In this episode, I speak with Dr. David Friedman — a Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and a Chiropractic Neurologist — about the science on meat, mercury, toxins, lectins, gluten, his book Food Sanity and how to eat in a world filled with diet fads and pseudoscience.
In this podcast, Dr. Friedman will cover
- Is red meat good or bad for you and why? (What the science says about regular consumption of red meat)
- Why lectins aren’t bad for you
- How farmed salmon often is mislabeled as wild caught (And how you can figure out the truth for yourself)
- Should you eat supplements?
- The effect of BPAs (and other toxins) on your health
- The truth about mercury in fish (And the AMAZING nutrient in fish that cancels the negative effect of mercury)
- The main reason why Dr. Friedman wrote Food Sanity
- The shocking truth about Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C supplement) production
- Dr. Friedman’s thoughts on gluten and grains
- How to separate nutrition fiction from nutrition science
Download or listen on iTunes
Listen outside iTunes
Food Sanity | The Science On Meat, Mercury, Toxins, Lectins, Gluten, and More with Dr. David Friedman- Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey there. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host Ari Whitten, and today I have with me Dr. David Friedman, who is the award-winning national best-selling author of “Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World Full of Fads and Fiction.” He’s a Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and a Chiropractic Neurologist. He received a post doctorate certification from Harvard Medical School, is a board certified Alternative Medical Practitioner, board certified in Integrative Medicine and a registered Naturopathic Diplomate. He’s a former teacher of neurology and author of the college textbook “Understanding the Nervous System.” Dr. Friedman is a contributing writer for a plethora of leading news, health and fitness magazines, including US News & World Report, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Better Nutrition, AARP Magazine, and Woman’s World, just to name a few.
He’s been a guest on over 100 syndicated radio and television shows, and his best-selling CD, America’s Unbalanced Diet, has sold over a million copies, helping to raise awareness about the unhealthy foods that people are consuming. So I will also say that I’ve read his book, “Food Sanity” and I’m a big fan of his work, which is really dedicated, at least “Food Sanity,” that portion of the work is really dedicated to debunking nutrition myths and kind of cutting through the BS and pseudoscience and getting to what the evidence actually says about how to eat for optimal health. So, with all that said, welcome, Dr. Friedman. Such a pleasure to have you.
Dr. David Friedman: Oh, it’s great to be here. Excited about it.
Why Dr. Friedman wrote “Food Sanity”
Ari Whitten: So, as I said, I’m a big fan of “Food Sanity” and the work that you’re doing to debunk nutrition myths and pseudoscience. I have a question I think to kind of just start us off with this whole topic, which is, how did you actually decide to write that book? Because it’s kind of a big undertaking and I’m curious what motivated you to actually try to put all that together and debunk all these myths?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. Basically, I wrote “Food Sanity” because of the 18 years of frustration that I endured as a syndicated TV and radio health expert. I’ve interviewed hundreds of scientists and doctors and best-selling authors. I had one goal. I wanted to bring optimal health to my audience. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Instead, every guest would contradict the next expert leaving everybody, including me, more confused. You know, we’ve got the vegan and the Paleo, the Mediterranean, the Atkins. And, you know, the [unintelligible} is different as night and day. And I remember, as you do, oatmeal used to lower our blood sugar, remember? It was good for us and now we got the anti-grain people saying, “Wait a minute, stay away. It spikes your blood sugar.” And coffee.
Boy, I remember for decades it was like the worst thing you could put in your body and now it prevents disease. And eggs used to cause high cholesterol, remember that? And no one was selling them, and now they say, “Wait a minute. It contains lecithin and choline and it actually lowers your blood cholesterol. So, go ahead.” And so, I wrote “Food Sanity” to break through all the fads, facts and fiction, and answer the question, what are we supposed to eat? That was my motivation.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, well, well done. I will also say as I was reading the book, kind of the first section of it, you go into like Paleo diets and kind of red meat consumption. And I thought, “Oh no, this is just another sort of hardcore vegan who’s cherry picking all the literature and trying to pawn it off as, you know, this is the truth. And really, you know, veganism is the ultimate way to go and all animal foods are only associated with bad health outcomes.”
And I think there’s certainly an ethical case for veganism. I think that it’s a complex topic. But I am hyper aware of the fact that there are certain vegan diet gurus out there, much as there are certain hardcore like Paleo and omnivore and carnivore diet gurus out there, who are cherry picking the scientific literature all to promote this sort of semi-true narrative that has some things that are legitimate, and some things aren’t.
But I think that’s kind of speaking to what you just said, which is all these people are contradicting each other. And how do we, you know, sort of cut through all of the nonsense and speak accurately about the science? And I was really pleasantly surprised to see that you didn’t do that in the book, that you didn’t cherry pick the literature and just promote some kind of cherry-picked narrative.
You actually have a nuanced perspective that truthfully is probably going to piss off both vegans and omnivores in many parts. So, I applaud you for doing something that’s, you know, going to anger probably most people and not appease any particular group of diet…
Dr. David Friedman: It’s interesting you bring that up because when I was looking at the plant based and the vegan versus the Paleo, it’s kind of like political food. It’s Democrat versus Republican. And hopefully what I’ve done with “Food Sanity” is I’ve created a bipartisan lunch we can all get along. Because I find missing pieces from both and, you know, so it’s not… And it’s surprising. I’ve got vegan and plant-based advocates loving the book. Kim Barbourin, she’s the author of “Skinny Bitch,” gave me a thumbs up. So, I did it in a way where it didn’t really tick them off because it really is pro-plants, pro-fruits but a little bit of the meat, certain kinds. And if you want the kinds that aren’t the best, here’s the best way to get those kinds. So, it was like not my way or the highway.
What science says about red meat consumption
Ari Whitten: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So, with that said, let’s get into some of the specifics. So, I have a long list of specific foods that I want to talk about, and I love how you broke this down in the book. But let’s start with red meat consumption. And you can kind of treat this as tied into the concept of the Paleo diet since that’s often a diet that emphasizes red meat consumption or separately, however you want to do it. But what’s your take on red meat? Because there’s a lot of people out there who are saying, “Hey, it’s totally benign. All the narratives that we’ve had in the past about red meat being bad for you, that’s all false. That’s all been proven wrong. Red meat is perfectly healthy and actually good for you.” And then there’s other people, a lot of the vegans saying, you know, “It’s linked with this kind of cancer and that kind of cancer and is just a terrible, you know, dietary villain.” So, what’s your perspective on all that?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. You know, when it comes to beef and the meat, a lot of people think we need that for balanced diet. We need it to be big and strong. And then well, how do you make the case for the vegan bodybuilders that are pretty, you know, pretty strong. Or the boxers or the Olympic athletes or, you know, even the gorillas that are pretty darn strong.
They don’t eat beef. And, then you know, and we can go a step further to the elephants. They’re plant based. So, I kind of threw that one out. We really don’t need it to be big and strong. We don’t need it for muscle growth because all these vegetarian and plant-based animals don’t need it. Why do we? Especially when you look at the gorilla, I mean they’re pretty much shaped like us, except only much stronger but they don’t eat the beef.
And when I looked at the studies on beef, a lot of the positive studies that you found, I dug deep because there’s such a thing as science, it’s called bias science. And that means bought and paid for. I spell it, b-u-y-a-s-e-d. And the study, the saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune. So, if you’re being paid by your boss for millions of dollars, “Hey, we want you to find this specific study positive,” you’re going to tend to go that direction.
And studies prove that yes, it leans more toward the paying person. So, I really look for third party, no vested interest. And when I looked at the meat, I found that really there’s a big consensus, whether it be John Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society all agree. The more red meat you eat, the more likely you are to have colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of death among cancers.
So, it’s kind of like at one time we knew smoking was bad, but we didn’t know why. And then scientists said, “Hey, we know why, it’s the nicotine.” So, I said, “Why? Why is beef considered more carcinogenic than these other animal products?” And I found out four years ago. There was an interesting study. They found a molecule called Neu5Gc. It’s high in cattle. And when we eat that, we don’t have that in our body, our body attacks it and it becomes inflammatory.
They have found pieces of this molecule in colon cancer. So, it’s very high in this. When we eat it, it attacks it. And it’s not in fish, it’s not in chicken, it’s not in vegetables, it’s not in fruit. It’s high in this. And then I went a step further and I found that there’s a molecule in our arteries called Neu5Ac, which is one molecule different than this molecule that’s in cattle.
So, when we eat it, our body goes to attack the molecule in cattle and it attacks our arteries, our vascular system, which makes sense on why red meat has been linked to increased cardiovascular disease. So, it’s a really interesting study and, you know, the other thing is that’s the science. And then I go like common sense. We have teeth that are designed for breaking down fruit and vegetables. Our hands are like chimpanzees for picking fruits and vegetables. Our colon is not really designed to eat meat. And then I want a step, I mean I really looked at every avenue. Common science, common sense. And then I said, “Well wait a minute, what about our ability to digest? We don’t have the enzymes in our mouth, we don’t have the teeth. And the number one cause of choking, the one reason you get the Heimlich maneuver the most is a piece of undigested red meat is lodged in the esophagus. Not chicken, not fish, not vegetables. Red meat, because we can’t digest it, whereas a carnivore can.
So, I really looked at that. And then I said, “All right, well what about the digestive ability?” Fish takes 30 minutes to digest, chicken 90 minutes. Beef up to five hours. And five hours means it has time to rot and putrefy, turns into ammonia, uric acid that creates leaky gut, gets into the system. So, I was really looking like, wow. And then I looked at the cancer.
Well, is it all animal products that cause cancer? These diehard vegans and plant-based diet will say everything causes it. Not true. Chicken actually decreases your risk of getting colon cancer. And they’ve done studies where they’ve had colonoscopies that had precancerous growths cut out. It was 1500 people, half of them had chicken, half of them had beef and within a few years the ones that eat beef had the polyps, the precancerous polyps growing back. Not the chicken. So, it was kind of interesting.
So that’s kind of where I sit with meat. Again, and this Neu5Gc, it’s not in bison. So, if you love red meat, go with bison. It doesn’t have the hormones, doesn’t have the chemicals, the antibiotics and so forth. So, you’re better off going with bison if you have to have red meat.
Ari Whitten: What about lamb? Does lamb also have it?
Dr. David Friedman: It has lessor extent and it’s easier to break down because it’s a smaller animal. Because you know, cow, and we can talk about milk as well with the casein. Because casein is designed, it comes from milk to fatten up a baby calf, hundred pounds to a 2000-pound cow. It’s designed to fatten them up. So, when we drink milk, what do you think it is doing to us? Fattens us up. It’s the creation of what milk is for. Plus, casein from cow’s milk is also used to make glue to hold together wood.
Think of the Elmer’s Glue logo, the cow. When we drink this glue-like substance our body attacks it, creates histamine, and it creates everything from asthma, arthritis, bronchitis, ear infections. So, in my opinion, the cow is just not the best thing to eat or drink from. It was the one animal that I just, I haven’t, you know, you read my story from the beginning. That was my first into the food thing with the fact that I had… And I used to eat a lot of beef and it just doesn’t digest well and we’ve got that molecule to worry about.
The truth on most research on meat
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So, there are some people within the Paleo communities that will cite studies that show that red meat is not linked with negative health outcomes or long-term… I think one of the limitations here is that most of the research is epidemiological. And its sort of, and it doesn’t control for like the quality of the red meat, you know, conventionally raised animals and you know, and grass fed and stuff like that. So, one of the common refrains that you hear among the Paleo movement is that the research is mostly observational. It doesn’t control for the quality of the meats. And then they will even cite studies that show, you know, let’s say no mortality differences in most diseases between people who consume red meat or meat in general versus vegetarians. What, so what’s your sort of take, like how do you make sense of that?
Dr. David Friedman: When I looked at all the studies and I mean I really dove in to find studies that were positive on meat and beef. And you know what, I kept digging a little bit deeper and I saw who funded it. It was the American Cattle Association. Let me tell you, the number one customer of Big Pharma, number one is the cow. Eighty percent of all antibiotics are bought for farm animals. Majority of them are cows, it’s big money. They want cows eaten. They’re going to put all these studies they can, all the advertisements to make cows the top header. That’s why we hear in school, it’s what, “Drink milk?” And eat cow, eat, drink, you know, and they kind of poo-poo fish, which we can talk about later. That’s the redheaded stepchild. And the reason is there’s no money. There’re no growth hormones, there is no antibiotics for wild caught fish. There’re no sulfur drugs, there’s no dye. It’s not a money maker, but cattle is a huge multibillion-dollar moneymaker for Big Pharma.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I think it’s also worth saying that most of the research, there’s very little research that actually links health benefits with red meat consumption. It sort of, I think the best that you find is that it’s sort of benign, where it’s not really shown to be causal of various kinds of diseases. But yeah, what you say is very interesting. And I think there’s still some limitation, I’m curious if you would agree, some limitation of just the fact that so much of the research is epidemiological. It’s hard to sort of assess out everything.
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. And that’s why in my book you notice I don’t rely on science because it can change weekly, monthly, and a lot of it’s bought. So, I use what’s called a common science meets common sense approach to figuring out the culinary conundrum. We look at the science then, hey, common sense time, trust your gut. And then we look at the biology, our teeth, our colon our liver. What were we designed to eat? That doesn’t change. We kind of know biology pretty well even though the science will change. You know, coffee could be bad again tomorrow. We don’t know. But were we designed to drink coffee? That’s really what I dug into. So, if you go with common science meets common sense and biology, you have a three-tier system of figuring out the culinary conundrum. It’s like a tricycle. You’ve got to have three wheels.
One thing I want to mention with the red meat is if you look at cultures around the world that live the longest and the healthiest, they eat very little red meat. So, I looked at their diets as well. And I ask patients that come in that are living healthier. So, you know, it’s kind of live by experience that they do, but very little bit. And again, I’m not anti, you know, animal. And if you want to eat red meat just don’t do it every single day like some of these diets. It’s just not good every single day.
Why it’s relatively safe to eat some types of meat
Ari Whitten: Right? Yeah. And so, as I read that part on red meat in your book, I was expecting you to have a similarly sort of anti all animal protein, sort of all animal foods view on things. And I was surprised to see when it comes to things like chicken and eggs and seafood that you’re not opposed to them. So, let’s, you mentioned chicken briefly in passing there as far as the absence of any link with colon cancer or I believe you even said that it’s protective of colon cancer, but can you talk about some of the research on poultry and eggs or you can treat them separately or together however you see fit?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah, it was interesting. I mentioned there was that study with 1500 people that underwent colonoscopies. They studied diets of red meat, processed meat and also, they did vegetarians. And they found that chicken did not have a return of these precancerous polyps, which was interesting. And then there was another study, and I’d never envied these people, but they studied poop. So, they had people eating chicken, eating vegetables and eating red meat. And what they looked for was the N-nitroso compounds. And what they found is that’s cancer causing. And if it shows up, it’s showing it’s in your system. It didn’t have it for fish. It didn’t have it for chicken. But it did have it for the red meat. So, it was interesting to find that. And then I really looked and dug, and it says, you know, chicken is easy to digest. It’s not another mammal. We break it down better. It starts to digest in the mouth. It’s easier, we don’t choke on it. So, if you really looked at chicken, of course you got to go with the USDA certified organic pasture raised. You want to get it as close to nature as possible. Otherwise, chicken is bad for you. You know, we can mess up a good thing.
The health benefits of egg consumption
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. What about eggs? So, there’s obviously been a lot of hubbub historically around eggs and dietary cholesterol. There’s even more recently the theory around choline in the egg yolks and how that turns into TMAO in the gut, which promotes heart disease. So, what’s your take on egg consumption?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. In my book I mentioned that there was a 14-year study by Harvard, and they dug in to find out if eggs cause high cholesterol. Absolutely not. It was conclusive that there was no link to cholesterol and heart disease. For 14, it was a really good study. It wasn’t paid for by any specific group. So, I trusted that. Also, you know, eggs have the healthy fats, they’ve got the poly, the mono saturated, they’re really high with amino acids. But what I love about eggs are is I talked to Lee Haney, I don’t know if you read that in the book, but he’s like, Mr. Olympia eight times. This was a time I was lifting weights and I was working out and I was doing egg whites. And I asked him, I say, “Hey, are you anti-egg?” He says, “No, I eat eggs.” I say, “Not the whole egg.” He goes, “Absolutely the whole egg.” He says, “That’s God’s perfect multivitamin. Why would I separate them?” I go, “Aren’t you worried about the cholesterol?” He says, he showed me his cholesterol was perfect, high blood pressure. He says, “Listen, if anybody can show me that they have high blood pressure, I’ll write them a check for five grand.” That’s how I know. You know, how many eggs he eats a day? Or he did?
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I know because I…
Dr. David Friedman: Twelve to twenty-four. Yeah, I mean a dozen to two dozen a day. So, I’m like, “Wow. His cholesterol doesn’t go up and he’s eating a dozen to two dozen a day And I’m having two or three.” I’m not worried anymore. So, it was interesting. And, you know, they really fine pick what they eat, they want to really make sure that they’re not increasing their fat. So again, with eggs, I think it’s the perfect, perfect food.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And are you not concerned with the whole choline thing as far as TMAO and heart disease?
Dr. David Friedman: No, I think that’s something new that’s been out there. I think that the, if you look at people that eat eggs. Again, you know, you can look at studies or look at people that eat the eggs. I’m an egg eater. I’m healthy. I know people that eat eggs that are healthy. And the research showing, “Hey, how are these people eating eggs that are healthy?” And a lot of vegetarians, they are pro-eggs. Even vegetarians. So, it’s kind of neat where they kind of almost agree with people that are plant based. But they say do occasional eggs. So, I think the consensus is no one really is bad-mouthing eggs as much as they did back in the day.
Ari Whitten: Right. Yeah. So, I totally agree with you, by the way. I consume a lot of eggs myself and I’m not, my impression of the research is totally aligned with yours. So, I was happy to see that.
Dr. David Friedman: You were extremely happy.
The truth about seafood and fish consumption
Ari Whitten: I was, yes. Extremely. So, seafood and fish. And I think this is something, you know… And I’m curious actually, I just saw you take a sip of tea. What are you drinking there, is that rooibos?
Dr. David Friedman: Kombucha.
Ari Whitten: Kombucha, nice. Yeah. It’s always good to ask nutrition experts what they are eating and drinking.
Dr. David Friedman: And it’s glass not plastic because we can talk about the BPAs, too.
Ari Whitten: Nice, great. So, seafood. This is something where you have, I would say somewhat of a controversial view. But one is, a view that I think is important to share with people. So, you’re not that concerned with mercury in fish which is interesting because there’s so much sort of fear mongering around that. Why do you think that mercury in fish is not as much of a concern as many people have made it out to be?
Dr. David Friedman: Well, you know, I was a fish lover, but honestly, I felt guilty when I ate fish. It’s like, am I eating poison and mercury? I kept hearing all this stuff about how bad fish was, you know? And patients won’t touch it because of the mercury fear. And, you know, I says, “Let me research this. Where are these people that are getting this mercury toxicity from wild caught fish? I want to see the studies. I want to see the people that have the, you know, can’t talk or maybe they’re mentally disabled with….”
I wanted to find the connection. Couldn’t find it. Here’s what I did find, the opposite. Cultures that eat the most fish, and we’re talking about tuna, high in mercury, are the epitome of good health. They have no mercury toxicity. They’re smarter than the average bear. And I said, “All right, what about, we have all heard pregnant females, right? Be warned, stay away from seafood. That causes mercury…” I researched.
Let me find these fetuses and these children that are mentally incapacitated or poisoned, and I found the opposite. Cultures that have more fish, tuna, have children that have higher IQs than those that don’t. And then I said, “All right, well there is mercury in fish. We can’t deny it. Why is it not affecting people?” And then I found, this is my exciting part of the book, and it’s like nowhere published. If there’s more selenium than mercury it cancels out the negative effects of mercury, just like eggs. If there’s more lecithin than choline it cancels out the cholesterol. We can eat eggs. Yes, eggs have cholesterol, but they’re buffered out. If there’s more selenium than mercury, you’re fine. So, in my book “Food Sanity,” I have 18 of the most commonly eaten fish. All of them have more selenium than mercury, except for one. It’s the Mako sharks. All right, folks play it safe. If you see Mako shark on the menu, don’t eat it. But the wild caught fish is not an issue. Selenium protects the brain, it protects the cells, it is anti-carcinogenic. It protects the body from this damage, so it’s like nature kind of took care of itself. It’s really interesting. Now I eat fish. I don’t have any guilt like I used to have.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So, what’s the actual mechanism of how selenium is protective against mercury and does it actually stop the mercury from accumulating in the body or does it just sort of neutralize it from having negative affects?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah, it stays. And I looked for like you were saying, well, the long-term results of mercury versus the selenium, they’re in there together. Just nobody bothers to test the selenium.
So, in other words, “Whoa, I got high mercury.” Test your selenium. Let’s see if it’s an issue. Test it, bring it in. Then we’ll worry. But here’s the other thing. It’s funny how fish gets that red headed stepchild title of mercury. Mushrooms have mercury, high fructose corn syrup has mercury. We don’t hear about that. Cattle has mercury. We don’t hear about that. Right? It’s always about… And you know what else we don’t hear about, the fillings. The FDA doesn’t have a big warning on fillings. Let me tell you how much mercury is in fillings, .27 parts per million every day, 24 hours a day in your mouth. The highest mercury in fish is 0.6 parts per million, one meal. Hello? Twenty-four/seven .27 part per million. And then I said, “Well, why is that mercury not a concern?” And then you can look at the, you know, vaccines with mercury and so forth. And the reason is because fish aren’t profitable. Like I said, they don’t make the money from all this, so they’re actually put on this bad list. And it’s like, well, wait a minute, if you are looking at mercury, and if you’re showing me someone who is high in mercury, show me that they’re not eating other foods that are high, especially high fructose corn syrup. That’s everywhere. It’s a money maker. It’s one of the biggest money makers.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And just to be clear, so when you say that that’s how much mercury is in a filling, a silver filling is what they’re called, or a mercury amalgam filling. That’s how much mercury is actually getting absorbed into your body from having that filling, correct?
Dr. David Friedman: Correct.
Ari Whitten: And that’s one single filling,
Dr. David Friedman: One single filing, and that’s vapors, twenty-four/seven. Every time you talk, when you bite, they’ve actually showed vapors going into the bloodstream from that. But that’s the money maker. It’s like, you know my point is, you know, don’t blame, and even mushrooms have some. So, my point is that, yes, it has mercury, but it’s like… And then we can talk about pollution. That’s another thing, it is all polluted waters. I love that one. It’s like I was even nervous eating. It’s like where are these from? It is polluted waters.
A chemist will tell you that if you have 30 percent land and 70 percent water, it’s virtually impossible because of the law of dilution to pollute the water. We have a little bit of land and all this water, but it goes so much deeper than that. Literally seven miles deep is the ocean. To give you an idea how much that is, if you’re in an airplane as high as it’ll go, the highest it’ll go and you look down, that’s the depth of the ocean.
So, it’s impossible to pollute that ocean water and then it goes a step further. Well, some waters do get polluted, correct? Do you remember the the Gulf, the spill, the BP spill? They predicted, I remember, 100 years they said we wouldn’t be able to eat fish from the Gulf. Fishing boats, businesses will be out of work. Restaurants would be out of work. Sea life would be dead. Birds would be dead, and they said it’s going to come all the way up to North Carolina where I live. And I’m like, “Oh, I can’t eat fish anymore.” Remember that? I don’t know your age, but this was the big scare. And what happened? Scientist went to clean up the oil and they noticed a lot of it was gone and they analyze the water and there were these microscopic organisms that were eating up the oil like Pac-Man, they never knew they existed.
Nature and the ocean have this ability to clean poisons, to clean toxins, to clean spills, and now we’re eating fish, we are eating shrimp. No problem. Nobody’s talking about it. And so, it’s really interesting. So, you know, if you’re worried about pollution, pollution takes place where? In the land. Why are you so worried about fish? You’re going to eat cows? They’re exposed to all this smoke and all this motor and hairspray and all the pollution and the trash and the garbage on land and it lands from the air where? On our plants. But, “Oh, that’s okay.” But all this pollution, it goes into water from the air, that scares people. You see my point? It’s like let’s be fair folks. If you’re going to bring, blame a food, don’t go ragging on fish so much.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And just to be clear, you’re talking more about like, I’m not sure the right word, but more like soluble pollutants that would actually get into the water. Like I know there are obviously really huge problems with, for example, plastic and trash pollution floating around the seas and that humans have sort of polluted the environment with trash and plastic to a degree that has harmed animal life considerably. But what you’re saying is something like mercury or some of these pollutants that are dissolving in the water are not going to accumulate to a high enough degree that they’re going to accumulate in the tissues of the seafood and then accumulate in us if we have, if we eat that seafood.
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. Not only do we have the dilution factor, you’ve got, you know, you’ve got the arginine and sea vegetables that they eat that protects them from cancer. I mean, it’s just a neat little entity in the ocean. So, I have no fear of that. You know, I have more fear eating… I mean, you know, we eat spinach and it’s like, it can be recalled tomorrow. We could have E. coli, you know? It’s like, you know, you’re going to get good and bad batches. But there’s more going on pollution here than in the water. So, to answer your question, yes. Is it a concern? I don’t want people dumping stuff. Do I believe pollution is good? No. But for them to say, “Hey, let’s just not eat fish, but it’s okay to eat this polluted land food.” It’s polluted. We’re this… I just saw somebody grab a bunch of trash and just throw it out their car today. And it’s like, you know, that happens all the time. But we’ll eat the food that’s around us versus in the ocean where it is safe.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I want to come back to one more thing you said. So, we talked about selenium and mercury. That ratio being really important. There’s also this differentiation between elemental mercury and organic mercury. Can you talk a bit about that? And, you know, it’s interesting like why seafood and tuna and some of these large predatory fish have become so demonized for their mercury content and yet the FDA says it’s perfectly safe to get a thimerosal containing vaccine where the mercury, which is elemental mercury, is being directly injected into your bloodstream. Can you talk about that?
Dr. David Friedman: Exactly. So rather than parts per million, because people are hearing that, like what does all that mean? Let me give an example, okay? So, this is the amount of mercury that’s in the highest rated, so that would go with like swordfish, let’s go with the high one, okay? One penny in $20,000, okay? The mercury in the injection that you talked about like that would be something like 7,000 in 20,000. So, you can see the difference in the dilution factor. So, there’s a lot of that and it’s, you know, it’s so funny how they’ll be pointing to the fish. And again, like I said, there’s no money in fish. When you go out and catch a fish and bring it and sell it to the restaurant, you make the money. There’s not, “Hey wait, wait. We have got to pump it with some growth hormone. Let’s make it bigger and let’s get antibiotics that will affect it.” Now we need to stress farm raised fish is different.
Farm raised fish, 90 percent of salmon is farm raised. And what people don’t realize is farm raised salmon is grey and nobody wants to eat grey fish. So, what they do is they come in and they give this fan of different colors and you pick the color you want. And they give you the pallet that you want to dye your fish. You’re eating like Benjamin Moore. Like what color do you want your kitchen?
Hey, you want your salmon… And because we won’t eat grey fish. And the reason they are grey is they don’t have natural krill from nature, which turns them that nice little orange pinkish color. So, and they have PCBs and all kinds of other problems and they eat soy and they are fed stuff that’s not in nature.
So, I tell people this, “How do you know the difference between a wild caught salmon?” Use your eyes. Don’t trust the labels because labels are 52 percent wrong according to Consumer Reports, they are lies on what you see on the label. Trust your eyes. Salmon are professional swimmers, they swim upstream, right? They’re the most professional swimmers there are going upstream. They’ve got to be pretty strong. In humans’ professional swimmers have no fat, very little fat, correct? They’re pretty lean. Salmon shouldn’t have fat. They should be very lean. So, if you see white striations in the meat that are fat, its farm raised. You will not see that in the wild caught fish. So, you want to see a nice, dark deep without the fat. Then you know that that’s natural wild caught. And that’s how you do it. Use your eyes and you can’t really trust labels and, you know, that’s just one of the things you can do.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Excellent. So, I have one more topic that is something I’ve explored very deeply. It’s near and dear to my heart, which is vitamins and antioxidants. Things like vitamin A, C, E and we can talk about some of the other ones like vitamin D and a few of these minerals, calcium and things like that. But I would love to hear your perspective on vitamin consumption and maybe you can talk about specifically the antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E.
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. Interesting, you know, people and yeah, I’m a naturopath, I should take a handful of pills. If you read the book you saw that, you know, I should take the handful of A, B, C, D, E, you name it. And that’s what we were taught and that’s what we took. And you know, and then my views changed when a patient came in and told me she had her clogged up septic tank repaired and she found all these undigested pills, readable. And I said, “Wait a minute, are you joking me?” And then I researched, and I found port-a-potties were finding them and they were finding them in septic filters across…
And really, I started looking at, “Well, if these vitamins are so good and they’re so thick and bound, it’s hard to get in our system, and am I even digesting? And what I am digesting, is it healthy? Of course, it is, it’s natural. It’s a vitamin.” But I found out they are not natural. In fact, all of the major vitamin companies in this country are owned by Big Pharma. Bayer owns the One a Day and Flintstone. And then Bristol Myers Squibb owns the Teragram. And Pfizer, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the country owns the biggest nutrition company, Centrum. So just like the drug products that are used to make drugs in these facilities, also they use to make vitamins. And in the book, I talk about, they use methanol, they use benzene, petroleum esters that are used to make antibiotics. They use the 2M acetic acid, which is used to make anti-fungal medication. I have the list and it says, “Hey, here’s what they make the drug in. Here’s what you find in your B complex. Here’s what they make in it.” And it’s like, “Wait a minute. I thought vitamins were natural.” They’re not.
Dr. David Friedman: They’re made by chemists in a lab. And research shows that these studies about the vitamin C, that can cause genetic damage to your DNA and offspring. Vitamin D can cause this. And you saw the different ones. But the one that really shocked me was the vitamin C because I was a big vitamin C proponent, you know? The Linus Pauling and I took 3000 milligrams every day and he took 12,000 a day to help protect him from cancer. And by the way, what did he die of? Cancer. Anyway, so, I never forget there was a study by, it was Mount Sinai School of Medicine that showed that taking vitamin C can destroy your genetic DNA and cause genetic damage. And when a guy came to my office, he was a PhD that worked for Takata, which is an ascorbic acid company. I said, “Aha Mr. Vitamin C maker. What do you think about this study about what you are making is dangerous?”
He said, “Doesn’t surprise me.” He said, “If you knew what we put in that you wouldn’t touch it.” I said, “What do you mean, what you put in?” And he proceeded to tell me, I got a pen. Benzene, which is used in gasoline. Acetone, ladies that’s used in your nail polish. Perchloric acid, used in rocket fuels and explosives, that’s a buffer. And he went on and on, all these chemicals, bleach and caustic acid and nickel, and I’m like, “Wait a minute, these are cancerous.” He says, “Exactly.” And he said, “But that’s how we do it. They filter it out.” But that’s how ascorbic acid is made, in a lab by chemists. So interesting. I wrote this article on it to let people know. Now we’re talking about ascorbic acid, which is manmade vitamin C. We’re not talking about an orange. That’s natural. That’s good vitamin C, we need that.
Ascorbic acid is man’s attempt to create this counterfeit. So now comes into my office a plumber. And he said, “I just read your article about vitamin C.” He says, “Now it makes sense.” I go, “What?” He said, “I was Takata’s plumbing contractor. I put in their plumbing pipes and they had to have titanium, which I’ve never had to install.” He says, “Now it makes sense. If I had regular pipes in there, they wouldn’t last a month before it would be eaten up.” This is the stuff that’s in our Pop-Tarts, our soda pops, our vitamin C. So, the to answer your question is vitamin C is great but from nature. Not chemists in a lab. The vitamin, you know, all these other stuff that we’re talking about. Vitamin B is good but go with whole foods. So, I agree with the A, B, Cs. Absorption, make sure it’s absorbed so you get some good chewable or you get a vegetable base that’s digestible. These are about balance, just make sure it’s from nature and then you’ve got balance. It’s not about mega doses. So, you want to look on the back of your vitamins. If you see stem or plant or seed or fruit or vegetable, things that are food, that’s a good supplement. That’s what I take… Of course, I’m a product formulator, so I formulated my own whole food, chewable because I believe this is where digestion begins. But I also take MegaFood which is vitamin D. And if you look on the back, you’ll see everything about nature.
So, the key is going with as natural as possible and the (c) – (a) absorption, (b) balance, (c) is certification. Because what you read on the label is not always what you’re getting inside your vitamins. GNC was sued. There were over 20 products they had that didn’t even have inside what it said on the outside. Total not there. So, you want to make sure you look for certification, GMP, General Manufacturing Practices or [unintelligible]. You can look at that. The US [unintelligible]. If it’s approved by those two, you know what’s in there is what it says. It’s tested.
Ari Whitten: I want to come back to vitamin C. So, are they chemically identical, the ascorbic acid in supplements? Is that chemically identical to the vitamin C that’s found in foods? Things like citrus fruits or camu camu or goji berries and things like that. Are they chemically the same molecule or are they different?
Dr. David Friedman: It’s interesting because I actually had that in my book and then we just took it out. But there was a microscopic picture of ascorbic acid, microscopic picture of vitamin C from an orange. Unbelievable difference. The microscopic picture of an orange is beautiful, like a rose, intricate with lines and beautiful detail. I mean, it’s beautiful. The microscopic picture of ascorbic acid is a blob, a dark, ugly circle blob. See, man can try their best to duplicate a synthetic version of something from nature, but you can’t fool mother nature. It’s kind of like when you get a counterfeit dollar bill and try to go in the change machine. It’s going to recognize this. It may look like it, but it knows. It weighs it, it knows exactly how much cotton, it checks that little strip and it’s not going to spit out change. So, to answer your question, there’s a huge difference. But ascorbic acid is a moneymaker. They’ve actually tried to capitalize because you can’t synthesize an orange and put it in a bottle, you know. But camu camu is great. There’re other good sources of natural… The goji berries are a great source of vitamin C. So, you can still get vitamin C from nature. Just stay away from ascorbic acid, it’s not good for you.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. This is kind of, I just want to kind of emphasize this, how unique of a perspective this is because especially among people who are more naturalistic, or holistic or integrative people are generally big advocates of supplements and multivitamins and vitamin C and vitamin E in my experience largely ignore all of the negative data. So, I always like to see someone like you who is really pointing out how negative the overall data is. And I think there’s a line in your book. I’m going to not get this quite right. But when you’re summing up the research on vitamin C you basically say that, you know, vitamin C supplements haven’t been shown to prevent against pretty much, prevent pretty much any disease or help you live longer. And you say it in a more eloquent way than that. But I want to just kind of touch on this from one other angle, which is, you know, sort of the free radical theory of aging.
And you know, this idea that’s been around for decades that free radicals are bad, and we need to take antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals. And certainly in vitro, if you tested them in a test tube, ascorbic acid or something like vitamin E will neutralize those free radicals. But as soon as you introduce those same molecules into our body, they’re not necessarily having these amazing links that we expected to find based on the free radical theory of aging. That they are neutralizing all these harmful free radicals and therefore preventing disease and helping us live longer. Do you have any thoughts on why that research hasn’t panned out in the way that, you know, we predicted? And I know you just touched on one angle of it, but do you have any thoughts on kind of the free radical theory of aging and the whole concept of free radicals and antioxidants?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah, I think it’s, I think the problem is, is there’s a difference between inside the human body, which is kind of like hidden versus a petri dish. I think it’s very tough to duplicate what’s going on in our body. For example, the ultimate antioxidant is the lemon. You can have an apple, chop that apple, and within a few hours you’re going to see it dying. Why does it turn brown? Free radicals are killing the living cells. But if you chop an apple and you squeeze lemon juice on it and come back in four or five, six hours, it’s still fresh because those lemon enzymes protect it.
It’s got a natural ability to antioxidate, to protect the free radicals. Now, what’s interesting about a lemon is it’s very acidic, right? It’s sour, acidic, but when it gets in the body, the body converts it to alkaline, so it’s like, wow, how did that happen?
Dr. David Friedman: It’s like we can’t hardly mimic that on… So, it’s tough to really understand the body and that’s why I say this, don’t overanalyze. Give your body clean, organic, wild caught food, organically grown without pesticides and it takes care of itself. We’re so this study and that. It’s like look at these people that just eat healthy. They live to be 100. You don’t really have to worry about, “Oh, I’ve got to take my handful of antioxidants.” I really think that if you eat right, avoid the chemicals that are being inside our food, around our food and cook their food on, and then go as natural as possible. You get, the body takes care of itself, it really is going to fight those free radicals. And look at people that are… I got a patient who’s almost 100, and I wrote about him in the book. And I said, “What’s your secret? You still golf. You still driving and he’s sharp as a whip.” He eats blueberries every single morning. He’s done it for 50 years and this guy looks young, acts young, feels young. Antioxidants are in blueberries. Don’t take a pill, don’t go with ascorbic acid. That blueberry is more powerful than anything man can create I promise.
Ari Whitten: Excellent. So, one more vitamin I want to touch on which is vitamin D. This has been, you know, we kind of had all the science coming out linking vitamin D deficiency to all sorts of different diseases and obesity and diabetes and all kinds of neurological diseases and autoimmune diseases. But the overall research testing vitamin D supplementation hasn’t been as positive as we predicted based on sort of finding those initial associations. What’s your take on the vitamin D literature?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. Again, with vitamin D, you know, you got a petri dish, let’s see how it affects the body? But then again, vitamin D is from the skin. So, it’s a really unique entity that we absorb it and that’s where we get our vitamin D, the hormone. Basically, looking as it being a vitamin, but it’s dealing with a hormonal system and we are so afraid of the sun. It’s unbelievable. I saw a nail polish that said sun protection factor. Oh, heaven forbid we get a little sun on our cuticles. It’s in clothing. It’s in makeup. We’re so afraid of sunshine and what’s so neat is the human body gets enough vitamin D in 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine per day. And what I love is, remember how we talked about nature kind of takes care of itself. We don’t begin to burn until 15 to 20 minutes, so get out of there.
Don’t burn yourself, get enough to where you get your vitamin D and that’s plenty. And after that, when we start to burn our skin, then we develop the skin cancers and the fear of the sun. But to get out there before burn, that 15 minutes, that absorbs the vitamin D. And I’ll tell you what, everybody is so into the computers and we’re so inside and we are so afraid. That’s the reason we’re getting this vitamin D deficiency. It’s just so, you know, I’m not afraid of the sun. I’m afraid to get burned, but I’m not afraid to go out and enjoy the sunshine. I feel better. Don’t you when you get a little sunshine? You just feel better. You get that… And your immune system is more up and it’s just, you know. I’ll tell you what, when I used to get even the sign of a cold or sinus or a flu, I go lay out in the sun. Fifteen minutes gone. It literally, it just invigorated my immune system.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I’m with you. Actually, light is a big area of interest of mine and my next book is actually going to be on sunlight.
Dr. David Friedman: Awesome.
Ari Whitten: Though. I’m very much a fan of it I spend quite a bit more than 15 minutes in the sun today, but I have some Middle Eastern ancestry and Mediterranean ancestry, so I develop nice olive skin.
Dr. David Friedman: Some people can, yeah.
Ari Whitten: So, I can spend a few hours out there surfing in the ocean and…
Dr. David Friedman: I’m the same way, I’m the same way. I get people that are just so, you know, so afraid. I even went to a dermatologist. Her name, last name is Tanner. You I figured she’s not going to tell me to go out in the sun. Her name’s Tanner and I meet her and she’s white as a ghost. I’m like, “Oh, I finally wanted one dermatologist to say, ‘Yeah, go for the sun.’” But she’s like scared and she wears a little turtle and I’m like, “Oh, you’re so afraid of the sun.” And like I said, with everything is sun protection. You know, in my book I talk about how that causes some skin cancer. So, you are putting these chemicals on and that’s actually causing cancer. This stuff we’re putting on our skin to protect from cancer.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I think this is probably one of the big travesties of our time is the current popular ideas around sun exposure and the massive deficiencies in sun exposure that we’re getting and combined with all this misinformation that’s out there about the dangers of it and the suppression, the lack of knowledge around all of… The more I explore this topic, the more I realize there’s so much amazing positive research on sun exposure and all kinds of health benefits to protection from heart disease and various kinds of cancers, neurological conditions to affecting all these neurotransmitter systems in the brain. And just, I find just the level of ignorance and lack of knowledge on that subject to be one of the, just one of the most harmful things of our time in my opinion.
Dr. David Friedman: Exactly. Oh yeah. And now research shows that people that don’t get sun the most are more prone to melanoma. So, it’s like they don’t even have to be out in the sun. It’s like, hello, there it is. So that’s people that don’t. And even areas that you don’t get sun, the rear end, that’s common. It’s like, “Hey, can’t blame the sun on that unless you’re at a nudist colony.” So, you can’t really blame it. And again, you know, if you get bloody burnt then that’s not good. But sunshine, we just don’t get enough of it. We’re afraid of it.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. So, going back to vitamin D supplementation, what’s your take on sort of the usefulness or non-usefulness of taking vitamin D supplements?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. Again, it’s interesting because, you know, when you go to a doctor, he’ll prescribe the higher 50,000 IUs because now it’s a prescription. And it’s like, you know, “Hey, why can’t I just take a few 10,000…?” “No, no, no. You’ve got to take this.” And it’s like, and it’s the synthetic version and you know, you’ve got the D3 and the D2 and that’s the big controversy. Of course, the one that’s prescribed is the one that’s a prescription that’s mega. So, my view is this, if you want to get a supplement, it’s hard to get vitamin D from your diet, seaweed is really good. That’s something that you can get. But if you can’t get the sunshine, go with a vitamin D supplement like MegaFood. It’s going to have vitamin D, that’s 2000 IUs and look on the back. I take this. Look, it’s all food, all natural. There’s nothing in there that’s synthetic. It’s all food. So, it’s combining everything it can from nature to give you the vitamin D that you need if you can’t. So, there are ways to do that. And there’s certain foods and, of course, eggs are great. They’ve got a little bit of vitamin D in there. But again, you really need sunshine. It’s not something you get an abundance of from the diet.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. In places where they can’t get sunshine for a period during the, you know, in northern latitudes for several winter months. They just can’t get adequate sunshine and there’s little to no UVB in that sun that they do get. So, there’s just very little opportunity to synthesize vitamin D through those light-based pathways. Do you recommend that those people supplement with vitamin D?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. If you can’t get to the sun, definitely one of that… Or if it’s in the winter, you know, in certain areas and you are not in the sun, definitely. But again, like I said with any vitamin make sure it’s certified and just look for whole food ingredients, you know. God didn’t create, you know, chemicals to give us in our food.
Why would we want to have that in our vitamins? So funny, I get these people like, “Wait a minute, is it grass fed, is it organic, where’s it from? Where’s it from?” And they pop a Centrum. It’s like, “Whoa, you don’t care where that’s from? Look on the back of that bottle.” And it’s how we’re so brainwashed and it’s the same with water. You know, people will worry about their food and all that and they’ll just go, and they’ll get this cheap little filter and drink the water.
Dr. David Friedman: It’s like, “Whoa, do you know what’s in your water?” They don’t think about it because it’s clear, you know. It’s so funny how people like that they’re so worried about… One of my quotes I did, it’s funny, I put in there. It says, I’ll ask, “When I recommend wheat grass, everybody seems to become a researcher.” So, I recommend wheat grass to my patients. They want to Google, “Is this bad?” I’m like, “It’s wheat grass,” you know. But they’ll pop these drugs and with not even a question, but they’ll become researchers when I recommend something healthy, “Is it safe to take?”
What science says about lectins and gluten
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. So, I have one more question on food, which is lectins? Have you seen Dr. Gundry’s sort of, you know, the big anti-lectin stuff that’s becoming popular right now? And based on the deep dive into the science that you’ve done for the process of writing this book and just in general your knowledge, what’s your take on that whole sort of anti-lectin trend?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. Again, on my show I really welcome people that have opposing views because I want to learn. I’m a full-time student. And what I know now is different than what I believed 5, 10, 15 years. We’re works in progress. So, I want to have the Paleo people. I want to have Dr. Gundry on there because it’s like I’m scratching my head and said, “Show me, tell me about the lectins.” And then he started talking about how tomatoes cause obesity. Eggplant causes obesity and it’s bad. And I’m thinking, “Well, wait a minute.” And it’s like, you know, some of the healthiest… And then he talked about the beans. Beans is the staple of the most healthy people in the world. The Blue Zones have one thing in common, beans. They’ve eaten beans for centuries and they’re not dead. They don’t have cancer, they’re not overweight.
So, you know, and then when I really don’t, I couldn’t find science. I’m okay with no science if it makes sense. It makes sense to me because maybe science hasn’t caught up to you yet. I love brilliant people. Maybe you’re ahead. So, convince me. So, I really had an open mind. And then he starts talking about you know, these opinions according to my… And he was wording it a certain way where he didn’t really have a whole lot to back it up. And it’s the same with the blood type diet. I wanted that to work. I said, “Wow, if you can just take your blood and know, hey, here’s my blood and here’s what to eat. Here’s what to do.” I said I was… So, I really wanted it and it just didn’t make common sense. The science didn’t line up. I wanted it to. There’re a few things that do. But the whole diet about eating for your blood type, it’s just one of those where I went in with an open mind and I kind of shut it. And it’s the same with Gundry. I love beans. I think it’s one of the most healthy things you can eat. Great for protein. I love tomatoes, eggplants. I just don’t see how these, he didn’t prove his point that these are dangerous for us and these can cause inflammation and disease. Are you the same? Are you a bean lover? Or are you…?
Ari Whitten: No. Everything that you just said, I’m with you 100 percent. I think the case against lectins is just built on just a mountain of distorted and cherry-picked research. And I think the one nuance here is that I think that it probably will be shown that if you have a damaged gut and you have dysbiosis and you have gut permeability issue that lectins and lots of other foods that are actually associated with health when consumed by healthy people with healthy guts can be harmful and can provoke negative reactions. So, I think that’s why you get so many people out there who are saying, “Oh, I react negatively to grains and I react to these foods, you know, tomatoes and so many other lectin containing foods.” I think the real issue is not the lectins or the grains, it’s the damaged gut.
Dr. David Friedman: Bingo, 100 percent. I’m with you. And it’s kind of strange because remember it says you have to have no vested interest. And then when Gundry tells this poison out there and then he comes up with this supplement, that’s the anti-lectin supplement, I’m like, “Wait a minute, hey. Here’s kryptonite and I’ll take it away if you take this.” So that kind of got me a little bit leery on that. But I agree with you. Same with gluten, everybody’s blaming gluten, blaming gluten. People have been eating gluten for three and a half million years. Science proves it. In fact, the University of Utah says 40 percent of our ancestor’s diet was gluten containing grains. So why all the sudden a bite of pizza affects people today, but 20 years ago they could eat a whole pizza with no problem. The gluten didn’t change. It’s the chemicals, it’s the glyphosate, it’s the pesticides, it’s these stuff that’s wreaking havoc in our body. It’s the plasticizers, the endocrine disruptors destroy our microbiome. And you know what? Gluten is a tough protein to digest if we’re not in balance. And that’s what happens. It’s not the gluten. You know, it’s so funny how you can blame the gluten. It’s the chemicals that are destroying this leaky gut and making, just like you said. And it’s the same with the lectins because you know, your great grandma didn’t have an issue with gluten.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, Interesting. I mean, with lectins there’s also just so much research linking a lot of these lectin containing foods, for example, tomatoes or you know, so many beans and lentils and things like that with health benefits that it’s just totally bizarre to me that somebody went out and said, “Hey, the cause of all these chronic diseases is lectins.” Is these, you know, eating these foods that if you actually look to the science are pretty much universally associated with health benefits, protection from disease, etc.
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah, and like I said, I think the gut is the issue. I think they’re looking at the smoke and I’m saying, “Look at the fire.” Because the smoke is going to change. Oh, now it’s this food. Oh, and then all these food sensitivities. There was no such thing as food sensitivities 20, 30, 40 years. I mean everybody is like, “Oh, I can’t have this.” Well you used to be able to. What happened? Don’t blame the food, blame where it’s being processed, and that is the gut. The microbiome is the future and I think if we can address that, you’re going to deal with the obesity epidemic, the cancer and so forth. I think if we focus on that, get that healthy, I think we’re going to be able to digest better and I think that’s the big problem with why people can’t lose weight.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I have, do you have about five more minutes? I know we’re just….
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. No, I’m fine.
Toxins in our everyday life
Ari Whitten: Okay, cool. I have two more questions for you. One is, I know that we talked about this before we started recording, toxins have become a big area of interest for you. Do you want to give just like maybe a few minute overview of why you’re now really focused on toxins and why you think that they’re so important?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. So, a lot of people, you know, they’re blaming food and all these diets are about eat this, that food. You know, if that was working, we would be losing weight. We’re gaining, gaining, gaining. They will deliver food to your house. You can eat healthy. We’ve got Whole Foods. I got Trader…I never had this. I mean everywhere, it’s beautiful, it’s great. But people are overweight, people are still sick, people have autoimmune disease. Something else is going on. And science and common sense shows us it’s not the food that’s to blame. It’s the chemicals inside the food, around the food, wrapped around the food and what, sometimes what you’re cooking your food on and even storing your finished food in that’s causing, that’s wreaking havoc of our hormones. They’re endocrine disruptors, they’re carcinogens and it’s like BPA, which is the plastic, and we know about that.
It’s in the plastic and a little quick tip. If you have plastic container and you see a three or seven inside the little recycle bin, stay away. It’s got BPA. It’s bisphenol A. That’s the chemical that has been linked to cancer, has been linked to autoimmune disease. And guess what? Science has proven it increases your number of fat cells. We used to think we were born with a certain number of fat cells. Science shows us it increases the number. Who wants that? We’re going to have to worry about our own fat cells. So, if you see a one, two, or five, it’s okay. A three or seven stay away. But it goes a little bit beyond what people don’t realize. Your thermal paper items that you touch have BPA in it. That could be the ATM, the movie theater tickets, your airline tickets.
When you go to the grocery store and they hand you the receipt, say, please put it in the bag. Don’t touch it. If you touch it, wash your hands. It’s called free BPA, means it’s right there. Plastic BPA at least has to be heated up. If you touch this thing and you touch your eyes or your food, or your hands, you bite your nails, you’re getting it in your bloodstream. And I’ll tell you a neat story. I saw this one guy at Whole Foods. I was proud of this guy. His shopping cart is all everything non-GMO, organic, fruits, vegetables, vegan this… And I look and he had this big pot belly and I’m like, “How does he have that? I’m proud of this guy. Look what he’s eating and drinking.” He gets the receipt, he puts it in his mouth, he reaches into his wallet, he takes it out of his mouth he puts it in his wallet. Here’s what he did. He touched it, contaminated his fingers with this BPA, put it in his mouth so it’s in his bloodstream now. Put it in his wallet. It’s contaminating his money. Every time he touches his currency, he is getting this in his body. So, the key is you got to start. And he didn’t even think about that. And the other one is called phthalates. I’ll share one quick one. It’s a plasticizer. It’s been found to be in milk because of the plastic tubing that is used to milk the cows. But one place you don’t realize it’s in your shower curtain. That’s right. Your shower curtain can be the reason that you’re not achieving your ideal weight. It could be the reason why you look in the mirror and say, “I’m fat. I eat right. I exercise what’s going on?”
Well you just walked out of the shower and that hot water hits that phthalate. It gets in your face, your eyes. You’re breathing it. It’s an endocrine disruptor. It’s right in your bloodstream. It’s carcinogenic. It can cause cancer. It’s also in makeup, so you want to find phthalate free makeup. You can find that by looking for “Certclean.” If you see “Certclean” on the makeup, it’s fine. Or go to environmentalworkinggroup.org and they’ve got a list of all the makeup. See you work out, you look great. You put makeup on ladies and the makeup is making you bigger. Who would’ve thought?
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I’m really glad that you brought up the receipt’s thing because that’s something that I think most people, even people talking about toxins, are generally not aware of in my experience. And I’ve even seen research… It’s almost, it’s kind of a bizarre thing to think about and people are even skeptical that just touching a receipt would lead to BPA getting absorbed in your body. But there’s actually research showing that it does absorb through the skin. And I’ve even seen research showings that the BPA that’s absorbed through the skin, for example, from touching receipts stays in the body longer than BPA that’s consumed orally and that goes into the digestive track. So, I, yeah, I think that’s a much-neglected issue. And I always say I always feel bad for like grocery store clerks. They’re touching those receipts constantly.
Dr. David Friedman: And one interesting, one I’ll show is called PFOAs, perfluorooctanoic acid. That’s a mouthful, but it is a mouthful literally if you are cooking on these nonstick cookware. And the problem with that is, as you know, you’re cooking healthy and organic and you know all these chemicals go into your food and you are putting it right in your bloodstream. But Harvard did an interesting study recently. It was published in PLOS Medical Journal that showed that people that weigh more, especially females, have more of these PFOAs in their bloodstream than thin people. Wow, I mean, how can you deny that study? So, you know, it’s funny how who would have thought what you’re cooking on or what you’re storing it in. And then you throw this plastic container in the microwave. Worse thing you could do. And some people believe what says, “microwave safe,” they believe, “Oh, that’s safe for me to cook with it.” No. “Microwave safe” means it’s just not going to melt. And you’re not going to lose your pots that you’re buying. People don’t realize that doesn’t mean it’s safe for you. It means it’s safe in that [inaudible]. So, you know, I do. I think that’s the biggest overlooked thing of our problem of autoimmune. I think it’s the biggest thing for food sensitivity. I think it’s the reason we have gluten problems. It’s all these chemicals. Truly, from my research. I think that is the bigger topic than food.
Dr. Friedman’s top foods for health
Ari Whitten: Wow. That’s a big thing to say considering how much research there is on food. So yeah, my last question to you is we’ve talked about a lot of different foods which are linked with harm, and kind of, we’ve done a sort of a breakdown of different food groups. But in your deep dive of the literature on nutrition, what would you say are your top three, five, eight, ten foods for health benefits? What do you think are the most, the foods that are the most strongly associated with health benefits?
Dr. David Friedman: I just did, interesting. I ranked all the top vegetables. I just did an article for Elle magazine. You can check out ellemagazine.com and I ranked 18 of them from the healthiest to the least and number one on the list is asparagus. Really is, truly. It balances the hormones. It’s got all the vitamins, minerals, and you know, of course it will make your pee smell. But you know what? It’s worth it because I’ll tell you what, it really is one of my go to products. And again, if you’re looking for the animal I would definitely say, you know, wild caught salmon. I think it’s still up there. If it’s wild caught and stay away from the 90 percent, if you can really isolate that, I think that’s healthy. I’m not anti-fruit. I think people should eat more fruit.
Dr. David Friedman: It’s like all these diets are anti fruit because they have fructose. You’re right, they have fructose, but you know what? Blueberries have 15 grams of sugar per cup. But studies show that if you eat blueberries you have a 23 percent decreased risk of getting diabetes because the skin, the fiber buffers out the sugar. Now if you spin it and you drink blueberry juice, that’s different. But if you eat fruits, you’re not going to spike your blood sugar. Same with apples. The New England Journal of Medicine showed that if you have five apples a week you decrease your risk of diabetes by 30 percent. It’s filled with sugar. But you know what? It’s got pectin, it’s got fiber that’s good that balances and buffers out the sugar. So, I think that that’s getting a bum rap, this anti fruit, you know. I think the keto diet is like stay away from fruit. Like what? Fruit is so good for. You don’t downgrade fruit. I think that’s an important one. And again, you know, if you’re dealing with orange juice, that’ll spike it. But eat an orange, you know? Yes, I agree, orange juice will spike your blood sugar. It’s filled with sugar, but orange is still great. It’s nature’s perfect vitamin C. It doesn’t have ascorbic acid in it.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. Well said. So excellent. Well, I’ve really, really enjoyed this interview, Dr. Friedman. It’s been an absolute pleasure. To everyone listening, I highly, highly recommend going to Amazon and buying the book “Food Sanity.” And where can people follow you and follow your work and learn more from you?
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah. They can learn more about me at doctordavidfriedman.com. And on social media, I’m on Dr. D. Freidman and on Facebook and Twitter it’s @drdavidfriedman You can follow my daily health Tweets and news and posts and stay in touch.
Ari Whitten: Excellent. And what do you have in the works? Do you have something on toxins and water coming out? I know we had talked about water.
Dr. David Friedman: Yeah, a little bit on water and actually I’m working on a documentary now for “Food Sanity.” So that’s my main focus for this year, so hopefully I can get that on Netflix. They have already expressed a little bit of interest. So that’s kind of my focus right now. And then we’re going to hit the sequels to “Food Sanity.”
Ari Whitten: Oh, wonderful. Well best of luck with that and I’m a fan of what you’re doing and thanks so much for coming on the show.
Dr. David Friedman: Thanks. Thank you much.
Food Sanity | The Science On Meat, Mercury, Toxins, Lectins, Gluten, and More with Dr. David Friedman– Show Notes
Why Dr. Friedman wrote “Food Sanity” (1:42)
What science says about red meat consumption (5:39)
The truth on most research on meat (11:45)
Why it’s relatively safe to eat some types of meat (15:12)
The health benefits of egg consumption (16:55)
The truth about seafood and fish consumption (19:36)
Vitamin supplementation (31:18)
Free radicals (38:22)
Vitamin D (42:07)
What science says about lectins and gluten (49:20)
Toxins in our everyday life (55:05)
Dr. Friedman’s top foods for health (1:01:00)
Learn more about Dr. Friedman’s work on his website here
You can follow Dr. Friedman on Facebook and/or Twitter