Welcome to Episode #15 of the Healing Pain Podcast with Dr. Steven Masley!
Today we are joined by Dr. Steven Masley, MD.
Do you avoid fat like the plague? Traditional nutritional dogma would have you believe that fat makes you fat. In fact the exact opposite is true and science backs this truth up. Not only does fat help you to burn fat and drop excess weight, but fat actually plays a key role in reducing pain and inflammation among many other important jobs in the body, like allowing us to absorb vital fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. We absolutely without a doubt need fat. We should not fear the healthy kind and we are actually harming ourselves if we avoid it.
Let’s take a deeper look as to why what we have been taught about fat is all wrong. Dr. Steven Masley joins the podcast this week to demystify fat and discuss the science of why fat should be part of a healthy lifestyle and one in which helps persistent pain and inflammation.
In This Episode You Will Learn:
- What’s wrong with the low fat message.
- Which food groups lower inflammation.
- Which fats are smart.
- Which fats are neutral.
- What sources of fiber should we choose and avoid.
- Which oils are safe for cooking at medium-high to high heat.
- The best way to consume olive and coconut oil.
- The data proven benefits from following a Smart Fat program.
Welcome to The Healing Pain podcast, I am your host, Dr. Joe Tatta. It’s great to be here this week spreading the continuous message of hope and healing for the millions with chronic pain. On the podcast this week I have Dr. Steven Masley, he’s a physician, nutritionist, author, speaker and award-winning patient educator. He’s devoted his entire medical career to the study of heart disease.
Dr. Masley has published numerous scientific articles and several health books including “Smart Fat,” which we’re going to be talking about today, the “30-Day Heart Tune-up,” and “Ten Years Younger.” His work has been featured on The Discovery Channel, The Today Show, PBS, and in over 250 media interviews. Dr. Steven Masley, welcome to The Healing Pain Podcast, it’s great to have you here.
Hey Joe, I’m delighted to be here with you today.
I’m really excited to be talking to you today. It’s great to speak with a physician who also incorporates nutrition into their practice. One of the things that I start out with patients, when I look at their diet and what they’re eating, is I look for where the fat is in their diet and often times they have questions for me. “Why are you looking for fat? Shouldn’t fat be not in my diet or kind of as low as possible?”
Tell us about fat and you know what’s really wrong with the low-fat message.
Well, there’s several things wrong with the low-fat message. First, low-fat is really hard to do. You know, I was the medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center years ago. I couldn’t really get anyone to follow it. They didn’t feel satisfied, they felt deprived. Their food didn’t taste good. It’s just really difficult to do.
And two, when you cut out the fat, you cut out the potential anti-inflammatory component. It’s very hard to lower inflammation if you don’t use the right smart fats. If you don’t use them, you end up more inflamed, and the last thing we want is our patients to be inflamed because not only does that age them prematurely, it makes them suffer and puts them in pain and we don’t want that. We want an anti-inflammatory diet and healthy smart fats are absolutely essential to that.
In addition to fats, I know we’re going to talk a lot about fat obviously on this podcast today. In addition to fat, what are some of the other food groups or foods that are anti-inflammatory that can help someone who’s struggling with inflammation, kind of lower inflammation in their body?
There’s specific fiber. There’s good fat and there’s bad fat. There’s good carbs and there’s bad carbs. The good carbs really can also lower inflammation. When we get fiber, vegetable, fruit, beans and nuts, and we’re not talking about grains, and flour that raise blood sugar levels to potentially make you more inflamed. We’re talking about, really, vegetables like broccoli and kale and beets, things that are really powerful anti-inflammatory agents. That makes a difference.
I think, also, clean protein. I wouldn’t say it’s anti-inflammatory, but it helps us be full and satisfied. I think the other food group, spices and herbs are very anti-inflammatory. If we were to use garlic and curry spices and Italian herbs correctly, we could also make our food taste fantastic and lower the anti-inflammatory value at the same time.
You mentioned blood sugar there. I just wanna talk about blood sugar just for moment because I think people are waiting for either the diagnosis of diabetes, or maybe they’re lucky enough to be getting, let’s say, a pre-diabetes diagnosis. But how important is it to address blood sugar even before you get to the pre-diabetic stage?
I would say the number one cause for heart disease and the number one cause for memory loss is high normal levels of blood sugar. When we reach insulin resistance, in other words, that insulin message to push sugar into the cell when it stops working, that’s just high normal levels really do harm us in major ways. They increase inflammation. You know if our brain, when we become insulin-resistant when we eat too much sugar and flour, we don’t get enough smart fat. When we’re in that imbalanced state, insulin is not effective at telling the energy to go into the cell, especially brain cell, and be used as fuel.
Literally you could have your bloodstream full of sugar, but your brain is dying from insulin resistance. It’s dying from lack of energy despite that you’ve got it out in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance is really common. It’s at least 30% of adults, at least 50% of baby boomers. It’s, to me, the number one cause of accelerated aging and something that really leads to increased inflammation and pain. A super important aspect of health, so I’m really glad you’re bringing it up.
Yeah, I appreciate that. One of the things I talk to patients about when they say, “Oh, I went back to my doctor. My blood sugar’s okay.” Sometimes I say, “Well, let’s maybe ask them for another test. Let’s ask them to look at your insulin, obviously.” How many years ahead of time could someone be insulin-resistant and not know about it if a test is not being run?
At least five or 10 years. You know this, Joe. Usually before you’re pre-diabetic, before your blood sugar is more than 100, usually you say, “100’s the cutoff for normal.” But if you’re 100 instead of 95, your chance for Alzheimer’s, major debilitating problem, is 20, 30, 40% higher. 100 isn’t really the gold standard. That’s the tippity top of normal. We’re probably already insulin-resistant.
You’d like your insulin levels to be like below five. Any above 10, to me, is pretty elevated, probably a sign of some early insulin resistance that you’re making a lot of insulin to keep that sugar level down. That’s a major health issue, insulin resistance. It’s that spectrum of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, diabetes, and people say, “Well, thank God I’m not diabetic.” I go, “Well, no.” I wouldn’t. Most people die from pre-diabetes and insulin resistance. They die a miserable death before they become diabetic.
We really have to make sure we work to get our blood sugar and insulin levels functioning normally. That’s the key. It just improves our health in a dramatic way and it lowers inflammation, too.
Great, thanks for clearing that up. I think it’s really important to talk about that kind of progression. Getting back to the fats, ’cause we know there are healthy fats and there are fats that are not so healthy, what are the fats that we should be including in our diet on a daily basis?
Fats that really have clear, proven, bulletproof benefit are things like nuts. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias. We have lots of published evidence that if you eat one or two handfuls of those a day, it has all sorts of health benefit. Olive oil, yes. We should be using one or two tablespoons of olive oil every day, or nut oils. You don’t want everything to taste like olive oil when you cook it. Avocado are awesome.
I want a minimum of five servings of smart fat a day. That could be one tablespoon of olive oil or almond or a nut oil. It could be a handful of nuts, an ounce. It could be about a quarter of a big Florida avocado or a half of a California Hass avocado. Seafood like wild salmon, sardines, that’s really smart fat. That’s another source. A protein source would be a serving. Dark chocolate, an ounce. Please, have a ounce of dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa at a minimum. Those are examples of a serving a day that I want you to have all the time.
For olive oil, what’s the best way for someone to get the olive oil into their diet? So many people have heard of olive oil because of the Mediterranean diet, obviously. They’ve done many studies on it. It obviously promotes good heart health. What’s the best way to get olive oil into your diet and which type of olive oil should you be using?
Well good olive is so good, better for your heart, better for your brain, less risk of memory decline. It actually improves cognitive function when you use it. It’s anti-inflammatory so you’ll hurt less if you use it, but we are looking at extra virgin. It hasn’t been processed. It hasn’t been treated with chemicals. You can’t overheat it. The smoke point is 400 degrees. You destroy extra virgin olive oil if you pass 400 degrees. That’s like medium-low to medium heat. Thinking in culinary. If you want to saute chicken or fish or vegetables. Usually, we’re looking at medium-high to do that. I might use some avocado or almond oil to saute with, a small amount. Then when I turn it down to simmer, I’ll put in my extra virgin olive oil, so it’s not damaged by the heat. It tastes better. When you overheat extra virgin, you don’t decrease the nutritional value, you potentially make it toxic and you make [inaudible 00:09:16] or a Salad dressing, just drizzle it on after you cook or mix it with a vinegar in salad dressing. Any of those are great options.
That’s awesome, so talking about oils to use at higher heat temperatures ’cause I think sometimes people want to fry something up, so to speak.
Yeah, what oils should they use for higher heat?
Avocado is awesome. It tolerates over 500 degrees, so really healthy fat. It’s excellent flavor. It’s kind of neutral. It’s great for cooking. And then if you want to add something like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, a flavorful nutrient rich oil, then you do that at the end when you drop heat down to simmer. Pecan oil, a little hard to find, but also an excellent oil that takes high heat. Medium high would be like macedamian or hazelnut or almond oil are nut oils you can use. I can’t say it’s beneficial to your health, but at least a neutral oil that you can use would be like clarified butter, ghee. That tolerates high heat. I can’t tell you it’s good for you, but I think the reality is, it’s neutral from a health perspective at least for your heart. I think that’s another option in moderation to use some clarified butter or ghee for high heat cooking.
Excellent. I think it’s great that you’re starting out with the oils that can be beneficial to your health and how you should use them. It’s really important, but I think we should maybe just touch a little on the oils that people should be aware of. That are in their diet. That are maybe too high of a concentration that should start get lowered or come out all together.
Well obviously, hydrogenated fat. All these partially, they’re toxic. It’s like embalming fluid when we use them. If it says partially hydrogenated under the ingredients, just throw it out, return it, don’t you know. It makes us inflamed. It worsens our cholesterol profile. It raises our blood sugar. It causes insulin resistance. It’s just off. It increases our cancer risk. So absolutely no, to all the hydrogenated fats.
The other fats that I don’t think that are so I think most of your listeners probably know they should avoid hydrogenated fat. What many of them may not realize is we put a ton of chemicals in feedlot animals when we raise them. When you are getting your chicken or beef or pork from a feedlot. It’s being, you know, chemical, pesticides, Roundup on the grain so they’re pesticide and Roundup enriched concentrated sources in the fat.
They’ve given them hormones. They give these animals up to six different growth hormones to fatten them up. The growth hormones are concentrated in the animal fat. If we eat that animal, we get the growth hormones that make us fat. We don’t want toxic fat from feedlots, so if you’re going to eat animal protein, it should be grass-fed, cage-free pastured raised, I know you teach all this, organic. Food products they give them, Wilds, one of those adverbs is absolutely [inaudible 00:12:32] so those are the biggest ones.
The other one is polyunsaturated fats like you can get from corn oil. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s the ratio. Do we get enough omega-3 to omega-6 to keep our inflammation down? So we can have some. The average American, following the sad, standard American diet is getting 20 times the omega-6 than they are the omega-3 and they are very inflamed. The last thing they need is more.
Absolutely no hydrogenated fat or partially hydrogenated, definitely avoid feedlot animal protein that’s been not …. probably is toxic. Make sure you can have some polyunsaturated fats, but you don’t want to be using one of those that are highly polyunsaturated like corn oil and peanut oil and safflower oil. Unless, you’re sure you are getting a ton of omega-3 to offset that.
Excellent. There is one oil, I don’t think you mentioned, but sometimes it can be a little controversial and that’s canola oil. Where does canola fit in your
It does have a little more omega-6. It does have omega-3, but not the long chain that really have the proven benefit. Most of the canola oil, I think of as toxic. It’s pesticide enriched. It comes in a plastic bottle. It’s treated with heat harshly.
I mean there are a very tiny percentage of canola oil is this organically raised, expeller pressed, it’s still pretty high in omega-6. I’m okay with some people using this extra pure, glass bottle, expeller pressed canola oil. There’s actually studies on, showing it was good for the heart in the Lyon Heart Study. Pretty well a time when they used a proper oil, but now we’re talking like 2% of the oil, that’s sold, not the regular stuff in the grocery store, but you still need to kind of limit it because it’s got more omega-6 than I like.
Excellent. What I’d love to ask you as a physician, I think when you start talking about fat to patients you know it could be going well, but often times fat turns into cholesterol. People get very concerned, or they get very fearful that too much fat in their diets can increase their cholesterol. It effects their cholesterol scores or their lipid profiles.
How do you address that?
Well eating more avocado and nuts and olive oil improves your cholesterol profile. It lowers the LDL, raises the HDL so ratio looks better. If you’re eating smart fats, you are improving your cholesterol profile. I think some of the controversy has to do with saturated fats. Even clean animal protein like grass-fed steak or organic dairy, it does raise your cholesterol a little bit, but it raises HDL. I don’t know.
There is very little evidence that it increases your risk for heart disease. Probably not. I tend to think of clean saturated sources from fatty dairy and fatty meats, as long as they’re clean, I think of them as being neutral, not harmful for your heart, mostly neutral. There is still lots of controversy on that in the medical community. But I am not advocating a low-fat diet, anything but, I am trying to say make sure you get five servings of smart fat every day and if you want have a little bit of added neutral fat on top of it in moderation, I think that’s totally fine.
I love talking to real clinicians, ’cause they have outcomes that are available to them at their fingertips or in their office. Tell us about some of the outcomes your patients have experienced from your program.
We track it. I am actively doing research. And my team, today, we’re working on research projects so I can actually tell you my average patient is losing weight. Their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar get better. Their artery plaque in their arteries is shrinking over time. We have hundreds of people who shrink their artery plaque by more than 10%, meaning their arteries are literally 10 years younger.
We have hundreds of people who have improved their cognitive performance. Their brains are quicker and sharper than they were when I first met them. We typically see, yes, you lose weight, yes, you look and feel better. But from a clinical perspective where we are preventing and reversing heart disease, and we’re preventing memory loss and improving cognitive function.
I’m just really proud to have that data. It’s published. I’ve presented at meetings like The American Heart Association, The American College of Nutrition, The American Academy of Family Physicians. I’ve got published results. I know my program works so I feel really solid about sharing this kind of information with people.
Awesome. Where do you stand as far as the carbohydrates go because if we’re talking about putting fat in, lots of times we have to look at our carbohydrates and say “okay?” There are some carbohydrates that are better and some that are not so good. So what’s your advice on kind of playing with that ratio a little bit.
I actually am a, so here’s the irony, I’m not low-fat. I’m not low-carb. I’m not low-protein. It’s the quality of each one that is essential and I don’t want anybody to be on a low-carb or low-fat diet. Low-carb, to me, yes fats have a huge impact on inflammation which impacts pain.
If you you add any of the smart anti-inflammatory fats you’ll be less inflamed, but most of the major health benefits probably come from carbs. From eating more vegetable, fruit, beans, and nuts. I think those four things, I mean Paleo, you know they try to talk about, you can’t have beans, but the truth. I think it is true that about 5-10% of the people are lectin intolerant.
There’s a carbohydrate unit in beans that some people just have a very hard time digesting. They get crampy, bloated, it’s uncomfortable then they should avoid them. But even some of those, if they sprout their beans, if they soak them over night, soak them, rinse them, soak them, rinse them a few times, that even goes away.
But beans are awesome food. They have the highest antioxidant score of all time, and they lower blood sugar levels and stabilize it when you eat more vegetables, broccoli, kale, beets carrots. All of those have a very low sugar load. They’re very high in nutrients. If we want to block aging, we have to eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
I encourage people to have 30 grams of day, to make it simple, that’s 10 servings. Like an apple, a cup of broccoli, a handful of nuts, a quarter cup of beans, those are examples of servings. I want people to have them every day. Smart fat, clean protein, more fiber, so more vegetable, fruit, beans and nuts. Then lots of herbs for anti-inflammatory flavor. That’s the critical foundation. Those are the pillars if you want to look and feel fantastic and optimize how you age. That’s the essential part.
Excellent. If people can’t get to you directly in your practice, how can they learn more about you, your products, your programs, your services?
They can certainly visit the website. I have three gifts up and available for people at drmasley.com D-R-M-A-S-L-E-Y .com I’ve got hints and other material I give out for people who come to visit. I’ve got some cooking demos for them. Fun stuff, as well as, healthy handouts. I always appreciate the opportunity to help people because I realize not everyone is going to be able to fly to St. Petersburg, Fl.
Excellent. I want to thank Dr. Masley for being on The Healing Pain Podcast today, to help of demystify the importance of having fat in your diet and its anti-inflammatory properties. Please make sure to check him out on his website. Can you tell us your website one more time?
drmasley D-R-M-A-S-L-E-Y .com
drmasley.com and make sure you share this interview with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media site that you prefer and I will see you next week on The Healing Pain Podcast.
About Dr. Steven Masley
Steven Masley, M.D. is a physician, nutritionist, author, speaker, and award-winning patient educator. He has devoted his medical career to the study of heart disease and aging, and has published significant research on these subjects in leading medical journals. His passion is empowering people to achieve optimal health through comprehensive medical assessments and lifestyle changes.
Dr. Masley has received the award of Fellow from three prestigious organizations: the American Heart Association, the American College of Nutrition, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, and he teaches programs at Eckerd College and the University of Tampa. In 2010, he received the physician Health Care Hero award by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, plus he has received several awards for his lifestyle related research. Dr. Masley sees patients from across North America at the Masley Optimal Health Center in St Petersburg, FL. Dr. Masley has published numerous scientific articles and several health books, including SMART FAT, The 30 Day Heart Tune-Up, & Ten Years Younger. His work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, the Today Show, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), plus over 250 media interviews. He also completed a chef internship at the Four Seasons Restaurant in Seattle, WA, and he has performed cooking demonstrations at Canyon Ranch, the Pritikin Longevity Center, and for multiple television appearances. As a speaker during his career, Dr. Masley has spoken for over 300 physician continuing medical education (CME) events, and for over 700 public presentations on a variety of topics related to health, aging, and cardiovascular disease.
To learn more about Dr. Masley visit www.drmasley.com.
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