I am sure you know that a healthy heart is imperative to a good long life, yet, heart disease is one of the major causes of death in the US. Oftentimes doctors prescribe drugs that are likely not going to help patients recover as they never look at the main causes of heart disease in the individual patient. Luckily, it is relatively straightforward to prevent and treat heart disease naturally through simple lifestyle changes.
Listen in this week, as I talk with cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson, the author of The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health. He has made it his mission to help patients cure their heart disease through a holistic approach, which enables them to recover and live a life free of medications. Together, we will discuss the real causes of lifestyle-related heart disease and, more importantly, how to reverse heart disease naturally.
In this podcast, you’ll learn
- The major pharmaceutical that causes an increase in all-cause mortality by up to 34%
- The one thing medical doctors do not have when it comes to heart disease
- How to reverse heart disease naturally
- How most people are treating heart disease, and why it can be detrimental to their health
- When evidence-based supplements supplement a healthy lifestyle
- The fundamental difference between natural lifestyle interventions versus drug interventions
- The science behind saturated fat
- One of the biggest contributors to heart disease
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How to reverse heart disease naturally with Dr. Jack Wolfson – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey there. Welcome back everyone this is Ari Whitten, and welcome back to the Energy Blueprint podcast. Today I have with me Dr. Jack Wolfson, who is a board-certified cardiologist and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.
He’s one of the world’s leading holistic natural cardiologists. He was a Natural Choice award winner in the holistic MD category from Natural Awakenings Magazines and he’s been featured on major media outlets USA Today, NBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and so on. He’s also known as the paleo cardiologist. I brought him on. I’m very excited to have him on to talk about all things kind of holistic cardiology.
So, welcome Jack.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Thank you so much, Ari. It’s a pleasure to be on. When you talk about me being one of the best holistic cardiologists around, I certainly agree with that, but there’s also not a lot in the way of competition.
I left a group of 40 cardiologists that were in my former practice which I was a senior partner over there, and not one of them had any interest in a holistic mindset in talking about nutrition or lifestyle or even evidence-based supplements. It just was all about pills and procedures.
I definitely think that the holistic cardiology is on and there are some of us and we go through training and we speak with each other and a lot of us know who we are. I guess the other thing is that I do get more and more phone calls these days from conventional cardiologists looking to switch over or looking to learn what I know.
So I think that is certainly a positive.
What inspired Dr. Jack Wolfson to become a holistic cardiologist
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. So with that in mind, how did you actually get into doing that? How did you get into holistic an integrative cardiology when you’re being brought up in a medical paradigm that is really not that at all?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah, it was definitely interesting and I’ve told the story, of course, many times and many times from the stage. When I finished up my training in 2002, I moved on to Arizona and started in practice and I was in practice for a few years. I saw a lot of sickness in the hospitals and a lot of frustration where people just come into the hospital, we tune them up, we put them on pharmaceuticals, then they get discharged, then they come back in a few weeks later whatever with similar complaints.
Or someone is on full blood pressure drugs and the blood pressure is still high and you’re throwing your hands up in the air and saying, “Why is this happening?”
Around that same time, I also witnessed the demise of my father. My father was a very successful cardiologist in Chicago and he passed away at the age of 62 from a Parkinson’s like illness. I saw what was going on with my father and even the doctors [inaudible] had no idea.
I saw what was going on in my practice and then I meet this woman, who I was introduced to. And I meet this woman and for one thing, she’s very attractive and she’s very fit and had a lot of similar interest to me as far as outdoor activities and stuff like that, and she’s a doctor of chiropractic.
She starts telling me about all these different things like the pharmaceuticals are killing people and our procedures are dangerous and more worthless and basically to become a DC, a doctor of cause and figure out why these people have these issues.
She’s saying all these stuff to me and Ari, it was like our first date when she was dropping these bombshells on us. I started to listen. When I saw what happened to my father, to the practice, and what she said, it made perfect sense.
I started to read, started to learn, started going to conferences, change my own practice, and then opened up my own practice in Arizona in 2012, Wolfson Integrative Cardiology together with my wife and I had The Drs.Wolfson and the rest is history.
Ari Whitten: Awesome. I love that. I want to interject a little thing here, which is that I actually spent a couple years in medical school myself. I thought I wanted to be an MD and so did all my pre-med stuff, went to school to become an MD and then basically realized I hated it from the first week and literally was on the phone with my family every week going, “I hate it here. I want to come home.”
The reason why was that I had spent the previous 10 years studying nutrition. My older brother was a personal trainer and then became a chiropractor. So I was heavily influenced by those paradigms.
I’d already been studying nutrition for a decade at that point. I was a personal trainer, a nutritionist, that was my wheelhouse holistic health, natural health and then I went to medical school and the next thing I know I’m in the hospital seeing patients with heart disease and diabetes, which I knew were diseases of lifestyle. And here I am in medical school receiving zero education.
I mean literally no classes whatsoever on nutrition, no classes whatsoever on the lifestyle factors that actually cause and contribute to these diseases, and seeing people in the hospital as I’m shadowing the physicians there who are treating people with these conditions, these diseases of lifestyle, and just prescribing them one drug after another, after another.
Seeing obese people with heart disease literally on 15 or 18 different prescription medications who are being taught nothing about nutrition and lifestyle.
For me having studied that stuff for a decade already, it was just madness. It was literally insane to be in that situation. It became intolerable to me and at a certain point, I said: ”I’m done with this, I’m going to go help people the way that I think is right to help people, I don’t want to be a part of this paradigm.”
How chiropractors are often viewed
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Did you think at all about going to chiropractic school? I mean, you must have.
Ari Whitten: I did. My older brother is a chiropractor and is a very good one, but there’s something interesting there too, which is that so much of the conventional thinking around really brands chiropractic as nonsense and quackery and doesn’t look at it as a prestigious thing.
So, to some extent, I was like well, why am I going to go bust my butt to go get this credential, which is not this prestigious thing where like people are going to look at me as like, “Wow he has this credential.” It now becomes a source where people can point to me and say, “Oh he’s a chiropractor. He’s a ”quack”, he’s one of those.”
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, one of my passions certainly is to bring awareness of chiropractic to the world. And to me, the doctor of chiropractic should be the primary care provider. Like whenever you think of something that’s going on, you just don’t feel right or you’re fatigued or digestion or autoimmune, you have a rash, you have a fever, or whatever it is, I like to think of as the chiropractor is the person you go see first.
The world needs more chiropractors that are adjusting 100 people a day, but the world needs more functional chiropractors. I’m not sure how your brother practice is. I think obviously if you had gotten into that space … and I’m not trying to push you into it all right? That’s for sure.
You know you’re very successful and you’re on purpose in your mission and all that stuff. But the world needs more chiropractors that are seeing 10 to 15 people a day, adjusting them but also talking about the lifestyle, what I call the chiropractic lifestyle. Maybe that’s similar to the paleo lifestyle.
I know that the pediatricians have it wrong. I know that the general internist and the family practitioners, the MDs and even DOs, they just don’t have it right. It’s the doctor of chiropractic. Not all of them, but let’s try and get them really to assume that role and I think it’s really their calling to do so, and I’m here to promote them to that. I’ve just seen both sides. I’ve seen medical side, I’ve seen the natural side.
Ari, I’m sure you’re going to appreciate this, how cool would it be on that first day of medical school if they would have said, “Hey listen, we’ve got you for four years. We’ve got all your money. We’ve got all your time. We’re going to teach you all these drugs, and all these different procedures, and all this sickness, and make you memorize 20 different forms of hepatitis, but we want you to understand that everything health wise, every ill health is because of poor nutrition and environmental pollutants.” Wouldn’t be so cool if they would have just preempted everything and just put it all in perspective?
I would have found it amazing because I was raised in a drug family. Like I said, my father was a cardiologist. I never had any natural inkling like you and spent 10 years. I didn’t do any of that stuff. I just went straight through the whole system and it’s deplorable and people ask me now they’re like, “Well, I’m into nutrition, I’m into health and wellness, but I want to be a medical doctor. I’ll take from them what I can and then I’ll treat people naturally.” I’m like, “What a waste of time and money. You don’t need to learn their stuff. They need to learn our stuff.
The challenges holistic practitioners often face
Ari Whitten: Yeah, 100% and it sounds almost audacious to say that, but it’s 100% true. Again it is literally insane to have this enormous burden of chronic disease, epidemics of various chronic diseases that are diseases of lifestyle and then to be educating millions of physicians and taking them through four years of medical school and literally not having them go through a single class on nutrition or lifestyle. It is literally the height of insanity and I hope people listening can get a sense of that.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: I went through four years of medical school, three years of internal medicine, three years of cardiology. That’s 10 years after college I was in training and we never talked about any of it. We never talked about nutrition, we never talked about sleep and the importance of sunshine and relaxation and yoga and meditation and Tai chi.
The only time we would ever talk about any of those modalities would be to make fun of them.
Ari Whitten: It’s a bunch of woo woo quackery with no science behind it. Only the drugs have science.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: When people laugh about my book and they’re like, “Yeah, Wolfson was this good cardiologist that met this chiropractor and he went off the deep end and then he wrote this book, The Paleo Cardiologist. He’s crazy.”
I have 300 references in my book. So, if you’re insulting me you’re insulting all of the people that wrote the original literature. The MDs and the PhDs who the original stuff. You’re not inventing much these days, your concepts I think are fantastic and really game-changing stuff and the information is great. But what we’re talking about really is just commonsensical things that most of it has evidence for and if it doesn’t it’s just common sense.
You know, should we eat like our ancestors did for millions of years? Yeah, that makes sense. Then when the sky is blue we breathe air and we eat our ancestral foods, and that’s how it rolls.
How the different paradigms and conceptualizations of causes and treatment of heart disease cause controversy among cardiologists
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. I want to get into some cardiology specific stuff with you because we have this weird history around cardiology and different paradigms and conceptualizations of the causes and best treatments for heart disease.
There is so much controversy and debate even today as of 2017, there are still quite a bit of debate and controversy over a lot of these concepts. I have another friend who is a holistic cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn who I’m sure you know of. I am sure that you even have some ideas that probably he would not necessarily agree with or vice versa. I don’t know to what extent you guys are exactly on the same page but some of these ideas I think are still controversial.
Am I right about that?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah. Certainly, you have this controversy between holistic and of course the medical side and even amongst the holistic cardiologists, and I do know Joel very well. Joel is a very smart, very funny, very well read cardiologist. I think of him as like an older brother. Joel’s great.
I think he’s mistaken on the best nutrition plan and Joel is a vegan cardiologist. And then, not to pick on Joel, the other place I would differ from Joel is that he’s a fan of doing a screening CT scan looking for coronary artery disease and coronary calcification.
I am anti-radiation, anti-CT scanning. I think we can get it from different places but bless Joel. He’s trained a lot of doctors; he’s a good man, but …
Even amongst the holistic doctors a lot of controversies. You get the vegan crowd, you get keto crowd, you get the paleo crowd, Mediterranean diet, then you get of course the guidelines that come down from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association that are totally fraudulent and owned by big pharmaceutical companies and big AG that want us to be sick.
To me once again it just comes down to what have we been doing for millions of years. Why reinvent the wheel?
Eat tons of vegetables, eat free range grass fed meat, eat wild seafood, nuts seeds, eggs, avocados, coconuts, olives, and eat some fruit not too much. Eat lots of spices, eat some organ meat whenever possible, eat fermented foods.
Those are the basics, but I do think that the vegan is definitely deficient in obviously omega3 DHA, EPA, and … we test their levels and they are deficient in that, they’re deficient in B12, deficient in certain amino acids.
Once again Ari, why try and reinvent what we’ve been doing for millions of years?
The relation between cholesterol and heart disease
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So let’s dig into some of the specifics here. I think let’s start with just the whole idea of cholesterol as being the cause of heart disease. A lot of people are still operating under this notion of cholesterol is the cause of heart disease or more specifically LDL. I know that there are a lot of controversies specifically on this point of kind of the role of LDL or different kind of some types of LDL. What’s the deal there? What does the evidence actually say as far as the role of cholesterol and LDL in heart disease?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, and I talked about this. This is chapter one in my book because I want everyone to understand the truth about cholesterol and obviously, they’re not going to get it from the medical doctor. When you stand up in front of a crowd where you’re speaking to them or you’re on a podcast and anyone is listening to us now or watching us now when you think of cholesterol, what do you think about? What comes to your mind?
Typically what comes to most people’s mind when I’m speaking in a crowd is heart attack, stroke, cheesy yellow plaque, that’s blocking up my arteries, dying. That’s what they think about when they think about cholesterol.
What I teach of course is that cholesterol is necessary in our body, that’s why our body makes it. That’s why every animal species on earth makes cholesterol. It’s doing it for a reason. There are no mistakes in the human body. The human body only reacts to its environment, it’s how that rolls.
So cholesterol is very important. Of course, cholesterol travels around in the body on a bus, and that bus is the LDL. There is also HDL buses and the LDL buses and all these different other lipoprotein carriers. So when the testicles want to make more testosterone or the ovaries want to make more estrogen, they call out to the liver and say, “Hey, send out more cholesterol. So, that LDL bus takes off and brings cholesterol down to the ovaries and testes and wherever else it needs to go to get the job done.
So once again we need cholesterol, we need LDL. We want to make sure we have good quality LDLs. We want to get measured for LDL particle number, particle size, what I call state of the art 2018 testing as opposed to the 1970s technology. When my dad was in training in the 1970s that was the testing that was available. Total cholesterol LDL and HDL triglycerides, and now we can do so much more advanced to data that really, really tells us what our specific risk is and then we can do something about that risk.
Once again, cholesterol forms our hormones, cholesterol forms vitamin D, cholesterol is for our digestion, cholesterol is for our brain, and it’s in every cell membrane. So this is a very, very important molecule that we need.
Then Ari, what I’m all about is listen, live the right lifestyle and then you find perfect lipid level for you. So, Ari, you’re different from me and you’re different from Joel and different from the man in the moon. Everybody is different and we have to find our perfect numbers then we’ll function at our best.
Ari Whitten: So does overall LDL, just straight LDL really tell you a lot or do you have to look at some of these subtypes of LDL and particle sizes to really get good insight?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: No, you definitely look at the particle size. The best number to look at really when you examine the science as the ratio, it’s called the apoB, apoA ratio and apoBs are the stitching that you call the transition of the LDL from a bus to a baseball.
The LDL baseball, the stitching of that is apoB and of an HDL is the apoA stitching. So if you look at the ratio of those two, that B to A ratio, if you have it less than 0.6, you’re at the lowest risk amongst the lipids and that’s a much, much, much better indicator than total cholesterol, total LDL, isolated LDL particles. The best ratio is you want that apoB apoA ratio and that’s the most informative.
And then, of course, you can look at markers of inflammation and other things to hone in on what your risk is and then there are supplements and lifestyle, things you can do to modify the abnormal lipids and if the lipids are abnormal you’ve got to look for why is that happening.
Because, once again, the body’s doing it for a reason and the lipid particles LDLs, HDLs, they’re a huge part of the immune system. So if your immune system is an overdrive you’re likely going to have high lipids, so the answer, of course, is not to take statin drugs to lower the number down. The answer is to find out why your immune system is in overdrive.
Ari Whitten: You preempted my next question there, but basically how does your paradigm differ from the conventional paradigm. The conventional paradigm being sort of a … well, let me put it this way. It sounds to me like you pretty much agree with the conventional paradigm in the sense that these lipid numbers do matter and they are good indicators of heart disease risk and so on, but where you differ is as far as what should be done about that fact.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah, most definitely yeah. I would be foolish to say that total cholesterol, according to MRFIT trial from the 1970s, when total cholesterol is above 260, your risk of dying goes up. Above 260. When your total cholesterol is below 160, your risk of dying also goes up.
So you want to be somewhere in that sweet spot of 160 to 260 in the total cholesterol. Frankly, anything below 160 in the LDL you’re typically in a pretty decent category, but once again you really need those advanced measurements to see where you’re at and that once again it identifies risk.
Then you’re right, what you do with that risk now is where the holistic doctor differs from the medical doctor. But frankly a lot of medical doctors right, they don’t even care what your lipid number is. They just think you’re Ari Whitten, you’re above 40 years of age if you truly are, I’m not sure, and take Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor.
That’s what they think. It’s easiest for them to think that way. It’s financially set up for them to think that way. The drug reps want it that way, the American College of Cardiology wants it that way. So the whole system is geared, and that’s why I have done videos where I say statin drugs are killing millions of people because what happens when people take statin drugs they allow them to a false sense of complacency. I know this because I sat in the room with these guys and I said the same thing.
Who cares what you eat, who cares about your lifestyle, just take Lipitor and you’ll be fine. That approach is moronic and that leads to a lot of people dying.
Why using statins as a medication for high cholesterol is a moronic approach, according to Dr. Jack Wolfson
Ari Whitten: Let’s dig into that a bit more for people who may not understand why you say that. Why is that approach moronic? What’s wrong with taking … let’s say I go to the doctor and I have a bad profile of lipids and they say you’re at a high risk of heart disease. Let’s get you on statins. Why should I not do that?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Great question. What we know from the statin data is that statins lower your lipid numbers down. That’s for sure. Statins work very well to do so. But because they do so, you don’t get any awards for having low cholesterol, low LDL. You want to know if I take this pill, is this going to reduce my chance of having a heart attack, stroke, and dying.
A lot of studies say that there is no mortality benefit for statin drugs, therefore it doesn’t save lives. In fact, there was a recent trial called the All Heart Trial that got just about no publicity from the Spring of 2017. I’d be happy to send the link Ari-
Ari Whitten: Yeah, please.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: … is that people 75 and older had a 34% higher risk of dying if they took statin drugs, while people 65 and older and an 8% higher chance of dying if they took statin drugs. That was one trial-
Ari Whitten: Is that risk of dying specifically from cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah, that was all-cause mortality. What we want to say is that even if we take the best data on statins and we say that statins reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and dying over the next four years, and it takes that risk for example from 7% down to 5.5%.
Now, the pharmaceutical companies they look at that and say, “Hey, look at us we reduced heart attack risk by 18%. The way I look at that is I look at it as a failure because I know you want people in your tribe not to have a 7% or a 5.5% we want, our tribe at 0%.
We know they cannot offer that and we can, which is a good thing. It’s a very empowering thing.
Like I said is that, they do these statin trials on people that are eating McDonald’s cookies and cupcakes. These people are not getting the right information and I think when you and I spread that information through our various avenues, then people are going to learn the truth it’s very exciting.
When it comes to prevention, the medical doctors truly have nothing. They have nothing. Aspirin is not prevention. Statin drugs are prevention. Doing stress tests and angiogram you’re not preventing anything. When it comes to prevention it’s all through nutrition and lifestyle.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, beautiful. You gave this example of the 7% versus 5.5%. I’m aware of a lot of shady stuff that goes on with how they manipulate statistics to sound more impressive and I think with statins, in particular, there’s been a lot of stuff that I’ve read around NNT, number needed to treat. You get these obscenely high number need to treat and then they manipulate the statistics in a way that it sounds a lot more impressive than it is. Are you familiar with that kind of stuff at all?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, there’s a lot of different things at play. What I’m all about are and also my book is that I’m not telling people not to take statin drugs. I kind of am, and obviously, I intimate that what I’m telling people is, here’s the truth, that a statin drug takes you from here to here, how do we do better than that?
So, I want to give people the data. And like you said, number needed to treat is a fantastic statistics to be able to get people to understand that if the number needed to treat means that you need 60 people to take a drug for one person to get benefits, and those 60 people take the drug every single day for three years, four years, five years, whatever the study duration. And you get people to understand that and say, “Hey, that means 59 out of 60 people didn’t get the benefit. One out of sixty did. And you know what, you may be that one out of sixty and if you believe that, then go ahead and take the drug.
But if you want to different approach, come to my office, read my book, read natural literature, pay attention to what other people are doing and you’ll be much better off than that one in sixty. Who wants to take their chances that they’re the one in sixty?
I know it’s not good enough for me. I saw what happened to my father. I saw what Lipitor did to my father’s brain. I’ve seen a lot of brains damaged by statins. It’s unnatural, it is dangerous, and, fundamentally, it’s not addressing the cause.
How a lot of people are focusing on the wrong aspect when treating heart disease
Ari Whitten: There’s still a lot of people that I find are … even if they’re more in the natural health community, they still operate in this paradigm of, “Oh I got my cholesterol measured and the numbers don’t look so good. How do I fix my cholesterol and my LDL? The doctor wants to put me on statins, how do I fix the numbers naturally?”
Instead, it’s still not totally focused on like how do I actually reduce my risk of heart disease and dying. It’s how do I fix the numbers. To me, there’s a distinction there that’s really important kind of getting people out of this mindset of it’s all about fixing the numbers and shifting them more towards focusing on the end point of actually reducing risk of heart disease.
How to reverse cholesterol naturally
But what do you say to someone who comes to you and says, “How do I fix my cholesterol numbers naturally? What kinds of natural supplements can I take to fix these numbers?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, I think there’s a lot of different things to do to once again find your perfect paleo numbers or caveman cholesterol. It starts with eating the right foods.
When you eat the right foods, good gut health, no more leaky gut, all those kind of things. So eat the right foods, getting sleep, our ancestors went to sleep with the sun down and woke up at the sunrise. Something that is so foreign to most people now that artificial light that we are all in and all bathing in is just absolutely destroying body function, elevates lipids etc., leads to inflammation.
And then when our ancestors were not sleeping, they were awake, and they were in the sunshine, and they were naked. So for anyone who’s listening, think about the last time you were naked in the sun. If you want to tell that story, write it and send them to Ari and Ari read the stories about you being naked in the sun.
It’s really cool because right before cholesterol becomes cholesterol it is something known as 7-dehydrocholesterol. This 7-dehydrocholesterol is coursing through the body and coursing through the capillaries of the skin, and when the sun hits that 7-dehydrocholesterol, it turns it into Vitamin D.
So a lot of times elevated cholesterol is actually a sunshine deficiency. So what we want to do is we want to get people into the sun. People living upstate New York and they come to see me from Minnesota and from Canada, they say, “Dr. Wolfson, what do I do? I live in upstate New York, Minnesota, Canada, what do I do?” I say, “Move to Arizona.” It’s sunny in Arizona 450 days a year. It’s sunny here at night. That’s my best answer, Ari.
We clearly know that the data shows that people that live closest to the equator have the lowest total cholesterol. People that live at elevation and tend to get more sunshine and more unobstructed UVA, UVB to a transformation from 7-dehydrocholesterol into Vitamin D.
Once you get elevation leads to lower cholesterol levels. People closest to the equator have the lowest cardiovascular risk for a multitude of reasons, but one of those reasons may be once again because they’re making all that vitamin D from the sunshine instead of excess cholesterol.
So relaxation, sleep, physical activity obviously improves the lipid profile, and then yeah there’s a lot of different evidence-based supplements that work. And whether or not it’s the original statin drug which is red yeast rice, which I don’t use a lot of. I don’t use a lot of time release niacin to modify the panel.
One of my big favorites is something known as berberine. I’m sure you’re very familiar with berberine. Berberine has been studied by the Chinese for 75 years. It does some amazing things as far as activating certain enzymes that help to improve lipid numbers, that help to control blood sugar.
There are over 400 studies on PubMed about how berberine kills cancer. How it’s very good for the gastrointestinal tract. Berberine actually has been shown to heal leaky gut. So there’s a lot of things we could do.
And then, of course, adding fiber to the diet. Another one my favorites Ari is spirulina. Spirulina has been studied and randomized clinical trials to lower total cholesterol by 47 points. You and I were just talking about how it’s not about … don’t lower your numbers, don’t lower your numbers, it’s about, you may be deficient and these natural forms of algae such as chlorella and spirulina and kelp and on and on, you need to be eating those things. So go ahead and eat those things. And therefore your lipids will find where they need to be.
Fiber foods and organic psyllium husk powder is a good binder of lipids the gut.
If you’re trying to maximize your panel, say listen, I follow the Energy Blueprint, I follow it 95% of the time. I can’t get that last 5% and because of that, I’ve got some abnormal numbers. How do I modify the numbers? That’s where evidence-based supplements supplement a healthy lifestyle.
The side effects of a healthy lifestyle versus an unhealthy lifestyle
Ari Whitten: Right. Got you. One thing I’ll add to that is when you start to do a lot of these things that you’re recommending whether sun exposure or exercise, the nutritional intervention, sleep interventions, supplements like spirulina or things of that nature.
There’s a qualitative difference with these compared to let’s say statins or other prescription drugs in that with the prescription drugs we have a list of potential negative side effects that co-occur with those things.
When you start doing lifestyle interventions, and nutritional interventions, and sleep interventions, you also get side effects but they are positive side effects. You have a host of other beneficial things that co-occur with the changes in lipid numbers whereas with statins you have maybe changes and lipid numbers but then you have to worry about, oh is it going to damage my mitochondria? Is it going to deplete Co-Q 10? Am I going to be one of those people that suffer neurological issues or muscle weakness on and on and on?
I think there’s a point to emphasize there about this just kind of the fundamental difference between natural lifestyle interventions versus drug interventions.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah, most certainly like you said because there’s no evidence to say that statins cure cancer or prevent cancer or prevent Alzheimer’s or prevent this and that. When you’re eating the right foods and you’re living the right lifestyle, that’s where you prevent everything else.
You prevent heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, brain disease, you name it. And it’s very exciting. Once again, for doctors like myself and Joel Kahn and [inaudible] and obviously Stephen Sinatra is one of the founding fathers of holistic cardiology. Once again, we know the other side, and we know the other side to be an abysmal failure. This is where we can make some major difference.
How a chiropractor can save you from a heart attack
Think about someone who’s in the acute phase … let me tell you this, I was doing a podcast with someone else a few months ago and he’s got a huge following and he’s like, “Oh I hate when chiropractors call themselves real doctors. Like, if you’re on an airplane and someone needs a doctor, a chiropractor shouldn’t raise their hand. If the person on a plane is having a heart attack, they want a cardiologist like you. Right, Dr. Jack?” And I’m like, “Oh my god, you’re throwing chiropractic under the bus. I just told you my wife is a chiropractor and now you’re …” All my good friends. I lost all my medical buddies, now they’re all chiropractors, now you’re insulting them all. And if it was Heather, my wife, Ari, she would have jumped through Skype or Zoom and like strangled this guy. She would have strangled him. And I’m like, “No, he’s got a big following, let me try and pass a different way.”
If someone’s having a heart attack on a plane, what can Dr. Jack Wolfson do as a cardiologist? Nothing? What am I going to do? I’m going to call 911, “Hey land the plane soon so we can get them to an …” what am I going to do?
Yet, a doctor of chiropractic can adjust that person. Cervical adjustments, thoracic adjustment, and by doing so you can influence autonomic tone, parasympathetics, sympathetic. If you can decrease sympathetic, increase parasympathetic, maybe that blood vessel will open up a little bit. Maybe that blood vessel will now open up so now blood gets through and you avert a major heart attack.
When I told that to the podcaster, he was blown away. He was like, “Wow, I never really thought of it that way.” And I do. I think once again that there are so many different avenues that have evidence. Whether it’s yoga or it’s massage, different relaxation techniques, chiropractic, all these different things that we can do to really keep the body healthy.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. A couple more specifics I want to ask you about where there’s a lot of confusion and debate. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fats. These are two separate issues but these have often been connected with cholesterol levels and ultimately heart disease. I know a lot of the vegan docs are still very opposed to consumption of dietary cholesterol, egg yolks, and red meat, and saturated fat from animal foods and so on and really still preach that these things are contributors to heart disease, whereas we have a lot of the people in the low carb and the keto movements and those spaces saying, “Oh all that stuff is nonsense. It’s already been debunked and none of it is true and none of that is … butter is a superfood and just makes you healthier and doesn’t contribute to heart disease in any way. What’s going on there, what’s your take on that whole thing?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, listen, I think once … what’s worked for millions of years will work for us now. People talk about being plant-based. I’m plant based too. I’ve got a paleo pyramid and I have my paleo pyramid in my book. The foundation is vegetables. I eat vegetables for breakfast. I do greens drinks every morning so does my wife and my two boys.
I do an organic beetroot powder every day and beetroot is a natural nitrate which just turns into nitric oxide and opens up blood vessels. I have vegetables for my lunch and vegetables with my dinner, and love vegetables. But the reality is we do need to eat some, certainly, seafood and, certainly, some free range breastfed meats would be appropriate for any diets. I think the problem once again is sugar.
I think the problem is all the heavy carbs and I’ve got thousands of patients to prove it and I do the most advanced lab testing in the world and we get people on appropriate paleo nutrition, and you want to call it paleo or primal, some of it is similar to keto.
When he died of our ancestors you will do very well. How could a coconut be unhealthy? It makes no sense. A coconut has so much nutrition. An avocado is a loaded with fats. How can that be unhealthy? Olives, everybody knows olives are healthy. The Mediterranean diet is the most proven out of any of them and it’s loaded with olives and olive oil, yet you have people that continue to profess this low fats starvation diet. And the world is full of recovering vegans, it’s just not appropriate.
Ari, listen, I donate a lot of money, my wife and I donate a lot of money to animal charities, animal rescues. I got my dog right here next to me. I rescue lab mix. We love animals, but if we’re having a conversation about the ultimate weight of health about our appropriate ancestral diets, it is by eating the foods that our ancestors did and those are paleo foods.
But listen; there is American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010, another review in 2014. These are reviews with hundreds of thousands of patients that say heart disease has nothing to do with saturated fat. Breast milk is loaded with saturated fat. Are we’re trying to kill babies? If it’s good for a baby, why isn’t it good for me? I’m ought to be kidding for adult to drink breast milk, but I’m talking about saturated fat. I don’t see in any way, shape, or form how fish, seafood, free range grass fed meats are the problem.
I think the problem is all the processed carbs and all the sugars, and I think a lot of eating people agree with that as well. But if you look at like the engine number two and the firefighter and Caldwell Esselstyn and stuff like that. They’re just putting together packaged crap full of artificial ingredients and synthetic processed foods and it’s just not healthy and I want to go and get the patients to prove it.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, 100%. I think for the people with integrity everybody is pretty much in agreement that processed stuff is problematic and we need to move towards whole foods, and then there’s some debate about what kinds of whole foods to include or not include.
What’s your take on processed fats? There’s a lot of people in the keto movement now who are consuming large amounts of refined fats and oils in quite large doses that are not typical of any known hunter-gatherer tribe that has been studied. Just as an example, some of these keto people are advocating diets that are 70 or 80% fat and as far as the macro-nutrient ratio, there isn’t the population on earth that eats anywhere close to that. Not even the Inuit don’t even eat … they’re maxing out at a 50% fat. I’m curious what your take is on the keto movements as.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah, I would agree with you. I think that there are some interesting benefits to keto. But I think you can see the same benefits if you follow Paleo. Just as much as high-carb is not the answer. That extreme high fat is not the answer either. I think it’s a sexy idea. I think it may be okay for one to get a cleanse or a detox. But yes, spooning in processed fats, unnatural fats, I don’t believe that’s the answer.
Listen, when I was a cardiology fellow in 2000, I heard the debate between Dean Ornish, a low-fat diet guy, and Robert Atkins a low carb guy. Atkins did have a lot of that in him as well as far as spooning in soybean oil and he had no idea as far as organic and quality and all those things.
Once again if you fill yourself up full of vegetables, eat some wild seafood, eat the free range grass fed meats, find what works for you perfectly, I think that’s the best way to do it. Finally, what I talk about in my book is that no matter what diet you follow, make it organic. So even if you get off this podcast and you’re like, “Wow, Ari and Jack were just talking about ice cream, fine.”
Go get organic free range grass fed Straus’s ice cream. If chocolate is your thing, go eat organic chocolate. If you drink coffee, go drink organic coffee.
All these things you get everything you love but none of the chemicals, and I think that makes a big difference.
But when I was speaking of paleo effects a couple of years ago, and I’m talking to some of these people and listening to one of these other lectures and they’re just like, “Food quality doesn’t matter. You can go to you know Sizzler and have a steak or you can have a burger king or double whopper a whole divine.” I’m not even anywhere near that.
We’re all about organic. I’m always organic, I’m always gluten-free, I’m always soy free. I think that’s a pretty good lesson. Some of these vegan people that are cool with eating wheat and stuff like that, I do a leaky gut panels on people every single day I find gluten sensitivity in two-thirds of my people, I can’t find leaky gut. I find vegan people with leaky gut, with inflammation, and obviously no levels of Omega DHA, and it’s a problem.
Heavy metals and heart disease
Ari Whitten: Yeah. We’ve delved into a lot of specifics here on heart disease. Specifically, I would love to have you maybe paint the full picture of the … I would say like your whole vision of maybe all the causes or all of the major causes of heart disease and if you want to go even more broad like most chronic disease. I know that there are certain things that I’ve heard you talk about elsewhere.
Things like heavy metals and toxins in the environment. What does that whole picture look like and how does it contrast to the conventional view of the causes of heart disease?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, when I started going through the medical literature to write my book, and I wrote a chapter called Heavy Metal Madness, and I talk about lead and mercury and arsenic and cadmium and aluminum. And I talk about the danger that they present, and I open up the medical literature and it’s all over the place.
There are so many studies that talk about these toxic metals and cardiovascular risks, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, you name it. And it was like, well, why aren’t any of the cardiologist talking about this when I go to the national meetings or I sit in a boardroom with my partners in the old practice why aren’t we talking about this? And it’s just because there’s nothing for us to do about it.
Cardiologists say, “There’s nothing I could do about it. The treatment of it doesn’t make me any money, so why bother?”
Once you start reading about things like BPA and phthalates and other environmental pollutants and toxins and you’re just blown away at what this does as far as causing problems, and yeah, that’s what I do in my practice.
I wrote the book The Paleo Cardiologist, it’s 17 chapters and only two of which have to do with nutrition. The rest is about environmental pollutants, the rest is about getting appropriate sleep. People that don’t sleep appropriately. People that sleep six hours and less have a much higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
People that once again don’t get sunshine, you don’t make vitamin D. You don’t get sunshine, you don’t make melatonin. You don’t get sunshine, you don’t make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is stored in the skin in the form of nitrates and then the sun hits it and it gets converted into nitric oxide, the body’s main [inaudible] violator.
Stress, I have a whole chapter called One Nation Under Prozac. Sorry, I keep mentioning my book but hey, what the hell, right? It’s One Nation Under Prozac and it’s all about how everybody is just inundated with these drugs.
The drugs don’t work, and when you have mental health issues, stress, anger, anxiety, depression, those markedly accelerate your cardiovascular risk. Once again the answer is not some SSRI pharmaceutical, the answer is trying to get that out of your life as much as possible, and then give your body the nutrients it needs to get the job done.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, well said. I think to contrast this with the conventional paradigm, the conventional paradigm seems to be mostly like, well, we know that these lipid profiles cause or contribute to heart disease and then for the most part they seem to not be all that interested in the causes of those abnormal lipid profiles or really spend a lot of time talking about that from what I can gather.
And then it seems to be, let’s take a statin drug to modify the lipid profiles and then by virtue of modifying that, we will have lowered your risk of heart disease.
Whereas what you’re saying is, well, let’s look at the causes of those abnormal lipid profiles and the causes of heart disease mortality and let’s address those causes, and fix all of those factors. This comprehensive nutrition and lifestyle overhaul. Is that pretty accurate?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Certainly, the cardiologist thinks once again that we are born already deficient in statin drugs. Heart disease is a statin drug deficiency and then aspirin deficiency, and cancer is a deficiency of chemotherapy, and anxiety, stress, depression, is a deficiency in SSRIs and prozacs.
Obviously, that’s not true.
Another thing that bothers me is when people talk about genetics and they say, “Oh well, I have a family history.” Everybody’s got a family history of cancer, heart disease, and dementia these days. Everybody does. We’re built pretty darn perfectly. Evolution has given us amazing things where you and I can see and touch and feel and run and jump.
We can do all these amazing things, why would we be genetically programmed to have a heart attack or to have cancer? It makes no sense at all, and we’re the only animal species where this happens.
One my favorite go to things is the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks as you know he works for FedEx, he’s in a plane crash, he winds up on the island with the volleyball Wilson. All he does in that island is he eats coconuts, fish, get sunshine, and get sleep.
I think that if we all lived on that island, get a fresh clean environment, no environmental toxins, we’re eating the right foods, we’re getting the sunshine, we’re getting the sleep, or are physically active, we would live forever. We would live forever.
The genetic theory is a failure that in the mid-90s when I was going through my medical training and everybody talked about the human genome project, and we’re going to learn all these stuff. Yeah, what we learned is that it’s not genetics. It’s all about how the environment influences our genetics. You know all that as well.
Still, 90 plus percent of medical doctors don’t understand a freaking word that you and I are saying right now. They just don’t get it and certainly, they refuse to get it as well.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. There’s one more point I want to add to that, which is a lot of people who are maybe outside of holistic and integrative health world, perceive things to be this kind of black and white thing where MDs are in possession of the real science and they’re the ones who are really like doing true science when it comes to health, and whose work is actually based on the scientific evidence. And then, everybody else talking about nutrition and lifestyle and all this stuff. That’s all quackery. It’s all alternative. There isn’t really science there.
Hopefully, what people can gather from listening to this is there actually is a huge amount of evidence on nutritional factors and how that relates to not just heart disease but lots of different diseases. On sleep and circadian rhythm, on psychological stress and interventions for psychological stress, on sunshine, and all of these different lifestyle factors, on heavy metals.
The importance of education
There actually is a huge amount of evidence. It’s not just speculation and quackery. It’s just all evidence that has been disconnected from conventional medicine. They are not educated in any of that. For the most part, they’re educated in that science or they’re not learning about those things and learning what to do about them, they’re just in a totally different paradigm that is disconnected from all of those bodies of evidence that is all about the main tools and their tool about which are drugs and surgery.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: I think that’s the beautiful thing about what you’re doing and getting the information out there to the world and letting people know, “Hey there’s another way to do this.” I think people are getting educated, they’re getting smart, and they’re learning the truth.
They’re learning the facts. Like I said about the statin drugs and the minimal benefit if anything that they provide and fundamentally if you want to go totally conspiracy, there’s billions and billions of dollars to be made in this realm of pharmaceuticals. When you’re talking about such little differences in benefit it’s a possibility some of the data is fraudulent.
I’ve done medical studies and it’s really simple to change one box here, one box there, to go along with what your wishes are. And if you’re a manager of a trillion dollar, half-billion dollars, or a half a trillion dollar pharmaceutical company, this is big business and you better get good results or publish good results. Studies that are done now with some of these trials, there are 10,000 people in the trial. We’re not going to have any trial comparing that to Zocor or to berberine. It’s not going to happen. Aspirin versus nattokinase. Or my lifestyle versus someone else’s lifestyle.
It’s not going to happen. But there is tons of evidence out there, all you have to do is open up a book, all you have to do is open up Pubmed.gov and go search. Search some of these things, just like I was blown away by all the information that’s there so will everybody else.
Ari Whitten: On that note, I would love to see a study with a nutrition lifestyle intervention compared to just somebody put on a statin drug or the typical array of different prescription drugs that someone with a bad lipid profile might be prescribed. To my knowledge, no study like that exists.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Yeah. When you do studies like that it can be difficult as far as all the different confounding factors that are there. Let’s just take it back to the school of common sense, and if people don’t want to believe common sense and they don’t want to believe the evolutionary lifestyle, well then, go take your statin drug and best of luck.
Hopefully, you don’t get any major side effects. Hopefully, you are the one out of sixty who gets benefits. Yeah, good luck with that. Listen, obviously in my practice I see people all the time with complications from statin drugs that sometimes never go away.
Medical doctors are bullies. At least we’ve got a five-minute office visit, “Come on in. Hey great to see you, here’s your statin drug, get a stress test on the way out and we’ll see you later after the angiogram.” I talk about all those procedures in my book and I give the evidence. It’s [inaudible] cardiologists and we sat there Ari not talking about the latest medical literature.
We talked about how we make more money. That’s what we talked about. How we make more money. Doctors in general I think are good people, I don’t want to throw everybody under the bus, but the reality is we’ve got loans to pay, we’ve got mortgages, we’ve got kids that need to go to college, we need to make money, and cardiology is a money factory, conventional oncology and chemotherapy is a money factory, and there’s a better way and the world is waking up to it, which is really exciting.
What to do if you are on statins and want to use the holistic approach to healing
Ari Whitten: Awesome. Two more quick questions for you. One is can … well, actually before we go to that one…
If somebody comes to you who is on statin drugs, do you tell them to get off? Do you sometimes tell them to stay on, but also do lifestyle interventions? Do you have a general policy on that or …? I’m just thinking for listeners to this who are maybe already on statin drugs and their doctor told them yes you need to go on statin, statins are great, we have evidence to show that they work and maybe now are listening and are confused about what to do. Do you have any just kind of quick words for them on …?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, I think you’re right Ari. There are some people that would just say, “You know what, keep me in the medical matrix and I’m all good.” There are some people that would go in the totally different direction and say, “I’m not taking anything unless I’m dying,” and then there are people in the middle that say, “You know what, maybe I want the best of both worlds. Maybe I want to do everything you guys are talking about and I’m going to continue with the drug.”
In my practice, obvious some people that come to see me are looking for a holistic approach and most people are interested in getting off drugs. I don’t feel that statin drugs have any role in health. So I don’t prescribe them at all unless I’ve been speaking to them for a while and once again they’re in that same area already where they say, “You know what, I’m doing everything you’re doing, but I want to continue with my statin drug.” Then I’ll be okay with that. I’m not like, “Hey, get out of my practice.” I’m not like that.
But I will say I have very, very few people that are still on statin drugs and they’re interested in a better way.
For those people that come to see me, my goal is to get people off pharmaceuticals. I want them off statin drugs. I want them off blood pressure drugs. I want them off drugs for heartburn. I want them off all drugs because they’re worthless.
It’s not that I necessarily hate pharmaceuticals just for hate sake, they have a place in an emergency, but for people for primary prevention they are worthless. So let’s just come up with a better approach.
Ari Whitten: In the context of prevention of diseases of lifestyle.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Oh no doubt and listen, diseases of lifestyle is pretty much everything, right? It’s heart disease, it’s stroke, it’s brain disease, it’s autoimmune disease, it’s cancer, these are all manmade diseases. These diseases were not around. They are not in native population. Weston and Price documented that in the 1920s. The explorers in the 1600s, 1700s when they came across the Indians, what even modern day paleo people, they’re not sick like we are and we’re sick for all those reasons and the more you modify those reasons, the better your health is going to be.
Dr. Jack Wolfson on how to reverse heart disease naturally
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. So last question, can heart disease be reversed?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Well, most certainly so. When you talk about heart disease obviously we talk about a lot of different things. Most commonly you would think of coronary artery disease, can blockages be reversed? The answer is yes, you have to live the right lifestyle, eat the right paleo foods. You have to get the sunshine, the sleep, the physical activity, but for example vitamin K, vitamin K pulls plaque out of the arteries and puts the calcium back into the bones.
You can look at things like curcumin, turmeric, you can look at berberine, all these things that … If you stop the ongoing inflammatory process within the body’s natural response, is to start healing itself. And as the body starts to heal or start eating away at that excess material that is being formed in the coronary arteries but … For the most part when people say, “I’ve got 50% blockage here and a 30% there and here is the angiogram, can you reverse this?” I’m more interested really in saying, “I’m not focused on reversing it. I just want to stop it from progressing.” Because already if you have a blockage of 50% then a 60% of here and a 30% there, you can live until you’re 500 years of age. It’s not going to be a problem as long as we keep it stable where it is.
Sometimes people get into the idea of intravenous chelation as a [inaudible] and that is a fallacy. I’d wish it was true. I’d like to say it’s true, but even the original chelators they’ll tell you it’s not true. I think that we should all detox on daily basis but as far as intravenous chelation and [inaudible]… I’m not aware there’s really much in the way of any kind of [inaudible] per se. Just live the right lifestyle and you’ll live a long time.
Ari Whitten: Awesome. Well, I love your message and thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing it with people. I know about your book obviously, the Paleo Cardiologist, which people can get on Amazon. Where can people find more about your work and what you do?
Dr. Jack Wolfson: My wife and I did together The Drs. Wolfson. We have a website thedrswolfson.com. Doctors are abbreviated DRS. So thedrswolfson.com and you can find out information about my individual practice on there. We’re writing some blogs and trying to get all the information out there as well as we can and just trying to make a difference. Guys like you and I and others we got a big battle to go against because there are so many people obviously that … you just turn on the television set and you’re just inundated with pharma commercials at every opportunity or you log onto your Internet browser, whether it’s Yahoo, Google, Bing or whatever you’re on, and it’s all about trying to sell us prescription drugs.
So we’ve got a big battle ahead, but I think you and me… thanks to you we’ve got the energy to fight the good fight if you will. We’re here for the long haul. We’re here to make a difference. I’m a young father. I have a 10-year old, a five-year-old and my wife is pregnant and due any day now. I want to live. I don’t want to die like my father did at 62. I want to live a long life and that’s what I’m all about.
Ari Whitten: Awesome. Well, beautiful message. Thank you so much for sharing it and we’re going to put links to your website and your book on the show notes page for this podcast and thank you again. Really a pleasure to have you on Dr. Jack Wolfson.
Dr. Jack Wolfson: Awesome, thanks so much Ari.
How to reverse heart disease naturally with Dr. Jack Wolfson – Show Notes
What inspired Dr. Jack Wolfson to become a holistic cardiologist (1:43)
How chiropractors are often viewed (5:55)
The challenges holistic practitioners often face (9:26)
How the different paradigms and conceptualizations of causes and treatment of heart disease cause controversy among cardiologists (11:39)
The relation between cholesterol and heart disease (14:32)
Why using statins as a medication for high cholesterol is a moronic approach, according to Dr. Jack Wolfson (21:49)
How a lot of people are focusing on the wrong aspect when treating heart disease (27:11)
How to reverse cholesterol naturally (28:03)
The side effects of a healthy lifestyle versus an unhealthy lifestyle (32:20)
How a chiropractor can save you from a heart attack (34:23)
The link between saturated fat and heart disease (36:27)
Heavy metals and heart disease (43:39)
The importance of education (51:06)
What to do if you are on statins and want to use the holistic approach to healing (55:17)
Dr. Jack Wolfson on how to reverse heart disease naturally (58:05)
To learn more about Dr. Jack Wolfson and his work, go check out his website here
If you want to buy Dr. Jack Wolfson’s book The Paleo Cardiologist, you can get it on Amazon
To read the ALLHAT Study that is being mentioned by Dr. Jack Wolfson, please check it out here.