Nutrition and Hydration Blown Up!
Welcome, everybody. Time for another episode of ALIve brought to you by the Asher Longevity Institute, committed to the science based and easy to implement lifestyle changes you need in order to live a much longer and much healthier life. This show is made possible through the generous support of People Unlimited, a premier longevity company in Phoenix, Arizona. Learn more about People Unlimited and their partner longevity experts in the Coalition for Radical Life Extension at rlecoalition.com. That’s rlecoalition.com.
Susan Finch: Welcome, everybody, to another episode of ALIve Longevity Podcast. I’m your host today, Susan Finch, and I am joined by one of the co-founders of the Asher Longevity Institute, John Asher himself. And we have covered the nine steps. You have that overview. We decided that we’re going to get in really nitty gritty stuff on the various steps. And today’s step is number two, and that is all about nutrition. Beyond what you’ve read in all the books and what you see in the articles that come in Sunset magazine and living lightly and all those things, john has some practical advice and practical reasons for why he says changing your diet can change your life. John, welcome.
John Asher: Thank you. So great to be with you, Susan.
Susan Finch: Thank you. So let’s spend 20 minutes and let’s do this.
John Asher: All right. Let’s roll. So-
Susan Finch: Okay.
John Asher: Number one, there’s nine steps. By the way, when we started this four or five years ago, our title was Nine Steps Towards An Unlimited Life. Two years ago, we changed it to An Unlimited Life. And the reason is we are all so convinced that if you do all the right things essentially most of the time, then you really can have an unlimited lifespan with a robust health, right? Nobody wants to live for a long time with lousy health. So great lifespan and great health span. The last time we covered step one, which is a fundamental pillar, get eight to nine hours of sleep at night, end of discussion.
John Asher: And this time we’re going to discover step two, and that is make sure your diet is correct. A healthy diet so that you can preclude disease, infection, fatigue, and also poor performance. And it goes back, I don’t know, 5,000 years where the original doctors Hippocrates, et cetera, would say, “We are what we eat.” So that statement has been around for a long time.
John Asher: So to get started, I can remember my grandmother telling me eat of balanced meal every meal, and she wasn’t too sure what that meant, but what it really means is eat a balance of protein, good carbohydrates, typically, and unsaturated fats. And our body does not store a protein. So protein is very important for all of us. Brain function, if not thing else. And we men should have about 56 grams of it a day, and women about 46 grams a day of protein. We also will need lots of vegetables except the starches. Eat some fruit as well and try to stick to the ones that have the low sugar content called low glycemic index. And as we can, eat a lot of fatty fish, probably fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week. So that’s kind of the big picture that most people recognize. It is difficult to stay on track with that as most of us know, especially if you are eating processed foods, prepackaged foods, essentially any food where you have to look at the ingredients and see what’s in it. You know it’s not a natural food.
Susan Finch: I have a question. People always say how many grams of protein and things. When we’re thinking in our head about preparing meals and what things look like on a plate, grams of protein, of steak and pork and chicken and fish all look differently, but there’s some approximation visually. Can you just give me a word picture of, is that the size of your fist? Is it the size of the palm of your hand? I mean, that’s a pretty good in the thickness too. I think of like a turkey burger. That’s a good size portion, isn’t it?
John Asher: Actually, what the best way to think about it would be a deck of cards.
Susan Finch: Okay.
John Asher: Deck of cards is pretty close to four ounces.
Susan Finch: And the thickness too.
John Asher: Yeah.
Susan Finch: For me, that’s just easier to do.
John Asher: Oh yeah.
Susan Finch: Now I’m surprised that you said something about fatty fish. Salmon is super fatty, depending on how you cook it. We make sure all the fat comes off of it because doesn’t agree with us. But what do you mean? Why is fat good? When is fat good?
John Asher: You’re about three slides ahead of me.
Susan Finch: Okay. Then I’ll just wait for you to get to it. All right.
John Asher: Now the next related subject is hydration, and many of people have heard these some rules about how much men and women should drink every day. It’s actually though some rules you can just throw those out the window. And the reason is this. Our kidneys are extremely smart and they will make adjustment if we’re over hydrated or under hydrated within 40 seconds, 40 seconds. And you’ve probably heard that you can actually over hydrate and kill yourself by drinking 12 beers in a row, gulping them down. That sort of stupid stuff we can get into when kids are in college. And if we get of course under hydrated, then the first signal is turned on.
John Asher: And so, if you’re going to wonder how much you should drink, you should be urinating about once every two hours or so. And its color should be either white or light yellow. That’s the best thumb rule. If you’re urinating say every two to three hours and your color of your urine is neutral or light yellow, then you know you’re properly hydrated. And again, you can pretty much tell when you’re under hydrated, because you get thirsty. It’s like, duh.
Susan Finch: Well, not always. I know in my house, my son will forget to drink water and he’ll be complaining that his stomach is hurting and he is cramping up. And I’ve even had that issue too, where I, for some reason for a day or so, I just forgot to drink water. I was drinking too much coffee. And I ended up at the ER at the urgent care just to get hydrated and didn’t realize that’s what it was. And that happens with him all the time. But you’re talking about the color. When you get into the supplements when we talk about turmeric, well, that kind of affect things no matter how hydrated you are.
John Asher: True enough. Now, one thing nice about hydration is there’s a lot of water in food and all liquids count. So beer and wine count. Yay.
Susan Finch: Really?
John Asher: Yep. All liquids count. And with respect to hydration, coffee counts, everything.
Susan Finch: I was told it undid all of the water. That’s not true?
John Asher: I only drink water when I’m taking pills. That’s it. I mean, way back when I tried water once, I actually didn’t like it.
Susan Finch: Well, if you have coffee, then you have to have two glasses of water to make up for it because it dries you out. What?
John Asher: No, that’s not how you measure hydration.
Susan Finch: Okay.
John Asher: Hydration is just the total amount of liquids that you’re ingesting.
Susan Finch: Good to know.
John Asher: Now next is cooking with high temperatures. So there is a process in our body called glycation, very simple process. It’s when a fat molecule or a carbohydrate molecule or protein molecule forms with a sugar molecule. And when they get together like that, it’s a process called glycation, and it causes end products to be formed called advanced glycation end products. You may have heard the term, the acronym AGEs. So AGEs are particularly bad for us and cause chronic inflammation if we have too much, and cooking at high temperatures will essentially be a great way to get a lot of AGEs.
John Asher: So it’s kind of crazy. But if you’re grilling, boiling, roasting, sauteing, searing, toasting bacon, deep fat frying, pan frying, barbecuing, rotisserie, air frying or cooked for a long time, all of those create these AGEs. And animal foods with high of fat are most susceptible to the AGE formation. And of course the high temperature also increases according to the World Health Organization these carcinogens, and when you cook meat and high heat, it reduces the amino acids, the essential vitamins, in other words, their nutritional value.
John Asher: So here’s the dangers of AGEs. Your body naturally will eliminate AGEs to a certain point. But if your body accumulates more, if you eat too much of the AGEs, over 5,000 units, then it’ll cause chronic inflammation, which is a major risk for almost all diseases. So to give you a quick example. So remember the number 5,000. So a chicken thigh with the skin on has 16,000, bacon, 12,000, a boiled hot dog, 10,000. So example, I’m a Nationals fan, the baseball team. And so I cannot go to a ballpark without eating a hot dog. It just doesn’t work out, right? You got to have a hot dog at a baseball game. Sometimes I have two and I want to put everything on it too. But imagine if you eat one hot dog, you have blown the budget for essentially two days. So just recognize how bad it is to cook at high temperature.
Susan Finch: Well, I’m so confused then because we have to cook food at a high enough temperature so that it’s not going to make us sick like trichinosis and stuff. They can get from pork. And everybody always thinks grilling’s so great because it’s outdoors and broiling. But you’re saying this is all too high of heat. I mean, we can’t eat raw hot dogs. But how do we solve it?
John Asher: So there’s six ways to cook that get around. This one is boiling obviously, and that’s not high heat. It never goes above 212 degrees. And 300 degrees is kind of the cutoff. Poaching is another way. Stewing, steaming because again, it doesn’t go over 212 degrees, and microwaving. So when you do anything in the microwave, it never goes over 212 degrees either. So it’s those six ways are the best way to cook or slow cooking. So for example, my wife loves to roast vegetables and she used to roast them at 425 for 20 minutes as I remember. Now, she does it at 275 degrees for an hour. That’s kind of painful. She doesn’t want to do it for an hour, but she just starts earlier. That’s all. And cooks them slowly at a lower heat. And you can also reduce the AGEs formation by adding tomato juice, lemon juice, and vinegar.
John Asher: Now here’s another nail in the coffin of processed foods. All processed foods are cooked in a high temperature. Almost all. Now you asked about fats. There are two essential fatty acids. Essential means our body doesn’t make them, but we to get them with food. And one of them is omega-6 and one’s omega-3. So the body doesn’t make them but the body needs them. And the desired ratio from the body standpoint is four omega-6 to one omega-3. That’s the desired ratio. If you’re eating a Western diet with lots of processed food, that ratio is 16 to one. In other words, much more omega-6. And that higher ratio is related to all major diseases.
John Asher: Now, one way to cut down on omega-6 of course is get rid of processed and prepackaged foods. Don’t eat those processed meat like pepperoni and that sort of thing. And don’t eat anything cooked with those manufactured oils that we talked about last time. If you want to boost omega-3 to get the ratio at a better range closer to four to one, then eat olive oil or cook with olive oil, eat the oily fish and take fish oil supplements.
John Asher: So to give you a quick example of how I can get so out of whack, let’s say you go to Applebee’s, kind of a higher level fast food restaurant. Applebee’s. Pretty good. If you have onion rings, they contain 32,000 milligrams of omega-6. So keep that number in mind, 32,000. So now to keep the ratio in tune, you would need to eat 8,000 omega-3, right? 32 over eight. That gives you the right ratio of four to one. To eat that much, say you’re going to eat salmon, you have to have two servings of salmon to balance out the Applebee’s one serving of onion rings.
John Asher: And so the trouble with the fatty fish, salmon has 4,000 milligrams. Mackerel 2,600, herring, 2,500. And when you go back and look at all the various processed foods, chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A 12,000, French fries from TGIF 12,000, fried fish filet from Denny’s 12,000, mac and cheese from Cracker Barrel 6,000, et cetera. That’s a huge problem with the omega-6 and omega-3.
John Asher: If you eat natural foods, it’ll almost always be pretty much in the right four to one ratio because that’s how our ancestors, whatever they were eating, would give them that ratio. But now with prepackaged and processed foods, it’s way, way out of whack and again leaves all these degenerative diseases. Now we’ve all heard that nuts and seeds are great for us, right? They have fiber, they have protein, but they also have a lot of fat and omega-6 and omega-3 just depends. So chia seeds, their ratio is one to three. In other words, three omega-3s to one omega-6. So it’s a great food to eat to balance out that ratio. Flax seeds, even better, their ratio is one to four, and hemp hears three to one. So it’s one of the reasons chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp hearts are kind of all the rage for putting on salads and that sort of thing. They really help keep your omega-6 omega-3 ratio in the right range.
John Asher: Now let’s take nuts. I’ve always loved almonds. Roasted almonds, light salt. It’s hard to beat crunchy, right? Hard to beat. Well, their ratio of almonds that are dry roasted lightly salted is 2000 to one. Walnuts on the other hand are four to one and I’ve never particularly liked walnuts because they’re kind of mealy. They’re not crunchy. But I’m eating walnuts now and not eating almonds anymore. Macadamia nuts are six to one. Pecans are pretty low, 20 to one. And then so my wife and I, for lunch every day, we have a [inaudible 00:17:13] fistful of walnuts, macadamia nuts, and a few pecans just because those are the really great nuts for you.
John Asher: Now here’s some foods that are high in omega-3. So omega-3, we want as much of as we can get, especially if we’re eating a processed food diet. And so healthy fats are found as we already mentioned in nuts, seeds, olive, avocados. So my wife and I both eat a whole avocado every afternoon with grain-free chips and fatty fish and any of the natural oils. A natural oil means you take the fruit like olive or avocado, palm, squeeze it, and the juice comes out. That’s a natural oil.
Susan Finch: Okay.
John Asher: The unhealthy oils, the ones that are manufactured, they are the ones we do not want. So examples of those would be canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, sesame oil, grape seed oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil. All of those are manufactured oils and the manufacturers call them vegetable oil just so they’ll sound good, but they actually couldn’t be worse for us.
Susan Finch: You’re just blowing my mind with some of these details about the different nuts that are supposed to be okay. I’ve always been taught, oh my gosh, macadamia nuts, that’s your fat allotment for two days if you have too many of those. So stay away for of those and stick with tree nuts and little… I’m just processing everything you’re saying.
John Asher: Right.
Susan Finch: You’re undoing what we’ve been told for years.
John Asher: That’s true in many cases. That’s kind of why we’re doing what we’re doing to educate people frankly, because the average person, there’s so much information out there and the average person does not have time to integrate it all. And that’s essentially our value added really is we’ve integrated it all. So back to the bad fats, all those manufactured oil or bad fats. And then everything else that tastes good. Baked goods, snack bars, processed meat, chips, deep fat fried food, cookies, candies cakes, pies, all of that is industrially prepared foods pretty much and high in omega-6.
John Asher: Now there is a new term that’s kind of come out in the last several years and that is called the omega-3 index. We have the omega-6 to a omega-3 ratio. There’s also another term called omega-3 index. And it is when you take a blood sample, there are two main parts of omega-3, the DHA and the EPA. And if the percentage in your bloodstream is over 6.5, then you will live about five years longer than if it isn’t. I’m sure you’ve heard about fish oil being good for us for heart health. It’s also good for all source mortality as well. I eat two grams of fish health twice a day for this reason and also to make sure my omega-6 to omega-3 ratio isn’t out of whack.
John Asher: So that’s a real simple way to live a lot longer. Imagine five more years on average if your omega-3 index is over 6.5. And of course the average American has a lot less probably down the two or three range. And so for me, mine’s not high because I don’t eat processed food. I don’t eat prepackaged food. We eat olive oil. Everything we cook is cooked with olive oil and we eat a lot of fatty fish. Both of us have a whole avocado with every evening before dinner. And so we’re making sure our omega-3 index is way up there as well.
Susan Finch: You eat a lot.
John Asher: Actually, I don’t. We’ll get to it in some of the later steps, but I practice calorie reduction and also fasting. I am about 6’2, and I weigh 155. If you have any memory of anybody like that, pretty lean, right?
Susan Finch: Yeah.
John Asher: But I’m in the normal weight range, kind of the low normal rate range. And my wife and kids will say, “You just look too damn skinny. You got to eat more.” And I’m saying, “Sorry about that. No.” I’m eating a number of calories that’s 15% less than I used to eat. So I’ve kind of slowly over a while gone from 180, my normal weight down to 155. And since we fast every day and only eat two meals a day, that’s how we kind of stay there. So we’ll cover that in a later step.
John Asher: Now here’s why the vegetable oils are so bad for us. So I’m going to describe their manufacturing process. So first the seeds are heated to very high temperatures generating all those AGEs. The seeds then oxidize and turn rancid. Then they are processed with a petroleum solvent to extract the oil. They’re heated again, and add another acid to remove the waxy solids. It’s treated with more chemicals to improve the color. The oil is then deodorized to mask the smell from the chemical processing, shipped into food factories and big tanker trucks. And of course, bottled and sell it to us in the grocery store, right? Big vats of canola oil.
John Asher: So I give you a fun example. I’m doing a presentation sales presentation on the west coast in LA. And the hosting company is a great company, but in a bad neighborhood. So they had a secure parking lot in the back. And so we’re all advised go back there, park on the street. And so as I entered and this is… The company’s a great company. It makes all the foods for the Latino market. So it’s chips and tortillas and all those sorts of foods. And so I went and parked in the back and I’m walking in and I see these three huge vats. I’m going to guess they’re 20 feet tall and almost as round as a tank of big vat of oil, oil for the heat and big letters on the tanks, canola oil. And I said to myself, wait a minute, this is the wrong company. This is a canola oil manufacturer, not a food manufacturer.
John Asher: Well, actually it was the right company. That’s just how much canola oil they’re using in all of their product again-
Susan Finch: Oh my goodness.
John Asher: Which could not be worse for us. So just to give you another quick example, Paul Newman has a brand of salad dressing. I’m sure you know.
Susan Finch: Yeah.
John Asher: And everybody knows about it because all the profits go to charity. Now, if you flip over and look at the ingredients on the back, there’s about 40 ingredients, which is typical. And so in the NOVA classification, it would be called the highly processed food. And then when you look on the ingredients that are listed in the order of the amount that’s in the food, right? So if it’s water, mainly water, that’s the first ingredient, then sugar, whatever it is. So when you look at the back of Paul Newman’s salad dressing, the first ingredient is canola oil. And you go and look in the front of the name of it is called balsamic vinaigrette. And then you look down about the 15th ingredient and it’s olive oil. So you think you’re getting something really good when in fact it couldn’t be worse for you.
Susan Finch: Well, you don’t want us to deep fry. You’re saying deep frying is bad anyway. So I can’t make the things I do in a skillet with coconut oil because that’s too high of heat. Correct?
John Asher: Correct. I can do whatever I want of course.
Susan Finch: Yeah.
John Asher: You’re recommending, you’re recommending though don’t do that anymore even though it’s coconut oil or olive oil.
John Asher: Yeah if it’s high heat, right.
Susan Finch: Okay.
John Asher: And you don’t have to be crazy about this. I’m at the 90% level of doing what I should. If I was perfect, it would probably drive me crazy. So it’s not like I never have a chocolate chip cookie, right? I do. But not very often. And I don’t have two or three or four. It’s not like I never have fried food. I just had little fried food recently from a local restaurant in Nashville, hot fried chicken. And I did take the skin off, but they had that great sauce on the rest of the chicken. I know obviously it was cooked in high heat. It’s not like I’d never do it, but I don’t do it very much. My wife’s probably at the 70% level and increasing, getting better. So yeah, you have to give up totally fried food? No, but it shouldn’t be one of your normal weekly meals.
John Asher: All right. We’re getting pretty close to the end of this section. But next is the processed meets. And if you only have five ounces of processed meat per week, you risk again, this is WHO data, all major diseases and death. And so a processed meat would be sausage, bacon, and hot dogs, pepperoni, cold cuts, cured meats, salted meats, deli meats. Example, I’m a Vistage speaker. I’ve done that presentation 1700 times plus, and they always have lunch for all the members. I would say 90% of the lunch is the deli meats, highly processed food. And the trouble with them, why they’re so bad for us is the cause of the food additives, the color additives and the nitrates. And the food additives that all the food manufacturers use, there are 10,000 different ones and they are not regulated by anybody, including the FDA and ton of research behind this. So it’s like, don’t even think about getting a pepperoni pizza anymore.
Susan Finch: I remember looking at the deli counter. I look at it periodically. To me, your lunch meat should not be iridescent.
John Asher: No, exactly.
Susan Finch: Some big brands that claim to be so healthy for you. And if it shimmers looking at the meat, I don’t think that’s good.
John Asher: Right. Then finally, one last thing, almost every major grocery has rotisserie chicken, right? It’s already been cooked. You can buy it. It’s usually inexpensive, like maybe $3.50 cents for a whole chicken.
Susan Finch: Yeah. Yep.
John Asher: So it’s pretty good. The trouble is they’re cooked at high temperature. So they’re full of AGEs. They are injected with a troubling amount of salt, sugar, and all those additives, the process ingredients. And so they’ve been analyzed by the Consumer Reports and the worst ones are Costco and Sam’s Club and the best are Krogers and Wegmans. With the least amount every now and then, Deb, my wife will get one just because she loves it and it’s so much easier, right? You can get three meals out of the darn thing if there’s just two of you. But not so good for us. You would think it would be great for us, but wow, not so hot.
Susan Finch: We can slow roast though our own chicken. I mean, how it’s so easy actually.
John Asher: Correct. Right.
Susan Finch: To slow roast it with a nice herb rub.
John Asher: Yeah.
Susan Finch: And you’re saying at 275.
John Asher: Yeah. Below 300.
Susan Finch: Below 300. Okay. I can do that.
John Asher: That’s the cutoff for the AGE formation.
Susan Finch: Okay.
John Asher: So you can see there’s a lot to this step, step two.
Susan Finch: Yes.
John Asher: And it’s just not as simple as eating balanced meals, especially if you’re eating processed foods and fast foods and frankly most restaurants. Now, it’s not like you can’t eat healthy and go out. For example, I was just in Tampa flying back to DC and in the United terminal, there was only one restaurant and I was starving and the name of the restaurant was Ducks. And they had this big thing on their menu. Everything’s cooked with duck fat. It’s like, yikes. But I was hungry anyway. So I said to the waitress, I ordered salmon, and I asked, “Is it well caught?” And she said, “I don’t know.” But she came back and said, yes. I said, “Okay, could it be cooked with olive oil?” And she didn’t know. She went back and asked again. And she said, yes.
John Asher: And they had a medley of vegetables, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower that were sauteed. And I said, “Could they be steamed?” And she said, yes. So if you’re an educated consumer, even eating out can be healthy. And what I’ve found, especially in the nicer restaurants, they’re really warming up to this. They’re recognizing that a lot of consumers are very educated about this. In the next step, we’ll talk about the dangers or farm-raised salmon for, for example. You can actually do pretty well at almost any restaurant as long as you know what to ask for.
Susan Finch: You need to ask for it, and being on the other side of that, being at the table with those people that send the waitress back 15 times with questions and things. I’m going, yes, dear listener, I’m speaking to you directly. Look at the menu ahead of time.
John Asher: Yeah.
Susan Finch: And save the problems. And sometimes you can ask ahead of time too. I’ve called restaurants before and said, “Oh, can this be done this way? How should we ask for it? We’re coming tonight.” And it saves a lot of time and it saves frustration, especially if they have a full restaurant and they’re trying to accommodate everybody.
John Asher: No, you’re exactly right. We probably do meals from DoorDash or equivalent probably once a week, at least. And there’s about six restaurants. We’ll alternate and get stuff from because we know they will accommodate things. So they’ll actually have it on their menu, what it is and any special considerations. So I’ll in most cases put “cook in olive oil, please.” And so they accommodate it. So you can stay pretty healthy and still eat out with the caveat I mentioned and the one you mentioned too as well, Susan.
Susan Finch: There are ways. Your food doesn’t have to be boring just because as you’re being healthier and kinder to your body.
John Asher: Absolutely. Totally agree.
Susan Finch: Well, I look forward to the third step in our next episode together. This has been Susan Finch with John Asher for the Asher Longevity Podcast.
John Asher: Thank you, Susan
Susan Finch: The Asher Longevity Institute developed a nine step program to guide you to a much longer and healthier life. Our mission is to make this system easy to understand, simple to execute and sustainable for the rest of life. Go to asherlongevity.com today and sign up for the information and access you need to live the longevity lifestyle. That’s asherlongevity.com to help you feel better now and achieve the longevity you desire.