March 3, 2010
Introduction: In this podcast episode: an interview with a Chinese herbologist, food labels, how much fat should you be eating, exercise induced nausea and more on glycerol.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, it’s Ben Greenfield here in sunny Washington State where it’s a glorious, beautiful, sunny Tuesday afternoon and all I can do is snub my nose at those of you back east waiting for your snow storm to arrive. The only consolation being that tomorrow morning I actually have to fly over to New York. So I’ll be joining you in your wet and snowy misery. Anyways though, speaking of snow and misery, I am wearing a band aid on my finger because I just redid my testing for vitamin D and also at the same time tested for my essential fatty acids, a test that I haven’t done yet. But based off of the recommendations from Dr. Cohen, who’s been on this show before I got it done. So I’m interested to see if I was able to bring my vitamin D levels up using that sublingual spray that I’ve been implementing but also interested to see how the essential fatty acid levels measure up on that home test. So what we’re going to be doing today is a really interesting interview with a fellow named Roger Drummer who wrote an article called “Are You Feeding Yourself or Your Kids Pink Slime?” That was actually on the www.bengreenfieldfitness.com Web site earlier this week. Going to respond to some Listener Q and A and go over a few special announcements that you aren’t going to want to miss. One thing I want to warn you about in today’s podcast is that during the interview with Roger Drummer, we had a little bit of technical difficulties in a couple of spots. However, the interview still has a ton of good information in it and in the Shownotes to this podcast – podcast episode number 84 – I’ve actually put a link to Roger’s radio show because he does a radio show. It’s an online radio show. You can download it for free at the Web site link that I gave you and it takes everything that he talked about today – and if you find a shred of interest in any of it, he expounds on all that over on his radio show and has a great title to each show so that you know what you’re going to be listening to, whether it be some of the things he talks about from cholesterol to stress to Chinese herbs, etc. So, that being said let’s go ahead and jump right into this week’s special announcements.
Remember, if you have a question you can send it in to [email protected]. You can call toll free to 8772099439 and record your question and leave it in a voice mail. Or you can Skype using the online Voice Over Internet Protocol Skype to user name Pacific Fit. So those are all the methods that you could use to ask questions. And the first question this week comes from Listener Chris.
Chris asks: Hi Ben, When I look at nutrition labels, I often notice a big disparity between the sugar content and total carbohydrate. Doesn’t the liver basically convert carbs to sugar for the muscles? I guess what I’m ultimately asking is while I’m looking out for the low sugar content in food, should I also be concerned about total carbohydrate content if it’s significantly higher than just the grams of sugar?
Ben answers: This is a great question. This is something that I get a lot because when you read the label of any nutrition product – if you already know – like Chris does, that sugar is kind of synonymous with carbohydrates, sometimes you may notice that the sugar and the carbohydrates don’t quite add up. So for example, if you look at say a box of cereal and you see that it’s got 42 grams of carbohydrates in it, which would be pretty typical for a box of cereal, and that would be in one serving – we’ll talk about servings here in a second – but you see that in addition to that carbohydrate, it has 6 grams of sugar and then maybe 13 grams of dietary fiber. So, the dietary fiber and the sugar, which are both carbohydrate sources add up to 23 grams. But the label says that it’s got 42 grams. Well basically the idea is that if you look at just the sugar – at just the 6 gram part – that includes essentially all of these sugars that they added in to that food. So that could be added sweeteners from sugar to corn syrup to honey to brown sugar, so on and so forth. Other carbohydrates that they’re not listing can include anything from non-digestible additives, stabilizers, thickening agents to any other form of starch in addition to those added sugars and sweeteners that are present in the product. So that’s where that disparity is between the total carbohydrate listed in the actual sugar content that’s listed. Now you asked about – doesn’t it all end up as sugar anyways within the body? Well it kind of depends. If you actually are in need of filling up your body’s glycogen or storage carbohydrate level which most people, especially the sedentary population, are really not in need of that but if you are in need of that then yeah, your liver will help you to take the sugars that you take in and basically package them into long chain sugar molecules called glycogen. And both your muscles and your liver will be able to store storage carbohydrate as glycogen. Otherwise it would end up getting converted in your liver into free fatty acids and essentially fat. That’s why even if you’re eating carbs, you can still gain weight as any of us know. But while we’re on the topic of food labels, I do want to kind of have a little bit of a rant here about food labels in general, just because there are so many things that you could be misled on when it comes to food labels. I want to go over a few of them here, just because these are fresh in my mind because these are things that I like to bring up to my clients and I want to bring it up because Chris’s question reminded me of some of this stuff. So when something says that it’s “made with whole grains” basically what that means is that whole grains make up some portion of that food. So you can take like a Keebler cracker and they say that they use whole grains, but basically they’re not using very many whole grains at all. They’re actually using a caramel color to mimic that brown color so you really think that it looks healthy. But a lot of times, there’s not really that many whole grains in these foods that are listed as having whole grain content. And the effect on your blood sugar levels a lot of times is very similar to the same as you would get from like a white bread source. So the other thing is when you turn around the ingredient label, and you look at the ingredient label and it says something like “enriched wheat flour” which sounds just great – the problem with that is that we’ve all been taught that the first ingredient that’s listed is the ingredient that a product has the most of – but if you look at, say, chocolate cake… the ingredient box for chocolate cake lists enriched wheat flour as its first ingredient, but if you go on down the list there’s a whole bunch of other ingredients that go by other names such as sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, even like grape juice concentrate and when you add all those up, there’s actually more of the sugar in that product than there is the healthy nutritious wheat flour. So, don’t think that the first ingredient that’s labeled on a nutrition label, if it’s healthy, means that the product actually contains primarily carbohydrates from that ingredient. Because a lot of times, that’s not the case. Then the other thing is serving size. I don’t know if anybody’s been watching the serving size, especially of drinks lately, but a lot of the energy drinks that are out there especially, and even the sodas and the Sobe, the “healthy water” – all of that stuff now is saying anywhere from two to three servings. Sometimes two and a half servings, which is even more confusing but when you’re reading the label and it says something like 70 calories, well you have to multiply that by 2.5, because really how often do you buy a Sobe beverage or a Coke or something of that nature and drink a third of it, set it down and walk away and come back three hours later for your next meal and drink another third? The majority of people that I know and I see generally tend to punish most of that in just one serving. So in cookies, crackers, candies, chips – any of these carbohydrates, because I’m really harping on those. That’s what the question was mostly geared towards – they’re all going to be something that you want to check the serving size on even if it’s a package that looks like it can only feed you in one serving, a lot of times they’re going to split that into two or three servings. Now another thing is the real fruit. You take like especially snacks for kids, like the Gerber fruit juice treats and you look on the front of that and it’s just got pictures of oranges and raspberries and cherries and pears and all types of fruits just bursting out of the packaging, but then you look at the actual label and it’s basically fruit juice concentrate. That’s all that’s in it, which is just sugar. And Roger Drummer will talk about the problem with sugar later on in his interview on Chinese herbal medicine. You can go back and listen to my interview with Nancy Appleton, who wrote the book Suicide By Sugar, but you’re not feeding your kids fruit even if the package has pictures of fruit on it. A lot of these products will even be colored to look like fruit, and if you turn over the label, a lot of times you’ll find especially in a strawberry and the cherry flavored type of things Red Number 40 – an artificial coloring chemical that they put into this stuff to really make it appear to be more like fruit. So a couple of other things you want to look out for when it comes to fats, you’ll see that a lot of companies now are writing Omega 3 fat sources on there. Be sure, that even if the label actually says it’s a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids, that you look out for some other risk factors such as trans fats or saturated fats because just the fact that it has Omega 3 on there doesn’t really say anything about the heart health of the product. So make sure you inspect the nutrition label. Same goes with the trans fats. That’s another thing that a lot of companies are just slapping on labels to try and tell you that it’s god for your heart, when it can still be bad for your heart if they’ve essentially just replaced a lot of those trans fats with other forms of fat. Either a bunch of the chemical replacements that are now acceptable substitutes for trans fats or in some cases even just high amounts of saturated fats which you know if you’ve listened to this show in the past aren’t completely bad for you but are still fats and still need to be consumed in moderation. So be careful with the whole trans fat, Omega 3 fat kick that a lot of people who package products are getting on to just because it doesn’t mean that they haven’t put a bunch of other potential harmful compounds into the packaging. Fiber is another one that you want to look for. A lot of times what they’re doing to make foods high fiber is they’re putting just purified powders into the food. Some of those would include inulin, polydextrose and maltidextrin. Okay, a lot of those fibers don’t have the same effect on lowering blood cholesterol or lowering your blood sugar as the type of fiber that you would get from eating a whole piece of fruit or a whole vegetable. Maltidextrin is typically made from corn or wheat or rice. Polydextrose is made from a mix of glucose and something called sorbitol. Inulin is essentially like a root derivative. But these are all basically just filling agents. They’re not the type of fiber that’s actually going to help you with the cholesterol issues or with the blood pressure control issues, and just be warned that just because it says high fiber, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is high fiber. So that is my rant. I hope I answered your question, Chris, taught you a little bit about carbohydrates, taught you a little bit about food labels. We’re going to move on to the next question, which is from Sofi.
Sofi asks: I’ve been wondering recently if I am getting too much fat in my diet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m primarily eating good fats like nuts, avocados, flax and what not. But if my total calorie intake is kept where it should be, is it possible that getting too many of those calories from good fat is having a negative effect? I am way beyond believing it’s as easy as calories in/calories out, because all calories are not created equally. But I have this funny feeling I may be going into good fat overdose. So, would you be able to shed some light on how this could be affecting me? Also, if I’m eating 1200-1700 calories how much of that should really come from fat?
Ben answers: That’s a great question. As we all know, fats are really calorically dense and it’s almost twice as many calories or more than twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. So even if you’re eating the healthy fats, yeah you want to taper intake. The USDA recommendations are 20 to 35%. In most of the meal plans that I write and most of the recommendations that I make to my clients, we’re generally hitting it a little bit closer to 30 to 35% using a lot of the recommendations in terms of the vegetable fats that you already mentioned and a little bit of the butters and the meats but primarily avocadoes, olives, seeds, nuts, things of that nature. So right around in that 30 to 35% range in terms of your total caloric intake is generally as high as you need to go. And that’s the amount of fat that people like the Mediterranean diet folks are taking in when they’re consuming those high amounts of healthy fats. There’s been lots of studies done on athletes to see if a higher fat diet, especially in ultra-endurance and endurance athletes, actually helps them perform better. The idea being that because your intensity is taking you up to a stage where you primarily burn fat as a fuel by consuming a high fat diet, you might actually be able to have a performance breakthrough. None of those studies have actually found a benefit for an athlete to switch to a high fat diet leading up to a race or an event or a competition. So, wouldn’t worry about going above that 30 to 35% and even if you’re getting ready for something like an Ironman or a marathon. So great question.
Elsa asks: Why do I have a want to have a “throw up” feeling after my weight training session?
Ben answers: Well basically when you are exercising, what happens is blood gets shunted out of your stomach and more to your muscles and your exercising extremities. So, you get a lot of what’s called dilation of the vessels that bring blood for everything from cooling to respiration to elimination of byproducts that are building up while you’re exercising. But your body can only dilate or open up so many blood vessels before your blood pressure drops pretty low. If you open up all the fire hoses in your body at once, there’s not enough water to go around. There’s not enough blood to go around. So your blood sugar can drop. And that’s one thing that can make you feel nauseous – is that drop in blood pressure as you’re moving all this blood all over your body. It’s generally a lot more exaggerated if you’ve eaten something, especially like a protein or a fat based food before you’ve gone to exercise. So I would make sure that you’re not eating too close to your exercise session and you’re especially not eating a lot of proteins and fats even for that meal about two hours prior to your exercise session, primarily carbohydrates. When you’re exercising, a lot of that food is just sitting in your stomach anyways and sometimes your body just kind of has this mechanism where it wants to get rid of it. The other issue would be your vagus nerve. When you feel nauseous, when you want to faint and sometimes you feel like throwing up or you get that cold clammy skin? That’s stimulation of your vagus nerve. When you exercise and you become very acidic, produce a lot of lactic acid – again the drop in blood pressure, the reduced blood flow – a lot of that can stimulate the vagus nerve and that’s another thing that can make you want to throw up during exercise. So what I would do is if you’re really concerned about this and you’re monitoring your food intake and you’re not going excessively hard during exercise, I would figure out a way to monitor your blood pressure while you’re exercising and there are blood pressure measurement cuffs that you can wear that will actually monitor your blood pressure while you’re moving. I would look into doing something like that just to make sure that your blood pressure isn’t falling excessively low, but in most cases for most people, it’s just one of those deals when you’re first starting to get fit, it’s pretty normal to feel that way. The final thing that I didn’t bring up was that if you’ve been eating a very bad diet and you’re just kind of turning that around and making yourself healthy and you’ve been consuming a lot of fats, you’re overweight and so you’re accessing all that adipose tissue – what happens is your body can store toxins when you’ve been eating an unclean diet or when you’ve become very heavy and have a lot of adipose tissue, and you start to mobilize that while you’re exercising. The body stores some of these toxins and fat cells. They get released into the blood stream and so not only do you have that lower blood pressure in your body trying to move all this blood around, but you’ve got these toxins that you’re attempting to eliminate at the same time. That can also be an issue when it comes to nausea and a feeling of wanting to vomit during exercise. So great question.
And then the final part of our Q and A is not really a question, as much as a comment that I wanted to give to you athletes out there because listener Joan said…
Joan says: In a podcast you aired a couple weeks ago, you mentioned that you use Hammer Nutrition’s Liquid Endurance for hot weather competitions. That, of course, is a glycerol-based product. In Hammer’s latest Endurance News issue, they note that glycerol has now been prohibited by the World Anti Doping Association (WADA). So Hammer no longer has Liquid Endurance available.
Ben: Okay, so for those of you out there who have heard me recommend glycerol and glycerol equations for hyper hydrating during exposure to hot weather, bear in mind that because those are prohibited by the WADA, that’s something that you would want to use caution with and I would definitely contact a race director prior to going to a race to make sure you wouldn’t be DQ-ed for using that in a triathlon or running or cycling event. So, you may have to find other creative ways to stay cool.
Alright, we’re going to move on to this week’s interview with Roger Drummer, and by the way Roger talks about this herbal formulation in these adaptogens and how he’s figured out basically how to squeeze about 48 pounds of Chinese herbs into some energy compounds. He actually sent me some of the stuff that he makes and I took it on an empty stomach in the morning. It actually really, really works. Some energy compounds don’t, some do. You know I’m a big fan of Delta-E by IMPaX. I’m a big fan of Solar Synergy by Mt. Capra. This stuff was a little bit different that Roger sent me. It’s a little bit more herbal based, but I would highly recommend if you’re looking for that kind of afternoon kick and you haven’t found anything that works for you yet, or you’re looking for that motivation in the morning and you haven’t found something that works for you yet, check out the Web site. Check out the link that I put in the Shownotes to this podcast – podcast number 84. Order yourself just a couple of packets of this stuff that Roger talks about because it works really well. I’d recommend it. I’m blanking on the name. it’s call Tian Chi… something like that. Roger will talk about it towards the end of our interview. So enjoy this talk with Roger Drummer and forgive me for a couple of the audio hiccups that happened during it.
Anytime this week, you may have seen an article on there about whether or not you might be feeding your children pink slime. The author of that article was a fellow named Roger Drummer, and Roger is a diplomat of Chinese herbology. He’s a Chinese herbologist. He travels all over the place lecturing on the benefits of Chinese herbs. He’s a US patent holder of several different Chinese herbal formulations and he’s got close to 30 years of experience basically formulating personalized herb and nutritional remedies for thousands and thousands of people. I have had the pleasure of hearing Roger speak before and hearing some of his ideas and what he has to say goes way beyond just telling you what Chinese herbs are all about and he’s going to have some fantastic information for us today about how to enhance our health and how to enhance our performance. So Roger, thanks for coming on the call today.
Roger Drummer: Oh it’s great. I’m excited to be here.
Ben: Well, we’re excited to have you and I guess the perfect place to start for people who really aren’t familiar with Chinese herbology – what exactly is Chinese herbology or what is a Chinese herbologist, and what’s your background? How did you get into this?
Roger Drummer: Well, I have a certification in Chinese herbology. But basically I’m a herbal… a herbologist is more someone of a scientist who studies plants. A herbalist who actually takes that is someone who takes that information and applies it to real people. So I’m more of the real people guy although I do a lot of research on herbs. And my background is pretty unique. I’m one of the few – probably practicing – herbalists who studied as an apprentice to another herbalist. Most people go to acupuncture school and spend at least five years and apply to the national committee that certifies acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Ben: Gotcha. Gotcha. So as a Chinese herbologist, what exactly do you do? What’s your day job look like or are you primarily just speaking now?
Roger Drummer: Well, at the present time I’m doing mostly speaking and formulating things for other companies, and doing consultations on the phone or doing research work for companies. I have my own Web site where I put out health information and the products that I sell. So basically I’m involved with that.
Ben: Right. Gotcha. So that’s over at www.askrogerdrummer.com for those of you listening in. So as far as the Chinese herbs go, what exactly are the classifications of different Chinese herbs and how would they be used?
Roger Drummer: Well it’s interesting because Chinese herbology only has the system really that’s broken up into classes of herbs. The one mistake that most people make is they think all herbs are good for them and they can take them at any time, and the reality is that most herbs – in fact most herbs you find here in the United States or Europe are medicines. You take them for specific conditions. And (unintelligible) is the normal class of herbs that we know about, which is medicine – things you would take to kill something off immediately. In fact they call them poisons in China because they’re meant to kill something that’s invaded your body, right? So the next in the history of the use of herbs in China that was meant to just build you to a state of radiant health… and in fact the Taoists came up with this whole system of herbology basically using them as part of their spiritual practice, because they lessen their stress. They help them recover from illnesses, also made them stronger. A lot of them were used just to help with their meditation. So there’s a wide range of uses for those types of herbs.
Ben: Gotcha. So in addition to the classifications of the different Chinese herbs and how they actually work, on the Web site you talk about… on your Web site www.askrogerdrummer.com, you talk about three treasures of Chinese herbology. What exactly are those? How do those kind of form the platform of what you do?
Roger Drummer: Well, the whole healing arts system in China started with the theory of the three treasures. It’s about 5,000 years old. When you look at that – what they’re called is Jing or translates as vitality. You have Chi which is energy, Shen which roughly translates to spirit. It’s a way of looking how energy manifests in your body and if you could bring them into balance then you have the greatest chance of not only feeling really good, but tapping into your inner self. That was the whole idea in Taoism. When you translate that over to modern times, what they called Jin has to do with your reproductive system. The hormones of your glandular system and the energy of your muscles. So when you think about that, there’s the whole idea that you can serve that. You live a lifestyle that doesn’t wear that out. In Western terms, we’d say try and avoid getting burned out. Make sure that you’re actually eating well and sleeping well and not partying so much because that puts a strain on your adrenals which are part of that whole Jin system. In fact it’s the most important part, because it’s actually where you lose most your energy – in the adrenal being constantly turned on through stress. So in their idea, Jin rules your longevity. The length and quality of your life has to do with the strength of your glandular system. Pretty much the way that you look at it here in the West too. When your glands are functioning really well and they’re balanced and they’re signaling properly, then you’re in your greatest state of health and your whole system works well because it’s almost like the chips in your computer. It runs and relays messages and the whole system works better. Now the Chi, everybody’s heard of that term. They know that it’s energy, but when you look at it physically, it has to do with how much energy you make on a daily basis and that’s influenced by how well you eat and different exercises you do that involve breathing. One of their big things was light exercises like Qi Gong and Tai Chi that had more to do with subtle movements, and even though they were pretty hard – a lot of them in Qi Gong – it was more about subtle energy and getting to the point where you can feel actually your own energy, so you knew it exists and it gave you this almost inspiration to learn more about it and pay attention to it. But the way you should look at it in its simplest form is that you make energy out of the food you eat and the air that you breathe. If you do some breathing exercises, it will enhance it. If you pay really attention to the foods you eat and eating more nutrient dense food, then it makes it easier for your body to make Chi out of it, then you have a ready source of energy everyday. But the most important part of that is when you do it, you don’t tap into your adrenals as an energy source. This is one of the big problems in America, is that people are constantly tapping into their adrenals for energy by either skipping meals or drinking too much coffee or being constantly stressed and using too many things to push themselves through barriers at work. And all these things just continuously tap into your adrenals and you’re not using your food as a constant source of energy.
Ben: So when you’re talking about energy – just to interrupt you real quick – you’re talking about more than just calories giving your cells the ability to make your muscles move?
Roger Drummer: Oh yeah, we’re talking more… energy is involved in every process in Chinese medicine. When you look at it, their whole idea of health is how energy moves around your body. Every organ in your body is involved in it, in the processing of it, how it flows around the system and in their idea of energy it’s all about flow and how it moves around. And that’s where the whole acupuncture system came from, was how they can enhance the flow of energy around the body. Acupuncture is simply set up to put a needle in a place where it’s blocked and another needle in a place where there’s not enough energy and running the energy in between. Kind of like having an electrician come to your house to fix a wire that got chewed through in your wall. You’re just hooking up electrical energy so it all goes around the entire body. Now in that concept, the thing that most disrupts your energy is stress. Because that impacts the main organ system… around your entire body.
Ben: You broke up for just a second there. You said that stress impacts the what?
Roger Drummer: Impacts your liver more than anything else.
Ben: Okay, gotcha.
Roger Drummer: When you first experience stress and you tense up, that’s a liver issue. Your liver organ and the system that it’s a part of which is in Chinese medicine is connected to your nervous system – when you get stressed and you tense up a bit, your whole body inside tenses and your energy stops flowing. And when you hold on to that tension, then your energy gets stuck and not as much of it is moving around and nourishing all parts of your body. So again, herbs are used to move that around and to enhance the flow and direct energy around the body, but also to make sure that you’re not just running out of that energy. Now Shen, the one we haven’t talked about yet – the Shen treasure had to do with their idea that your heart had more to do with your mind and the way you viewed life than what we think of the mind being involved with the brain activity. It had more to do with Shen, your inner (inaudible) that you were born with, and how you viewed life and how you moved through life and handled stress determines how much energy you actually have. So they knew 5,000 years ago that if you could develop a clear mind and heart and really see into what was going on in life, you were less stressed, you had less tension and thus you didn’t use up so much energy inappropriately dealing with stress. It is… the best way to conserve your energy and have more energy is just to avoid more stress because you’re not turning your adrenals on continuously and having all these things happen to your digestive system because you’re producing too much stress hormone.
Ben: So basically the idea behind what you do as a Chinese herbologist, is you try to give people energy so that they don’t have to stress themselves out? Is that kind of the basic idea?
Roger Drummer: Sure, it’s about giving them certain types of herbs which – they’re called adaptogens, which are superior herbs that regulate the stress response. When you use those, people have energy, at the same time they’re less stressed. Because an adaptogen will regulate how long you stay in a stress response, not get locked into it and at the same time it nourishes the glands involved in it so they just actually work better and it calms your nervous system. So when you do that for someone, they have a greater ability to be less tense and stressed when they encounter a stressful situation and so they don’t overreact and lose as much energy. Then when it’s over they have… when the stress situation is over, because their glandular system resets properly, they don’t stay locked in it and lose so much energy inappropriately.
Ben: So, how would something based on an adaptogen or a Chinese herb work differently in the body to give it energy than an energy drink like a Red Bull or Monster or Rockstar or something like that?
Roger Drummer: Well all of those drinks are based on one formula, which was the original Red Bull formula. Almost all of them are the same, and they have a little bit of some aminos in it, different things like that which are basically – the aminos they use is used to calm your nervous system a little bit so you can get more caffeine in your system and not have it over amp you, and so there’s not really much in it that provides real energy. It’s more of a stimulant, but with Chinese herbs, you get natural energy from your organs and glands and how they affect your body’s ability to process energy out of food and out of the air you breathe and how all that feeds into the health of your hormones and your entire nervous system. Different in that it strengthens your internal organs. In fact, that’s how I got into Chinese herbs, was I had chronic fatigue. And in their view, chronic fatigue is just your organs and glands have lost their ability to make energy. They’re too worn out so you have to bring the vitality of those up before you can experience energy.
Ben: So, as far as this management of stress thing goes, I’ve seen that you’ve said in some of your articles and online that you think that 90% of all diseases that people get are related to stress. Why would you say something like that?
Roger Drummer: Well it’s pretty much been written about in all kinds of literature and books on herbs and adaptogens and it’s a science based number, but when you look at it and how they come across that, just think about the fact that it plays a huge role in your hormone balance. It affects your memory, your emotional stability, it’s a huge cause of depression, it lowers your immune system, it plays a huge role in cardiovascular disease, premature aging and even substance abuse. And the World Health Organization said that mood disorder is a part of stress, is right now the fourth major cause of illness and disease in the entire world, and they think it’s going to be number two by the year 2020, which is only 10 years off now. So it plays a role in everything. Just thinking about that anybody who’s stressed which means basically just about everyone has impaired (inaudible) function. Every single time they eat, their level of stress is affecting how much nutrients they actually extract from their food, how much energy they make out of it and how well their body utilizes it because of their stress response.
Ben: So in addition to the stress response, you say that another issue with people is chronic inflammation. How is chronic inflammation an issue and how is that related to people’s health conditions?
Roger Drummer: Well, because anytime you have chronic inflammation, which means just long term… the source is not exactly identified and it just goes on for a long period of time, well chronic inflammation is all about tissue damage and damaged DNA, and basically that can break down and lead to any chronic illness. It’s now been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer – you name it – it’s linked to chronic inflammation. That’s why another reason why stress is such a part of almost every chronic disease because the main thing that happens in your body physically from chronic stress is inflammation. Excessive stress hormone causes inflammation, and it sets up different parts of your body to just be more susceptible to being damaged long term because of the constant inflammation.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So based off of this concept of stress, being able to manage stress through giving your body the right type of energy and avoiding chronic inflammation, would you mind if I just ask you about a few different problems that a lot of Americans, a lot of people are facing and I’m curious how a Chinese herbologist or how you yourself would respond to some of these issues or health conditions.
Roger Drummer: Sure.
Ben: So, one that comes to mind is the blood sugar problem or the diabetes issue. How would you actually go about finding a solution to something like that?
Roger Drummer: Well, with diabetes and every condition, you have to have a talk with them about their diet. The main thing you want to emphasize in diabetes is they go on a low glycemic diet, avoid sugar and different types of fat that cause inflammation because diabetes is a disease of inflammation. In fact, it’s looked at as a disease of rapid aging due to the amount of inflammation that’s going on in the body. So the first thing you want to do after you talk to them about their diet is get a (inaudible) that regulates stress response. Because stress response mimics sitting down and eating a fast food meal with a lot of sugar in it. When you eat a meal like that, your body has an excessive amount of sugar in your system; an excessive amount of toxic fatty acids – more likely the food doesn’t have beneficial fats in it. It’s mostly rancid oils that have been overcooked or rancid animal fat. All of these things cause inflammation. So your body is flooded with that. When you have a stress response, it’s the exact same thing. Your body releases fatty acids and sugar trying your muscles up for fight or flight. So at the same time you’re already stressed and you’re sitting down and you’ve got an excessive amount and your body is having trouble clearing it anyway, now you sit down and eat more of it. So you have this double whammy of all these things floating through your bloodstream that causes excessive inflammation. Your body is working overtime secreting insulin to try and pack it in your cells but it can’t really do it. So now you start to pack on weight, you have these things floating around in your system continuously. It’s causing more inflammation and basically that’s one of the reasons why people age so rapidly with diabetes. All neuropathy issues are basically excessive inflammation in your system that’s not being controlled properly by nutrition or anti-oxidants you have in your system.
Ben: Interesting. Now you said something kind of interesting as you were talking about that, that you want to avoid the types of fats that could cause inflammation. What type of fats can cause inflammation?
Roger Drummer: Well, almost all the fat that people (rarely/regularly) eat cause inflammation. Omega 6 oil. And it’s not that Omega 6 oils are so bad for you if you were eating them in the foods that they came from. But most Omega 6 oils – things like corn oil and sunflower oil and different things that are normally used in products like the making of chips and they’re in breads and they’re in pastries and all these different things are hydrogenated. So they’ve actually been changed to a type of fat that won’t go bad right away. It makes it almost like plastic and your body can’t utilize that. You get that in your system, it causes inflammation right away. The worst thing it does is it starts to affect your cellular membranes because your cellular membranes are made from fatty acids and cholesterol and different fats and if you’re always feeding your system a bad source of that then it affects the natural membranes and how they move nutrients in and out of the cell, so when you combine that with the inflammation, you’re actually choking off all your cells. But that’s the predominant type of fat that most people eat. We have this idea that we have to avoid most animal products because they have fat, and we have to avoid all fat. That’s not actually true. Fat is one of the greatest foods you could ever put in your system if you actually ate good fats, and good fats cut down on inflammation.
Ben: Now, what about cholesterol? Wouldn’t cholesterol be an issue if you were eating these types of fats?
Roger Drummer: No. It’s not. Really, the whole cholesterol issue is one of the biggest mistakes I would have to say in modern medicine. The fact that cholesterol shows up when you have heart disease or you have some sort of damage in your artery, it’s considered to be bad for you and so they make all these drugs to (eliminate) cholesterol. But that just leads to a whole host of problems and if you actually looked at why you had cholesterol there in the first place and you realize that cholesterol is not the problem. It’s the fact that you’re not healthy, so your body is (using) too much cholesterol to repair cellular damage. Because that’s the main function of cholesterol – one of them. Cholesterol is used to make your hormones and to repeat cellular membranes and to be able for your body to process vitamin D. Your arteries become damaged and the only way your body can now fix that – it’s a secondary measure. It (ends up to) more cholesterol. Cholesterol goes out and kind of glues the crack shut and heals the damaged part of your arteries and then things start to stick to it. It wouldn’t be there if you actually ate well enough and had enough nutrients, there wouldn’t be any inflammation going on.
Ben: Interesting. So when somebody is having heart issues, the cholesterol is there because it’s being produced to assist with repair?
Roger Drummer: Yeah, it’s there to repair something as a secondary measure because you didn’t have enough nutrients in your system to repair it the right way. It’s all about homeostasis. Homeostasis takes vitamins, minerals and all these anti-oxidants and it repairs your arteries because your arteries are a type of connective tissue. So it needs vitamin C to repair itself. If you don’t have it, then it sends more cholesterol out to do the job and the main way to get it out of your arteries is to do the same thing – take more vitamin C and anti-oxidants and herbs that have flavonoids in it – you know that kind of anti-oxidant is really good at getting rid of inflammation in your arteries, and then you don’t have as much need for cholesterol. When you see your cholesterol go up (which everybody calls bad), there’s nothing wrong with LDL cholesterol. The only reason you have really high levels of it is because you’re experiencing cellular damage. So your idea makes it to go out and fix it. Then there’s another process where it goes back to your liver. If your liver is not working properly because you’ve been eating too much sugar or drinking too many sugary drinks and too many quick carbos out of flour (inaudible) those types of things – then your liver starts to become fatty and it can’t process the cholesterol that’s coming (audio break) that’s only bad because again, you don’t have enough anti-oxidants in your system to keep it from going rancid. Because just like any other fat, it doesn’t matter if it stays on your kitchen counter or if it’s in your bloodstream. It needs certain preservatives in the form of (inaudible) to keep it from going bad.
Ben: Interesting. So, you’ve got the diabetes and the high cholesterol issues being linked – from what it sounds like you’re saying to a lot different things than I think what people would naturally think of. Now how about some of the things that are going on inside people’s heads like Alzheimer’s and depression and dementia and all these issues. Does Chinese herbology have a unique approach those type of issues?
Roger Drummer: Well it does, in the same way they approach everything they see where your weaknesses are and try and build it up, and the whole link between depression and Alzheimer’s and dementia is excess of (audio break) almost like a sponge in your head to where it’s just so much more susceptible to damage to all the toxins in your system. Then when you combine that with the fact that people are usually eating some sort of diet that doesn’t really supply their body with proper nutrients for body function – because a lot of Americans start the day out with coffee and a doughnut or coffee and a bagel and some quick carbo. And it’s really not what your brain wants in the morning. Your brain needs certain things – protein that will give dopamine, and aminos that will help it make serotonin and all these different things to keep it in balance and you’re not getting it out of your foods so now your brain is deficient and that deficiency slows down neural transmitter function. It stops with the proper development of your brain. And remember that (hippocampus) becomes inflamed – it’s just about the only part of your brain that generate new neurons. So you’re really playing havoc with your brain when you combine stress and a lack of nutrition. Chinese herbs, when they look at any of these conditions, it’s all about regulating stress response and tensions. Because tension is basically just another way of saying stress. Too much stress. In fact if you reach up and grab your shoulders and neck and it’s really knotted up, you’re guaranteed you have excessive stress hormone. Because that’s just the way your physical body is reacting to that lack of energy flow around your system. So it’s all interrelated. Depression has a huge link to excessive stress hormones.
Ben: Now when you say excessive stress hormone, are you talking about a specific hormone?
Roger Drummer: Well, cortisol is the main one.
Ben: Okay. So is cortisol just completely 100% bad in the eyes of Chinese herbology or does it have a place?
Roger Drummer: Oh not at all. No, no. Not at all. It’s wonderful. It’s actually really good for you. It’s just that because the stress response has changed much from when we originally developed it millions of years ago, you have stress and it was over with quite quickly. So your whole system was set up to just respond quickly, have the stress be over and then it goes into a relax mode and resets, right? And so, nowadays the problem with it and the reason why we have so much excessive cortisol is that we’ll have a stressor and then an hour later, another stressor, an hour later or even 15 minutes later, another stressor. So our body never gets the downtime to reset and clear out excessive hormone. So our body is constantly flooded with this and we don’t have any way of calming our nervous system completely and having it to into reset. In fact, after you’ve been locked into stress mode for about 30 days, you basically just end up being locked into it 24 hours a day.
Ben: Interesting. Now how about – there’s one other thing I wanted to ask you about, and that’s cancer. Obviously big issue. Tons of money being torn into it. I’m curious what the Chinese herbal approach would be to something like that.
Roger Drummer: Well with cancer, again you’re looking at inflammation. The way they approach it – they have a whole… it just depends on the type of cancer. But there’s all kinds of herbal formulas. If you went to someone who specializes in that, they’re really working specifically on your disease. But they also have another way which is really unique to Chinese herbology. It’s called Fu Jing therapy. And Fu Jing therapy is basically how you support somebody’s life force while it’s undergoing radical treatment for disease. Because in China right now, they use a Western approach along with herbs at the same time treating cancer. So you might get chemo and radiation, at the same time you’re getting a large dose of herbs two or three times a day. What’s so different in that approach from our approach here in America is that they realize that most people die from the treatments that they get because they’re so draining and so damaging to their immune system and their basic life force which is another way to describe Jing or vitality that the person’s body has no way of recovering from the treatment and thus they’re more susceptible now to the disease itself or catching pneumonia or a cold and dying. So their whole idea with Fu Jing therapy is supporting someone’s health and the herbs that they use are actually superior herbs. The same types of things be it (adaptogens) herbs that build your health and maintain your glandular system.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So kind of related to these diseases that we just talked about, you actually have something that you call deadly habits. And you talk about some of these deadly habits on your Web site, but what are the deadly habits that you see in people and what can we do about them?
Roger Drummer: Well, probably the number one thing is consuming too much sugar. Every single person does it and it’s rare to run into somebody who doesn’t do that. And when you look at all the diseases that are related to that, it’s quite staggering. And the amount of inflammation that it causes and how it wears the pancreas out, it just disrupts everything. It ruins your liver’s ability to process cholesterol and leads to heart issues, it’s involved with diabetes. It has a lot to do with high blood pressure because again, you already have inflammation in your arteries and the sugar just adds to the inflammation. And so when you look at also… high fructose corn syrup is probably the worst of it. This is kind of the funniest issue in the health field, back when I got into it in the early 80s sugar was looked at as something evil. And now (audio break) disrupting your hormones and all these different issues. It’s a highly inflammatory chemical. And you look at high fructose corn syrup – basically your liver cannot process it and so your liver becomes fatty. That’s been listed as one of the next two great health crises in America, is something they call non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome. The liver is actually just kind of like an alcoholic’s liver, only they don’t drink alcohol. It’s mostly overconsumption of high fructose corn syrup. Then the other great crises is dialysis. Kidney function is going later in life. That’s just a biggie. Most people don’t realize that one or two cans of soda they drink everyday not only leads to… because of the way your body has to work overtime to actually deal with that much acid and that much sugar.
Ben: You broke up for just a second there. You said they don’t realize that the one or two cans of soda that they drink a day are doing what?
Roger Drummer: That may be putting them in a position to get all of those diseases we talked about so far, but also things like osteoporosis are related to it because of the amount of acid in soda and the sugar response. Your body has to have a natural response to that amount of acid and sugar or it will damage your body immediately. So to keep that from happening, it has to buffer that and that buffering solution the body makes has a lot of the minerals it uses that comes from your skeletal system. So every single time you drink one, you’re going to weaken your skeletal system somewhat. Unless you’re eating almost a perfect diet full of trace minerals and different minerals that you need every day, you’re not going to be able to buffer that amount of acid in your system.
Ben: Gotcha. Now what about like a diet soda or an artificially sweetened soda?
Roger Drummer: I think those are actual worse. Because now, you’re taking something in that’s considered to be a neurotoxin. Something that excites your neurons to death almost immediately, and you’re causing brain damage every single time you drink one. And it does something to your liver which makes you actually crave sweet foods more. So, there’s all kinds of studies that show that drinking things with aspartame in it doesn’t have any effect as far as being part of a diet program. In fact it’s one of those (inaudible) that most doctors prescribe for diabetics. And it’s directly linked to causing diabetic retinopathy. So it damages your eyes immediately. In fact, in most laboratories, when they want to destroy the retina in your eye, they’ll just give rats aspartame or Tylenol because both of them work really well in doing it.
Ben: So you’ve got sugar and you’ve got artificial sweeteners. Are there any other deadly habits that you wanted to talk about?
Roger Drummer: Sure, like snack food is one of the biggies. This is interesting, because – we always hear about the French paradox and heart disease and how they eat all this fatty foods. What your realize if you’ve ever been over there… they (unintelligible.) You don’t walk around and find people walking around with bags of chips and all these different things that they’re always munching on. And they’re basically sitting down at most of their meals and having a wide variety of food. They may have a lot of cheeses and all that stuff, but that’s historically how people ate – was having a larger amount of fat in their diet and not too much sugar. That sugary types of food is something that’s only been around for a few hundred years. And the body is meant to process fat. So it has a whole different effect. Now when you look at modern foods, snack foods like potato chips – hardly anybody realizes that a potato chip, one serving of it has 400 times the legal amount of a carcinogen in it called acrylamide. And so every time you eat one serving of it, you’re getting that huge dose of cancer causing chemicals. And yet, people do that normally at least twice a day. They can’t have a sandwich without potato chips or French fries which has the same exact amount in it. They can’t sit down and have any type of a meal when they’re working without having chips or French fries in it. So every single day, they pile in some carcinogens and their whole body has to work overtime to kind of match that with nutrition, prevent cellular damage. You waste so much of your body’s energy, just dealing with what you sat down and ate at lunch. So, that’s one of the worst habits. Then you combine that with lack of sleep and exercise. People aren’t drinking clean water. All those basic things all put your body under stress and when you add that to emotional stress then your whole system is working overtime to try and balance out these excessive responses.
Ben: What do you mean people aren’t drinking clean water?
Roger Drummer: Well, you know you’d be surprised. I thought – this was an eye opener for me. I thought years ago when I was – I’d been in the health field for so long, I just assumed most people I knew drank good water. They either had filtered water at home or they bought filtered water. They had some supply of it. And it turns out, I just started paying attention to the fact that most people have not yet even figured out that tap water is so bad for them. Or that it has a negative impact on their health. And when you look at all the chemicals in it, it’s pretty mind blowing that the chemical they add to water to make it safe to drink – which by the way, even though I’m going to say the United States does have the best water system in the entire world – and they have to put the chemicals in it because the water that you’re drinking it, over half of it has already been drunk by somebody else and it’s been through the septic system. So you can’t basically put it back in your house without putting chemicals in it. But they add fluoride, aluminum, chloride and you have chloride byproducts. All of them damage your arteries and they’ve all been linked with brain damage and so you’re causing an excessive amount of inflammation, all throughout your vascular system. Just every single day that you drink tap water. Yet, most people don’t realize that and they use it for cooking their food and we’re just going to concentrate the minerals in it and the byproducts. So it’s a huge source for a lot of people of toxic chemicals that again cause inflammation.
Ben: Now, have you ever worked with any athletes or done anything in the realm of sports performance and its relationship to Chinese herbology?
Roger Drummer: I have. It’s been a while because I haven’t been in private practice so much in the last few years. But the way you look at it is basically just giving them something that strengthens again… Jing, which is their glandular system. And that has an effect on how they recover from a workout or recover from a meet or whatever event they’re having. A lot of it depends on how your adrenals and your glandular system resets after the event. Again, heavy physical exertion is another type of stress response but in a healthy person it actually resets… so you assist them with different herbs to not only make sure that their adrenals go back to reset function right away but you give them things that increase their depth of breathing, adaptogenic herbs oxygenating the blood. All these different things have an effect on how much endurance they have and how they recover.
Ben: Now when somebody hears this and they want to incorporate – they hear about these diseases that are related to stress and inflammation, and then your three energy sources that you talk about that kind of base the foundation of Chinese medicine and having those all aligned properly – is this something where somebody can just go buy a bunch of herbs and mix them in a bowl in their kitchen? How does somebody actually go about taking advantage of some of the concepts that we talked about today?
Roger Drummer: Well, there are a few ways. I have a Web site where I sell a drink that’s based on adaptogenic herbs and shutting off stress hormone and feeding your brain. You could also go see a Chinese herbologist and hope that they actually know about it. A lot of herbologists just practice medicine and so you have to be able to find one that is more up to date in the modern use of the different herbs. Specifically adaptogens. Because adaptogens are really I think the perfect herbal tonic for what’s going on today in the country. Because they have to do with loss of energy, preventing stress, recovery from stress. They’re probably the most life giving herb that you could ever take when you look at a modern lifestyle.
Ben: Now you said you have a drink that you formulated. Is that that Tian Chi, that’s on your Web site?
Roger Drummer: Yes, it’s Tian Chi and in fact (inaudible), www.trytianchinow.com.
Ben: Try Tian Chi now. So that basically incorporates all these adaptogens and things that you talked about today?
Roger Drummer: It’s based on adaptogenic herbs and slowing down the stress response and actually re-establishing proper stress response and then also it has an array of nutrients that directly feed your brain because so much of the issues with dementia, loss of memory and depression has to do with the fact that you’re not eating well, so your brain is not getting nutrients and then stress is constantly causing damage to your brain. So it has a whole phase of nutrients in it that feed your brain. You’re more alert. You can pay attention. You can focus, things like that.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay, I’m going to put a link to that in the Shownotes to this, as well as a link to your www.askrogerdrummer.com. We obviously just scratched the surface of some of the advantages of incorporating Chinese herbology and I would love to hear some of the listener responses to this interview and maybe even get you back on the show at a later date to actually talk about any of the comments or questions that listeners might have, but I want to thank you for coming on today, Roger, and filling us in on Chinese herbology and the whole stress, inflammation concept.
Roger Drummer: Well I was glad to do it and I’d love to come back anytime you wanted to do it.
Ben: Alright, well fantastic. Have a great day and this is Ben Greenfield and Roger Drummer signing out from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com.
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