The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #71 - Dr. Douglas Graham
Dr. Douglas Graham, a lifetime athlete and raw fooder since 1978, is an advisor to world-class and motivated athletes and trainers from around the globe. He has worked professionally with top performers from almost every sport and every field of entertainment, including such notables as tennis legend Martina Navratilova, men's tennis pro Brian Battistone, NBA pro basketball players Ronnie Grandison and superstar Michael Porter Jr., track Olympic sprinter Doug Dickinson, pro women's soccer player Callie Withers, championship bodybuilder Kenneth G. Williams, Chicken Soup for the Soul co-author Mark Victor Hansen, Olympic swimmer Sarah Bofinger, World Champion freestyle kayaker James Bebbington, and actress Demi Moore.
As owner of a fasting retreat in the Florida Keys for ten years, Dr. Graham personally supervised thousands of fasts. He was in private practice as a chiropractor for twenty years, before retiring to focus on his writing and speaking.
Dr. Graham is the author of many books on health and raw food including The 80/10/10 Diet, The High Energy Diet Recipe Guide, Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Grain Damage, Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries, and his latest, Perpetual Health 365. He has shared his strategies for success with audiences at more than 4,000 presentations worldwide. Recognized as one of the fathers of the modern raw movement, Dr. Graham is the only lecturer to have attended and given keynote presentations at all of the major raw events in the world for eight consecutive years.
Dr. Graham has served on the board of governors of the International Association of Professional Natural Hygienists, was president of Living Health International, and was on the board of directors of the American Natural Hygiene Society. He was on the board of advisors of Voice for a Viable Future, Living Light Films, Vegetarian Union of North America, and EarthSave International and served as nutrition advisor for the magazine Exercise, For Men Only. Dr. Graham is the raw foods and fitness advisor for The801010Forum.com. He taught the Health Educator program at Hippocrates Institute, served as the "source authority" for Harmonious Living, and authored a column for the magazines Get Fresh! and Vibrance (previously known as Living Nutrition) for almost two decades. He currently serves as medical and nutritional source authority for the weekly show, Let's Cook Raw. His Mentor Program and Culinary Skills program has trained the vast majority of today's leaders in the raw vegan movement.
Dr. Graham is the creator of "Simply Delicious" cuisine and director of Health and Fitness Week, which has provided Olympic-class training and nutrition for people of all fitness levels in beautiful settings around the world for the past 25 years. He will inspire, motivate, educate, and entertain you like no one else in the health movement can.
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5:20 - FOOD SENSE GUIDE: Get Melanie's App To Tackle Your Food Sensitivities! Food Sense Includes A Searchable Catalogue of 300+ Foods, Revealing Their Gluten, FODMAP, Lectin, histamine, Amine, glutamate, oxalate, salicylate, sulfite, and thiol Status. Food Sense Also Includes Compound Overviews, Reactions To Look For, Lists Of Foods High And Low In Them, The Ability To Create Your Own Personal Lists, And More!
9:40 - Dr. Douglas Graham's Background
11:40 - An Apple A Day
13:05 - 500,000 Nutrients
14:25 - Intuitive Diet Changes
15:25 - Nutrient Interactions
16:00 - Going Vegetarian
17:05 - Connections Between Food And Allergies, Behavior, Athleticism, Etc
17:45 - Discovery of Raw Food
19:30 - Finding Benefits in Raw Diet
22:05 - Raw Food for Athleticism
23:25 - Looking at Macros For Long Lived People
24:00 - Coining 80/10/10
26:50 - What is the Optimal Diet For Humans?
29:00 - Science of Nutrients in Plants
30:00 - Importance of Vitamin C
36:10 - Gorilla Diet Experiment
38:55 - Uptake Transport And Delivery Efficiency Of Glucose
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45:00 - Evolutionary Changes in Diet
54:00 - Choosing or Not Choosing "Junk"
56:35 - Appreciating "Rules Of The Game"
58:15 - Creating Insulin Sensitivity In T1D
1:00:35 - Grains Vs Starches Vs Fruits
1:03:00 - Complex Carbohydrates
1:04:30 - Starch Digesting Enzymes
1:06:20 - Digestive Distress On 80/10/10
1:08:05 - The Problem with Stimulation
1:11:15 - Why Different Diets Work
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1:21:00 - What Happens When You Heat Proteins
1:22:25 - Enzyme Resistant Protein Bonds
1:27:20 - Intermittent Fasting With 80/10/10
1:30:10 - Volume of Meals
1:33:00 - Expense of Food
1:33:20 - Alcohol
1:34:00 - Lies Within Nutritional "Science"
1:35:00 - Supplementation
1:37:15 - Antinutrients
1:39:25 - The Complexity of Health
1:40:30 - Experimentation and Trying 80/10/10
1:44:20 - Listening To Your Body Vs Food Addiction
Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. I am so incredibly excited and thrilled about the conversation that I am about to have. I'm going to start with a little bit of backstory and a little bit of context for my audience. You guys know that I come from the paleo world, but the paradigm that I really exist in is one of eating wholefoods, and within that world, I'm macronutrient agnostic, or I'm all about people finding the diet that works best for them. The reason I'm saying all of this is that I know a lot of my audience comes from a lower-carb approach, probably a lot of them from a meat-centric approach. I've done a lot of episodes on the carnivore diet, for example. All of that said, I think there's often a fear of carbs, I found that in a lot of my audience. I think there's a fear of plants, oftentimes. Actually, on this show, one of the most popular episodes I've had to date was with Cyrus and Robbie, who wrote Mastering Diabetes, which is an incredible book, I cannot recommend it enough. And that was really, really a game-changing episode for a lot of my audience. After that, I knew I wanted to do more on that topic, more in that rabbit hole.
I, myself, have always existed in exploring all of these worlds and the internet world between like the low-carb sphere, and then the higher-carb plant-based approach. I've been really fascinated by something called the 80/10/10 diet for years now. I've been on the forums and the Facebook groups, all the things. So, when my dear friend Glenn Livingston who wrote Never Binge Again, who I also had on the show, when he offered to introduce me to none other than the author of the 80/10/10 Diet, I was over the moon. That's why I'm over the moon right now, and that's why I'm so honored, so excited to say that I am right here with Dr. Douglas Graham. As I mentioned, he is the author of the 80/10/10 Diet as well as a ton of other books. I already anticipate hopefully bringing him back in the future for some other topics. Today's conversation will likely be 80/10/10 foundation.
Dr. Douglas Graham, he's a lifetime athlete and a raw fooder since 1978. He served as an advisor to so many Olympians, athletes, people in the entertainment industry. He served as a source authority for magazines, for shows. He's just all over the place. Actually, I just learned he's on the Board of Governors for the International Association of Professional Natural Hygienists, which is exciting. We might go in the dental rabbit hole on this episode. But in any case, I am so honored to be here. This man is such a big deal. I'm really excited about the conversation that we're about to have. Dr. Graham, thank you for being here.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Gosh, Melanie, thank you so much. That's a great introduction, and I'm going to do my best to live up to it. Thank you.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I'm sure you will. We were talking before the call for the audience about what were we going to talk about exactly. It sounds like Dr. Graham and I are very similar and loving to just talk and go in all the rabbit holes and all the tangents. I'm really excited. That said, my audience is-- like I just said before, I think a lot of them are not going to be as familiar as maybe a lot of the audiences that you have talked to because you've done over 4000 presentations, which is kind of insane, but this audience might be a little bit fresh to some of the concepts. So, to start things off, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your own personal story and what brought you to the raw food lifestyle? What brought you to writing the 80/10/10 Diet and what brought you to where you are today?
Dr. Douglas Graham: Sure. My memory is pretty good. My father had what I thought was a photographic memory, although he says it wasn't. He says it was photographic, but he didn't always have film in the camera. But my memory is pretty good and that has helped me a lot because when I was a kid, my Mom was heavy. She's not even five feet tall, and quite heavy. To be 190 and not five feet tall back then in the 50s was a big deal. So, she was always looking for ways to lose weight, and when she went on a diet, the whole family went on the same diet, whatever it was. So, making changes in diet seemed normal to me, experimenting with changes in diet seemed normal to me and wasn't threatening in any way because we did it many times as a child.
Eventually, she landed with Weight Watchers when I was a teenager. The thing about Weight Watchers is they have you eat some salad and they have you eat some vegetables every night. I remember eating salad and vegetables as part of dinner. Other than that, we ate just like everybody else ate. I ate my weight in meat several times over every year and I ate my weight in dairy several times over every year, and I ate my weight again in ice cream all by itself, several times over every year.
I remember, especially as an athlete teenager, when I was really growing a lot that I snacked, almost continually, not quite continually, because three times a day, I would stop snacking in order to sit down and eat a meal. But other than that, I was always snacking. I got interested in nutrition. I remember the very first time I was in third grade, oddly enough, and I went to go see the school nurse and she had a sign on her door that said, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” with a picture of an apple. I just remember it from being eight years old, and I go, “Oh, really?” Like, what you eat makes a difference as to how often you go see the doctor, it just seemed rather profound. I have no idea why.
Later, I was in the seventh grade and my health teacher was a guy named Jim Asbel. He said, “Eat fruits and vegetables. They're really good for you.” Then in high school, I had a health teacher named Joe Rosati, I don't know if anybody else knows Joe Rosati, but he's the man most famous for saying, “Okay, boys, pair up in threes.” He said, “Eat fruits and vegetables, they're really good for you. You have to have your fruits and you have to eat your vegetables.” We ate fruits and vegetables, and I credited those guys. In college, my health teachers said, “You got to eat fruits and vegetables,” and it just kept coming up, the same message just kept coming up, “Eat your fruits and vegetables.”
When I went through my chiropractic training, I took every nutrition course that was offered. Again, it didn't matter what diet the teacher proposed, it always included fruits and vegetables. When it was just a straight study of nutrition, what we learned is that there's roughly 500,000 nutrients known to man, only about half of them have names at this point, but we know that they exist and don't even know what they do yet. But we're guessing somewhere is around 500,000. And if you eat meat or anything that comes from an animal, you get approximately 100 nutrients. But if you eat plants, you get 500,000. That seemed rather profound, once again that, well, I could either have 100 nutrients or 500,000 nutrients, and when people are asking me where do you get your this or that, answering plants seemed like the smarter answer. It was just more comprehensive. So, da, da, da, da, da.
I played with diet change in high school because, again, my mom was overweight, hence my sister started struggling with her weight, and the next thing I knew, we were trying low-fat alternatives to fattening foods. So, my sister gave me apple seeds instead of chocolate chips, which we didn't find out until much later could have been deadly, but I lived, and we tried all sorts of things. In college, again, I just started making diet changes more and more, got interested in health food and visiting the health food store and learning more about the macro-neurotic approach, and finding things out. The more I found out, it just seemed like, “Oh, well, it would make sense to do this or to include this, or maybe not include some things, and maybe change chocolate for carob. Or consider how much salt you're using since 30 grams is considered a deadly dose and the average American’s eating 15 grams, maybe eating less than that might be good,” because the average set of kidneys are only good for about 10 grams at the absolute most, if you stop producing aldosterone completely, but then you run into all kinds of hormonal issues from lack of aldosterone.
Things are complicated in the world of nutrition. It's not just isolate this and take more of that. It's all nutrients interact with all other nutrients. You might have to go a few levels down the connections, but the average nutrient interacts with 8 others and then 64 and then whatever that is, 512 is next, I think, but you very quickly get up into the hundreds of thousands.
So, I just kept making little dietary changes and saw very little result. It seems like a big deal to go vegetarian, and I did it by accident. I ran out of money in college and I was feeding myself. It's cheaper to buy pasta than it was to buy meat. And then, I met this girl who said, “I'm a vegetarian,” and I said, “Well, so am I.” And I became one, but I had already been doing it for a while, I just hadn't done it intentionally or named it. It just worked out that way.
I thought I'd arrived. I really felt like I'd arrived, and I was a vegetarian for almost seven years before the idea of veganism started to make sense to me. I finally said, “Well, I really need to find out what this is. I need to become a vegan. As an experiment, I'll do it for a year.” After a week, there was just like, “Wow, this is profoundly different.” Almost all my allergies just-- I had a lifetime of allergies and they just went away. I didn't know what happened even. Being an interesting trained doctor, I said, “Well, why is this happening?” I started looking into the connections between food now allergies, food and behavior, food, and athleticism, food and all sorts of stuff. And all the books were already written. It was amazing. And I was vegan for just a few months. I met this guy who started talking to me about raw food and I knew he was crazy because nobody would intentionally just eat raw food when cooked food tastes so good, but then, he just planted a seed.
So, I let the seed percolate a little bit and it just stewed around in my brain. And I'm going like, “Why would anybody-- just a raw food diet,” and I looked into it a little bit more, and when the light bulb went off, there was no shutting it down. I realized every creature on the planet eats raw food. Every variety of humans that has ever existed, and there's been 8 or 10 different varieties of Homo, we just happen to be Homosapien, but there's been a bunch of others. Every single one of them ate a raw food diet throughout the entire history of millions of years that we've walked the planet.
And, yeah, in the last 1% of the time that we've been here, some of us have experimented with cooked food a little bit here and there. But the entire everything is cooked concept didn't really take over until germs were discovered 150 years ago and didn't become a big deal until about 130 years ago with Pasteur and the whole deal. And then, everybody got scared of germs. Could you imagine something that we can't see with the naked eye getting people so scared that they change their entire way of living? Oh, it's happening again. That's a different story.
So, off I was going, “Well, if everybody else eats raw food, and all my teachers in school said eat fruits and vegetables, I wonder what would happen if I just ate fruits and vegetables to the exclusion of everything else.” I found out that it wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. There was some learning to do, and instantaneously from the very first meal felt better.
The first thing that happened was what I call brain fog. My memory just got so sharp. I started remembering things and names and school things that had happened, gosh, in grammar school, and events and puzzle pieces falling into place. The clarity of mind was just astonishing. But then, I went for a run, and I never run because I can't run. I always get out of breath within the first mile and I have to stop. But this friend invited me to go for a run and I didn't want to say no. And he and I just went out and ran six miles like it was the easiest thing ever. And I go, “What the heck is going on?” I could breathe, I could think. What I started realized was that something that I always called accident-proneness discoordination just went away in every aspect of my life. It wasn't just that I no longer got tongue twisted or that I no longer, as you would say, tripped over your words, or tripped and fell or overestimated my physical abilities or started running on time for the first time in my life for-- just all these things just clicked. It was crazy.
And then, I noticed the big thing. I didn't want to snack anymore. I just didn't want to. I'd finish a meal and I was so satiated that I would not want to eat again for three, four, five, six, seven hours. And then, when I felt like I wanted to eat, I'd eat a little something or I'd have a big something, but I'd eat and I'd be satiated again. I didn't try to stop snacking, it just happened. I knew I was onto something.
But I didn't know what and I couldn't figure out how to remain athletic and raw. I tried to follow the guidelines of the various people out there and I actually at one point went to all the leaders in the then raw movement. Granted, this was 40 years ago. I went to all the leaders in the raw movement, all five of them, and I asked them, “If you want to be a top athlete,” because I was still a competitive athlete at the time, “what diet would you recommend?” And all five of them said the same thing. They all said, “The raw diet.” I go, “Okay, well, what kind of raw diet would you recommend?” And they all said, “Well, we have no idea what kind of raw diet that would be. We've never used a raw diet to support health. We've always used it to help sick people get well. We've never used it for fitness. We always just used it to help the sickest of the sick stop being so sick.” They're the only ones motivated enough to eat an all-raw diet like it was a penalty or something. I wasn't finding it a penalty, but I had to find my own way.
Lo and behold, I just started looking at the nutrition that was out there. The successful people in nutrition, the long-term people in nutrition, were all saying the same thing. All of the people who were considered long-lived peoples of the world, were all doing the same thing. They were doing the same thing that was being recommended by the long-term nutritional experts. Then, I started looking at the top performers in the world, and they were all doing the same thing, too. So, if we looked at the Kenyan runners, for example, they're all eating in the same way that was being recommended and the same way that the longevity people were eating. They were eating diets that were predominated, heavily predominated by carbohydrates. They were eating diets, were just like everybody else in the world, about 10% of the calories came from protein, between 9% and 11% for most people in the entire world. As an after effect, their dietary fat was reduced.
Well, compared to the people who mainstream in the world are eating 45% to 50% of their calories from fat, as an average of total calories for the day, these long-lived people, these high-level performers, they were all eating teens in fat, or even occasionally single digits. So, I coined 80/10/10 to represent that formula of at least 80% of your calories from carbs. As I lived it, and as an experiment on myself. I found that for the first time, I was fully satiated on a raw food diet. If I had enough fruit as my source of carbohydrate, then I eat salad because I like to eat salad. I’ve got a lot of culinary background, I love to make food, always have. So, I developed the Simply Delicious trademark cuisine and started teaching that to people. And the next thing you know, it's catching on, and I was thrilled to have Robbie and Cyrus as students way back when-- gosh, almost 20 years ago for both of them. And I'm even more thrilled that they're doing fantastic now, teaching the programs that I taught them. So, in the last 20 years, I haven't looked back, because 80/10/10 is working so well. What I did instead was learn the science to explain why it works so well, which I look forward to doing with you tonight.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. Listeners, you can probably see why I'm so excited now. I feel we would have really gotten along really well as children. One of my first memories surrounding health and everything was similar to your apple story. I remember in kindergarten I had a headache or something, and my mom was like, oh, take an Advil or an aspirin or something like that. And it didn't make sense to me why one pill could fix anything.
Dr. Douglas Graham: That’s because the aspirin knows to go to your head.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was like, wait a minute, because it seems like no matter what it was, a sore knee or a headache, the aspirin would fix it, and I was like, “This doesn't make sense.” Now, I know it's because there's systemic inflammation that it’s s addressing. There's something greater, like a foundational thing that it's addressing. I feel we have similar minds, you and I. Then I as well, I've always done a lot of dietary experimentation, but I fell into the low-carb world originally, then adopted intermittent fasting, which was a game changer for me. Kind of like you said you would do-- was it vegetarian you were going to try for a year, and then you never looked back? I said, I was going to try fasting for like a week.
Dr. Douglas Graham: I said vegan, but yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Vegan, okay, yeah. vegan, I knew it's one of those. So, then I actually came out of the low carb world and went lower fat and brought in fruit, and felt my life was lighting up. And I was like there's something here, and my listeners know, my love for fruit. All of that said, so many things I have questions about. A foundational question I have is I am always haunted by this question of what is the optimal diet for the human being? What I find so confusing, is that people do seem to thrive on different diets, like we see people thriving in the raw diet and even fruitarianism, the most intense versions of that. But then on the flip side, we see people at least seemingly thriving on things like carnivore, which seems to be the polar opposite.
When I look at the human body, it seems to say to me, omnivore, I get the message from it that we can eat both plants and animals. And then, if I look at the longest-lived societies, yes, a lot of them are heavily plant based, but the majority of them have at least some animal products with the exception of Loma Linda. And then, we have societies like Hong Kong where they have really high meat and takes but they have longevity. All of this to say I'm really haunted by the concept of what is optimal diet for the human being. Do you think that the human body that we're not made to eat meat, and people who seem to be thriving on a diet like carnivore, for example, what do you think is happening there?
Dr. Douglas Graham: It's a great question. Again, I was raised on meat. If it wasn't meat, I didn't eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. That was my thing. To move away from meat, it was a very big deal for me. Although admittedly, I never had to kill an animal in order for me to eat meat. And if it came down to that, I don't know even as a child, if I would have killed an animal, I'm kind of a softie at heart, but I certainly, if it came down to a lifeboat situation, and it was you or me, I'm going to live [laughs] because I have a strong desire to live. As do we all, I believe.
You can look at the science. And the science says fruits and vegetables provide everything we need, 500,000 nutrients. Plants are easy to access, they're everywhere. You would never be far from leaves or fruit if you were living something close to nature. We can look at the idea of, gosh, even a carnivore diet tends to include some plants at some point somewhere down the line. The meat is not essential to the vegan approach or the raw vegan approach. We can do without one without necessarily doing without the other.
There are specific people who can point us in directions. There was a guy in 1952, won a Nobel Prize for his landmark work on vitamin C, his name was Linus Pauling. And he said that, “We need to be consuming somewhere between 20 and 50 times as much vitamin C as we currently do. World, wake up, please.” And it was worth a Nobel Prize, and all the money and prestige that goes with it because he said, if you're getting that much vitamin C in your day, you're essentially bulletproof to disease. This was a big deal. As 68 years ago, it's certainly not news and it's almost news because it's been forgotten because he was laughed at by some people who said, “Well, yeah, but the only way you could get that much vitamin C would be, if you're just supplementing like crazy, giant vitamin C tablets,” or whatever.
Oddly though, when I do the math on my diet, I eat exactly the amount of vitamin C Linus Pauling recommended, and I'm not trying to get it. I just eat fruits and vegetables, whatever's in season at the time. It's pretty easy. But it doesn't matter what time of year when I do the math, I'm getting all that vitamin C, and my health history’s pretty darn good. No, are we all designed to eat the same diet? No, by all means not. I mean 1 in 100 people taste coriander, or what you might call cilantro, and 1 and 100 people have a specific genetic difference from you and I who loves cilantro, and to them, it tastes like soap. So, they're not made to eat cilantro. I can't say, “Well, we're all made to eat certain foods.”
If we look in the animal kingdom, we might see that although all of the sloths in the entire world eat plants, and they eat 100 different kinds of plants, any given sloth probably only eats about 25 or 30 plants. And what this means is that there's more room for sloths in the jungle because they can all eat different stuff and be happy with their choices. We can look at our anatomy and physiology and the science known as comparative anatomy. And that science says that animals that are anatomically and physiologically similar eat similar foods. And this is how a zoologist or a zookeeper knows what to feed a new animal that comes into his zoo, or her zoo, based on their anatomy and physiology. So, if it's got four legs and hoofs and a bunch of flat molars and a certain-shaped tongue, rasping kind of a tongue, you get the feeling this is a planteater. If he's got fangs and his eyes are really forward facing, and he's fast as all heck, and claws, and he's got a bunch of teats-- The females have a bunch of teats because they have litters of babies rather than just one at a time to be capable of multiple babies, the eggs work a little different inside the embryo, they have what's called discoid, rather than our ovoid. Anyway, we go through this whole thing, and you go, “Oh, well, that's probably a meat-eater.”
We come to a point where we bump into what's known as species-specific eating. According to the zoologists and the comparative anatomists, these are pretty well-respected scientists, every species eats a diet that is unique to the species, but it will be similar to the diets of other creatures that are similar to themselves. So, deer and antelope and moose and elk and caribou and whatnot, they're all going to eat maybe similarly. They're all grazers, but they're not going to eat necessarily the identical food because they are each unique species.
Human beings are a unique species, and we are similar to all of the other anthropoid primates. The anthropoid primates all invariably eat a diet of fruits and vegetables. They all invariably eat a diet predominated by fruit with the exception of the gorilla, because the gorilla has a hard time going out on skinny branches, so he can't really access as much fruit, so eats more vegetables, and suffers indigestion as a result, almost continually, but they're here. They're living in a fringe of our world.
If we arrange these cousins of ours, the gorilla and the orangutan and the chimpanzee and the bonobo, and all the anthropoid primates, we can arrange them in order according to how much fruit they eat, and the top of the list is the bonobo. We can arrange them in order of intelligence, and the top of the list is the bonobo. We can arrange them in order of genetic similarities to ourselves, and the top of the list is the bonobo. In all three cases, at least in theory, we'd be at the top of the list for intelligence, for genetic similarities with ourselves, and, at least in theory, for the amount of fruit that we consume. We should be at the top of that list. If the anatomists and the zoologists and the comparative anatomists, if they have any idea what they're talking about, then we should be at the top those three areas and our fruit consumption should be higher than any others.
So, an experiment was done. It was done out in what's called the West Country of England. They took a bunch of people and they put them on what they called at the time, The Gorilla Diet, and they put them on display in a zoo-like environment for a month, eating the gorilla diet. Whatever was typically fed to gorillas in a zoo was fed to these human beings, and they volunteered to do it. And they have found some interesting things. One, any of them that had heart disease, the heart disease disappeared within the month. Any of them with diabetes no longer had diabetes by the end of the month. Any of them with weight to lose had substantially lost weight, but those who didn't have weight to lose, had held their weight on a diet of fruits and vegetables. Oddly enough, it just seemed to work.
We can look around in many, many areas. And I can't say that you are not designed to eat meat because I'm not a scientist, I'm a doctor. I can only interpret the information that's out there. But there are some interesting people known as sports physiologists, and in the world of science, they have a unique situation going because doctors could write a book on diet, any doctor can write a book on diet and come up with any diet and promote it. Somebody once tried to convince us that if your blood is different than my blood, you should eat a different diet. I mean cows, they have more different blood types than humans do, but all cows eat grass. This is known as a species-specific diet for cows, grass. End of story. Well, if all creatures have species-specific diets, why shouldn't we? We're creatures.
So, I looked to see what the sports physiologists say, because, as I said, they have a unique situation in that, they can't just willy-nilly say whatever they want. When they make a proclamation about performance, other athletes are going to try to do what they did. Other scientists are going to try to duplicate their studies, and if they can’t, then the first person comes a little bit under question. So, for instance, with the blood-type diet, 50 other people have tried to duplicate that research and none of them have been able to do so. It makes the initial research come into great question because nobody can duplicate it. In the world of sports physiology, the sports physiologists tell us two things. Both of them use the phrase ‘uptake, transport, and delivery.’ The concerns for this physiologist is the uptake, transport, and delivery of oxygen and carbohydrate, specifically the carbohydrate known as glucose, which serves as the primary fuel for every cell of the human body.
The physiologist tells us that, as dietary fat goes down, not how fat you are, or how much body fat you carry, but how much fat is in your day-to day-diet as a percentage of your total calories. As dietary fat goes down, the uptake, transport, and delivery efficiency of oxygen and glucose goes up. This was first discovered and mentioned in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1959. Again, no more news there, should be well established by now almost 60 years later. In 1959, they said, “As dietary fat goes up, our ability to deliver glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of the body goes down.” What they said drew the obvious conclusion since diabetes is a condition where we can't get glucose out of the bloodstream, the solution is to lower the dietary fat and then diabetes goes away, no longer exists. Which is why there was no diabetes long ago because the high-fat diet experiment wasn't available to people. There was no oils to buy. Okay, 4000 years ago, you could get oil in the Middle East, but it was used to light lanterns, not as food. Actually, when they squeeze olives and get the oil in order to light the lanterns because people lived in caves and you needed lanterns, what was left, all that squeezing that was left, that was fed to the sheep.
So, we weren't eating high-fat foods, we had no access to them. Sure, every species has a little bit of fat here and there. I'm not anti-fat or fat-phobic in any way, but I'm very pro-fruit because every cell of the body is fueled by glucose, primarily 90% of them can also use fructose, which we find in fruit. There's been a bunch of studies really nailing fructose is a horrible thing to be avoided at all costs. But if you actually read the studies, you find out that all of them were done on high-fructose corn syrup, which is a completely different product than fructose. Then, if you read far enough into the studies, you'll see that they mention verbatim that fruit is not a consideration on this study, that high-fructose corn syrup is a different thing than fructose itself, and that we should be able to eat all the fruit we want. Fruit is a good thing for us. I know there’s fruit-phobic people.
I'm going to put a baby in a crib with a peach and a rabbit. And the baby that eats the rabbit and plays with the peach simply isn't going to exist. Babies are going to eat the peach, and they're going to play with the rabbit. If I leave you with some animals and some fruit, and I come back a week later, the likelihood that you're going to have killed the animals and ignored the fruit is really slim because it's dangerous. It's just dangerous to try to kill an animal. They want to live as much as I want to live, as much as you want to live. I can sneak up on a raspberry just fine, I can sneak up on an apple or a fig. But I think I would get infections that would kill me if I tried to kill a squirrel, let alone take a bite out of a cow. I don't see it happening.
Melanie Avalon: I have so many, so many thoughts. Okay, really quickly to the evolutionary side of things because I definitely would love to focus on the present of it. We don't have to spend the whole conversation about the evolution. One of the things that haunts me about-- like things that you said, especially like eating fruit and brain size, and things like that is, I've seen studies about how I think it is in the evolution of us, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know if it was us, or if it was another parallel species, but the transition from becoming a-- Was it a tree dwelling to a ground dwelling, and the ability to eat fruit was most likely what led to increased brain size? At the same time, I often hear like in the carnivore world that they say when we as a human species started eating meat was when our brain size started increasing and that was what correlated to intelligence. I'm just really haunted by all of this.
But in any case, coming to today, so something huge that you touched on that I love and really want to talk about is the metabolism and fuel choices. Oh, and I will say for listeners, if you haven't read The 80/10/10 Diet, there is so much science, there's no way we can even remotely scratch the surface of what we could talk about. So, listeners, definitely get that book if you haven't read it because there is so much in there. Definitely get it. So back to this conversation. It seems to me that, like you mentioned, glucose is the preferred source of fuel for the body. It's the only fuel that every single cell in our body can use.
Dr. Douglas Graham: No matter what you eat, your body will convert it to glucose.
Melanie Avalon: Even people on ketogenic diets, yes, the majority of our body can adapt to ketones, but even red blood cells and part of the brain is still at some point going to need glucose. It seems like people can thrive on two sides of the spectrum, either-- I'll say seemingly thrive, it appears they're thriving, really, really low carb. So, actually low carb, or really, really low fat and actually low fat. And I think so many people exist in this world where they think they're either low carb or they think they're low fat, but they're not. And I think this is such a problem because it's kind of what you just talked about, like fat impeding with glucose disposal and use in the body. People often they think, think that they're low fat, they'll be eating 30% fat or something, but if that fat is present, and it's just my ideas, I'm just talking right now. But if that fat is present, if there's enough to impede the glucose use on top of that, you think you're being low fat, so you're having all these carbs, if there's just enough fat to mess with that whole system, then I feel like it's really easy to get this build up and nothing will work. When it comes to low fat, how low fat is low fat? I know 80/10/10, we have the 10% there, but what does that look practically? Does that mean--
Dr. Douglas Graham: Teens or below.
Melanie Avalon: Of fat percentage?
Dr. Douglas Graham: You touched on a lot. Can I try to touch back on some of it? Let me see if I can be quick. I'll be quick on some of these. There's people who say that eating meat made us smarter, although there's no scientific evidence for this of any type. In fact, the anthropologists, who wrote about the concept of us becoming smarter, all agreed that the way that this likely happened was that we changed what we ate from very low calorie-dense food, like leaves, to a food that supplied more calories, like fruit or something else. But they don't know for sure what, but let's understand that fruit contains from 4 to 10 times as many calories per bite, as leaves do, and that's a big jump in calorie availability.
What they're saying is that humans were barely making it on just eating leaves and when they went to a more dense calorie source, they could reach a fuller potential in their ability to develop. So, they had the genetic potential to develop, they just weren't getting enough calories, except for survival. And once they were getting enough calories, they could then fulfill what they were destined to become in the first place. We have to look at this, because there's other people saying the exact same thing about cooked food and cooking, that cooking is what made us get so smart, and cooking is what made us humans. And I'm looking at I'm going, I know a lot of people who are living on meat, and I don't see them getting smarter or having smarter kids, or us getting smarter generation after generation. This stuff isn't happening, particularly. It's a pretty fascinating world that we could say something just off the top of-- “Oh, cooking makes us smarter. Well, let's cook more.”
According to the science, Dr. Maillard in 1919, said that cooking is probably the biggest health destroyer there could possibly be. Dr. Pottenger in 1929, came out with completely different studies. And the exact same results saying the biggest health destroyer there could possibly be is cooking our food. This is stuff that's 100 years old and has never been countermanded. Since then, all we've come up with is, “Oh, yeah, and in the 50s, we found out that cooking fats is harmful to our health.” And in the 60s, we found out that cooking proteins was harmful to our health. In 2000, we found out that we create acrylamides when we heat carbohydrates, and that it's carcinogenic, and on and on through this list. And we go, “Oh, yeah, and this is somehow good for us?” Actually, no. Cooked food is a highly addictive, toxic, concentrated-- I mean, you mentioned wholefoods at the beginning of this conversation, and I seriously question whether there can be a combination of wholefoods and cooked foods, because I don't think that by the time you finish cooking the food that it could possibly be considered whole anymore. If you buy into whole foods, then you by default have to buy into raw foods. I spoke with T. Colin Campbell, he's a good friend. When he wrote his book called Whole, I called him up and said, “Hey, T, do you consider cooked foods whole foods?” It reminded me of Clinton. He said, “It depends how you define whole.”
So, there's a lot of ways to look at the world. I read a keto guy explaining how he ran a marathon. What he did is-- he's a leader in the keto movement, “Look, you can be keto, and you can still do ultra-events. I ran a marathon on keto, and what I did was I ate my keto diet right up until the week before the marathon. Then for a week, all I ate was carbs. Then, I went back after the marathon, and I went right back on my keto diet, and that's how you run a marathon on the keto diet.” I'm like, “No, you ran the marathon on carbs.” I mean, human beings are funny, we could rationalize anything. We can say anything. We're seeing it so profoundly in the political situation currently.
There's kind of a yoga that's done in a really hot room and some people question whether or not it really is yoga. I'm not going to get into that, but I think that just because we call something something, doesn't make it that. If I say, full-contact, last-man-standing cage yoga, does that count as yoga? Just because it's got yoga in the name. If I call something health food, we have to wonder what is all the other food? We think of junk food and junkies, those two things go together, but, oh, no, we don't inject junk, do we? We ingest our junk. We’re just kind of looking and, “Oh, yeah, we can eat some junk now and again, and every time I have stuff that I don't want to think about, well, I just stuff myself down, I stuffed my emotions down with food. I numb myself with comfort food.” Maybe when I was in college, I wanted to experiment a little bit with lowering my awareness levels now and again on a Friday night. But as an adult, especially as a responsible adult, I want to become as aware as possible. Why would I want to numb myself with food? I want to learn to not only have emotions, but to feel my emotions and to revel in them and be a fully functional human being who operates at a level where, A, I don't get sick-- people say, “How are you so productive?” Well, I'm never sick. “How are you so productive?” Well, my need for sleep went down by 25% when I stopped eating cooked food.
I had a friend-- when I was going through medical school, I had a guy that was a mentor to me, lend me his Cadillac car, because he was going away for two months, and he needed somebody to look after it. And at the time, I had a very, very old car. I mean, really the only way you could describe it is a beater. And all of a sudden, I'm driving this Cadillac for two months. During that entire two months, I never once missed my beater. I never craved it. Anybody who switched to a better boyfriend or a better girlfriend, you stop craving the old girlfriend or boyfriend when you switch to a better model. When I found 80/10/10 in the health-- my wife is a really smart lady. One day, when we were still dating, she came up to me and she said, “You can date anybody you want. You can date as many people as you want.” I go, “Really?” She goes, “I don't really care. I'm not putting any restrictions on you. You can go out with anybody. You can go out with everybody. Anybody that catches your interest, you can go out with.” Wow, I was almost beyond words. I knew I should be listening and not talking. And then, she said, “But there will be consequences.” I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I said, “What might they be?” She said, “Well, we'll stop going out if you go out with anybody else.” I really needed that ultimatum. That was great.
I realized there were some rules to this game. I love having some rules. Imagine playing sports with no rules. I mean, you got to have some rules. The rules give freedom, they don't take it away. They provide a structure. We're set up to eat fruits and vegetables. It's easy anatomically, physiologically, nutritionally, health-wise, environmentally, I don't care what angle you want to go at it. In fact, I made a chart one time of 50 different medical sciences, every single one of them endorsing fruits and vegetables. It was pretty crazy. I couldn't find any that were endorsing a high-fat diet or a high-meat diet. Yes, you can live on it. And yes, if you eat a super high-fat diet and practically no carbs at all, you will not demonstrate diabetes symptoms because you're consuming so little fructose, so little glucose, so little carbohydrate in total that your body can barely generate any glucose.
But everybody has blood sugar, you’ve got to have blood sugar or you're dead. My blood sugar goes into my bloodstream from my digestive tract and goes out to where it's needed unimpeded because I'm eating a low-fat diet. So, there's two ways not to have diabetes. One is to not cause it, the other is to cause it on a high-fat diet, but then eat no glucose, no carbohydrates at all. But if you eat any, you'll right away spike your blood sugar and demonstrate diabetes. Whether it's temporary or long lasting, doesn't really matter.
Okay. Robbie and Cyrus are unique, compared to the rest of us because they have pancreas that are damaged long before they could do anything about it. This is what we call a type 1 diabetic, and their bodies don't produce, don't manufacture insulin, so they're insulin dependent. But what we taught them how to do was to lower their use of insulin by more than 20 times so that they could increase their consumption of carbohydrates by more than 20 times. It's called insulin sensitivity, where a type 1 diabetic, on a standard Western diet might have an insulin sensitivity of just 3 or 4, my insulin sensitivity is over 100, the healthy person is over 100, and Robbie and Cyrus have managed to boost theirs dramatically through lifestyle modification. Yeah, a bit of exercise. Oh, exercise is good for us, I hear, so it's okay that they do some exercise and changed their diet to a low-fat diet. That’s all it takes. You still get to eat everything you want. You just have to control how much of what. I don't find any restriction. I just decided what consequences do I want to go after, and the consequences I want are health and happiness.
So, I said I'm willing to eat fruits and vegetables to get health and happiness, to have perpetual weight management exactly where I want it, to be able to do as much fitness activity as is required or as much as I care for on any day, to be able to stay up all night with patients if that's needed, to have a mind that's clear and a body that I can rely upon. I will trade that for eating fruits and vegetables. “Oh, I like fruits and vegetables, sweet and juicy. Gosh, mother's milk is sweet and juicy.” We're trained to look for sweet and juicy. It's inborn into us. Every adult has a sweet tooth that they try to control. I don't control mine, I let it run rampant. I eat all the fruit I want. It's a gift. It's the present, it's the prize. There's no penalty in eating well.
Melanie Avalon: This is something that you talk about in the book within that world of fruits and vegetables because we've been talking about the benefits of fruit in particular, but within the fruit and vegetable worlds, you break down some of the potential problems with the way a lot of people approach vegetarianism/veganism. That is including grains, including potentially harder to digest vegetables, and you also talk about the difference between starches versus fruits, also legumes. So, within the fruit and vegetable worlds, what are your thoughts on the fruits and the vegetables? And then, I'm going to throw in grains into this category because I think a lot of people, they include that, they think that that's included in this.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Sure. One of the first books I wrote was a book called Grain Damage. Grain Damage was the very first anti-grain book ever written. There's now dozens of them. At the time, people didn't want to hear about it, they just dismissed it. But grain damage is obvious. I look at 20 different reasons in the book why we are not designed to consume complex carbohydrates. Perhaps, the most obvious one is the fact that they are addictive, incredibly addictive. And anybody who's addicted knows it's true, because they never go a day without eating complex carbohydrates. It's always bread, rice, pasta, corn, potatoes. And when they try to change their diet, they always go back to bread, rice, pasta, corn, potatoes. It's just like grains have a grip on them. The opioid substances in grains are profoundly powerful, and they call you back again and again. So, I prefer to make my life decisions based on preferences rather than out of addictions. I learned, like everybody else, that giving up grains was not the easiest thing to do, and instead, what I did was I moved towards eating more fruit. I'm not a fan of anything that has to be cooked in order to be consumed, but I also know the science, and the science says that up until the invention of the internal combustion engine, we couldn't get much grains because unless you have a whole lot of slaves, there's no way to tend the fields. You can't grow fields of wheat or any other grain in large mass without a tractor.
The science makes it really clear that they're called complex carbohydrates for a reason. They're too complex to digest. Hence, when you put complex carbohydrates into your mouth, and you can read this in any dictionary, it's flavorless. Starch is a flavorless substance, which is why we always put salt and sugar and fat and whatever we can, flavors onto our starch because nobody's just eating straight corn starch. As far as foods that must be cooked in order to be consumed, whether that be legumes, mature legumes or whether that be grains or whether that be tubers that are also starchy, I can't really recommend any of those for the primary reason that I am convinced that Linus Pauling was correct, that vitamin C is a hugely important nutrient that we're supposed to get 20 times as much as we do and there's none in any starchy food, possibly potatoes raw but by the time we cook it, not even potatoes. To make my primary calorie source a food that contains no vitamin C goes against Nobel Prize winning science.
But there's also the science of what's called starch-digesting enzymes. We manufacture in our mouth something that's called salivary amylase or ptyalin depending on when you went to school. Salivary amylase, according to the people who promote complex carbs, they say, “Look, we can prove that we're complex carb eaters, because we have three times as much starch-splitting enzymes in our amylase, as do the gorillas.” While the gorillas don't eat any starch. They're not made to. On a scale of 1 to 100, they produce 1 in terms of starch-splitting enzymes, but we only produce 3 on a scale of 1 to 100. So, the creatures that can actually take a mouthful of starch and digest it are much, much, much higher on that scale. You take a mouthful of corn starch or a spoonful and see how you do, Melanie, and it's going to be a long time before you can whistle.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, I'll report back. [laughs]
Dr. Douglas Graham: You don't have the digestive enzymes to break down starch. We don't have them. In fact, most of the starches are of a type called oligosaccharides, it's a medium-chain starch, and we have zero starch-splitting enzymes for the oligosaccharides. So, when we eat beans or unripe fruit, especially like an unripe banana or something, beans, and many other things, we notoriously get a whole bunch of wind because we do not have the digestive enzymes to break it down. We rely on bacteria, they're anaerobic bacteria, and they generate a whole bunch of wind and they ferment the starch instead. So, you become an alcohol factory within your own gut.
Melanie Avalon: To that point, if people do experience digestive distress while following the 80/10/10 food, so fruit, leafy greens, do you think everybody's digestive system will eventually work its way out of that or are some people just destined for whatever reason to not struggle to digest these things?
Dr. Douglas Graham: I haven't met the lion yet that is set up to eat salad, or the antelope that’s set up to chase down squirrels and consume them. Human beings, our anatomy and physiology supports the consumption of fruits and vegetables. But our biome or our microbiome, the microbes that live in our gut, we have thousands of cities made up of millions of bacteria each that are set up to help us digest our food. The foods that we eat are represented in our gut by bacteria colonies that expand in number and the foods that we don't eat, those bacterial colonies get smaller and smaller. So, A, it's possible to make a dietary switch and have some big challenges at first, maybe for a week or so, five days or so. You’ve got to remember the lifecycle is 20 minutes long. So, the reproductive-- to go from one bacterium to a million takes about 28 cycles, which is eight hours. To go from a million to a million million is another eight hours. So, you can switch over your bacteria pretty quickly.
The problem most people have, from my experience has been that they were so trained to eat hugely complicated meals, just hugely complicated meals because human beings all of us are suckers for stimulation, we love stimulants. And it's why Aldous Huxley wrote saying, “Stimulants are so great.” Sigmund Freud wrote that, “Everybody should take cocaine because it makes you more of a person, more of a real person,” because of the sheer stimulating effect. Stimulants of all kinds include the stimulation of variety. A person could push back from a meal at a restaurant and say, “Man, I'm so full, I couldn't eat another bite.” And then, the waitress comes out with the dessert tray. And we finished this, “I couldn't eat another bite of this, but I've got room for that.”
So, we've kind of trained ourselves to think in terms of incredibly complex meals. Whereas all the other creatures on the planet, everybody eats one food at a time when they're hungry until they're full, or until they feel unsafe in that environment, or the food runs out or something. But as long as there's food available, they’ll eat one food at a time when they're hungry till they're full.
Now this concept, basically, when I first realized this concept, I put my feet out in front of me, my arms straight out in front of me like I was about to be in a car crash, and I was bracing. I'm going, “No! I don't want to go there!” because I was just as used to variety as anybody else. But then, I realized that, A, a really simple meal, say a meal of grapes or a meal of bananas, or meal of watermelon, didn't matter, that a really simple meal was just as satisfying as any other meal, just as filling, except I felt better. And I started playing with it and it really wasn't so bad. And I got to food that I really liked. I really like persimmon. It's persimmon season now. I'm having meals of persimmon every single day. I'll have a lunch of as many persimmons as I want. But by Christmas, there won't be any more persimmon, but there's going to be pomegranate, and then the pomegranate stops, and the berries come and then the berry stop, and the lychee come, and then the lychee stop, but the peaches come and the apricots come and all the springtime fruits start coming into summer, and then the full-blown summer of everything. And then, it starts turning into autumn, and there's grapes and there's figs. We find out that nature actually figured this all out for us. There's a lovely pattern set up whereby we can eat simplicity at every single meal while eating variety throughout the course of the year. It's a beautiful thing.
Melanie Avalon: I have a question for you. The evolution of my dietary choices that I have gone through. The diet that I feel I was happiest at and I am trying to work my way back to was, I was eating meat but I was being very lean meat, barely any fat and really, really, really high fruit was basically the diet, like pounds and pounds of fruit. When I was doing that diet, though, I could have days where I would not eat any meat and I would just eat fruit, and I would always notice the same thing. The next day, I would feel so white. My eyes would be like really, really white. You talk about this in the book that how food doesn't cleanse us, food doesn't heal us, the body heals and the body cleanses, which I thought was a really, really interesting concept. I'm not saying the food was doing that, but that was the way I felt that I would feel cleansed. But every time I would do that, because you were just talking about satiety and feeling satisfied, I inevitably would-- I could never do that more than one day in a row. I would be craving animal protein again. I don't know if that's because do you think I would just need to stick it out longer?
Dr. Douglas Graham: No. I don't think it's a matter of persistence or willpower. If what you're doing isn't working, you get pretty clear messages that it's not working, but you then have to know what to do about it. There was a very insightful report one time about why different diets work. Basically, what it said is different diets work because they cut out certain macronutrients, what I call the caloronutrients. They cut out certain, like if you cut out protein entirely or if you cut out fat entirely or you cut out carbs entirely, you'll lose weight because you've cut out a calorie source, you've cut out a chunk of your calories for the day. If you're normally eating 1500 calories a day, and then you stop eating meat and you drop 500 calories from your day, I'm not at all surprised that within a day or two, you start feeling pretty darn hungry because you didn't replace it with something else. We didn't perform magic here. I'm a fairly athletic guy, although I spend most of my day sitting at a computer, consulting with clients or writing, but I still stay fit and find time for that, and I eat between 3000, 3500 calories a day. If I just cut out a big chunk of those calories, I'm going to get very hungry very quick.
The cool thing is that the hungrier you get, the less discriminating you become. And so you might be committed to your dietary approach, but if it's not working because you're not eating enough, you're going to crave and you're going to cave, and you're going to fall off whatever program that was. Typically, the way you fall off is to bread rice, pasta, corn, potatoes. But if your diet is fruits and meat, and then you cut out the meat, you're going to go back to it because you didn't say, “Oh, I cut out 500 calories of meat, let me add in 500 calories of fruit,” or fruit and veg or whatever the choices might be.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's really interesting. That idea actually never occurred to me. I don't know when I would do that if I compensated calorie-wise, I would never be hungry or during the fast because this is paired with intermittent fasting, but I would just have this natural craving for meat the next day. This is so interesting.
Dr. Douglas Graham: We also have to understand that meat is a powerful stimulant. The last thing that happens to an animal before it dies, is it's being tortured for several hours or days. The adrenaline level in meat is off the charts. When you consume that adrenaline, you get the same rush, you want to roar just like the animals do before they go into the slaughterhouse. So, I mean, I don't like to get graphic about that stuff, but the reality is that the stimulating effect of meat is not only incredibly powerful, they get the same adrenaline as humans. Adrenaline is adrenaline. So, I mean, you consume it, and you get that adrenaline. And you get hooked on the rush, it's a stimulant, and we love stimulants. It was a big deal to me to get free in my food.
I'm not saying it was easy, but I also didn't do it all at once. It took me years and years and years of failure, a very frustrating, long, circuitous route that really I would say, as I told you at the beginning, took me through almost 17 years of dietary exploration, before I started eating fruit for breakfast, fruit for lunch, and all the fruit I want before my dinner vegetables, and be absolutely thrilled with that food, to the point where I can sustain my athletic endeavors. I'm still setting records in powerlifting. I'm still getting by on about 25% less sleep than the average person. 25% less sleep than what I needed when I was eating cooked food. I'm still having lots of fun playing with my 15-year-old daughter. And she says, “Oh, Daddy, you're young, you'll carry me up the stairs forever.” And I go, “Okay, I hope so.”
But to me, like I said, what my wife said was so profound. It's about the consequences. What outcome do you want to have happen? If you want to have an athlete's looking body? Well, you've got to do what an athlete does. If you want to have a healthy fit body, you have to do what healthy fit people do. If you live in accordance with the laws of nature, nature will create healthy humans just like it creates healthy of every other species when they live in accordance with the guidelines presented to them.
But there's a lot of temptation out there. There's probably people in your home area that are selling heroin, but you're not tempted because that's not one of the outcomes you want to pursue. It's not some of the consequences you want to pursue. I'm a big believer in having goals and going after them because it helps me focus on my desired outcome.
Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad you touched on the role of the stress in the animals. For listeners, especially if you are consuming animal products, I've had Teri Cochrane on the show. I'll put a link to that in the show notes, but she talks about the role that stress plays in the animals and how it creates amyloid proteins that we can't break down and it's really, really fascinating. I also had Anya Fernald on, and I'll put a link to that, she talked about the stress practices as well.
Dr. Douglas Graham: What I'd like to touch on is, I'm sitting in medical school. My training is as chiropractic physician, and I'm sitting going through my last year of school. My physiology teacher was a lady named Dr. Pettit. Dr. Pettit is up there lecturing, just doing her thing, and there's 118 of us in class, some paying attention, some not so much, and doing what you do going through school. Her name, Barbara Pettit. There's protein in everything, except like a bag of sugar, or a bottle of oil. It doesn't matter, every kind of plant has protein. She said, “When you heat a protein, the proteins become denatured in a very specific way.” Then, she went on to describe the physiology of the changes that happen when you heat a protein. What happens is the bonds that hold the protein, hold the amino acids together, which eventually become dipeptides and polypeptides, on through those things, [unintelligible [01:11:26] all the way to the source of protein. When you heat proteins, those bonds come apart, and then they cross-link and reattach to each other once it cools down enough so you can eat the food. These are called cross-linked proteins. Cross-linked proteins only have one very special quality. They are enzyme resistant. That was the end of her presentation, she went on to the next topic.
After class-- because I was prime at that point, after class, I went up to Mrs. Pettit and I said, “Did you say in class that when you heat proteins, they form enzyme-resistant cross-linked bonds for which we have no digestive enzymes making the proteins inaccessible to human beings?” And she said, “Yes.” I said, “Do you still eat cooked proteins?” She said, “Well, yeah, of course, everybody does, but they don't access the protein.” Making the question, “Where do you get your protein?” kind of silly, because if you're eating cooked protein as your source, if you're eating cooked meat as your source, then you're not getting the protein anyway.
We don't really need much protein. It's been proven time and time again. We don't need much protein because adults aren't growing, and protein is used for growth. Kids don't need much protein, and they're growing like crazy. The biggest growth spurt happens between the ages of zero and one, when a baby will just about double its weight in a year's time. And that happens on mother's milk, which is only 6% protein by calorie. Here we are as adults eating 10%, but most of it’s cooked, we're proving that we don't need protein because we're not growing. And Barbara Pettit says that we can't access it. As does all science. Once you cross-link a protein, it becomes enzyme resistant bonds.
I like to think of it as a British-thing, bonds, enzyme-resistant bonds. And just have a good time with it, but understanding that while a person is pouring olive oil onto their salad, but they're interested in what you do, and they're asking you, where do you get your protein? And I go, “Well, I don't get it from olive oil. Because there's no protein in olive oil, that's why it's called extra virgin because obviously, there's no extra virgins around. The only thing in there is oil, it's liquid fat. We take a salad, that's 100 calories, if that, and then we put 500 calories of oil on the top of it because nobody uses a spoon to put a spoonful on, they just pour. All of a sudden you got 400 or 500 calories of oil, and they're asking you, where do you get your protein? You just got none, you've got a salad that's 80% fat and no protein at all. Maybe one gram of protein in the salad and it's like, “Whoa! we're not really making a whole lot of sense here.” People are patting themselves on the back for doing this, that or the other, but they actually haven't done it in the same way that people say, “I'm going to write a book,” but they never do. I'm not knocking people, I am one. We all have our frailties. We all have our cool little quirks.
But when it came to food and nutrition, I did my homework again and again and again and again, and every single time, it didn't matter where I looked. Whether I looked at urology, or oncology, or cardiology, or it just didn't seem to matter what science, what branch of medicine, it just kept coming back, fruits and vegetables. Whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic plants. Don't put pesticides on your food, don't put insecticides on your food, don't put fungicides, rodenticides. In fact, even fries on the side are going to just take you down a path that you don't want to go down. If it ends in C-I-D-E, this is not good for you. Nobody's promoting, “Oh, yeah, yeah, pesticides, that'll solve your child's ADD.” We're not saying that. We're saying, “Oh, we’ve got to get our kids to eat better.” I've had more people say I wish I could get my kids to eat better, and I go, “Well, have you started eating better?” You're the model they're going to follow.”
I have a good time with eating fruits and vegetables, I really like them. I think if other people would actually try eating fruits and vegetables, that they'd really like them too. But most people dismiss it before they ever try because they're addicted to what they're eating and aren't really ready to face that. If you're not addicted, go ahead and show me. Try to eat fruits and vegetables for a week. Eat enough fruits and vegetables to satisfy yourself in between meals, so that you can take full advantage of what Melanie referred to as intermittent fasting. I just call it being satiated at every meal.
Melanie Avalon: If a listener is currently following an intermittent fasting protocol, especially because a lot of my listeners follow a one meal a day protocol, so they're eating a lot in a small window, oftentimes dinner, are they able to get enough calories in that window on the 80/10/10 approach, or does it require a longer eating window?
Dr. Douglas Graham: Well, my mother always told me to eat slower. I always told her to eat faster. I don't know how fast we're supposed to eat. Slow eating has become all the rage. Carnivores eat really fast. Grass eaters eat pretty slow. I don't know how fast we're supposed to eat. I tend to eat relatively quickly. If I'm with a bunch of other people and we're all eating the same food, I tend to eat mine faster than they do. But I don't know what that means, how fast are we supposed to eat. I know that in the course of my day, I take about 10 minutes to eat my breakfast, it goes down pretty quickly. Fruit is instantaneous food and it's quick to eat. I rarely spend 10 or 15 minutes eating lunch. Lunch goes down pretty quickly. It doesn't take long to eat a few bananas and move on. Dinner takes a little longer because salad takes some time. And maybe, maybe, maybe out of my entire day, I eat for 45 minutes or an hour. There's no way I can stretch it to be an hour of eating in of course my entire day.
Whether you want to put that all into one meal or you want to put that into three, I'm still spending 96% of my day not eating, which makes me a 96% breatharian, I guess. But I'm not aspiring to become a breatharian or tell people, “Hey, I'm 96% breatharian.” No, that's not the point. I just eat meals that satisfy me. In between meals, I'm not thinking about food, so I can pay attention to the stuff that I find way more interesting than food, and I like food, but there's way more interesting things. There's people, there's projects, there is needs. There's all sorts of problems to be solved. There's so many interests, there's books to be read, there's things to do, people to meet, all kinds of fitness challenges, all sorts of fun to be had. There's puzzles. I mean, there's so much way cool stuff in the world and I don't want my head clogged up by what I just ate. I don't want to have to sleep it off. I don't want to get cloudy because I ate this, that, or the next. I just eat my food. Everything works like it's supposed to. If I needed to meet all my calorie needs in an hour every day, I most easily could do so. Easily. How long? I don't know. But you see, I don't know how long it takes you to eat a banana. It doesn't take me a minute to eat a banana. Not a nice ripe banana. It doesn't take a minute. So, if I need to eat 15 of them, it's only 15 minutes.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, it might be-- And you talk about this at length in your book, it might be more volume.
Dr. Douglas Graham: There's a thing called a Happy Meal, and I'm not picking on it. But I look at that puny little thing, and I go, “Oh man, that's so sad that you have to be such a small meal and call it happy.” If I was going to eat that meal had one eat three of them as do most people, and then they get fat. There's only one diet in the history of mankind that has ever been shown to have lasting results as far as losing weight, and that is what's called LCD. The LCD approach is low-caloric density, however, it's been promoted in a whole bunch of different ways. LCD is the only thing you can do that promotes lasting results in terms of weight loss, and the only thing you can do that promotes lasting results in terms of health. For instance, if we started with leaves and call that a caloric density of one. We can look at fruit and the range in fruit runs about from 4 to 10 times as much caloric density. If we look at starches, we go from about 20 to 30. If we look at meat, we're up about 60 to 100 times the caloric density of leaves.
Caloric density also relates to digestive effort. We're not necessarily in advantage to eat dense food because it's beyond our digestive capacity. But as you lower caloric density, you have to raise volume. People look at me and go, “You're going to eat all that?” “Well, yes, but I've had practice.” And admittedly, it takes some practice to switch from standard diet to vegetarian, because the volume goes up. From vegetarian to vegan, the volume goes up. From vegan to raw vegan, the volume goes up again because we switch to whole foods. But last I heard, whole foods was the cornerstone of healthy eating.
Melanie Avalon: It's funny when the whole COVID situation first happened and people were freaking out and stocking up at the grocery store, like the amount of-- especially one of my fruit phases, the amount of whole foods, fruits, cucumbers, things like that I buy, I eat daily, it's insane, and I would go shopping, and it looks like I was panic buying like everybody else, but I was like, “No, this is just how much--”
Dr. Douglas Graham: This is normal.
Melanie Avalon: I know, I can't imagine if people who are actually fruitarian like how much they're buying during that whole situation.
Dr. Douglas Graham: To me, it doesn't seem abnormal, but I've had 40 years to grow into it. So, the amount of food that I buy and the amount of food that I bring home, I don't spend more on food, I've done all that math, I don't spend more on food. But I spend a whole lot less on medical bills. I spend a whole lot less on a wide variety of entertainments that aren't of interest to me, like alcohol. That's a personal choice. I found it fascinating that in the last couple years, every single study on alcohol has been the opposite of what they've been telling us for the last 20 years, which is a little alcohol is good for us, but a lot is bad. Now, they're coming out and saying, “No, there's no known amount of alcohol that can be consumed that could ever be considered good for you. It's all bad for you.” But you could eat a little and get away with it, but there's no amount that's good for you. I'm glad to hear that, but we needed science to tell us this that a substance that kills every cell with which it comes into contact was somehow supposed to be good for us? Come on.
This fractured view of nutrition has been brought to us by scientists for the last 60 years and they're just trying to fool us. Hence, they show us milk and refined cereal breakfast with some strawberries thrown in, they go part of this nutritious breakfast-- because the strawberries were nutritious, but the grains weren't, they were just part of this nutritious breakfast and they've been lying to us for ages. They told us when you oats that the fiber in oats lowers your blood pressure. And really what happens is, when you eat meat or other foods that have no fiber, blood pressure goes up. But if you eat plants, blood pressure goes down. It wasn't magic of oats, but over and over--
The problem is we've been lied to so much that sometimes people just don't know what to believe. I went all the way back. I've been full circle in nutrition many times. As I said, I went through the orthomolecular stuff of using supplements back in school days and finding out that supplements couldn't possibly be as nutritious as whole food. In fact, supplements are more isolated ingredients than what you find in a chemistry lab. They're really pure. And I'm going, “No, no, what happened to whole foods?” I just eventually started doing nutrition by the food, rather than nutrition by the nutrient because I can't juggle 500,000 nutrients, no nutritionist can. Nature did all this for us.
Melanie Avalon: People think probably a lot that I might be about all the supplements, but honestly, I would rather never take a supplement ever again. I think we should ideally get it all from foods, like we've been talking about.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Well, you don't. You don't get it all from food, and you certainly don’t get it all from fruits.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's the second part is that we can't.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Because we get our vitamin D from the sun, not from food, and we get our vitamin B12 from bacteria that live inside our nasal mucosa, not from food. And there are other nutrients as well, that we don't get from food, but we manufacture within our own bodies, either completely on their own or by converting one thing into something else. And so, you'll see sometimes the five nutrients that vegans don't get. Well, we don't get vitamin D because that comes from the sun. And B12, we don't get that because that comes from bacteria that live in our gut and in our nasal mucosa. Oh, and also in all of our other orifices, but we don't have to go there on this show. And DHA, and there's nutrients that the body manufactures or converts from other substances, and we don't get those from our food, but we're not supposed to. Neither does anybody else. It's not that it's a deficiency of a vegan diet. It's just the reality that not all of nutrition comes from food.
In fact, in the world of nutrition, there's substances known as anti-nutrients. For instance, if you're walking behind a bus in the city, the smell of those bus fumes will blow the vitamin C out of your body. I mean, it just burns through vitamin C like nobody's business. Just like smoking a cigarette blows through massive quantities of vitamin C, or any exposure to cigarette smoke. But if you just happen to find yourself in a city, and you're breathing some construction dust and you're hearing some sirens, and some construction noise maybe, or horns blowing, and just the sounds of traffic, these are all stressful sounds to our body. This has been proven through some work in a book called Biophilia, that we respond adversely, we respond with stress, and we blow through our B vitamins. Literally, just living in a city increases your need for B vitamins compared to living in the country. So, when we look at getting nutrients or losing nutrients, or nutrition, it's not all about food, not by any means. We lose the plot if we start thinking that it's all about food. There's way more to health and there's way more to nutrition than just our food. But none of it's going to be right if the food isn't right. None of it's going to be right if the sleep isn't right or the exercise isn't sufficient, or if it's over sufficient, and on and on. So, the saying everything in moderation I disagree with. I would say all the things that are self-destructive influences, we should avoid completely, and the self-construct of influences, we should take in moderation.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that was one thing I really loved about the book was, that's how you started it, like 80/10/10 is not just a diet, it's a whole lifestyle and there's so many factors involved. It's such a huge comprehensive picture.
Dr. Douglas Graham: I don't ever want to lose track of the fact that health is a pretty darn complicated subject, and that health is about way more than just food. I want people to be relaxed and happy about the way they eat. But you’ve got to cover your bases. There's no substitute for healthy living. And if you're not living healthily, don't be surprised if health doesn't happen.
Melanie Avalon: The food itself is not a one-stop shop solution. I've talked about this before on other shows but I think so many times people will change their diet and it'll address something, like a deficiency, or it'll get rid of something inflammatory they're eating and so then they think magically that this new diet is the be-all-end-all, even when it is no longer working for them because they mistook that initial change. They thought that this new diet they were trying was like the answer, when really it was affecting something else. That's why I'm just all about constantly being open to experimenting and finding the foods that do work for you.
Dr. Douglas Graham: I hope you'll get to that point where you of all people get the chance to give 80/10/10 a thorough experiment, knowing full well that it's an experiment. I encourage you also for your listeners, I can make an open promise that if you give raw food an open experiment, read at 80/10/10, follow the program just like it's in the book. It's really straightforward. It's basically fruit for breakfast, fruit for lunch, and all the fruit you want before your dinner salad. If you have any kind of cravings, you probably didn't need enough fruit. If you crave sweets at the end of the meal, if you're looking around for something heavy at the end of the meal, if complex carbohydrates look like anything other than the paste that they really are-- your wallpaper paste is just starch and water. Pastry is just starch and water and sugar and eggs. I mean, pasta is just starch and water. They don't hide the fact that it's paste. Even in the name, it's paste.
I can make the promise that if you give 80/10/10 a fair chance, give fruits and vegetables a fair chance-- actually eat raw for a couple of months, or whatever you consider as a fair chance. If you decide that it's not like the best thing ever, then cooked food will still be available, you could always go back.
Melanie Avalon: 100% plan to. Actually, technically last night, what I ate was all raw, but included raw meat, so I'm kind of crazy like that. What's interesting, though, is when I was doing my diet where I was high, lean protein, high fruit. I never felt I needed to change anything, and I never felt like-- I was like, “Oh, I could just exist like this forever.” The only reason I changed was because one of the doctors I was seeing thought I had Candida and said, “Well, you need to cut out the fruit,” which we get-- That's a whole tangent and you talk about that in the book. After that, I was like, “Once I get through back in my life again, I'm never leaving it again,” because I don't think I gained anything from coming it out for sure. I feel everything actually got worse. But yeah, I 100% plan to try this experiment full force.
Dr. Douglas Graham: I look forward to hearing about it. And if I can support you in any way, feel free to ask questions, but I think you'll do it just fine. It's not a complicated thing, although some people make it more complicated. And certainly, as I say, I know how to make 100 or 200, I don't even know how many, rather complex gourmet raw foods that are still 80/10/10. I mean, I had burgers tonight for dinner, I'll be the first to admit it, but it was just vegetables turned into a tasty burger because I like that presentation. I have good memories of eating burgers, so I can still enjoy that with my salad, with my fruit before dinner. And then, I walk away from the dinner meal and I go, “Wow, I'm so satiated. I don't want anything again for a long, long time.” And probably not until about noontime tomorrow will I even think about eating food.
I won't say that I follow one meal a day or two meals a day, or three or even four, it very much varies with my activity levels. When I'm super, super training hard, I'll be eating three or four meals a day. When I'm spending a lot of time behind the computer and relatively inactive, two meals a day is more than fine. So, I don't try to enforce that any more than I try to say, “Okay, every Monday, I don't eat anything,” or any kind of regimen like that, I want to get way more in touch with my body than that. But getting in touch with your body is not the same as cravings and giving into cravings. People say, “Oh, yes, I was listening to my body and my body said chocolate and cupcake and coffee.” No, that's addiction talking. That wasn't listening to your body.
Melanie Avalon: I could not agree more. It goes back to something you talked about, and something that our mutual friend, Glenn Livingston, talks about a lot.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Love him.
Melanie Avalon: I know, he's so great, I love him. It's the whole idea of what you already talked about, which is having your rules and existing within that, the ultimate freedom. Not being slave to addiction and slave to not knowing what you want or knowing what is working in your life, but rather knowing what works, having those rules, and then within that just complete freedom. And that's what I think so many people can find, especially when they find the macronutrients that work for them, they find the diet that works for them, and so many people with 80/10/10 find that. Thank you, I think this is going to be a paradigm shift for a lot of my listeners. I'm really excited to hear their thoughts and their feedback. Before we go, is there anything that you specifically wanted to touch on that we didn't touch on? I mean, there's so much content. So, again, I'll just refer listeners to your book.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Bless your heart. I would encourage people to eat more fruit. I would encourage people to eat more fruit, just a lot more fruit. It's almost hard because we don't have the framework of reference and you touched on it earlier the sheer volume, it's almost hard to think of making fruit a meal instead of having fruit with a meal, before the meal, in between the meals, whatever. Actually, make a meal of fruit. What most people find out is that they're hungry an hour later, or two hours later, because they didn't eat enough fruit. I mean, it's truly a lot of fruit to get as many calories from fruit as you got from whatever you would normally eat for lunch is a lot of fruit. And it just takes some getting used to until that amount seems normal.
The other thing is what people have told me, I can't say I've always been outspoken, but I guess maybe I have, I speak my mind. I know it's more important to be nice and kind than it is to be right, but I want to make friends while I still get a chance to make my points. But I know that people have always told me my whole life to go to health, at least that's what I heard. And so, I'll encourage all your listeners also to go to health and have a lot of fun and eat a lot of fruit and let life be really, really good because being healthy is by far and away not the only thing, but it's so far out of whatever I had, if whatever is in second place, that health has to be the primary objective. Nothing else happens if we don't have our health. It becomes our only concern when we don't have our health. And so, I just encourage everybody to go to health.
Melanie Avalon: I love that so much. Well, thank you so much. This has been absolutely wonderful. So, the very last question that I ask every single guest on this podcast as the last question, and it's just because I realized more and more each day how important mindset is surrounding everything. So, what is something that you're grateful for?
Dr. Douglas Graham: I'm grateful for this great interview. I'm grateful that my daughter is incredibly healthy and athletic and happy as could be. I'm grateful that I met the woman of my dreams and married her. You know what I'm really grateful for? I'm grateful that I didn't get left in the dust and that the information that I am sharing, as you mentioned at the beginning, with professional athletes and high-level performers of almost every type and imaginable career choice, that they're still seeking me out and still want to know because it's easy to just be old and in the way, and instead I feel vibrantly young and healthy. I'm incredibly grateful for that. I give gratefuls at every meal, I give gratefuls all throughout the day. I'm grateful to have a mind that works really well, a body that works really well. I'm going to take so good care of it so that I can keep it as pristine as possible.
Melanie Avalon: Well, thank you so much, Dr. Graham. I'm just glowing. I'm so grateful for you and for your work and for this conversation. I know you have a lot of books and you said you're releasing one on fasting. So, maybe in the future when that's out, we can bring you back for fasting episode. That'd be really exciting.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Oh, fantastic.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, and I will talk to you again in the future.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Thanks for having me on board, Melanie. It is truly a treat. I look forward to get the chance to meet you face to face.
Melanie Avalon: Likewise. Thank you. Bye.
Dr. Douglas Graham: Bye-bye.