Rich Roll on Self-Transformation, Environmental Impact of Food, and the Plant-Based Diet
Posted on January 24th 2016 (over 3 years)
This podcast features Rich Roll. Rich is an author, a podcaster, as well as founder and first person to complete the EPIC5 Challenge. The EPIC5 challenge involves completing 5 Full Iron Distance triathlons on 5 Hawaiian islands in under a week. Rich has also been a repeated top finisher in the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii, which is a three-day, 515km (320-mile) annual endurance race held on the Big Island of Hawaii. The race is divided into three stages over three days: The first is a 6.2 mile (10-km) ocean swim, followed by a 90-mile (145-km) cross-country bike ride, with vertical climbs that total 6,000 feet. Stage two is a 171.4-mile (276-km) bike ride, with total vertical climbs of 4,000 feet. Finally, stage three is a 52.4-mile (84-km) double marathon. Each stage must be completed within 12 hours or less.
You can read about Rich's journey to Ultraman competitor in his book, "Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself".
"And I think that when you're experiencing pain, whether it's emotional, mental, or physical, it's a signal. It's a signal for you to sort of face a lesson and work through something." - @richroll Click To Tweet
Learn more about Rich Roll
Rhonda: Hello, my friends. I'm sitting here with the vegan endurance athlete, Rich Roll, who many of you may have heard of because he's been on "The Joe Rogan Experience" a couple of times. He also hosts a popular health podcast known as "The Rich Roll Podcast." Rich is very interesting. He is a vegan, as I mentioned. And he's also the first man to have completed running five Ironman-like triathlons in under a week on five different Hawaiian islands, which is pretty awesome physical feat, accomplishment. You've also run something called the Ultraman, which I'm not too familiar with, but you can tell us about. So Rich, we're really excited to have you here. I kinda wanted to start off by asking you how long you've been a vegan and why did you decide to become a vegan? That's a pretty strict diet.
Rich: Yeah. It was...First of all, thanks for having me. And thanks for coming all the way out to my house to do this. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. To answer your question, I just turned 49. So I transitioned to a vegan diet shortly after my 40th birthday. So it took me about six or eight months before I got fully 100% plant-based, but I began this journey because when I was 39 and kind of approaching my 40th birthday, I was living the typical life of kind of an overworked, overstressed corporate attorney, sedentary, classic couch potato. I was about 50 pounds overweight. You know, I was never like morbidly obese. I was never somebody that like Jillian Michaels would yell at on a TV show or anything like that, but just heavy and like dense. And at the same time, I was kinda depressed and unenthusiastic about my life. So I guess I was having a little bit of a spiritual crisis at the same time that my health was starting to kind of ail.
And I basically was subsisting on the standard American diet, a lot of fast food, late nights at the law firm, Chinese takeout and just basically whatever was in front of me to eat and whatever was most convenient. And it all kinda came to a head shortly before my 40th birthday when I had come home late one night, working late. My family was asleep. And I was making my way up the staircase right here to go to my bedroom. And I had to pause like half way up the flight of stairs. I was winded, out of breath, tightness in my chest. You know, I was like buckled over and kind of sweat on my brow and really the fear of God. Like I thought I was on the precipice of having a heart attack, you know. And I was 39 years old. And I just thought in that moment...It was just one of those moments that everything kinda crystallized for me. And I was like, "I can't keep living this way. This is ridiculous."
And it was similar...You know, a big part of my story is I'm also a recovering alcoholic. And when I was 31, I had that kind of moment of clarity that you hear about with people that are in recovery where I decided to finally get sober. And I went to rehab. And that's a whole other story, but there was that moment in time where I decided like, "This is the day that I'm gonna get sober." And it changed my life so dramatically in every conceivable way. And the moment on the staircase was kind of a similar moment. Like I felt that sense of urgency and more importantly perhaps like the willingness to do something about it. And I was able to kinda recognize that that's a special thing, like that's a precious thing, and that I needed to act on that and I needed to act on it kinda decisively and swiftly and specifically, or it would just pass. And the idea of saying, "Well maybe I should eat better or go to the gym," like just weren't specific enough. Those things didn't really mean anything to me.
And maybe I'm a drama queen, but I felt like I had to do something dramatic to kinda really shift the energy and kind of wipe the slate clean and start fresh. And that was really the beginning of what I didn't realize at the time would ultimately lead to eating a plant-based diet. For the next six months, I did a juice cleanse. And that was like an amazing experience. It was terrible at first, but after a week of doing nothing but drinking vegetable juice, I'd never gone a day, like 24 hours, in my whole life without eating solid food. So I felt like that was like a really severe thing to do to kind of like shift my perspective and my energy. And the last two days of that experience, I felt like this crazy resurgence in vitality. And it really was a moment in which I realized that what you put into your body really does impact how you feel.
Like I never really thought about that before. And that kind of encouraged me to look more deeply into a way of eating that could allow me to feel that good all the time because, of course, you can't just drink vegetable juice for the rest of your life. And then it was a process of self-experimentation really for the next six months. I kind of played around with a vegetarian diet, but I was eating pretty much a junk food vegetarian diet and kind of took that all the way to the wall and wasn't losing any weight, wasn't feeling any better. I just thought, "What would happen if I got rid of all the animal products and all this processed junk that I'm eating? You know, I wonder if that would make a difference."
And I kind of took a leap of faith and tried that. And literally within 7 to 10 days of making that switch, I felt like an entirely different person. And I was doing it... I didn't go to a library and get a bunch of books. I didn't watch a bunch of documentaries. Like I would have saved a lot of time, I'm sure, and done things more intelligently, had I done that. It was really just feeling it out for myself experientially. And, ultimately, that's kind of what led me to eating plant-based and realizing that it agreed with me. It kinda set the stage for everything that came after.
Rhonda: So really the start of it was more of a selfish reason to get healthy. And then once...And I completely agree with you about the dramatic change. I think that some people really work that way where it's like, if you're gonna commit to something, like you want it to be like something that you feel is going to be more of a challenge that's really gonna change your life around instead of just this little tiny step, which in some cases can help, but I think that I was just kind of interested why you chose the vegetarian way to get healthy.
Rich: I've thought about that question. And it certainly didn't originate as coming from a place of ethics or like wanting to be more compassionate towards animals. It was very much revolved around like my own personal health. And I think that I latched onto vegetarianism because it seemed like such a black and white thing. And as somebody who is in recovery, what you learn very early on is like you're either drinking or using drugs or you're not. Like there's no middle ground. You can't like kinda drink if you're an alcoholic, like, you just can't. And that kinda black and white approach, I just sorta took that and laid that template upon diet. And vegetarianism seemed like an analog to that in certain respects because there was a simple rule, which was you don't eat meat, right?
So I was like okay, I could wrap my head around that and sort of apply these principles of recovery and the kind of tools that I had learned to get sober to my approach to food. And so I think perhaps maybe even unconsciously, that's why that seemed like an attractive easy thing to do. Like it took the decision fatigue out of it. Like, "Okay. I'm just not gonna eat meat." And that was the first step. And then it was, "Okay. I'm not gonna eat dairy. And then I'm not gonna eat all this processed stuff, which just gets into a little bit more of a gray area, but I think that's initially what led me to it because it just seemed so concrete in that regard.
Rhonda: Yeah. How long did it actually take you to lose that 50 extra pounds? Like was that...You mentioned feeling good immediately and not this, a whole host of possibilities that could be, why that is, one being you're now...Your gut bacteria, you're getting more fiber, all the plant stuff where you're having less inflammation, inflammation's affecting brain function and depression and all those things. And it's cool to hear that you can experience those mood changes so quickly. I'm really interested in helping family members that I care about that are not healthy that have that struggle with depression. And it's hard for me. It's hard for me to convince them that you...Like I have all the science in the world. And I fire it all the time at them, study after study, showing how connected mood and brain function is to what you're putting in your body. And it just doesn't register.
Rich: Yeah. The gap between like information and action is vast. And if you can bridge that gap, then you have the keys to the kingdom, but that's where the hard work is. And you cannot compel somebody to be willing. That willingness has to be self-generated. In my own experience, the only thing that's ever sort of gotten me to address or change any of my errant behavior patterns is pain really. I mean, I was in enough pain where I was willing to like do something drastic and make that change. Had I not been in that pain, I don't know that I could have.
I think that that possibility to make a change always exists, but trying to light that spark and get somebody to do it is very difficult, but I think that you mentioned the microbiome. And I think that's a powerful kind of entry point for a lot of people because if you, especially in the diet context, if you just start propagating your plate with a lot more sort of nutrient-dense plant-based foods and foods that are high in phytonutrients and the like, that's going to repopulate your microbiome. And I'm sure you know much more about this than I, but there are these studies that show this link, this connection, between the quality of your gut flora and the cravings that you have.
Like literally the signals that are being sent from the microbiome that's hijacking quite literally your central nervous system to trigger these impulses to get you to feed yourself in a certain way that's going to nourish that microbiome in a certain way. So if you're eating McDonald's all the time, then that's what you're gonna crave, but if you replace that slowly, even at first, with different kinds of foods, then you're gonna shift not only your habits, but your cravings will come afterwards. And I found that to be kind of a very powerful thing to do. So instead of focusing on what you're not gonna eat, why don't you focus on adding more of the things that are good and allowing that kind of gut population to morph accordingly?
Rhonda: Yeah. That's awesome. I'm the same way. I like to focus on what you should eat, what you need, what your body needs the precursors that you need to function optimally. You know, all those things are really important, but you're mentioning the pain that you were in, and the pain being that trigger for that willingness to want to make a change. What I find is very interesting is that you... a lot of people will take pain and seek out pharmacological means of treating the pain instead of saying, "This pain...There's a reason I have this pain. There's something causing it. What's causing it? I need to stop doing that. I need to figure it out and change my lifestyle." How do you think that you were able to take that path because that's the path that should be taken. I mean, you're a success story, right? I mean...
Rich: Well, I think that, I mean, that's a psychological and cultural problem as much as anything else because in our society it's sort of like diagnose and prescribe. Like, "Oh, you're feeling this pain? Well, take this and that pain will go away." And we don't even get into the discussion of what's causing that in the first place. So I think ultimately to get behind that and to really get into a place of the willingness to address the underlying cause and work through that, again that takes a sort of mental constitution, again, willingness to even have the desire to do that, but I think also it's really an internal job. Like, for me, it's as much a spiritual journey as much as anything else. And I think that when you're experiencing pain, whether it's emotional, mental, or physical, it's a signal.
It's a signal for you to sort of face a lesson and work through something. And you can either take a pill and ignore that, in which case it's going to recur and probably escalate, or you can embrace it and say, "What is the lesson here that I need to learn for myself," whether it's a physical thing, a diet thing, or a relationship thing or an emotional thing? I think it's all the same in that regard. And again, in my own personal case it was a situation in which I was in enough pain where I realized like, "I need to get behind this and get to the cause of what is making me not only look the way that I look like overweight and everything, but also feeling the way that I'm feeling." Like I didn't want to be depressed.
And like I was living in this house. Look around. Like I have nothing to...You know, I had everything...Looking out on my life from the outside in, I had no reason not to be anything but completely grateful for everything in my life. I live an amazing life, but inside, I felt like I was dying and I was living the wrong life for myself. So I think that was as much of the sort of flame that was burning as like, "Oh, I need to lose weight." You know, like losing weight wasn't...It wasn't really about losing weight. It was about trying to feel more connected to my own life.
Rhonda: Yeah. So once you actually decided to make this change and you started to notice these positive benefits on your mood and the way you felt and obviously behaviors probably started to change along with that, then you decided to kinda go full force. And you're now gonna be vegan for almost a decade. And not only that, you've taken on these amazing physical feats. I mean, you started to get into endurance training. And how did that start?
Rich: Well, what happened was when I was sort of new into this plant-based way of living and eating, I suddenly had so much energy that I literally had trouble just focusing and sitting still. Like my knee was going like this. And I was like literally vibrating. And I started going outside to exercise for the first time really with any consistency in well over a decade, initially just because I had to burn off all this added vitality that I felt was like running through my system. I didn't have any desire to return to becoming a competitive athlete, but what happened was the more that I did that, the more I just felt connected to myself again. Like well, there's all these amazing trails around here. And I'd never explored any of them.
And I was just sort of feeling like I was connecting with my body in a way that I hadn't in a very long time. Like I was a swimmer as a kid. I swam in high school. I swam in college. And that brought me so much joy. And in our culture, it's sorta like, "All right. Well, you did that in college, but now you're an adult. And we don't do these things anymore." And that just door shuts, but I was like, "This feels good. You know, like I like this. Just because I'm 40, does that mean that I can't do this anymore?" And I listened to your interview with Wim Hof. And he said something similar. Like he said that he knew like when he jumped in the cold water like this was his thing. You know, like he knew. And people were saying, "Oh, you should be a doctor or you should be a carpenter or all these sorts of things with your life." And he's like...He had the sort of spiritual wherewithal to go, "That's not for me. Like I don't know what my path is gonna be, but it's gonna be totally different."
And so I think there was some of that sense in myself. And I just became so struck by the incredible resilience of the human body because I'd abused myself with drugs and alcohol and a stressful job and terrible lifestyle habits and a fast food diet for so many years. And literally within a period of a few months, I felt like a different person, right? And so with that, I started to think about human potential, you know. And like, again, to Wim Hof, he's talking about the ability of the human body to do things that defy everything these scientists said was possible. And I started to think about what I was capable of. And because I had bounced back in such a dramatic way, it kind of led me to this...You know, I started to think about challenging myself, like, "What are my capabilities?" Like if I could rebound so quickly, what if I took myself and tested myself to my ultimate limits? Like what could I do?
And I think in part that was informed a little bit by this idea that I don't really feel like I ever reached my potential as a swimmer when I was in college and feeling like I had unfinished business there. So that's what led me into the world of ultra-endurance. Like I just became fascinated with these crazy races and these people that were doing things that I just didn't even think were humanly possible. And I just felt magnetized by it and just like a tractor beam was drawing me into that world. And I read an article about this race called Ultraman that I'd never heard of before. Most people know what an Ironman is but Ultraman is essentially a double Ironman distance triathlon that over three days circumnavigates the big island of Hawaii.
And it's a very cool race. It's been around for over 30 years at this point, but it kinda slides under the radar. There's no media attention. There's no prize money. They don't even shut the roads off for the cycling or the running. And it's limited to just 35 athletes every year. And it seemed like what Ironman probably was like in 1980 when it first began like very pure into its roots. And these athletes were doing it really just to have this like kind of journey that transcended the M-Dot and getting the tattoo of the Ironman on your ankle or whatever. I don't know. It just really intrigued me. And there was something that clicked inside of me. And I just thought, "I'm gonna find a way to do that race."
Rhonda: So you said it's like double Ironman. So what's the distance, just like your...
Rich: Yeah. So day one, you do a 6.2 mile swim. And then you get out of the water. It's a point-to-point ocean swim. And then you get on your bike and you ride 90 miles, the last 20 of which is up to Volcano National Park. It's this crazy 20-mile climb with headwinds. It's like insane. Then you go to sleep. It's a stage race, kind of like Tour de France. Like you do a stage. You go to bed. You wake up the next day. The second day, you ride your bike 171 miles. And then the third day, you celebrate the whole thing by running 52.4 miles.
Rich: A double marathon back. And you end up where you started. So it's crazy, right?
Rhonda: Totally, like...
Rich: So when I first read about it I was like, "Can people do that?" Like it seemed amazing to me.
Rhonda: And you've done that.
Rich: And something I wanted to be part of. Yeah. So I did that race in 2008 when I was 42. So that would have been two years after sort of adopting the plant-based diet. And I did it in 2009 and also in 2011.
Rhonda: So you've done it three times.
Rich: Yeah. The third time didn't go so well. I DNF'd on the second day. I was like spitting out blood. And I had like a respiratory infection. So I had to drop out, but my best performance was in 2009.
Rhonda: So training for it, diet, getting back to the vegan aspect of it. Most people would think "Vegans. Wow. Wouldn't they...They don't get enough certain micronutrient deficiencies, iron or protein, things like that." So can you talk a little bit about how conscientious you are of what you're eating and your levels of certain micronutrients and...
Rich: Yeah, sure. I don't overcomplicate it. Like I get...People send me these emails all the time like, "Tell me your ratio of this to that." And I'm like, "I don't even think..." You know, like it's very simple. Like I eat a lot of whole plant-based foods as close to their natural state as possible. That's like general rule number one. And when I was beginning to train, like I was just listening to my body and trying to meet its needs as I saw fit in the moment. So I wasn't following some kind of recipe or guide, but essentially I start my day usually with a Vitamix smoothie that's...
Rhonda: Highfive. Yeah.
Rich: Yeah. It starts with a base of dark leafy greens. Like it always starts with that, so spinach, kale, things like that, chard. And from there it kind of builds pre-workout, beets, beet greens are always good, and berries blackberries, blueberries, berries with high antioxidants, maybe some apple or orange, and then some of the more exotic superfoods, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, pepitas, which are high in iron. You know, that's one thing everyone worries about your iron levels. So I make sure I eat seeds that are high in iron. And I keep it simple. Like I have four kids. We're busy. We're doing a million things. I open up the fridge in the morning. I don't know what I'm gonna find, you know. So a lot of times it's just improvising with what we have.
And I usually find though that gets me out of the door in the morning before my morning workout. If I'm really hungry, some gluten-free toast with almond butter or something like that is fine. And then I'm good. You know, I can go out and I train. I come back, you know. I'll drink the second half of that smoothie or make a different one. I'll supplement with some plant-based protein powders, but I don't...Like I've had a whole journey with supplements. And we can get into that. You know, I don't overdo it with that at all. You know, when I first began, I was so worried about all of these things like, "Oh, you're gonna be deficient in all these things."
And I had all kinds of crazy supplements. And over the years, I've kinda weaned myself off of those and thought, "You know, do I really need these? Are these really working? And am I spending my money, responsibly?" And I found that for the most part, I don't need most of those things that I thought that I did, including protein powder. Like I really don't even do that much of that. Lunch is usually a huge salad with lots of raw vegetables in it or perhaps like quinoa and beans. I eat lots of beans, lots of black beans, beans of different kinds, lentils, quinoa things that are sort of plant-based foods that are higher in protein content than other plant-based foods.
Rhonda: Lentils are really higher in iron, as well.
Rich: Yeah. You can go to Trader Joe's and they have packets of like pre-cooked lentils.
Rhonda: Oh really?
Rich: Sometimes they're just like they're $2, you know. So I go in there and like and just grab those for lunch for a quick snack. You know, veggie burritos. My wife's an amazing cook, so she's made it a lot easier.
Rhonda: Is your whole family vegan?
Rich: Yeah, our whole family is now. And that's been a journey in its own right with the kids and everything like that, but now they are. It wasn't always that way, but yeah. I mean, I keep it really basic. I don't overthink things. You know, when I'm training and I'm going out on a long ride, I try to bring a lot of whole foods with me or know places where I can stop to pick up bananas. Dates are always good. Almond butter, again, or maybe like an almond butter sandwich I'll bring with me in my back pocket, liquid nutrition in the form of like a maltodextrin. You can get like 900 calories in one bottle, things like that.
Rhonda: So what about like vitamin D? Is that something that you...
Rich: I don't really worry about vitamin D. And I get my levels, my blood checked and everything. My vitamin D is fine, but I'm outdoors training a lot. So I would imagine that that takes care of itself by exposure to the sunlight. I do supplement with vitamin B12, but a lot of the foods that I eat too are also vitamin B12 fortified. So I don't get too crazy worried about that either. And my B12 levels are fine.
Rhonda: So you obviously have the luxury of living in southern California. You're still young. You have lighter skin. So there's a lot of things that regulate the ability of your body to produce vitamin D from UVB radiation from the sun. Are there other vegetarians or vegans that sort of come to you for a template or a guide? And do you like have anything that you can tell them usually? Like, because it can be a problem for vegetarians, vegans.
Rich: I think deficiencies are a problem for everyone. And I think it's endemic especially since like our soils are being progressively depleted and the foods maybe aren't quite as nutrient-dense as they used to be. And so I think I encourage everybody to go get their blood checked and see where they're at with everything because it is such an individual thing. And if you are in a northern climate or a place where you're not gonna get a lot of sunlight, of course vitamin D can become a problem, and you should supplement. So I'm not against supplements, but I think that the approach should always be that they're supplements. They should supplement the diet that you're eating, right? They shouldn't come in the place of the food. But I think that if you're deficient or you're prone to one of those kinds of deficiencies, of course, I think it's appropriate. I don't know that vegans and vegetarians have a higher incidence of vitamin D deficiency than anybody else. You may know more about that than I do.
Rhonda: Vitamin D inadequacy is pretty prevalent in the United States. Around 70% of the population doesn't have what's considered to be adequate levels. It's not quite deficient. Deficiency versus inadequacy, there's a little difference, but I don't know if vegetarians or vegans and/or if they take the supplemental vitamin D3 form, which is commonly, it's from lanolin, which is excreted from like the sebaceous glands of sheep when they're making wool. Is that something you would take or is that like against the vegan rules? Like, because I don't know if the sheep get harmed or anything.
Rich: Right. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know enough about that. I probably wouldn't take that. So I would...You know, I try to make sure that whatever I am taking in is vegan in its origin.
Rhonda: So it can't come from animals, even if the animal's not dying or...
Rich: Well, yeah. I mean, I would have to know specifically in each instance how that works. And the road gets narrower. You know what I mean? Like certain things you used to do, then I'm like...Because it's different for me now. Like it's been an evolution. And I think that this is kind of an important point, which is there is this idea that certain people out there are like struck vegan overnight. I don't know anybody for whom that is the case. Like for everybody, it's a journey, you know. It's something that you evolve into, if you're inclined or if that's something that interests you. You know, so the things that I'm sort of focused on now are different than they were in 2008 or when I began.
So for me, I've become a lot more interested in other aspects of this lifestyle that originally weren't that interesting to me. And that's a whole other discussion, but so, and now also I'm sort of this ambassador of vegan athletes in some regard, for better or worse. So I think it's important for me to kind of hold that space and to say like, "Yeah, I can do it without all these things. So you can too." So I can go out and be 100% vegan, 100% plant-based, and not ingest any animal products in to my diet and do these crazy endurance races as just a point of contradiction to conventional wisdom so that other people can look at that and infer from that as they wish.
Rhonda: Do you think that's a...It seems that vegan, you know...Veganism obviously, you are proving that for endurance, at least, training, that it's very possible to be a competitive endurance athlete and be a vegan, back to your...You seem to have some sort of advantage, in some cases. A lot of endurance training, it's...What's interesting is that endurance trainers become adapted to oxidizing fat for energy. And I don't know. Maybe a vegan diet may kind of go along with that, but do you think that someone who's say let's say like say your typical CrossFit guy doing the Olympic lifts and burpees are...You know, like it's a little different than an endurance athlete. Do you think they would also do well with a vegan diet, or do you think those are sort of different?
Rich: Certainly, there are different kinds of athletes, but I don't see any reason why not. I've seen vegan athletes do amazing things in all kinds of different kinds of disciplines. And I was in Germany last week. And I got a chance to sit down with this friend of mine named Patrik Baboumian, who is a Strongman athlete, a vegan Strongman athlete, who lives in Germany. He set a Guinness Book of World Records in Toronto in two...It was about two years ago. I was there. I witnessed it. It was incredible. It's called the Yoke. And he carried 550 kilograms, which is like 1,200 pounds, for 10 meters. So he had this giant contraption with all the plates on it, lifted it up, and like walked 10 meters with it. It's the most insane thing I've ever seen. He's vegan. I just did a podcast with him when I was in Germany. And he then re-broke it again with a little bit more added weight. And he's trying for another record now. And he says that he got stronger when he went vegan.
So the reason that he thinks that he has improved, and it's similar to my own reasons, is that first of all, you're eating high...What's the word? High nutrient gain, high nutrient density with a high nutrient gain, foods that are very dense nutritionally, but are also very easily assimilated and also very anti-inflammatory in general. Like when you compare kind of the standard Western diet or a diet that's high in meat and dairy, it can be very acidic and, in turn, produce a lot of inflammation. And as you know, and we can get into this. You know a lot more about this than I do, but that inflammation will impede recovery. So the more kind of like alkaline your diet is, the more you kind of reduce that inflammation and can enhance or expedite the recovery process, which allows you to train harder, push yourself harder, and go longer and all these things that extrapolated out over the course of a season or a year or a number of years can translate into performance gains. But I'm interested in your perspective on that.
Rhonda: Yeah. No, I'm not sure if it's the...I don't think the mechanism is the alkaline thing. I think that's a little not really scientifically shown, but there is evidence that for one, when you're eating a more plant-based diet, you are...which I eat a very heavily plant-based diet. I'm not a vegetarian. I'm not a vegan. I also eat a lot of fish and chicken and not really red meat, once in a while, but when you do eat a plant-based diet, you're getting a lot of fiber, for one. So your gut is a lot healthier. Your gut bacteria like fiber. And the major source of inflammation in your body is your gut. Your gut actually...
Rich: That's interesting.
Rhonda: So when you feed your gut fiber, there's certain bacteria in your gut that metabolize the fiber into certain components and compounds. Some of them are called short-chain fatty acids. There's other compounds, as well. These compounds are actually signaling molecules that actually totally regulate your immune system. So they will make more anti, basically immune cells that prevent your own immune cells from attacking your own tissues. So they're called T-regulatory cells, and they regulate autoimmunity.
They make...You basically increase hematopoiesis, and you make more blood cells. You're making more red blood cells, which is relevant for endurance athletes. You're making more of the good type of T cells, natural killer T cells. You're making less of the T cells that are causing inflammation. So having a more plant-based diet absolutely does affect inflammation, but I don't think it's through that alkaline pathway.
Rich: Right. Right. That's interesting. I mean, the thing that I've kind of experienced myself and I've heard from so many athletes, CrossFit athletes, strength athletes speed and agility athletes, is that they can train really hard. They don't get as sore, or sore at all. And they're able to bounce back much more quickly. And they're less likely to miss out on training because of overtraining or injury or illness.
Rhonda: Yeah. One thing that affects recovery is inflammation. For one, when your gut's healthy, and it is a lot easier to get a healthy gut, you know. I know a lot of people that eat meat out there. I'm not saying meat's bad. I'm just saying that your gut likes fiber. It likes fiber. I mean, it's as simple as that. It likes it because it metabolizes it into something that regulates your immune system. And that's scientifically proven. It's been shown in dozens of studies. You know, it's pretty much consensus.
Rich: And we don't talk enough about fiber. Most people are walking around fiber-deficient, but they're obsessed with protein. And really, protein deficiency really just isn't a thing anybody should be worried about, but you should be worried about your fiber intake.
Rhonda: Agreed, I totally...
Rich: And we just don't...That should be much more a part of the conversation, I think than it is.
Rhonda: Yeah. It's something that I think is a real strength of having more a vegetarian like diet is the amount of fiber you're taking in. It's part of the reason why I have such a heavy plant-based diet is because not only talking about the performance gains that you get by making sure your immune system is the best it can be, so you're making more anti-inflammatory cytokines. What does that mean? Well, it means when you're exercising and you're working out really hard, you're causing inflammation, because that's part of what exercise does. It causes inflammation. So you're getting that inflammation, but you immediately have this anti-inflammatory response. And it happens sooner.
So it's not..., you're basically not gonna have your immune system then spiral out of control where then it starts to damage your muscle tissue because you have that counter, anti-inflammatory counter, sooner than someone who doesn't have a good diet, who's basically immune system is not being regulated well. And it does really happen at the level of the gut. The gut is very important for your immune system. And that's something that scientists are now starting to realize. And it's making its way now into the popular media and also into the general public. So I think that's something extremely important is gut health. And like I said, not only for performance gains, but also for longevity, because inflammation has been identified as a driver of the aging process. Normal aging, just living every day, our cells metabolizing carbohydrates or fat, whatever it is we're giving it to make energy, that whole process of breathing in oxygen and eating food to make energy, causes damage.
It's inherent. You can't avoid it. If you want to live, you're gonna damage your cells. It's just gonna happen. And inflammation accelerates that process. It causes more damage. And the major source of inflammation in the body is the gut. Not only because it regulates the immune system, but also because it is where we have all the bacteria. It's where our largest concentration of immune cells actually are. So when we start to have an unhealthy gut, when the gut barrier breaks down for several different reasons, then our immune cells go crazy, start firing cytokines, which are inflammatory, you know. So anyways, I think that's one really major strength about a plant-based diet is the fiber. And the other thing is that if you look at vegetarians, they tend to have...There are certain micronutrient deficiencies that are common. You mentioned vitamin B12, which is one. B12 is found...It's more highly concentrated in animal meat.
Rich: Well, I mean, it used to be...I mean, really, it's...Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't vitamin B12 a microorganism that propagates in the soil? And so it used to be that even if you were just eating plants, like they weren't washed off, they weren't as sort of sanitized as they are now, and you could get your B12 that way, but now our soils are so depleted, so now it's kind of become a thing? I mean, I sort of resist this contention or this argument that like a vegan diet is, by definition, sort of a deficient diet because you have to supplement with B12.
Rhonda: Yeah. Okay. So it's not a microorganism, but it's made by microorganisms. So microorganisms, including in our gut, make it. And guess what? Fiber...Actually, I've done...
Rich: Animals have it because they're eating...basically, their noses are in the dirt all day.
Rhonda: I don't know exactly why all the animals have it, but that...Yeah, that would make sense. Okay. So I don't think plant-based diets or like vegan diets are like inherently micronutrient deficiency. In fact, if you look at the data, many different vegetarians and vegans have more of certain micronutrients like folate, Vitamin K, magnesium. I mean, these are all...You know, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, vegans and vegetarians have a much higher concentration of these very important micronutrients. Vitamin K is extremely important. Magnesium, half the country doesn't get enough of. You know, so I don't think by definition a plant-based or vegan or vegetarian diet is a nutritionally deficient diet.
I think there's certain ones they have to make sure they're getting. And there's certain ones they're getting more of than other people that aren't getting enough of these, eating enough vegetables. So it really just depends. It's like, well, some people...You know, vegans do have to get a little more B12. They have to get a little bit more iron, but you know, lentils are high in iron. There's a lot of...If you just know and think about what you need to eat, you can get your zinc from cashews. Cashews are higher in iron. Lentils are higher in iron. I mean, you can find plant-based nuts and seeds and things that are good sources of these micronutrients that you don't get if you're not getting the meat, but if you're eating a lot of meat, you're not eating a lot of...if you're eating processed foods and meat, and you're not getting enough vegetables, guess what? You're gonna be deficient in a lot more micronutrients, to be honest.
So I think that it's just a matter of knowing which ones and making sure you're getting dietary source of them, making sure if you're not getting a dietary source, that you are taking a B12. And back to the B12, our gut bacteria make it. And there are certain gut bacteria that when you like, for example, when you take antibiotics, which are loaded in meat, and that, we can get to that in a minute, but you kill off a lot of your own bacteria that make B12. So there's the whole well, you want to have your gut healthy. Well, how do you get your gut healthy? You give it the right components. You give it the fiber. The gut likes fiber.
It really likes fiber and it likes anything that's gonna allow it to make short-chain fatty acids, which are actually essentially what fuel all the gut cells inside your intestine that line your intestine, fuel it. They prefer short-chain fatty acids as their source of energy over anything else. So glucose, anything. They want these short-chain fatty acids. And how do they get them? Fiber. So there's that. And that's one thing that vegetarians do get a lot of fiber. And I myself make a very, you know...I make an effort to make sure I'm getting enough fiber. And I eat a lot of plants, a broad spectrum of them, different colors. I make something very similar every morning, chard, spinach. I always have the green base where it's spinach and chard and kale and a carrot, tomato, and some berries and different variations of it. I like the chia seeds and hemp seeds because you're also getting some of the Omega-3s.
Rich: The Omega-3s, yeah.
Rhonda: You know, which by the way, that's another thing that certain...That can be a problem for some vegetarians and vegans is because there are three types of Omega-3, right, alpha-linolenic acid, which is ALA, eicosapentaenoic acid, which is EPA, which is a major marine source, right, is how you get EPA, and DHA, docosahexaenoic acid. And EPA and DHA are very important for combating inflammation, but also for every cell structure. You need DHA for every cell membrane, particularly in your brain. So you can convert ALA into those, but it's not very efficient. Women can do it much better because estrogen...At least pre-menopausal women can do it much better, because estrogen activates the enzyme that converts it into it, but...And there's gene polymorphisms, which are variations in sequence of DNA, which changes the function, or changes the function of the gene, in a way. So some people have ones that they can't convert ALA into EPA and DHA very well. So you really have to measure something, get your levels tested.
Rich: Yeah. How do you know if you're one of those though or not?
Rhonda: Well, you can do a genetic test. 23andMe measures them. So they look at those gene polymorphisms. You know, it's something that's...It used to be $99. They just raised the price to $199. Those bastards.
Rich: Yeah, but they're now free and clear. They've cleared up all their issues with the FDA.
Rhonda: Some of them, yeah. So now they're only gonna...So basically, they had stopped giving health reports. So they would be...You could test for your gene polymorphisms. And then they would interpret the data for you and say, "Okay. This is what this means for," hundreds of them. But now they're only gonna do 36 major diseases. So you still...You know, you're gonna get some information from them, but there are other sources out there that have tools like Promethease, which allow you to interpret the data, if you don't know anything. It's like $5. And it tells you kinda what your data means. And then they delete it after like 40 days or something, so it's kind of secure.
Rich: Oh, wow. Interesting. That's cool.
Rhonda: Yeah. I'll send you...I made a video on it and I have a PDF where I kind of explain it, if you're interested.
Rich: Yeah. Cool.
Rhonda: But that's one way. And then the other way would be to get your blood levels of Omega-3. And you can measure EPA and DHA. If you're eating a boat load of chia seeds and flax seeds and all these walnuts and good sources of ALA, and yet you're still like very low levels of EPA and DHA, that might be a sign that you may have one of those.
Rich: Yeah, interesting.
Rhonda: So then, genetic test would be the next logical step, right. But that's also something I think that vegetarian and vegans should consider because they're very important micronutrients. They're both very important. So I kinda wanted to get into some of the issues that you said now, the reason why you're vegan or some of the reasons why you're vegan have expanded and that it's been a journey where...And that makes sense where it's like...I think that if I were to become a vegan, which I'm not, but if I were, I think that once I started doing it, I'd want to find more interesting reasons why I should continue doing it. And then you sort of seek it out. And then if there's enough evidence to go, "Oh, this is a valid reason why I should," I'm gonna continue to do it. So it's sort of like validating your own lifestyle.
Rich: Yeah. I think that it's definitely evolved for me. I mean, I think it was really an epiphany for me to be able to perform at such a high level in my 40s as an athlete in ways that I never would have previously imagined that I could and to do it on a plant-based diet, to me, told me whether or not humans ancestrally are omnivores or herbivores, we can dispense with all of that because to me, I'm like, "Well, we're not obligate omnivores." At least I'm not. You know, I know that. And once I kind of, that realization dawned on me, then I started to get interested in our food system. Like I was very, like most people, very divorced from where our food comes from, how it's manufactured, distributed, etc. You just cast a blind eye to it. And the whole system is set up to prevent you from really understanding it or being in touch with it to the point where there are ag gag laws. It's actually illegal to really even look into it.
Rich: Well, the ag gag laws that prevent you from sort of filming what goes on in slaughterhouses and all of that. So I got interested in that. And I started to learn more as I was sort of on this journey to really understand like how industrial agriculture works and specifically industrialized animal agriculture. And anybody who looks into it is gonna be horrified. You know, as inherently compassionate people I think that we would all be sensitive to this system that is...It's a horror show, right? I feel terrible for the humans that have to work in it. And I feel terrible for the animals that suffer as a result of it. And it made me kind of go, "Well, why are we even doing this? Like I'm doing great without this." Like it felt like incumbent upon me to learn more about it. And so I got interested in that.
And that led me to be more interested in the ethical arguments behind it, as well as the environmental arguments behind it. There's a documentary that I'm involved in, I'm a producer on, that just came out, it's on Netflix, called "Cowspiracy." Leonardo DiCaprio is an executive producer on it. And it's a really a great documentary. It's very entertaining, as well, but it basically takes a look at the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. And it's very interesting. And it's an aspect of the environmental conversation that has really gone under-addressed because when you really canvas the biggest contributors to global climate change we talk about transportation. We talk about carbon emissions from all the vehicles and the ills of that, but we never talk about the impact of raising all these animals for our food has on the environment.
And the truth is, is that animal agriculture is the number one culprit when it comes to almost every single man-made environmental ill on the planet, everything from like species extinction to ocean pollution to rainforest destruction. We're destroying the rainforest at the rate of like one to two acres a second. It's crazy. Water usage. Like we're here in California. It could not be drier out. It's a crisis. As consumers we are told, we need to like take shorter showers. And we can't water our lawns, but consumer water use amounts to like 5% of all water use. The vast majority of water goes to animal agriculture. It's crazy, not just to go to the animals, but to raise all the crops that we're feeding to the animals, right? And when you break it down, it's like 660 gallons of water to produce a quarter pound patty of beef and 1,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk.
So in other words, like raising animals for food is incredibly inefficient, right? We have to create so many resources have to go into raising these animals for us to eat them that it's incredibly wasteful. And the sort of impact of that on the environment is incredibly deleterious. So I got really interested in all of these issues land use, all these sorts of things. And when you look at swelling global population the idea that we're gonna hit 11 billion people by 2100, we just can't continue to feed the planet the way that we're doing it. It's not sustainable. We're destroying the planet at an unfathomable rate. And we're just blind to the impact of it.
And because the meat and dairy industry is so powerful and their lobbying efforts are so impactful, it prevents government from really doing anything about it. And it prevents public awareness of these issues that I think are really important that we should all be considering. So for me it's kinda been a journey from being very focused on performance to being more focused on what is our kind of obligation to the planet to live more sustainably and more compassionately? And when I feel myself thriving without participating in this system, like that makes me want to spread that message. You know, and it feels really good to kind of opt out of that in some regard and just say, "You know what? I'm not gonna participate in that. Not only do I not have to, I actually am taking out an insurance policy against all of these chronic diseases that are killing people by the millions."
You know, you look at the health statistics. Like 70% of people are obese or overweight. And one out of every three people is gonna die of a heart attack. And they're predicting that by 2030, 50% of Americans are gonna be diabetic or pre-diabetic. Like it's insane. You know, it's insane that so many people are sick. And these lifestyle diseases are easily preventable, and in many cases reversible through some pretty simple diet and lifestyle alterations. And eating plant-based is a pretty good way to make sure that you're not gonna succumb to a lot of these problems that are unnecessarily afflicting too many people.
And so when you add in like the health equation, the environmental equation, and the ethics of not participating in the death of all these animals, to me it's like, it's a no-brainer, you know. You know, it's a no-brainer to me. And it's amazing that by making this one simple decision...You know, I think as consumers, it's very easy to feel disenfranchised, like, "Oh, my vote doesn't count. It doesn't matter who's President. It's the same old thing. It's always gonna be the same," but by saying, "Okay. I'm gonna eat plant-based," you're actually...That's a pretty profound impact on the environment.
You're saving all this water. You're saving all these resources. The carbon emissions go down. You're preventing yourself from becoming a statistic to one of these health disorders. And you're saving animals' lives. Like it checks every box in my opinion. So I just feel like that would be one thing, if you had to suffer to do it and be some kind of martyr, but I feel like I'm thriving and doing great. So I don't feel like I've given anything up. And my life has been nothing but nourished and improved by making this decision.
Rhonda: I was actually reading one of your blog posts on like the 10 best reasons to adopt a plant-based diet. And a lot of them were what you were just talking about the water, the impact on CO2 emissions, all these things that I don't usually think about, probably because it's so disturbing, I don't want to think about it. So I started to try to find references and looking them up, and I started to find scientific studies stating exactly what you were saying, you know. And I was like, "Wow. This is..." You had some statistic on there that was like if every American in the United States stopped or just took away one serving of chicken a week, it would be as if 500,000 cars were taken off the road, right?
Rich: Right. It's crazy.
Rhonda: And to me, I'm like, "Yeah, I'm..." First of all, I only eat like one serving a week. So but it seems like, "Well, yeah. I'm gonna do that. You know, I'm gonna make sure I don't eat two servings a week" because I think that's a pretty profound...I'll have moments when I'm on the highway, and I'll see like some like semi-bus with all the exhaust coming out. And I see it. And I'm just like...It triggers something. And I start to get really sad and depressed. And then I imagine all the trucks and all the cars all around the world doing it spiral into this OCD link, but anyways, I think that the water, as well, especially in California, this is a huge issue. I mean, in addition to the impacts on the environment, which are much more profound than I had previously known, so thank you for that blog post because it really did...It made me think. And I'll watch the documentary "Cowspiracy."
Rich: Yeah, you should. And if you go to cowspiracy.com I think it's /facts or they have a facts thing there, they have all the studies. And you can go through all of these things.
Rhonda: Oh, cool.
Rich: It's really well laid out too.
Rhonda: So you have references.
Rich: Yeah, references for everything.
Rhonda: That's what I was really looking for, but I was able to find them.
Rich: Because I know you could geek out and just go deep into that one.
Rhonda: Totally, yeah. That's what I was looking for. I was actually going to email you. Be like, "do you have a reference for that?" Anyways, but the other issue is even...Let's say like you're the kind of person that you're like, "Well, I don't really care about the animal welfare and well-being and all of that." Like some people like, they just, they don't, right? The other issue is what these animals are fed and what they're given and then what we're eating, right?
Rich: Right. The pesticides, the antibiotics. It's an absolute horror show.
Rhonda: Antibiotics for like...
Rich: Yeah, it's crazy. And like what about all the glyphosate that goes into all the feed that they're eating. Like what is the impact of all of this and just the confined circumstances under which all of these animals are living the disease and the...It's crazy. It's crazy when you really think about it.
Rhonda: Yeah. So I was trying to think of solution. I was people say, "Well, being a vegan is hard work. Being a vegetarian is hard work," but being an omnivore is hard work. It's hard work. Health-conscientious omnivores like myself, I...You know, we tend to try to eat meat that unless we're Joe Rogan and out hunting our meat, which is ideal, you try to eat cows that are grass-fed because you don't want a cow that's given a bunch of corn or also they're fed like leftover body parts of like other animals, I mean, which is disgusting. They're given antibiotics prophylactically. I mean, it's like 90% of the antibiotic use in the United States is agriculture.
Rich: Modern agriculture. Yeah, of course.
Rhonda: Agriculture. And that stuff gets into our system. And it impacts our gut microbiome. It impacts obesity, all of these different things. So eating...And most Americans eat meat that is not grass-fed. You know, you've got a small percentage of people that are like, "I need the grass-fed meat. I want the free-range chicken that are eating grass and insects and not eating a bunch of corn, getting a lot of like Omega-6 fatty acids," and all sorts of problems, but so it's hard work to be an omnivore too.
Rich: Right. And also, I mean, I think, of course, eating grass-fed is certainly better than conventionally-raised meat, but I think it's in some respects, it's an elitist solution to the problem because we can't feed the planet with grass-fed meat. There's not enough land. So if there's one thing that animal agriculture does very well, industrialized animal agriculture does very well, it's economies of scale. The least amount of resources to blow that animal up into a big fat animal that you're gonna want to put on your plate in the shortest amount of time. When you're talking about a grass-fed animal, they're using a lot more resources, tons more land, tons more water. They keep the animal alive longer. So there's not as much food. And they're eating longer. So the amount of resources that go into that calf are gonna exceed what is happening on a conventionally-raised sort of cattle farm. So it doesn't really add up.
Rhonda: So it's still not sustainable.
Rich: So the environment...Yeah, it's less sustainable actually. And it's weird because it's counter-intuitive, but when you run the numbers on it, you're like, "Yeah, that doesn't..." It makes you feel better because you feel like you're making a more ethical choice or you're doing something that sounds greener, but it's actually less green, which is interesting.
Rhonda: Yeah. So it may be healthier for the person eating it, but it may not be healthier for the environment, which brings me to the next thing.
Rich: And that's the meta.
Rhonda: It is. It is.
Rich: What is health? There's our individual health.
Rhonda: It's the altruistic path.
Rich: Well, how healthy are we if our planet is dying? So there's our individual health, like the health of the...You know, we're the microorganism, and the Earth is the macroorganism, right? So if a choice that we're making for our own personal health is at the expense of the greater health of the planet in which we live and we care about the longevity of this environment that we live in for our children and the like, I think that has to play into the mental calculus, right? And so what that means is you're asking somebody to kind of make a decision that perhaps is not in their immediate sort of short-term self-interest, which is hard.
And that gets into altruism and all that kind of stuff, but I think it's important to talk about because when we talk about health, health isn't just the proportion of micronutrients and phytonutrients on your plate. It's a much larger conversation than that. And I think it begs the question of kind of our scientific approach to all these things. So you, as a scientist, and somebody who plies the scientific method is, by its very definition, and necessarily so, reductionist, right?
You have to take one thing, look at it, and analyze its impact, but as you know nutrition, health, the environment, all of these things are a grand interplay of countless infinite variables that all are interdependent on each other. So to extrapolate one and focus on that really means sort of not really honoring the greater picture. And not to say that I have the solution to that, but I think when we talk about health and we talk about nutrition, we need to think more "wholistically," you know, like with a "wh" than maybe we're sort of inclined to intuitively do.
Rhonda: That's very interesting. I want to talk about a possible solution in a minute, but to get back to you were talking about the interconnectedness between health and nutrition, the health of our environment and the planet there have been studies that have shown and even more recent ones that just came out a couple of days ago showing that the healthier you eat, the more your brain switches to like long-term planning. Like you're able to...There's more activity in that part of the brain that's long-term planning.
Rich: That's interesting. That's super interesting.
Rhonda: Right. So these things are interconnected. And the opposite was true. So like when you're eating unhealthy, when you're eating junk food, that stuff shuts down.
Rich: Yeah because you're numbing out because you're eating addictively. You're eating to medicate, right? You're eating to like disconnect. Like you're eating to like numb yourself to whatever is going on. So, of course, you go into like sleep mode. You go into like shut-down mode.
Rhonda: It makes it worse.
Rich: You don't care about anything, right, like what you, except "Dancing with the Stars" or whatever is on TV.
Rhonda: Yeah. Okay. So the solution. I'm curious to get your opinion on this. So being a scientist I'm kind of into all this technical stuff, but we now have the capability and capacity to grow meat in the lab, like meat that texture-wise is meat. It tastes like meat, but it's grown from stem cells. And in the case of meat, most of the time, it's muscle tissue, right? You know, there's muscle tissue. So you can...Scientists can take a stem cell from a cow muscle or a moose, whatever and without killing it, and grow it in a culture medium that has all these types of nutrients and growth factors that can make it become a certain type of muscle tissue. And then it begins to like arrange like a tissue, and do all these things.
But ultimately there is going to be lab-grown meat, which means...I mean, it's kinda gross to think about it. It still grosses me out to like think about it, but one, it's gonna solve the problem of this whole like meat agriculture industry. I mean, it's just...It's non-sustainable, like you said. By the year 2050, there is going to be 11 million people, or 2051 or something, there's going to be 11 billion people, sorry. And that's just...We can't feed them all. We can't do it. And with all the...It's gonna use up the resources we have. It's gonna destroy our environment. And two, you don't have all the antibiotics given to the animals. You don't have all the growth hormones. Just all the crap that's put in, it's not gonna be there, right? So it's gonna be lab-grown. Would you ever try a lab-grown piece of meat?
Rich: That's such an interesting question. I haven't really thought...It doesn't appeal to me at all.
Rhonda: It doesn't appeal to me, and I eat meat.
Rich: Yeah, it sounds weird and gross. I applaud like technological advances to try to solve these problems that we have to create solutions that are more sustainable. So I'm all about that. You know, for me it's like I feel like there's so much energy being put into kind of creating meat analogs, but we were talking originally about sort of symptoms and causes like getting to the root problem like...So I think before we even get to that issue, taking a step back and taking a look at like why we're so obsessed with meat to begin with. You know what I mean? Like maybe we should talk about that first. Like I feel like I have no desire to eat lab-raised meat. You know, it doesn't...I don't need it. You know what I mean? Like why would I eat that? I'm doing fine the way that I am. Why do we feel such a need that we have to have like so much meat? Like so let's talk about that first.
Secondarily, I think it's an interesting ethical question too. It's like it's animal tissue without consciousness. So what does that mean? It's almost like a philosophical thing. It's a weird thing to wrap your head around. And I think it's an interesting approach to the solution. And I have no doubt that they'll figure it out in the same way they're figuring out like how to create hamburgers out of pea protein that have some kind of solution in them that actually gives it that bloody taste that meat...Like it's bizarre like trying to, putting all this energy and science into creating something that tastes exactly like something else rather than just saying, "Well, why don't we just move over here where we're growing all this food and not worry about that rather than trying to copy this thing?"
Rhonda: It's a lot of people that like meat.
Rich: Yeah, I know. They do. They do, right? I know. And I think that the expectation...Like I can't be under the impression that everyone's gonna do what I'm doing. I understand that. Like you have to create solutions for people that are accessible to them that are appealing enough, like so that that veggie patty that tastes like a hamburger is a great step to get somebody to rethink what's on their plate and maybe not eat meat at every single meal every single day as the focus of their plate. Like I think that's a good thing. Ultimately I think when somebody starts to shift and their microbiome starts to shift, those kinds of meat analogs become less interesting, but that's for everybody to go on their own path with.
Rhonda: Would you be happy...So you personally wouldn't feel compelled to be eating lab-grown meat, but would you be happy if that was a solution...
Rich: But I think to the extent...
Rhonda: Like knowing that it's going to have a better impact on the environment.
Rich: Of course. Of course. I think that's a...Yeah, it's...Listen. To the extent that that can save a lot of animals' lives and take a step forward to preserve our environment or move in a better direction, like I'm supportive of that. I still think it's weird though. It's like I...
Rhonda: It's really weird.
Rich: I have to sit with it and really think it through. Like I don't know that I've spent enough time really thinking deeply enough about it though.
Rhonda: You know, the guy that originally came up with the theory before it was ever even this was done was back in like the early 1900s. I've forgot his name. And then back in like the 1950s or something, some scientist was like able to like keep like some sort of piece of a chicken growing in a dish for like 10 years, something crazy where like that sort of seeded this whole theory of, "Oh, maybe we can grow meat, you know." And then stem cell technology came. And boom. It was just so...
Rich: I know. It's a crazy time, Rhonda Patrick.
Rhonda: Totally. And these stem cells are, the muscle ones are important for a lot of medical reasons repairing muscle damage, muscular dystrophy, lots of uses. But you did bring up an interesting point. And that is the health aspects of meat and do we need to eat this much meat? And I think based on the science, I don't think we need to focus on eating so much meat. We need to focus on getting the plants and getting all the right micronutrients and getting the fiber. And when you do that, you end up eating healthier. And you end up not eating processed foods, eating this really refined sugars, which are really bad for you. You know, you end up not eating those things, one, because when you start to like eat healthy, you feel, at least I do, I feel like deprived of...Like if I go somewhere, I'm traveling, and I can't get all my veggies, like I usually...And maybe I'm a little crazy, but I feel like I'm like, "I'm like aging myself."
I'm like, "Oh, god, I'm not getting all my nutrients. I need these parts to keep running, you know." All these different biochemical pathways in my body, they need magnesium. They need folate. They need selenium. They need all these Vitamin K. They need all these nutrients that are found in plants. My gut needs the fiber. My gut really needs the fiber. If I don't get enough fiber, I mean, I can tell, when I'm traveling. So I...People in general, they don't need that much...You don't need that much protein. Obviously, if you're like wanting to bulk up and doing the weight training thing, then your protein requirements are a little different, but your goals are also different, you know. So depending on what your goals are and with the meat there was a study that came out...Well, the press release came out yesterday for the World Health Organization basically classified processed meat as a group one carcinogen or group one, meaning it's got components in it that are cancer-causing to humans.
And that's not something that's new. I mean, there are dozens and dozens of studies that have been published over the last few decades that have shown not only correlative data where they're looking at people that are eating processed meat and cancer incidence, which is always ridden with many different errors, I mean, because correlations never show a causation, right. But there's also the mechanistic studies where they've doven into what's in the processed meat. And they've given it to animals and tried to figure out exactly what's going on. And one of the major problems with processed meats is they're loaded with nitrites, which are preservatives, but the problem is is that nitrites can form nitrosamines. It can form nitrosamines in our colon. And also they can form nitrosamines when they're in contact with water and heat.
So if you've got some bacon that has nitrites and you're frying it in a frying pan and the water, you're forming nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. So they're mutagens, meaning when humans consume them, they cause damage to the DNA of a cell that's in contact with it. In this case of eating it, the first cells that come in contact with it are your gut, right, the colon. So they basically damage the DNA in such a way that it can lead to cancer cells. It damages it in such a way that it can potentially lead to cancer. Now, there's a lot of different factors that are going on, depending on all the other dietary factors in your life and lifestyle. These are all very important, right, but these nitrosamines are carcinogens. That's a fact. And nitrites form them. They form them in the gut, bacteria in our guts, and also when you put them in water and heat and things like that.
Nitrates, which people like to often use as the counter, well they're in plants. And they also can form nitrosamines, which is true, but nitrates, which are everywhere in nature...They're in all plants and they're all over the place. They tend to form nitric oxide and not nitrosamines. And the reason for that is because plants also are packaged with a whole other bunch of nutrients and micronutrients. In the plant, it was designed a certain way. And so the high vitamin C content which are in all green leafy plants, all plants fruits, vegetables, they all have vitamin C. The vitamin C present there shifts the pathway, the nitric oxide. And so it tends to not form nitrosamines. And that's why eating plants, you end up getting more nitric oxide when you eat them, which is good because it's good for vasodilation. It helps endurance, right? You're getting more red blood cells, more oxygen.
So the nitrates are in plants, it's really not a good counter argument. And when I hear that, I just...I know people haven't dug into the mechanism and that you don't understand. But so really nitrites, I think processed meat is a terrible thing to eat on a daily basis. You know, once in a while, it's fine. You want to grill out and have your hot dog on whatever, Fourth of July or whatever, you know. I mean, it's...You obviously wouldn't, but I might, you know. I tend to avoid them. Like I rarely...Like I don't go out and eat processed meats because I know that it's not good for you, especially to eat on a daily basis. So and then there's other problems with meat, you know.
Rich: And what is it, the ami-, the hypocyclic amines? What do they call it again?
Rhonda: Well, those are nitrosamines, yeah.
Rich: Okay. That's what you were talking about, right?
Rhonda: And there's also polycyclic amines and polycyclic carbonyls, which happen with the heat...
Rich: What about the heme, and the sort of implications for promoting IGF-1. Like there are other aspects to that, as well, right?
Rhonda: So IGF-1 has nothing to do with heme, but...
Rich: Those are two different things that are going on.
Rhonda: Yeah, so I'll explain. So one of the things...So there have been studies linking protein and meat consumption to cancer incidence. And there was a really well-done study published last year by Valter Longo's lab at UCLA. And he has been doing a lot of research in this area. He's a very good scientist. He does studies on humans that are correlative, so epidemiological studies, but he backs them up with mouse data and then goes into like cultured cells and he teases apart all the mechanisms. So he doesn't just make an association. He first makes the observation. He finds the correlation. And then he goes into the mouse model. And he gives them a certain diet. And he controls everything.
And then he goes and dives even further into all the biochemical and molecular pathways in different cultured cells. So which is why he always ends up getting like a really high impact scientific publication like "Nature" or "Science." And he's always publishing in those really high impact journals. So a study that he published last year, it was looking at...I've forgot the time frame, but it was people that were eating protein, in meat. And it looked at how much they were eating and correlated it to their all-cause mortality.
So they were looking at cancer or they were looking at different cardiovascular-related diseases. I'm not sure they were looking at neurodegenerative disease, but they were definitely looking at those two. And they found that people that eat more meat had a higher all-cause mortality. They had more cardiovascular disease. They had more cancer. And that was the real main thing. They had more cancer, but it was a certain...You had...It was people that were older, but not too old. So once you got to a certain age like above...I don't remember exactly, 55 or something like that, the opposite was true. So protein became more important. Protein intake was inversely correlated with mortality. So the higher the protein intake, the lower the all-cause mortality.
And I think that has a lot to do with frailty. You know, as you get older, you fall down and break a bone. You know, muscle mass is also a very important indicator of all-cause mortality. And not everyone that's vegan is training like you, is very aware of making sure they are maintaining the muscle mass and staying physically fit. So protein does become important as you're getting older because you don't want to break a hip and then it takes you out, you know. So, but what was interesting about this study is that they went into animal models. And they gave animal models cancer. So they basically injected them with some tumor cells, various types of cancer. And then they gave them either a high-protein or low-protein diet. And they looked at the tumor growth. So it wasn't like feeding mice protein initiated cancer, which is a very different point. So there's something that initiates cancer. And there's something that can then...
Rich: Promotes the growth.
Rhonda: Promote it to grow. And so IGF-1 is a growth factor that's...It's important for muscle growth. It's important for neuronal cell survival. It's important to making new neurons. I mean, you want IGF-1. You want it to repair damaged muscle. You want it to make new neurons. And when you're a kid, you want it to grow. However, as you become older and you have accumulated a lifetime of damaged cells...Let's say you're eating a diet that's high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, damaged cells. You're eating a bunch of processed meat, things that are causing DNA damage. You don't want damaged cells to keep growing. You want them to die.
Rich: Right. So the IGF-1 is really like throwing gasoline on the fire.
Rhonda: Exactly. Exactly. So it's all about the context. And so these mice that were given a high protein diet, the tumors grew faster. Duh. Their IGF-1 was going up. IGF-1 is a major promoter of cancer. And it can allow cancer cells to grow and thrive. And when we have a damaged cell, our body knows it. And our body goes, "Oh, wow. This is not good. If I don't kill this guy, it's gonna potentially become cancer." So it kills it, but you know what IGF-1 does? IGF-1 comes over and it's like, "Oh, no. Don't die. No, no, we're cool. We're cool." So it like overrides that whole inherent mech pathway that we have in our bodies that are protective against getting cancer. So IGF-1 can be very bad, but it all depends on the person.
So if you have someone that is very health-conscientious, that's an omnivore, people that are not eating processed foods, refined carbohydrates, not eating a bunch of processed meats they're eating their healthy meats and they're getting a lot of plants, a lot of micronutrients, they're exercising, they're doing all the right things to minimize the amount of damage, to minimize their inflammation, they're getting enough fiber, all that stuff IGF-1 is not as much of a problem for those people as it is for the person who is eating meat and all of the other bullshit.
Rich: Right. Right, right, right. Interesting.
Rhonda: You know, so I think that's something very important to keep in mind is the context so when you've got these big headlines that come out that say, "Eating meat causes cancer." Well, not exactly, you know.
Rich: Right. Well, I think it's a...Yeah, I think it's hard to talk about this study and the press release. I mean, the internet exploded yesterday, right, with this news. And what's just as amazing as these scientific results and these studies is the conversation that's swirling around it, right, and the sort of participation of journalism in that dialogue. So we're in this clickbait culture. So there's this sort of commercial drive to create these sensational headlines that don't necessarily accurately reflect what the study actually says. I feel like you're like one of the few people who's actually qualified to pontificate on what these studies mean actually, but most people aren't. You know, they're just gonna read the headline. And they're gonna draw their conclusion. And they're not gonna really get into it.
And it's been interesting to watch kind of over the last 24 hours how these different camps are sort of solidifying their positions. So you have the like bacon-loving, low carb people who are basically throwing the predictable barbs out there about how it's correlative and like blah, blah, blah. It doesn't mean anything, which is sort of an argument you could make about most nutritional studies because that's the very nature of how they're done, right? And then I saw a funny headline on like a parody site. It said something about like, "You know, in the wake of the WHO press release, vegans 250% more likely to be snarky," or something like that. You know what I mean? So it's like both sides can participate in this dance that's going on around it. And, of course it's not like, "Eat a piece of bacon and you get cancer."
It's certainly not that, but I think also to say, to just dismiss it out of hand and say, "This is meaningless and doesn't require us to even look at it and is lacking merit," is ridiculous as well. I mean, I think that this was a consortium of scientists that span not just the WHO, but these other organizations over 10 countries. I think they looked at 800 studies.
Rhonda: Eight hundred studies.
Rich: And that dealt with many populations of people. And, of course you can't control...They're human beings. You can't control for every variable. It's impossible to do so. And I think they even did try to control for certain co-factors. And that actually made the statistics less dramatic in doing so. And they still were able to to come up with these correlative figures of what was it, 18% for every 50 grams of processed meat, more likely for, was it, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, 17% per 100 gram of red meat for a couple other, pancreatic cancer, I think a couple other ones, whatever. So you can parse that out and draw from it what you will, but I think at the end of the day, like what I take away from it is saying, "Yeah, well, this is something that there is clearly some risks associated with this. And we need to like take a look at that."
Rhonda: Yeah. I think you bring up some really important points one being obviously the problem with the sensational journalism, which instigates this, but then there is the people that have their own belief in their view. And they, you know...instead of thinking more like a scientist and going, "Okay. Like I want to understand what's really going on here," they're just like, "No, I want to eat bacon," or, "No, I want to eat tofu," you know. So it's like you get this war.
Rich: Or they've been promoting a certain perspective for so long. So they're very invested in that.
Rhonda: Right. That's a big problem, you know. It's something that I really...
Rich: And that's something that I have to like look at that, as well.
Rhonda: Right. Absolutely.
Rich: Because I'm a vegan athlete guy. So I go, "Well, what part of this is...Where am I being dogmatic? And when am I..." You know, it's important for me to be open-minded and to really use my intelligence to look at everything critically and objectively.
Rhonda: Right. I mean, you have incentive to believe it, right? And you're like, "Oh, yeah."
Rich: Yeah, of course, but like the snark doesn't get anyone anywhere.
Rhonda: No, it doesn't, it doesn't.
Rich: Like I'm not participating in that at all, you know.
Rhonda: That's absolutely true.
Rich: And I think the headlines are inflammatory.
Rhonda: They are. They always are. And it's...
Rich: The same thing with "Butter is Back," you know. And then you just flip sides on that one, you know.
Rhonda: Yeah. We could talk for like days on this. We can talk for days, but I think the bottom line is that there are interesting mechanisms going on here that scientists need to continue to explore. People, the general public, needs to be aware of possible correlations. And when you have something like with the nitrites and nitrosamines and you know that these polycyclic carbonyl groups are formed when you have the heat. And it's something to keep in mind to go, "Okay. Wait a minute. So if I'm damaging myself this way and I'm doing all this other stuff maybe that's not good." So it's something that I think is important to just have in your awareness. And for the scientist it's time to go to work. We need to continue to look at this.
Rich: Yeah. And another thing to bear in mind is that there's a greater play going on in the sense that there's a lot of...You know, talk about vested interest. Not just the people that adhere to a certain position nutritionally, but the just sheer economic forces behind all of this. So here we're dealing with relatively objective-minded scientists who...You know, I'm sure there are some politics in there, of course, but it's not like they are being funded by the meat and dairy industry. And the amount of money...What was the figure? It's something like $800 million and...You know, the meat industry is like an $890 billion industry. Like there is a lot of money to be made in this business.
And when their bottom line is being threatened by studies like this I guarantee you that there were a lot of back door sort of conversations that took place in this World Health Organization situation where they were being pressured probably with regard to what these statistics were gonna be by politicians. And so the fact that they still came out and said this I think is very powerful. And you have to really understand that there's a gigantic system at play that has a vested interest in having people believe that certain foods that are unhealthy for you are indeed healthy. And so what we're seeing right now in many ways is very analogous to the tobacco industry and how they handled it. So the meat industry issues their press release. "This is nonsense. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." You know, they're sort of lining up their arguments to refute all of this because it's a threat. It's a threat to their business, right?
Rhonda: Yeah, of course. I haven't kept up with that. I haven't seen what their response was, but I was curious. What are people working at...I mean, people working at Subway don't give a crap, but what are some...Because that's all processed meat, right, that's like cold cuts. I mean, that's full of nitrites, I think. I mean, I don't know. Maybe they have meat that's not...You can buy meat, but that...To my...That was the first thing I thought of was all these like sandwich places that are serving all these processed meats. I was like, "Oh, man. They must be freaking out right now," but you know what? This has been around...I talked about this on like a year ago when I went on Joe Rogan's podcast, talk about nitrites and processed meats and how it leads to nitrosamines and causes cancer. It's not, like scientists have known about this, it's just now getting out there.
Rich: It's not like...like, this is new?
Rhonda: This is not new.
Rich: This is like "breaking news."
Rhonda: It's not. It's really not. It's actually quite old.
Rich: I think the point really ultimately, like it's important for me to say that I'm not here to tell anyone how to live their life. Like I'm not here to say, "You should do this or do that," or, "You need to be vegan." It's like that's not my business, right? I can share my experience. If that is interesting to people, I'm happy to talk about it, but ultimately, everybody needs to take responsibility for their own decisions about how they're gonna live. And I think it's just...Like studies like this and kinda what's happening and the conversations that are occurring right now just make it incumbent upon everybody to do their own research. Like look into it.
Read the study yourself. What is your conclusion? Don't just read the headline, you know. Understand that there is an avenue for you to expand your own horizons. And I don't...I mean, when were kids, like there was no internet. You know, if you wanted to research something like this, that was like a...You were like in the basement of some library looking at microfiche. And now, you have all of, anything you want to know...With 10 minutes on Google, you can find out all kinds of incredible information. So avail yourself of that resource and educate yourself.
Rhonda: Yeah, as much as you can. Obviously, it's difficult to...There's a lot of bad information on Google, as well, but you're right.
Rich: Especially with these studies, who's gonna read...Like it seems like so much research now is funded by special interest groups. And only someone like you is gonna take the time to actually read the full study, rather than the abstract, and to try to figure out who's doing the study and who has to gain and who's being paid by who and all kinds of stuff, you know.
Rhonda: It's hard. It's not just about who's funding it. I think the bigger elephant in the room is the lack of funding and what drives scientists to publish quicker and be sloppy with their data is the fact that their career depends on it. So because there's such great competition for the little bit of money...Most of the money in science is coming from the NIH. So it's government, taxpayer dollars, right? And we only get so much every year. And so there's not a lot of money. And so in order to get that little piece of money, you have to have this whole like you have to have a ton of publications. You have to have good ones. And in order to get something published, you need to get data. In order to get data, I mean, it takes a long...I took six years to get my PhD, you know. I got a "Nature Cell Biology" paper, which is very prestigious, but it took me six years. And it took me six years because science is hard. It fails. You've gotta figure it out. You've gotta work through that. You've gotta problem-solve. I mean, you're trying to tackle really complex problems.
Rich: Now you're a podcaster.
Rhonda: I'm telling you. It's like there were so many times where I was just like, "I can't do this. This is..." I mean, I'm like digging into like figuring out like the molecular proteins and interactions and how they're interacting and what time frame they're doing it inside of a cell, which is inside of the mitochondria, which is inside of the cell, which is inside of a tissue, which is inside of an organism and how they're all interacting together. I mean, it's crazy, you know. So my point is, is not to complain, but, kind of. It's that science right now is in a bad place because of the lack of funding. And so something like 40% of scientific publications can't be replicated, which means people are just getting data, and there's a lot of times when you get data and you can't repeat it. And it's artifactual, meaning it just happened because you did something.
Rich: And it seems like it's given the same weight in the conversation because if you research a particular issue, you're gonna find studies that contradict each other, right? And it's sorta like, "Well, he says this. And he says this. So I guess they don't know," when, in fact, maybe one is an incredibly robust study and another one is like nonsense, but unless you're Rhonda Patrick, you're not able to decipher the distinguishing factors. And then it gets propagated across the blogosphere, and by journalists who are lazy or don't have the time or what have you to really parse the facts. And here we are where we have access to so much information, but yeah, I mean, it really is confusing. You know, and it's sorta like...
Rhonda: Yeah, you're talking me up, but thank you, but you're right. You know, it does take a lot. And a lot of these conflicting data like one says X, the other one says Y, well, who do I believe? You know, you really have to look at a large body of evidence, and not only in that field, but in other fields because then you can start to figure out, "Oh, there are certain gene polymorphisms that changes the way this vitamin D gets converted into the active hormone." And so even if you give them a supplement, they're not making the vitamin D.
That may be why this and...You know, so there's all these intricate mechanisms and interactions going on. And I'm not the only one that can parse through it. There are a lot of good scientists out there, but it's hard. And I see a lot of people out there that will read an abstract or read a study. And they're not a scientist. And they just spew out stuff. And they are causing more problems. Now there's a lot of good people out there that aren't scientists that can make good decisions and can figure things out. So I'm not saying you have to be a scientist, but...
Rich: But what you're doing is so important because you're translating this information to the public, right?
Rhonda: I'm trying.
Rich: So there's a lot of scientists out there. And in their own communities and circles, they know what's going on, but they're not communicating to the public. And they could be like, "Oh, yeah. That's all crazy what it says in 'Time Magazine' or whatever," but like, so who's the one who's gonna correct the record? You know what I mean? And so I think that makes your role all the more important, but also that carries like a lot of responsibility with it to like get it right.
Rhonda: No joke. No joke. Yeah. It's like a huge responsibility. And I'm sure you feel the same type of responsibility because you're sort of this poster child for...You're not really a child, poster athlete for these vegan athletes, for people that are vegans or vegetarians that are wanting to be competitive athletes. They're probably looking up to you. And so some of the information that you put out there, you probably are very concerned about getting right, but like you said, it's not your job to tell people what to do. It's your job to kinda make them think.
And that's actually something that you made me do with that blog post that was listing the 10 reasons why...You know, I eat a mostly plant-based diet based for health reasons because I'm trying to get all these micronutrients and fiber, but you really did make me think about some of the impact on the water usage and the CO2 emissions. I mean, these are things I care about the species extinction. I mean, I'm drinking like plastic bottled water right now, and I was talking to my husband. You know, we're staying at my mom's. And she doesn't have a water filter on her sink, which is ridiculous. I've gotta get her one, but we have one. So we're not using these plastic bottles.
Rich: Like single-use items, yeah.
Rhonda: And then I look at the waste. And I'm like...It's disturbing. Just to see what we've used in like a week, it's disturbing.
Rich: And you do it without thinking about it, you know.
Rhonda: Totally. Totally. It's a latent inhibition. And it's something that you get used to. It's something I became very familiar with in graduate school. And I'm totally rambling on here, but when I was in graduate school, I used to do a lot of mouse work. And I'd have to kill mice for medical reasons. So it's probably against your beliefs, but I had to kill mice. And I'd kill them. And then I'd harvest their organs, their livers, their thymus, their spleens. And I had to do a bunch of experiments to figure out different immunological types of things and all this metabolic blah, blah, blah stuff, right? And I would do that like definitely a couple times a week. Three times a week, I'd go and kill a mouse. At first, it was really hard. The first time I did it, you gas them with CO2.
And you watch them suffocate. And it was very disturbing. And I couldn't watch. And then as I started to do it more, it was like nothing. Like I got to the point, because I was doing this for years, where I would just go and I'd kill a bunch of mice and cut them up, open them up. And it was just nothing. It didn't even phase me. And then I stopped doing those experiments and I shifted to doing something else for like a few months, like half a year or something. And then I went back to having to like do these mouse studies because I was getting my paper published. And the reviewers were asking for all these specific experiments. So I went back to kill a mouse. And all of a sudden, I was very sensitive to it like it was the first time.
Rich: Yeah, isn't that interesting, you know.
Rhonda: It is. It's interesting.
Rich: It goes back to that idea that I think we are all hard-wired to be compassionate. Like we don't want to kill things, you know. It's just we become creatures of habit, you know. And we just sort of go on this autopilot living this "Matrix" lifestyle without really questioning the grand paradigm of why we're doing what we're doing. And that's applicable to everything from the plastic water bottle to the car you drive to the the iPhone. It's like do you spend time thinking about how your iPhone arrived in your hand? Like it's probably a horror show, do you know what I mean? But this is the culture that we live in. So then it becomes a question of how can we do better? How can we make better decisions that help us live a little bit more gently on the planet in certain ways?
You know, and it's not about being perfect. You know, and I certainly stand on no high horse because I'm vegan. I just flew to Europe and back in an airplane, you know. And I use an iPhone. And I drive a pickup truck. So it's like you know what I mean? Like I'm in no position to judge anybody else. And that judgment is violence on others, as well. So I think that to the extent that we can be more compassionate and understanding with each other and that if anything, we turn that spotlight on ourselves and just focus on improving ourselves and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and why they're not seeing the world the way that you would like them to see, I think we might get onto a better track.
Rhonda: Awesome, but it's so true. When you turn the light onto yourself and you start to understand and analyze what your motives are, what your intentions, why you behave the way you do, you begin to become more compassionate and understand others. And then, it's a little easier. And I really have enjoyed this discussion, Rich. Like you're a super cool guy. I really, really enjoy talking with you.
Rich: Yeah, thanks so much for coming out here and doing this. You know, I can't wait to have you on my podcast. We'll do it again.
Rhonda: Yeah. It's gonna be fun. I know. It's gonna be fun.
Rich: Why don't I come to your house to do it?
Rhonda: Right. Right. It's gonna be fun. I look forward to it.
Rhonda: So you want to...I mean, people can find you. You know, you wrote a book, things like that.
Rich: Yeah. Sure. So easiest way to find me is richroll.com, my website, the podcast, "Rich Roll Podcast." I wrote a book called "Finding Ultra," which is my story. So, a memoir. A lot of nutrition information in there in the appendices about what I eat and why I eat the way that I do. This spring, my wife and I wrote a cookbook called "The Plant Power Way," which is basically a plant-based cookbook and lifestyle guide. It's 120 plus plant-based recipes, super yummy and delicious and awesome. And you can find those on Amazon or wherever you buy books.
Rhonda: Right on.
Rich: And I'm just @richroll on Twitter and Instagram and all those places, whatever.
Rhonda: Alright, Rich. Very cool. Thanks a lot.
Rich: Thanks so much.
Rhonda: I really enjoyed it. Cool.
The simplest unsaturated aldehyde, created by the burning of glycerol in animal fat. Acrolein, a toxic, colorless liquid, is a strong irritant for the skin, eyes, and nasal passages of humans. It has a disagreeable, acrid smell, easily recognizable as the odor associated with burning fat.
All of the deaths that occur in a population, regardless of the cause.
The process by which cancer is initiated and normal cells are transformed into abnormal cells. In order for a normal cell to transform into a cancer cell, genes that regulate cell growth and differentiation must be altered. DNA damage is a well-known initiator of cancer because it can lead to cancer-causing mutations.
A broad category of small proteins (~5-20 kDa) that are important in cell signaling. Cytokines are short-lived proteins that are released by cells to regulate the function of other cells. Sources of cytokines include macrophages, B lymphocytes, mast cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and various stromal cells. Types of cytokines include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines, and tumor necrosis factor.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
An omega-3 fatty acid with 22 carbon atoms that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and retina. Most of the DHA in fish and multicellular organisms with access to cold-water oceanic foods originates from photosynthetic and heterotrophic microalgae.
A broad-spectrum herbicide used to kill weeds, which has been subject of much controversy. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” but regulatory agencies and scientific researchers have regularly concluded that glyphosate-based herbicides do not pose significant risks for human or environmental health. Commonly marketed under the trade name Roundup.
A bidirectional signaling pathway between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system, often involving intestinal microbiota. Several studies have shown that the gut microbiota is involved in the regulation of anxiety, pain, cognition, and mood.
The production of red bloods cells, white blood cells, and platelets from hematopoietic stem cells, which occurs in the bone marrow. Also called hematogenesis, or hematopoiesis.
A critical element of the body’s immune response. Inflammation occurs when the body is exposed to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It is a protective response that involves immune cells, cell-signaling proteins, and pro-inflammatory factors. Acute inflammation occurs after minor injuries or infections and is characterized by local redness, swelling, or fever. Chronic inflammation occurs on the cellular level in response to toxins or other stressors and is often “invisible.” It plays a key role in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)
One of the most potent natural activators of the AKT signaling pathway, stimulator of cell growth and proliferation, potent inhibitor of programmed cell death, primary mediator of the effects of growth hormone, and has been implicated in contributing to aging and enhancing the growth of cancer after it has been initiated. Similar in molecular structure to insulin, IGF-1 plays a role during childhood for growth and continues later in life to have anabolic, as well as neurotrophic effects. Protein intake increases IGF-1 levels in humans, independent of total caloric consumption.
The collection of genomes of the microorganisms in a given niche. The human microbiome plays key roles in development, immunity, and nutrition. Dysfunction of the microbiome is associated with the pathology of several conditions, including obesity, depression, and autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
Chemical compounds of the chemical structure R1N(-R2)-N=O, that is, a nitroso group bonded to an amine. Approximately 90% of nitrosamine compounds studies were deemed to be carcinogenic. Nitrites, often used as chemical preservatives, readily form nitrosamines. Frying foods can enhance the formation of nitrosamines, while ascorbic acid has been shown to inhibit their formation.
Short-Chain Fatty Acids
Also referred to as volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and possess an aliphatic tail of less than six carbon atoms. Produced when dietary fiber is fermented in the colon, and primarily absorbed through the portal vein during lipid digestion. The SCFA butyrate is particularly important for colon health because it is the primary energy source for colonic cells and has anti-carcinogenic as well as anti-inflammatory properties.
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