Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well – The Foundation For Longevity with Dr. James Chestnut

Content By: Ari Whitten & Dr. James Chestnut

This week’s podcast episode is part 4 with Dr. James Chestnut. He’s now officially the guest I’ve had on the podcast more than anyone else. And there’s a reason for that – I believe there is no more powerful, or scientifically accurate foundational paradigm to understand human health than the one he teaches. In this episode, he talks about the 3 most important strategies to get well and stay well: “move well, eat well, and think well”.

Get 20% off of Dr. Chestnut’s Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment (LHRA) Questionnaire and Report. Use the code energy on checkout.

Check out Dr. Chestnut’s previous podcasts

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Dr. Chestnut and I discuss:

  • Why blaming “bad genes” or the body itself for health problems is a mistake
  • The connection between the concerning rise in childhood chronic illnesses and modern lifestyle habits
  • The “five pillars of chronic illness” and their role in various health conditions
  • The ideal foods for our species and diverse approaches to acquiring essential nutrients
  • The inherent human desire for certain tastes (fat, salt, and sugar) and its
  • damaging impact when mismatched with today’s environment   
  • Dr. Chestnut’s perspective on vegan and carnivore diets, and why he believes neither are ideal long-term diets   
  • Tailoring physical exercise recommendations based on ancestral challenges, games, and habits   
  • The missing elements in modern family life that foster social bonding, strong families, and well-adjusted individuals   
  • Why beliefs and self-image are the keys to sticking with the behavioral
  • changes that lead to health
  • Does “moving well” and exercising have to be hard or intense? (The answer will surprise you)

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Ari Whitten: Dr. Chestnut, welcome back for part number four. You are the guest, as I was just telling you, that I’ve had on this podcast more times than anyone and the guest that I would say has had the most popular podcasts of anyone that I’ve had on the show and the kind of comments and feedback that I’ve gotten from my audience and on YouTube is just phenomenal of people just saying, wow, these are absolutely amazing insights. This was transformative for me to understand health in a new way. It’s so simple. It’s so logical. It makes so much sense. How did I not think of this stuff before? That’s the comments.

Dr. James Chestnut: Well, I mean, what a great compliment and like you, that’s just so pleasing to know that people are, first of all, appreciating it, but also finding it, as you say, probably a little bit disruptive and then hopefully transformative because if they do make the changes in line with this paradigm, as you and I both know, they’re going to have a better, longer life. Ultimately, that’s the goal. That’s very nice feedback and thanks for having me back again.

Ari: Yes, absolutely. I want to talk practical stuff in this episode. We’ve done three podcasts now and most of that has really just been laying the groundwork of shifting the paradigm because if you don’t understand the paradigm stuff first, if you don’t have the proper conception of health and the conception of where disease comes from, where lack of health comes from or deterioration of health comes from, you are prone to constantly approach solving those problems in very unproductive or sometimes counterproductive ways.

I think we’ve laid that foundation at this point. I’m curious, maybe we’ll do just a bit of rehashing of that, like a quick summary of those three episodes to get us back into this. I’m very curious, how would you define health? What is health to you? How do you define it?

Dr. Chestnut: Health is the genetic expression of homeostatic physiology and psychology. That’s it. It’s just a state of genetic expression and the source of that is living in an environment that is providing the resources that you genetically require in order to express healthy structure and function.

The primary drivers of disease

Ari: With that simple definition of health, what drives disease?

Dr. Chestnut: Illness is driven by when you are living wrong for your species type, when you are eating, moving or thinking or socially interacting in a way that is producing toxicity or deficiency. You’re an ecosystem of cells and those cells have certain requirements for sufficient nutrients, those essential nutrients for humans in terms of movement, in terms of nutrition, in terms of psychology, thoughts, socialization, self-love, love of others, sense of community.

Anytime that you’re putting something into your ecosystem that is not compatible with your genetic requirements, that’s a toxicity or a deficiency. It could be a toxic thought, it could be a toxic food, it could be a toxic chemical, it could be a toxic posture, or a toxic type of exercise. It could be a deficiency of exercise, it could be a deficiency of essential nutrients, it could be a deficiency of self-love and self-confidence, and social support. All illness and all living things are caused by toxicities and deficiencies.

All health is produced by sufficiency and purity. What determines what you need to be sufficient in and what determines what’s pure for you is based on a species type and that’s because it’s based on a genome. Written on a genome is this blueprint or this recipe of what we require to get from our environment in order to epigenetically express healthy structure and function. If we deviate from that, we deviate towards toxicity and deficiency and that is the underlying cause of all illness in all living things.

Dr. Chestnut’s approach to health

Ari: With that frame, that paradigm around health and illness, on a philosophical level, how does your approach to health or to combating or preventing or treating disease differ from allopathic medicine and how does it differ from typical thinking in alternative or naturopathic or functional medicine circles?

Dr. Chestnut: Well, again, fantastic question. In order to get this whole thing right, we have to answer two questions and I always say we have to answer two questions correctly. One is why are humans sick if we’re going to deal with the human species? It doesn’t matter what species we’re dealing with, but we’ll stick with humans for now. Why do humans get sick? Why are humans sick and then what is required to get and stay well? That’s just how it works in biology. If we have an animal species that’s sick in biology, we already know that it’s not genes.

We never blame genes because genes basically remain quite constant over a long period of time and we know that we’ve never ever had a species become endangered or go extinct because of bad genes ever. If we know we’ve ever had a massive illness across a species, which is rare unless we destroy its environment, which we’ve done a few times, we know that the only option to save that species is to protect its environment, is to create a healthy habitat because no living thing can be healthier than the habitat it lives in.

The health of the habitat you live in determines the health of the inhabitants and that’s just biological law. We know that to be true. What medicine does really is medicine is really focused on, it’s a very gene-centric, pathological-centric paradigm. It measures sickness. It looks at people and it says, what sickness do they have? Basically, the presupposition of allopathy, whether it be natural allopathy or medical allopathy or even a lot of the functional medicine stuff, is still very quite allopathic. They’re swimming a little further upstream but they still have a very allopathic paradigm and they still think that there’s defects inside the body which they have to override.

It doesn’t matter if it’s with a pharmaceutical or a nutraceutical, if your assumption is that the body’s defective rather than the lifestyle choices and habitat choices of that organism are defective, which is my model, which is the biological model, which is the provably true model, then what you’re looking at is you’re saying, well, either it’s bad genes or it’s an inability to self-regulate your own cholesterol or regulate your own blood pressure or regulate your own moods or regulate your own fertility or immune system function.

What medicine says is the body’s defective so we have to override it with a drug. What naturopathy says is the body’s defective, we have to override it with a nerve. What a lot of the functional medicine people do is they say the body’s defective, we have to override it with some other kind of supplement or some kind of special treatment based on some kind of individual defect. They think if we have an individual defect, it’s somehow more valid biologically than if there’s a species-wide defect. It just, unfortunately, doesn’t bear out in the literature.

Again, the further you go upstream and the less toxic your intervention is, the more likely you will have some successes, and there’s no doubt there are some but the reality is none of them are addressing the true cause of illness. The true cause of illness is always the lifestyle choices of the inhabitants and the available choices in their habitat. That’s it. That’s irrefutable. The idea that you’re looking for a defect, it’s really an amazing cash cow. What everybody wants to find out is what tests can I give people to show them they’re defective and require what I’m selling?

That’s the goldmine. I can do an antioxidant test. I can do a gene variation test. I can do a blood test, whatever it is, and then it’s like you’ve got this identifiable problem and then I can give you this solution but the reality is that whatever problem that you’re measuring either is not the cause of the problem at all, or it’s a causal factor that’s created by something upstream called a lifestyle toxicity or deficiency or a habitat toxicity or deficiency.

I think whether you want to discuss any specific examples of that, I’m happy to do it but the reality is that there is only one reason why people get sick. It’s not bad genes. It’s not an inability to self-regulate. It’s toxicity and deficiency.

There are genetic illnesses. They represent maybe 1% of real illnesses out there, but they represent none of the lifestyle chronic illnesses that we’re going to talk about. If you want to talk about cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility, you want to talk about depression, anxiety, whatever chronic illness you can think of that is devastating the industrial population right now, the big ones that we always talk about, those are for certain lifestyle illnesses.

Why you need to be the expert of your own health

Ari: Before we get to the specifics on the practical side of things, there’s one more philosophical layer to this that I think is important for people to hear. It’s something you said in one of your videos from many years ago that I’ve watched recently. You said we were told to shut up and butt out about our health. The truth is, you need to be the expert. Why? Why do you have that message to people that they need to become their own experts of their own health?

Dr. Chestnut: Because they’re the source of their own illness, and they are being told by people who self-identify as experts when they’re not experts. They’re experts in identifying your illness. They’re not experts in identifying the cause of your illness, how to prevent that illness, or what is required to get and stay well. They’re not experts in that. They pretend they’re experts in everything. They are not. They have no education in it. They’re not. They’re experts in diagnosis and treatment.

Again, we were told basically that you should rely on these outside experts. Why? Because if you don’t, no one gets paid. If you don’t, that whole system breaks down. That system is fraudulent. They’re self-admitted fraudulent in the literature. They’ll tell you [chuckles] very little of what they do has any evidence. I don’t want to get too far down that road, but the truth of the matter is that the greatest influence, the most important determinant of whether or not you’ll be sick or well, or get better and stay better or not, are your own choices.

There’s no pill that’s going to fix a problem. There’s no diagnosis that you can get from a so-called expert. There’s nothing you can get from them that’s going to change what you’re eating or how much exercise you do or what your thought patterns are and who you choose to have in your life, and how you choose to think about yourself. What your level of gratitude is. Are you able to look at your own health in an objective way?

Can you self-evaluate with honesty and say, “I smoke. I shouldn’t. I eat too much. I shouldn’t. I’m overweight. I don’t need to be.” Can you objectively evaluate yourself as an expert? Because the truth is, you are the source of your health, but you’re also the source of your own illness. The solution to your problem is in the mirror so is the source of that problem in terms of your health. That’s it. Again, we were experts. Our parents were experts. They taught us how to eat. They taught us how to move. They taught us how to think. Then all of a sudden, that was taken away.

We were told, “No. These other people should be experts. Before you begin an exercise program, you should go see a medical doctor.” [laughs] It’s just absurd beyond belief because they wanted to create a monopoly. It’s a phenomenal business model, but the reality is that just look at the attitude of the modern medical practitioner versus the medical practitioner from the 1920s or ’30s or ’40s, or ’50s. They went from a caring, compassionate, patient-centric, very much a minimalist in terms of intervention, real non-tainted journals really that wasn’t industry-funded.

They went to an arrogant doctor centric, almost like they’re doing you a favor, angry if you don’t follow their advice as if they’re somehow a God and that you don’t have the right to choose what you feel is best. Line up for an appointment. It’s completely opposite of what anybody with any half a brain and heart would design for the best results for patients. That system has been completely bought and transformed literally to the point that the practitioners themselves now have been tainted.

It’s almost cult-like arrogance that is instilled instead of compassion and caring and a true understanding of where health comes from. They don’t get paid for lifestyle advice. They don’t give any. Dean Ornish, Rippe the editor of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. This stuff is well known. Hyman, the authors have talked about this over and over again. There’s just no incentive to do things other than take a blood test and give a drug. Again, what do you get when you go to a medical doctor? Other than an attitude, what else do you get?

You get a test, you get a result, and you get a prescription. What else do they have to offer? You used to get a home visit, [laughs] some advice, being told not to worry. Don’t jump right into the antibiotic for the ear infection. Whatever it is. How about going for a walk? How about eating a healthier diet? Just very general advice, at least. That’s gone. We now have the Framingham chart. You get a blood test. That’s why AI will take it over because there is no human part of it anymore. It literally could be done with artificial intelligence because a number, diagnoses, a prescription.

Ari: There was an argument that I heard for many years about that. Basically, AI could potentially take over the diagnosis. The reading of analysis, and diagnosis from blood tests or other types of testing or x-rays.

Dr. Chestnut: Correct. X-rays already doing better than practitioners.

Ari: Right. There was this argument that it wouldn’t have the empathy component and so you still need that human element. Actually, there was a– I don’t know if it was a study or something. I heard this on a podcast on the subject of AI. I think they used robots or something like that. Robots with AI, human-like robots with patient visits. They found that actually, the AI robots outperformed humans on empathy too. I thought that was an interesting–[crosstalk]

Dr. Chestnut: Not humans medical doctors, because they have had it beaten. Listen, it’s true. Because they have replaced it with arrogance. They have replaced it with self-importance and this god-like cult where they feel like they’re so important and so knowledgeable that they should be in charge of everything. The economy, public health, everything. They literally believe what is driven into them because what they are creating is an army of people to prescribe.

Sadly, these are intelligent people, but the people with the most intelligence are almost the most likely to believe this, that they’re gods or they’re God-like, or they’re super intelligent or they’re smarter than everybody else, or people don’t listen to them, they should be mistreated or if they don’t listen– They mandated almost things. If you don’t listen to me, then you shouldn’t have the same rights to participate. It’s incredible.

Ari: We saw in the last few years many examples of exactly that kind of thing. I think to be charitable, obviously, and I’m sure you’d agree that there are many exceptions to that where some individual doctors are very kind and compassionate. There’s also exceptions in the other way where certain people who are not doctors are very much the epitome of what you were just describing. For example, some very wealthy philanthropists that are very prominent in the last few years.

Dr. Chestnut: Oh, and almost diabolical. Yes. What I would say is that what’s happened is it’s no longer the majority of medical doctors. Of course, there are saint like medical doctors and nurses. Of course, man, obviously, unfortunately, they’re becoming more and more rare, especially where I live in Canada with socialized medicine, because they literally make people line up outside hoping to get an appointment. They won’t even make appointments.

Oh, there’s a shortage. It’s gone so backwards that it is alarming. Yes, there are exceptions, but it shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. It’s a concern because it’s harmful and it’s a concern because there’s no longer any debate. There’s no longer any real pure science in it. It’s industry-funded.

I have an elderly mother who literally if she doesn’t want to take the medication which they just want to give to everybody, she’s mistreated. Treated unkindly like she’s either an idiot or– my legal and moral obligation as a healthcare practitioner is to give you some choices, let you know what the evidence is about those choices, including the potential harms as well as potential benefits, and then let you decide what’s best for you.

What’s most important for you? Is it quality of life or quantity of life? What’s the actual change of quantity of life if we look at absolute versus relative terms? Only somebody who’s actually aware of the literature, not from what the pharmaceutical reports, but the actual literature on these things really gets it. What I see is a complete change in the attitude towards patients, and it is frightening.

For me, I can drive by these clinics in Canada. I live in Victoria. Literally, it’s raining outside and there’s a lineup of people outside one of these medical clinics, not with appointments. There’s a lineup outside of sick elderly often people waiting in line to see if they can get an appointment because these people won’t bother making appointments. They’re government employees. Those people’s tax dollars pay for them. They work for those people, and they completely lost this entirely to the point where it’s pathological.

The opinion of self in that system is now pathologically aberrant, and they have completely lost their way in terms of a patient-centric compassionate patient-choice system. There are exception, rare.

Your genes haven’t changed

Ari: Let’s go back to health and disease. We’ve got your central paradigm around that. I’m curious, have you integrated any thoughts or distinctions around lifespan versus health span into your thinking or your approach to solving or preventing disease?

Dr. Chestnut: I think that when you are living well, when you’re living properly according to how your genes require, health span and lifespan are almost the same. That gap increases the worst your lifestyle choices are, the worse your habitat is, and the worse your lifestyle choices within that habitat are. You have a greater and greater gap between lifespan and health span. [crosstalk]

Ari: Meaning, your brain and body start to deteriorate. You get symptoms that affect your quality of life and your functionality, but you’re still alive for many, many years?

Dr. Chestnut: Correct. In fact, Ari, most people when they talk about health span and lifespan, they’re really talking about end-of-life stuff, but that’s wrong. We now have almost no health span. Our children are born with high blood sugar. They are born with high levels of stress hormone. They’re given their first antibiotic because they’re not breastfed properly. They’re given formula which is full of sugar and dairy and these foreign proteins, and when they have a leaky gut– what is really the health span now, Ari?

Ari: That’s terrific. I think that the–

Dr. Chestnut: Are infants healthy in the industrial world?

Ari: Childhood illness and disease are something like 40%. Now, some astronomical hard-to-believe figure that the rates of some chronic medical condition are around, I think about 40% in children now in the United States.

Dr. Chestnut: Just think about how many pills young people take now compared to 30 or 40 years ago, even when we were kids.

Ari: Sure.

Dr. Chestnut: Just think of the difference. How many are obese? How many are diabetic? How many are asthmatic? How many have ADHD? How many have autism? Why? Our genes haven’t changed.

Ari: I hadn’t quite thought about it in these terms, but it’s interesting. They classify the average health span right now at I think age 65 or 68 or something along those lines.

Dr. Chestnut: How do they classify?

Ari: Now if you add this layer that you just talked about, you realize this is really a semantics issue because how are we defining the term health span if we’re saying the average time that people are healthy is 65 or 68 years, and yet, 40% of kids who are age 10 to 20 are dealing with chronic illness, how do those things [unintelligible 00:25:44] happen?

Dr. Chestnut: How do they define a healthy 65-year-old or 60-year-old? Someone who has normal blood pressure on blood pressure medication? In other words, their entire definition of health is really based on whether or not they have a diagnosed disease and whether or not that’s being properly managed. Their whole system is so scientifically absurd and inaccurate. The entire system is based on getting more people, taking more pills earlier. I just don’t even participate in their nomenclature anymore because it just is so inaccurate.

What is a healthy human being? A healthy human being is somebody who has vitality and energy and strength, physical strength and stamina, and emotional resilience and happiness. Find me those in Grade 5. What percentage of them have that in Grade 5? Can you have that if you’re obese? Can you have that if you’re asthmatic? Can you have that if you’re eating sugar and wheat and dairy every day is your main food sources? Can you have that if you don’t regularly exercise?

I don’t care if you’re 5, 15, 25, 35, or 45, your health status is determined by your habitat and your lifestyle choices. You might not have overt manifestations of illness yet, but there is a vast difference between a hunter-gatherer, a 10-year-old, and one in the industrial world and a 2-year-old. I think we just need to just be aware of the lowering of standards of what is considered to be health span or health, and we need to reject it. We need to have the same expectations for ourselves that our ancestors had or we would for any animal species.

How we are designed to live versus our modern lifestyle

Ari: Let’s get into the mechanisms of how these problems at the level of lifestyle and environment are translating physiologically into the diseases of civilization, into heart disease, into diabetes, into obesity, into cancer, neurological disease, and all the major killers. How do you conceptualize what is actually happening physiologically as a result of the biological mismatch between how we’re designed, what lifestyle and environment our species is designed for versus the modern lifestyle and environment?

Dr. Chestnut: The time is a bit limited. As I say, I cover this in absolute detail in my book as you know. Just as a general way to look at it is there are two things. One is we see a direct causal and correlative. There’s no such thing as a causative relationship that doesn’t also have a correlation. Just because it’s correlated doesn’t mean it’s not also caused. You can’t have a causation without also a correlation.

Anyway, what we know is as we’ve changed the way we eat, move, and think we’ve developed all these chronic illnesses. We can watch it happen in places that become industrialized. We can watch the chronic illness rates rise and then match what it is in the rest of the industrialized world. If you understand what our major killers are, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and you look at the underlying causes of those things, what I term the five physiological pillars of chronic illness.

They are chronic inflammation, high blood sugar or insulin resistance, downregulated immunity, lower sex hormone, binding globulin, and constant increased stress hormones, sympathetic dominance. These are the underlying causes that are physiologically linked to every chronic illness. I could explain to you all have the pathways from lifestyle to the five pillars of chronic illness, high blood sugar, high cortisol levels, low sex hormone-binding globulin, chronic inflammation, and downregulated immunity.

I could draw a direct pathway from lifestyle choices and show you how those develop. Then I can take the pathways from those five pillars and show you how you get heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, indigestion, Crohn’s disease, low infertility, low sex drive, low energy, depression, anxiety, poor sleep. All of them are completely driven by those things.

Again, I outlined it in detail in the book. I’m happy to detail any one in particular, if you feel like you need more detail.

We understand that a poor diet, lack of exercise, leads to insulin resistance, leads to diabetes, and obesity, which leads to chronic inflammation, which leads to downregulated immunity, which now you have increased chance of cancer, you have increased chance of heart disease. Your gut is now messed up. Now, you’re going to have anxiety and depression, joint problems, arthritis. We could go on and on.

These things are all directly, linearly linked in causal relationships. This is not controversial, if you understand. I understand I have a graduate degree in physiology, so maybe this is a little easier for me to understand, but it’s certainly not controversial. Everybody understands that diet is what causes obesity and diabetes, and everybody understands that obesity is the leading cause of arthritis. That diabetes and obesity and blood sugar, they’re so related to each other, are the leading cause of dementia, which we’re now calling type 3 diabetes. They’re the leading cause of heart disease.

Everybody sees these connections, I think, in a way that is perhaps more in terms of a correlative or cause and effect in terms of A to B, but they don’t understand necessarily the physiological pathways, Ari. Whereas, if you understand what insulin resistance does to your liver and what that does to your somatomedins or your insulin-like growth factors, what it does to your cholesterol levels, and to the genes that determine your HDL and LDL levels, are all done in the liver, what that does to your sex hormone-binding globulin levels.

If you don’t have enough sex hormone-binding globulin, you’ve got free hormones circulating around your body, which are very mitogenic and cause cancer, but they’re also being fed with all this high blood sugar. Once you understand these pathways, you can no longer in any way deny why people are sick, and the only solution to get them better. Drugs can change physiology, but they can’t change the damage and the harm that those underlying physiological pillars are causing. They just give you a better score on a blood test. They don’t make you healthier in any way.

Ari: Do you think that we can create a drug that mimics the state of physiology created by a healthy diet while a person eats french fries, and donuts, and pizza?

Dr. Chestnut: If you believe that, and many people actually believe that, wait a minute, your blood pressure is high, it must be a genetic defect, or it must be that you can’t regulate your own blood pressure. I’m going to give you a pill and when you take that pill, and it literally blocks the pathway between your brain and your body, and your brain and your environment because your body has purposely increased that blood pressure for a reason, you’re under more stress.

If you believe that lowering that blood pressure number on a blood test with a drug somehow makes you healthy, I always ask people this question, why do people who have normal blood pressure but are on a drug to get there pay more for life insurance? Why do people who have normal cholesterol levels but are taking a drug to get there? Pay more than the person who has normal cholesterol that isn’t on a drug? If they make you healthy, why do you pay more for life insurance?

Why do you have a greater increased risk of heart disease and diabetes and early death if you have normal blood pressure on a drug than if you have normal blood pressure from a healthy lifestyle? It’s idiocy, Ari. It’s so easily disproven as a model of health care, and yet, the only thing they care about are the numbers.

Ari: I just maybe want to connect one piece there for people who may not understand why the pay more for insurance is significant. It’s because these insurance companies actually have lots of people on their staff whose job is to crunch the data on the rates of different demographics and how soon they die. Basically, they know those numbers. In other words, they know their financial costs of ensuring different demographics, the ones that you spoke of, the people with normal cholesterol without a drug versus normal cholesterol with a drug. They know that the ones who have normal cholesterol with the drug die sooner. They know those numbers and so they charge them more to account for that.

Dr. Chestnut: Of course. In health insurance model, they also know that if you smoke, you are going to be more likely to cost them more money and be hospitalized and be on medication. They know if you are obese, they know if you have high blood pressure, all of these things they know. Even the definition of metabolic syndrome. By the way, these people are called actuaries, and they have more data than anybody in the healthcare system because they have all citizens and they know exactly what your chances of death are based on a certain profile after you do their risk assessment.

What’s the risk assessment? Blood tests, and ask you a few questions, whether you smoke and how much you drink. What do they measure? They ask you about your lifestyle choices, really, and then they’ll look at the effects of your lifestyle choices, which are your blood tests. Your blood tests are effects, they’re effects of how you’re living, how you’re eating, moving, and thinking. The definition of metabolic syndrome is, obviously, BMI, and then it’s high blood pressure, or medication to reach normal blood pressure.

You can be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have normal cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and normal blood sugar. You could be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you’re on a drug to get to normal because they know that even on the drugs, you still have metabolic syndrome. Why? Because the lifestyle choices that you made to develop and earn your metabolic syndrome, those things you obviously have not reversed those. Normal blood pressure with a drug is not healthy. Normal blood pressure with healthy lifestyle is healthy. The system is ridiculous. They know it’s ridiculous, and they’re not changing, so you better be your own expert.

Rocks in your backpack

Ari: There’s one more piece of this that I want you to explain. In your book, you talk about adaptive allostasis and you give the analogy or the metaphor of the backpack, the person and the backpack. Explain that and explain the different rocks in the backpack.

Dr. Chestnut: I always get amused, Ari, because I have a little list here of things that we should probably hit on. I do that every time we talk, and every time you tick them off before I mention. It’s phenomenal. It’s remarkable.

Ari: We’re in syn because I studied your work for a decade.

Dr. Chestnut: Also you understand the paradigm. What you’re doing is you’re saying, what is required for people to really understand this? You’re asking these questions. Anyway, I say it every time, but it’s just so helpful for the listener. Anyway, this idea of allostasis, meaning is that your body has shifted away from normal, from homeostasis, it’s shifted away, but it hasn’t shifted away because of a genetic defect and it hasn’t shifted away because of an inability to self-regulate. It’s shifted away because of toxicity and deficiency.

They’ve now realized that this idea of simply saying that as long as you can get blood pressure or cholesterol or blood sugar back to within a homeostatic level, if you’re doing that with a drug, it doesn’t make anybody healthy. This is and has anybody healthy. This is now very clearly stated in the literature. Bruce McEwen, Theresa Seaman, George Shulkin, Peter Sterling. By the way, if people are interested about this at a very physiological level, this is probably one of the greatest books ever written-

Ari: What is it?

Dr. Chestnut: -to understand all this. Can you see that?

Ari: Allostasis, Homeostasis, and the Costs of Physiological Adaptation. Who wrote that?

Dr. Chestnut: It’s edited by Jay Shulkin, but Peter Sterling, Theresa Seaman, Bruce McEwen, they’re all in here. You can see how I read a book, I underline it, write in it.

Ari: Yes, that looks like my book.

Dr. Chestnut: Yes, exactly. That’s just a phenomenal book. What I’ve done is I’ve taken all that stuff and many, many more, and I’ve simplified it for people, in my book, but if you really want to go deeper into the physiology, that’s a fantastic book. Basically, what they’re saying is that look, what happens is people have this bioaccumulation of stress loads over their lifetime, I call them rocks in your backpack. If you can imagine you’re born into this swimming pool of life.

The more stressors, the more toxicities and deficiencies you have, that’s a rock in your backpack. Every time you have more of a toxicity, more deficiency or the same ones for a longer period of time through bioaccumulation, you sink lower in the water. Then you have to work harder to keep your head above water but as you have to work harder, your body has to shift to deal with those stressors. It shifts. It increases blood pressure, it changes your cholesterol profile.

It basically goes into a fight-or-flight response. Actually, your body goes into a physiological allostatic response. It changes your physiology to meet a fight or flight physical environment demand. Fight or flight is not physiology, fight or flight are behaviors but what your body does is it changes your physiology in order to allow you to engage in those fight or flight behaviors because fight or flight are the only ways humans ever survive toxicity and deficiency. We either have to kill the threat or we have to run away from it.

We either have to kill what’s dangerous in our habitat, or we have to move to a healthy habitat if we’re in a sick one. That’s the only way we can improve our well-being is with behavior choices. That’s biology. That’s true of all animal species. These rocks in the backpack, the more rocks you have in your backpack, that is what’s driving, that’s what’s lowering you in the water.

That’s what’s changing your physiology. That’s what’s increasing the stress hormones. That’s what’s changing the blood sugar. That’s what’s changing the sex hormone-binding globulin. It’s these stressors, toxicities, deficiencies, and you lower those down. Eventually, what happens is you become symptomatic. You become painful. You don’t sleep well. You get diagnosed with an illness and what’s the system?

The system now is you go with those rocks in your backpack and you go visit an allopathic practitioner, and they measure your blood. They don’t measure the rocks in the backpack. They ignore those. The cause is in the backpack. Your stressors, your toxicities and deficiencies. They don’t measure those. They measure the effects in your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your blood sugar, whether you have diabetes or not. Do you have heart disease?

They measure the effects, and then they give you a pill to change those numbers with the rocks remaining in the backpack. That’s why you pay more for health insurance and life insurance when you have a normal number with a backpack full of rocks but if you get those rocks out, you’ll create a normal homeostatic number, a healthy physiology, a healthy structure and function, epigenetic expression of healthy structure and function without the drug, of course. You’ll pay less for your insurance.

You’ll live longer. You’ll have a better lifespan, you’ll have a better health span, you’ll have a better quality of life. You’ll have everything in your life is better but the cause of illness is the rocks in the backpack. The only way to get and stay well is to remove those rocks out and keep them out. Those toxicity deficiency rocks. There’s nothing in allopathy that does that.

What It means to eat well

Ari: Let’s get practical here. We’ve got the main factors, and I think what we just explained is the perfect segue into that. Now that we have this context, this bigger picture understanding of all of these different aspects of lifestyle behaviors and environmental inputs on the body, we can have toxicity or deficiency in almost everything, and it becomes a source of stress if we have toxicity or deficiency in anything. From your paradigm, condensing that down into something that’s very doable and practical, it comes down to eat well, move well, think well. Let’s explain each of those dimensions.

Dr. Chestnut: Okay. You tell me if I didn’t understand the question correctly, but so–

Ari: Let’s go into eat well first.

Dr. Chestnut: Sure.

Ari: What does that mean, to eat well?

Dr. Chestnut: Again, excellent question. Eating well is different for every species because every species has the genome that determines what that species is. The thing that makes us human is that we have the human genome. The thing that makes a giraffe a giraffe is that the giraffe has the giraffe genome. Eating well for a giraffe is eating according to its genome requirements to express healthy structure and function. The genome of that giraffe determines what is a healthy diet for that giraffe. The genome of the human determines what’s the healthy diet for humans.

Eating well is eating a diet which contains all the essential nutrients that humans require to epigenetically express healthy structure and function, and the avoidance of things that are toxic, that push us away from the expression of healthy structure and function. That’s it. If people say, “Well, what are those foods?” I say, “Well, actually, it’s quite simple for humans. Humans evolved and have been documentedly very healthy eating grass-fed meat without hormones or antibiotics or not being fed grain. Many had fish, many didn’t, but they also fish, which is meat.

They had some kind of access to seasonal raw vegetables or fruit. Seasonal. Some had more exposure than others. The Inuit didn’t have a ton, but they figured it out. They skinned to get their vitamin C, their collagen, et cetera. They had obviously clean water, and they often had healthy fats, not just through meat, but through nuts and seeds. That’s basically the human diet from Africa as we moved out all around the world. The human diet is– some people get confused, I think, Ari, between the term diet and nutrients.

A diet can be varied, but the nutrient requirements are identical for all humans. We all need omega-3 fatty acids. We need vitamin D. We need the vitamins and the minerals, the antioxidants, but the foods that we use to get those can be quite varied and would be because our habitats are so varied.

There’s a real difference between understanding the thing that all humans require the same nutrients. The same things are toxic to all humans because of our genome, but how we get those nutrients can be quite individual based on our habitat, or nowadays, our likes and dislikes. You might get your omega-3 fatty acids because you really love fish. I might say, “I’m going to get my omega-3 fatty acids from grass-fed meat or wild game.” It doesn’t matter. It just matters that we got the omega-3 fatty acids.

You might say, “I’m going to lie in the sun because I have the ability to do so. That’s where I’m going to get my vitamin D requirement.” I’m going to say, “I don’t like lying in the sun.” Even though everybody needs sun, not just for vitamin D, but I’m just making an example, but I’m going to get mine from eating organ meats, liver. The nutrient requirements are the same for all humans. The dietary choices to get them can be varied. Does that make sense?

Ari: Absolutely. Simple question. How does processed food fit into that?

Dr. Chestnut: I ask everybody the same question. Did your ancestors eat it? If they didn’t, then you can be quite sure that it probably doesn’t fit. Processed foods, they take out the nutrients, they add in sugar and salt, they put in chemicals. Processed foods, now, depending on the process, are you talking about sun-dried or freeze-dried, that’s processed? Our ancestors figured out, they smoked salmon, they smoked meat to preserve it. Obviously, the greatest thing would be to have fresh all the time, but better to have smoked salmon or smoked bison than none at all and starve to death.

Ari: Let’s leave out that distinction and just refer to ultra-processed modern junk food. Hyper palatable, modern–

Dr. Chestnut: That’s not food. Yes, it’s not food. It actually doesn’t meet the requirements of food. It’s not food. They label it, but it should be illegal to call that food.

Ari: It’s interesting as I’ve been traveling a lot. In the last six months, I’ve been in South America. Right now, I’m in France. I’ve been in Spain. I’ve been in Italy. Obviously, this is the case in the US as well. I’m sure it’s the case in Canada, but you travel around and you see everywhere stuff for kids and for adults everywhere you go. Sweets, cakes, and cookies and processed ice creams and donuts, and pastries.

It’s just crazy to realize how much of it isn’t even food or how much of it is like, people consuming these things, not because they actually need the food but because it tastes delicious. Because we find it delicious, so we’re going to consume this food because it gives us pleasure. That relationship with food is totally dysfunctional.

Dr. Chestnut: It is, but humans are genetically designed to get great pleasure from food.

Ari: Totally. Obviously.

Dr. Chestnut: We just aren’t designed– unfortunately, there’s been PhD biochemists in labs for years figuring out how to make non-food taste good to humans.

Ari: Better than whole foods.

Dr. Chestnut: Correct. Well, the interesting thing is, as you know, probably as well as anyone, is that when you start to actually eat whole food for a while and remove the other stuff, you actually find the other stuff repulsive.

Ari: Right.

Dr. Chestnut: You’ll actually crave the good whole foods. Now, that doesn’t mean to say you still aren’t going to crave things that are sweet and not necessarily enjoy things that are very tart or sour. That’s just human taste buds. It is funny. They’re not allowed to call alcohol food, but they’re allowed to call this other crap that probably is equally far away from real food as alcohol, but they’re allowed to call it food.

Just go into the supermarket, and if you’re not in the outside aisle, you’re not shopping for food. People always say to me, I think I’ve said this to you before, Dr. Chestnut, “What should I look for on a label?” I’ll say, “No, no, just find food without labels.” The label-free diet is probably a really good diet, TM.

Ari: They’ll think you should do a book on that.

Dr. Chestnut: Yes.

Ari: Agreed. We’re wired to find sweet things, sugary things, and fatty things pleasurable. That’s a survival advantage in our ancestral context where very sweet, sugary, and fatty things are hard to come by, but in an environment where every 10 steps you take, there’s pastries or ice cream or pizza or some junk food available to you, it’s highly dysfunctional. It’s a mismatch.

Dr. Chestnut: You need to be without that long enough, as you know, Ari, I’m sure, in order for it to make you feel sick when you eat it.

Ari: Right.

Dr. Chestnut: I always think of that movie, Super Size Me, when the guy, the first time the guy went to McDonald’s, he vomited out of his car into the parking lot. It made him so sick. By 30 days, the only time he ever felt good was during the eating of that food-

Ari: Wow.

Dr. Chestnut: -and then he craved it.

Ari: Wow.

Dr. Chestnut: It was just 30 days. The other remarkable thing about that film is that he goes to the MD beforehand. This is a classic example of the paradigm. He goes to the MD beforehand, and the guy does some blood work or whatever, and asks him what his family history. He says, “Oh, neither of your parents have heart disease. Your blood work’s all fine. You should be fine.”

After 28 days the MD says, “You need to stop. Your blood cholesterol is terrible. You’re heading towards heart disease.” Then the MD says, literally, on the film, watch the movie, “I can’t believe diet could do this,” because they’re so conditioned to think, that it’s a defect inside the person that’s causing the heart disease and all these other patients.

Ari: Wow. Crazy.

Dr. Chestnut: Incredible.

Are restrictive diets actually healthful?

Ari: All right. Thank you. A couple more things on diet, one, how do your views line up with the original conception of the paleo diet? There were certain foods that Loren Cordain and the others that were originally behind that original conception of the paleo diet “considered to be non-paleo foods.”

That’s the thinking around some of those foods has changed within people who are, Chris Kresser and Robb Wolf and the other modern incarnation of paleo gurus. How do your recommendations, or what are your thoughts on some of the foods, even whole foods, unprocessed foods that you think should or should not be part of the human diet?

Dr. Chestnut: Again, I would just go back and say, what’s genetically compatible? A lot of the original– Bowden was the original guy even before Cordain. He was at Emory University. He did some fantastic work. He’s my favorite probably, but anyway. Again, what these people started doing is they’re like, “Oh, I eat bacon and all these other things.” I’m like, “Yes, bacon, but where did that pig live? How processed was that? What did the pig eat and all these other things.” They really didn’t differentiate between healthy meat and unhealthy meat. That was part of the big problem with this whole paleo thing. Everyone just started using it again as an excuse to basically eat, eat, eat bacon. Again, if you have healthy bacon and healthy eggs, and make sure you eat the yolks and eat it all up, that’s great. How salted is it? There’s a lot of other questions. They just didn’t differentiate between good meat and bad meat, to start.

Again, I’m not sure what all the iterations have become because I’ve just got disinterested in that when it just became commercialized a little bit for me, and so I just went away. I’m more of a literature guy than I am the popular thing. The truth be told, our genes haven’t changed during the time of the paleo versus the now new iterations. Our genome’s the same. There can be no difference in what’s healthy for humans since Eaton, to Cordain, to Robb Wolf, to whoever’s coming next.

I’m just like, “Listen, there’s no change in what humans need, but there might be a change in what they’re identifying as what humans need.” What I would say is, I just go back to the original Boyd Eaton work, which is, “This is what our ancestors ate. These are the nutrients that humans require. You can have different foods to supply them, but these are the nutrients you require.” That’s what I always go with, what’s matched to the genome.

Honestly, our ancestors didn’t have grain, but if someone says, “I really like whole oats. They’re gluten-free. I get them from a gluten-free processor, so there’s no gluten contamination. I really like some raw oats, as I have some nuts and berries.” What am I going to say? Who cares? Honestly, is it 90% of your diet, or 1%, or is it 2%? Does it allow you to eat the berries really well?

There are some things which I consider, I rate to be almost in the neutral category. That they’re not necessarily really good for you or essential, but they’re not necessarily really bad for you either. For those ones, I go, “That’s not the mountain I choose to die on clinically.” You know what I mean? We could talk about this physiologically, and biologically, and genetically, or clinically. For me, clinically, these neutral foods, I just can’t see enough harm in that that I want to tell you not to do it if you enjoy it. Does that make sense?

Ari: It does. Yes, absolutely. Here in France, they eat a lot of bread and a lot of cheese.

Dr. Chestnut: Yes, non-GMO, very low gluten compared to what you would get in America, much less processed, and the cheese is from grass-fed cows. A lot of it is unpasteurized. Completely different. The wine you’ll drink over there will not be full of sulfites. In France, as an example, I can have some bread and cheese and a glass of wine and I don’t have a stuffy nose. I don’t feel gross. It’s not my basis of my food, but I enjoy it.

Ari: Exactly.

Dr. Chestnut: It’s very different than what you’re eating over here.

Ari: It’s amazing. It’s really unfortunate that the food supply in the United States and Canada, I imagine also, has just become so toxic in almost every dimension. It’s so hard to find healthy food to put in your body. You really have to go out of your way to not do what’s normal in order to be healthy.

Dr. Chestnut: Right, because they’ve decided that food is about making sure they sell a lot of American and Canadian products to the consumer rather than making sure they’re full of nutrients and devoid of toxins. When they say devoid of toxins, they mean bacteria. They pasteurize everything, you know what I mean, or they irradiate it, or whatever. They don’t mean toxins in terms of the glycophosates, or the pesticides, or the herbicides, we could go on and on.

You’ll notice, in Europe, food is food. Even the school lunch program in a school in France would be what we would consider a gourmet meal. They would just not serve soda pop and French fries for the most part. It’s completely different. Even our ancestors, if we go back in between our hunter-gatherer ancestors and us now, and we look at our pioneer ancestors, we look at our original, homegrown food, non-industrialized agriculture farmers.

What did they eat? Well, they had a cow and they ate that dairy. Well, the Maasai warriors drink the milk of the water buffalo and the blood, but they’re fine. It’s not highly, highly pasteurized, so that will be a non-pasteurized grass-fed milk would be one of those neutrals. Can you get protein out of it? Yes, you can. That’s important, but are there some other things in there that might not be great? Yes. When you’re walking 10 miles a day and you’re getting all these other wonderfully healthy foods, the cost-benefit might be towards benefit for those people.

You can’t equate the dairy that we consume now or the meat that we consume now to the dairy and meat consumed by a farmer in 1850 on a farm where their dairy cow ate grass and they made their own cheese and churned their own butter. It’s completely different. It’s not even close to being the same food.

Ari: Two more questions on diet, and then I want to move on to, think well and move well.

Dr. Chestnut: Sure.

The vegan diet and the carnivore diet

Ari: These two questions go together to some extent. They’re opposite. How do you feel about the vegan diet and how do you feel about the carnivore diet? I’ll say, just right before we got on this call, I got off a call with another acquaintance of mine who said something interesting to me. He said, “Several years ago, I got on the carnivore diet and I went from 180 pounds at 5’8, down to 145 pounds, 28% body fat to 15% body fat.

Which is wonderful, but I have destroyed my gut health and my microbiome as a result of that diet. Now I have this whole other problem that I have to deal with.” Anyway, I just wanted to insert that because it just happened right before this. How do you feel about the vegan diet and the carnivore diet?

Dr. Chestnut: Awesome questions. Man, I like these conversations. First of all, a vegan diet is extraordinarily healthy for a vegan species, and a carnivore diet is extremely healthy for a carnivore species. We are neither as humans. We are omnivores. There’s no doubt about it. There’s no dispute about it. You can argue and cry about it all you want, but we’re omnivores. The carnivore diet, as the vegan diet is, could possibly be a therapeutic intervention for short-term and emergency.

If you’re morbidly obese and you just can’t get yourself to eat a healthy diet but you like steak and meat, I would go, “Do the carnivore diet until you’re not obese, and then we’ll deal with the rest because obesity is so horrible for you.” I’ve never looked at things that way, as you know, Ari. I never treat disease. I always take care of a human and just work with them and find out what’s easy for them and gradual, and then we just move them towards what’s healthy, rather than have these little things in between which are treating disease. I just don’t like that model.

You could say that a vegan diet, maybe if you had a cancer diagnosis. The truth is probably, I would say, the intermittent fasting, the keto stuff is probably more valuable if you’re really sick than anything else, in my opinion, from the literature I can read. Neither of those are human diets, Ari. That’s just how I’m going to answer it.

I’m just going to say neither of those are human diets because humans are neither a vegan, nor a carnivore. Therefore, those are not human diets. They’re not matched to the human genome, so why would I advocate a diet that’s not for my species? How can you get a species healthy on a diet that’s not matched for that species? It’s saying like, “I’m going to take a vegan animal and feed it meat,” or, “I’m going to take a lion and feed it vegetables. How would that go? That make any sense?

Ari: Yes. While it is the case that for the carnivore diet, there is not much and almost nothing in the way of literature looking at long-term mortality outcomes and rates of different diseases and how soon those people die. For vegan diets and for vegetarian diets or almost vegan diets, there is quite a bit of literature in the Seventh Day Adventist studies in particular.

People who are of that more vegetarian vegan direction and the different health gurus, whether it’s Michael Greger, or Neal Barnard, or one of the many other vegan diet proponents, they would say, “You can say philosophically that it’s not a human diet, but hey, the evidence is showing it’s just as healthy or healthier, and that vegans live just as long or longer, have lower rates of heart disease or lower rates of various types of cancers.” What would you say in response to that argument?

Dr. Chestnut: I was dying to answer that. First of all, I would say it’s not a philosophical argument to say that humans aren’t vegans. It’s a scientific, biological argument. It had nothing to do with philosophy. It’s just a fact. However, who are they comparing to? If they’re comparing the Seventh-day Adventists, to the average industrial American who’s swallowing back french fries and burgers and beer and smoking and doing all the other because the Seventh-day Adventists have a very low toxic diet.

The Seventh-day Adventists don’t smoke, they don’t drink soda pop. There’s a lot of things that they avoid, correct, which are very toxic to the rest of the humans that they’re comparing to. If you compare a Seventh-day Adventist to a robust hunter-gatherer, who wins? The hunter-gatherer every time, it’s not even close. These people they’re not engaging in proper scientific analysis of the data that they’re collecting because they’re comparing. The same thing with the China study, it’s the same scientific methodological error that they’re making.

I’m not saying they’re not making it in good faith. I’m not making that accusation in any way. What I’m saying is they’re not understanding. Can we say for sure it’s the fact that they’re not eating meat? Or is it the fact that they’re not eating disgusting meat? Is it the fact that they’re eating lots of vegetables, or is it the fact that they’re not getting any toxins? They haven’t answered these questions and they can’t, because the answer, of course, is that they’re not eating toxic meat.

The answer to the reason they do better is because they’re avoiding a lot of these other toxins like the high sugar and all these other things. The truth of the matter is, it is true that the average Seventh-day Adventist is healthier than the average industrial human and they probably have a longer lifespan and less body fat and less chance of diabetes. There’s zero argument about that. It’s the wrong question.

The right question is, how would a Seventh-day Adventist compare with somebody who’s eating the human genome-specific diet, or the diet I advocate, or the one that you probably advocate? The answer is they don’t do as well. They’re not as strong. They don’t have the same muscle mass. Mentally, they’re not going to be the same.

They’re deficient in a lot of these, the fats, and some of the other things they’re probably supplementing now. The truth is that, is the Seventh-day Adventist healthier than the average industrial diet? Answer is yes. Is it healthier than the actual human diet? No chance. Who are they comparing to? They’re comparing to the average industrial diet. That’s the comparator. It’s scientifically invalid.

Ari: Okay. Is there anything else you want to emphasize on diet, or should we move on?

Dr. Chestnut: No, I think that’s it. The secret to a healthy diet is to find healthy foods that you like. That’s the secret. Also, the secret to nutrition is never look at nutrition in isolation from how much you’re exercising. It completely changes the way you utilize nutrients, completely changes how fast you get rid of toxins, in terms of your bowel movements. These things are so intricate. There’s a reason why I put, eat well, move well, think well together in a circle. It’s not linear. It’s a circle.

I think a lot of people also get confused on that. Then you also look at the average exercise levels of a Seventh-day Adventist versus an industrial, even there’s so many other variables that they don’t control for. I hope I’m not speaking a different language for most people, but in science, what we have to do is we have to understand, we have to isolate these variables that might impact the outcome. If we don’t control for those variables, then we can never say that what we think are the variables that determine that outcome are in fact the ones that are doing so. That’s what I say.

There’s a methodological error there when they’re doing this, but there is no argument that they’re better than the average industrial human because the average industrial human is sick as heck. Really, really sick. That’s a terrible comparator. I wouldn’t brag about being healthier than the average industrial human. My goodness. They’re the sickest species in the history of species on Earth.

Move well for optimal health

Ari: Let’s talk about moving and physical activity, exercise now. You just alluded to how it changes your physiology and relationship to the food you eat. [crosstalk] How do you conceptualize moving well? What does that mean to you? Does it mean doing high-intensity interval training? Does it mean just walking and doing gentle activity for a large portion of the day? Moving well as it relates to our ancestors from an evolutionary perspective, what does that mean to move well?

Dr. Chestnut: Again, I’m going to divide this into two categories, if I may, Ari. One is I’m going to talk about clinically, I’ll do that. Second, in other words, how do we get people to start moving well? First I’m going to talk about what our human genetic requirements are. The average human hunter-gatherer was equivalent physiologically to an Olympic decathlete.

The average person living on a farm before 1920 and industrialization, we’re 60% less in terms of our movement, our strength, our agility, our balance. Every physical parameter that you could think to measure, we are literally domesticated, obese, weak, vulnerable beings now. We are. Who would win in a fight? A war of hand-to-hand combat, 50 people from World War I, or from 1850 or 1910, or 1600 compared to now. It’s just, we’re weak. Right now, do we have some really massive, strong people now? Yes, but they’re not the average.

I’m talking that you took 50 average people, not the 50 best from today versus them, but the 50 average, there’s no doubt we’re weaker, fatter, sadder, slower have less balance. There’s no debate. Why? Our genes are the same? The only difference is our lifestyle choices, how much we eat moving things. Humans genetically are designed to basically walk about 10 miles a day every day, be pretty active. We didn’t sit much at all. We squatted, usually sat around, kneeled around a fire on our hunches. We had an enormous range of motion in our hip joints and our knee joints.

All these knee surgeries and hip surgeries, they’re not amongst super overactive people. They’re amongst sedentary people. Most of the people who get these surgeries and have these problems are because they’re not moving enough, not because they move too much as a child or young adult. The women who are struggling with childbirth, our ancestors didn’t struggle with childbirth. There’s no evidence. Of course, there was anomalies, but they squatted all day. Their pelvis could open up 25% wider.

They gave birth squatting, but they also squatted hours and hours a day as they gathered, as they hunted, as they cooked, as they sat around and ate. It’s just an enormous difference. Our ancestors, they basically did aerobic stuff all day. For most days they had a hunt and gather or they worked on the farm later on. They did some very heavy lifting. Some people did it a little bit during the day. Some people did it a couple of times a week, but they had to lift some– like drag a carcass, lift some heavy things.

They did a lot of balance things. They had to go over logs and walked on uneven surfaces, which is an incredible proprioceptive input into your brain and your sensory mode cortex, which really changes your moods and a million other things we probably won’t get too deeply into today. They also did some sprinting. Where they did that high-intensity stuff, where they either had to run towards or away from something, usually at least a couple times a week.

Very interestingly, they developed and designed games for all ages that required all of the above, whether dancing, drumming other games that they played. If you look at all of our ancestors, if they had any leisure time, they spent that leisure time actively mimicking what was required for them to be successful physically, not sitting around watching television.

That did another thing, which really moves into think well, which was it also created incredible bonds. The feasting, the dancing, the music, the games with the children, all the children being raised by the community, all of these things, how they ate, how they moved, and how they thought, all work together to create a healthy culture of healthy individuals. I think that’s a huge part of it, is that when we’re going to talk about eating, moving, and thinking, what we have to understand is how we try to find ways to get all three at once. That’s really important with our habits, joyful habits.

The optimal types of exercise

Ari: Beautiful. I love that. Do you have any specific thoughts on what is optimal for humans as far as resistance, exercise, as far as high-intensity sprinting type, or high-intensity interval training type exercise and endurance exercise.

Dr. Chestnut: All of the above we require, there’s no doubt about it. Again, clinically, I’m not going to be prescribing some of those things for people who’ve never done anything in 10 years. Obviously, we’re going to start with walking, and then we’re going to slowly build up, get a little bit of aerobic, get the range of motion going, get the tendons a little bit stronger before we start really working on the muscles. All the gait. I’m an exercise physiologist, so I love this stuff.

Truth be told, it’s just following some certain principles of overload, meaning gradual overload and intensity. Humans are designed to do very high-intensity work at least a couple of times a week or more because we really need that heart rate at its max. We’re supposed to get our heart rate to maximum because boom, and it stretches all those arteries, which creates nitrous oxide, and it creates that more elastin in the collagen, so we have more supple arteries and veins and all these other things.

We’re really definitely designed for that, for our heart muscle, our cardiovascular system, our neuromusculoskeletal system, and our brain. All of it requires all these different types of exercise. If you’re ready to engage in each of those things, I think then obviously– if you’re one of these people who says, “I just want to do what’s best for me,” I could design a great program for you.

If you’re one of these people who says, “I haven’t really exercised much, but I realize how important it’s for me,” then what we know is just going for a walk every day, even if it’s five minutes, you’ll be exponentially healthier with a five-minute-a-day walk every day than you would be with none. It’s dose-responsive. If you go to 10 minutes, you’ll be healthier than you were at 5 minutes and way healthier than you were at zero minutes. When you get to 30 minutes, fantastic. When you get to about 60 minutes, you’re probably not going to get that much more benefit after 60 minutes. It’s a dose-response curve.

Now we’re going to say, “Okay, what about resistance exercise?” Well, let’s start with your own body weight, just a standing squat, maybe doing a pushup even on your knees if you have to. If you like to do weights, go ahead and do weights, but you need some resistance exercise. There’s no doubt about it, that your bone density requires it, your neurology requires it. It’s important for preventing falls and coordination and strength, growth hormone, all of these things that, again, we could draw these pathways between exercise and all these things pushing you towards health.

Exercise is a panacea. It’s one of the few things that we have that is a documented panacea. There’s not a single illness that exercise does not improve or can help prevent. There’s not a single chronic illness that a lack of exercise does not play a role in. It is a panacea. There’s just no doubt about it. I don’t get too worked up about, “Oh, you got to do the HIIT training, you’ve got to do the aerobic interval,” which is very, very good.

What I try to do is find out what people get the most enjoyment of. You’re going to get the 5% of people who will do anything you tell them because they’re just like, they’re in. I’m like, “Great, those are easy.” The other 95%, whether it’s foods or whether it’s exercise, or whether it’s thinking well activities, the key is to find out what people will do first.

You find out what they need to do, and then in that list of what need to do, you find out first what they’re willing to do. That’s where you must start if you’re going to have any success. It’s a hugely important concept clinically, is to say, “I need to know what you’re willing to do,” because what you’re willing to do is way better than what you’re currently doing, most certainly.

Staying in the easy zone?

Ari: The last thing here is something I think you mentioned you wanted to talk about in a previous podcast, which is the idea of staying in the easy zone, staying in the gentle zone, not pushing too hard, too fast, and you have a specific methodology around that. Can you explain that to people?

Dr. Chestnut: Clinically, Ari, what you and I, I’m sure I know we agree on is that our knowledge base though can be very helpful, is meaningless unless people engage in behavior change. The secret to all of this is that people have to change how they behave. They need to develop new patterns of behavior in order to develop new patterns of epigenetic expression. If you want healthier structure and function, you have to have a different pattern of epigenetic expression.

If you want a different pattern of epigenetic expression, you have to have a different pattern of living. If you want to have a different pattern of living, you must have a different pattern of thinking. That’s where it all starts. One of the things that you train when you’re first helping people is you’re not really training– I’m talking about exercise now. Even food sometimes. You’re not really worried about all of the amazing health comes that they’re going to get.

What you’re first training people to do is have some self-control and self-discipline. You’re really training them to train their own mind to develop a healthy habit. The best way to do that is to continuously be able to do something for 30 days that’s new. You want to make that as easy as possible because it has to be for 30 days. They have to be continuous on it. You don’t want to set them up for failure by setting them up to do something that’s really difficult.

What happens is that we plan ahead with our executive brain, with our cortex. We can plan ahead we use our knowledge. We plan ahead we say, “I know I should get up at 5:00 AM. and exercise. I’m going to eat this many vegetables. I’m going to have this grass-fed meat. I’m not going to eat pizza or I’m going to avoid this stuff.” We’re all very good at using our executive brain and our conscious knowledge to plan ahead. We’re also all very good at using our conscious brain to look back and say what we did wrong.

We’re very good at evaluating our past choices with against our knowledge and we’re very good at looking towards and planning future choices with our knowledge. However, at the moment of decision of whether or not to engage in those activities, we don’t often use our knowledge. We use our beliefs, we use our subconscious programming, we use our pleasure meter to determine what we should do at any given moment, which is all subconscious, it’s all based on subconscious programming.

The biggest thing to train for people is their ability. First of all, they have to be able to identify what the right choice is. That’s quite easy for the most part, for most people. Most people already are living a life where they already could list many things that they’re not doing that they know they should and list many things that they are doing, which they know they shouldn’t in terms of their health. Their knowledge already supersedes their ability to take action.

The first thing is they must be able to identify what the right choices are. Then the biggest obstacle for everybody, everybody’s good at planning. That’s identifying the right choice, but the key is to be able to make the right choice. The key is self-control. The key to all of this is self-control because self-control is what’s required to change. Eventually, that self-control turns into integrity, and integrity is when what you believe and what you want are the same.

Integrity is what you have when you get up and exercise. Your belief is that exercise is not only good for me, but I like it. I enjoy it. I can’t wait to exercise. I’m going to feel great after. I’m going to look better. I’m going to get all these hormones released. I’m just like, “I don’t want to miss my exercise. I like it.” For someone who doesn’t have that yet, they require a lot of self-control to start to exercise. You require none. Exercise is easy for you.

Eating good foods for the most part is easy for you. Getting you to eat McDonald’s every day would be difficult, or start your day with a donut and a coffee, that would be a very difficult thing for you, but for some people, it’s super easy. It just all depends on what your subconscious belief systems are. This took me a long time to figure out because I was really good at telling people what they need to do and getting them all inspired and then they go and not do it.

I had to figure out how the human brain worked. That’s the key because all we’re trying to do is try to get people to change their behaviors. The way to do that is training. The original training isn’t the physical training. It’s not about that I want you to be so much stronger after 30 days or that your whole body’s going to change because you ate broccoli for 30 days. This is a silly example. The idea is can you find something that you know is good for you and easy and engage in it and have enough self-control to do that for 30 days? Can you develop a new habit?

When they start with an easy habit and they’re successful at it, they have now just built some skills and some pathways that allow them to add the next thing. They’re now better equipped with more self-control to add the next thing. What most people do, not only on the practitioner side but on the individual side, is that they get overzealous with their knowledge about what’s good for them and they create a plan which is not sustainable for them. It’s beyond their current self-control skill set.

What I’ve realized is in order for something to be successful in terms of change, it must not surpass their current level of self-control. Self-control is not innate. Self-control is something that you must develop and strength, just like exercise. You must do daily exercise to build your self-control. Then eventually you’ll develop integrity. That’s the easy path. That’s the floating downstream, easy to go, right? You and I have developed a lot of integrity and some healthy behaviors. We still need work like everyone does, but there are certain things we’re really good at and certain things other people are really good at.

The idea is to understand how your own brain works. I always say to people when you’re arguing and debating, “Should I go for exercise or should I stay watching TV, should I eat this on the menu or should I pick that on the menu,” I always say, who are you arguing with? Are you schizophrenic? Are you multiple personality? Who are you actually arguing with? Most people have never thought of this. I say, actually, what’s happening is your conscious brain is arguing with your subconscious belief systems.

Most of the time your subconscious belief systems will win. Not always but most of the time. It takes a great deal of control to overcome your current beliefs about what’s pleasurable, what’s not pleasurable, all these things. You are pleasure-seeking missiles. Humans require pleasure to enjoy, to want to stay alive and enjoy life. The idea is to learn to develop a new belief system about something. That’s how you develop a new habit. You develop a new belief.

What you currently believe about exercise is very different than what someone who doesn’t exercise believes about exercise. Everybody’s physically capable of going for a walk. Why don’t they? Everybody knows going for a walk is better for them than not going for a walk. Then why don’t they? What is stopping these people? They don’t actually have a piano tied to their bottom.

What is actually stopping? It’s not a physical barrier. It’s not a physical barrier that stops people from eating healthy, a salad. There’s no physical barrier. It’s all emotional. Until people understand that, they won’t develop the proper strategy to overcome it. One of the things I say, one of the litmus tests for me is whether I realize that how much of this is emotional, are people willing to talk about themselves?

Are they willing to talk about their body weight, their body shape, their diets? Or do they think it’s rude to tell somebody they eat too much? Is it rude to tell somebody they drink too much if they’re an alcoholic or that they shouldn’t take cocaine every day? Is it rude to tell people that smoking’s bad for them? See, these things are all okay, but if you tell somebody you’re eating too much, it’s like, “Oh my God, how could you say that?” Or you’re eating too many carbohydrates, that’s really bad for you. It’s harming you, and it’s affecting your moods. “Oh my God, you called me fat.”

If somebody is that uptight about their own image, now I get to know where to work on. They don’t have a food problem. They have an emotional problem. They have a self-image problem. If you don’t work with that– the people who are healthy have an objective viewpoint. They go, “I ate this. It makes me look like this. I want to look like this. I better do this.” It’s factual, right? They don’t think that being overweight makes them less of a person. They don’t think it makes them have less self-worth or that they somehow can never be attractive or worthy of love.

People who get it say, “I’m overweight because I haven’t been living. I’d prefer not to be overweight. I’m going start– I’m going to change the way I operate.” The other people are always looking for a quick fix. I’m going to try Ozempic.” Different diets all the time over and over again. What do they do every time? They fail. What does that do to their self-esteem? It makes it less. I’ve learned through experience, I guess, and just a deep desire to help people, that you’ve really got to help people work on their self-control and their self-image. It’s really key. I think so many programs miss that, Ari.

Ari: James, I want to talk more about this and I want to talk more about the Think Well aspect of things. However, I have a logistical issue, which is that it’s almost 9:00 PM here.

Dr. Chestnut: You better go over and spend some time with your family, mate.

Lifestyle risk assessment

Ari: I told my wife and kids that I’d be done by 8:30. They’re at a restaurant right now waiting for me to join. The restaurant’s going to close soon. The last thing I want to do to– we’ll do another one and we’ll talk in-depth about the Think Well piece of this and more about what you’re just talking about, how to facilitate behavior change, lifestyle change, and get people to address their beliefs and behavior and integrity around that, get clear on their values, and how to act in accordance with that, and other aspects of thinking well. I know you have a lot to say on that subject.

The last thing I want to do very briefly is have you just mention your Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment tool and why it’s important and how it differs from other diagnostic tools out there, whether it’s blood testing or saliva testing, or other functional medicine testing type approaches.

Dr. Chestnut: Sure. I’m just going to have a drink of water. If I could just go back to the backpack analogy. I think it’s best to describe it that way, Ari. Once people understand, and I think everyone listening to this, it’s kind of self-evident and intuitive really, which is that the problems we face in our lives in terms of our health are not because we have an internal defect. We don’t have bad genes and we’re not incapable of regulating our own blood pressure, cholesterol, body weight, moods, et cetera. It’s not defects. We’ve established that in previous talks.

When we look at that backpack analogy, what we can say with certainty is that based on how many rocks you have in your backpack, it’s going to determine what your blood pressure is. It’s going to determine what your cholesterol is. Whatever saliva or blood test you do, the results of that are not random chance. They’re based on the rocks in your backpack.

If you have no rocks in your backpack, means you’re eating, moving, and thinking well, and you’re sufficient and pure, you’re not deficient in anything or toxic with anything, then you’re going to have normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, you’re going to have normal blood sugar, you’re going to have normal body weight, normal musculature, body composition, normal moods. You’re going to be expressing healthy structure and function physically, emotionally, no question.

The problem that we have now with healthcare intervention, and that’s really sick care intervention, isn’t it, if we’re going to be honest, is that they are measuring effects. They are measuring the effects of the rocks in the backpack. Again, whether you measure saliva, it doesn’t matter what you’re measuring, whatever you’re measuring, if you’re ignoring the rocks in the backpack, you are never addressing the cause of the problem. You’re never going to get that sick person well.

You can’t get that sick person well without removing the rocks from their backpack because it’s the rocks in the backpack that are the cause of their illness. You can’t do it. There’s no pill that removes that rock. There’s no drug or anything other than an essential nutrient that you could take that– the only thing an essential nutrient does, it doesn’t fix your disease. The essential nutrient fix your deficiency of essential nutrients, which allows your body to express proper function. You’re not treating the disease with the essential nutrient, you’re treating the essential nutrient deficiency.

That’s another very important thing to point out. Once people understand that there’s no drug that’s going to fix poor nutrition, there’s no drug that’s going to fix a deficiency of exercise and there’s no drug that’s going to fix a deficiency of self-control or integrity or self-love or self-esteem or social connection, there’s no such drug. Put these two things together.

The cause of the illness is the eating, moving, and thinking rocks in the backpack. Toxicity and deficiency. No drug can remove those rocks. The only way to prevent illness is to not put rocks in. The only way to get well is to get the rocks out. The only way to stay well is to keep the rocks out. Therefore, what I needed to create was the ability to measure the rocks instead of measuring the effects.

How can you prevent something if you’re measuring somebody when they already have high blood pressure or high blood sugar, or lowered immunity or high cortisol levels? Those are all effects. How could you prevent it if you have to measure it first and it’s already outside of a healthy norm. If you’re measuring somebody and only intervening, if you detect they’re outside a healthy norm, how could you ever prevent anything? You can’t.

The only window of prevention and the only window of wellness, the only window of recovery is that window of the rocks in the backpack. Everything else is downstream. What I did I developed a Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment, which actually assesses the risks of their current lifestyle behaviors. If they’re already sick, it tells them what the behaviors are that are making them sick and teaches them how to make healthy ones. If they’re not sick yet, it teaches them how to never get sick. If they’re a little bit sick, it tells them– you understand? Think about it logically and scientifically, and I would say ethically.

We spend billions of dollars on diagnosing things, which we never address the cause of because our whole entire system and paradigm is not based on looking at the rocks or the cause; it’s based on looking at the effects. Even when we measure the effect, we don’t address the rock. We just try to change the effect with a drug or a supplement, a nutraceutical, or a pharmaceutical.

An essential nutrient, now that can address an essential nutrient deficiency. That’s why I deal with those things. That’s why I developed a Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment because I actually talked to Bruce McEwen. He’s passed on now, but I actually emailed him back and forth. One day, I’ll show you those emails. Incredible. What an amazing man. He was a world-renowned neuroscientist, won all kinds of awards, published hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of articles, really developed the concept of allostatic load. He worked at Rockefeller University. What a neat guy to answer my emails.

He realized that I had got the concept and that I was one of the only practitioners that he had met that was actually trying to deal with allostasis and allostatic load and create an allostatic load, allostasis-based healthcare model. No one else was doing it. He was really enthusiastic and helped me out. Anyway, I had to develop something that did not exist, which was the ability to assess the behaviors that were driving the illness or the behaviors that would drive the well-being, and that’s what I’ve done. Now these people can take this Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment, and it will actually assess whether or not they’ve got rocks in their backpack or not.

Ari: Can I add one thing to this, one layer? This is something that I feel a lot of people don’t get because you go to a doctor, you go to a functional medicine doctor, they run all these tests. It feels like, it gives you the sense, I would say the illusion, that they’re getting this window into everything that’s going on in your body. First of all, a lot of the tests are not even very scientifically valid, especially within functional medicine. The issues are, very briefly, within conventional medicine, the data points that they measure are very valid, are very well-validated, are very accurate. If you have an abnormality there, it means something.

Dr. Chestnut: It means you’re sick.

Ari: Right. The problem is that it doesn’t measure that much. It gives you a very narrow window of things that are going on in your body. As an example, there’s research showing on chronic fatigue of the portion of the population that has chronic fatigue and goes to a doctor, only 5% of those people, 5 out of every 100 people who go to the doctor complaining of chronic fatigue are looking for answers, get a blood test. Only in 5% of cases does anything show up on that blood test that explains their chronic fatigue. 5 out of 100. What they’re testing you for is accurate, but for 95% of people, it’s not telling you anything.

Dr. Chestnut: They’re not testing you for the things that are causing chronic fatigue.

Ari: Right. Functional medicine seeks to solve that problem by testing for way more kinds of things. The problem is all the laboratory– the labs are private for-profit companies that are constantly coming up with new tests that aren’t well scientifically validated, in many cases are totally inaccurate, to the point where if you did the same exact test, from one day to the next, it would give you very different results or to the point when I’ve done this, where you take the same exact fecal matter from the same exact fecal sample, run two different microbiome tests and get totally different results, and in many cases, opposite results.

You just can’t rely on data like that. Again, it gives the illusion of something. I would also point out that even with all of those tests, whatever tests you want to run, it still can’t tell you what is the health of your circadian rhythm. How much are you sleeping? What does your exercise routine look like? It doesn’t tell you any of those things.

Dr. Chestnut: No, of course, not.

Ari: It doesn’t actually tell you, it doesn’t give you insight, “Based on these tests, we should modify your exercise routine like this. Based on these tests, we should have you do more sauna exposure. We should have you do– we should have you meditate. We should have you eat more of these kinds of vegetables.” It doesn’t give you those kinds of insights into actually the behaviors, the environmental and lifestyle inputs that are actually the determinants of your health and your risk of various diseases.

It’s this bizarre thing that seems very scientific, but it’s actually a very inaccurate oftentimes and an indirect way of trying to approach how we optimize a person’s lifestyle and environment to better their health.

Dr. Chestnut: It’s exactly what you said. It’s an illusion. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s really designed to add validity to something, but it’s an artificial validity. It’s designed to make it look more scientific. Here’s the real question, of course, which is like, why would– whatever they’re measuring, I don’t care if it’s– whatever it is, if it’s a blood test or if it’s one of these other tests in functional medicine, the question is, why is your test result– even if it was valid and reliable, which they’re often not, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t answer the right question.

The question isn’t what your blood test is. The question is why aren’t you well? What is required to get you well? Of course, whether or not you’re talking about, “Well, how much more of this should they do? How much more of that should they–” Well, listen carefully, calm down. If it was a zebra, what would you tell it? Do what the hell the zebras do. Anytime we brought a species back from extinction, what do we do? Do we do a bunch of individual blood tests or homeopathic tests or functional medicine tests? Or would you say, “No, we got to put them back into a healthy habitat, and get them to eat, move, and think according to their genome,” and when they do, all of a sudden, they’re healthy.

Why would I ever worry about what specific vegetables someone should eat more of? That’s absurd. It doesn’t make any sense. What I’m saying is, here are the essential nutrients you need to get. Make sure you get them, correct? Here’s the exercise that you need to do. Here are the thinking things you do. What I would say, they do it totally backwards. They’re trying to find out– they’re trying to use a test to figure out a specific intervention for a specific person, instead of saying, “Wait a minute, wrong question. What I need to find out is, why are they sick. What am I going to discover when I find out why they’re sick?”

They’re sick because they’re not eating, moving, and thinking in ways that are designed for their species type. That’s the only reason any human being is sick. At least one that you and I, or any of these other people can pretend to help. Now, you’ve got a broken leg, that’s a different matter. We get it. If you have Down syndrome, this stuff exists, here’s the key though. What we know about people with Down syndrome is, or cystic fibrosis, or any of these other– there are genetic illnesses that exist. They’re very, very rare. They’re not causing chronic illnesses, but they do exist.

What we know is if those people eat, move, and think according to the human genome type, they do far better on the spectrum of any of those illnesses than the ones who don’t. It’s all just a way to figure out– all of these things have an end sale point, Ari. No matter what test that you get, there’s an end sale point, correct? I’ll admit it. I have an end sale point at the end of my Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment. You know what it is? I want you to go out and exercise according to what you need. I want you to eat a healthy diet. I want you to start having gratitude and self-esteem.

If you’re not currently getting your essential nutrients, I want you to make sure you’re getting them. I have an endpoint like anyone else, but the fact of the matter is my endpoint will actually get you and keep you well, proven, beyond doubt, evidence-based, irrefutable, thousands of thousands of peer-reviewed articles to prove it. There is no doubt about it. It’s not maybe. It has more evidence than the drugs. It has more evidence than anything you’re going to get from a naturopath or homeopath or functional medicine person. It is proven beyond any reasonable doubt to be the most beneficial, to give you the highest chance of success in the history of interventions. Why wouldn’t you start there first?

Ari: Yes.

What lifestyle can do to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s

Dr. Chestnut: Why not start with the most obvious? Occam’s razor, mate. Why wouldn’t you start with the most obvious answer first? Then after you’ve done that, if you still have something weird going on, then maybe look for something specific. Why would you not start with the most obvious first? Because 90% of the time, you’ll get 90% of the people 90% better in 90 days.

Ari: I want to add one thing here, which is– I think it was just yesterday and I was trying to briefly scan through to see if I took a screenshot of this, but it was talking about a new study or a recent study that they did on Alzheimer’s, where there was a visual chart of the magnitude of improvement on three different drugs and the magnitude of improvement that was seen in a trial where they had participants change their diet to a healthy diet, start exercising, and maybe start doing yoga or meditating or something like that. It was like three or fourfold more improvement than any of the drugs to do the lifestyle changes.

There’s something here that’s so important for people to get, which is that we’ve spent decades investing billions of dollars into all these scientists and all these pharmaceutical companies to research and understand the biochemistry and the mechanisms of dementia and Alzheimer’s and to develop hundreds or thousands and thousands of different drugs, through seemingly these very, very advanced, very cutting edge scientific processes, very science-y looking stuff, to build drugs that can counteract these– what they think are pathological mechanisms, and interrupt these pathological processes, to stop the progression of, or to reverse, to cure these different diseases.

Just doing an exercise program which didn’t require any decades of billions of dollars spent to study all of the biochemistry and mechanisms of this disease, if you knew nothing about any of that, the decades of research from all those billions of dollars, and you just told that person, “Hey, go start an exercise program”, and you oversaw them doing an exercise program, it would outperform the best that decades and billions of dollars of scientific research from pharmaceutical companies could do in the treatment of that disease.

Dr. Chestnut: You mean be your own expert on it?

Ari: What’s that?

Dr. Chestnut: You mean be your own expert?

Ari: Exactly. Just to illustrate the power of what you’re talking about here. That is why it is important to opt out of that kind of paradigm and start to go, “Be your own expert. How do I learn about the things that my species type needs? What’s the blueprint from that paradigm? What’s the blueprint for how do I create human health and avoid disease? How do I specifically get access to that blueprint and measure those things, not take a blood test that measures and defects of it? How do I actually measure and take an assessment of the things that create health, what I’m doing or not doing in my life and in my environment?” Then go from there.

The counterintuitive thing here, the paradoxical thing, seemingly paradoxical thing, is that it seems way less cutting edge and way less sexy, and way less science-y to do things that way.

Dr. Chestnut: Because it’s not on all the ads, it’s not on all the television shows that Big Pharma pays for. It’s not done by a person who tells you they’re a godlike expert in a white coat and all these things that they paid money to create images of, it’s all imagery. It’s a hoax, it’s ridiculous. Again, it’s aggravating, as you can tell by my physiology, but I get so angry because we could say that same study when heart disease– What did better? The pills or the exercise and diet, and thinking too if you add that, it’s really amazing. What about cancer? Same thing. What about atrial fibrillation? Ablation or exercise? Exercise is way better.

What about diabetes? What about obesity? What about depression? Every single one of these, you’ve read my book. I’ve got the literature on every one of these showing that lifestyle far, far outperforms all of these things, Ari, it’s not close. It’s not close, and yet we still have people pretending that if you’re talking about lifestyle, somehow you’re not quite as smart as somebody who wants to prescribe a pill.

I’m telling you, this whole system is so detrimental to people’s health, to our environment, the toxicity of these drugs that people urinate out. It is diabolical. If you don’t opt out of that, you are just going to die a miserable, shorter life. That’s fact. You’re either going to eat well, move well, and think well, or you’re going to die a more miserable, shorter life.

I’m sorry, but that’s fact, and anybody who tells you different, I will come on this program, Ari, you get anybody you want, and I will debate them about what’s more important. Medical diagnosis and treatment or lifestyle. Anybody you want. These people cannot compete in the world of science. All they do is just churn out more and more stuff and use more and more statistical misleading stats like relative versus absolute difference and all these– Once you open your eyes to this, you just cannot believe the level of deception. It’s criminally negligent what these people are doing.

Ari: Dr. Chestnut, can you let people know where they can get access to this Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment that you’ve created?

Dr. Chestnut: Yes, if they just go to I’m going to create a discount for anybody who watches– I think it’s energy, correct? We’re going to use the term “energy”.

Ari: Awesome. Yes, [unintelligible]. [crosstalk]

Dr. Chestnut: Then they can go in there and they’ll get a 20% discount just because I appreciate you giving me the access. They’ll get– it’s very inexpensive. I think it might be $49, I’m not even sure, it might be less than that, that’s not my department. I don’t do that stuff, but they’ll get 20% off whatever that is. Not only will they get the assessment which can do, they can do it with the physical exercise, they can do it just with the questionnaire. They can do it with physical exercise and blood work if they want.

One of the cool things that I did, the reason why I included blood work is because I wanted to prove to people that their blood work was the effect of their lifestyle choices. In clinics all around the world, we had people doing the blood work, changing nothing except their lifestyle. Then all of a sudden, their blood work changed and they went, “Oh my goodness, you’re right.” It’s not genes, it’s not inability to self-regulate.

Anyway, that’s what we did, but you could do the questionnaire by itself. That’s the simplest way, and the results of the ones with just the questionnaire, the ones with the questionnaire and the physical testing, or the ones with the blood work as well, they’re all virtually identical. They’re within a few percentage points of each other in terms of reliability and accuracy. I’d only say, go just do it. It’s just easy to do.

Not only will it measure your risk based on your lifestyle choices, but then it will tell you how to correct them. Not only is it an assessment, it’s also an intervention because it’s dealing with the rocks in the backpack. If you just go to, I’ll make sure that they get a check-out, I think it will be– They get this thing where you can enter your discount code, and we’ll make it “energy”.

Ari: Beautiful. Thank you so much, my friend. I look forward to part five, which is setting a new record for my podcast where we will do an in-depth dive into behavior change. The links between behavior change and a person’s mental models and belief systems, and how to think well. I look forward to it. Thank you so much for another [unintelligible] podcast, my friend.

Dr. Chestnut: You bet. Enjoy your dinner and please send my apologies to your family. [laughter]

Ari: Talk to you soon

Show Notes

00:00 – Intro
00:12 – Guest intro
05:24 – The primary drivers of disease
07:17 – Dr. Chestnut’s approach to health
13:20 – Why you need to be the expert of your own health
25:14 – Your genes haven’t changed
30:30 – How we are designed to live versus our modern lifestyle
39:55 – Rocks in your backpack
45:50 – What It means to eat well
55:35 – Are restrictive diets actually healthful?
1:02:55 – The vegan diet and the carnivore diet
1:11:30 – Move well for optimal health
1:16:50 – The optimal types of exercise
1:30:50 – Staying in the easy zone?
1:32:30 – Lifestyle risk assessment
1:46:50 – What lifestyle can do to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s

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