489: Mastering Diabetes: How To Reverse Insulin Resistance and Restore Insulin Sensitivity with Robby Barbaro
The quest to restore insulin sensitivity is a long, arduous one. In this episode, Robby Barbaro talks about the right approach, combined with progressive health habits and lifestyle changes, to help anybody achieve their ideal weight, master diabetes, and reverse their metabolic issues once and for all. He also talks about his upcoming summit, the most comprehensive one you can ever attend, all in one place with no travel and at no cost.
Ashley James and Robby Barbaro
- Recommended foods in Robby’s program
- Green light, yellow light, red light food categories, etc.
- Insulin sensitivity and resistance
- Robby’s summit
Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 489.
Ashley James: I am so excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show Robby Barbaro who was in episode 233. You should definitely go back and listen to that. That was all the way back in 2018. Since then, you’ve published an amazing book. I’ve actually given your book as gifts before. Mastering Diabetes is a phenomenal book. You guys have coached thousands of people to reversing type 2 diabetes completely blowing it out of the water, completely reversing it. These people are getting off meds, losing weight, getting balanced blood sugar, living amazing lives, and even type 1 diabetics like yourself have cut insulin. Crazy amounts, 50 percent, 70 percent. They have had the best health success in their lives from the program that you and Cyrus have created and have been doing for many years. And I’m so excited to have you back on the show because you are about to launch a summit which I want all my listeners to attend because honestly, statistically, you as a listener probably have blood sugar issues or someone in your household or one of your friends does. Because statistically, I think, what is it, 1/3 of the population has diabetes or prediabetes.
[00:01:25] Robby Barbaro: That's absolutely right. It’s unbelievable. I’m just so excited to be here, Ashley. We have so much to talk about. And you’re exactly right. This our big event every year, happens once a year. It’s the Blood Sugar Revolution Summit. It’s absolutely free and people should absolutely register so they can get involved. We do free webinars in the evenings of this event, so we can answer questions live and some people call in, they do a phone call. It’s an incredible even. We have over 22 incredible experts talking on a wide range of topics. So, we’re just really stoked on it and people are going to definitely benefit. If you want to learn how to reverse insulin resistance, if you want to learn how to get rid of excess weight, if you want to learn about how you can prevent and reverse conditions like kidney disease, we have heart disease experts, we have fatty liver disease, we have gut health experts, we have cancer experts. It’s an amazing event with incredible speakers. Our goal is to help people really take full control of their health and understand the truth because it’s a very confusing landscape right now when it comes to nutrition, but it doesn’t have to be confusing.
[00:02:39] Ashley James: I love that you brought up that you’re addressing kidney disease, fatty liver, heart disease, cancer. These are issues that are it’s kind of like an octopus like here we have diabetes but then you see all these arms of diabetes and we see that. It’s like what came first, right, chicken or the egg? When you go to a medical doctor, they’re trained. Now, I love all doctors. The unfortunate part is their education. They’re taught to see the body through the lens of reductionism and to see the body reduced to different parts, and then they're taught to prescribe pills to alter the body. They don’t teach us how to have optimal health and they don’t cure. These are standard medical doctors, right? And they’re doing the best they can with the tools they have but you wouldn’t take your car to a plumber.
[00:03:30] Robby Barbaro: That's right.
[00:03:31] Ashley James: Right? So, when we go to a medical doctor with chronic disease, their tools are drugs that manage symptoms but these drugs have other side effects and you go down a road of early death and disease.
[00:03:44] Robby Barbaro: That's exactly right.
[00:03:45] Ashley James: When we maintain having diabetes, because if you go to a medical doctor, I know like I’m preaching to the choir here, right, I’m talking to you, but this has been my experience also. I had, for many years, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and every medical doctor “you’re going to be on metformin for the rest of your life, you’re going to be on insulin for the rest of your life. Like you're going to be on this drug and we’re just going to keep adding drug after drug.” And you're going to “manage” your diabetes. You're not going to “master” it, you're going to “manage” it, meaning you get to keep diabetes and these drugs.
But here’s the thing. Medical doctors have probably told the listeners, several listeners just like me that you’ll always have it, which is complete nonsense. It’s like saying there's dirt on your face. You're always going to have that dirt on your face. It’s like, you just wash it off. Just wash it off. So yes, with amazing change in lifestyle and diet and nutrition, we can heal the body to the point where it no longer has diabetes.
But now you’ve got all these arms of the octopus because with diabetes comes inflammation and with inflammation comes heart disease, cancer, fatty liver, kidney issues, eyesight issues, neuropathy. You’re losing your limbs. And I have a friend whose boyfriend has erectile dysfunction and he’s in his early 40s and he now can’t get it up because of his blood sugar issues. There’s certain jobs that he’s been fired from and he can’t be hired because he falls asleep. Like he wanted to be a bus driver. Can’t be a bus driver because he falls asleep. That's all out of control blood sugar. But he’s not willing to change his diet. So those who are listening today are willing, they're excited and willing. They want to know what are the answers because they’ve been told so many wrong things. So, I want you to demystify. Let’s talk about how are we going to demystify and this juggernaut because we’ve been lied to by the pharmaceutical industry, by the medical industry, the giant medical complex which makes so much money. Maybe you have some statistics here because I have some old statistics, but maybe you have new statistics of keeping someone diabetic. The medical industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the hospitals and the doctors. I saw an old statistic where they make $120,000 off of these patients.
[00:06:00] Robby Barbaro: The statistic I have is that the average is $16,752 per year, costs that are incurred by diabetes patients. So, that's like medical expenditures. That number you got might refer to other things.
[00:06:19] Ashley James: Might be when it’s the end stage like when they're in heart failure and diabetes, stuff like that. Either way, it’s costing. It’s costing you.
[00:06:27] Robby Barbaro: It’s absolutely costly.
[00:06:28] Ashley James: But if it’s costing you, it’s profit for them. They're profiting to keep people sick instead of reversing it, and you have a program that you’ve been doing for many years that reverses these issues.
[00:06:40] Robby Barbaro: Absolutely. Just to add to that cost, basically 1 out of every 4 dollars in the US healthcare cost, is spent on caring for people with diabetes. That amounts to $237 billion each year on direct medical cost for diabetes. So, it’s expensive, it’s costing.
[00:07:04] Ashley James: It costs us but it’s a $237 billion profit to keep people having diabetes and to keep everyone in the old way of thinking that you have to eat lots of fat and lots of meat and you can’t eat any vegetables or fruit because those are carbs, carbs are bad, and you definitely need to take all these meds. To keep them in the old way of thinking keeps them sick, so it keeps them profitable. $237 dollars of profit for the medical industry which is costing us.
[00:07:38] Robby Barbaro: Exactly. There's definitely some misaligned incentives for sure in our healthcare system. Like you said, something that's really disappointing and you know this to your own experience, is going to a doctor, being made aware that your A1C is high or your fasting blood glucose is high and that you are living with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and then being told okay, the first line of defense is metformin. “Here’s some metformin.” And maybe the doctor will say, “Hey, you should also adjust your diet and move your body.” But it’s not very clear guidance, there's not a lot of support there. There's not any really mentality of, “actually, let’s address the cause. Let’s see what we can do to actually take care of this now and make sure it doesn’t progress. This doesn’t have to be a chronic disease.”
It’s such a missed opportunity because diabetes, in particular, can be a great wakeup call. Especially pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes because if you catch it early enough, it is quite easy to reverse and turn it around. If you don’t catch it early enough and you let the disease progress, you can get to a point where your beta cells are burned out. So the beta cells inside your pancreas are responsible for producing insulin. When you're in an insulin resistant state, those beta cells have to work overtime and they have to work extra hard to produce more and more insulin to compensate for your insulin resistance and eventually, they can get exhausted and they just die out. So the population is diminished and all of a sudden you get to a point where you're not living with an autoimmune version of diabetes, you still have type 2 but you can become insulin-dependent simply because your beta cell supply has been reduced too much.
Now, there are people who come into our program where that has happened. Their beta cell supply, the produce of insulin has been diminished, but because our program helps them become so insulin sensitive, even with a smaller amount of insulin being produced, they can maintain a healthy A1c in the nondiabetic range. They can maintain a healthy fasting blood glucose all while eating the foods they’ve been told that they should not be eating just like you were insinuating before.
Another point I want to touch on here is you were talking about something like the octopus and the tentacles here, and how when you're living with any form of diabetes, your chronic disease risk for a range of conditions is increased. The number one cause of death for people living with all forms of diabetes is heart disease. So, that is the most important tentacle, okay? And it is something that you can address. You can absolutely in many cases reverse heart disease. You can also halt it and make sure it does not progress. So, this is an important part of our program. And again, we have a few interviews in our summit. Dr. Brian Asbill, he’s a cardiologist and he’s interviewed in our summit and talks about this in detail to go in depth on cardiovascular issues, tests you can get and all that important information.
But what you highlighted is very important to understand. When you are living with diabetes, there are many other concerns. And so, our approach is a blessing in a sense that it addresses all of them simultaneously and that’s what’s really fun about this. When you follow a low-fat plant-based whole food diet and you start addressing the root cause which is insulin resistance, you can absolutely turn your health around. Does that make sense?
[00:11:34] Ashley James: Absolutely. I had the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, on my show in episode 437 and he talks about how having diabetes was the wakeup call for him. He was losing his eyesight, not feeling really good, went to the doctor and came home with a bag of prescriptions and a pamphlet that said living with diabetes. And he rejected that. He thought, “I don’t want to live with it. I don’t want to have it anymore.” And so, he was called to. He just felt inspired to type into Google instead of like how to manage diabetes, he felt inspired to type in like how to beat it. And it led him to your information, it led him to eating a whole food plant-based diet, a very specific way of eating where you’re not eating processed oils and you're not eating processed sugar or processed flours, and you're eating real food. He had a huge bag of prescriptions. It was pretty gnarly. He was able to get rid of all of them and be taken off all of them and reverse all of his health issues. So, he is just a big advocate for this way of living because we can reverse the heart disease, the kidney disease, the liver disease, the diabetes, and prevent things like cancer. But also, people go from feeling incredibly crappy to feeling amazing.
Dr. Richard Fleming came on my show in episode 463 and he’s a research cardiologist, PhD, and he discovered way back over 30 years ago, discovered the root cause or the beginnings of heart disease before it was detectable in any machines. He invented a way of scanning in the body and he could then tell you if you kept doing the same thing, if you kept eating the same way, kept living the same way, he could predict where heart disease would show up. What he saw was that inflammation was the first thing that he would see in the body, the very first thing he would see was inflammation and that was the precursor to heart disease and as we know, that when we are in a diabetic state, the body is just full of inflammation. Is there anything you can say to that? Because I know that your program is incredibly anti-inflammatory. But just getting people’s blood sugar under control is also anti-inflammatory.
[00:13:56] Robby Barbaro: Absolutely. So, there's no question. I mean, having high blood glucose is a problem there. But really, it comes down to the foods that people were eating that led them to have a high blood glucose reading in the first place. It’s the foods that people are eating that cause them to be living in a state of insulin resistance. Okay? So foods like meat, cheese, and processed foods, they elevate your levels of inflammation in your body. But at the same time, what’s important to understand is when you eat those foods, you’re eating foods that cause inflammation, but also, you're missing out on the opportunity to consume those same calories with foods that actually naturally are anti-inflammatory. Okay? Those are foods that are high in fiber, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. These foods lower inflammation in your body. Okay? They do not have this saturated fat, the endotoxins. Okay? So, these are foods, the endotoxins that basically are toxins released from bacteria commonly found in animal food. So, these are the types of toxins that you avoid when you're not eating animal-based products and high fat products and foods high in saturated fat.
So, it’s kind of like a double whammy. It’s like, okay, we’re taking away the things that cause a problem, but then we’re replacing those calories with foods that actually address the problem. They’re anti-inflammatory. And that's really important to understand here. I mean, I would love to go a little deeper into the exact foods that we have people eating on the Mastering Diabetes program. Is that okay with you, Ashley?
[00:15:44] Ashley James: Yeah, I definitely want to touch that. First, I just want to talk about the endotoxins for a minute. Other guests recently have been talking about this and how harmful endotoxins are. But no one said, hey, you know, if you're really struggling and you know endotoxins are a problem for you, especially people with leaky brain, leaky gut, people who had Lyme disease or overcoming mold sensitivities, there's just certain people who are way more sensitive to endotoxins. You're saying that we get it from eating animal flesh.
[00:16:17] Robby Barbaro: That's exactly right. So, basically, it’s present inside a bacterial cell and it’s released when that cell disintegrates. Okay? So, you have more of these cells when you're consuming animal products. It’s really that simple. And it’s a big deal. Actually, what’s fascinating is Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his summit, I think he’s on the first or second day, he almost talks about this for like the entire podcast interview. These toxins that are created inside your body when you're eating foods that are not designed for your body. Does that make sense?
[00:16:56] Ashley James: I love Joel Fuhrman. I’ve had him on the show. I also learned a lot from him when I went through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s coach training program and he was my favorite teacher.
[00:17:06] Robby Barbaro: I love that.
[00:17:08] Ashley James: He is so amazing. Just the things that he teaches. I love how he takes like the science of food to a whole new level and makes me so motivated to eat my broccoli and eat my mushrooms and eat my berries, all the good stuff. Oh my gosh. Yeah, okay, let’s talk about the food. One thing we didn’t touch on because I told listeners just go back and listen to episode 233 where you tell your story. But for those who don’t know your story, because I really want people to get what’s possible. Can you just give us the highlight reel?
[00:17:42] Robby Barbaro: Absolutely. So, I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes since 2000, so that’s now over 22 years. It was in December of 2006 when I decided to switch to a low-fat plant-based whole food diet. So prior to that, I had tried many different dietary approaches. And my goal, my personal mission in life still to this day, is I would love to find a solution to how to reverse type 1 diabetes. I would love for my beta cells to produce insulin once again. That sent me on this mission to do anything and everything I possibly could to optimize my health from the inside out. That's why I learned so much and that's why I tried so many different diets.
Just for those who don’t know, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, they're different. They’re different and they're the same in some ways. The reason they're different is type 1 is an autoimmune condition. We don’t know the cause, we don’t know why beta cells are damaged. But if you're living with type 1 diabetes, you don’t produce sufficient quantities of insulin. Your beta cells have been damaged and you have to inject insulin in order to eat food and survive. If you're living with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, in the initial phase, you're actually producing excess insulin. So, your body is in overdrive. It’s a lifestyle condition and it is caused by diet, exercise, genes are a very small component here. It’s really your lifestyle that causes type 2 diabetes. So, both of them, both type 1 and type 2, insulin resistance can be present. It’s insulin resistant that is the driver of the chronic disease risk that's associated with, again, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
So, I’m living with type 1. I, again, tried many different approaches and really, the last 2 things I tried. So, the one before this approach we’re going to talk about in more detail, was a ketogenic plant-based diet. They didn’t really call it keto diet back then. But I basically ate nuts, seeds, avocado, I had lots of oil, I had tons of greens. But I kept my total carbohydrate intake to less than 30 net carbohydrate. Okay? So, 70 because there was plenty of fiber in the greens. So about 70 total per day, about 30 net. So, at this time, I did it. I did it very diligently and I did see how because I reduced my carbohydrate intake, my insulin went down. The insulin I needed to inject as a type 1 went down. But what didn’t improve was my carbohydrate to insulin ratio. So, how many grams, how much insulin I needed per gram of carbohydrate that I consumed, that got worse. I became more insulin-resistant. I ate myself into a state of insulin resistance. At that time, if I had berries or if I had a banana, my blood glucose would skyrocket. I could not metabolize those foods. Now, after doing lots of research and looking into this topic and having a whole new experience, I can see why that is so problematic. I can also see and understand why people with diabetes are so confused, why this condition is so confusing to the general public. It’s one of the few conditions that you can self-monitor, and that is part of what makes if confusing. You can test your blood glucose as often as you want and that confuses people.
Back to my story here. So, I did that ketogenic diet and I lose energy, I’m losing weight. I’m a freshman at the University of Florida. I’m not feeling well, and I’m like, I got to find something else, I got to keep searching. And I heard a podcast. It’s so funny to say that while doing a podcast.
[00:21:40] Ashley James: Right.
[00:21:41] Robby Barbaro: But I heard a podcast with this guy, Doug Graham. He was explaining how he had an approach where you could eat lots of fruits, mainly fruit and lots of greens and lots of vegetables. And that could actually, you know, help people reverse chronic disease, improve your health, and improve blood glucose controls. Like, wow, this is amazing, I’m going to try this. So, I bought the book. This is in September of 2006 when I heard this podcast. And he was talking about a book that he was going to have coming out. It didn’t come out until December. So between September and December, I was a little bit confused. I was buying some of his older books to try and figure this out and started to follow a fruit-based diet. But it was December when I started coaching with Doug. And I would email him every single day and he emailed me back every single day. For 90 days straight. I really learned his program. And I started eating unlimited quantities of whole fruit and lots of greens. My life just transformed. All of a sudden, I was super energetic. All of a sudden, my skin started to radiate. It was unbelievable what happened to my skin. And I had really struggled with skin problems growing up. It was so bad I took Accutane. It was one of the most serious drugs you can possibly take for acne. I tried all the treatments you could do at the dermatologist. The pills, the laser treatments, the microdermabrasion, the creams. Everything. Accutane was the last resort.
But I get on this fruit-based diet and all of a sudden, my skin is radiating. It was amazing. And my blood glucose control was mind-blowing. So I started eating over 700 grams. So, we go from a total of 70 to 700. And my insulin use stays at a physiologically normal amount. Right now to this day, I’ll inject like roughly 27 to 30-ish units of insulin per day. That's basal plus bolus. And I’m eating, again, well, over 700 grams of carbohydrate. So, my insulin sensitivity changed by 900 percent when you look at it on just a glucose basis. So with modern nutrition software, you can remove fiber and you can remove fructose. Okay? Because fructose does not require insulin to be metabolized and neither does fiber. So, if you compare just the amount of glucose I was consuming on the low carbohydrate diet, the ketogenic plant-based low-carb diet, compared to now my low-fat plant-based whole food diet, it’s a 900 percent change in the glucose tolerance. So, it’s basically 1 to 1 for me. For every gram of glucose I consumed, I needed 1 unit of insulin. And now, for every 10 grams of glucose, I consume/I need 1 unit of insulin. So, 900 percent change.
I love talking about that because on this podcast, we can go deep because we have plenty of time, I love that. Most people don’t understand. Most people, 99 percent of people listening don’t even know how to do that calculation. But you can do it in a nutrition logging software called Cronometer. When you look at the carbohydrates, it’s broken down inside the software and you basically take the sucrose and divide that by 2, then you add the glucose and then you add, what’s the other number… I’m blanking on the other number. But there's three things you end up adding together and you can do that.
But the bottom line is, I eat far more carbohydrate than anybody thinks that somebody with diabetes should be eating. And I use a physiologically normal amount of insulin. And that’s the goal for a person living with type 1. So, my pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin anymore. So, what I have to do is I have to inject what it normally would have produced on its own. That’s the goal. And so, oftentimes, people in the low-carb world, they get confused for type 1. They’re like, “Oh, I want to take as little insulin as possible. Therefore, I’m just not going to eat carbohydrates.” That’s not a good idea. Yeah, you can get lower and lower and lower, you probably could get below 27. You could get below 20 if you’re very disciplined. But your insulin sensitivity is terrible. You can’t eat a banana. You can’t eat blueberries. So, you’re trading 1 problem from a longer list of other problems that are associated with living with insulin resistance. So, people are confused about that.
But even when you look at published research on type 1, we wrote about this in our book, on average, the low-carb community in this particular paper was following the Dr. Bernstein diet. They would consume 30 grams of carbohydrate per day and inject 30 units of insulin per day. So again, just think about that math. Again, compare to other type 1’s, they're using 30 units of insulin which is more insulin than I am using, they’re eating 30 grams of carbohydrate and I’m having over 700. So, the magnitude of change here is very important. And again, as we talked about earlier, insulin sensitivity matters. It absolutely matters. It matters for everybody listening to the show. If you have low energy, if you’re looking to lose excess weight, if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, if cognitive decline is something you’re struggling with, neuropathy, retinopathy, cancer, like all these conditions are connected to insulin resistance. And that’s why this topic is so important. That’s why I’m so passionate about it. And that’s what led us to create Mastering Diabetes, is Cyrus had a similar personal experience.
We, as people living with type 1, have this unique advantage of understanding what decisions impact our insulin sensitivity on a moment by moment basis. The reason we have this advantage is because we know how much insulin we need to inject. So there’s three key metrics you’re going to have to know in order to understand insulin sensitivity. You have to know what’s your blood glucose. You can test yourself. You can get a CGM, anybody can do that. You have to count the carbohydrates you’re consuming. You have to know how much glucose is coming into your body. Number three is, you have to know the insulin levels. And that’s the number that a majority of people listening to the show don’t have but us type 1’s we do have. And so, I can see okay, what happens if I have like a whole avocado for dinner? What happens if I snack on too many brazil nuts? How much insulin do I need to inject over the next 24 to 48 hours because of that decision? Or let’s say if I’m not being as active or maybe I’m being more active, what happens to the amount of insulin I need for the grams of carbohydrate I’m consuming? We see that instantly like we are required to monitor that and manage it; otherwise, we wouldn’t survive.
So, when I had that insight, okay, wow, like I know exactly what to do to make insulin work more efficiently, I can then translate that into okay, wow, we have over 100 million people in the US alone who are living with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and all they need to do is optimize the function of insulin inside their own body. They're trying to optimize the insulin that their pancreas is producing and their disease can go away in the vast majority of cases. So, that’s what we do at Mastering Diabetes. We help people with all forms of diabetes reverse insulin resistance. That is the cornerstone, we’re all doing that together. And the results are extraordinary. It’s amazing that we talked before our book came out and we were very excited to see that it became a New York Times bestselling book and the people continue to recommend it and it’s still a bestseller on Amazon. And we also have our own audiobook which is super fun. But to see this message being shared and the reviews on Amazon are incredible, we have well over 3000 reviews, and people are finally getting the truth. Thank you to podcasts like yours, truly beginning to understand why carbohydrate-rich foods are actually the best foods to eat, if you want to reverse insulin resistance. It’s just got to be the right carbohydrate-rich foods with the right combination of other foods, and we can get into that if you’d like me to.
[00:30:11] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely want to get into that. Listeners got to go to LearnTrueHealth.com/masteringdiabetes to sign up for your summit which is coming out on November 2, which is perfect timing, right after the Halloween candy orgy. I mean, it’s just this crazy amount of candy. I can’t believe how much candy. I don’t do this with my son. We go out and have fun and we enjoy all the festivities, but I’ve never made it about the sugar with him. I know it’s difficult for a kid but also, like I explained it to a few moms, you’re not going to go down to downtown Seattle, which is horrible by the way now in the last 2 years. It looks like a Third World country. It’s just graffiti everywhere. I feel so bad for the people who are like in the homeless camps and it is just overrun with drugs and crime. So, it’s very scary downtown Seattle. I would not go to downtown Seattle and score some drugs, some street drugs for my kid. Right? Like you wouldn’t do that. And yet, we’re giving children sugar which has almost the same effect on the brain. There’s brain scans you can go on YouTube and find where they do brain scans. Street drugs and brain scans of people on sugar, the same areas of the brain light up. You got dopamine. You’re triggering addiction brain and we’re training our children to be in addiction brain.
And I had a great interview with Joan Ifland, PhD. She earned her PhD in processed food addiction and she’s the reason why it’s in the DSM IV, which is now the DSM V. But she’s the reason why it’s now we understand it’s a problem to the point where people have a condition called processed food addiction. It is real. And about 1/3 of the population has addiction brain. Whether you choose to feed into it or not, people are susceptible, a certain percent of our population are susceptible to like someone can just go and eat some Halloween candy and it’d be fine, and in the next day they go to work or they go to school and they’re fine, but then there are those with addiction brain. You eat some candy and it triggers the dopamine high and crash and now that kid is looking for their next dopamine fix. And they don’t even understand it because it’s very unconscious, but now they’re going to binge on Netflix or screens or they’re going to go find more candy, or maybe they’ll do more daring things, more exciting, daring things. Whatever they do to get the dopamine. So much of processed food out there is the same. It’s meant to do dopamine spikes. It’s not just dopamine. There’s other chemicals in the brain that it spikes, but we like to go towards pleasure and away from pain.
What are we doing with kids during Halloween? We’re letting them have an almost unlimited access to a drug that affects the brain just like if we went to downtown Seattle and scored some drugs. We are training our children’s brains to do this. And like I have this love-hate relationship with Halloween because in my childhood it was so much fun. I loved the idea of making my costume, I spent a whole month working on my costume. For me, it was like I get to do theater. It’s just like it was so much fun. And yet, what’s happening now is as an adult, I look back and go, wow, this is just training us to be alcoholics, training us to be drug addicts. Training us to be sugar-holics when we’re adults. So, I do this fine dance with our sun where it’s like okay, we find some organic like just fruit candy kind of thing and I give him one or something. But we make it be about the fun. And I talk to him, I dialogue with him about how does your body feel when you eat these good foods versus if you ate this junk food, how do you feel. And he doesn’t like how he feels when he eats the garbage food. And so, you know, I wanted to be his choice. Right? I want him to grow up when he goes to his friend’s house, he goes, “No, I don’t want to feel crappy.” I’ve watched him do it which I’m really proud of him. I watched him go, “No, I really don’t want to feel sick. Like, give me the banana, I don’t want to feel sick.” I don’t want to feel gross in my body.
And it’s that consciousness, but we have to also recognize in ourselves like here we’re coming out of Halloween and you’ve got your summit on November 2, and I really want all my listeners to sign up for it because everyone’s going to learn something whether it’s fatty liver, healing fatty liver, healing heart disease, cancer and preventing cancer, and how to heal the body from inflammation. Everyone could benefit from this insulin resistance. But if you don’t personally have any blood sugar issues, you know someone who does, and so you could be sharing LearnTrueHealth.com/masteringdiabetes with your friends. We can get everyone that we know and love, at least give them this information. Let them make the choice. If they're ready, if they're ready to no longer suffer, then they’ll make those steps, which is really, really exciting.
So, we’re coming at a perfect time. It’s between Valentine’s Day and the Christmas holidays and all the really high sugar kind of holidays. I think Halloween is the highest sugar holiday. So you’re really catching people at a good time and I hope that my listeners will be more conscious of making the best choices they can during this candy season and making the better choices, knowing that the foods they eat can heal their body, which is really exciting. So yeah, let’s get into the foods that your program helps us reverse disease and heal disease.
[00:36:23] Robby Barbaro: Okay, this is my favorite topic. So, I’m going to go through a resource that we created. It’s free, it’s online, you can check it out. You just type in “High Carb Foods: Mastering Diabetes”. It’s going to take you to this article where we have a list and a photo of all our green light foods. So we’ve taken food, we’ve put it into green light, yellow light, and red light categories. Okay, so it’s very simple. And I’m going to list some of the key foods in each category that you can easily access that are affordable and some that are also particularly in season right now.
So, the green light category, it starts out with fruits. Fruits, as a general class of food, are high in water content, they’re high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Fruit is a great food for people living with diabetes because it’s a whole food. It’s the package that is special and important here, all right?
[00:37:27] Ashley James: What package the fruit comes in? Like frozen, dehydrated, fresh, blended? Is there any way that they shouldn’t be consuming fruit or can they consume it like can they consume frozen and blended? Can they make a smoothie? Does it all have to be unadulterated?
[00:37:46] Robby Barbaro: That’s a great question. I love that you’re asking this. These nuances, they really do matter. So, when you are living with insulin resistance, you have any chronic disease that you want to reverse, like you’re trying to truly, truly heal a chronic disease, there are nuances that we recommend you pay attention to, particularly in the beginning. Okay, you’re in a very insulin-resistant state and you’re on a path to get out of that state. So, in that case, it is ideal to eat whole fruit unadulterated, right? Like, just the whole fruit and chew it. And it’s important to eat that fruit with greens or non-starchy vegetables, especially in the beginning, okay? All our recipes provide that, we make it really fun and easy to do. But the whole food, chewing it.
Now, the next best form of fruit, as far as package, would be if you took whole fruit and you blended it. Okay, you put it in the blender. Now, the reason it’s not ideal especially for people who are struggling with blood sugar challenges and they see spikes in their blood glucose and they have a high A1C, is that what you’ve done when you blended the fruit, is you have broken up the fibers. What you’ve done is you have increased the surface area and because you’ve done that, it can get absorbed into your cells faster. And an analogy I’d like to share to help understand this increased surface area, is to imagine you have a gigantic block of ice sitting in your front lawn. Okay? It’s the summer, it’s in Florida, it’s hot, it’s 90 degrees outside, and there’s this block of ice literally the size of your car. Okay? And it’s sitting in your front yard. And as the day goes along, that ice is going to melt and it’s going to disperse into the grass, okay? It’s going to be absorbed into the soil. And it’s going to take all day. okay? It’s going to take a while. If you took that big block of ice and you broke it up into individual shards like you took a weed wacker or saw and you started just breaking it up into tiny little pieces, little shards all over the place, that will get absorbed into the soil rapidly. Okay? You’ve broken it up. You’ve altered the structure of the fibers. That’s what’s happening when you take the fruit and you put it in the blender and you blend it up. It’s going to get absorbed faster. Okay? So, number one is whole. Number two is put it in a blender.
Number three would be dehydrating. Okay? The less dehydrated, the better. Let’s say you put something in a dehydrator and you want it to be a little gooey. Instead of making a banana into a really, really dense strip, you kind of made it just a little bit of gooey, only took maybe half the water content out. That’s going to be better because you still maintain some of the water content. But the more and more dry it becomes, the more calorie dense it becomes, the easier it is to overeat. The reason it’s easier to overeat dried fruit is because you remove the water content. And what makes you feel satisfied, what holds you from meal to meal, is bulk. And bulk is water plus fiber. So this is the whole concept of calorie. Density which we talk about in detail in our book and it’s a lot of research done by Barbara Rolls from Penn State University, and she has established clearly through decades of research that it’s water plus fiber and it’s bulk that makes you feel satisfied. So, when you’re removing the water, you can easily overeat.
Then I would say regular dehydrating, once you get into like freeze dried fruit, it really becomes like candy and stuff like that, like it sticks to your teeth. It’s not ideal. I would not recommend that at all. I’d probably go and put that closer to like a red light category to really try to minimize or completely avoid. You really want to focus on whole fruits. Does that make sense, Ashley?
[00:42:01] Ashley James: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:03] Robby Barbaro: Okay, good. All right. So, I want to mention a few fruits here. Plantains. When you go and when you look at this article, you will see that we have organized all of these categories. So, the fruit category is organized by calorie density, meaning that the foods that are the most rich in their caloric content are going to be at the top of the list. And the reason this is important is because when people adopt a plant-based diet, they are shocked at the volume of food they have to eat in order to stay satisfied and actually get the right number of calories. In the beginning, it’s part of the reason why people lose weight so quickly and easily in the beginning, is because their stomach is starting to adjust to even get in enough volume to meet their normal caloric requirement. So you kind of get into a calorie deficit just because it’s difficult to eat the right volume of food. Now, the problem is if you maintain that calorie deficit too long especially beyond the point of where you’re looking to lose weight or if you’re losing weight potentially too fast, you’re just not satisfied, then the diet becomes unsustainable and you start to crave other foods and all of a sudden you go and you eat a cheeseburger, which is way more calorie dense, and you feel better. It’s mainly because you got calories. You are missing calories.
So, in the green light category, basically of all the foods in the green light category, you need to actually focus on the most calorie dense green light foods in order to stay satisfied. So for example, something like watermelon is very calorie dilute. It’d be very, very difficult to just eat watermelon all day and be satisfied. You could try to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you would be hungry like “I want more food” but you’d feel full. So your stomach would just be a little bit bloated because you had so much water, so much fiber with not that many calories.
So, the reason we have these calorie-dense fruits listed at the top, is to make this diet satisfying. And plantains are one of the best foods in the fruit category because they have 554 calories per pound. That’s the calorie density. The goal, when following this low-fat plant-based whole food diet for optimal weight and optimal energy and overall health, is to basically eat as much as you want that is under 750 calories per pound. And just for context, the most calorie dense food on the planet is oil. That is 4000 calories per pound. Okay? There is no water, there is no fiber, there is no carbohydrate, there is no protein, it’s just pure fat. Okay? So, that is the most calories. Then when you get into foods like animal products and processed food, that’s going to go much higher. So, let me give you an example here. Something like chips. Okay, let’s say you had some processed chips. That’s about 1200 calories per pound. Okay? Let’s say even sugar, 1700 calories per pound. You go to bread, 1200 calories per pound. Ice cream, 1000 calories per pound. Beef, 1000. Okay? Eggs are at about closer to 800.
So, what we got to understand here is that those foods, as you increase that calorie density and you decrease the nutrition value, it’s technically a junk food. Okay? So, oil is the ultimate junk food because it’s very high in calories, it’s the most calorie-dense food in the planet with very little nutrition.
So back to the green light foods here, plantains are in the appropriate calorie density. Now, you wouldn’t want to eat just foods let’s say like lettuce or something, or watercress like 40-50 calories per pound. Again, that wouldn’t be enough. You’d have to eat so many pounds of those foods, you wouldn’t be satisfied. So, there’s a sweet spot. There’s a sweet spot of somewhere between like 400 and 600 calories per pound is where you want the majority of your calorie-providing foods to come from and then you supplement the rest with nutrient-dense non-starchy vegetables and greens.
Another food that’s worth talking about is persimmons. Ashley, do you like persimmons?
[00:46:50] Ashley James: Oh, yeah.
[00:46:51] Robby Barbaro: It’s an amazing fruit. A lot of people don’t know about persimmons. They’re commonly found in two forms. Fuyu persimmons are round, Hachiya persimmons are cone-shaped. And this is a fall fruit. You can get it almost any grocery store. If your local store doesn’t have it, definitely find it at local Asian markets or Mexican markets. And with the Hachiya, you have to wait till it gets really soft like a balloon. And if you eat it before then, you’ll get a bunch of like a chalky sensation in your mouth and you won’t enjoy the persimmon anymore. The Fuyu, you can eat like an apple. That you can eat crunchy or you can wait till like it’s soft. That’s 477 calories per pound.
Then, bananas, 404 calories per pound. Jackfruit – have you ever had a jackfruit, Ashley?
[00:47:35] Ashley James: Yes.
[00:47:37] Robby Barbaro: I love jackfruit.
[00:47:38] Ashley James: It takes a bit to process. A really, really big one. My son loves it. To me, it tastes like Juicy Fruit bubblegum which I imagine…
[00:47:49] Robby Barbaro: Do you know what Juicy Fruit bubblegum literally mimicked the entire flavor? That’s why it’s called Juicy Fruit.
[00:47:56] Ashley James: Right. When the first time I ever had jackfruit, I’m like, wow, this tastes like my favorite bubblegum as a kid! Then I was like, oh no, no, the bubblegum tastes like jackfruit.
[00:48:06] Robby Barbaro: That’s hilarious. I love that, I love that. That’s a way to look at it.
Okay, figs, a great fruit. Okay? Oranges, cherries, mangoes, longans, kiwi, pears, all the different varieties of pears, all the varieties of apples, pineapple, raspberries, tangerines. There are so many fruits. The variety that you can have on this program is surprising to many people and it’s an opportunity to expand your palate. So, there’s a lot of fruits. Okay?
Now, the next category is starchy vegetables. There’s less variety here as far as different produce items, but there’s a lot of variety within the fact that there’s over like 500 different types of potatoes. I mean, there’s so many types of potatoes and you can commonly get at least like 6 or 7 different ones at a grocery store. But potatoes are in this category. For example, the calorie density of a russet potato is 440. That’s the perfect place. You can eat these when hungry till satisfied. It’s very, very difficult to overeat because of the water content and the fiber. And similar to the question you asked about the package of the fruits, the ideal way to consume a potato would be steaming. That’s going to maintain the largest amount of water content and going to produce the lowest amount of advanced glycation end products which occur in the cooking process.
Then you’d go to something like you can do broiling, you can do baking, then you can do air-frying, but all these processes are doing more and more removal of water content and you want to focus on the whole food. So, we also have yams in this category. Taro is a great starch. Corn. There’s white potatoes, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, parsnips is a starchy vegetable that a lot of people love. The flavor is actually much better when you bake parsnips. And then squash, acorn squash, hubbard squash. That’s what’s in season right now. We have pumpkin here, spaghetti squash, butternut squash. There’s a lot of different squash varieties that you can try, and these are really, really beautiful foods. You can try and reverse insulin resistance.
The next green light category are beans, peas, and lentils. So many varieties of beans, so many varieties of lentils. Get the red ones, the green ones. Green peas are a wonderful food. So, we have on this article which you can access for free, it’s on the website. Chickpeas, pig beans, pinto beans, small white beans, black beans, adzuki beans, kidney beans, pigeon beans, great northern beans. These are things you can easily get in a can if you want to, and if you’re going to get it from a can, get the option that has no salt added, which is plenty of those available. And if it does have salt added, you can just try and rinse it off with water to reduce the sodium. But that’s going to be important for, again, addressing insulin resistance and also addressing high blood pressure which comes along with insulin resistance and diabetes in a majority of cases. So, lower your sodium intake, get the right package products. And I just want to say, a lot of people are scared of packaged foods. All of a sudden there’s this culture that we put like all packaged food into a class of being terrible. That’s not really true.
In 2022, there is an amazing amount of foods that do come in a package but like a plastic bag or a can, but they’re absolutely nutritious and delicious and convenient. So, don’t buy bypass some of the conveniences of the 2022 world where you can get these foods some of them pre-made. The next category here is intact whole grains. So for example, you can get intact whole grains that have already been precooked and you can heat them up. And if you need to save time, heat them up in the microwave, it’s great. So intact whole grains, those include spelt, barley, brown rice, quinoa, millet, rye, sorghum, wheat, wild rice, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur. There are so many intact whole grains and again, published research shows how beneficial these foods are for reversing insulin resistance and also for longevity.
All right. So, Ashley, we just went over the first 4 categories. Fruits, starchy vegetables, then we had beans, peas, lentils, then we had intact whole grains. Those foods are listed first because like I said earlier, you have to focus on foods that provide you energy, provide you with calories. Too many people transition to a plant-based diet, they go, “I’m just going to eat a bunch of salads. I’m going to have tomatoes and carrots and onions and greens, and just eat all these salads.” It’s not enough. The bulk will make you feel satisfied for maybe the first 30 minutes or an hour, but then an hour and a half come by, two hours come by, and you're like, you’re starving like “Well, I need some food.” And it’s because you didn’t get enough calories. You didn’t eat foods from the appropriate category of calorie density.
So, the next part of the green light category, these are foods you add to the calorie-providing foods. These are foods that are very dense in their micronutrients which again, Dr. Fuhrman loves to talk about. And he talks about it in our summit. These foods are also even higher in their fiber content and they help stabilize your blood glucose. So things like shallots, artichokes, brussels sprouts, onions, beets, egg plants, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, fennel, rutabaga, kohlrabi, chayote, cauliflower, okra, turnips, radicchio, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, celery, summer squash, cucumber, bok choy. These are amazing non-starchy vegetables that you can add to your life. When you get amazing recipes, learn how to prepare these foods, they can become very satisfying.
Then same thing with leafy greens, their nutrient density. Leafy greens are so important. We actually had an entire interview with Dr. Rick Dina in this year’s summit where he goes and does a nutritional analysis of what happens when you add in some more greens and in some cases, you replace some starchy vegetables with more fruit, what happens to your nutrient intake. It’s absolutely fascinating, you don’t want to miss that.
So, in this category we have foods like parsley, leeks, colored greens, kale, green onions, spinach, arugula, mustard greens, beet greens, Swiss chard, purslane, endive, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, butterhead lettuce. The nopales. Have you ever had nopales, Ashley?
[00:55:10] Ashley James: I’ve never heard of it.
[00:55:12] Robby Barbaro: Nopales is fun. It’s kind of a Mexican food and it’s quite crunchy and has sort of like a little bit of a slimy texture, but it’s actually quite good. So if you’re listening, you guys got to Google that. Nopales recipes. You’ll have some fun with it. So, that's the greens.
Then we have herbs and spices in the green light category. These are foods you can essentially eat when hungry till satisfied. You really don’t have to worry about the quantity. The key is, again, we talked about this in the first podcast, Ashley, so I’m not like repeating too much of that old stuff. But the key is that you're having these foods in a low-fat environment. So if you eat a bunch of fruit and a bunch of fat, don’t expect to reverse your insulin resistance. You’re increasing your carbohydrate intake while simultaneously decreasing your fat intake. That includes even some of the foods that people are calling good fats these days, the healthy fats. That's why we have the yellow light category.
The yellow light category lists foods that are healthy, they’re nutritious, they’re nutrient-dense, but you have to be cognizant of how much you're consuming. So this includes avocadoes, nuts and seeds, soy products, olives, and some particular fruits which one of them would be durian. Durian is a high-fat fruit. Those are all whole foods, absolutely delicious, absolutely nutritious, can be a great part of your program, but you can’t sit down and watch a movie and just start snacking on cashews and almonds and Brazil nuts. You’re going to eat way too many, you're going to exceed your fat intake very quickly, and it’s going to cause insulin resistance even though these are plant-based fats. You can still have too much. So to be very clear, to make sure everyone understands our program, to maximize your insulin sensitivity, we want you to keep your total fat intake under 30 grams per day. And just by eating whole plant foods and having a normal day of eating greens and beans and fruits and non-starchy vegetables, all whole foods contain fat. As a matter of fact, all whole foods contain essential fatty acids. When you eat a large enough volume of them, you meet your requirements. You can have chia seeds and flax seeds as an insurance policy, but it’s just a typical day of eating. You’ll get 15, 16, 17 grams of total fat without consuming any high fat foods.
The moment you start adding in, you know, a handful of nuts, half an avocado, all of a sudden, you're going to go past 30 very quickly. I highly recommend that people listening use a nutrition logging software to actually become aware of how much fat they’re consuming per day. It’s really important.
So, we have those high-fat plant-based foods in the yellow light category. We also have processed carbohydrate-rich foods that are still healthy but they're a little bit more processed. This is like pastas. You could have brown rice pasta, you could have chickpea pasta. You can also have something like Ezekiel bread, okay? Whatever these foods were originally made out of, it’s better to have the whole form. So brown rice is better than brown rice pasta. Okay? If Ezekiel bread was made out of some sprouted bread, whatever that original grain was, just eat the whole grain. That's the better option. It’s less refined, the calorie density is lower in most cases. To be clear, in the pasta case, the calorie density is actually quite similar. So brown rice pasta ends up having similar calorie density because of the water that's absorbed in the cooking pastas. But it’s still a little more refined and it’s better to have brown rice.
So, we clarified that. We also have put fermented foods in the yellow light category only because of the sodium content. So, plenty of research showing the benefits of fermented foods. But the sodium content is a concern for people who are looking to reverse insulin resistance. So again, the distinction is, you don’t just eat an unlimited amount of fermented foods. You be cognizant of how much you’re consuming, keep it at an appropriate amount in your overall diet, and you’ll be just fine. Whereas the green light foods, you just don’t need to think about it. You just eat as much as you want. They’re self-limiting with their fiber and water content.
Now, the red light foods, these are foods we suggest you completely avoid and minimize them. We put animal products in here, so that's going to be things like chicken, beef, dairy, even things like shellfish, salmon, particularly because of the fat content, the advanced glycation end products that are higher animal products, and a lot of the pro-inflammatory compound. So, animal products are out.
We already talked a little bit about oil. But I really do want to go a little bit deeper on the oil topic because people really get crazy. They get up in arms about not having oil. It’s just upsetting to them. What I want to clarify for anybody who’s in that category and have just been concerned like, “Oh, but it’s just so good. I’ve read so much research. This is so good for me.” Here’s the deal. It’s better to consume the whole foot. There is no research that's showing that having olive oil is better than having olives. What I was looking at was a study where they documented the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols. This is a fascinating paper. Within the list of 100, black olives is in the list and so is olive oil. Okay? So, what I want people to understand is this paper documented the dramatic difference in nutrition content of whole black olives versus olive oil. When you consume the same weight of olives, the study did 100 grams of olives and 100 grams of olive oil, the polyphenol content is 9x greater in the whole black olives, the antioxidant content is 2x greater and it’s 75 percent less calories. So, it’s more nutrition, less calories. For a society that is generally overweight and needs to lose weight, it’s just better to have the whole food. It’s going to be the same thing across the board where you're talking about avocado oil, sesame oil, or any other of your favorite oils. It’s just better to have the whole food. You don’t need to have this processed food where so much is removed. So in this particular study, we see how in the olive oil, not only was the fiber removed and the protein removed and the carbohydrate removed, but a great portion of the nutrition was removed in the processing. It’s just unnecessary.
So, we’re big advocates of whole foods. Again, it’s not like we’re anti-fat like oh, just don’t have any fat. No, it’s have the appropriate fats in the whole food format and keep your fat intake, again, under 30 grams per day, or another way to look at it, is no more than 15 percent of your total calories coming from fat. That is how you optimize your insulin sensitivity. And this is where there's actually a lot of confusion in the research world because you’ll see a lot of papers where people are comparing a low carb diet to a low fat diet, but the low-fat diet wasn’t actually a low fat diet. It was usually 30 percent of calories from fat. High 20’s. Not under 15. That's a big mistake that’s happening in research.
A few other red light foods that are obvious but I want to state them anyways, processed food in general. So, obviously we’re not telling people to have Twinkies or M&M’s or Snickers bars. That's not going to be helpful. But it’s also important to clarify that even some of the modern new plant-based foods you're finding in grocery stores, plant-based burgers, these foods are made in a laboratory. They're processed, they're high in fat, we’re not recommending you consume those. You can make amazing burgers from beans and other ingredients and you can really enjoy your life that way. You don’t need these processed foods. It’s not going to help you reverse insulin resistance. That's our really simple traffic light system, Ashley.
[01:04:00] Ashley James: I love it. So much to talk about. With the keto, I think so many people have been told or like so many people say “Well, I saw a study,” or, “I heard, or, “My doctors says that eating keto or Atkins increases insulin sensitivity. When I cut out most of my carbs and I eat really high fat, that increased my insulin sensitivity.” Can you speak to that?
[01:04:31] Robby Barbaro: Absolutely. I love this topic. I understand why it’s confusing and you’re exactly right, Ashley. You're seeing that all over the media, right? You're even seeing papers of people publishing saying olive oil. It’s in the research like the actual researchers are concluding that olive oil increases insulin sensitivity.
A big mistake that’s happening is number one, how insulin sensitivity is measured in the research papers. There are a few common ways. The gold standard in testing insulin sensitivity is euglycemic clamp test. This is a test. It’s very expensive. It’s done in a laboratory. It takes many, many hours. There's a solution being injected and insulin being injected simultaneously and a lot of things being tested. It’s not practical to be doing often. But it is the gold standard. Then after that would be the oral glucose tolerance test. And that's where you go to a laboratory, you consume 75 grams of glucose, and your insulin levels and your glucose levels are measured in your blood over the course of 3 hours every 30 minutes. You can see a graph of okay, well, how much insulin is required and what was your blood glucose levels as your body is metabolizing this glucose solution.
These two are both valid forms of testing insulin sensitivity because they contain a glucose challenge. The mistake that's being made is that there is a new form of insulin sensitivity being reported or basically being measured. It’s called the HOMA-IR. HOMA-IR is a surrogate basically allowing researchers to measure insulin sensitivity in a much less expensive, less invasive way. This test only requires a fasting blood glucose number and a fasting insulin level. So you can easily get that done. Those are very easy blood tests. Okay? What’s missing here is there’s no glucose challenge. So, of course, when you stop eating carbohydrate-rich foods, you in that case don’t need to produce as much insulin. You can have a depressed insulin requirement because you're not even eating carbohydrates. Okay? In the same case, you can have your blood glucose levels come down. But you're not testing insulin sensitivity. You're not assessing how well can your body metabolize glucose. So, this is a big mistake that’s happening in the research and people are getting erroneous conclusions because there is no glucose challenge. Does that make sense?
[01:07:33] Ashley James: I just realize that some listeners might not even understand what insulin does. Could you just very quickly explain here’s the cell, here’s glucose, here’s insulin. What’s the dance?
[01:07:45] Robby Barbaro: For sure. Okay, so insulin is a hormone that does many different functions in your body. But the primary function is that it ushers glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells. The way it does that is think of insulin as a key. So, insulin is the key that opens the door so glucose can then go out of your bloodstream into your muscle and liver cells. What happens is when you consume a diet that is too high in fat, particularly trans fat and saturated fat, you end up storing excess fat inside your cells. It’s called intramyocellular lipid. This excess fat interferes with insulin signaling. Insulin resistance is a defense mechanism. Your body is trying to prevent your cells from intaking excess energy. So, if there's too much fat inside the cell, your body is saying, “okay, I don’t want that glucose. The glucose that's sitting in the bloodstream, I don’t want it. I have too much. I’m overloaded when it comes to fuel in here. I don’t need anymore. So, I’m not going to allow you to open the doors. Stay in the bloodstream.”
Again, it’s a protective mechanism. So, what’s happening in that case is you're going to develop a state of hyperinsulinemia. Your body is going to try and produce more and more insulin in order to shove the glucose into the cell. So now, you have high insulin levels, and high glucose levels. That is the classic state of insulin resistance, of metabolic dysfunction, and is at the root of a longer list of chronic conditions which we’ve discussed throughout this show.
[01:09:37] Ashley James: And the longer the blood sugar remains high in the bloodstream because the cells are rejecting it, the cells are like “I’m full” goes somewhere else, the sugar is staying high, the glucose is staying high in the bloodstream, the longer that happens, the more inflammation and damage it causes.
[01:09:54] Robby Barbaro: That is correct.
[01:09:56] Ashley James: What’s also been described to me by someone else is that the more insulin like when you have excess insulin, insulin is almost like banging down the door of the receptors of the cell and damaging the cell wall because it’s just like more and more and more and try to force it in, and it’s kind of like shoving the key in the lock so hard that it damages the keyhole. But there’s damage being done on a cellular level throughout the body and we’re overconsuming fat and so the cells are like, “I’ve got too much to handle right now, we filled the cells with fat, and then we filled the cells with sugar,” because let’s face it, the standard American diet is a high processed fat, high processed sugar diet. Then, we’re starving. Then, we feel like we’re starving. That's how I felt.
When I had type 2 diabetes, I was hungry every 45 minutes, I would just cry. This was back when we lived in Vegas, we loved going on drives. This was pre kids, just my husband and I, and we decided one day to go for this fun drive out into the dessert and we did this loop around one of the mountains and came back around, it’s beautiful out there especially when it was a little stormy and you see these beautiful thunderstorms off in the distance, and we talk and talk. So, we went for a drive, and I ate before we left and we’re out in the middle of the dessert, there's nowhere to eat, and I’m like, the hunger starts hitting me harder and harder and harder. I started feeling crazier and crazier. I just cried. I just was bawling. We were newlyweds and I’m bawling to my husband. I’m just like, I feel like a prisoner trapped in my body, I’m hungry all the time. I’m panicking. My body is actually physically panicking because there's nowhere to get food. I said the first restaurant you see, we’re stopping at and I don’t care what it is.
This happened multiple times where we’d be out running errands or we’d be late to go meet someone or pick something up. My body would just get into this panic mode of needing to eat. And I wasn’t crashing. I’m not type 1 diabetic. I’m not going to go into a coma. I would survive. But it was this constant gnawing hunger that would get worse and worse and worse like 45 minutes after a meal. It would come on suddenly and I said, “Just pull over. I don’t care what it is. Arby’s, McDonald’s, whatever the first food. I just needed to put food in me. And that was back then when I was eating the standard American diet and listening to the MDs and all they had was drugs and they had no answers for me. I finally got sick of being sick and that's when I started to dive into the holistic health and shop the perimeter of the grocery store is what I was told, eat organic. I could not believe how one condition after another dropped off when I changed my diet. I found a naturopath who mentored me. I was able to reverse. I had chronic adrenal fatigue that was so bad I couldn’t process human language in the morning. I couldn’t even understand people talking. Like my chronic adrenal fatigue was really bad.
I had infertility. I was told I’d never have kids. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and then I had chronic infections I was on monthly antibiotics for. The infections went away when I started eating organic and I shopped the perimeter of the grocery store. I still at the time was eating cheese and meat, but I cut out all the stuff in all the aisles, basically. I was just going around the outside of the grocery store. Anything that was in the produce section was safe in my mind. That was back in 2008. That was my first big thing where I was like, wow, if in 1 month of changing just this little thing, if I can no longer be on constant antibiotics, then what else can I do? Right? I was able to just go bang, bang, bang down that list and reverse all those issues.
[01:14:00] Robby Barbaro: I’d love to know more about your story, Ashley. So, what was your A1c when you got diagnosed?
[01:14:10] Ashley James: This was 9.5 I think.
[01:14:15] Robby Barbaro: Wow. Okay. Then what’s been your most recent A1c that you remember?
[01:14:21] Ashley James: Oh, 4.7.
[01:14:22] Robby Barbaro: See, that’s what I’m talking about, okay. That's powerful.
[01:14:31] Ashley James: My midwife was like, “You have better blood sugar than I do.” And then I told her to get your book.
[01:14:37] Robby Barbaro: Yeah, I love that. Okay. I mean, tell the audience, like what did you eat.
[01:14:41] Ashley James: What did I eat when I was sick?
[01:14:43] Robby Barbaro: To reverse insulin resistance.
[01:14:46] Ashley James: So it was a process for me because I was actually one of Dr. Bernstein’s patients. You mentioned the Dr. Bernstein diet. I was one of his patients. I love getting vulnerable and sharing my story and I could totally go on forever, so I want to be cognizant of the time. But I was not sick. When I was in my early teens, I was really healthy. I was very athletic. I didn’t care about food. I just ate whatever was put in front of me. We just ate a lot of vegetables and lean meat and brown rice and that kind of thing. My mom was pretty healthy, so we ate healthy. But I didn’t care about food. Then when I hit puberty, because women gain hips and boobs. My mom had the psychosis around weight and so she started putting me on diets when I was 12. She put me on diet after diet. I wasn’t overweight. She took me to the weight watchers, she took me to Dr. Bernstein. And that started messing with me because now I’m doing keto, I’m 16 years old, an athlete. I was on the rugby team, I was on the swim team. I rollerbladed and cycled. I weightlifted. I was very athletic. I thought I ate healthy but my mom in her mind thought I needed to lose weight.
For me, I rebelled. I pushed against that, I rebelled. But I did his diet and after his diet, it messed my body up so much because it was this weird keto thing. Oh man, he would yell at me if I didn’t lose more than a pound a week. I remember losing less than a pound in 1 week. I’m 16 years old and I’m an athlete. And he yelled at me and he told me I cheated. I walked out of their crying. Actually, that wasn’t the first time that my mom sent me to a doctor or nutritionist. I’m surprised now looking back, like all these doctors were yes, telling my mom “yeah, she could lose some weight.” I can show you pictures. No one would think I was overweight, so I don’t know what these doctors were thinking. But they all put me on all these diets and my mom would buy all the latest. We went and met Dr. Barry Sears when he wrote his first version of the Zone Diet and met him, shook his hand, did the Zone Diet with my mom. She was so diet obsessed that it really messed with me. Then, I rejected all of it and said no, and then I started just eating like my boyfriend. I had never eaten that way. He was going to Subway and eating Subway sandwiches and baloney and Wonder bread. He was a black belt and I’m like, well, you know, I was into martial arts at the time going to the dojo 5 days a week, and I’m like, well, I’m going to eat just like the black belts because they know what they're doing. That made it worse. That's when really my blood sugar started spiraling out of control because I was eating literally no healthy food, it was all processed.
[01:17:48] Robby Barbaro: That's an incredible journey you’ve been on.
[01:17:49] Ashley James: Right? Both my parents have passed away. I love my parents and now as a parent myself, I really understand that my mom was coming from a place of fear and love, and how many times as parents our love comes out as fear, and then that fear is anger. What we’re trying to do is we’re so afraid we’re going to screw up our kids and we actually end up screwing up our kids which is just life. My mom, she loved me so much. She put my through that craziness and it has led me to where I am today. Now I’m on my own healing journey, I can help others heal themselves. I don’t regret any of that. But I can look back and go, that was really messed up. Like I can look at my childhood and go, that wasn’t okay but at the time I thought it was normal. Right? Because we always think what we’re going through is normal. But now I can go back and say, you know, those doctors were wrong and they shouldn’t have done that with me. I’m surprised that not one of those doctors took my mom aside and said there's nothing wrong with her, stop putting her on diets, just let her eat healthy food. It’s just crazy how messed up this world is. Man, I wish I had known about the whole food plant-based diet sooner. I kind of kick myself. I think about man, what would my life had been like if I was on this diet back when I was a teenager.
I hate the word “diet”. It’s really just a lifestyle and a way of eating. As Dr. Joel Fuhrman puts it, it’s like a nutritarian diet where you're nutrient dense. You're eating as much nutrients possible. So I’d rather eat olives that have 9x greater the polyphenols than drink olive oil. Plus, olives are really fun to eat. Olive oil is not really fun to drink. So, I’d rather take in the nutrients from something instead of have to pay for the processing to take out the nutrients and eat a processed food. But for me, it’s been a journey. So, I really fought this idea of not eating meat because I had been on Atkins several times and Dr. Bernstein. I’d been so many times on these diets where doctors told me or books told me that meat was the solution and that carbohydrates were the devil. My mom would accost me if I ate any carbohydrates, she’d yell at me. So, I had a lot of emotional trauma around carbohydrates. This idea of eating even a banana was so foreign to me because I thought it was so dangerous.
[01:20:19] Robby Barbaro: I’m so glad you're sharing this experience because this is just another reminder. It’s also very unique that you’ve been an actual patient of Dr. Bernstein who literally is teaching the exact opposite, like literally says no fruit.
[01:20:34] Ashley James: It was really weird like if you could have seen the diet, just the regular way of eating I did before Bernstein, you’ve been like “That’s not bad.” I mean, it was steamed vegetables, rice, lentils. That was all in my diet. I wasn’t the picky kid. You put it in front of me, I ate it. I wasn’t picky. I’d have some kind of cream of wheat or some cream of rice pablum cereal for breakfast kind of thing. Then, just pretty much the same stuff. I did not like the lunches my mom sent because I’d open up my lunch at school and there would be brussels sprouts and they smelled really bad by the time you get to school. But I’d have brussels sprouts in a salad and apple and maybe some almonds, she’d throw in a few almonds. It wasn’t like I was eating unhealthy before. Then, doing these doctor diets were so radical and so unhealthy now that I look back. It’s really crazy. Of course, I lost weight but then my metabolism freaked out and I rejected it.
Then I got into, you know, there's a sense of control and fighting that control and then addiction brain, and I really acknowledge now how much addiction brain there is. So, I was depressed and angry and food was a soothing mechanism like babies want their blanket or they want their binky. My brain wanted the sugar binky or the bread binky. I really did feel like if my brain was suffering, I’m upset or angry or stressed going to that food, like a sandwich for example and all of a sudden, a sense of relief. Yeah, it’s a drug. We, more times than not, will turn to food for that “comfort”. And we’re just filling ourselves with crap and then we’re causing these diseases. Then the pharmaceutical industry and the medical industry gets to profit, what was it? $237 billion.
[01:22:49] Robby Barbaro: No one really knows how much profit is in there. But it is a large number.
[01:22:55] Ashley James: A stupid amount of profit for big pharma and hospitals. None of them want us to be healthy, so of course, the world is upside down and we have to really acknowledge that. If what you're doing is not working and so for many years, what all these doctors and what all these sicko diets that I was on constantly wasn’t working, and then my own way wasn’t working, my own way was like addiction brain, processed food, standard American diet, all that wasn’t working. It’s like okay, well, what’s left? What’s left is this whole food plant-based diet that works and that people get results. So, I fought it and it actually wasn’t until I started doing the podcast. Because when I started doing the podcast, I was full on keto. I was like, keto is the best thing in the world! And if you listened to early episodes, it’s like keto, keto, keto.
Then I started to get these whole food plant-based doctors on and of course, I’m open minded, I want my listeners to learn. I want to learn because nothing is perfect, right? And I didn’t have diabetes anymore but I didn’t have insulin sensitivity. And so I couldn’t go away from like, for example, if you went and ate a pizza, if you went and just ate the standard American diet for a day, would you be okay? The next day, would you be okay or would you feel like your blood sugar be so off and would everything be so off because you don’t have insulin resistance. You do have insulin resistance or you don’t.
[01:24:37] Robby Barbaro: That's okay. But you're asking me if I went and had like a standard American pizza, I would feel awful.
[01:24:43] Ashley James: You’d feel awful because you're so used to eating a healthy diet.
[01:24:46] Robby Barbaro: Yeah, of course. It’d be super heavy. I would be eating myself into a state of what’s called situational insulin resistance. I’d become insulin resistant over the next 24-48 hours because of the garbage that I just ate. I mean, could I get back into my normal state of insulin sensitivity? Yeah. If I didn’t continue to eat a bunch of that garbage, then yeah, I’d be back to normal.
[01:25:16] Ashley James: You can situationally. Because of all the fat that fills your cells, does that mean that after 24 hours of not eating crap, can people already see insulin sensitivity coming back online?
[01:25:31] Robby Barbaro: When people come to our in-person retreats, which are about 3 ½ days long, people fly in on a Thursday, we have dinner on Thursday, we kick it off, all day Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, people leave on Monday morning. In that rapid short period of time, every single person who’s come to one of our retreats in person, experiences an improvement in insulin sensitivity rapidly. Within the first day, type 1’s are reducing their insulin, type 2’s are reducing their oral meds, they're reducing their blood pressure medications. We have a doctor who comes in to oversee the whole process. We’ve had many amazing plant-based doctors come and join us. It happens rapidly, no question. And that's because when they're under our care to retreat, we do choose to give people optimal results as fast as possible, which means all three meals are changed immediately, it’s extremely high nutrient density, very low fat, and we’re having people move their body twice a day. So, we speed this up to show people what’s possible and help them give a plan to maintain it when they go home. Which is a little it different than, again, like if you read our book, most people transition one meal at a time over an extended period of time, but when you do everything in an optimal way, results come in very fast.
[01:26:59] Ashley James: Cool. So, going back to your question. So, at the time when I was keto, keto, keto, it was the best thing in the world, at the beginning of starting this podcast six years ago, if I ate outside of keto, but even if it was healthy like potatoes or had the Ezekiel bread like you talked about, but mine would be gluten-free, like sprouted gluten-free bread, I don’t know, I would be a mess. I would have felt like crap because even though when I was eating low carb in keto, I thought it was good. Go out of those boundaries of keto and I felt horrible. I also developed inflamed liver. It wasn’t fatty liver, it was inflamed liver. I had an ultrasound done and blood work done and my liver enzymes were through the roof. You could see my liver. It was pushing out, it was do distended, it was pushing out beyond my rib cage. It was so painful I couldn’t sleep on my right side. It was really painful. That was from the keto diet.
And so, I had to go, “Okay, this isn’t working.” I went down the list of like this isn’t working, I’ve done this over and over again. It’s just like Bernstein. Although Bernstein wasn’t as high fat or anything, but it was still keto. And Atkins and all that. It was just a repackaged Atkins over and over and over again, this whole low-carb high-fat thing that keeps getting sold to us. And it wasn’t working. It was very restrictive and then I would start feeling sicker and sicker and sicker, and then eating outside of it, I would feel even worse.
So, when I started interviewing doctors who were on a whole food plant-based diet, I was open-minded but I was also resistant because I had my mom’s voice in the back of my head going, you know, rice is bad for you, potatoes are bad for you, what are you doing. She’s this little voice in the back of my head that I had to stop and go, I really need to examine my beliefs around food. Because I had been carrying some beliefs from childhood that aren’t true. And I need to examine my food beliefs.
When I had an expert, I don’t even think he was a doctor, he was an author. Because my last little reasoning why I shouldn’t eat a whole food plant-based diet was there's not enough protein. Because back in my mind, again, meat, meat, meat, meat is the answer. That had been my belief system that I had around food. But my belief system wasn’t serving me anymore because I was not optimal health. And I don’t believe in diet dogma. Here’s the thing. If we have a dogma and then something changes in the body, we need to adapt our diet to help our body. So dogma will stop us from doing that. I had to examine my own diet dogma and this one author that I had on the show said, “Well, you know, you can get 16 grams of protein from a serving of lentils.” And I was sold. I was like, wait, that's like two eggs or whatever, right? I was like, oh, I can trade out my eggs for lentils? And I can trade out my chicken for beans. Then I started kind of going down this list of wow, there's a lot of protein in vegetables and a lot of other nutrients also. But then, hearing like well, where does the ape and the elephant, you know, those strongest land mammals get their protein from? They're eating plants, right? So it was kind of the middleman.
But I started doing that and then shortly after eating, I decided to basically do the program that you recommend and chef AJ and Dr. Goldhamer and Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Fuhrman and all these other plant-based doctors that I’ve had on the show, they all pretty much say the same thing. There's nuances, right, like yours is really geared to reversing diabetes. Dr. Esselstyn has a slightly different spin and that's more for heart disease. But they all complement each other. You would still probably reverse diabetes on any of their programs because they’re all very, very similar. But I like had like you said, the nuances were dialing stuff in for your program which is fantastic. And watching people reverse disease.
I went and tested my blood sugar, which I hadn’t done, because again, I wasn’t diabetic anymore, but I didn’t have insulin resistance. And I always, always, always could not get below 115. Fasting, couldn’t get below 115. Two hours after a meal or four hours after a meal, couldn’t get below 115. It was just no matter what, even on keto, couldn’t get below 115. It was like the weirdest thing. It was like this barrier. And I remember, I don’t know if it was weeks or months into eating this way, but it wasn’t long after. It was still new to me. So, I was kind of on this high of how excited I was because I was feeling better and better and better. My rings were loose on my hand. I was like, wow, I’m doing really well. I tested my blood sugar and it was 87. And I just started crying tears of joy.
[01:32:13] Robby Barbaro: Good for you.
[01:32:15] Ashley James: I had eaten like a snack an hour before and it wasn’t a big snack, but like, this isn’t even fasting. I ate something an hour before. And I felt so even keel. I wasn’t hungry for hours. I know you said like when people first go plant-based, they’re hungry because they only ate 200 calories for a meal because they don’t realize that you kind of have to eat more. And so I was like, oh, I just had seconds. I’m like, okay, I’m just going to have a second serving of brown rice, beans, and my stir fry of vegetables that are done with water instead of oil. I’m just going to have a second serving, and that's fine and now I’m full. But I go hours, hours without crashing. I mean, I don’t crash. I go hours without feeling hungry. I mean, if I have to skip a meal because I’m super busy, I don’t have jitters, I don’t have panic. My body isn’t panicking. I just go, okay, I’m just a little hungry, I’m going to drink water and then I’m going to get something in me when I can. It’s so much freedom.
Here's the paradox. Because the paradox is like people who don’t eat this way think they won’t have freedom like “Well, I can’t eat. You can’t eat it.” Like, I can’t eat at restaurants, I can’t eat at my mom’s house anymore, whatever, my aunt’s house or whatever relative. I can’t go have wings with the boys… they’re thinking about all the limitations on how they won’t have freedom. But that way of eating caused them health freedom and freedom in their body.
[01:33:42] Robby Barbaro: That's so right.
[01:33:43] Ashley James: So, what I love is I jump out of bed in the morning, I don’t need coffee anymore. If I do partake in coffee, I do a tiny, tiny, tiny amount and it’s kind of just my little fun drug of choice. But I don’t need it. So I don’t do it every day. I used to need coffee. I wake up, I jump out of bed like I didn’t have any stimulants this morning to get on the show with you. I just jump out of bed and I’m like, boom, my mind is awake, I’m awake. That is totally not me when I was on animal products and when I was on processed food. So, I have body freedom, I have energy throughout the day. I have so much body freedom. So yeah, I have traded the freedom of eating crap food for health in my body.
But yeah, so there are limitations. I can’t eat at certain people’s homes. But I’ll bring my own food. Or you know what, my friends are really accommodating. I’ll just tell them like listen, these are our restrictions and also, our son has some allergies so I’ll just say these are the things we eat, these things we can’t eat. Honestly, if a friend isn’t willing to make accommodations for you, like how much are they your friend? I’ve been impressed with like when our daughter died last year, people came out of the woodwork to bring us food and they all brought us whole food plant-based. They came out of the woodwork. My neighbor cooked me so much food. I had a friend that lives 45 minutes away brought just days’ worth of food. Everyone cooked us to our diet. Some of our friends even went and found websites that had whole food plant-based recipes. Our friends just Googled whole food plant-based recipes and accommodated. There was no one that was like, I don’t know, mean about the way we eat. So, it was how they showed love. And people who really care about you, there's always going to be someone who’s upset about your diet because what it does is if they have addiction and I’ve seen this before, if they have addiction and they're addicted to their processed foods, your change threatens that. Just like alcohol, people who choose to stop drinking and they tell their friends who they used to drink socially with, there's always a friend that gets angry about it and gets defensive about it. And that is because you're challenging their addiction. You're not asking them to stop eating meat, you're not asking them to stop drinking alcohol. Your change is a reflection of their addiction and it’ll make them angry. So, don’t take it personally, but you got to do you. You’ve got to stick up for yourself and just love those friends and family, but don’t let their discomfort influence the longevity you're giving yourself.
[01:36:39] Robby Barbaro: So true. So true.
[01:36:43] Ashley James: Yeah, so there’s my soapbox.
[01:36:44] Robby Barbaro: I love that. What an amazing example, what an amazing story you have. And I mean, also the practicality of doing this lifestyle, communicating with people, with friends, with loved ones, like that can be an entire show. We should do a whole show on that topic.
[01:37:01] Ashley James: Yeah, right? Your coaching, I love your coaching on helping people navigate once they’ve made these changes. Navigating those friends and family. Because that’s something that, you know, I’ve grown a thick skin. But I acknowledge that there's a lot of listeners who haven’t yet. Right? I don’t know what it was. Honestly, I think it was giving birth to our son. He’s 7 ½. So I think right about that time, I was in the hospital for 5 days, in labor for 3 ½ days straight. And it was pretty ridiculous and I was just like, people were walking in and out, and I was half naked, all naked, I don’t remember. I think that's when I just lost that ability to care about or like have what other people think of me, have me want to change the good that I’m doing for myself to make other people feel comfortable. And I was like, you know, somewhere around there, I grew a pair and I’m like, you know what, I love my friends and family, but if my health choices that are healing my body is making someone uncomfortable, they need to work on their baggage. I am not going to make myself unhealthy to make someone comfortable. And this is what we’re doing as a society, is we’re trying to make people comfortable by making ourselves unhealthy. And we really need to cut that out. That is not healthy for anyone. It’s okay to be that black sheep, the salmon that's swimming upstream, that’s saying no to the things they know are unhealthy for them when everyone else is saying yes to them. It’s okay.
[01:38:47] Robby Barbaro: Couldn’t be more. Be proud, proud of what you're doing. You’re reducing the healthcare cost in this country. You're reducing the impact on the environment and you're becoming an example of what’s possible and the having more energy and having less missed work days because you're actually healthy. I mean, that's actually another big cost of our country. When people are unwell, they can’t contribute to the workforce. It’s a problem. So, you have to be proud of yourself.
[01:39:18] Ashley James: I’m just proud that I’m reducing the profits to big pharma.
[01:39:21] Robby Barbaro: There you go. That's another thing to be very proud of. Fantastic.
[01:39:27] Ashley James: So you keep talking about half an avocado and I don’t have a concept for that because you cut open an avocado, you eat the whole thing. If someone were to eat too much nuts or too much avocado and too much for your program, do they not get results? What does this look like?
[01:39:46] Robby Barbaro: It’s a big question. Here’s what happens. If people start eating too much of those foods, it does inhibit weight loss for a lot of people. What it does is it also makes it more challenging to have certain fruits. So, you’ll hear a lot of people that say oh well, look, if you're going to have these nuts and seeds and you have diabetes, you should be careful with the “high glycemic” fruits. This is only a problem when you are in an insulin-resistant state. Basically, then if you're going to have more fat from plant-based sources, then you're going to be limited to things like berries and pears and foods like that in order to keep your blood glucose under control. So, that's the main concern. But again, nuts and seeds are fantastic, they’re great. It’s just that the quantity, you don’t want to sit down and just start snacking on them because it’s just easy to overeat them. It’s just really that simple.
[01:40:46] Ashley James: It’s so easy. I don’t love nuts or seeds, like they're okay, that’s not my thing. My husband, he did go through a phase where he’d eat like a huge bag of cashews in a day. He went vegan before ever considered going whole food plant-based. He was the guy when I met 14 years ago, he would only eat meat and yeah, he never ate vegetables. He would do like nachos. There might be a vegetable in nachos, but pretty much he was the meat and potatoes and the nachos guy. And oh, ice cream and just all the junk food and alcohol and the sugar and all that. When I first met him, I got him off of sugar, alcohol. I mean, he was not an alcoholic but just socially and I was like, no, this is not good. And we made some good changes but he was still just like beef for breakfast, lunch and dinner kind of thing. And even that was too much for me. I was like, always on and off Atkins. He was just go, go, go meat only. Meat and coffee basically. Then one day, he woke up and I think it was about five years ago, he just woke up and he said “I’m never eating the flesh of an animal again.” That was a complete opposite. And he goes, “Yeah.” And he’s the kind of guy who’d never kill a spider for me. He’s 6 foot 6. He’s very tall. No one has ever picked a fight with him just because he looks like he’d take you down, but he’s a total pacifist. He’ll take the spider outside but he won’t kill out. He goes, you know, “killing things just doesn’t feel right to me and it doesn’t sit well in my soul. It’s been really bothering me for a while. And I don’t want to partake in that anymore.”
I had been also telling him about stuff from my podcasts. I think the last thing I told him that might have been the very, very final thing that made him flip over was I had Robyn Openshaw on talking about one of her books which was something called like Vibe or High Vibration Life, and she’s talking about the vibration of food and that there's hertz, like you can measure the hertz of food. So if you go to the grocery store, you can take this machine that measures the hertz or the energy frequency of something. She says broccoli and carrots and apples and bananas, they’ll all be like 60 hertz, 90 hertz. They’ll be high in hertz. Then she goes, you know how much pork is? And I’m like, no. And I just had had like pork sausage just that morning for breakfast. She goes it’s 6 hertz. Well, why does this matter? They measure the hertz of people who are healthy and I can’t remember the exact number but something like 200 hertz if you're healthy. If you’re sick or have cancer, maybe you're like 120. People who are in the hospital dying are at 60, and people who are the day they’re going to die, they’re down to 40.
So, you can measure basically in health. You can measure hertz. And you see that the healthier you are, the higher your hertz; the unhealthy you are, the lower your hertz. Why wouldn’t you be consuming foods that are higher in hertz and not consuming foods that have no energy in them? I know that correlation is not causation, but it just was like an interesting thought like oh, why don’t I eat foods that are high vibration to increase, at least help my body have a high vibration that makes sense because we are all energy, anyway, if you study quantum physics. In chemistry you see that we’re more energy than matter. So, we should eat foods that are higher in energy to feed ourselves in that way.
And yeah, the next day, he woke up and said “I’m never eating meat again.” So I had to figure out how to cook for him. Then, of course, I had all these doctors on the show, we’re constantly talking about whole food plant-based diet. I kicking and screaming started eating that way, just dragging, it was so hard to say goodbye to chicken and eggs. I’ve struggled at times. I’m not perfect, I’ve struggled at times. But cutting out oil was fine. I had done that years ago because Dr. Wallach back 12 years ago told me to not eat oil. He wants people to eat gee or rendered duck fat. I’m like ugh, I can just cook with water, that's fine, I don’t need that.
So I started learning like from Chef AJ and other whole food plant-based chefs and it became really easy for me because I love cooking in the kitchen and making delicious food. it became really easy for me to do that switch. But what I was surprised with was that I didn’t miss meat. My body didn’t crave it. My brain did because of addiction brain. But my body didn’t feel like it needed it and I was surprised because I had never eaten a meal without meat. Then all of a sudden to have meals without it, I’m like, oh wow, I’m full. I didn’t think I’d be full. I thought I had to eat meat to be full. I thought I had to eat meat to have energy. And it was the opposite. I had way more energy without meat. Meat was causing me to feel sluggish. I couldn’t believe that. So, it was a big night and day. There was a lot of old belief systems that had to drop away.
So, I’m really excited about your summit, and thank you for breaking down those foods. If people just started eating that way right now, they’re going to see a difference. But we want to give them tools and we want to arm them with so much good information, which is what your summit is going to do. So, people can go to LearnTrueHealth.com/masteringdiabetes and get access to your summit. Sign up now because it starts on November 2. Tell us about your summit. What are we going to get out of it, what does it look like, how long is it. Are people going to be able to do your summit, and then dive into this and master their diabetes?
[01:46:32] Robby Barbaro: You said the most important word there. Practical. We’re all about practicality at Mastering Diabetes. Each interview, each expert is summing up what they're teaching with practical tips for you to put into action. That is what makes this summit so viable, is because whether you're coming in because you want to lower your blood glucose, or you want to lose weight, or you want to gain more energy. Or you're struggling with kidney disease or fatty liver disease. You have high blood pressure. Like it doesn’t matter what you're coming in with. There is something in here for you and there are action items. It’s an amazing event. So it's 22 speakers. It’s from November 2 to November 9, and the whole thing is free. You just enter your email, you're going to get emails inviting you to listen to the presentations during the day. It’s very, very powerful. We learn a lot. Every year we interview these experts and it’s a real honor and privilege to be able to share this with all of you out there. Again, it’s free. It’s November 2 to 9. We have an incredible lineup of experts. Once you register, you’ll be able to see all those details. But it’s just an incredible event and I really can’t wait for everybody to get involved.
I can’t also emphasize enough the importance of the webinars. There's live webinars that happen and you get a chance to interact with us and our coaches, ask questions, and we’re here to set you up for success and get you going on the right direction. And really addressing the nuances. There are so many, and you’ve learned this and you’ve applied it in your own life. You’ve had so many amazing experts on the show. You’ve been able to dig into the details. But there are nuances to doing this successfully in your life and that's what the summit is going to help deliver for you.
[01:48:24] Ashley James: I love it. I am so excited for it, I can’t wait. I’m definitely going to attend. I can’t wait for it and I know that my listeners should definitely check it out. Please, though, everyone share this with your friends and family. You can share this episode with your friends and family, or you can just tell them to go to learntruehealth.com/masteringdiabetes, let’s get all of us signed up to learn. If someone is struggling, let’s help them and maybe they’ll make that leap. Maybe they will give it a try and they will see the results. The results speak for themselves. When people feel so good like when you feel so good eating this way, you just notice you don’t want to go back to feeling like crap and so the old way of being doesn’t serve you anymore and you're like you know what, I can still go hang out with my friends, I just don’t have to eat the food. That's okay. You still get to have all the fun and you get to have all the health. So, learntruehealth.com/masteringdiabetes. I’m very excited.
Thank you so much, Robby, for coming on the show again and sharing all this information. It has been so fantastic that you’ve been doing this and you’ve been eating this way for, what, 16 years now.
[01:49:37] Robby Barbaro: 16 years now, yeah.
[01:49:39] Ashley James: So awesome. Also, the links to your podcast will be in the show notes and all the links to everything that you do will be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Is there anything you want to say to wrap up today’s interview?
[01:49:50] Robby Barbaro: I just want to say thank you for everything you do and your consistent contribution to this movement of healthy eating and having people get well and address the root cause of chronic disease and you're so passionate about not giving profits and revenue to these pharmaceutical companies that aren’t acting in our best interest. Thank you for everything you do. It’s amazing, keep doing it, and I appreciate you having me on.
[01:50:13] Ashley James: Thank you. I appreciate you too. This is awesome. You’ve saved thousands and thousands of lives and we’re just going to keep turning this ripple into a tidal wave. I’ll see you at the summit, Learntruehealth.com/masteringdiabetes.
[01:50:24] Robby Barbaro: See you there.
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Recommended Reading by Robby Barbaro
The Forks Over Knives Plan by Alona Pulde M.D.
Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing
Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.
In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!
The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine
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