Steve Blake has a doctorate in holistic health, a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, a master’s degree in herbology, and numerous massage certifications. He is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild. He was the founder and director of the Maui Holistic Health Center. He was the speaker on the popular radio series, “Natural Health Tips from Dr. Steve”. He taught anatomy & physiology at the International Center for NaturoBioHolistic Health and Medicine. He has also taught exercise physiology. He has developed many supplements including Advanced Nutritional System and Childrens’ Chewable by Rainbow Light. He is well known for his databases on alternative remedies. The largest of these databases has over 125,000 footnotes!
Caryn: Hello. You’re listening to It’s All About Food, and I’m your host Caryn Hartglass. Guess what we’re going to talk about today? Food! It’s all about food. This is a live call-in show. I have to clear me throat, excuse me. Not sure what that was but it’s gone now. Again, this is a live call-in show. You can call in at 1-888-873-4643. You can send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org that’s if you have a question or comment and you’re too shy to call. I’ll answer those comments, questions over the air or by email anytime during the week. Just a little bit about me, I’ve been vegetarian for a very long time. Over three decades, and a vegan for over two decades. It all started a long time ago when I was a teenager and I basically didn’t want to kill animals. I didn’t know anything about nutrition or health, it was just something instinctive inside me and over time, I’ve gained a lot more knowledge. Certainly many of us as a society have gained a lot more knowledge about food and there it comes from and how we are all connected to our diet and to how we grow food, and how it effects all life on Earth. So over time I’ve learned more and more and I’ve gotten really passionate about food, how it can be really nourishing but also enjoyable and wonderful and something to celebrate. It can be a way to express artistic feelings, ways to…just so many wonderful things about food. Yet, there is a dark side of food. Because today we get a lot of our food from animals- meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs. These animals, most of them, over 99% are grown in a factory environment where they are treated like a resource, rather than an actual 03:20 being. That’s the dark side of food. In addition, we’ve discovered as we cram these animals into small spaces to maximize the profit of food production, they’re raised in excrement and filth and a lot of this confinement and the by-product of the confinement give us water and air and soil pollution and our major cause of global warming. That’s the dark side of food. But the beautiful thing is, we don’t have to support it. We don’t have to be a part of that. We don’t have to participate in it. Or at least, we can participate a lot less. What’s the bonus? Or what are the side effects? The side effects are really bonuses, and that is when we’re eating lower on the food chain, when we’re eating whole, fresh, locally grown fresh foods, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, we get wonderful health benefits. All those great vitamins and nutrients support our immune system, strengthen our immune system, make us more able to deal with the very toxic environment we can often be in. Handle stress better, and live a longer, healthier, quality life. So that’s what we talk about on this show- fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
I am anticipating a guest on our show, Dr. Stephen Blake who is a doctorate in holistic health. I’m waiting for him to call in and we haven’t heard from him yet. In the mean time, you can call in with any comments or questions or send me an email at email@example.com and we can talk about anything related to food. There are a number of things that I wanted to talk about. As I’ve mentioned on my other show, Ask a Vegan, maybe I mentioned it too last week, I’ve got a small garden now on my terrace. Every year I do a little bit of gardening. Now I live in an apartment in New York City so you don’t normally think of gardening very much in urban areas, but it’s becoming quite chic actually- these urban gardens. I have a number of planters on my terrace and I’m growing some really interesting things. To start with, some of the things I’ve grown over the years just come back without me even planting them so I’ve got this really tall dill plant, and several other dill plants growing along side it. Really strong and hardy and we eat a lot outside now on the terrace and so I can make a big salad and grab some of the fresh dill and toss it in. It’s really fun. Then I’ve got some tomato plants and some squash plants. We just saved the seeds and planted them and these amazing squash plants are growing. I can’t wait to see the fruit of our labor there. What else? Oh, so the surprise is lamb’s quarters. I don’t know if you’re familiar with lamb’s quarters, it’s considered a common weed but some of these farmers markets today are starting to sell it as an upscale, hip, leafy green vegetable. Two or three of the planters that I have that I was saving, not planting anything in, because I have some smaller plants on the windowsill inside and I’m waiting for those little sprouts to get bigger- I’m going to replant them outside- basil and parsley and some of those kinds of herbs. Meanwhile in these empty planters, a whole pile of lamb’s quarters have popped up. It’s really amazing. I’m about to harvest it. What are lamb’s quarters? They are sometime referred to as “goose foot” I’ve heard a number of different names for them. But, it’s an edible weed, it’s easy to recognize, and it’s great stir fried- somewhat like spinach. I think it’s a relative of chard, I think I read that somewhere. They’re really, really tasty, really healthy. It has like an earthy, mineral rich taste. It’s so fun just to see these leaves pop up, unexpectedly and they just look so happy there. What else is going on in the garden? I just had something I wanted to mention and it just slipped my mind. So there we are with my gardening. I really, really encourage it. It’s fun. You get a lot of benefits from it. You’re doing something good for the planet and we all should be involved in our food production. I think we’re going to see a lot more food production in cities in small park spaces, abandoned lots. Just because food is an important thing.
Some say that we’re going to loose the ability to grow food, especially in some of the areas where mass agribusiness is taking place, because we’ve been doing such terrible things to the soil over so many years. The soil is so depleted of nutrients and it’s at a point where there’s so little life in the soil that we’re loosing lots of top soil- the depth of the top soil is getting lower and lower and lower. It makes it harder to grow food. In conventional agriculture, the agriculture where pesticides and herbicides are used- these are toxic poisons that are used to kill any living things that are unwanted that can effect the particular crop that’s being grown. There are so many problems associated with using toxic poisons. They get on our food, we consume them. They accumulate and they can wreak havoc in our bodies. Unfortunately it’s something that’s really hard to follow and study in terms of their ultimate impact. But, we’re getting more and more of an idea- it’s not a good thing. The other part of it that people don’t realize is that because we want to kill weeds, other plant life with herbicides around the desired crop, or we want to kill the pest the different insects that might want to munch on the crop- we’re along killing the organisms, the healthy organisms that are necessary to keep the soil alive. There’s macro-life and there’s micro-life. Because we can’t see a lot of it we think it’s not important, but it’s really important for the soil to be alive. To be rich with nutrients and life. You want bacteria in the soil, you want the little worms and insects in the soil kind of aerating it and keeping it alive. It’s really very important.
Unfortunately more and more of the farming fields are being deadened with the poor techniques that we have for growing food today. So what we really want to do is encourage more and more organic farmers, small farmers, to grow smaller lots, to grow a greater diversity of food because that’s another problem. On these large fields that agribusiness uses to grow food. They tend to grow one kind of crop in a big area. So that’s one kind of wheat, one kind of soy, one kind of potato, one kind of something. When you concentrate on one food, mono-crop it’s called, you loose the diversity- then that crop is so much more vulnerable, so much more susceptible to some sort of disease or problem and it can become very wide spread because the field is so large with this one thing that all of it can catch the problem- whatever it may be: and insect infestation or some type of plant disease. So when you have diversity, lots of different items being grown in close proximity, this is a way of safeguarding. So if one plant has a problem, it’s not going to be far-reaching. It’s not going to affect the yields tremendously, and it’s not going to wipe out an entire food supply. Yet we don’t do this, because it requires in the minds of the people manufacturing our food today or growing our food today, for the most part it’s too difficult. It’s a lot easier to grow one thing over and over and over and do the same thing. But, it’s not a good thing; in the long term it’s not a good thing.
What we need is really a lot more diversity in our food. There are so many different kinds of everything! So many different kind of potato, so many different kind of rice, so many different kinds of grains, so many different kinds of so many fruits and vegetables, and yet we don’t see much variety anymore. Because of these giant agribusinesses that are growing so few different kinds of crops. It’s kind of exciting when you start to see different heirloom foods. Like certainly we’re seeing more and more of the heirloom tomatoes and some people may not like them because maybe they’re not perfectly round and you see they have maybe monster like shapes, really distorted. But the colors are amazing and beautiful and the taste is incredible. So there’s a lot of value to heirlooms. I’ve been hearing about heirloom legumes so they’re are lots of different beans that don’t get a lot of press, that we don’t see in the standard supermarkets. There’s already an incredible amount of beans that are out there in the supermarkets, but there’s so many more that we haven’t even experienced. I’m hoping that we’re going to start to see more and more of them as people get more interested again in whole foods.
Another food I’ve been getting really nutty about, maybe not nutty, but grainy, is amaranth. I bought a bunch of amaranth a while ago when I was reading a book- I believe it was Brendan Brazier’s Thrive. You may know Brendan Brazier, he’s an amazing Canadian athlete. I had him on the show about a year ago and he’s written a book called Thrive. It’s had several revisions. He talks very interestingly about how he has optimized his workout in order to become an exceptional athlete. He does triathlons and ultra marathons and all kinds of things. He has won numerous awards in Canada. Very fit, very smart and he has some recipes in his book and he really promotes things like hemp and amaranth. So I went out and I got some amaranth. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen amaranth but it looks like very small little beige pellets, really tiny like the size of- they’re really small, how big are they? Well, much smaller than rice and smaller than millet if you’re familiar with millet- really tiny little pellets, little grains. I had them in a jar for a long time and I thought, “I’ve got to use this amaranth.” At one point in his book, he talked about how you can pop amaranth and I tried to put it in my dry popcorn popper and it didn’t work because the grains were too small. So I got frustrated and I gave up on that and just left the jar of amaranth in the refrigerator in the back. I don’t like keeping food in my refrigerator for a very long time and so it was time to do something with the amaranth. I looked up online how to prepare it and I found out that there’s lot of different things that are wonderful that you can do with amaranth. Number one I learned the way to pop amaranth and it’s not in a dry air popcorn popper like I did. They recommend doing it the old fashion way- a little bit of oil in a frying pan and put the amaranth there, heat it up covered and the heat will pop it and you need to just shake the frying pan kind of like those Jiffy Pop poppers if you remember them. Do they still exist? I haven’t bought anything like that in a really long time. But, it makes a really lovely popped amaranth.
Another thing is I’m a big oatmeal in the morning fan, and amaranth makes a really nice change. I tried it out and basically you can take a cup of amaranth to two cups water or more and the more water you add so like 2.5 cups, it will be gooier and gummier if you add more water. Some people actually toast the amaranth in a pan first and then add water to it. But what happens is it makes a really great porridge. It’s like cream of wheat if anyone remembers having that. I think that’s still around too, but this is like cream of amaranth. What I like to do is add apples, and bananas and some flake coconut, unsweetened, mix that all in and it makes a really great cereal. It takes about a half hour to cook but what you get is really, really nice- it almost has a corn-like aroma but it’s a nice alternative to oatmeal and it’s a whole food and it’s really quite nutritious. But, that’s not all! You can also take amaranth and grind it up- I would use a coffee grinder but that doesn’t so big volumes, it just does it really effectively. You can make amaranth flour and make lots of wonderful things from amaranth flour. I remember when I started looking for graham crackers that didn’t have honey in them because as a vegan I don’t consume honey. That was a really hard thing to find. There was something in the health food stores that had an amaranth graham cracker- so it was made with wheat and amaranth flour and it didn’t have honey in it. I’ve always enjoyed it but I’ve always wondered what is this amaranth? Now I’m starting to play with it and really really enjoying it. That’s my story about amaranth.
Okay, I am not sure where Dr. Stephen Blake is today. I hope everything is okay with him and maybe he will check in soon. But meanwhile I’m just going to talk about food because it’s all about food. You can call in with any questions at 1-888-873-4643 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve been reading a number of articles, there’s always so many different things going on about vegetarian diet and the vegan diet in the media today- at least online. Lots of blogs, lots of discussion, people who are excited about recipes. I came across an article on Cincinnati.com from today, oh no from yesterday. And the title was, Vegans Will Ruin Your Appetite. And I was all ready to get pissed off like oh my god what is this about? The article is really cute where the guy talks about how he made friends with some vegans and how enthusiastic they are about veganism and their food. Then they start to tell you what all their arguments are which he found really hard to ignore. Things like eating a plant-based meal instead of an animal-based one can save up to 100 gallons of water and it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of animal flesh. How many more could dine if we just ate the grain instead? Also, every second in the US factory farmed cows takes chickens and turkeys to produce nearly 89,000 pounds of excrement contaminated by the antibiotics and hormones pumped into the animals. Where does that all wind up? He writes that one lady he knows that’s been vegan for years and she is 80 years old, actually looks about 60. He’s talking about how difficult it is to be friends with vegans because everything that they’re saying is so important, so valid, and unfortunately once the veil is lifted once you see the light, once you realize what’s going on and you realize how wrong it is- the cruelty that we’re inflicting on other animals and the damage that we’re doing to the environment, how we could be feeding so many more people by making so much more healthy food if we weren’t feeding plant foods to animals to feed people. What do you do? So this guy, I think it was tongue and cheek when he said vegans will ruin your appetite because he realizes now he can’t go back. Although he’s not vegetarian he is making a much better effort to eat more plant-based. This is good. Again, you don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan, but what we all need to be doing is eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Preferably organic and locally grown. And there we go. And that’s the secret to just about everything. The answer to just about everything, in my mind. Okay I’m going to take a quick break and we will be back in a little bit.
Hi, we’re back! I’m Caryn Hartglass your host today of It’s All About Food. We have our guest with us today Dr. Steve Blake. Steve Blake has a Doctorate in Holistic Health, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, a Masters Degree in Herbology and numerous massage certifications. He is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild. He was the founder and director of the Maui Holistic Health Center. He was the speaker on the popular radio series Natural Health Tips from Dr. Steve. He taught Anatomy and Physiology at the International Center for Natural Bio-Holistic Health and Medicine. He has also taught Exercise Physiology and has developed many supplements including advanced nutritional system and children chew-able by Rainbow Light. Please welcome Dr. Steve Blake.
Steve: Thank you for having me on the show today.
Caryn: Yeah, sure. Thanks for being there. How is it out there, out west in Hawaii.
Steve: It’s a beautiful day in Hawaii. It’s 9:30 in the morning.
Caryn: Yes, well good morning!
Steve: Good morning!
Caryn: We’re having a beautiful day here in New York. It’s a little humid but it’s pretty good. I can’t complain.
Steve: New York is miles away in consciousness and distance from Maui.
Caryn: Now what do you mean miles away in consciousness?
Steve: Well I’m sitting here on an organic farm with the birds singing and maybe a car comes within a mile every hour.
Caryn: Hmmm OK that sounds pretty good. That’s not what’s going on here.
Steve: A slower pace.
Caryn: Right. OK so in our emails you said lets have some fun today. That sounds good to me, so we’re going to have fun with food.
Steve: Well food is fun and temptation is what it’s all about. What is happening is the food industry is tempting us all into eating food that is highly damaging to our health and is good for their profits. Remember food makes more money than oil or pharmaceuticals or anything else.
Caryn: Oh I never realized that, good point.
Steve: Everybody needs to eat. But what we’re being offered in our stores and increasingly now around the world, is food that is low in nutrition, high in flavor and is causing the health ills that we have. If we want health care- and everyone is talking about healthcare- healthcare doesn’t work without health. Unfortunately our health care system is just not bringing health to us. What it’s bringing, and it’s so foolish- I wish somebody in Washington would quit listening to their doctors and start listening to people like you and I – who are saying is what we really need to do is get healthy. Medicine is great if you get in a car wreck or have a heart attack but prevention is what it’s all about to be healthy. Building a good strong health is something the doctors are just not expert enough at.
Caryn: Gosh, I know there are a few who are and there are plenty who are not and whenever I do see a doctor I have lots of very interesting discussions. They get really annoyed, most of them, because they want to be the one who is superior or seems to know more. Yet, there are so many things they don’t know.
Steve: Well, their arrogance is warranted in regards to knowledge of drugs and of physiology, surgery and radiation. That’s what modern medical doctors are trained in and that’s what they excel at. I have great respect for their surgical techniques. I have less respect for their use of drugs because so many drugs have such terrible side effects and it seems that many doctors prescribe drugs without enough attention to the side effects. I don’t know if you’re aware but the leading cause of death in America is not heart attacks or cancer, it’s 32:59 it’s treatment caused illness. While many of these deaths from doctor related procedures are necessary, they’re trying to save people, many of them are unnecessary because drugs are seen as the first line of defense where there are many other ways to deal with problems. For instance, with a diabetic- the first thing a doctor wants to do is put them on insulin. Yes, there are some dietary restrictions, but we have seen successful programs of intervention in diabetes with dietary changes. It really means that people are going to have to eat food that isn’t at fast food restaurants and isn’t very common in regular grocery stores. You know, fresh, whole foods like vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds and beans. Whole grains, which are easy to mimic by the food industry but it’s hard to find a good whole grain in America, including health food stores.
Caryn: What does that mean? It’s hard to find a good whole grain…
Steve: Well they hide them. So many packages say whole this and whole that and whole grain and whole wheat. But, if you flip them over the first ingredient is usually wheat flour, which means while flour. Which means flour stripped of it’s nutrition, largely.
Caryn: I was just reading an article this past weekend in The New York Times about salt because our mayor is actually talking about how restaurants need to remove salt from the food. But the article was pretty comprehensive and talked about how food manufacturers use salt to cover up so many things and the description of the kinds of food that’s being packaged that is made to taste good. I don’t know why anybody would want to eat them.
Steve: People are creatures of habit. Salt, sugar and fat are what sells fast foods and all other foods. That’s what food manufactures use to get us to eat food that is literally killing us by the millions.
Caryn: Now the doctors, some of the ones I’ve spoken with know about healthy diet but they really don’t believe their patients are interested in adopting a healthy diet. I take a little issue with that because if the doctors did promote healthy food first, more people would be moving in that direction. What do you do to get people to really want to take control of their health and move to a healthier diet?
Steve: That’s a tough question Caryn, very tough question.
Caryn: That’s why I’m asking it
Steve: What do I do? Information is my weapon. Information is the key. If people truly understand exactly which nutrients are missing from white flour and white rice and why an excess of those things will create a surge of blood sugar and that surge of blood sugar will turn into saturated fat in the body, thus making much worse the diabetes and atherosclerosis that leads to heart disease and stroke. If they understand this very well, they might change their diet. But we are such creatures of habit. We’re tempted constantly everywhere and how do you find a good, healthy treat on the road or in a restaurant? It’s pretty tough. We have to think ahead when we go traveling and actually take healthy snacks with us because they’re so hard to find.
Caryn: Right, that’s the smart thing. So how did you get on this path? What first inspired you about healthy food?
Steve: Well, I’ve been eating healthy for 40 years now. 40 years ago I was studying Physics at the University of California in Santa Cruz and I made myself some chicken cacciatore and got food poisoning. I started questioning what we ate and how suitable it was for ourselves, out digestion, our bodies, our place on the planet. Over the years I have studied more and more seriously and written extensively about really what we should eat. As long as we ignore food, and it seems like our government is ignoring food as far as health goes, largely. I mean there’s all this lip service like let’s get the vending machines out of the schools. But they’re still there. As long as we ignore food, we’re not going to be able to help the health of the American people. Of course convincing Americans to eat better is tough. As you know if New York when your mayor said no more trans fats in restaurants there’s this great fur that people are afraid that they wouldn’t get their favorite donuts cooked just like they like them.
Caryn: How crazy is that? There’s got to be an addiction in there when sense doesn’t make sense anymore.
Steve: Sure, people are addicted to food that’s reasonable. It’s a commonest thing. I mentioned fasting to most Americans and they totally freak out. They think they’ll starve.
Caryn: Right. Now what kind of fasting do you promote and what kind of health benefits can you get from that?
Steve: Fasting as one of my teachers said, is like fire. It can warm you and heal you or it can burn you. It needs to be done carefully. I think to an untrained person, fasting needs some supervision at first until you get the hang of it. I prefer fasting where people are drinking fresh-made vegetable and fruit juices. The antioxidants in those juices will help to offset the toxic chemicals that are often stored in our fat cells. When we’re fasting our fat cells are open and the fat is burned. Often there are residues of pesticides and trans fats and many other things are stored in our fat cells that are released into the blood stream. Fasting with just water is a little bit dangerous. I do like modified fasting. Also it’s nice to have vegetable broths and teas to help ease the discomfort of not eating. The benefits are truly amazing of fasting. Fasting doesn’t have to be no food. It can just be, for some normal Americans fasting might be just one day without meat and they’ll feel like they are fasting the whole day. They will feel hungry and their body will receive some benefits. When you get to true fasting, what I call modified fasting or modified juice fasting, you get the benefits of a clarity of mind which is wonderful and more energy. It’s kind of odd isn’t it? That you would get more energy when you’re not eating.
Caryn: Right, yeah sometimes when my mom is feeling sluggish or something she thinks oh I must be hungry I must need something to eat. That could be the case but a lot of times it isn’t. Sometimes just taking a break from food and cleansing helps us.
Steve: When I feel sluggish sometimes what I need is exercise. I have this choice- I can either eat something to boost my blood sugar or I can get a good workout and the good workout always makes me feel better than the food would.
Caryn: That’s right. It’s just that initial push to get you going. To get your running shoes on or whatever it is and get out the door.
Steve: You have to know that you’re going to feel better after you do it and you have to kind of accept on faith that if you get out there and get your blood pumping that you’re going to feel better afterwards. Once you establish a habit then it all becomes much easier. What kind of exercise do you do Caryn? What kind do you love?
Caryn: I love yoga. I do it at home. I’ve never really been a fan of taking any classes because I really feel like it’s a very personal practice.
Steve: Yoga is wonderful for the body, wonderful for the spirit. People who do yoga look beautiful.
Caryn: Well I think I do.
Steve: Well you know just having a waist in America is considered beautiful.
Caryn: Oh god and a neck! A waist and a neck! I have a terrace I was talking about earlier in the show. I live in an apartment building and I have a terrace- it’s not very large. But I just made enough space where I can put my mat out there and I was able to do yoga outside and it’s so wonderful to do that outdoors.
Steve: Flexibility is certainly a sign of youth and yoga increases flexibility and it decreases our susceptibility to being hurt. Back damage is one of the most common reasons for people to have to stay out of work. Aches and strains at a desk or at a job are very common pain for people and yoga makes you flexible so that these types of things don’t hurt anymore and you can do your job with joy instead of pain.
Caryn: One thing I noticed once was I had taken a fall while walking in Manhattan on the concrete pavement and as I fell I naturally fell into a yoga pose and then eased myself carefully down with the momentum of the fall. I didn’t hurt myself and I was kind of amused afterwards how I just naturally did it from my practice.
Steve: The supple flexibility of your muscles and tendons I’m sure helped a lot for you not to get hurt. And here we are talking about the two foundations of health: exercise including yoga and good food including whole fresh food and those are just two of the things I have yet to hear out of Washington.
Caryn: There are some small government programs that are working towards promoting these things but they’re really small and it’s not getting any press. Michelle Obama is starting to make some talk about getting healthier foods in schools and there’s now the garden at the White House to kind of encourage people to grow food. But, we’ve got a long way to go.
Steve: We’ve got a long way to go. The whole concept of modern medicine, which doctors so arrogantly love as the best in the world. I wonder if it really is because the procedure is for people to grow up eating health-damaging foods, not getting enough exercise, under a lot of stress until their body systems break down. Then the miracle of modern medicine gives them drugs with side effects and over time they receive more drugs for the side effects of the first drug and eventually they need surgery. This is not a good approach to human health. We don’t take this approach with our automobiles. We don’t wait until they break down we have them preventively serviced. We change the oil. We certainly don’t put diesel fuel in a gasoline car. But in our human body, people are putting fuel in their bodies that their bodies are just not designed for.
Caryn: This is a really good analogy. I really like that. Because we are like a mechanical body.
Steve: We burn fuel just like a car. We need to correct fuel to burn. Carbohydrates are fairly easy to burn for human beings and fats are really designed more for storage. They burn more in an emergency or when they’re needed. Carbohydrates come packages in American that is too quickly assimilated and it boosts the blood sugar too fast. Finding good carbohydrates, well the best ones might be something like yams or sweet potatoes that are packaged by nature to release slowly with lots of goof fiber. Oatmeal is one of the few grains that we can find that’s really whole in the American market. Although I notice places like Costco are carrying brown rice and whole grain spaghetti. It is possible for the discriminating buyer to buy whole grains if they look around carefully. I understand that many people on the Atkins diet for instance are tremendously against all carbohydrates. In a sense, that’s what makes their diet good. The Atkins diet reduces the amount of white flour that people are eating. This is a good thing. But it’s not a good thing to try to make most of our energy from fat especially animal fat because the saturated fats are the basic cause of raised blood cholesterol and raising the risk of heart disease.
Caryn: I’m talking to Dr. Steve Blake and he has a great website www.naturalhealthwizards.com. There are all kinds of wonderful information up here. I’m looking right now at a list of your lecture topics. So you talked about many many different things and we can touch on some of those here. I’m looking at chocolate coffee and antioxidants.
Steve: That’s a fun lecture. I just did one at the 47:14 here on Maui and the idea being- which of our fun habits are really good for us? Post examination, not by the industries themselves but by me who I’m not bought off by an industry. That lecture was inspired by the report that Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee. I tracked down that journal article, it didn’t turn out to be a journal article. It was a paper presented at the Caffeinated Beverage Association meeting. That paper was sponsored by the Caffeinated Beverage Association. Turns out that most of our antioxidants in our human bodies are not gotten from coffee. Fruits and vegetables are great, especially berries are a really good source. It turns out that green tea does have some nice antioxidants although the caffeine can be either good or bad depending on how much you take and what you need. Unfortunately red wine didn’t turn out to be very good for antioxidants. It doesn’t seem to really have much. Eating dark grapes would be a much better choice. As far as chocolate goes, yes if it’s dark. I mean, the average chocolate bar has only 10% cacao in it. So it’s really not much of a source of antioxidants. But the good, dark organic chocolate does have quite a bit of antioxidants but of course we can’t eat that much.
Caryn: This is really interesting information and one thing I frequently tell the listeners is that I know they get confused from hearing different things from the media and hearing different sound bites that are contradictory from other things they have heard. You make a good point where when you read something or you hear something to go to the source. Find out who wrote it and who supported them in writing it. You can learn a lot about whether that information is credible or not.
Steve: Yes, Caryn you’re absolutely right. These days there’s often a link at the bottom of articles on the Internet where you can go and read the original paper. All too few times I’ll say and sometimes it’s hard to find the original article that the news report refers to. But if you read the article, the first thing you should do is go to the very bottom and read about the authors’ affiliations and who might be paying them. That is really now the first thing. I was trained in math and physics and nobody tried to slant math and physics. Nobody said Y was bigger because they make more money. 49:54 to that at all. But studying food- it’s all about influence and power and the Dairy Counsel for instance is a powerful advertising source that you may be confused when you hear that dairy products actually reduce weight and make you leaner and thinner and more muscular. Look at who wrote that report to see if you should believe it or not. And does it make sense? Something that contains a lot of fat, would that really make you leaner?
Caryn: You mention red wine for a moment and antioxidants. Is alcohol a good thing in moderation?
Steve: Some studies have shown that people who drink a small amount of wine have lower risk of heart disease. Other studies have shown that they have higher risk of heart disease. What wine does is a nice happy relaxation that’s all too needed by Americans in general, especially in New York City. But the best way to get that relaxation is through vigorous exercise, within your limits of course. After aerobic exercise you feel this warm glow of endorphins diffusing your body and you feel really good. This is the natural way to get high. Wine is just a sad imitation of that. And of course you pay for it later because you either get a hangover or just a little bit of jangled nerves the next day. I wrote a textbook for McGraw Hill called Vitamins and Minerals Demystified and in this book I talk about the different effects of alcohol on our micro nutrition. It’s very damaging. So damaging I wrote an appendix on all of the different micronutrients that are depleted by alcohol. In true alcoholism we see the result of this but even a little amount of wine is not a healthful thing. It would be much better to get some exercise and love in order to relax and be happy.
Caryn: Right. I was talking to someone recently who said she was anemic. I noticed that she was drinking a lot of wine and I did some reading and found that there is a connection where alcohol can inhibit I think it’s the folate absorption and kind of it’s not caused but just encourages anemia.
Steve: Well that really depends on how much wine is drunk. What happens with people who drink too much, it’s called alcoholic wasting where they’re getting too many calories from alcohol and too little from food. At that point their nutrition plummets dramatically and it is a fatal disease. People often die from basically malnutrition because they’re drinking their meals. Needless to say this isn’t a healthy thing to do. One idea that I’ve used for people who like wine is to try a different beverage made out of grapes. Here’s the recipe: you take grapes and put them through the juicer and drink the juice immediately. It is so incredibly delicious, refreshing and enlivening. Some people are able to switch from wine with alcohol, which is not really health encouraging- to fresh grape fruit, which is amazingly good for you. Loaded with antioxidants and really energizing. Talk about a healthy way to feel energetic.
Caryn: I like some of the juices too that are made from wine grapes. Cabernet grapes that have the flavor that you’re used to in wine without the alcohol. It’s really delicious.
Steve: Right and as we all know the big problem with alcohol is addiction and this addiction to alcohol could be seen as a huge disease running through America. If you look at America as one animal then you see alcohol coursing through parts of its body and causing domestic violence and non-domestic violence. That’s some of the effects of alcohol. We see that people get irritated by alcohol. I think it’s partially because of a depletion of some of the B vitamins and that effect on nerves- making them raw and easy to irritate. Excesses of alcohol, a very addictive substance that people are used to and an anecdote for the stresses of our society. That’s a tough one because people don’t really you know, it’s very hard to stop.
Caryn: So what does your daily diet consist of?
Steve: I’m a whole food vegan. I have been as I say for 40 years. I’ve been vegetarian and becoming vegan for most of that time. I eat as a result of what I learn rather than what I want to eat. For instance, I often want to eat a donut but I don’t do it because I know it’s loaded with fats and trans fats and I know the sweet sugary taste in my mouth will be offset with a heavy sore feeling in my stomach in just minutes. Really not worth it. What I do eat is a small amount of whole grains, a lot of vegetables. I recommend vegetables for people especially the green leafy vegetables, which we grow here on our organic farm. These are the healthiest of all foods. We eat a little bit of whole grains, a lot of vegetables and a lot of fresh fruit, which we also grow here. We have avocados and bananas, 7 varieties of bananas. Papayas, cherries, egg fruit, we try and eat the fruit that we grow here. That forms a large part of our diet. People ask me where’s the protein? They’re been asking me this all my life. So I designed a program called the Diet Doctor based on the USDA food composition table that tells me exactly how much protein I get. On a whole food diet with not too much in the way of beans or nuts that people would think as protein food I average 83 grams a day of protein and for my age group I should get 46. So I get too much protein on a whole food, vegan diet and when I analyze diets by people on an American diet they typically get 100 grams too much protein. This is not healthful at all.
Caryn: Right. 100 grams of protein that maybe is not the best source of protein. It comes with all sorts of other things they don’t need.
Steve: Right because the excess protein is generally caused by the intake of animal products, which means they’re also getting an excess of saturated fat. And of course there’s a lot of pollutants in animal products too so fat tends to bio accumulate pesticides and other environmental toxins. Where as eating lower on the food chain you get less of those things. Certainly saturated fat is the biggest killer in America. It’s contributing of course to obesity and heart disease but also diabetes. Because the saturated fat in the diet when it’s excessive, which it is if you’re eating animal products. This causes the cell membranes to form less of the receptors both for LDL, the cholesterol to get it out of the blood stream, and also the blood sugar receptors, the insulin receptors that help you get the blood sugar out of your blood stream to help keep you from getting diabetes.
Caryn: Well I think what we find more and more, and we have just a few seconds left, is that this diet really is good for all of these diseases in order to prevent them or recover from them. It’s not like a specific diet is required for one disease and another diet for something else.
Steve: Right. I’ve heard someone say there’s one disease and one cure and in some sense they are right.
Caryn: Right. Well Dr. Steve Blake thank you so much for your time. Please check out naturalhealthwizards.com for lots of wonderful information. We’ll have to talk again. You seem to know lots of things that people need to hear about.
Steve: Thank you so much.
Caryn: Thank you!
Steve: And aloha from Maui!
Caryn: Aloha! Mahalo! Thanks for listening. I’m Caryn Hartglass your host and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Join me next week when I have a very special guest Moby. Talk to you next week, bye!
Transcribed by Adella Finnan 5/12/2017