Podcast from: bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne
[00:52] About Daphne Miller
[02:56] Trade Station
[08:15] How Daphne Describes the Jungle Effect
[14:38] The Connection of a Traditional Mexican Diet to a Modern Mexican Diet
[21:36] What Daphne discovered in Cameroon about Colon Cancer
[26:25] Why Daphne Sometimes Have Wine For Breakfast
[31:49] What Daphne found in Africa in as far as Colon Cancer in Concerned
[33:23] What Daphne thinks about Foraged Greens versus Modern Hybernized Greens
[40:01] The Human Charger
[44:24] Why Daphne got into the “Soul of Soil” Concept
[46:55] ‘Farmacology’- Depression in Conjecture with Egg Farms
[51:56] Cancer and Wineries
[56:31] How Microbes May Actually be Beneficial
[1:00:39] What is Hydrosol? Why Can it be Used for Sustainable Beauty?
[1:07:11] End of Podcast
Ben: Hello, my friends. My guest on today’s podcast has wine for breakfast. I’m not kidding, although it’s not every morning but she has had wine for breakfast. I actually went all the way to Berkeley, California. I was recording a podcast of this fantastic place called Mission Heirloom. It’s actually a test kitchen that produces amazing foods and it was not me recording a podcast there but rather my two little nine year old boys who have this fantastic mouth-watering food podcast called Go Greenfields. Like their last couple of episodes were bone broth, colostrum donuts and an oatmeal-less oatmeal made with a spaghetti squash in raw honey and coconut milk. They do amazing recipes. So check out their podcasts if you have kids and you want your kids to be inspired to cook. Check out their podcasts with your children or your friend’s children at gogreenfields.com.
But we digress. My guest on today’s show, Daphne Miller is a doctor and she’s an author of two fantastic books that we talk about in today’s show. She’s a clinical professor at UC San Francisco and she’s worked in the past 15 years on journalism, and food production, and ecology, and health, and she’s freaking brilliant and extremely entertaining and she’s got this beautiful home and garden in Berkeley. So I visited her to record this podcast on her back porch which is why occasionally you may hear a fire alarm why she had to go get chicken into the fridge, I guess out of the fridge into the oven. And it ultimately turned out to be one of those fun podcasts where it’s one of those deals where you can hear us face to face. You can also see us face to face if you go to the show notes for this episode at bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne D-A-P-H-N-E. You can watch the episode that are recorded via Facebook live if you want to see us with our faces stuck in front of a microphone as we do this and read the questions that people ask as we’re actually doing this thing live.
So anyways, it’s a fantastic show and this show is brought to you by, if you do have wine for breakfast something that you’ll need to use and that’s toothpaste. Yes, a great tasting toothpaste made with MCT oil. That’s right. No fluoride. No xylitol. Corn-free. Did you know that toothpaste has corn in it? GMO corn? No soy, no GMO, no sodium sulfates, no gluten, paleo-friendly for all those people, great-tasting, earth-grown, mouth-freshening, cacao mint flavor. And it’s just one of the many products that you can get over on the websites of my friends at Onnit. On they do toothpaste. They do amazing fitness gear. They do supplements and salts and all sorts of really cool cutting edge things. You get 10% off of anything there just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/onnit. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/o-n-n-i-t. You don’t even need a code. How nifty is that?
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Alright, let’s jump in to today’s show. Shall we?
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“Kind of the modern approach to cancer was obliterate it, cut it out, burn it out, chemo it out and what we find is in five to ten years cells grow back way more resistant than they were originally.” “On these farms where they found these healthy kids and healthy parents and so on, they did find bugs that we don’t associate with health like listeria and salmonella and shigella and so on, but they were in very small concentration and they were in the company of all these really healthy fungi and bacteria.”
Ben: Well I’m here in Berkeley, California as promised with the author of two amazing books that kind of blew my mind when I read them over the past year because they’re so in line with everything that I’ve talked to you guys about on other podcast that concept of blending ancestral living with modern living, taking cues from nature, growing our own food or tapping into what our ancestors would have eaten. And my guest today is Dr. Daphne Miller, she’s the author of two amazing books “The Jungle Effect” which is about the healthiest diets from around the world and how to make them work for you, how to as I mentioned learning a little bit more what your ancestors ate.
And in the book “Farmacology”, Daphne will be able to tell you about this but she travelled to farms and investigated the way that wineries work and the way that people treat their soil and figure out how to actually tie that into the way that you take care of your own body. Now I’ll put Daphne’s bio, her website, and every amazing thing that she’s done over the past 15 years when it comes to food production and ecology and health over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/d-a-p-h-n-e and Daphne is a Family Physician, and an author, and an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California and she lives and gardens right here at her home where we’re at in Berkeley, California. So Daphne, welcome to the show.
Daphne: Thank you, Ben it’s really nice to have you here and your two very cool sons.
Ben: (Laughs) Yeah, we brought River and Terran and we’re in Berkeley, California. We did the Spartan Race yesterday.
Ben: So we ran around the stadium with our shirts off and we ate at Chinatown last night and the boys recorded their own food podcast called Go Greenfields, and we’re going to go to the Mission Heirloom Test Kitchen tomorrow night.
Ben: To eat some more food and recording their new episode.
Daphne: These guys are wonderful.
Ben: Yeah, they’re fantastic. (Crosstalk) Yeah, and to paint a picture for you guys we’re here on Daphne’s back porch with that gorgeous view of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. Daphne’s got her wine and I’ve got my water but regardless we’ll…
Daphne: Sshhhhhhh. (Laughs)
Ben: We’ll give a quick toast. Yes. (clicking sound)
Daphne: I’m not on camera. (laughs)
Ben: I’d normally be drinking wine at this time on Sunday night, anyways. (Takes a sip). So “The Jungle Effect” it fascinates me how you came up with this concept. How would you describe what you call the jungle effect?
Daphne: Well, the whole story started in my practice in my medical practice in San Francisco with a patient who had been struggling for a long time with thyroid issues, and fatigue, and pre-diabetes, and borderline hypertension, and just all these problems that had come on in her. For these, and she came in and told me what for her felt like an extraordinary story that her uncle had died and she went back to her native village in Brazil on the banks of the Amazon River and was there visiting her family for a couple of months. And while she was there she noticed that all of her chronic health problems got better. And this was completely perplexing to her because she wasn’t in her mind doing anything to get healthier. She said she didn’t change she thought, really how she was eating other than she was eating the foods there and she wasn’t exercising more anything like that and in fact, it was a little bit of a stressful time because her uncle had died. But she started to notice that her weight was coming down and her blood pressure was better and her sugars were better and her energy was better and then she came back to San Francisco and slowly all her health problems, her chronic health problems returned. They all came back.
And so, she had come into my office telling me this story and she said to me literally I want to figure out what was causing that jungle effect?
Ben: So she said it. She said the jungle effect.
Daphne: She said that. She said the jungle effect, yeah. And so that is kind of what started the whole thing and lo and behold, about a year later I ended up volunteering in a little tiny village in Peru that was also on the banks of the Amazon River, actually filling in for a local doctor who needed a month’s respite. She was a doc from Wisconsin who sort of moved down there and was living down there but needed to go home for a month. And so I went down to fill in in this little clinic and was spending time in this really traditional remote community that had no vehicles and really eating all just local food that came out either from the river or the banks of the river and started to realize that I wasn’t seeing any of the chronic diseases that I see all the time that are my bread and butter in San Francisco. The diabetes and the hypertension and the hypothyroidism and the chronic fatigue and so on.
Ben: So you were actually testing these people and (crosstalk) not seeing any of the same diseases?
Daphne: Well, I was working in the clinic and I saw the ailments that came in and I saw plenty of like snake bites and machete wounds. (laughs)
Ben: I was going to say like few accidents.
Daphne: Yeah, tetanus, but saw none of these other issues and it is not that people weren’t living long enough to have them. They were very elderly in the community.
Ben: They were dying from [0:11:12.9] ______ worms.
Daphne: No, I mean some people were but there was a lot of longevity going on too and it was really interesting to have that juxtaposition. And so it started to get me really interested in communities around the world but still have very low rates of modern chronic disease. And I realize that I could in a way, act as a conduit for my patients and travel to these communities and sort of figure out what they were eating and bringing back to my practice in San Francisco and share it with my patients. And so the whole book is kind of an adventure in doing that and I relied on the medical literature, the epidemiological literature to figure out places that I called cold spots that had very low rates of a specific problem like…
Ben: Cold spot.
Daphne: Cold spot.
Ben: That’s different than like a blue zone?
Daphne: Well, I wrote it if you see the book came out before blue zones. (laughs) Arguably, maybe.
Ben: You’re ahead of time.
Daphne: Maybe that was sort of an inspiration who knows for that concept but it was for a specific like, who knows? Yeah. We’re knocking out some [0:12:30.6] ______, have a tug ‘o war about it but, so yeah, I was looking at colon cancer and diabetes and all these different things from travelling to Cameroon, and West Africa, and Okinawa, and Iceland, I was super interested in Iceland because although they are the same latitude as countries like Finland and spent half their year in darkness they’re actually at least at that time had much lower rates of depression and seasonal effective disorder, and so it’s just same what makes the difference.
Ben: In the spring, they’re very happy. I was just there and I was just in Reyjavik and it’s true.
Daphne: They drink a lot but they’re happy. (laughs)
Ben: Who would ride a bicycle around in frigid conditions with a big smile on their face?
Daphne: So it was kind of an exploration of all of these ideas and of course, at the end of the day people are like, what’s the punchline, you know, what is the secret sauce in terms of staying healthier? And the answer is that first of all it’s complicated and then it’s all about the total lifestyle. It’s not just diet that makes you healthier although diet is really really important but I think the bigger message and the one that for me was really delightful about doing this project was there are many different ways to eat healthy. Like I was at the Tarahumara in Mexico who have this really intense plant-based diet and hardly eat any animals products at all compared to Iceland where like half of their…
Ben: Right, corn and beans.
Daphne: Yeah, half of their diet is sheep and fish and yet they had this sort of equal rates of longevity and hardiness and resilience and so on. And so, they really are depending on your constitution, and your preferences, and your emotional kind of connection to food. There are just many different ways to eat well.
Ben: That’s what I wanted to ask you about. You bring up the Tarahumara tribe for example, can you draw connection between what they’re eating and you talk about in the book like beans and mace, legumes, corn, things along those lines like you mentioned not a lot of animal fats. What a traditional I guess, a Mexican or South American diet like that would look like compared and contrast it to like a modern Mexican diet and what you found in terms of what happens when let’s say like Mexican living in Southern California returns to a diet like that or you know, a patient who you deal with?
Daphne: Right, so a couple of things there just unpacking all the interesting questions you just asked. First of all, what’s so fascinating about the Tarahumara is that they’re really still one of the most isolated sort of remote communities within Mexico. So it’s really hard now in most parts of Mexico have been infiltrated by [0:15:40.1] ______ and it’s kind of modern industrial foods, so it’s really hard.
Ben: College students drinking tequila with enzymes.
Daphne: (Laughs) Well, even traditional foods like tortillas a lot of tortillas come from factories in Southern California that are eaten in Mexico, you know it’s just like…
Ben: It’s crazy.
Daphne: Yeah, it’s fairly cookie what’s happened and a lot of its GMO corn and so on, but at least deep down in the Canyons are the Barrancas del Cobre or the Copper Canyons where Tarahumara live is still really very traditional with very few little food coming from outside except for the occasional bag of Cheetos or you know, Mazola Corn Oil that I would see down there. And what you see is all these really traditional seeds being grown so the corn is not all like the corn that you and I think of as corn. It’s the zea maize or this really ancient grains or variety of grains that have tons of calcium and are just really rich in lots of different nutrients and B vitamins.
Ben: It’s an ugly corn little wrinkled colored stuff?
Daphne: Little wrinkled funny-looking yeah, you don’t just sit there and it’s when you eat this corn on the cob, yeah.
Ben: It’s like a corn on the cob, yeah.
Daphne: And that goes for the beans and the squash and all these things really are incredibly nutrient-dense in their more primitive variety or form rather than the hybridized kind of generic squash and beans that we get. So that’s one thing that really struck me while I was down there.
The other thing is that as I learned both from researches who have been following the Tarahumara for years and also by talking to community folks down there, they are the ancestral cousins to the Pima Indians who are in Arizona and a little bit in New Mexico and so on. And in the US we sort of think of the Pima tribes as having some of the highest rates of diabetes of any of the Native American groups in the US or any groups in the US. I mean, by the time you’re in your thirties as a young adult Pima, your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes I think is close to 30 or 40%.
Daphne: It’s really high. And yet here I was with their cousins, their genetic relatives down in the canyons in Mexico. So same genes and virtually no Type 2 Diabetes. So what that tells you is that as we’ve kind of suspected from many other chronic diseases we have these genes that either get turned on or off depending on the diet we’re on.
Ben: Any of these beauty of your own control group.
Daphne: Yes, exactly. I kind of found out over and over again around the globe the same with Icelanders who have immigrated to Canada. They had much higher rates of depression than the Icelanders who were in this northern communities in Iceland. And certainly in Cameroon one of the things that I looked at there was colon cancer rates and there’s all these interesting research showing how low they are in traditional communities all over West Africa, and yet African Americans of who can trace their ancestry to West Africa have colon cancer rates that are sort of at the same as white populations if not exceeding them. So what are these influences that turn our genes on and off within as we move around the globe, and some of it stress, some of it smoking and pollution, and all the other stuff but a lot of it is dietary.
Ben: With this Mexican example, did you have any patients who you actually took like who are Hispanic and put them on a diet closer to something that wasn’t like a Texmex or a Southern California corn tortilla and big corn and refried beans diet?
Daphne: Right, so the inspiration in each chapter of the book is in fact a patient from my practice who is trying to learn more about their traditional diet or the diet of the grandmothers. I mean, I think a lot of people when they think of ancestral diet they think paleo. (laughs)
Daphne: And this is really just…
Ben: And everybody eats paleo, right? Whether you’re African American or you’re Southeast Asian or you’re Northern European, it’s like paleo’s paleo, right? Bacon and eggs for breakfast.
Daphne: Right, paleo’s become the sort of like generic, yeah.
Ben: Quest protein bars before your workout.
Daphne: And this is much more about really just what your great grandmother cooked. And so in a sense, it is modern and it’s sooner than ten thousand years ago and it’s post-agricultural and all of those things, but really most of what we now see as modern chronic diseases didn’t start happening ten thousand years ago. It started happening forty or fifty years ago.
Ben: Right, when people began eating to a certain extent you know, not to paint with too broad a brush, but a big part of it as you alluded to a few of them eating a diet that was pretty much standardized to the locale that they were in and in many cases modernized the process.
Daphne: Process exactly.
Ben: But perhaps more importantly I find not what their ancestors would have eaten. So using another example like an African American for example, what did you discover when you were in Cameroon when it comes to colon cancer?
Daphne: So I’m going to push back a little bit about the ancestral thing just because most of us and you know, I’m sure for anybody who’s done any kind of genetic analysis on themselves we might identify with a certain group but our genes have become incredibly mixed up.
Ben: Oh yeah, that’s what my wife asked me when I told her I’m going to interview Daphne and she wrote this book about what you and your ancestors were eating and my wife’s like well, I have to listen and I might like her much.
Daphne: Yeah, we’re total, and so I think this idea of eat right for your DNA or whatever. It might work to a certain extent and certainly there are these genes that transcend different groups that are kind of these high risk genes that we’re finding out about like different kinds of EPO-e and you know, I can go on and sort of name these different genes that either make you more or less at risk for breast cancer or heart disease or whatever and that you find more in certain ethnic groups. But the real reason why I wrote this book was not so much to match it up with ancestry or DNA or anything like that but to match it up more on an emotional level. ‘Cause I actually firmly believe that you can take the same person with the same constitution and put them on a number of different healthy traditional diets and have them do well on it.
Daphne: But it really has to do with what for you feels right and makes sense and sort of has an emotional connection, and so on.
Ben: But truly you do accompany something like that you know, what do you call emotional or for determine [0:23:17.5] _____ for example, and accompany that with like laboratory testing or quantification or you just eat what makes you happy?
Daphne: No, well it’s sort of eating what feels like it actually has meaning for you in some way and so…
Ben: From a cultural standpoint?
Daphne: From a cultural standpoint, yeah, and I think what we’ve really been inundated with as a culture is first of all, this message that we don’t know how to eat right and you need somebody famous or someone who looks a certain way or a scientist or a supermodel or whoever else to tell you what the right diet is, and when I started to discover is in fact like your great grandmother pretty much knew what the right diet was (laughs) you know, so learn from her.
Daphne: Or great grandfather. I don’t want to be sexist here. (laughs)
Ben: Passed on her, yeah that’s [0:24:08.7] ______. What have probably been passed on to her by former family members?
Daphne: Exactly, and it was however that community ate well for generations off the land connected to local recipes, connected to foods that grew in season, connected to holidays and fasting and feasting, and all of these things. And so it’s just in a way the book really was to show people that it doesn’t have to be a prescribed diet that we knew as a species how to eat really well at a certain point because we didn’t have corporations and we didn’t have processed food to confuse us and we only ate what was in season, we only ate what was local, and what kind of grew together at the same time.
Ben: Would that be one of the ways to achieve what you’re talking about and that would be to eat seasonally any locally?
Ben: No matter what part of the world you’re in if you’re, let’s say, you are Hispanic and you’re living in where I live, right like Western Washington or Eastern Washington, you just eat the foods like the salmon, and the elk, and the apples, and the pears, and the non-GMO wheat and the kind of things you might find up in that locale even though it may not be traditional Mexican per se.
Daphne: Sure, I mean the problem that most people, the challenge I would say, is that people can hear that list of foods and they can be like, awesome! I’ll do it but then they actually have no idea how to make the food; a lot of my patients. And so that’s when they end up just getting a little confused and lost and either buying prepared stuff or sort of manufactured stuff and so on. So I feel like the recipes which is the tradition part are as vital a part of the healing process and the self-care as just to understanding what’s in season and the list of ingredients and so on. And so that’s where this book really does sort of discuss things.
Ben: Yeah, what I ask I mean you have for example, you have recipe of this wine, speaking of wine, you have wine for breakfast.
Ben: So tell me about drinking wine for breakfast and what is it about in the book?
Daphne: Oh, well ‘cause I spent time on Crete and which is…
Ben: In Crete, in Greece.
Daphne: In Greece, yeah, the island of Crete which is within Greece probably has a country that is sort of known for its longevity and so on as probably is.
Ben: Right, it’s the whole like goat milk and tea and like a hundred and ten year old…
Daphne: Yeah, it really is like the go-to place for longevity there. And what was so interesting to me is I was interviewing all these folks who were in their nineties and a hundred and so on, and I was asking them about breakfast ‘cause I kind of had this hypothesis and curiosity about breakfast. I had this hypothesis that breakfast was like this really important meal for them, but also this curiosity about what they ate for breakfast so that I could start to figure out what I could start eating for breakfast and across the board they all told me they had wine. (laughs)
Ben: They had wine for breakfast.
Daphne: In some form or another, like they would take this incredible local sprouted.
Ben: How would they blend it? with coconut oil on butter or?
Daphne: No, they were like taking tacos which are these sprouted barley bread and dipping it in a little bit of wine and it wasn’t like they were guzzling the wine. They were sort of using it more like a sauce to dip this barley bread in or they were chopping tomatoes and having that with wine and a little bit of feta cheese or whatever.
Ben: Wine, bread, olive oil. I can get on that, well maybe on a weekend breakfast.
Daphne: No, that’s the thing. We have all these rules here because someone told us that you shouldn’t have a little bit of wine, for you shouldn’t have wine for breakfast. But, and they’re literally probably having an eight of a cup or something like that but they were using it to soften their bread, but it was an interesting idea and made me kind of want to break out and learn all these other strange things people were doing that.
Ben: Yeah, well the recipe section of the book that’s kind of what you do, is you delve into the indigenous diet ‘cause we have so many biohackers and type A’s that listen in. And I guarantee they’re going to go get a 23andMe analysis. They’re going to figure out their predominant genetic traits and they’re going to get your book and just flip through the recipe section for that.
Daphne: And they’re going to be really disappointed because I don’t have, yeah.
Ben: I kind of thought that’s what you might say and that’s why I was going to say well, how do you figure it out if you’re a genetic melting pot. To return to that ‘cause I know I mentioned Cameroon and Africa and I thought it was fascinating how you travelled all the way to Africa to study this issue of colon cancer, what did you find in Africa?
Daphne: Well, I actually worked in Cameroon for over a year for Save the Children so a lot of these stories. I actually was visiting a professor in Okinawa at the Chubu Medical Center, and so a lot of the research was also intertwined with working as a physician in these different places the same with Peru and so on. It’s not like your book advances pretty slim, it’s not like you can afford to travel around the globe. (laughs)
Ben: Trust me, I know. (laughs)
Daphne: So as a physician I have that advantage like I can sort of double dip and do a little clinical work while I’m there. But in Cameroon very much the same as what I discovered in other places, it’s kind of this interesting rule of thumb that being poor but not too poor. And not being poor in the US but being poor in a traditional community somewhere else is actually a health benefit.
Ben: Like poor like, I don’t have an iPhone poor.
Daphne: Like I don’t have tons of technology and I don’t drive a car and I live in this fairly remote location and I have skills in terms of growing food and caring for myself, and yet I’m not so poor that I’ve lost my land or multinational corporations have come in and devastated the traditions of my community which is what’s happened in a lot of places in Africa. So I’m still maintaining my traditional way of life. That is probably the best formula in many ways for survival. And certainly not in the US. I mean, poverty in the US is equated with poor health outcomes, and enormous inequity, and disadvantage, and so on, and is a health risk factor unto itself. But in other places around the world there still is some advantage to not having all of the modern conveniences.
Ben: Yeah, and one of the things you really honed in on in that chapter ‘cause like in the Icelandic chapter you talked about like you mentioned, like they don’t get as much depression as you’d expect in that section of Iceland compared to Icelanders in say, Canada or in Tarahumara tribe that they don’t get as much diabetes as you tend to see in Mexicans living in say, Southern California. And then in Cameroon or in Africa you talked about how you don’t see as much colon cancer as you would in like an African American population over in the US. What was it in Africa or in Cameroon that you found when it comes to cancer?
Daphne: So everything that I found in other communities but certainly one of the things that struck me at least in the place I was working in Cameroon was, and this is more in Eastern Cameroon was the incredibly high rate of eating foraged foods. So wild greens and of every variety which are high in all these amazing antioxidants and B vitamins and iron and so on, and now that we’re understanding the human microbiome or and by the way, when I wrote “The Jungle Effect”, there was not such a focus on that but now in retrospect and the more we understand about the human microbiome you know, eating all these foods that are actually really great at feeding the beneficial bacteria in our intestines probably (laughs) had a lot to do with it. Whole grains and manioc root and different kinds of once again traditional mace and so on.
Ben: But do you think when you talked about foraging, you have like a whole bunch of different F’s in that chapter and foraging is one of them I know, do you think that there’s something special about let’s say, kale that’s been fed on by insects and picked from your backyard or from the wild versus what you get from the grocery store? Would both prevent colon cancer?
Daphne: Well, a lot of the traditional greens the ones that are more foraged or that are from a varietal that is not just once again, a modern hybernized one are much richer in fiber and richer in all variety of nutrients. So I think in fact they are more beneficial for…
Ben: Yeah, bacteria too when you’re speaking of microbiome.
Daphne: Yeah, and absolutely yeah, if you’re pulling things out of the earth then yeah, (laughs). So absolutely.
Ben: Yeah, and the soil.
Daphne: Yeah, and the soil and it just sort of a lifestyle where you’re out there and connected to the healthy soil which kind of leads to the next project which was “Farmacology”. (laughs)
Ben: Yeah, exactly and I definitely will have “Farmacology”. We’ll leave time for that.
Ben: For sure, but I think one thing that also intrigued me about the book was you talked about this concept that even when let’s say we decide, okay I’m going to eat not to kick this horse to death but more for my ancestry, or I’m going to go find a local ethnic restaurant that caters to my cuisine and what I’m like you mentioned, comfortable with.
Ben: When you walk into an ethnic food restaurant I think the example you gave in the book was like Skippy’s Peanut Butter at a Thai restaurant.
Daphne: Yeah, that was some kind of this devastating moment for me when I was waiting to use the bathroom in my favorite Thai restaurant and I look over and there’s just this case of Skippy’s Peanut Butter.
Ben: The same thing happened to me here in San Francisco at a fine sushi restaurant. I went up to use the bathroom and reading this in your book was like deja vu big jar of Skippy’s Peanut Butter in the kitchen. I’ve no clue what it’s for but what are they putting Skippy’s Peanut Butter in a Japanese sushi restaurant? But yeah, like what’s the deal with that, like when you go to an ethnic food restaurant, what ingredient did you find?
Daphne: Well, you know, if you go to Japan or Thailand or China and eat traditional food there in fact, a lot of it tastes completely different than what you get in a Chinese or Thai or Japanese restaurant in the US and part of it is that the US pallet is so accustomed to sugar. We want sugar in absolutely everything. And so you know, chefs or cooks have accommodated to this and so what tastes like Chinese or Japanese or Thai or you name it, here in the US is completely not what you get there and it’s not just the sugar it’s the salt it’s you know, kind of all of these synthetic flavors. My brother lived in Thailand for years and the first thing he taught me to say when I was travelling in Thailand was “mai sai nam tham” which means please don’t add sugar because the minute that they see that you’re from the US they think they have to like add all the sugar to their traditional food to make you like it. (laughs)
Ben: It’s crazy and how do you say that again?
Daphne: “Mai Sai Nam Tham.”
Ben: “Mai Sai Nam Tham.” Nice. So be careful when you’re eating at these ethnic restaurants to see that they actually are using local ingredients I mean, just because it’s Mexican does not mean that they’re using non-GMO corn tortillas and traditional mace and the little ugly corn and things along those lines.
Daphne: And I will say that there is sort of a whole new generation of restaurants and chefs and cooks that are very cognizant of these and trying to cook in a really authentic way. So I don’t want it in any way make this as a blanket statement about traditional cuisine that you would get in a restaurant but yeah, especially if they’re trying to make it inexpensively it can end up being unhealthy.
Ben: Yeah. And for those of you listening in again you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne, but in summary it’s in Mexico where you studied diabetes and like we mentioned that slow carb approach seems to be quite effective even if it’s not like a paleo eat-animals-all-day-long. It can be a plant-based slow carb approach. Greece, where of course you delved into everything from [0:37:55.0] ______ and having wine for breakfast and all the other things that you have in the recipe section. Iceland for depression. And I want to come back to that in just a moment. Cameroon, the cold spot for bowel trouble where you get in the fiber and foraging and all these things. Okinawa, where you talk about cancer and the strange absence of breast and prostate cancer there. And then you have foraging and recipes, of course.
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Alright, let’s go ahead and head over to Dr. Daphne Miller’s front porch.
Ben: Iceland, why is it that because darkness that are there, they’re not as depressed means that -ish is it ‘cause when I went over there they were eating whale and puffin like is there some magic secret sauce?
Daphne: Right, once again I want to be really clear that it isn’t one thing and that you know in fact, when the financial crisis happened in Iceland their depression rate skyrocketed so that’s just an illustration of how multi-factorial it is, and I don’t want in any way to misrepresent this as simply about diet. But one of the things that is really striking about Iceland is that they do eat an incredibly large amount of Omega 3 fats in their diet both from the fish and from the sheep that are feasting off lichen that grow there and…
Ben: Lichen moss.
Daphne: Yeah, moss.
Ben: Yeah, a furry kind of mace. It’s the same thing we were just in Finland, reindeer very high in Omega 3 content ‘cause they eat a lot of the lichen,7 the moss.
Daphne: Exactly. Yes. And even a lot of the wild berries the billberries that they pick and the great thing about this fatty nutrients is that if you really bulk up on them in one season they actually keep you going year round. So it’s not like something that you know depletes really quickly. You can eat a lot of it in spring or a lot of it in the fall and it keeps you going around the year, so.
Ben: So for example, to not obviously everyone’s going to listen to this and go to Iceland and live there if they have depression but the take away would be perhaps look at that concept of getting some fermented fish or some nice pickled caviar.
Daphne: Great. Just a lot of sardines.
Ben: Or even like if you have moss in the pinch, some good fish oil or something like that into your diet to take a clue from them just in the same way that you would take a clue from the Tarahumara and perhaps include more very well cooked mace and beans in your diet if you’re concerned about diabetes, or take a clue from Africans and forage more and need more fiber if you’re concerned about colon cancer. It’s that simply you’re just taking all these clues from where these diseases are in very low occurrence.
Daphne: Yeah, what I hope with the book is really to start a conversation about with your relatives who are still alive, who have a connection to what was eaten more traditionally in your family. Go back and get recipes from them as fast as you can. (laughs)
Ben: Right. Exactly, although there’s some recipes in my immediate family that are super tasty. Grandma’s cinnamon rolls for example.
Daphne: Oh yeah. But that’d probably not. (laughs)
Ben: They’re probably not going to prevent diabetes I’m just guessing. Now this other book “Farmacology” and for those of you who are watching the Facebook live version of this particular show “Farmacology” which I’ll also put a link to over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne. Did you write this before or after you wrote “The Jungle Effect?”
Daphne: Oh, after.
Ben: So this is the newer of your books. Describe this concept of why you got into thinking about soil in the first place. I think what we call soul of soil.
Daphne: Yeah, well if you sort of have heard what I’ve been babbling on about for the last hour, one of the things that happened after I essentially went around the globe discovering or rediscovering some of these traditional diets, was that I realized that I had missed a really important part of the story which was how all these foods are grown. And it was something that amazingly I had spent all this time talking to traditional cooks and community members and doctors in these different countries and so on and had not gotten into the production side of things at all.
And I realized that you really can’t change your health if you don’t think about how your food is grown. And I know that’s probably really obvious to most of your listeners but as a doctor you’re so focused on you know, first of all on your training. You’re so focused on things that aren’t even food and then it’s incredibly forward thinking to even think about food and then to sort of move down the supply chain to agriculture as just was this total leap for me. So that was the next iteration was spending time with farmers and really learning about agricultural systems and seed choice and managing soil and all of these things and understanding what a huge leaver these things are on our personal health. And also not just sort of the direct connection between agriculture and our health but also understanding these metaphors and how you treat the soil has everything to do with how you treat your bodies.
Ben: Yeah, it’s a fantastic range of metaphors, like you talk about these egg, what do you call ém egg facilities, egg farms? What’s the right word? (chuckles)
Daphne: Yeah, they are production facilities.
Ben: Chicken and egg production facility.
Daphne: In Arkansas, yeah.
Ben: And you went there and in the book you actually talk about the same way that you talk about Iceland and diabetes or Iceland and depression. Mexico and diabetes in the other book. In this book you talk about for example, eggs and depression or wine in the microbiome. So let’s go to eggs. Why did you choose to talk about depression or stress in conjecture with the egg farm?
Daphne: Yeah, and it was specifically the stress because what happened was that I visited an egg facility in Arkansas that was owned by this family, the Cox family and they had started with their hens stuffed into cages in this incredible high density environment basically factory farming their eggs. And then the price started to go up for free-range organic eggs, and so they got rid of all their cages and they just stuffed 15,000 hens in the house and fed them organic mash and it was still a freaking nightmare but those…
Ben: Even if they’re eating organic mash?
Daphne: They’re eating organic mash but it was just kind of like hell in a hen house and those eggs were being sold at Walmart as free-range organic eggs, and then all of a sudden the price started to go up for pastured eggs and there was this real market for pastured eggs and so they started to switch over and have move from 15,000 hens in the house to 5,000 hens in the house and give them each this little acre of green pasture to play on. And it was just incredible to see how that change had changed the health of their hens, their employees, the health of the soil around the farm and most importantly the nutrient value of the eggs. And so I talk about that transition and how on so many levels it’s a lesson for us both in terms of kind of good stress and bad stress because obviously when they move to the pastures they’ve got this different kind of stress, and that they could get chased by foxes, and they could chase each other, and the lightning storm could get them but they were not having this stress of living in this high density, completely loud smelly dusty environment, and I kind of equated that to some of my patients who are under chronic low grade stress versus ones who have occasional intense stressors but have a lot more autonomy over their lives like the pastured hens.
Ben: Right. It’s crazy what really left out at me was you talk about places like Manhattan for example, where we see loneliness in an extremely densely populated area and how you found when you were studying that farm how you have hens who were in the densely populated cages. The densely populated areas they actually have more social isolation issues.
Ben: Than the hens who were kind of like a little bit more lonely out in the pasture.
Daphne: Right. Yeah, then higher cortisol. But you know, it was in this weird way that their cortisol was higher all the time, it never varied versus the hens that were out in the pasture and by the way, this wasn’t my research. This is other researchers who I interview but when I was out the hens who were out in the pasture have this spikes in cortisol so when they’re chased by another hen or chased by a fox or whatever but over all their baseline cortisol is much lower and what I came to realize is that’s the kind of stress the we as humans want is occasionally to have these spikes in cortisol when we’re running a race or you know…
Daphne: Going to give an important presentation or something like that but overall we want our cortisol levels to be way lower.
Ben: Or when I look out in the yard to see my wife and she’s struggling with an alfalfa bell for the goats or she can’t figure out how to chop this block of wood, like that’s the kind of cortisol.
Daphne: You want to run out in.
Ben: Probably a little bit more natural.
Daphne: Yeah, exactly versus someone who constantly just has this low grade stress going on which is what happens unfortunately to a lot of us and certainly I see a lot of patients like that who actually never have the real spikes and stress but never are completely relaxed either.
Ben: Right, so perhaps if you’re lonely or feeling socially isolated the trick is not to surround yourself with a whole bunch of people but to instead perhaps identify stressors in your life and step back and be in perhaps a less socially stimulating situation but a more natural situation.
Daphne: Ah, I wouldn’t give that as like, it’s really probably thinking more about how can you get chronic stress out of your life? And that you know, the idea is not to destress entirely and actually in fact it’s really great to have.
Ben: The way they de-stress the chickens
Daphne: Yeah, no it’s great to have stressors in your life that kind of keep you excited and keep you on your toes and so on. But that there really is this idea of good stress versus bad stress.
Ben: Although, play devil’s advocate I had some fantastic beef in Walawala and they raise these cows on wine and the cows are literally just out in the field half-drunk all day. Completely destressed and grass-fed so. Of course, perhaps they do have stress maybe they run out of wine sometimes.
Daphne: Oh, who knows? And sometimes what you’re eating as beef is different (crosstalk) than how you want to live. (laughs)
Ben: Right. You have pain over stress, yeah. You talked also about cancer and I’d never once thought about a corollary between wineries and cancer. But why was it that you chose to talk about cancer in the chapter about visiting wineries?
Daphne: Well, it wasn’t wineries per se but it really was this idea of how this one vineyard that’s a really cool vineyard here in Northern California does their pest management. And so the parallel really was between pest management in cancer and you know, the kind of more modern agronomy approach to pest is eradicate them. Just wipe the heck out of them. Use whatever poison you can to get rid of pest in the field and what that has shown is that the pest come back with a vengeance and usually come back in this form where they’re resistant to all of the pesticides that you could possibly hit them with. And the same with weeds, and so when I’m drawing a parallel with is between that and cancer treatment.
And the fact that with the kind of the modern approach to cancer was obliterate it, cut it out, burn it out, chemo it out and what we find is in five to ten years cells grow back way more resistant than they were originally. And so there are these much more forward thinking folks in agriculture who are like, “wait! lets rethink how we’re doing pest management, let’s not bomb the heck out of these pests with any every kind of herbicide pesticide whatever that we can. Let’s do something that’s much more integrated and gentle and hierarchical with the idea that we will keep them at bay but not eliminate them.” And that’s been shown to be much more effective in the field and when I go on to talk about is there are now oncologists who are borrowing this approach and using it for cancer management and actually showing much better survival rates, much lower reoccurrence of invasive cancers and so on by not trying to obliterate the cancer but more by trying to sort of manage it as a chronic disease.
Ben: What would be an example of that? Like that management approach versus the obliteration approach? Which I assume would be like…
Daphne: So it’s happened with a lot of different kinds of cancers in it in fact, is using chemo but not using the big guns and using it at lower doses to kind of keep it at bay and using it in conjunction with all these other efforts that are trying to keep healthy cells healthier. So everything from dietary approaches to trying in fact to change pH levels, and oxygenation levels, and lower glucose levels, and so on to make it an environment that’s more hospitable for healthy cells and less hospitable for cancer cells.
Daphne: And that’s exactly what’s happening in agriculture as well with the approach that’s called Integrated Pest Management.
Ben: Yeah, you talked about like planting blackberry bushes and plumtrees around the vineyard to attract beneficial insect.
Ben: Not to kill the other insects but to attract beneficial ones that will outnumber the others.
Daphne: Right, or counter balance them.
Ben: When you talk about these benign cell boosters that they’re now using in cancer therapy that do the same thing. You’re not knocking out the cancer cells you’re instead promoting growth of the healthy cells.
Daphne: Exactly. So there’s a much more sort of sophisticated evolutionary understanding of how resistance happens both in agriculture and in their bodies and the idea’s if you use these big guns against cells be they plants or pests or human cancer cells that what you end up getting is the most resistant ones hanging around and taking over.
Ben: Yeah, there was another really fascinating section and I think a lot of people are familiar now with this hygiene hypothesis and the fact that we need germs and you know, germs help our children’s immune systems to become stronger et cetera. But one thing that intrigued me was a section of the book that you went to this Rockn-H Ranch and you talked about how they found a bunch of like microbial species. I don’t know if it was in the milk like the raw milk or in the actual children themselves that were microbes associated with serious infections, right, like you talk about listeria and staphylococcus and things that you would not expect to be beneficial at all. Tell me what you found when it comes to those.
Ben: Things we’d normally want to just knock out.
Daphne: Yeah, that’s super interesting and sorry. (Car horns blaring)
Ben: Hopefully, it’s not either of our cars that are getting locked into. And I realize that you have wonderful chicken. If we have fifteen minutes until your chickens fall down. I’m being aware of the time.
Daphne: Yeah, I need to put it in. That’s the problem.
Ben: So you need to put it in, okay.
Daphne: Yeah, so I just want to make sure.
Ben: And I can press pause, by the way. If you’d like to go put your chicken. No, okay.
Daphne: No, at that point it’s probably good for us to. All of this research on microbial diversity has shown is that it is beneficial to have a really large spectrum of bugs around and that in fact, be it on farms or in our gut or whatever it’s not necessarily the genetics of one specific bug that is as concerning if you have it in the company of many other types of bugs.
Ben: Yes. Diversity.
Daphne: And so this massive diversity probably is the healthiest piece and that’s why sustainable or regenerative or chemical-free farming is so important because what it does is encourage a diversity of microbes in the soil and that’s why eating a really diverse healthy diet is so important for our gut because it encourages a diversity of microbes in our gut.
Ben: So in other words if you were going to get on the raw milk band wagon, let’s face it a lot of raw milk does still have dangerous microbes in it but you may rather than kind of return that cancer analogy trying to kill all dangerous microbes instead, you do a wide variety of other fermented foods along with the raw milk habit like kimchi and sauerkraut and things like that?
Daphne: Well, you have to be careful ‘cause if you get enough in your system of one problematic bug like listeria or salmonella or something it can make you really sick or kill you. So it’s not like eating a diverse diet will overcome something that’s massively contaminated but the point that I’m trying to make is that on this farms where they found this healthy kids and healthy parents, they did find bugs that we don’t associate with health like listeria and salmonella and shigella and so on, but they were in very small concentration and they were in the company of all these really healthy fungi and bacteria.
Ben: That means the children were being exposed.
Daphne: They were being exposed to. Just simply culturing those less health-giving bacteria is in itself a danger sign but f you eat raw milk that’s been contaminated or sat around for a while that it can make you supremely sick, yes.
Ben: But to take the message is expose yourself to a wide diversity of bacteria?
Ben: Like white wash room drinking raw milk.
Daphne: Yeah, (laughs) absolutely.
Ben: That sounds like a good party though.
Ben: There’s one other thing I wanted to ask you ‘cause I came across a term in your book that I wasn’t familiar with called a hydrosol.
Ben: Hydro s-o-l for those of you listening in.
Daphne: Yeah, which is this really I don’t even fully understand the sort of energetic piece of hydrosols that a lot of people who do this distillation are very into and this came from your home state up in Washington.
Ben: Up in Washington?
Daphne: Yeah, and in more Eastern Washington. I visited this woman who was just amazing at both as an herbalist and as a farmer and she was growing all these herbs and distilling them using these traditional ancient alembic stills and what comes out from the distillate is a hydrosol which she described to me as kind of this perfect mirror because it is an aquaphillic distillate. It is kind of this perfect mirror of the aqueous part of the plant imbedded. It has essential oils in it as well and it ends up having all of these very healing properties. And she was specifically using it for cosmetics and so on but people use it for more for herbal treatments and…
Ben: So it’s potable water soluble and the fat soluble molecules from the plant?
Daphne: Yeah, it gets the essential oil in there but also the water soluble pieces, so it’s more of a complete image of the plant in a way than just taking essential oils.
Ben: And you can purchase these I think in the book you talked about how to make them, yourself.
Daphne: Yeah, I actually give out a little how to formula ‘cause they’re actually pretty easy to male but I use them and obviously it’s an end of one in my own personal experimentation. But I used it to help with kind of a dermatitis that I had on my face that the antibiotics weren’t treating and a bunch of other stuff wasn’t treating, and that’s how I first discovered the hydrosols was just a friend had given me a sample of one of them that came from this farm in Washington State and it totally cleared up my face where nothing else have. (laughs) What is in this stuff?
Ben: Yeah, and it’s even more than essential oils ‘cause essential oils are just the fat soluble form from oil.
Daphne: Essential oils are way too part or you wouldn’t just want to put a bunch of.
Ben: Right, they’re caustic in skin often, yeah.
Daphne: And hydrosols are incredibly gentle, yeah.
Ben: Alright, so for those of you listening in, she’s got recipes in her book. That was the section where you talk about what an aromatic herb farmer taught me about sustainable beauty in addition to… you travelled to the urban farm and learn about community medicine.
Daphne: Right, you know that was a pretty wacko chapter where I ended up actually interviewing (laughs) some kind of famous commercial person who makes cosmetics and you know like everybody agreed that most of our industrial beauty industry is just bogus (laughs) and so.
Ben: Oh yes, it’s toxic. I hold my breath when I walk through that section of the mall now.
Daphne: And so it just gave me a lot more faith than you know, instead of just working with plants and so on. (laughs)
Ben: Right, it’s fascinating you went to the winery, the urban farms, the Rockn-H Ranch, the biodynamic farming. I mean between this and travelling all over the globe for “The Jungle Effect”, like your books are fun but I love how you just draw so many practical examples from these journeys that you go on to these different areas whether it be Cameroon or a freaking chicken ranch. So I really did love these books and when I knew I was going to be in Berkeley I had to come over here and expose people to ‘cause I don’t see a lot of people talking about these books, but I mean they’re fascinating. And…
Daphne: Thank you. Thank you for recognizing them and I really appreciate that yet, “Farmacology’’ is being used actually both of them are being used a lot in curricula for folks who are learning nutrition and medicine and so on, and that for me is really inspirational ‘cause one of my biggest goals is really getting the next generation of people in health care to care more about this stuff and not just stick with the algorithms and stuff that the pharmaceutical industries are telling us to do so, yeah.
Ben: Well, bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/d-a-p-h-n-e is where you can access all of Daphne’s books and the show notes for this episode. And you can also leave your questions and your comments and that Daphne needs to go put a chicken in the oven and I’ve got two boys who I’m going to walk through Berkeley, but I really appreciate those of you who are on Facebook watching and interacting live as well as those of you who are listening now and again bengreenfieldfitness.com/daphne.
Daphne, thanks for coming on the show.
Daphne: It was a pleasure. Thanks so much. Bye.
Ben: Alright, folks this is Ben Greenfield along with Daphne Miller signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Ever since a high school biology teacher informed Daphne Miller that clover produces a hormone similar to human estrogen, she has been fascinated by how our external ecosystem is linked to our internal one. Miller is a practicing family physician, author and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco. For the past fifteen years, her leadership, advocacy, research and writing have focused on the connections between food production, ecology and health.
Her writings and profiles can be found in many publications including the Washington Post, the New York Times, Vogue, Orion Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Food and Wine, The Guardian UK and Harvard Medical Magazine and JAMA. She is the author of The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World, Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You (HarperCollins 2008) and Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up (HarperCollins 2013). Farmacology appears in four languages and was the basis for the award-winning documentary In Search of Balance.
Miller is an internationally recognized speaker in the emerging field of planetary health and a leader in the Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative, an effort spearheaded by the National Parks Service to build linkages between our medical system and our park system. Her 2009 Washington Post article “Take a Hike and Call Me in the Morning” is widely credited with introducing “park prescriptions,” a concept that is rapidly gaining traction across the United States.
In 2000, Miller founded WholefamilyMD, the first integrative primary care practice in San Francisco. She is a graduate of Brown University where she majored in medical anthropology. She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency and NIH-funded research fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. She was a Senior Fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute and a Bravewell Fellow at the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine. She serves as an advisor and/or board member to a number of non-profits, including the Institute of the Golden Gate, Education Outside, Mandela Marketplace and the Edible Schoolyard Foundation and Prevention Institute.
Miller lives and gardens in Berkeley, California, where I visited her to record this fascinating podcast about her books The Jungle Effect: Healthiest Diets from Around the World–Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You and Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How Daphne first discovered the jungle effect…[8:10]
-The meaning of a hot spot and a cold spot…[12:00]
-A fascinating example of an indigenous diet that leads to a health effect, including a Mexican Taramuhara diet affecting diabetes…[14:37]
-What do you do if you can’t trace your ancestors to one specific indigenous diet…[19:40]
-Why Daphne sometimes has wine for breakfast…[26:22]
-What Daphne found about some ethnic food restaurants now using ingredient substitutions that cater to North American palates…[34:30]
-What first got Daphne thinking about the “soul of soil”…[44:20]
-What we can learn about the social behavior of humans from social behavior of chickens…[46:40]
Eliminate fatigue and unlock the secrets of low-carb success. Find out how in The Low Carb Athlete – 100% Free. Sign up now for instant access to the book!
I'm interested in…*
-How Daphne learned about cancer management from a winery…[52:30]
-How dangerous microbes may actually be beneficial…[56:45]
-What a hydrosol is and why you can use it for “sustainable beauty”…[60:40]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–Hydrosols in Fruitland, Washington
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-Human Charger – Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/humancharger and use the code BEN20 for 20% off.
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Daphne or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!