In this episode, Chef Dr. Mike Fenster joins us to talk about developing a positive relationship with food. Chef Dr. Mike is one of a handful of physicians who hold both a culinary and medical degree, and he’s the only cardiologist with joint academic appointments in both the medical and culinary arts.
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Chef Dr. Mike has become the voice of culinary medicine and has made it a mission to empower others to take control of their health and happiness through food. During the episode, he shares what culinary medicine is, why how we eat is as important as what we eat, and the aspects of our health that lead back to the food experience.
On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast:
- Why bringing together food and medicine isn’t as unusual as it seems.
- What inspired Dr. Mike to become a chef
- The quote that hits home for him.
- What nutrition has become a victim of today.
- The important foundations of culinary medicine.
- How the food industry changed post-World War Two.
- Why it’s important for everyone to be comfortable in the kitchen.
- How fermentation can improve the health and taste of food.
- The small, daily changes that can improve overall health.
- What it means to have a healthy food experience.
- What the research shows about gratitude and food.
- How implementing a family meal without distractions can support health.
- The role that positive relationships and strong social networks play in heart health.
- Why beating yourself up about making bad food choices is unproductive.
- Why culinary medicine is not one-size-fits-all.
Connect with Chef Dr. Mike:
- Join the Live. Love. Engage. Community
- Intuitive Business Coaching
- The Live. Love. Engage. Book
- Support the Podcast with BuyMeACoffee.com
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You’re listening to the live love engage podcast on today’s show, we’re gonna be talking with an expert about developing a positive relationship with food that goes beyond mere nutrition or fad diets. Stay tuned. I am Gloria Grace Rand, founder of the love method, and author of the number one, Amazon best seller live love, engage how to stop doubting yourself and start being yourself. In this podcast. We share practical advice from a spiritual perspective on how to live fully love, deeply and engage authentically. So you can create a life and business with more impact, influence, and income. Welcome to live love, engage
Namaste and welcome to another addition of live love engage. And of course, this is my favorite, my favorite type of episode to do. And mostly once I’ve been doing lately, which is an interview and I am delighted to be able to welcome, uh, a guest today who, um, he’s no slacker. Let me just say that. So I’ll, I’m gonna tell you a little bit more about him in a second, but first of all, I want to welcome actually, Dr. Michael Fenster, otherwise known as chef Dr. Mike to live love and engage.
Thank you, Gloria Namaste and, and so glad, delighted to be here. Um, I, I love these opportunities. I love your format, uh, to be able to talk about, uh, things that we don’t always get to mention when we talk about food and medicine. So just as important and, and, and we’ll, we’ll throw that teaser out there for em
Yeah. Is exactly yes. Cuz you, if you’ve you caught that, I called him chef Dr. Mike, that is because he is one of a handful of physicians worldwide to hold both culinary and medical degrees. And he’s the only interventional cardiologist and professional chef to do. So he’s also the only cardiologist with joint academic appointments in both the medical and culinary arts. And believe me, we’re gonna be talking more about that in a second. But um, through his, he does culinary medicine, university courses, speaking events, articles, books, personal outreach, television, other media appearances, like like podcast. He has become the voice of culinary medicine, which is something I had never heard of, um, before, before meeting him. But he really is, uh, his message is to empower people, to take control of your health, wealth, and happiness, through a positive relationship with food and that, um, you know, just go beyond me nutrition or fad diets. So, um, I, I just, like I said, we met through a, a publicity summit and I was just totally intrigued, um, by the fact that you’re a doctor, you’re a cardiologist and then you’re also a chef and I’m, you know, I’m a foodie. I love watching, like, you know, um, oh now my name, my mind is blanking on all the wonderful, uh, top chef, like, you know, shows like that on Bravo and things like that. And so how did you wind up merging these two distinctive occupations into one?
Well, you know, it’s, it’s interest thing. Um, in, in the context of things, you know, they become distinctive, but for most of the history, humanity, they were really tied to tightly tightly together. When we look at some of the very first cookbooks that we have, you know, from ancient Greece, for example, a number of them were actually written by physicians, uh, because dietetics was just so integral and we understood the importance and the relationship between what we eat, how we eat and our overall health. So it’s kind of commonplace. And then really it’s probably been within the last century or so that, that this division, you know, has really come about me personally, you know, it was food first, actually. So, um, you know, I grew up, uh, I was very fortunate, had a mom who’s a great home cook, loved to cook when I’d come home often, you know, she was trying to do the latest things she’d seen on Julia child or the galloping gourmet.
The cookbook were out. The kitchen was a very welcoming place. And so I really learned, uh, the essence of the craft and really the passion for it, with her. And so it was natural when I went to college to help, you know, pay for going through college, uh, to get a job in the food industry. And back then there was no food network, you know, Julia was the celebrity chef and really nobody wanted to do that job, especially in college. Cause like you’re working Friday night to 2:00 AM and you get out, you’re covered in dishwater and you’re like, Hey, let’s go have a good time. They’re like, thanks, Mike, we’ll catch you next week. Um, and, and I actually started as a dishwasher cuz there were no cooking jobs, worked then as a line cook worked my way up by the time I finished, I was what we’d call today an executive chef running the back of the house. So I was in charge of, of the kitchen.
I eventually, uh, after going to medical school and fellowship and, and whatnot, I eventually actually did go back to culinary school, uh, and have a degree in, gourmet cooking and catering from Ashworth University. Uh, but I really learned to cook, you know, being out there and doing it and, and there’s no substitute for that. Um, and then eventually these passions of food and health kind of came back full circle. So it’s, to me, it’s, it’s kind of like that little bit of DNA where, you know, they start together and then they separated then you know, the points come back and really, I would say today, you know, Mark Twain has a quote that always sticks with me. He said, the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discover what you were born for. And you know, so, um, this is what I was born to do and I just gotta sing a little louder. So everyone hears the voice of culinary medicine and knows what it is.
I love that you, and you mentioned so many great things there and wow. Galloping Gourmet boy that brought back memories. Cuz I do remember watching that as a kid for sure. And, and Yan Can Cook. That was another PBS one for, for like Asian cooking. Yep. Um, I, I, and, and, and I kinda relate also to the, um, you know, working in college, I worked at McDonald’s actually through all the way through college and yeah, I did dishes too and, and I would clean out those lovely grease traps. Oh, oh yes. You really, you know, come home smelling great after that. So I, I can, I can relate. Um, and it’s also interesting that you talk about that. It really is this ancient history. Why do you, why do you think, um, medicine got away from focusing on, on diet and why did they separate? What do you think?
Yeah. You know, I think it’s, it’s one of those, uh, instances that we could sort of trace back really it’s, it’s sort of the history of nutrition as a science if we think about it. And so I think in a way it’s because nutrition is almost become a victim of its own success. And by that, I mean that, that we can date nutrition roughly. I mean, you could argue back and forth, but it’s rough roughly about a hundred years ago is a reasonable starting point to say, Hey, here’s where the science of nutrition started. Cuz in 1912, Casimir Funk discovered the first, uh, vitamins, which he called vitamin-means and which became short in as vitamins. And, and so that really spurred nutrition because we were able to then identify these deficiency diseases like scurvy and say, “Hey, you know, you get this disease it’s because you don’t have this vitamin.
We give you vitamin C and boom, it goes away.” And within about a half a century. So we’re talking, you know, by the 1950s, 1960s, we’d identified these vitamins, their deficiency diseases. And in many cases around the globe eradicated them. And so that was powerful, powerful, uh, science and, and medicine. And that worked really great for deficiency diseases. But when we look at things like the chronic disabilities and diseases that are multifactorial and origin, this idea of, you know, one variable, one effect just totally washes out. And so for 50 years we’ve been pounding, you know, round pegs into square holes. And, and I’ll give you a great example of, of why I think we need to shift the perspective, uh, into what we have in culinary medicine versus this nutrient, what I call a, a legacy Nutri centric approach. And just as an aside in culinary medicine, we don’t discard nutrition.
We take all that information, but we add to it and we changed the, the shifting. So, um, they did a, a study, uh, which was done on people who have a precursor to diabetes, something called metabolic syndrome. And they took these folks and they said, well, you know, we’re gonna have half the group, uh, go ahead and, and just focus on eating the foods, you know, good foods, wholesome foods, real foods, what we might call a Mediterranean approach. So olive oil and things, but they really just focused on food. Another group was allowed to eat whatever they wanted, but they had the same macronutrient, uh, regimen. So we’d say it’s, you know, 20% protein or less than 30% for so, and they could eat whatever they wanted and what they found after two years of follow up. So now from a nutrition standpoint, they’re consuming the same amount of carbs and proteins and this and that, but the people ate whole foods that Mediterranean approach over 50% of ’em no longer had metabolic syndrome and all their markers of cardiovascular disease of inflammatory disease that were measured, their, their weight, their BMI was all better.
95% of the other group, uh, and this was controlled for diet. So they, uh, excuse me for exercise. So they exercised the same amount, um, still had metabolic syndrome. So what was a different variable, one, an approach focused on carbohydrates and proteins, this, this legacy, one sort of variable, one effect approach. The other one said, let’s eat real food and, and it, and it comes back to food. And, and that’s what we really focus on in culinary. Medicine is one of our foundation pieces. And really within I say the last about three, no more than about five years, the data has really, uh, uh, supported this position in looking at foods, not by red meat. What does that mean? There’s as a chef, as a foodie, you know, that a grass finish, you know, uh, bison, porterhouse is not the same thing as a dry through hamburger yet they’re lumped together as red meat.
Um, you know, same thing with vegetables, you have the, you know, plant-based meat proteins that are these ultra-processed wild things and a carrot, not the same thing. Um, and, and, and chefs get that. And, and what it, it shows is that when we have a diet that is high in ultra your processed foods, which is what the, the standard American or the sad diet is, as it’s known, um, that that really correlates with your risk and development of these disabilities and diseases of mono society, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, GI diseases, nerve, generative diseases, some types of cancers, et cetera, et cetera.
It sounds like you’re, you’re talking about go going back to what, what actually a lot of folks had to do last year during the pandemic was start, you know, cooking at home and start really looking at what’s in their pantry and, and actually taking time to, to prepare meals that aren’t just, you know, pulling something out of the freezer and, you know, and I mean, a box out of the freezer as opposed to, you know, something you frozen, but, um, and then really focusing in, on worrying so much about, you know, paleo or vegan and, and all of these other, other things that are out there, but just focusing in on just, you know, vegetables and fruits and grains and things that are grandparents, probably for sure, um, focused in on, because they didn’t have quite so much of these processed, um, convenience foods that were really created. Um, oh, I remember, like there was some show I think I saw on a history channel a while back where they talked about like, uh, like bird’s eye when they created the, you know, like the first frozen dinners and, um, that it really totally changed how people cooked at home. And so it sounds like we need to kind of get back to, um, ways of being able to spend a little bit more time in the kitchen. Um, but not too much, but then it’s, we’re gonna have a healthier time of it.
I think that’s exactly right. And, and really a, a sort of pressure point, uh, when we look at the changes to food and food pathways that, that you were just talking about is really post World War II. Uh, one of the reasons is that, uh, the United States had a surplus of munitions, uh, when the war ended and an industry geared to producing these munitions amongst these munitions were, were chemical compounds that were rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. Cause that’s like how you blow things up. And, uh, what they’re also good for is artificial fertilizers. Now chemical fertilizers had been around since the 18 hundreds, but they just weren’t in, in play really until they were really promoted as a way to use these leftover munitions and things in World War II and subsequently, uh, they were encouraged by the government in the form of subsidies and things that we still have today.
So that’s kind of a legacy of this World War II, um, uh, result. And that also really then caused a development of industrial mono crop culture, which really changed things. Um, so you had really fundamental changes to our food, food pathways at the same time you had societal changes. And so the processing and things that you’re talking about became commonplace. And, and as a society, we, we were told, Hey, the kitchen is a place of drudgery. You know, if you’re really successful and, and you’re really somebody, you have leisure time, and that means you don’t spend it in the kitchen, doing these things, use our, our products. And, and we became enamored with that. And, and George richer, and this is one of the things we touch on in our culinary medicine program. We touch on all these things because to understand why we choose something to eat, and for people who take our course who are going to help other people, they have to understand why they’re choosing those foods.
What are those influences, many of them unconscious in terms the advertising effects, but also in terms of the cultural and societal effects. And, and we have to kind, we have to be able to understand that, to affect changes in behavior. And so all those, excuse me, all those things you just mentioned, play a, a big role in us choosing these ultra process foods, which are, you know, fast, convenient, cheap, and actually they’re, they’re crafted so differently from a naturally occurring food, cuz they’re made to be hyper palatable, meaning, uh, that once you eat it, you, you want it again, they’re addictive in nature, they’re crafted for profit and shelf lunch.
Yeah. And, and, and I was just thinking, it’s like, yeah, it’s been, they’ve been advertised as convenient and, and, you know, helpful in that sense time, time wise. But unfortunately, it’s really turning us. I mean, it’s, it’s wound up the opposite. Unfortunately, it’s leading to other diseases and things, and now we’re spending time going to doctor’s offices and getting prescriptions filled. So it’s really not that much of a time saver anymore. If we spent more time actually cooking in the kitchen, which I actually, I like, I like to do, I, I like pulling out new recipes and trying things and it’s a lot of fun. I don’t like the cleanup afterwards, you know, that’s true, but you know, if I can do it right away, then it’s not so bad. Um, well, and you, you mentioned the, the program that you offer and cuz I was on your website and I saw that you have you offer, um, this, these courses. So is that, um, something then that anybody could take and, and, and so it would be beneficial. Like if some, if like I wanted to take that course, it would help me. You don’t have to be necessarily like a doctor or somebody studying this stuff. Right?
No, a fundamental approach that we take in our offering culinary medicine is that it must be for everybody because you really summed it up beautifully. Gloria, you have to be able to take it and apply it in your home. Right? So it’s, it’s not interventional cardiology, you know, that I do in a cath lab, in a hospital and you probably shouldn’t be doing in your basement or your living room. Um, you know, this is, this is cooking and cooking for everyone. So you don’t have to be a chef. You don’t have to be a doctor. We specifically, uh, make it so that you can take, take the knowledge and apply that knowledge in your life. And for those that, uh, you care about because ultimately that’s what we have to do. Uh, you have to be able to use it that way. Otherwise you’re dependent on specialists, uh, maybe a specialist chef or a specialist physician, and that doesn’t work, that doesn’t work in, in, in our lives, as you said, because we’re so very busy.
And I did wanna comment on something that, that you mentioned, because I think it’s important. You mentioned, you know, taking some time in the kitchen and that is important because as we look at things like food network, uh, food has come back, you know, into Vogue as it were. Um, and, and the kitchen can be a great place. Uh, if you’re a parent to, to, uh, have some fun with your kid, uh, you know, every Friday that I’m home and I’m not on the road, somewhere working is pizza Friday at our house. And yes, in culinary medicine, we make delicious pizzas that are the epitome of helpful food. So it’s not about, you know, oh, I’ve gotta eat 16 hot servings of vegetables and I can’t have a pizza or I can’t have this or that. Um, not at all. Um, you know, it is about, as you mentioned, finding the flavors that you like and then crafting those foods, but using the real ingredients and it makes a huge difference.
And part of, uh, what we like you would learn if you took that course, which by the way is exactly the same in content that we offer. It’s a 400 level, three credit, uh, graduate level course at the university of Montana. Um, the format’s a little different, so it’s self stuff. You can do it at home, we interact. Uh, but the content, uh, what you learn the readings is exactly the same as our graduate students get at the university. Um, and, and, you know, uh, you know, what we want you to be able to see in this course is that when we say pizza, you know, pizza’s not a pizza, right? So we have an industrial pizza that I will tell you right off is one of the 10 worst foods you could possibly eat in terms of your health. And absolutely no question about it regarded that way, nearly universally around, around the globe, uh, and all this stuff.
Um, when we look at what it contains, it’s what we call a group four, uh, food. So in the university course in our practice of culinary medicine, we don’t categorize foods by vegetable or meat or the things we’re talking about. We use, uh, what was developed about a little over a decade ago at the university of south and Brazil, because they were specifically looking at this question and I’ll get back to her, cuz it’s a great story. Uh, but they said, you know what, um, really, we need to look at foods in our modern culture, by the level of ultra-processing. And they kind of go through, what’s called one through four and group four, these ultra-processed foods and they’re unique because they contain in, uh, things. I don’t even really wanna say they’re ingredients, but things that they’re used in the manufacture of these foods that is a chef, uh, would not use.
So they’re either not or rare culinary ingredients. And they often contain other compounds like additives, flavorings, preservatives that are often used to hide the flavor, um, and, and construction of these industrial foods. And we touched on, on their characteristics, which is their hyper palatable, uh, their constructed for shelf life, you know, et cetera. And, and these are, uh, these foods are what we call group four food. So a industrial pizza that you would order from the chain that we see on TV all the time. That’s a group four food. Now when I’m making a pizza at home on pizza Friday, and I’m doing my, one of my favorites, a pizza in the Peloton, uh, right. So it’s say organic, uh, flour. And that dough contains the flour water, a starter like yeast and a little bit of salt, that’s it, no added sugars, you know, none of this stuff.
And I also do it in what’s called a long ferment. So just the way we craft that dough has to use your effect. So, you know, people talk about being allergic to gluten and, and gluten and tolerance. And, and I get it cuz I don’t eat commercial bread when I’m out on the road and things. Uh, and one of the reasons is it doesn’t agree with me. Um, I know it’s not the gluten cuz I, I make bread almost every day at home and I love it. Uh, but mine are what we call long ferment. So I let the yeast do that yeasty thing. Um, and they start to break down the bread and as a, as a baker, as a chef, right, fermentation time equals flavor. So the longer I let that ferment, as long as it’s workable, the more flavor, the more delicious that, that bread, that pizza is.
Um, but if you’re in a commercial of it and I talked to co some colleagues around the world who run, you know, chains, uh, franchises, I should say these, they’re making the dough and cooking that pizza like within a two-hour window, I’m talking about two or three days for my dough. And, and so these are, yeah, these, these are not the same thing. Even the dough is not the same. Then I’m putting on my pizza sauce and my pizza sauce for Napolitano tomatoes, salt, that’s it. You know, and, and again, it’s not added sugar because the tomatoes aren’t rip. So I want sweetness. It’s not all these things to hide it. I don’t need to keep it, you know, in a, on a shelf for six months, it’s crush tomatoes and salt topping, uh, Buffalo de Ella from, you know, from grassfed, you know, cattle.
Uh, and, and we, and, and I, we could go all into the health benefits there and, and then top with a little fresh basil, you know, from that I grow on my window. So garden, not these other toppings that have cheese that have emulsifiers added, which we know that just some of these emulsifiers alter the bacteria in your gut and cause gut inflammation. Um, there’s, they’re whitened with things like titanium dioxide, which a colleague of mine who sells commercial pizza cheese and, and he sells a really good brand. He’s like, Mike, you know, this isn’t even on the label because they don’t have to tell you that these titanium dioxide to whiten the cheese. And it’s like, well, you know, I might wanna know that, um, you know, so, so you could just feel the difference in these two foods. And so a pizza is not a pizza and, and, and so we have to shift our perspective to look at, you know, how it is crafted and, and the ingredients that is a little bit of work, but boy, man, if you don’t wanna see me in the cath lab at 2:00 AM with a heart attack, it makes all the D 80% of heart attacks in this country can be prevented with lifestyle changes, like, like culinary medicine,
You know, and I know you are right because I have, I’ve been, I’ve dealt with my weight, my whole life, where it’s been up and down and up and down. And I know when I have gotten onto a regime where I really am making my own food and I’m really, and I’m eating that. And it’s like, after a couple days, I’ve like gotten rid of, you know, whatever stuff was in my system. And then it’s like, the food tastes really good. You know, it really, cuz it’s, it’s, it’s, you’re tasting the actual food and like, you know, compared like a store-bought tomato versus a homegrown tomato, oh my God, the first time I had a homegrown tomato, when we, when this was as a, as a kid, we planted them. I was like, oh, I like tomatoes. Oh, these are good. You know, not the plastic things you get at the supermarket.
Yeah. And, and you’re so right. And, and you really get to, um, what our teaching of culinary medicine it’s all about and that’s the food experience. So how we enjoy our food has actually important consequences in terms of our health. And so we look at, uh, some of the other things, there’s a whole, uh, part of our culinary medicine per which you call the non-ingredient, you know, influences as we talked about in, in what we choose to eat, but how we eat turns out to have a tremendous impact in our health. And there’s a whole study, uh, looking at this and utilizing food as a focus point for a healthy outlook on life. And it it’s called MB with a hyphen eats with a small S and it stands for mindfulness-based eating awareness techniques. And, and there’s many, many different ones that, that are used, but basically, and, and some of the ones I share, uh, like to share, uh, they, they’re simple, um, and they can be short and it’s kind of like an exercise approach.
So you can say, you know, I’m gonna do mindfulness, uh, like I’m gonna go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday for an hour. And I’m sending aside, uh, you know, an hour of my time to really get in there and, and, and focus and meditate on this. And, and that’s great for a lot of people have time, but a lot of people don’t, uh, we lead very busy lives. So things that we can do, like, I always tell my patients, they’re like, yeah, doc, but I, you know, I don’t, I travel for, I don’t have time. It’s like, well, do this, you know, when you’re going to the store park really far away from, uh, you know, from the door don’t, you know, and, and I see people do the opposite. The, they just spend like 30 minutes to get that parking spot, you know, right at the front of the gym.
So they can walk in. It’s like, well, you’re going to the gym and work out. You should be parking as far away, all these little things during the day can add up, take the stairs, don’t sit and wait on the elevator. These small, you can do a lot of small things. And, and that’s a, you know, a, a different sort of approach, but they do add up and they do help. And it’s the same thing in mindfulness based eating awareness techniques. So, you know, people say, you know, Mike, what’s your, what’s your one ingredient. You know, you always have to have when you’re cooking. And I say, it’s, it’s a pound of gratitude. Um, a kilo, if we’re going metric, um, which would be like 2.24 pounds. Uh, so you get more gratitude with, uh, where, where you cook metric. Um, but you know, it’s, it’s, it’s all about, um, taking a moment.
And for example, being thankful, um, for the ingredients when we cook and the same thing when we eat and studies have shown that when we take that moment, to just say, and, and you can, it’s not a religious thing. You certainly can do that. If, if you like, um, you know, you can be grateful for the people. We’re coming up on the season of Thanksgiving you know, which is a great time for people to, to engage in that the, the whole holiday season, many times throughout the year where you can, you know, stop and, and give thanks for those around you. Some people just give thanks for the plate of food in front of them, whatever it is, that’s fine, but you’re actually gonna shift your neurochemistry, uh, that is usually involved in our food response, which is dopaminergic on the basis of our reward centers, which is how ultra-process food is engineered.
So by using layers, what of sugar, salt, and fat to reach what a, what is called an individual bliss point. So again, these are crafted where if I’m crafting a chip or crisp or potato chip, um, I, I, people want salty. You expect it salty. Whereas if you’re eating a donut, it, you, you might want it sweeter. So you’re expecting some sweetness and you, but you still include, you know, the sugar, the salt and, and, and fat is, is like the transport vehicle. So the more fat I can get into that, the more sugar and salt I can deliver, which goes to the areas of our brain that are dopaminergic sensitive, are reward centers. And they light us up like a Christmas tree. It, it, it actually is the same pathway that we see in opiate medication. And we see what a, a tremendous problem that has become in terms of addiction in this country.
And you have foods that are, that are engineered to operate the same way when we take that moment. We’re shifting out of that dopaminergic response into what’s called an oxytocin based response. So gratitude is like a mother’s love for a child. Um, it, it’s not subject to habituation kid. Our kids may try our patience. Uh, I know I tried my parents, um, and they are saints. And, and as my mother said, I wish you to have a child just like yourself. Um, you know, my children have tried, have tried my patience as well, but we don’t stop loving them. Right. And, and nothing can, can, can break that, love it. Doesn’t habituate, it doesn’t get old. It doesn’t reach, you know, a maximum. And, and so we shift into that area with our food, which turns out to have powerful, powerful health benefits for all of us.
I know all these things. It’s like, I, and I’ve, and I’ve experienced them myself. I don’t always practice them, but I, I know I was, I went to a, um, I went, I on a meditation retreat a couple years ago, it was like a 10, it was a 10 day silent retreat. And so we didn’t talk during meals. And so, you know, and, but that was a really good experience, I think, to just really be mindful, present with the food and just being able to, you know, sit and pay attention to what you were eating. And I think that’s also one of the things we’ve, you know, has been something. And I know even when with our family, I would, every so often I would try to like pull us all back and have us sit at the dinner table, you know, instead of sitting in front of the television, eating food, because then you’re really not paying attention. Your mind is distracted. You’re not focusing on that. Um, have you found that as, what is that that’s also maybe part of our issues that we’ve had?
Yeah. So, so going back to this sort of how we eat and the importance of it, and, and with whom we choose to dine absolutely, absolutely critical. And, you know, it has tremendous implications for the health of our country moving forward, as well as our youth. When I say that, because, this summer past, only a couple months ago, the study came out and showed that from age five onwards. So they looked at, at young people up, up through 19, um, until they became 20. So sort of 20, 19 was kind of the cutoff of the study, but by age five, almost 70% of the average American, you know, youth and adolescence diet is Ultra processed food and what they found when they looked at this. And, and some of these statistics are really interesting because we tend to think, oh, well, you know, um, it’ll divide out by socioeconomic class, and an interesting thing they found in that study,
it, it really didn’t. So when we looked it didn’t matter whether you were rich or poor Americans ate crap. And what, but when we looked by ethnicity, um, what we found that Caucasians and African Americans, uh, tended towards very high consumptions of ultra-processed foods. But, but Hispanics, as a group were much lower. And when they tried to tease out that data a little bit more deeply, uh, one of the points that came to light was the fact that in many Hispanic homes, there still is often, you know, maybe not every day, but there’s a family meal. Now this ties back into previous research, that’s been done at Harvard and other institutions that show when people and children and adolescents grow up. And it’s not that they have to eat every meal, but there is sort of an anchor point of a family meal that you, you know, describe beautifully, not mindlessly eating in front of the TV, but eating with others, sharing a meal that, more often is home cooked from what tends to be more scratch ingredients that later on decades, later as adults,they’re in better health, they have better diets.
They make better food decisions in terms of the diet quality. So there is, you know, an importance there that, you know, we cannot deny cuz the science is there. Yet we don’t often delve into it because, and I can tell you in Western medicine, one of the things we love our numbers, uh, as a cardiologist, um, you know, I can quickly look at your cholesterol numbers, write you a script for medication, get you out the door, check your labs in, you know, a couple weeks and adjust the medication up and down. And, and that’s a, how we do a lot of medicine and, and a lot of that is incredibly powerful, a beneficial medicine, no doubt, but you know, to, to go on an aside, there’s also a tremendous amount of research in cardiology in particular that shows that people who have loving relationships, strong social networks, you have a good married relationship, have a good relationship with their significant other, they are less risk for heart disease when we control for everything else.
If they do have heart disease, it tends to be, uh, less severe. They’re less likely to have recurrence, you know, et cetera, all those good things. And so what does that tell me as a, as a scientist, it tells me that love is powerful medicine. As a cardiologist, as a physician, it is very difficult for me to have you in my consultation room and go, well, you know, Gloria, tomorrow I want you to start taking, 16 extra love units every morning. Um, it’d be great if I could prescribe that. But there’s not a pharmaceutical company. That’s gonna make money on it. And, and I can’t really quantitate it. And so when we go back to the study of statistics, which is what we rely on, on, on our Western approach to medicine, more and more and more often, we have to understand that there are, there are realities in lives and there are realities and of things we can measure and we can quantitate.
And there are things that are real, that are not. And, and the simple example that we use on statistics is the black Swan. And by that, I mean, like if you came and said, well, Mike, what is the likelihood? I’ll see a black Swan. And I say, well, how many black swans have you seen? And you say never. And I said, well, if you’ve never seen a black Swan lawyer, I can’t tell you, uh, what the likelihood is that you’ll see one and what the frequency and so on and so forth, but it, it begs the, it, it, it raises the question. Does that mean black swans don’t exist? No, of course black swans exist. So there’s, there’s sort of an exclusion to a valid statistical analysis of your likelihood of seeing, you know, black swans, when you’re in the office, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t discount the reality of their existence or the fact that you may see one.
And so in, in the same way in culinary medicine, one of the things I tell people, which is particularly difficult chefs at it really easily, and a lot of our, our, our sort of general public students get it really easy. Physicians tend to, to at least the physicians that come from allopathic or a Western based approach, tend to struggle with is, is the fact that you must be comfortable with uncertainty. Uncertainty though, is if you ever read, and, and I recommend Carlo Rovelli great, uh, Italian, uh, physicist, and, and he goes into kind of the, what do we really know about the universe as it really is? And there are three things and of those three things, one of them is the universe. It functions on uncertainty. It is a quality of, as we know it, so we best get comfortable with it.
Absolutely. Oh my goodness. You’ve been sharing so many wonderful things that I’m sure people mind out there are going like, wow, blown. Um, I wanna narrow it down a little bit into, if you could tell someone that, okay. I resolve to change my ways, what would be maybe like one or two things that someone could do right now to sort of shift how they’ve been eating and, and living in general to be able to have a healthier life?
Well, well, the first thing, um, which kind of goes back to where we’re talking about mindfulness, and it’s an aspect of this that, that really does apply with food, uh, because there are so many stigmas associated with food and weight and things that in our society and culture, first thing to do is, uh, stop beating yourself up, um, right, because we’re like, oh, well, you know, I had a twinkie and now I’ve blown six weeks at the gym and why even bother anymore. And I hate myself on my heart, human beings, stop, stop, stop. So stop beating yourself up. You’re gonna fall down and that’s okay. And, and I tell folks, you know, if, if you, um, are going out and you wanna have a celebratory meal, or it’s a special occasion, you want to have a piece of cake have that piece of cake, because all of this is in the context of a food experience.
And so if you are not suffering and being yourself up from guilt, and you’re enjoying yourself, that’s healing too. That is good medicine. That’s, that’s a part of the medicine. You know, we, we’re not, I’m not a rockstar. I can’t do that every day. Um, I feel it, I pay for it, but if you wanna do that, you fall down, okay, stop blaming yourself. And, and then the second is just a couple of quick questions that cuz the most important thing we really have to do is, is source our food properly. And this is some something every chef gets and as a foodie, you would get this as well. It’s, you know, I want the best tasting food, which turns out that our best tasting food tends to be the way nature made it for us, which makes sense because that’s what we’re built for.
That’s how we evolve, right. Things that we’re good for us bring us pleasure in our brain, which means taste good. And it’s saying, Hey, this is good for you. And it’s a good food eat more of this. So, and, and, and before our, our taste buds were manipulated, that’s kind of how it worked. So, so just when you’re shopping for ingredients, ask three simple questions, how is it bread? Meaning, is this a wild co to last salmon? Or is this some GMO salmon that was farmed somewhere I’ve never heard of? So how is it bread? What was it fed? So is this an, or that organic garden tomato that you were talking about or was it this conventional thing that’s never seen sunlight and was turned red, you know, in a bag with oxide. Right. And where was it led? So what, if any, is the ultra-processing that, that went on is this salmon, you know, caught, uh, straight out of the river or the ocean, you know, filet and sent to me. Um, and what is this strange square shaped thing that they’re saying as a fish, cuz fish don’t come in squares, um, you know, deep fried. So, so those are, those are three simple questions anybody can use, uh, anytime you go looking for ingredients anywhere.
Awesome. Thank you for that. I appreciate that. Um, is there anything I haven’t asked you about that I should have anything else you’d like to share today?
No, I, I think it was a great journey. I, you know, I, I loved it and is make it for the individual. Um, so it’s, it’s, you know, culinary medicine is different from you than for somebody else and that’s okay, this is not one size fits all. Uh, it’s all about you. And, and, and that’s a fun thing and, and cooking should be, uh, when we’re cooking for ourselves, when we’re cooking for our loved ones, um, you know, it, it’s all about love and happiness. Um, that’s good medicine to infuse our food with and when we use those right ingredients, oh man. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s a beautiful, powerful thing.
Mm, awesome. Well, thank you so much. I feel like we could probably even do a whole nother hour. Um, so may, I might have to have you back on cuz there’s like this, this is a subject I’m very passionate about because it’s something that I’ve dealt with. I’ve done, you know, every dive and, uh, just about, and you know, all sorts of different things. But, um, if our listeners wanna be able to get in touch with you and they wanna learn more, and I know you’ve got like some books, I think that you’ve got available for sale where where’s the best place for people to, uh, connect,
WW w chef Dr. Mike that’s, chef Dr mike.com. Our course information. They can follow me on social media from there. Uh, drop an email. If I’m on call, gimme a couple, three days, uh, if it’s a, if it’s a rough couple of nights to get back to you, but I, I answer them all myself. Um, so I I’d love to hear from you. And, um, this is delight and, and I love everything about what you do. So, uh, I, as you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about it too. So I’m, I’m happy to come back anytime and, and chat some more. It’s been great. Thank you so much.
Awesome. Well, thank you. I really appreciate it and make sure I’ll have all that information in the show notes for those of you watching or, and, or listening somewhere where you can’t write it down. So not worry. And, um, yeah. So thank you again for being here. And I, uh, encourage all of you to make sure that you are subscribed on your favorite podcast platform. We’re on just about all of them that you can find out there and, uh, as well as on YouTube as well. And until next time as always, I encourage you to go today and live fully love, deeply and engage authentically.
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