people, and certainly in some areas,

let's talk about those things, which we should most avoid.

And that includes certain foods over others certain foods.

But most importantly, it's processed foods.

So let's go back to whole foods,

and talk about how whole foods, nutrient dense

is the way to sort of create this.

- I want to add another attribute, though.

And that's what's in season,

what's growing in our own backyard.

Because if we understand that we're

eating with the seasons, 'cause if we eat locally,

we're gonna be doing that more or less.

And we understand that plants have

life energy and intelligence.

We also understand that that changes

over the course of time, over the course of the year.

The life energy of plants, where is it in the winter?

It's down in the roots.

The leaves have come off, the sap has gone down.

The life energy is the chi of the plant,

and the nutrients follow that.

So if we, in the winter are eating

the more rooty kinds of things,

the more, the stored nuts and grains.

And we cook them with fire to make them more digestible.

And in the summer we're eating more leafy things,

and fruits at the right time, we're gonna be naturally going

where the nutrients are the most dense.

- Ayurveda really focuses on seasonal eating as well.

What you eat in the summer,

versus the cold or the hot weather.

- Absolutely, it can get very, very

sophisticated in even what the phases of the moon were

when you harvest the fruits and things like that.

- That's sounds like biodynamic now.

- Yeah yeah, I mean, and I've fully believe it.

Again, just to speak to the whole conversation,

the thing I love about Ayurveda is that

you're always going back to the basic principles.

And the basic principles,

like when we do detoxes and cleanses,

because even despite our best efforts, we are exposed.

We live in a world that in Ayurveda,

whatever's out there is in us as well.

Like you were saying your son he,

we all have these chemicals in us.

And there have been studies where we could draw

the blood of everyone in the room, and you're exposed

to things you didn't even know were in you.

Because anything that's happening out there is our body.

In Ayurveda that is our extended body.

And when you start talking about that,

I think it brings a little bit of social consciousness

and social awareness to supporting organic,

and supporting how we're treating the environment.

Not necessarily for a selfish purpose,

but kind of in a way, because that is our body.

And so that's going to affect us.

When we're cleansing, we say we're doing two things.

We're taking out what isn't serving the body,

and we're bringing in what it needs to heal.

And so those are two really basic principles.

And that's, again, speaking to all of this,

is we want to remove what's not serving us,

and what's creating disease,

and blocking our natural pathways.

And we want to bring in nutrient rich food that's natural.

So we always go back to nature.

So again, whether it's the cycles and the seasons,

or whether it's producing food as naturally as you can,

meaning not putting things on there,

these are like the core principles.

And if you can just have that in your awareness,

and just be aware every time you're choosing food,

chances are you're going to be much more

on that side of making the best choices for your health.

- I think as a culture, we tend to be.

San Diego is great. We have a lot of farms here.

You can-

- The more farms per capita than anywhere in America, folks.

- You can go to a farmer's market, I think, every day

of the week except Monday, is how, last time, I read it?

I think Monday is the, or the one that has the least-

- There's even a farmer's market here on campus,

just down that grassy area.

- So we have that, but we're also culturally

really disconnected from our food.

We don't know our farmer.

We think local means California.

So if I'm gonna get carrots from central California,

and that's local, but I can't get grapes from Baja,

because that's out of country, and that's not local.

We're disconnected. We're missing something major.

When I have people ask me,

when we have figs ready and they say,

how many days do I have to wait to eat these?

And the first time I was asked,

I was like what are you talking about?

You eat them whenever you want.

And the answer was no, I always get them when they're hard,

and I have to wait till they get soft.

And I'm like, oh by the way, figs don't ripen off the tree.

They're going rotten, eat them.

(laughing)

We're disconnected from that.

- [Michelle] Well, that's similar.

- Yeah. Texture's kind of different, but.

We're disconnected from that part of it.

And then there's also some information

that's been out there that says

millennial generation is the generation that has,

it's something like less than 30% actually know how to cook.

And there's no desire to.

So it's not like they're refusing.

It's just that there's no desire to.

It's a different kind of generation.

And they're not doing that.

All of those things mean that like it or not,

we're falling on processed foods in some fashion.

They may be better processed foods because they organic.

But that part of it, if all people could do,

and when we have, I still go to treatment every day.

I'm back in treatment. I was in remission for 18 months.

I started back in treatment,

actually the day Christina and I launched Pharmacy,

which just was the most ironic thing in the world.

But I was there.

So I sit, and get significantly less

medicines than I did the first time around,

actually very, very little.

But that means everyday since we launched it,

I'm talking to the other patients,

and talking to people in a real world life scenario.

How we all eat, and how we want to eat

is probably the best of the best.

And then there's life.

And their answer is I don't know how to cook that.

I don't know how to break down garlic.

I don't know how to make yogurt.

I don't how to do all of these things.

So if I could make that one change.

So if I could get rid of the 12 items

that I should never buy conventional,

and only buy organic, what are those?

And so I agree with that, I agree that there's

these baby steps that have to get there.

And then you realize things, like you eat a tomato

that's from your local farmer,

and that's the best tomato that you'll ever have.

- The ugly one that's got appendages.

- And to me those are the instant gratifications.

So you have somebody that goes,

well I get this, and I'm used to getting that.

Or, I always just get whatever yogurt,

and it says organic and it's okay.

And then they start to kind of go more to those whole foods.

And they're like oh, I can actually make yogurt,

or I can make my own pasta sauce,

and get closer towards that.

- I think part of what's needed here,

is to draw on both sides of the brain.

The scientific reductionist side is very important

for making sure we're doing things carefully.

But we also want to unleash the artist, our intuition.

We want to get in tune with the natural rhythms of nature,

because that's telling us where the nutrients are.

It's not one juxtaposed against the other.

It helps us to understand, and to deepen our healing.

- Well, we're about out of time.

And I just sort of want to close with a final thought.

It's something my husband often says.

There's a lot of information that's been imparted today

from the sort of 30,000 view perspective,

and down into the weeds on the positive,

and on the potential negatives.

And I guess he likes to say that you should never let

the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.

And we all have to make the steps,

and take the steps that we're ready and able

to make at this point in our life.

And hopefully heading toward perfection,

and on a right trajectory.

But we all do the best we can.

Listen, keep this conversation alive.

We will continue to engage. We'll bring in the panelists.

Just hashtag FoodAsMedicine on Twitter, and/or Facebook.

And we'll, we want to keep this going,

because I think this is fundamentally

the most fundamental building block of our own health.

And as it turns out,

the health of our communities, and the environment.

Thank you for coming.

Bye, bye folks on Facebook.

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