00:01:10 Guest’s Background
00:04:13 What is cognitive dissonance?
00:11:58 High Cholesterol Measurement, HDL and LDL
00:20:34 Right way of testing cholesterol
00:25:08 Why are we sometimes undertreated?
00:27:28 Analyzing what diet is for you
00:27:57 What is Insulin resistance?
00:35:09 Cholesterol is essential to our body
00:38:45 Best nutritional advice
- Athletic Greens Discount
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Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host, Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for men in their 40s who want to improve their health through nutrition and fitness. This is episode 110. And on today’s episode, we are talking with Dr Jonny Bowden about cholesterol, how it’s misunderstood just how important cholesterol is to our health. Dr. Jonny is a world renowned expert in the topic of cholesterol and has written a bestselling book on the topic called The Great Cholesterol Myth.
Hi, how are you?
Jonny: I’m good. Nice to see you.
Darren: And you. – Thanks very much for coming on the podcast today. It’s great to have you on. And like I said before, we started recording. I’m a huge fan of your work, and I’m a huge fan of the topic, in fact. So for people that perhaps haven’t come across you before and read about you. What can you give us a bit of background into you and how you got to where you are today?
Jonny: Well, sure. I started my career as a personal trainer and I learned everything I knew about nutrition from the American Dietetic Association, which I’ve often said was probably one of the most destructive forces in the health of Americans. They’re the ones who gave us the low fat diet. They’re the ones who gave us the food pyramid. They’re the ones who told us supplements don’t do anything. And we learned our nutrition information as trainers from them. So the certification for personal trainers involved biochemistry and little kinesiology and anatomy and nutrition as taught by the medical professional.
And I became a trainer around 1990 or so. And it was the period of low fat predominance. Everybody was on low fat diets. Everybody was avoiding saturated fat. I was one of them. I believed everything we were taught. I was one of those people who would order an egg white omelet. And if it came with any bad a little bit of runny yolk, I’d send it back because I was that certain that was going to give me a heart attack. I really was a true believer. We all were. I apologize. And what happened was right around the early 90s, the Atkins diet, the book was called The New Diet Revolution by Robert Atkins. And it’s known as the Atkins Diet, of course. And it came out in the 70s. But a new edition, a third edition had come out right around this time of the heyday of the low fat diet.
And everybody thought Atkins should be sure he lost his medical license. He was telling people to eat bacon. He was saying that you could eat pork rinds, but you couldn’t eat bread. And it was just completely counter to everything that we were taught, everything that we believed about nutrition. And we thought it was medical malpractice. However, People were doing it. And we would have clients who were not doing well on the low fat dogma that we taught them. They were doing what we told them. They weren’t losing weight. They weren’t feeling better. And they had friends who were going on. Atkins’, and getting good results. So they would come to us and they’d say, you know what? I just want to try this Atkins thing. And we’d say, you can’t do that, – You might lose some weight, but you’ll get a heart attack. This is absolute lunacy. You can’t do it. Well, of course, they didn’t listen to us and many would come back. I’m thinking of one in particular. But there were so many examples of it. Who would come back? With no visible changes, their eyes were clearer. Their blood pressure was measurably lower, their waist was beginning to shrink. They started to feel better, more energy, less brain fog. And this presents a conundrum. I didn’t talk to you about my background, but along the way, I was going to be a clinical psychologist.
So I was in the Ph.D. program for clinical psychology. I got my masters, but I ultimately left and went the route that I went now. But I had a master’s in psychology and knew enough to know that there is something called cognitive dissonance. And it means two ideas that cannot exist. At the same time, they can’t both be true. Right. So something can’t be both black and be white. Yeah. And we had been told the Atkins diet kills you. That’s one piece of information. And there were people standing in front of us who not only had it not killed, but it seemed to be doing wonders for. That’s cognitive dissonance. These two things can’t be true now. I had the evidence of my senses here, here’s a guy standing in front of me who’s lost 30 pounds and looks a lot better and he’s showing me his blood test and everything is good. I’m thinking maybe what we were told about the Atkins diet might not be right. So I began to reexamine some of this stuff. And interestingly enough, I had no training in nutrition. But as a personal trainer, I had learned the party line. But when I started to question the party line, all of a sudden people said he’s not even a nutritionist. He’s not a doctor, what does he know? I remember I was at the point where I was teaching other trainers ahead of the week when I was fitness trainer, which was a major figure in the Economic Fitness Training Institute, teaching trainers, all these things that we had learned and teaching nutrition just the way we learned it.
Nobody ever questioned my credentials. Now I’m up there going, you know, and by the way, the stuff we heard about saturated fat, I’m not 100% sure we need to relook at that again. And everyone was like, you can’t let him teach. He’s not even a nutritionist. So that’s when I went back to school. And as many people who have been shunned by the establishment because they don’t have the right credentials, many of us won’t go get the credentials. And guess what? Now, I’ve got the letters that my name and I really know how wrong you guys have been about, you know, what the dangers of the diet and cholesterol and fat. And if you think about it, if you think about it, the only reason that we’ve ever been told to not eat that saturated fat is because we believe that it raises cholesterol, which in turn causes heart disease. So therefore, eating fat will get you a heart attack. Yeah. Now, if this isn’t true, what happens to the dietary guidelines? What happened to the high carb, low fat diet that made us fat, sick, tired and depressed and gave us an epidemic of diabetes? What happens to those dietary guidelines if, in fact, fat doesn’t give you a heart attack? And that’s kind of where we are now.
So the way I got from writing books about the 150 healthiest foods on Earth and the most effective natural cures on Earth and the most effective ways to live longer, you know, books like that to books like Smart, Fat and a great cholesterol myth. It was a fairly strong, fairly straight progression because I had been working with clients doing weight loss. I was one of the first weight loss coaches in America. And combining psychology and nutrition and working with weight loss clients. And I was seeing, you know, they were very fanatic about following these guidelines of low fat, high carb diets and it was making them fat. Yeah. And it took a lot to understand that and then to teach that to them. And that’s how I got to look at the rationale for this low fat diet, because the rationale always came from preventing heart disease. And now we’ve got massive amounts of data looking at these low fat diets. And guess what? They don’t prevent heart disease. They don’t get you skinny. They don’t make you healthier. And many people, myself included, think that the low fat diet has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the diet and the diabetes epidemic that we’re seeing.
Darren: Yeah, and I would agree with that based on the knowledge that I’ve got. And, you know, I’ve done some research into this. And where I got to in my research was around the research that Dr – Keys did back in the 1950s to wherever it was. And they knew even at that time that the data that he had collected wasn’t showing what they thought it would, but they carried on going down this low fat route. And when they actually looked at what they had, they collected all the data that they had collected. They would have seen there is no relationship between heart attacks and high fat diets. Yeah. But obviously now, you know, in 2021, it’s kind of the Atkins diet that has evolved into Keto. Right. So it’s all about ketogenic and things like that, which seems to be the kind of the modern version. But why do you think now that I mean, particularly in the UK, we still see this, we still see it’s all about low fat. No fat. Fat is bad. Why not? Why isn’t the narrative being changed? Why do you think we still continue down this path?
Jonny: Well, let’s answer that in a more general way. Why do we ever continue along paths that have been shown to be incorrect? I’ll give you an example. When Covid first came out and everyone was scrambling for love, what did we do? What are we, you know, what’s the accurate information to follow? And we all, at least in Los Angeles, everybody’s wearing rubber gloves. And when you go into a supermarket, you’d like, you know, don’t touch anything. Well. This is warp speed, what happened with Covid, but, you know, stretching it out over a couple of decades, it’s the same thing that happened with cholesterol. So we now know that it’s not transmitted from surfaces. Right. And nobody wears gloves anymore when they go into the grocery store. Yeah. But there are establishments throughout my area where they still will not allow any surfaces. They remove the benches. They don’t have the sprays in the bathroom, the air sprays, because we don’t because they just stopped reading the literature after they got the notice that it is spread on surfaces. It’s not. Yeah. And we’ve known for quite a while the evidence is fairly clear that, you know, we’re barking up the wrong tree by looking at cholesterol, particularly the way it’s being measured, which is a sort of a sidebar we should talk about.
We’ve known that. Yeah, but people continue to behave and do the old ways. Yeah. And it’s a larger question of why did this happen in nutrition? It happens in every field. People just continue to do stuff that just isn’t it just isn’t accurate anymore. And there is a tremendous impetus to kind of just keep things the way they are rather than making the big changes that would need to be made in terms of, you know, what things are and covered by insurance and whether these drugs really do what they think they’re going to do. I mean, they think that’s a big edifice. It’s built on all that. And as Upton Sinclair, the great American writer, once said, it’s very difficult to get a man to change his position because his salary depends on changing. And that’s what we have with a 31 billion dollar a year industry to lower people’s LDL cholesterol. The irony of all of that is that LDL cholesterol is a meaningless number. We now have such sophisticated ways of measuring cholesterol. We can get actual good data from the cholesterol test, but it’s not the HDL LDL test. That test is broken. Right.
Darren: Yeah. And that’s something that I want to talk to you about today, because, you know, again, in the UK, when we’re looking at middle aged men over 40 and they go to their GP or their doctor and they have a health test and the doctor comes back with this generic response that if you have high cholesterol, straightaway, alarm bells start ringing, oh, it’s my cholesterol. I’m going to have a heart attack. But I really want to dig into the HDL and the LDL. And also the point that you raised there about the way that we measure it and how the right way to measure it is safe for people listening. Then, can we just talk about the high cholesterol measurement and HDL on the LDL and actually why that so means?
Jonny: Ok. So the best example I use here in the States when we talk about this, I live in California, which has very strict regulations about the emissions that cars can put out into the bathroom. And California’s got very good, very strict environmental controls. And you have to go to get your car smog tested. I don’t know if you have that in England, but you have to go to these stations that are specifically set up for this that are authorized by the state or the city or the county or whatever jurisdiction you’re in. They’re authorized to be objective measurements of this. You can’t even get it if it doesn’t pass. You can’t even get it fixed there. So they have no incentive to tell you the wrong data because they don’t they don’t make any money or they just pay to get the test done. Right. And there are these big massive machines that measure all of these environmental toxins. And they tell you, you know, if you pass the smog test or not, if you don’t, you have to get it fixed. And often it is expensive to do that. OK, especially on older cars. So. Let’s say you’re a citizen. Yeah.
And well, first of all, here, you legally have to get a smog check. They give you a notice. But let’s just say you want to be a good citizen, so you’re happy to go get it. Smog check you go. They test your car. They give you a report and they say, you know, actually, this is it needs this, that and the other. It’s going to cost. We better go down and get a fix. It’s going to cost about seventeen hundred bucks. And you go, wow, that’s a lot of money. I have to do it, I’m going to get tickets for it. I don’t want to be a bad citizen and pollute the car, I’ll bite the bullet and do it. What if we then found out the machine hasn’t been calibrated since 1963? But the machine is broken, that the machine is just as likely to give you a false positive as a false negative. In other words, you could be polluting the entire city and you could get a clean bill of health or you could be absolutely pristine. And the machine tells you you got toxins coming out of there. Yeah. How angry would you be?
Darren: Yeah, very. Yeah.
Jonny: So we are giving people the equivalent of a cholesterol test that’s like that machine, those bad smog machines I was just talking about. Suppose it was invented before modern day. We have like hundreds of toxins that were invented after that machine was first made. It’s not even calibrated to look at those toxins. It doesn’t even know it exists. What have you found out? That it hasn’t been updated in 50 years? Right. You’d be furious. Yeah. So what we’re doing with the HDL LDL test is this in the 19, when I was a kid, the early 1950s the early 60s, they used to test cholesterol with one measurement. They do a little fingerprinting and they take a look at blood. And they would go, oh, Mr. Jones, if you’ve cost close to 230, that’s a perfectly good number. Where, by the way, you used to 240 used to be the normal measurement. They keep. They keep getting it down and down because every time they get it down, they get insurance reimbursement for another 10 million people because they are now clinically suffering with low cholesterol, because you just keep making them lower and lower. So that I mean, with high cholesterol. So that. But at that time, 230 240 was normal. And so they would give you this one number. Mm hmm. I believe it was the early 60s. They realized the microscopic scopes got better. The ability to look at these structures got better and more sophisticated.
And I got you know, it really cholesterol doesn’t travel in the blood, by the way, because it’s hydrophobic. It doesn’t mix with water. So it has to be traveled in a container. Mm hmm. And the container is the lipoproteins. So HDL stands for high density lipoprotein and LDL stands for low density lipoprotein. What makes them denser, not dense. Just like in anything else, you put it in water if it sinks to the bottom. It’s high density. If it flows to the top, it’s low density. That’s all it means. But cholesterol is one of the components, one of the cargo’s of this boat, the liberal approach. So when they started to be able to look at a little bit differently and by the way, it’s not all that the protein carries. It also carries some protein in some triglycerides, sometimes some other cellular debris. I mean, there’s all kinds but these three basic things that carry triglycerides, protein and cholesterol. Cholesterol is only one of the cargo’s. So that cholesterol is the cargo in this boat. And scientists started to say, well, you know, some of these boats seem to be higher density and some of them seem to be lower density. So let’s divide them into high and low. And they seem to actually do different things. One carries cholesterol away from the tissues and the other brings it towards its core. One of them is sort of good and one of them sort of bad.
I mean, that’s like it’s just the most superficial kind of characterization of these two different entities, right? Yeah. OK. That was an improvement over total cholesterol. Because now we had a vague sense that you’re not quite the same. Yeah. And one of them is kind of a little bit better. Yeah. And the other one is kind of a little bit worse. And we can now do a ratio now. Now, we’re not just looking at total cholesterol and how much of it is the good kind of HDL? How much of it is the bad kind LDL? Right. So in the era of cell phones, this is equivalent to I don’t know if they had this in England, but when we first got cellular telephones, mobile telephones, they were the size of a Buick. So they literally looked like you would still get pictures of people walking around New York when the first cell phones came up and they looked like a brick they would be and the antenna would go up to their car. Yeah. What happens when the flip phone comes out, man? What an improvement. That’s like a flip phone. And you can text people. You have to hit it three times to get a letter. Remember that? Like that. All right. Three times I will. That’s how we did it. But it was some improvement over what they used to be. Well, the HDL LDL test was an improvement over the total test in the same way as the flip phone was an improvement over the Buick.
Right. Would you use a flip phone today in the era of the iPhone 12 pro and this and the Samsung Galaxy seven or whatever it is? Would you use a flip phone where you’re texting with three things to get a letter. Ever in the day of FaceTime and Skype. Right. Yeah. We are using this antiquated, stupid test when we now know there are 13 different types of calls to all this HDL2 2A 2B there’s LDLa, LDBb, oxidized LDL, LDL3a, 3b. Would you use a test that is antiquated to prescribe drugs for when you’ve got this huge galaxy of things that you can look into to see what’s the size of the lipoprotein? Oh, that seems to make quite a bit of difference. Is it small particles or is it big ones? Wait a minute. How many of them are there? Because that makes more of a difference in what the cargo of those boats are. You’re trying to prevent an accident in the water. You want to know how many boats are in the water. You don’t care how many towels are in the bathroom with the boat. Yeah. So cholesterols, the cargo, the new information looks at the number of boats. How many lipoproteins do you have? Any they’re called particles. How many particles are there? That is what tells you whether you’re in danger or not. Not good or bad, HDL LD, that’s ridiculous.
And people continue to cling to that and prescribe based on that. And that is the irony and the tragedy of this, not only just cholesterol, not really causing heart disease, but we’re not even measuring it correctly.
Darren: I mean, that’s such a great point. And that’s a great analogy. I use mobile phones and I can relate to that because I have my blood done every year. And I recently had my bloods done. I purposely followed a high fat diet. Right. And it came back from one of these new testing centers that, Mr. Kirby, you have high LDL, you might want to consider going on some medication. I was absolutely flabbergasted that they were looking at this from this perspective. So bearing that in mind, then, when you’re talking about all these the 13 different cholesterol, the different types that we have. What is the right approach? What is the right way to test?
Jonny: Only one. It’s what it’s called in your country or what each lab calls that test. Yeah, it’s very different. But it is widely known generically as the particle test. Particles are just science talk for lipoproteins. Yeah. It’s the particle test. And in our country, we have Quest Labs and a lab for the two major providers of lab tests in the country. They have different lab calls. One is called the LPE and the quest one, I think is called the cardio IQ test. They’re advanced lipid profiles. Lipid means fat profile is this test and advanced means we’re not just looking at some antiquated 1960 good and bad. We’re looking at actually the advanced particle size and the number that the tests are able to deliver now. They’re also called the NMR particle test. NMR stands for nuclear magnetic resonance. Didn’t have it in 1963. Why would you not use it to look into the damn glycoprotein when you have it now? Why would you still use some complete gut? I forgot how you pronounce that thing. You’ve been counting boards.
Darren: Oh, yeah. So they call it Abacus. Yeah, yeah.
Jonny: Yeah. It could be like using that.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah. That makes perfect sense
Jonny: For the 64 computer, if you remember the Commodore. Yeah, I
Darren: Do. Absolutely. That’s what it’s like. Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And actually I never even considered that before we had that discussion today that, you know, that makes perfect sense. You know, we’re measuring stuff back from when we used to use them based on the information we had back in the 60s, which is crazy, like you say. So that makes perfect sense. But if we got people listening to this today who have perhaps not followed, I would say the most optimal nutrition. Right. And maybe they’ve been having a lot of processed food. And let’s say, for example, they were to have the new test that tested. From a political standpoint, what type of things would you know if you have a cholesterol level, which is not ideal based on a new test, would you be looking for?
Jonny: You’re looking for high numbers of particles. I’m a perfect example of this, by the way, Darren. You know, it’s an interesting thing. When we wrote the book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, we were concentrating really on the people who are being over prescribed statins because they’re only looking at LDL, LDL. Your example that you gave earlier where your LDL was very elevated from a high maybe from a high fat diet, we don’t know. But it was elevated. Yeah. Very often what happens with certain fats like saturated fat is that they do raise LDL. Yeah, but when you look under the hood and you look at these tests, you find that they’re raising the big Flot, the versions of LDL, the big molecules don’t really do much damage. And the little nasty BB gun size, small ones are much lower. So even though the total number is higher, the pattern is very favorably affected by that fact. And if you don’t look under the hood, all you see is bad high LDL. Now, here’s what I had the opposite of this. My LDL and HDL have always been perfect. Nobody has ever said anything but a great job. Go home. You don’t need a prescription. Your LDL. Now, I learned about this stuff about 10 years ago and I started taking the real test. Yeah. And the real test shows a very different picture. I have particle numbers that are in the very high and dangerous range. Yeah. And my pattern. Are they big and fluffy or are they nasty and small? They are nasty and small. So I was and this is obscured by the conventional good and bad test.
Yeah. Just like yours. My good results might be being obscured because they’re only looking at these two growth categories instead of looking under and seeing what’s going on. Yeah. So in my case, I was being undertreated, OK? And I have some very forward thinking. I’m quite a team of people that I’m able to reach and get opinions on. So I talk to three different cardiologists about this, none of whom are conventional. And one of them said, you know, this might be a case where I know you don’t you’re not eager to go on a statin drug, but this might be a case where, you know, five milligrams Crestor will get the particles done. At least they knew what they were looking at. They weren’t doing HDL, LDL, they knew that we’ve got to get those particles done. Yeah, I had two other opinions, one of whom was a cardiologist who was also a nutritionist, and he said, let’s skip the statins for now. Here’s what I want you to do and give me a very rigorous program of supplements to add on to the supplements I already take. And about a year later, the particle numbers have gone from the very high red to the yellow. So they were moving in the right direction and the particle size had switched from the nasty little dark one, you know, oxidized atherogenic particles of LDL to the much more fluffier ones. So I was on the way to do a change there, but it wouldn’t have even been seen if I hadn’t if I hadn’t gotten the real test.
Darren: Yeah, I mean…
Jonny: It works both ways. I think most people are over prescribed statins, but some people may be under prescribed because you’re just looking at something that doesn’t matter anymore.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, yeah, when you have that clarity, that information, you’re able to act efficiently. So that’s one of the things I wanted to talk about, is actually dealing with it. When you have, you know, the high numbers of LDL, but like you said, the small BB gun type particles. Now, obviously, you mentioned that some cardiologists have mentioned statins. My approach to any kind of health issue is always to look at it from a kind of a natural perspective.
Jonny: We certainly want to start with that, if you can. And that’s what this cardiologist suggested. And I liked this cardiologist, because the very first thing he said to me when I told him about my puzzling results was he said, well, I hope you’re on a high fat diet right now. He was the cardiologist for me.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Because I think a lot of the kind of traditional approaches when you have this, you know, and let’s generalize it for a moment. The high cholesterol levels, you know, it’s almost as if you’re eating too much stuff, you’re eating too much fat, you eat too many cakes. So if you had somebody come and have this modern test done with small particles, where would you start from a dietary perspective? How would you start to analyze that?
Jonny: I’m pretty convinced that the place to start with most of these interventions where you’re not quite sure what to do. Start by getting rid of processed food right across the board. It doesn’t matter what it is you’re reading. It doesn’t matter what condition you’re focused on. The era in carbohydrate metabolism that is widespread throughout the world. Yeah, something called insulin resistance is a factor in heart disease and cancer in kidney lung. Diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, every one of those is linked to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is an error in the ability of the body to process carbohydrates. There are no two ways about it. That’s where the problem is. And I’m not talking about the carbohydrates that the Bantu of South Africa eat or that the paleo people eat. Those are carbohydrates you and I or anyone in the first world would not recognize. Yeah, these were the kinds of things you could pluck or gather. And they were bitter and they were fibrous and they had plenty of them. And those carbs are just fine. Our version of that would be Brussels sprouts and broccoli and lettuce and green leafy vegetables. And those things just don’t cause problems for people. But you know, what does bread, pasta, rice, triscuit, cakes, baked goods. Yeah. Frozen foods. All of this stuff is made with vegetable oil and sugar and starch, which converts to sugar in a heartbeat. And this is what drives your blood sugar up. This is what drives your insulin up. This is what causes insulin resistance. And that is, I think, the biggest risk factor for chronic disease. It doesn’t account for all chronic disease. But like you said in the book, smoking doesn’t account for all of lung cancer, but it tracks with lung cancer better than any other risk factor we have. And that’s the same thing with insulin resistance.
Darren: Yeah, I completely agree. I think and when you said there about, you know, globally the way that we’ve evolved with carbohydrates. My view on that is I believe it’s the Western world that has evolved with our incessant need and requirement to constantly have food has meant that the food industry is just producing this stuff on mass. And we’re not designed to continually eat right.
Jonny: We need to grow. As a matter of fact, I came late to the fasting party. I’ve always known as a health professional. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. And much like meditation, we all know that fasting has amazing health benefits. But, you know, you think it’s hard and you don’t want to do it. And so I just never really like investigating it personally, even though I knew it was a good thing. Same thing with meditation. I always knew it was a good thing. But it wasn’t until, like I was in my 70s, that I actually began meditating and developed a meditation practice and the same thing with fasting. So in this last year, during the pandemic, actually, I was forced to be a little more severe in my diet. Like I was always on the right path. But you know how you can. It’s like a Pandora radio station. It’s like if you don’t continue to correct it, you know, you start with one genre and by then you’re into something completely different. And kind of I was on that high fat, relatively low carb, moderate protein diet, but I drifted a lot. OK. And when the pandemic came, I stopped drifting because we couldn’t get, you know, any of the junk food. But nobody ran out of fruits, vegetables, meat and nuts. So I just stocked up on all that stuff and started just grazing on nuts and olives and berries. And I do, you know, drinking olive oil out of the bottle because it’s amazing medicinal food. And it’s one of the supplements I take. And several things happened, one of which is that all those numbers I just talked about went down, the second of which is I lost my cravings for a lot of sweets.
And the third of which is very related to all of this is I started fasting, OK? And I actually just wrote a course about the essay. I’m now deeply into teaching this stuff. But here’s the biggest point to take home relative to our conversation. One of the biggest benefits of fasting. One could argue the biggest benefit, but certainly there are others. But one of the biggest benefits of fasting is it can lower or reverse insulin resistance. Right. So if you can turn insulin resistance around, you can literally. In our book, we quoted one study that projected from various statistics that if you could cure if you could wipe out insulin resistance in the world, you’d wipe out 40. You prevent 42 percent of all heart attacks. That’s crazy. God knows what else in terms of obesity and diabetes. So this is a very, very important thing. And, you know, insulin rises in response to blood sugar. Blood sugar rises in response to food. It does not reset. It does not rise. In response to fat, it rises and responds to processed carbohydrates, followed by protein, not as much of a protein zero for fat. So when you’re trying to reverse the very condition that causes obesity, that causes fat diabetics and all the rest of it insulin, we try to reverse that. What sense does it make to tell people to eat a high amount of the very macronutrient carbohydrates which rise, which would raise insulin and sugar, and to not eat the very macronutrient fat, which doesn’t even move the needle on it? It’s completely Alice in Wonderland backwards.
Darren: And what kind of challenges have you faced with this? Because I would imagine…
Darren: And why do you think that they are so against accepting the facts?
Jonny: It’s a sociology question, not a medical question. Right. Right. It really it truly is. I mean, when you look at how the system is set up, how people visit doctors’ offices who come as representatives of the pharmaceutical company, they come with food, they bring lunch, they do a little seminar in the office. They give them the pens with the name of the medication on it. And they do this wonderfully Disney Esque presentation about how wonderful the medication is. And this is what’s happening in this trial. Here are some samples and try it with it. And it’s a culture. Yeah. And that’s why they don’t pay attention to nutrition, that they’re not taught in medical school, that nutrition matters. Yeah, I think the latest statistics are that only one one quarter of all the medical schools in the United States even offer a nutrition course. And the ones that do, it’s about the equivalent of high school home economics.
Darren: Yeah. I mean, I’ve heard the similar thing in the U.K. that doctors that study get less than eight hours in their home for years of nutritional training.
Jonny: This is true.
Darren: Yeah. So it’s I mean, that is a crisis. Well, so just quickly, coming back to cholesterol, though, itself, I want because he is seen as demonized and it’s seen as bad. But there are some huge benefits, right? To cholesterol having cholesterol in the body. And it’s an important part of what and who we are.
Jonny: Well, I think benefits is too light of a word, I think. First of all, you would die without it. Yeah. It’s so essential to your health that if you took it out of your body, you’d be dead. There’d be no discussion. Yeah. So you need it from memory. You need it for thinking. You need it for your immune system and you eat your hormones. It is the parent molecule for vitamin D, which seventy five percent of America does not get enough of. It is the parent molecule for your sex hormones. Right. So when you stop cholesterol from being manufactured in the body the way these statin drugs do. Yeah. Is it any wonder that there is an epidemic of erectile dysfunction among American men who are about 50 percent of whom are on these cholesterol blocking drugs? Right. Any wonder that, you know, seventy five percent of America is deficient in vitamin D? When we are blocking the molecule that makes vitamin D, that makes vitamin D from. So, yes, it’s very, very important for so many different things. And the notion of just trying to lower it and low it is just so bone headedly wrong. It’s kind of stunning.
Darren: Yeah. And is there any link I see on that point? You make a good point about erectile dysfunction. And I’ve had another conversation with a UK based doctor today about that and how that’s the precursor to a lot of other diseases if you have that in the body. But, you know, around the erectile dysfunction and cholesterol, in all their links with the cholesterol and other illnesses, such as erectile dysfunction, Lotan stops running that kind of thing.
Jonny: Other links with cholesterol in that? Well, first of all, we have to be clear about how we’re measuring it. I’m not. I’m not really a fan of like any of the data that links LDL and HDL with anything, because it’s really an antiquated measure. But I think there’s more significant data with the side effects of statin drugs than I mean, high cholesterol. Because here’s the thing. People who have let’s go with the old fashioned way of measuring it. Yeah, high cholesterol is just a thought exercise. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. People eat when they look like meat eaters. Well, are they people like me who’s eating grass fed meat from the local market along with vegetables and plants, you know, or are they people eating ballpark hotdogs, right? Salami and deli meats and never seeing any vegetables or fiber and topping it off with lots of bread? Yeah, you have to look at the other factors that go with it. Many people who had traditionally high cholesterol in these studies were smokers and they were stressed out. And there were 50 different variables that you really couldn’t control for, like lifestyle and anger and stress and lack of sleep. And so there’s usually a component of all those things. And in that particular box, very often erectile dysfunction is one of those things. You have bad circulation. You don’t have all the nutrients that you need. Your diet is nutrient deficient. Yeah. Those things can manifest too. Lot of different ways, one of which is erectile dysfunction. Yeah. Yeah, I think there is a causal connection between high cholesterol, badly measured and erectile dysfunction that’s really pushing it.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Fair enough. No, I understand. So, no, that’s cool. So in terms of tips you could give to guys listening to this. You know, obviously there’s some basic fundamentals. But what would be the key tips that you could give to a dad who is listening to this. Who has been diagnosed with high cholesterol?
Jonny: But the best nutrition advice I ever got in my life and the best nutritional advice I’ve ever given in my life is three words. It transcends everything we know about diets. What type of diet? Low fat, high fat, vegan, carnivore. Eat real food. Yeah. And when I say real food, I mean food, that if you showed this food to your great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother, she would know exactly what to do with it. Yeah. In the blue zones where the people live the longest and are the healthiest, and they’ve studied them extensively. The researchers took some of the foods that we get in supermarkets and they showed them some of, you know, some of the people who lived in these zones. They showed them some of these foods. And the women who would cook for the village, the older women would go, yeah. What is this? They did not know what it was. Yeah. If you can. And if you’re not sure if it’s real food or not, because there’s a lot of stuff masquerading as kale chips in them. Well, that’s good. It comes from kale. If you’re not sure, it’s not real. Don’t get the benefit of the doubt. Yeah. You know what’s real? Meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans. Yeah. That’s what’s real.
Darren: Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. So I mean, because there’s a lot of. Where do you stand on the various different diet modalities? And what I mean by what we talked about Keto, we talk about Atkins’, we talked about paleo while searching all the rest of it, because when you boil it down, it’s actually just the fundamentally it’s all the same, right? It’s eating whole foods. But where do you sit on these various different mobilities? Are you completely against it and just follow Whole Foods or what is your view on it?
Jonny: I think that there’s no perfect diet. There are very often perfect matches between a given individual in a given eating plan, and that may change over time. What served you very well in college when you were training for football might not be the best diet for you in your fifties. And if you were pregnant, that might not be the best diet for when you’re 60 and starting a new career in sail boarding or whatever. You have different needs at different times in your life. And you even have an even one person who may have a diet that works very well for them and would be absolutely a disaster for their neighbors. So we need to get away from the notion of a perfect diet. We need to talk more about the perfect fit between a person and dietary strategy.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely.
Jonny: I couldn’t agree more ethically in general what I think about. I mean, in general, I’m not a fan of I mean, I think the less processed food, the better. And you can do that as a vegan. Yeah. Unfortunately, many vegans do not do that or vegans do. Is vegan pizza and vegan cheese on the list? And that is the worst crappy diet you can imagine. And just because it doesn’t have animal products doesn’t make it healthy. But you can do a real food diet as a vegan. You can do a real food diet as a carnivore. You can do it as anything in between. But if you’re sticking with real foods, I think the rest of it is details.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. No, I couldn’t agree more. And yeah, I think it is a fascinating topic and it’s one which I think we need to elevate and speak about. Way, way more. And I really appreciate your time today. And I really appreciate your explanation on the way that we should test cholesterol. But, you know,..
Jonny: Well, I was going to say, I think I hope that my book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, is available in the UK. I’m pretty sure it is on Amazon. OK, but it’s all in the book, the tests, everything.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s what I was about to say. You know, you’ve been the author of about 15 books. So where can people connect with you? How can they see more of your your stuff and things like that
Jonny: On Instagram and Twitter? I’m just @JonnyBowden and there’s no H in Johnny. It’s J.O.N.N.Y B.O.W.D.E.N And I’m very easy to reach that way. And I’ll leave you with this. If you don’t want to do all these complicated tests in the book, we give some very simple ways that you can look at your current blood test. And you’re going to be two numbers on that. I don’t care where you got your blood tested, these two numbers are going to be on it. And if you look at those two numbers, triglycerides and HDL, and you look at them and figure out the ratio, you will have a wonderful predictive metric for how you’re doing in terms of heart disease.
Darren: Perfect. Well, I’m going to go away and check that right tonight and see where I am. But Dr.. Thank you very much for joining us on the. Podcast today, and I look forward to speaking to you soon.
Jonny: I hope so, too. Thank you so much.
Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe. And I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes, and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com