Dr. Anna Cabeca And Ashley James
- What Keto-Green is
- What makes urine pH acidic
- What keto alkaline is
- The cortisol-oxytocin disconnect
- Importance of fasting
As an obstetrician and gynecologist trained with the best in the country, Dr. Anna Cabeca was baffled when she experienced premature menopause. That’s what led Dr. Anna to find the root cause and solutions for her premature menopause. Keto-Green 16 is not just any diet, it is also a health community that aims to boost oxytocin. Men too can do the Keto-Green 16 diet as the Keto-Green 16 book has a chapter on men’s health. Dr. Anna shares with us today the importance of testing urine pH and fasting. She also gives us some of the 16 foods from her book.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. I’m very excited for you to learn from Dr. Anna Cabeca today. She is giving us amazing bonuses. She talks about it in the interview, and I want to make sure you have this link. Go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen. That’s learntruehealth.com/ketogreen. Of course, that link is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast as well. Go to that link, and she gives you all kinds of awesome bonuses, digital downloads, really cool guides, recipes. Everything she talks about, she gives you all these great free bonuses she gives you, and then it also allows you to pre-order her book, which is launching right now.
I think her program is fantastic because she focuses on nutrifiying the body, alkalizing the body with mineral-rich antioxidant-rich foods. I absolutely love her way of measuring the body stress levels and measuring the body’s alkalinity levels to make sure that you are supporting your body in being out of a disease creating state, and in a healing and restorative state all while achieving healthy hormone levels, metabolism levels, and your weight loss goals as well. She really nails it. I think nutrition is key, using food as medicine is key, and she teaches you how to do that, but also how to measure your success along the way to make sure you’re on the right track, which is so great.
I know you’re going to love today’s interview. Please go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen to get all the information, all the bonuses, and everything that she talks about in today’s interview. Share this with all of your female friends, although men will learn a thing or two from today’s interview. So men, stick around, but please, share this episode with all of your female friends. It’s never too early or too late to support your body’s ability to heal itself and create healthy hormone levels. Enjoy today’s interview.
[00:02:21] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 427. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show, Dr. Anna Cabeca. Dr. Anna was here on the show in episode 326, so it’s almost been 100 episodes since you were on the show, and so much has happened. Welcome back.
[00:02:52] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It’s so good to be back with you, Ashley. We’ve been big fans. I had told you my daughter, Amira, who we just brought back from the Netherlands where she was studying, turned me on to your podcast in the first place.
[00:03:05] Ashley James: It’s so cool. I love it. I love how this works. I love how podcasting works because it connects us in such a unique way and allows us to really be together as a community. Your message, you help women to balance their hormones, and this is such a relevant topic because so many women now in their 30s and 40s are going through premenopause. Back in the day, it used to be the 50s or 60s, and we’re just seeing this huge, huge spike in women really being out of balance with their hormones so much so that their body just says, “Alright, we’re depleted. I guess we’re just going to go into that next stage of our life.” Way sooner than it’s supposed to, and that affects our vitality, that affects our bone density, that affects our longevity, it affects the quality of our life on so many levels.
You help women to regain that balance and to regain their health in every system of their body. I’m such a fan of the work that you do because you are all about using food as medicine to balance the body. Today you’re coming back to share about your latest book. It’s been about a year since you’ve been on the show, and since then, you’ve written a new book. I’m so excited. Tell us about your new book that’s coming out.
[00:04:48] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah. Thank you. My first book was The Hormone Fix, and it’s all about really working on our major hormones because it takes more than hormones to fix our hormones. I launched that out on February 26 and introduced it to your audience in that last podcast. Now, Keto-Green 16, which is my next book is releasing May 5th, and it really is like a kick-butt plan to get results very quickly in 16 days, and uplevel so that we really push our system to uplevel itself. So to become even more efficient, more energized, slimmed-down those stubborn pounds, and get out of a metabolic plateau or metabolic stall that we often hit when we have hormone imbalance issues.
[00:05:39] Ashley James: Take us back to after you launched, a year ago after you launched your book. I mean, that’s such a big feat to have launched a book, busy promoting it, and you’re also a busy doctor, and then turn around and write another book. Was there a specific aha moment when you said, “Okay, this is the next book I’m writing.” Did you have a, “Oh, this is exactly what I need to do now,” moment?
[00:06:05] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It evolved as I was in the process after I had written The Hormone Fix and was working with more clients online going through the programs. I wanted to take it to the next level. There is so much in The Hormone Fix beyond what we eat. There is how we manage cortisol, how we manage oxytocin hormone disruptors. For Keto-Green 16, I wanted to simplify it to say, “Okay, here’s the basics.” You don’t need necessarily all the reasons and science why I’m recommending this, although I’ve got some in there, of course, can’t help it. But here’s the plan that really works and we’re going to uplevel it, push it to a higher level that is doable, and quicker, and simpler.
I have beautiful recipes in The Hormone Fix, and lots of great information, and a great plan, but in Keto-Green 16, I trimmed it down to 16 key ingredients to make shopping easier, 16 key ingredient types. I pushed our fasting window. I was recommending 13 to 15, starting out 13 to 16, so I really push everyone to 16-hour intermittent fasting. Also, there are some other fun things around the number 16—16-minute exercise routine, 16 days. There is some good stuff here. I just wanted to simplify it, make it easier for people, but plus also bring the men into the picture. Make it so men can adapt it for them, and there’s a whole chapter on men’s health in their men’s health and men’s sexual health, and really get everyone doing it together.
My vision with Keto-Green 16, because the community is a big boost to oxytocin, a healthy community, the more we can be a healthy community, boost our oxytocin. My goal also with Keto-Green 16, you don’t have to do it alone. Do it with your work teams. Do it with your virtual communities now as we’re creating virtual communities. Do it as part of a corporate health program, 16 days. First 16 days of every month. I mean, let’s do this together. Let’s bring food in together. Let’s talk about this together.
[00:08:23] Ashley James: Very interesting that you did a whole chapter on men. Statistically, men don’t go to a doctor for regular check-ups as much as women do. That statistically, men wait until it’s really bad or their wives drag them in. Now, we do have male listeners, and they’re the proactive ones. They’re the black sheep. But statistically, the majority of men out there don’t really hone in on their health and practice preventive medicine.
You mentioned sexual health, and I think that ED, erectile dysfunction, is when men go, “Wait a sec, there’s something wrong.” Because erectile dysfunction can be caused by numerous things. It’s sort of like the canary in the coal mine, and it’s saying, “Hey, you might be headed for heart disease, diabetes. If you don’t handle it now, you’re going to be in a grave soon.” ED is something that shows that they have significant health issues that they might have been ignoring. When men can’t perform, that’s when they take action. So you have a chapter on how they can reverse ED and gain control of their health, is that correct?
[00:09:41] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Absolutely, absolutely. I’ve worked with men. I always tell the men that come to see me, the men that are listening in general that are proactive of their health, but I tell the men that come to see me, “You know, you really are a strong male when you come to see a gynecologist for answers.” It’s true because very often, I’m working with their wives or their significant other, and they’re like, “You know what, she’s doing great, and I’m falling behind.” or “I see what you’ve done for such and such and such and such, so I want help too.” Men who came into my practice on their own, and it is about that. It is about getting to the underlying, underlying reason why we’re having problems to begin with.
It’s not symptom treatment when you come to my medical office. It’s not symptom treatment. It’s getting to the underlying reason you’re having the symptoms and fixing that, and that’s what’s taken me on this journey, Ashley. I mean, this is really what’s taking me on this journey is that I kept looking for the underlying, underlying reason to what my problems were: my weight gain, my obesity, my depression, my trauma, my infertility, my premature menopause. I mean, just name it. I could probably keep going. I have a long list but I have none of that anymore. Yes, I am infertile because now at age 53, I am finally really menopausal and delivered my last baby at 41.
A lot shifted. A lot’s really shifted as we get to the underlying reason why we’re having these problems to begin with. For me, there was no good solution available. My doctor’s bag was empty. I had to create solutions that worked.
[00:11:20] Ashley James: We did go over your bio in the last interview, but for those who haven’t heard it, you were a doctor and you had health issues, and you were looking around going, “Wait a second. I wasn’t taught how to heal my body. What’s going on? Can you give us a little bit of an insight into the aha moments you had as you began to heal yourself using food, and that’s not something that is taught to doctors.
[00:11:52] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right, yeah. It’s definitely food has been a part of it. Absolutely. I would say it’s not just about what we eat, and that’s why diets–93% of diets fail, right? Because it’s not just about what we eat, when we eat, where we eat, who we’re eating with, and what we eat ate. All of the things have to do with how we’re going to do, and so true. For me, I was 39 years old. I was running my medical practice, a medical spa. I was a National Health Service Corps scholar, and I practiced here in southeast Georgia—rural area—for payback in a community–a shrimping village–that I had.
As a result of trauma, really, I was plunged into early menopause, and I failed the highest doses of infertility treatments, the highest doses of recommended injectable. I pushed the limit. I trained at Emory University with the best reproductive endocrinologist in the country, in my opinion, and I had no ovarian response. I was 39 years old as an OBGYN, told I would never be able to have another baby again. We were devastated. Then to be diagnosed with early menopause.
I had severe depression. When I got out of bed in the morning, it hurt to put my feet on the floor. I ached. I can remember that. I just ached everywhere. My hair was falling out, just name it. I was basically given the option of antidepressants because of course, I was depressed. That was what was recommended. As well as I was offered egg donation as an option for my infertility. That wasn’t the answer that my husband and I wanted to go with at the time, and it really took me on a journey around the world.
I left my medical practice for a year, I took a sabbatical. An angel, I call her an angel. Dr. Deborah Shepherd came as an answer to a prayer and took over my medical practice for that year enabling me to do this. I had two daughters, one 6 and one 9 or 7 and 10. They’re just turning 7 and 10 at that time. We traveled around the world. I homeschooled them for a year.
[00:14:18] Ashley James: I love it.
[00:14:19] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That was entertaining. I am not the homeschool mom. Right now, kids are home, and I am glad Ava Marie. Homeschooling is not for me. But it took me on a journey around the world to discover all different types of medicine: traditional, Eastern, Western, I spoke with some of the best scientists in the world, and I met some of the most amazing indigenous healers, and none of it was planned. Anyway, none of it was my plan. I’ll say it was God’s plan, but as a result, I reversed my infertility, reversed my early menopause, became pregnant, and delivered a healthy baby girl at age 41. That was the beauty of it.
As a result of trauma, as a result of PTSD, the underlying consequences of PTSD, especially as we enter this perimenopausal stage, I call it a period of neuroendocrine vulnerability. I’ve really dug into this a lot since our last conversation and since writing The Hormone Fix. I’ve really dug into this neuroendocrine vulnerability because more is coming up about it now as we’re starting to image the female brain. There’s some great neuropsychiatrist and brain researchers looking at the female brain, really, for the first time in history, honestly, in the way that it’s needed to be done. We’re finding out some interesting things.
As a result of my PTSD and this trauma, a consequence to that was what I call in my book the cortisol-oxytocin disconnect. In other words, a hormonal disconnect, a burnout. You no longer feel love, you no longer feel connected, you feel isolated and dissociated. It doesn’t matter how many people around you love you. You don’t feel it. As a result, my relationship went through a divorce, and then he had a traumatic brain injury. So then, I was both a single mom and dad to my kids. Then at age 48, I went through the second period of early menopause with the brain fog and I had teenagers. One in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school. I had irritability, brain fog. I mean, some of that we can deal with, but the worst part was gaining weight.
I gained 20 pounds. My patients would say, “Without doing anything different?” And when they would tell me that, “I mean, really.” I’d be like, “Really. Really you’re not doing anything different.” Sure, you’re doing something different. No, but it happened to me. Really, I wasn’t doing anything different. I gained 20 pounds overnight, and it’s very fascinating how that happened. That’s what took me into my journey of discovering the keto alkaline, which I now called it my Keto-Green way. Getting my body into ketosis, but adding the alkalinizers on to increase hormone balance, and also using my urine pH as a measure of how well I’m doing because stress creates an acidic urine pH. Too much of an acidic or inflammatory diet creates an acidic urinary pH.
Using that to guide me and to develop this program to really fine-tune the dietary component plus the lifestyle component that improves our physiology. Doing that combination, getting into ketosis on a regular basis through intermittent fasting and low glycemic diet plus healthy fats, as well as, those alkaline components really make a difference. It’s been a fascinating journey, honestly. It really has been fascinating as kind of hacking the midlife physiology.
[00:18:17] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Especially like you said, this is really being studied for the first time. When we look at the history of medicine, women’s health and women’s brain health has not been explored, especially the way that they’re exploring it now. So this is very, very exciting. Urine pH test strips. There’s a brand I love. I can’t remember the name, but I’ll link it in the show notes. Do you sell them, or do you have a brand that you love? The ones that I get, you can use to test your saliva and your urine.
[00:18:54] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Okay. I’ve got one better for you because urine pH really makes a difference. I actually created urine pH test strips with ketone pads on them. They’re called the Keto-pH Test Strips. I’ll give you a link to those. We want to check the urine. Salivary is good and it’s interesting to check too. It will also relate to what you eat, but urine is kind of, “Okay, what’s the end product? At the end of this moment, what’s the result here?” You can fine-tune your day based on your urine pH. Say, for example, you check your urine pH in the morning. Now, I want that to be alkaline, but what’s very interesting, the more you push your body into ketosis after periods of fasting, for instance, you’re going to be acidic, so you really have to balance up the alkalinizers and the practices that increase the alkalinity.
I’ll share a story with you. Urine pH testing and urine testing for ketones, Let me tell you, urine is another vital sign. Urine pH testing is absolutely another vital sign. As we are exposed to a lot of stressful thoughts and situations right now, I think it’s more important than ever to be checking urine pH—more important than ever to be checking urine pH because that really helps us fine-tune what we’re doing and even our thoughts. I was just on a consult call with a client of mine. She lives up in Rhode Island, and she said over the last week, she was doing everything. She was really trying to get alkaline, and the news every night, and she was feeling stressed, and she goes, “Well then, we had a virtual Skype birthday party with my two-year-old grandbaby. With my next urination, I couldn’t wait to check, and lo and behold I was so alkaline. I was so alkaline.” She knows. Oxytocin shifts your pH, shifts your physiology.
We have focused so much on the wrong things. We focused just on the wrong things. We would ask, “Why would this healthy eater, this vegetarian, or this vegan, or this really healthy athlete, and very conscientious about nutrition, why would she get cancer? Why would she get inflammation? Why would she be struggling with this or autoimmune disease?” Really, it’s more than about what we eat. Figuring out what our physiology is, I love it. It’s like getting your Nancy Drew on and you’re just discovering. Okay. “Well, when I interact with so-and-so I’m acidic right away.” I mean I can tell you, I could have told you that, but having my urine pH prove it to me, that’s pretty fun.
[00:21:40] Ashley James: That is so funny. I was just watching a TV show where a police officer was wearing a Fitbit-like thing that monitored his stress levels. Every time a sergeant walked up to him it’d start beeping. It’s funny to think that we could measure our stress levels in such an easy way, such an easy way every time you urinate. I was going to ask when’s the best time you test, but through your story, you’re sharing you could test anytime throughout the day. Should we, as an experiment, test every time we pee, or only in the mornings, or what’s the best way to go about testing our pH to balance as good feedback?
[00:22:33] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, all throughout the day. It’s so fun to do, honestly. I know it sounds terrible, and most of my clients, when I run my programs, are like, “Oh, do I really have to?” I’m like, “Yes, yes. You have to, and I promise you, you will love doing it at the end.” This client, she’s been with me for three years, she’s like, “Oh my God. I couldn’t wait to test my urine pH.” I knew that. I felt so much better. That’s the beauty of it. With my urine pH test strip, there’s 100 in a container, there’s 50 in a separate foil so they stay fresh because humidity and light affects them. It’s inexpensive. It’s like $12 or $13 for 100 tests.
Check at least three to four times a day especially getting started. Your first pee in the morning, I’d love for everyone to wake up with a urine pH of seven. I would love that. That just makes me happy just thinking about everyone waking up with a urine pH of 7. An alkaline urine pH is more associated with healthier bones, decreased risk of inflammatory conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and cancer. If we can monitor this, again, because it’s not just about what we eat, it’s how we manage stress. Also, Ashley, what’s really fascinating is I have a terrible dairy sensitivity. I discovered all this as I figured stuff out. Let me step back a second and tell you how I recognized that cortisol in my urine pH, I mean, I never learned that.
[00:23:59] Ashley James: In medical school, this is something they don’t teach?
[00:24:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: No, I didn’t. No, I never learned that. We look at urine for ketones. There’s a pH pad on our urine test strips, like our 11-count urine test strips, but we’re looking at ketones. That’s on there too, but typically, we’re looking for white blood cells and nitrites for a urine infection or bilirubin in our urine. There are a few different things that we look at in our urine. It’s like, “Okay, well you’re not too far on this side and you’re not too far on this side. I guess it’s not a flag.”
When I started really recognizing that when I get into ketosis through my ketogenic diet, I was getting inflamed, and irritated, and kind of angry, and cranky. I called it going keto crazy. That’s where I recognized, “Okay, I’m just too acidic.” Check my urine pH. It was as acidic as the urine pH paper would read. That’s when I’m like, “Okay, add in the alkalinizers like kale, kale soup, collard, collard greens, chard, Swiss chard, and also beet greens, not the beets, but the beet greens.” I’ve got some great recipes in my books for those. Very alkalinizing and so mineral-rich, and I kept piling those into my diet until I would start to see some alkalinity, and as well adding apple cider vinegar, and increasing my Mighty Maca Plus, and incorporating some additional herbs and spices to help with alkalinity as well.
Then the mornings I walked on the beach, I was more likely to be alkaline all day. I started to test that, and certainly, the mornings I take my gratitude journaling, the mornings I walked on the beach, the more alkaline all day. The mornings I woke up late, and hurried, and rushed my kids off to the school bus, and ended up driving them to school because I missed the bus with them, certainly, much more acidic all day. That was a big aha moment for me. Even when I was thinking. “Oh my god. I have the stressful situation that I have to address at the office or in my personal life,” that created more acidic urine pH.
As I started discovering this in myself, and treating, and coaching other women to discover this for them also. Find out what makes them more alkaline, what makes them more acidic, and we just started doing this. I’ve been doing this for six years now. Food sensitivities, I can tell right away if I’ve been given something with dairy. I’m incredibly dairy sensitive, so for example, a pesto sauce has some parmesan in it, I will be acidic the next morning. That sensitive. It can help us figure out that food sensitivity too, the inflammation. At least that’s what I’ve been playing with that because I haven’t read that anywhere. It’s pretty interesting.
[00:26:55] Ashley James: Are there ever times when our urine should be acidic? Like, “Oh, that’s a good thing it’s acidic.” Because it means that it’s getting rid of something.
[00:27:07] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely after our workouts. Lactic acid is secreted in our blood, certainly, and we’ll become more acidic. When we’re dehydrated we’re more acidic. Definitely, after an intensive workout, we’re more acidic and you’ll see that.
[00:27:21] Ashley James: Any other times other than that? That’s good to know about dehydration because I think that the majority of people walking around are dehydrated and they don’t know it. That’s good to know. If they can’t dial in their pH urine, maybe try increasing their water intake after a workout. Are there ever any other times in which we would expect or we would want to see a urine pH that is acidic?
[00:27:55] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Not that we’d want to see it acidic, not that I can think of.
[00:28:03] Ashley James: When we’re first entering ketosis, or when we’re fasting, or when we’re burning fat, all of that?
[00:28:12] Dr. Anna Cabeca: We don’t want to see it. We really want to see it more alkaline, but we will definitely. This is something my community has Q’d me in on. All of them was get alkaline first, then push into ketosis. Many women, once they’re in ketosis, have a really hard time regaining that alkalinity, but the combination is powerful. The combination is so powerful, so certainly, when we’re fasting, we’re going to be acidic. Don’t stress about it, but if you can hydrate more, add some minerals to your water, anything that we can do to nourish our bodies while we’re fasting, that’s awesome. I’ve also done some dry fast. Very acidic during those for sure.
[00:28:51] Ashley James: Can you explain the biochemistry of what it means to be alkaline or acidic in our pH? What is present to make it acidic, or what’s the body not doing well? Is it too much hydrogen? Not enough carbon? What’s going on that’s causing acidity?
[00:29:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: This is very interesting. When I’m looking at urine pH, because we’re not talking about blood pH when we’re talking about acidity and alkalinity, at least I’m not. Sometimes you’ll hear the alkaline myth, “It doesn’t matter, your blood pH stays stable no matter what.” It does, for the most part, unless you’re really sick. If I had a client coming into my emergency room and they were really sick. I would put a needle in their radial artery, not the vein, the artery, and draw it on arterial blood gas. Now, we’re going to measure that pH, and that pH has to be so close to 7.4. It’s just slightly alkaline, and if it’s a little high, a little low, that person’s really sick.
Most commonly, they’re coming in acidotic. In that case, the first thing we do, we’ll give them IV bicarb. We’re going to give them something like baking soda, not IV, but we give them bicarbonate IV to alkalinize them. We’re going to get them an alkalinizer like baking soda is very alkaline. Half a teaspoon of baking soda in some water, drink that down, you’ll have some alkaline urine pH. There’s that shift on physiology, but our blood pH is going to stay really stable. How does it stay really stable? It robs Peter to pay Paul, so if we’re fasting, we’re going to get our minerals from our bone, from our muscle, from ourselves. We’re going to rob Peter to pay Paul essentially to keep that blood pH super stable.
Consider the urine like a thermometer is telling you, “A little bit cold, a little bit hot. Okay. You’re too cold. Let’s warm you up a little bit. Let’s get more alkaline.” When we’re looking at this across the kidneys, when we are stressed, cortisol increases hydrogen ion secretion across the renal tubules, so we see that as a more acidic urine pH—power of hydrogen. We’ll see that. We’ll see that. When we’re more inflamed, more malnourished, or eating very high sugar inflammatory foods, also when we have high glucose, we’re also going to push out cortisol, so we’ll see more of an acidic urine pH. It really has to do with the ions across the cell membranes. I mean, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium. I mean, we look at all the different minerals going across the cell membranes as well.
Looking at that from, again, the underlying, underlying reason why we’re not feeling good, we always go back to the cellular level. That’s how it guides us. The physiology guides us.
[00:32:12] Ashley James: Interesting what you said about baking soda. Is it because we’re deficient in something that baking soda provides? Like we’re having a deficiency in sodium? Does it mop up something? I mean, is this something we should all be supplementing with, or is it just a stopgap, and what we really need to do is eat greens because they’re so alkalizing?
[00:32:39] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Really, we should eat more greens because they’re alkalinizing and give us fiber, but bicarb for a short term anyway, what bicarb does it just helps with the alkalization. The abbreviation for bicarb is HCO3, not that that really matters, but it’s a byproduct of our metabolism. It’s more alkalinizing to our body. Not 100% sure how that works with sodium, and potassium, and chloride—the other electrolytes—but it does help with the pH balance. Our body will produce it naturally. The body will make bicarb as a byproduct or basically carbon dioxide. It’s essentially a form of CO2 gas. When we look at the cell exchange, the membrane exchange, you have sodium, potassium, chloride exchanging over the membrane. When we take sodium bicarb orally, we’re giving this alkalinizer, these highly-charged alkaline molecules, essentially, that quickly we’ll see that by-product in our urine.
[00:33:58] Ashley James: Did you have an aha moment around testing urine pH? How did you come across that piece of information? Because you must have started testing yourself first, right?
[00:34:12] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. So just in studying functional medicine from early 2000, one of the things that we’ve learned when we’re detoxing our bodies, eating more alkaline foods like our tenet is 80% alkaline, 20% acidic, really want to look and check your urine pH so that it’s alkaline. So there, it was all about food. That’s when I really had pushed that with my clients and my patients as part of our detox regimen in hormone balancing. But now, here I was, gaining that weight at age 48. What I used to do wasn’t working any longer. That’s when I went strictly ketogenic, but at that point, I had stopped testing myself because I’ve been pretty much on a healthy regimen for a while.
During that time, I was like, “I’m feeling crazy, keto crazy. Why is keto not feeling good like it does for my male counterparts?” That’s when I just said, “Okay, well let me just check my urine and see what’s going on.” I mean it makes sense that I’d be a little bit more acidic, but not as acidic as I was. The aha was that once I really pushed those alkalinizers on board, and I was alkaline and in ketosis, or how I had an alkaline urine pH and in ketosis at the same time, and I felt so much better. I had the clarity, I felt energized. I call it energized enlightenment. I felt peace. I told you I had three kids in three different schools, and yet, nothing in my external environment changed, but I felt peace. I was able to respond instead of react. I was at home in my body again, and the weight just came off.
[00:35:50] Ashley James: You knew you were on to something.
[00:35:56] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes, yes. I knew I was on to something. When I discovered that for myself, that’s when I brought in some of my most difficult patients/friends that were part of my medical practice and my community. I brought them in, I said, “Once a week for eight weeks this is what you’re going to do. Exactly what I’ve been doing. You’re going to get keto green. You’re going to follow this.” I wrote out a menu plan, I created a regimen, gave them a checklist—a to-do list, made them do questionnaires. I put all of that in my book, The Hormone Fix, and like, “You’re going to do this with me. You’re going to do bone broth in between for some evenings,” I made this whole regimen.
That’s basically my plan in The Hormone Fix. Every one of them felt better. Everyone who had been at a metabolic stall lost that stubborn weight and just, again, symptom scores dropped by—gosh, in that group—over 70% to 80% within a few weeks. That’s what’s really beautiful, and that’s what we see. What we’ve seen now with Keto-Green 16 in the 16-day intense plan that I’ve created, again, it’s work, it’s a discipline and a practice, but it definitely works. We’ve seen as much as a 90% decrease in symptom scores in 16 days. We’ve seen some really beautiful stuff.
[00:37:11] Ashley James: Have you published any of these, or are you planning on doing clinical studies, or getting it out there to the scientific community?
[00:37:22] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes, definitely. I’ve written about a couple of the studies in my book Keto-Green 16, and we will be publishing some of these clinical trials that we’ve been doing. So my Keto-Green 16, we have a pilot clinic near the University of Gainesville in Florida, Dr. Angeli Akey’s clinic. She’s been running group medical visits for the 16-day plan for my Keto-Green 16 plan. We were playing with it as I was making the menus and recipes. I couldn’t give the recipes from the book, of course, so I had approval from the publisher and had some Galley copies to use.
We finally have been able to do that, but even with the rough guidelines, we’ve had amazing success. With Keto-Green 16, another group is running through it right now. We’re gathering results, gathering research. We’ve seen an improvement in diastolic blood pressures, improvement in resting pulse rate, and again, up to 90% improvement in symptoms, and definitely an improvement in hemoglobin A1cs. We are going to publish this data when I have time. We’re getting, ideally, some interns or residents to eventually help me with the research.
[00:38:48] Ashley James: Cool. If there are any listeners out there that this is their specialty, then contact Dr. Anna. We got to get you some more interns, some more residents so we can get this out there.
[00:39:03] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely. There are residents who have a requirement like we did at Emory to do research, so I welcome it. I definitely would like someone to write up this stuff.
[00:39:13] Ashley James: Very cool. So you picked number 16, why is that: 16 days, 16 food, 16-minute exercise? Is there any science behind it? What’s up with the number 16?
[00:39:33] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely. And 16-hour intermittent fasting. The number 16, in general, is a good number. There are not many 16-day plans. I actually don’t know of any other 16-day plans out there, so that makes it new. A colleague of mine just said, “You know what, if you’re used to doing 10-day plans, you’re used to doing for two weeks or 21 days, having a different number really is like, ‘Okay, this is new. I can commit to this. This is something that’s different.’” I didn’t even realize that until recently, but the number 16 is about beginnings. About beginnings and completing/finishing. Also 16, sweet 16, it’s just a beautiful number. There has been research that showed within 16 days, we can really see some scientific results, some good scientific results. As well as 16-hour intermittent fasting. That’s part of the 16 plan, so 16-hour intermittent fasting. Ideally, between dinner, the night before, eaten by 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM and breaking fast 16-hours later with a Keto-Green meal, typically between 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM.
[00:40:39] Ashley James: That’s totally doable. That’s very easy. I’ve done the one meal a day intermittent fasting. I’ve done water-only fasting. I’ve done where you just have breakfast then you have dinner, playing around with it, but just basically having dinner that’s between 6:00 PM & 7:00 PM and then not eating until 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM. I think some people do that by accident, so that’s pretty easy. Should people not do something more intense? Is there a reason for that, or is this a minimum like 16-hour intermittent fasting minimum? But could people do 20-hour, 22-hour if they wanted to do one meal a day, or do you see evidence to suggest we shouldn’t do that?
[00:41:27] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Well, I think that in general, if you’re a type 1 diabetic on insulin or a type 2 diabetic that’s poorly controlled, you need to be under your doctor’s supervision to do this, and if you’re pregnant, or breastfeeding. Although, I definitely have taken care of many moms that inadvertently were hyperemesis that fasted for extended periods of time, so healthy, healthy babies. But we can’t recommend that, so I would say not without your doctor’s guidance. Each of us is different. So if you have issues, but the person is like, “Oh, I have to eat very often, very frequently because I get low blood sugar.” I address that in the book. We can definitely get you intermittent fasting. It’s about blood sugar stabilization.
Ashley, what’s really fascinating and fun is that as part of creating the recipes for Keto-Green 16, I discovered and started using over a year ago the FreeStyle Libre, which is a 14-day blood sugar monitor. It’s a sensor that goes in your arm. It’s technically only for diabetics, but any doctor can prescribe it for you. It goes in your arm. It just taps in. It’s just a filament that’s in there. There’s no needle in your arm or anything just in your triceps area. It stays in there for 14 days and reads your blood sugar—essentially interstitial sugar levels, glucose levels—around the clock. As I created the meals, as I worked with intermittent fasting, as I pushed the limits, created the combinations of food so that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar at all.
What that means, you’re not going to get a peak in blood sugar, and you’re not going to get that deep valley—that low blood sugar that’s causing the hypoglycemic reaction because the meals are really well-balanced. Then I teach those principles too like combine your healthy fat, good high-quality protein, and lots of greens, and low carbohydrate greens, so that you get good fiber in there, which also helps with blood sugar stability.
[00:43:36] Ashley James: I love it. I interviewed Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly. He’s a cardiologist that believes the key to healing the heart and preventing heart disease is balancing blood sugar. He said in our interview that 100% of the adult population should own a glucometer. It shouldn’t be an issue of whether you’re diabetic or not. We should all use a glucometer an hour or two after each meal to see, “Was that a good meal for me or not? Is my body responding well to that or not?” And to use it as a guide just like you’re talking about using pH as a guide, also using a glucometer as a guide.
You’re saying, we can wear one if we get our doctor to prescribe it, we can wear one for 14 days. That would be fantastic if we wrote everything down that we ate, did a food mood journal, write down our sleep, our stress, our water intake, and our food, and how we feel throughout the day emotionally and also physically. Then look at what the monitor says, and go. “Oh, those times I’m stressed. What’s my pH urine doing? What’s my blood glucose doing? Oh, those times I didn’t get enough sleep. Wow. That really affected my blood glucose. Oh, the times that I ate,” like you said, “the parmesan in the pasta. It’s amazing when I eat pasta without parmesan versus with parmesan how much does that make a difference.”
Just dialing it in and figuring out that our blood sugar can be affected by more than just eating a doughnut. It could be affected by stress, sleep, and food sensitivities. Also, some people can’t handle grains, some people can’t handle whole grains. Some people can’t handle legumes or beans, some people can. Some people do better on the green keto, and they’ll see that, they’ll see that in the numbers. That feedback that you get when you see, like you said, your urine pH go up, your urine pH go to a healthy alkaline level, and your blood sugar blood glucose go to a healthy level. That’s the feedback that allows us to say, “Hey, it is really working.”
I feel as though many women who’ve dieted many times have a distrust of their body, and it’s like the mindset. Even though, let’s say, they buy your book, which we can pre-order right now. Keto-Green 16, we can pre-order it. I know it’s going to be out on audible, I’m excited for that. You’re recording it, it’s going to be your voice, which is super exciting, just like your last book. But I feel like women and men who have been on many diets don’t trust their body especially if they’re in their 30s and 40s and they’re premenopausal, we feel like our bodies have betrayed us.
I’ve met a lot of people, I myself have been through this. The mindset, having to heal the mindset around my body, but the feeling that our body’s betraying us, or the little voice in the back of your head says, “You know, this works for other people but it’s not going to work for me.” We could be on the diet for a few days, let’s say the Keto-Green 16 diet. We could be on it for a few days, and that little voice is going, “It’s not going to work for me, it’s going to work for other people.” But then to get the external results of watching blood glucose normalize, of watching pH come into a healthy level. The little tests that we can do at home would help to affirm that we’re on the right path.
If they’re going in the wrong direction, then we can go, “Okay, there’s something here to uncover,” like you said, like Nancy Drew. There’s something here to uncover, and figure out, and decipher about my health, but it’s giving us extra feedback externally that will allow us to dial in our health. Are there any other tests at home that we could do to help us see that we’re on the right path? Maybe something we could journal or something we could see that goes, “Oh, yes. I know this is working for me. I know I’m gaining health because of these results.”
[00:48:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely have loved wearing the 14-day monitor. Anyway, we can just check finger sticks of blood sugar too. That’s helpful as well. But it was really another interesting point, before we leave, the monitor. What I didn’t know was that when I did my boxing, my high-intensity boxing workouts, and they’re an hour and a half or so, that my blood sugar would go up to 150, it went 200, and that’s fasting because I’ll eat after my workouts. So that blew my mind. Because I check urine pH and ketones, I check with my Keto-pH urine test strips, I was like, “After this great workout, why am I not in ketosis? Certainly, I’m definitely acidic. Why am I not in ketosis after I’ve just worked out so hard? Surely I’m using fats at this point, right? Especially I was in ketosis before I went.”
That blew my mind to see, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense though because our muscles release glycogen so that we have glycogen for fuel and for energy during our workouts.” I thought that our body’s so brilliant, so that was beautiful to see and a surprise for me, but it absolutely makes sense. I wouldn’t have realized that unless I was wearing my 24-hour monitor. That was fun. Then, of course, urine pH and ketone testing because if we’re not testing we’re guessing, and that’s a really big thing too. Just things, observation like observing, doing your weight. As much as we don’t like to, I encourage people in the 16-day plan, do weights day because sometimes we eat a food sensitivity, and that’s going to make us heavier despite doing everything right, and we have to decipher that for ourselves.
[00:50:03] Ashley James: If you all of a sudden gained 5 pounds in 24 hours, that’s not fat, it’s inflammation and water. I use the scale every day because I’ve caught foods that all of a sudden I’m five pounds more or seven pounds more, I’m like “Well, that’s water.” Then I cut out that food, three days later it’s all gone. I know that I had to put that on the list of the foods that my body doesn’t tolerate. So it’s really interesting. We have to make sure that we’re emotionally—I don’t know. We don’t want to get triggered because I feel like some people, whatever the scale says, they’ll end up doing some self-harm like going off their diet completely, or bingeing, or anorexia—starving themselves, or depriving themselves.
We have to understand that the scale is feedback not for fat because women lose weight very slowly. A quarter-pound a week, half a pound a week, if you’re like really, really trying, that’s fat. If you start losing pounds, that’s water and inflammation. If you start gaining pounds very quickly, that’s likely water and inflammation. I mean, it could be other things like constipation, but we just need to understand that if it goes up really fast or down really fast, it’s probably either dehydration, or losing inflammation, or gaining inflammation. We have to check in with ourselves emotionally to make sure that we don’t take the numbers on the scale and then do self-harm as a result.
[00:51:56] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right. The numbers on the scale should not determine our mood.
[00:51:59] Ashley James: Right, or our behavior. We should use it to correct behavior in a positive way, but not in a self-harm way.
[00:52:10] Dr. Anna Cabeca: I agree. It’s information-gathering. So, definitely, I have clients that are like, “Nope, I’ll never use the scale. I just feel how my clothes fit, how my rings fit,” and that’s perfect too. That’s absolutely perfect too. If you know the scale’s a trigger, don’t use it, but I want you to be observant. I want you to discover what works for you, and what doesn’t work for you. The same thing with how hydrated are you. When you use the bathroom, is your urine clear? That’s just a simple look. Look and see. When you’re having bowel movements, do they look like dark brown bananas? That’s a good thing. That’s what we want, okay. That’s good. Little self-assessments like that are really beneficial. And our energy level.
In my books, in The Hormone Fix, I have questionnaires for medical symptoms, toxicity questionnaire, hormone symptom questionnaire, and a checklist on a daily basis. I have clients start out with choosing and saying their cheer word—a word that makes them smile when they think about it and say it. That’s a cheer word. I have them do gratitude journal on this checklist, what are you grateful for? Write it down. Then check your pH, check your urine ketones. Have you done your alkalinizing drink? What movement have you had? Bowel movement and physical movement.
Those factors that help guide us through making sure I’m doing the best I can do for me during a day, and I know when I get away from doing that. I’ve created this checklist years ago now, but when I get away from doing it on a regular basis, like now with kind of all this stuff over the last couple weeks, it does make a difference. I’m like, “Yeah, I got to go back to doing my checklist.” How many hours am I sleeping at night? How much water am I drinking? Movement every day and just checking in with myself in this way. That’s helpful. That’s been really helpful for me for sure.
[00:54:16] Ashley James: What’s the relationship between insulin, and cortisol, and our other hormones that we need to be aware of? Many people say, “Well, I’m not diabetic,” but insulin, even if we’re not diabetic, or pre-diabetic, or have metabolic syndrome, insulin still is a hormone that we want to keep in balance. Could you explain cortisol? For those who don’t know what cortisol is, could you just explain insulin and cortisol, and the relationship between those two, and how they affect the rest of our hormones?
[00:57:46] Ashley James: You’re not lying. This is exactly what happens. I can’t tell you how many people, and I’ve been doing health coaching for several years, and how many clients have told me that their numbers continue to get worse year after year, and their MD said, “Come back next year, you’ll be diabetic then, and then we’ll get you on XYZ drug. But you’re borderline right now.” None of them were given guidance besides, “Well, maybe see a dietitian,” and the dietitian told them like what they can and can’t eat at McDonald’s. I mean, it was just ridiculous the ignorance, and it’s focused on the system.
The system is focused on wait to get sick and then get on a drug. If your blood numbers, if your lab results are moving in the wrong direction but you aren’t sick enough to get on a drug, they have nothing for you. They have no resources for you because they’re not trained in medical school how to correct the body. These diseases are caused by our diet. Why are doctors not trained in this? It drives me up the wall. The majority of deaths and diseases in the United States are caused by diet. Why are we waiting to get sick, and then throwing drugs at the problem when the problem is the diet.
So I love that you’re teaching us how to correct the problem with a healing diet and then how to monitor our own health. Of course, see a doctor, see a great physician, see a functional medicine practitioner, or Naturopaths. You see a doctor that actually has dedicated their life to studying how food affects the body. We should all have a doctor like that and use food to heal the body and use the pH test strips and the glucometers so that we can dial in our health.
I love that when we’re in our 50s, be like you. Your body thinks you’re 30. You’ve got wonderful A1c hemoglobin levels. Now, does this way of eating, this very cleansing way of eating, does it also increase insulin sensitivity? See this is the question, I’ve heard from some experts that if you eat a diet with oils and high fat that you don’t increase insulin sensitivity. I’d love for your input. Have you seen that people on your protocol get insulin sensitivity? You can see it in labs, and then if they were to go back to eating, I’m not saying eating the standard American diet, but if they were to go back to eating let’s say potatoes, or brown rice, or they incorporate some more carbohydrates, does their blood sugar spike up again, or do you see that they have achieved insulin sensitivity and so they’re more balanced?
[01:01:08] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That’s a great question. Well there are many ways to do a ketogenic diet, right? There’s keto dirty and there’s keto clean, which is Keto-Green. You can be ketogenic and eating all day, essentially, eating fats all day, you know what I mean? Then you really can get into ketosis that way, but that’s not ideal. That’s why especially for perimenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal women it’s that we are more insulin resistant. We are designed to conserve energy, to be the last ones to eat. I think in my household they’d like me to serve them and then eat.
So our body is designed for that, and the more insulin resistant we are, the more hot flashes we have, the more problems we have with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. The more likely we have inflammation, aches and pains, and lower quality of life. That’s the more insulin resistant. Hot flash is a big, big issue in these clients. What we’ll see very quickly as we shift to be more insulin sensitive through intermittent fasting and no more snacking, there’s none of these three meals, three snacks. That is just not a care. Eight-hour feeding windows, or even four-hour feeding windows. I’m like, “No, no. We don’t do that.”
We break fast and then we don’t eat again until our next meal, and no snacking. We hydrate in between because if we’re drinking all our fluids we’re supposed to be with our meals, we’re diluting our digestive enzyme that’s meant to break down the food. I mean, that’s just pure chemistry. We’re also flushing through partially digested food is one of the reasons why probably many people have [sebum 01:02:50]. So free refills with your meals, that’s destructive. I absolutely see an improvement in insulin sensitivity with my Keto-Green plan 100%, and even with myself because I have been traveling.
Came back from Portland the other day, I was wearing my monitor still as I’m playing with some feasting recipes. I wanted some dark chocolate, didn’t have any, but I had some dates in the house. I had five or six dates, which typically, three is my limit because that’s like my full carb count on three dates, but I had six dates. My blood sugar went up to 200, no lie, but it was only up there like for not even a few minutes. My interstitial glucose went up to around 180 or 200. I was shocked. I was like that was just six dates, but it was right back down again. I mean, insulin did the job it needed to do. I was pretty [inaudible 01:03:46] to see that. I was like, “Darn, darn.”
[01:03:49] Ashley James: No, that’s good. That’s actually great. That’s what your body’s supposed to do.
[01:03:55] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That information it’s exactly what it supposed to do, yes. No low either. It didn’t go way low to get that hypoglycemic as if I’d had simple carbs.
[01:04:04] Ashley James: Yeah. You ate five or five or six dates. They’re very, very high in sugar, but the sugar’s natural. It’s a fruit. It’s very concentrated. It’s like a superfood, but you don’t want to do it too excess. Every time I see dates in the store I’m like, “If I buy them we’re probably going to binge them.” They’re so good.
[01:04:26] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So bad. [Inaudible]… in baking.
[01:04:29] Ashley James: What I think I’m going to do the next time I buy dates is I’ll prepackage them in little reusable Ziploc bags. I’ll go, “Okay, here’s three at a time,” or something. Because you grab a bag of dates and then all of a sudden you realize you ate 10. They’re very sweet. With dates though it caused your blood sugar to go up, and then you saw it immediately go back down, and that means you have insulin sensitivity. Because insulin resistance means it stays high for a really long period of time, and that’s what causes the damage. This is my understanding, and please feel free to add more information.
That the longer we have high sugar, as the sugars high, so you’re sure was high for a very short period of time, and then it got back. It got into the cell because the insulin brought it into the cells. It left the bloodstream, and then your cells were able to turn it to energy, and that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do, but if the insulin receptors are not working correctly with insulin, then the blood sugar stays outside of the cell. So the cells are starving and we are having high blood sugar for a longer period of time in the blood on the outside, and that causes inflammation and damage to the cardiovascular system and to our brain, which is what Dr. Ayman is seeing.
That high blood sugar is causing dementia and causing basically holes in the brain, in the cardiovascular system of the brain. The culprit is the insulin resistance, and of course, the bad diet, which causes it. But you’re seeing that your Keto-Green way is balancing insulin sensitivity, bringing back insulin sensitivity, and balancing blood sugar, and it’s also affecting the cortisol and the oxytocin. I’d love to hear more about what you’re seeing in these hormones as they’re balancing.
[01:06:35] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, well I agree with you 100%. A big part on blood sugar in the brain, which is so eye-opening to me, is that gluconeogenesis and the brain, ability for the brain to use glucose for fuel, is an estrogen-dependent phenomenon. So as our hormones start to decline, especially progesterone—when progesterone starts to decline and now in this time of stress high cortisol, I mean progesterone is needed to make cortisol. It’s also higher up on the food chain, so to speak than estrogen and testosterone. So as our body is pushing to make our stress hormones, we’re also depleting our reproductive hormones even more.
In the case of estrogen needed to be on board for gluconeogenesis in the brain, the brain fog, the dementia, the memory loss, the some timers—my patients would sometimes call it some timers. “I have some timers, Dr. Anna. What should I do?” I had experienced that, but ketones are not estrogen-dependent, so that is why getting Keto-Green is really mandatory for really every woman over 40, and periodically. We bump into ketosis and then we have a couple of feast days and we bump out. We want that metabolic flexibility, that’s just part of life and living. That’s okay, but we need to use ketones for fueling the brain to eliminate that starvation mode despite having an abundance of glucose, which is they are causing damage and oxidation.
[01:08:08] Ashley James: Now, could we get the same results if we ate, let’s say, a whole food plant-based diet where we were eating 9-12 cups of a variety of vegetables a day, and then doing intermittent fasting or water only fasting three days a week or something where our body’s going into ketosis because we’re not eating for three days, or eating very, very little like drinking broth or something. Our body goes into ketosis naturally because we’re fasting, and then we come out of it, and we eat lots and lots of vegetables. Instead of eating high fat, could we get the same results by eating plants, and then fasting, and going back and forth between the two, or is there something magic in eating high fat as well?
[01:09:03] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Really, we need the flexibility, Ashley. In my program, I encourage extended fasting as well. I’m absolutely encouraging it because we want our body to make its ketones, not just from the fat we’re eating. We want to encourage that, and there’s a place for fasting. Before I make a major decision, I fast for three days. I make sure I’m Keto-Green for sure, but I’ll certainly do an extended fasting, and that makes a difference in our lives. It really does, especially the older we get. We get that clarity, we really get that alertness, and really, if we’re doing it right, we are even more energized. I have in Keto-Green 16 because I have a lot of clients, for personal reasons, they’re vegans or vegetarians. I don’t judge.
I created a plan to help them get Keto-Green and be a vegetarian or vegan. I want them to have enough protein, enough healthy fats, and to incorporate principles so that they can experience the same benefits. Because of this whole inflammatory factor, many of my vegetarian clients breathing way too many carbohydrates, and their hemoglobin A1cs were unacceptable. In this way, through lifestyle, through intermittent fasting, through low carbohydrate protein sources, increasing healthy fats, and spacing the meals, that helps them improve insulin sensitivity. Certainly, with my plant-based eaters, extended fasting is very doable and desirable as well. For me too, at least once a month, I’m doing three days of fasting.
[01:10:54] Ashley James: I love it. I think I shared this in our last interview, but for those that didn’t hear it, I had a very interesting experience with the ketogenic diet. I feel like I eating way healthier than the dirty keto, but I wasn’t eating as clean as the Keto-Green. We were eating vegetables like kale, but I feel like we were eating more meat. It felt almost close to an Atkins diet, which I think a lot of people accidentally do. When they’re trying to achieve Keto, they end up going Atkins. It’s not about the 24-ounce steak on your plate with some butter. That’s not ketogenic. It was doctor-led.
We, my husband and I, did it for three months. Weekly meeting with a Naturopath, testing our blood ketones and testing everything and our blood sugar. Every week we’d adjust the diet based on what our results were, and she also would hook us up to this machine that would test to make sure that we’re not losing muscle mass. Then we had our labs done. My husband had kidney damage so bad he had to be put on two medications. My liver became so inflamed that I went for an ultrasound, and they said my liver was very inflamed. All my liver enzymes were through the roof. My doctor said that if it didn’t start to go down she wanted me to get a liver biopsy. It was really scary to see that a diet, which was doctor-led, could cause so much damage.
It took us over a year to get my husband healthy enough, to heal his kidneys so that he could get off of those two medications. I did a lot of work to heal my liver. It took me a while. It made me shy of the ketogenic diet. Looking at it, I see, “Okay, yeah. You know what, it was probably more meat and definitely not enough vegetables.” I feel like you’re diet, Keto-Green, there should be a different name for it. We could disassociate your diet from the Atkins, keto dirty diet that a lot of people out there are doing.
Now, my husband and I were not doing cheese because both of us are dairy sensitive. But we were doing a lot of bacon, a lot of ghee. We were doing a lot of nuts, and a lot of coconut oil, and a little bit of kale, and a lot of bulletproof coffee—a ton of bulletproof coffee. Very acidic foods besides the kale, very acidic. I’m sure if we had tested our pH, which man that was missing. Because if we had tested our pH, we would have seen early on, “Hey, something is unhealthy here.” We might have been able to course-correct and not do that damage.
I want to share my experience to help the listeners know that just any keto diet is not okay. That there’s a significant risk if you do the dirty keto or Atkins. Have you seen this in your clinic? Have you seen people have really unhealthy results from a keto diet that isn’t your version, which is incredibly alkalizing?
[01:14:48] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, absolutely. I hear from clients all the time that, “I tried keto before, and I hit a wall. I tried keto before, I didn’t feel good.” I mean that’s what it was for me, I didn’t feel good. The inflammatory markers can definitely increase in keto. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and that’s how it is. Especially men have 10 times as much testosterone as women. That’s very protective. We are more fragile when it comes to this, so we have that alkaline piece. I can’t emphasize it enough. Plus the choice of foods, the menus, the recipes. In Keto-Green 16, 16 key ingredient types for hormone balancing, for good protein sources, for digestion, and just name it.
It’s really designed to be very balanced, healthy, and get results at the same time. Absolutely. There are women who all have had so many significant problems. In fact, I just had this testimonial that came in today, let me see if I can find it real quick, that was from one of my clients in my Magic Menopause program. I have a 10-day Breeze Through Menopause program. She said, “I’ve been having hot flashes for three years. My OB-GYN put me on a medication normally used to treat depression but was also known to help hot flashes. The medication helped ease the intensity but not get rid of them. I decided to try the Breeze Through Menopause program. On my fourth day, I noticed I didn’t have any hot flashes. I was so excited but thought it was a fluke. I completed the program one month ago, and I followed The Hormone Fix. I have not had a hot flash since. Doing regular keto made me feel terrible, but your way just made the difference,” Donna.
[01:16:43] Ashley James: I just wish there was a different name. We need to erase dirty keto from our mind and Atkins, just erase it.
[01:16:58] Dr. Anna Cabeca: When we’re talking about ketogenic it’s the creation of ketones, but when we think of a ketogenic diet—high-fat, bacon, and butter—we think about that keto dirty diet. But getting our body into ketosis gives us so many benefits, it really does. A high energy source. We’ll have to come up with another name. For now, it’s Keto-Green, Keto-Green 16.
[01:17:25] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. Can you tell us some of the 16 foods that are in the Keto-Green 16 book?
[01:17:32] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes. Certainly healthy meats like grass-fed beef and bison, wild-caught fish like salmon or a white fish. Those are great choices. Avocado gets its own category. I just think it’s so great.
[01:17:46] Ashley James: I have an avocado every day. It’s so great.
[01:17:50] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So good, so good. My heart hurts for people with avocado sensitivities. They’re so good. Also, that’s very rare, but every once in a while, I come across someone.
[01:18:00] Ashley James: My son is allergic to avocado. If he avocado just touches his food he gets asthma. He has a severe allergy. There was a California roll or something and I took the avocado out but there is trace amounts, and he immediately got asthma. He’s so allergic to avocado, which is really sad. It’s so sad because he used to love it. He just developed the allergy, just boom, all of a sudden. I eat an avocado every day. I just love it. I can feel for the people who have avocado sensitivities. I definitely want to finish your list, but just tell us, why is avocado such a superfood?
[01:18:40] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Healthy fats, minerals, nutrients. It’s just one of that. I don’t know. It’s really this protective fruit, really. Just from the fatty nature that it has and it’s rich in phytonutrients. I don’t know. It’s just one of those delicious superfoods.
[01:19:05] Ashley James: It has fiber. It’s also the satiety factor. I can have an avocado and that’s it. I’ll eat up avocado maybe with some greens or some sauerkraut because I’m really busy. I’ll just throw it on some greens like a salad, and boom, four, five, six hours later I’m good. I don’t have to eat. It’s really wonderful for that satiety.
[01:19:35] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Because it has that healthy fat in there too, and that it’s creamy. When you’re eating it, it’s creamy and delicious typically. That’s a nice sensation when we’re eating it too. Putting a little bit of avocado into your smoothies makes them so creamy, and making some great desserts like key lime pie with avocado. I’ve come up with some great recipes.
[01:19:59] Ashley James: Are you kidding me? Is that is one of your recipes?
[01:20:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So good. Yes, that is one of my recipes. That’s one of my favorite recipes. It’s either in The Hormone Fix or Keto-Green 16. It’s probably in The Hormone Fix. If not, it’s one of my bonus recipes. Key Lime Avocado Pie, let me tell you. We found some really great ways to use avocado. Then you mentioned sauerkraut. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, that’s one of the sixteen. Some of them are categories. Cruciferous vegetables because we need that for healthy hormone metabolism, and lots of good fiber so cabbage, broccoli. You can mix and match. You can substitute any cruciferous vegetable for the other, but they’re all so good for us and for hormone balancing. Those are some of them.
Added in a couple of fruits for digestive enzymes to use as part of our evening meal, but if it keeps us from getting into ketosis, I recommend that we eliminate it. Papaya, mango, and pineapple. Again, just the not overly ripe, just ripe, just right so that it’s not too much sugar. A little bit goes a long way, and it really does help at the end of a meal, adding a little bit of digestive support, plus it’s a fresh fruit for dessert. We get a little bit of that in there in the plan, but yet if it’s too much to keep us out of ketosis, we just eliminate it temporarily. Those are some, and then of course, onions.
The concept between the greens and the different ingredients, we want things that are going to support our detoxification in our metabolism that have methylators, sulfurators. Rich ingredients to help with, again, hormone balance and decrease inflammation in our system also help with elimination. Many people on a ketogenic diet have a lot of trouble with constipation. Everyone really needs to have a bowel movement a day. That’s part of it too, part of a plan.
[01:22:14] Ashley James: How many grams of fiber are on your program would you say per day?
[01:22:20] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Well, in carbs in general, I didn’t separate fiber grams but about 40 grams of carbs.
[01:22:27] Ashley James: On your program, people have at least one bowel movement a day?
[01:22:35] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:37] Ashley James: That’s much different from the dirty keto, which is very constipating.
[01:22:43] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It’s the other things like the instructions to drink in between your meals, not with your meals. To really chew your food until it dissolves in your mouth versus swallowing half-eaten bites of food, which I know I’ve done. Also, intermittent fasting can really help. Plus, if we need to, probiotics, magnesium, vitamin C because I instruct, if you’re getting constipated, you have to do these things. Increase your oil, adding extra olive oil can be beneficial to help with that too or omega-3 supplementing. But we have to have bowel movements every day. That’s definitely one of the objectives.
[01:23:23] Ashley James: How do you handle the keto flu? In the first three, four days of doing the ketogenic diet, people feel flu-like symptoms. They feel pretty crappy because their body’s been depending on glucose. It’s run out of all the glucose in the muscles and in the liver, and now it’s just starting to turn over into making ketones for fuel. But somewhere around there, as we’re being deplete in glucose, we haven’t quite yet got the ketones up. We’re feeling pretty crappy. How is it that your program lessens that?
[01:24:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Because of the alkalinity factor. I really push towards getting alkaline first. Getting alkaline first, hydrating really well, and then we don’t get keto flu or keto crazy as a result of it. Nope, not at all. I have worked with clients. They’re like, “Oh, I just went right into ketosis.” I’m like, “Well, you didn’t follow instructions. Let’s do this. Stop what you’re doing and let’s backtrack.” It does, it makes a difference. We don’t want anything that’s going to create more free radicals or inflammation. Granted, keto flu, it will eventually come to an end at some point or another, but that’s not what this is about. It’s not. I want healthy from step one. I want to feel good from step two. I mean, I want to feel good right away. Why would I do it? Why would I do it again, and again, and again? That’s my… [inaudible 01:25:02].
[01:25:03] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. You don’t want to feel sick while you’re eating to get healthy. What the heck? If you’re feeling sick, there’s something wrong. That’s your body saying there’s something wrong. So you’re saying that when people get the keto flu it’s because they’re acidic and they’re dehydrated.
[01:25:20] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right, right.
[01:25:22] Ashley James: Very interesting. Would that be the same? Would you say that people should get alkaline and hydrated before they start a three-day water fast? That would be the same concept that we should go into it.
[01:25:34] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Absolutely.
[01:25:35] Ashley James: My friend, who eats a whole food plant-based diet, we both do, she eats probably 12 cups of green vegetables a day, at least, or drinks them. She makes a smoothie that’s kind of insane. She fills the Vitamix with all kinds of wonderful greens. It’s great. She pushes her Vitamix to the limit. She recently went on a five-day fast, water-only fast. I did a fast recently too. We were both expecting to feel some weakness. Imagine yourself, because every time we fast is usually when we’re sick in bed like, I’m too sick to eat, right? Most people don’t go, “I’m just not going to eat for a few days and see what happens.”
What we noticed is that we had more energy, not less. That we didn’t get shaky, we didn’t get weak. We actually were more motivated. She said, “I can’t believe it. I am doing things around the house.” She listed off everything. It was 11:00 in the morning. She listed up 20 things. She goes, “It’s not even noon yet. I did more in a half a day than I normally do in an entire week.” She just noticed that emotionally, her motivation went through the roof. That’s really, really exciting that this idea of getting the body alkaline, and then getting into a ketogenic state, whether we’re fasting or eating the Keto-Green diet, would improve our mood, improve our mental clarity, but also improve our motivation, and our drive to do things in life. Have you seen that as well in your clinic?
[01:27:25] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Absolutely, absolutely. In my own life, are you kidding me? It’s like oh my gosh. I’m looking at my room right now. I’m like, yeah, I need about a three-day fast. That’s why I fast before I do any major decision to really gain that clarity. I always joke, and I’ve said this on stage. At that point I was 48, I had brain fog, mental fatigue, I was making some really bad decisions. I was making some really bad decisions. I mean, I was even engaged to the wrong person, let me tell you. I made some bad decisions, and that’s brain fog. We can’t have that. There’s just so, so many references to fasting, biblically certainly, and in so many religions around the world.
I really believe the reason is that higher spiritual connection, that clarity that removes all the clutter, takes off the ceiling, takes off the roof so to speak, and really have that higher level of connection. That’s why it’s this energized enlightenment that we experience with the Keto-Green plan. Getting alkaline and in ketosis at the same time, it changes our electromagnetic energy, changes our physiology. It raises our vibration without a doubt, and that’s where we want to be. If we’re going to do it, it takes a little bit more tweaking to get Keto-Green, but it raises our vibration. It feels so much better.
The same with fasting. Again, as you discovered, actually, once you get through day two, because our ghrelin hormone is so high on day two, it gets easier. It just gets easier.
[01:29:02] Ashley James: I love it. Oh yeah, the ghrelin hormone. Aren’t there three hormones that affect hunger?
[01:29:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes. There’s leptin which is that we’re satiated, and there’s ghrelin, which is like the gremlin, the hunger hormone, and that makes us feel hungry. There are a few others, but adiponectin is another one that affects our appetite and also our metabolism. As we get older, that one goes down as well. I really believe that’s tied to a different biologic clock than our reproductive clock hence that 5, 10, 20-pound weight gain without doing anything different. It has a lot to do with the adiponectin hormone. Those are the three major ones that I deal with in really working through this program. There are actually 13 hormones that I talked about in Keto-Green 16 just for awareness that it’s complex, and the plan I created addresses every one of them.
[01:30:09] Ashley James: Have you ever tested those three hormones that affect hunger and satiety in patients before and after doing your program?
[01:30:19] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Only adiponectin so far, not really leptin and ghrelin. I think that is really pulsatile so I think it’s hard to test, and not so sure on the results with adiponectin. In the couple clients, testing myself and testing a couple of their colleagues, we see a little bit of an improvement, but not much. We didn’t really see moving the needle significantly with that, but we definitely have seen the scale move in our hemoglobin A1c improve.
[01:30:50] Ashley James: I had my levels tested a few years ago. My entire adult life I’ve been dieting. I’ve been dieting for health, I’ve been dieting for weight loss, and I’ve been working on healing my body my entire adult life. In my 20s I was incredibly sick. It was in my late 20s that I started to turn my life around. I was able to heal type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections for which I needed monthly antibiotics for, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and infertility. I was very sick, so using food and supplements to fill in the gaps, I navigated. I had to go, “Okay, this works, this doesn’t work.” I had to keep shifting my diet and finding. I’d go three steps up, one step back, and I just keep going.
My whole 30s has been about healing my body. I have to look at it from every angle because health isn’t just physical, it’s emotional, and spiritual as well, and mental. I had to look at, well, what’s going on emotionally and mentally that am I overeating? Why don’t I feel full at times? Why is my plate bigger than other people’s plates? Is it that my metabolism is different, are my hormones different? What’s going on? Is that emotionally I’m doing something? I found that no matter what, I just never felt full. I never felt satiated. Even if I ate a full meal, I always felt there was something missing.
So I did emotional work, I did mental work. I’m very happy for the personal growth. I put years into growing as a person. Then I came across these hormones about satiety and hunger. I had to also work on my relationship with hunger. When I start to feel hungry what emotions come up for me? There’s this fear response. What’s going on there? Is this part of our ancient neurology to be afraid of starvation, or is this something that I have for my childhood? I did a lot of personal work, but I also went and got these hormones tested, and sure enough, they were so out of whack.
They were so out of whack my doctor, she’s a Naturopath, and she goes, “No wonder. No wonder you feel the way you feel.” She explained it. “Your brain thinks you’re a 90-pound starving person. Your brain is getting the wrong signals from your body. Your brain is saying, “Quick, we need more nutrients. We’re starving, we’re starving, we’re starving.” I’ve been fighting, I was fighting against these hormones because everything was out of balance. Everything interplays with each other, and you’ve described this, but this whole endocrine system is not compartmentalized. They’re all affecting the cortisol, and oxytocin, and the insulin, and all of our sex hormones. They all play off of each other and affect each other. Of course, everything I was eating was affecting them, and here I was fighting with food to figure out, what’s going on? Why am I always hungry? Why am I never satiated?
Switching to eating a whole food plant-based diet, for me, it’s like it turned something on in my brain. Maybe it was all the fiber, maybe it was the alkalizing, maybe it was all the vegetables, maybe it was cutting out processed food, maybe it was all of them. But I feel satiated. It’s past 1:00 PM here. I haven’t had breakfast. I haven’t had lunch. I feel fine. I feel great. If I feel hungry, it comes and goes really fast, and the panic in my body doesn’t happen. I’d love to go back and get my three hormones tested again just to show, but I could feel it in my body. I’ve shifted something big, and I’ve been doing this eating more alkaline for the last two years now, and I just really feel that eating the way you described where you’re eating getting healthy fats like avocados. If you eat meat that you make sure it’s the cleanest meat possible. If you fish, you’re getting the wild-caught. You’re eating really clean, no processed foods, and you’re getting tons of vegetables, and you’re focusing on alkalizing your body.
I felt so desperate for so many years, and I felt I was suffering for so many years. Then just the light bulb went on when I switched into eating this way. It’s just so healing. It’s so healing. My body’s now coming back into balance. I’d love to see more research done on those three hormones, but I can tell you that I feel it. You must see it with your clients because you said, they’re getting tremendous results with balancing their weight and balancing their hormones. I’d love to hear about the feedback of how their relationship with food changed emotionally.
[01:36:20] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Oh my gosh. That’s such a big topic. I feel like I wrote this book for women like you, for women like me, for those of us that have been a slave to our physiology, that’s been screwed up because we were just doing the wrong stuff. We thought we were doing right, but we’re doing the wrong stuff. There’s that physiologic imprinting, so to speak, the habits that are formed. Like I said, I used to go to bed thinking about food and wake up thinking about food. I was a slave to hunger. My mom was a baker growing up. I could drink syrup, basically. I had such a sweet tooth. I love it, I love it.
That hormone ghrelin, that’s a really big one. That hunger hormone is a really big one for women and men to override, but it is possible. That’s where the healthy fats are so necessary, and that’s where blood sugar stabilization is so necessary, that’s where the combination of foods, and ingredients, and when and how we’re eating is so important to master because physiologically, it honors our physiology, and we’re in control, and no longer feel like we’re in a battle with willpower. Because willpower is not an issue anymore, it’s just like okay. We’re not a slave to a habit, or physiology, or the ghrelin hormone, or the hunger hormones, or becoming leptin resistant. We never feel satisfied. Oh my gosh. Did you ever see the Hamilton musical, Ashley?
[01:37:47] Ashley James: I haven’t. I haven’t. It’s not here in Seattle.
[01:37:50] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So good, so good, but there’s a song in there, I will never be satisfied. You just got to listen to the soundtrack. It’s a great song. I mean, that should be my theme song, seriously.
[01:37:59] Ashley James: Okay, I’ll check it out.
[01:38:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: You’ll have to listen to it. It’s great. It really is very interesting how our hormones can drive us versus us drive our hormones. I lecture on hormones all over the world, you know that. I lecture on testosterone and estrogen, and one of my big peeves with some of these testosterone clinics is that look, testosterone can increase your novelty-seeking behavior. Can create divorces, can create affairs because you’re upleveling the testosterone into super physiologic zones, and that affects mental reasoning, without a doubt. Behavior affects physiology, and physiology is affected by behavior.
In the plans, and I laid it out in The Hormone Fix in really good detail. I just kind of blended it in Keto-Green 16 by creating a lifestyle, creating patterns, creating behaviors that empower our physiology like intermittent fasting, like no more snacking, like feeling satisfied enough out of a meal with the combination of foods that we’ve eaten to not have that hunger in between meals. A little bit of hunger is okay. We recognize that. A little bit, right? A reasonable amount. It’s okay to say, okay I’m not overstuffed at a meal, not to be completely full or overstuffed at a meal either. To start to dial those things in. That’s okay too. It’s listening to our body and empowering our physiology.
I was totally a slave to my physiology with willpower, and hunger, and binge eating, and struggling for decades of my life. It was only over the last decade and a little bit that I’ve been liberated from that.
[01:39:47] Ashley James: I love it. We can use food as medicine to heal our body. I’ve interviewed four or five cardiologists now. All of them use slightly different diets, and they all get great results at healing the heart, but the one that has the hands-down best results with healing heart disease, and reversing—even four blockages in the heart—reversing heart disease, and angina, and high blood pressure, is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. His diet is very low fat, although, he says you can have a handful of nuts and seeds a day. There are zero oil and zero animals or animal products in his diet. It’s tons of vegetables, and I mean tons of vegetables, whole grains, and potatoes, but mostly vegetables.
He sees very rapidly clogs in the heart clear up. He’s got people, basically, off of death’s door. That’s a very specific diet. That diet would not be optimal for healing hormones. You’ve talked about hormones need fat, but if someone has heart disease and they’re on death’s door, go do that diet because he’s published studies and shown that that diet is incredibly healing for the heart. If we’ve got hormone imbalance and we don’t have heart disease, then this diet is shown to be healing. There’s no one diet that fixes everyone. That would be ludicrous to think that we could put everyone in one diet and be perfect because everyone’s got different health problems. We have to triage.
[01:41:38] Dr. Anna Cabeca: On that note too, men and women are different, right? Men have 10 times as much testosterone as women. They have bigger muscle mass than we do, bigger bone mass than we do. There are differences between men and women. The menopausal women need something different for sure, not just for hormone imbalance, but for cardiovascular protection. We need healthy hormone levels, healthy estrogen, healthy progesterone, healthy DHEA. We need as much testosterone as we can get circulating for healthy bones. This is really important. We know statin medications lower cholesterol, lower our testosterone levels.
We look at this, but it’s not just what we eat. This is where it’s not just about the diet, it’s not just about what we eat. The when, the with who, the other aspects of what we’re eating and what we eat ate become really critically important. Timing of meals, intermittent fasting, no more snacking. These principles give us more flexibility too in what we’re eating so we can fine-tune it for us. But ultimately, we have to test not guess. In the case of the cardiologist, monitoring the patient so we’re seeing improvement. We have to do as much of that as we can. We have to self-monitor as much as possible. How am I feeling? How does this resonate with me? What results am I getting? How’s my urine pH test? Everyone’s going to go get some urine pH and ketone test strips right now.
[01:43:08] Ashley James: You’re going to give us the link. We’ll put it in the show notes.
[01:43:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It’s so important. By figuring that out, discovering what works for us and what doesn’t work for us I think that’s critical. It’s not just about following a diet plan, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle within what we know works for us. Within our fasting regimen, I’ll say, 80% Keto-Green regimen and then another 10% feasting regimen so that we’re having, we’re experiencing life, we’re laughing, we’re playing, we’re doing more of the things that really are as if not more important than what we’re eating. I love that there are different things, different ways for people to explore and play, and ultimately, to see and decide what works best for them.
It can be different over time. What I did in my 30s and early 40s, I mean, it stopped working when I hit 48. Despite not doing anything different, the scale moved. The brain fog, came on, and all that stuff. The timing too and maybe different stress levels in our life too. We have to do different things as well. That’s important to realize.
[01:44:28] Ashley James: Your message is really relevant now because the whole world is stressed out. In the next year, we’re going to see women’s health decline across the board because stress affects hormones, and hormone imbalance affects women’s entire life. It affects our brain, our ability to function, it’s very significant. Your message is very relevant right now and for the coming year. Stress is always going to be there, we’ve got to do things to mitigate stress. But using the pH test strips for example and going, “Oh wow. Okay. I’ve got to do something to balance my stress because I was watching the news yesterday, and my pH has gone down, that my acidity has gone up.” For those people that don’t know, like you said, 7 is good pH in the AM, but some of us don’t remember it from high school science. Can you talk about the pH scale, and what’s good, and what’s not good?
[01:45:42] Dr. Anna Cabeca: In general, our pH scale is 0 to 14, so the lower the number the more acidic we are. When we think of acidity, I always like to think of acidity like New York City—industrial, a lot of concrete, kind of inflammatory. Alkalinity, all the way at the other end of the scale, from 7 to 14 that’s on the alkaline side. Think of the Amazon jungle. Think lush, greenery, think of being outside, enjoying yourself, a waterfall in the background. I mean, it just sounds lovely. So that’s more alkalinity. Again, our blood pH stays around 7.4. Different parts of our body have different pHs. Our stomach is very, very acidic, and the vaginal pH is acidic to kill off sperm and bacteria. It’s naturally acidic. It gets more alkaline as we get older. The skin has a lower acid pH, and again, it’s part of our defense mechanism.
Then different areas are more alkaline, which is so fascinating to me how the body is so interconnected, and yet there are organelles running at different pHs. Pretty cool. How it can shift based on what we’re experiencing, but urinary-wise, again, emphasizing we want to see that urine pH at 7.4-7.5 above that in general, but most people when they start checking, they’re at a urine pH of 5 or 6. A lot of shifting has to be done. Now, I forgot your question.
[01:47:29] Ashley James: You answered most of it. It was, explain the pH scale for those who don’t know it. You did beautifully and brought in the analogy of New York City versus the Amazon jungle, 1 to 7 being acidic or New York City, 7 to 14 being alkaline. A 7 is sort of the middle, right? But neutral.
[01:47:51] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Neutral. Seven is neutral.
[01:47:53] Ashley James: Then upwards towards 14 is the Amazon jungle. That we don’t want to alkalize our stomach acid, for example. Don’t take a bunch of baking soda right before a meal. We don’t want to alkalize our stomach acid. We actually want to support the acidity of our stomach acid to help us have healthy digestion, and that’s a whole other topic because most heartburn is caused by too little stomach acid not too much. I’ve had several guests talk about that on the show, pH in different parts of the body, very interesting, but the pH that we can learn from is our urine.
What numbers are really good to see throughout the day? You said if we had a 7 in the morning, our first-morning pee, if it’s a 7 that’s great, but throughout the day, it would be different, right? What are good parameters to see throughout the day?
[01:48:51] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely depending on your activity level. To really maintain it, 7, 7.5, or 7 to 8 throughout the day, at least above 6.5. Now granted though, after a workout, after a hard run, anything like that, after a stressful situation, you’re going to be more acidic. After a good workout, you’re going to rehydrate, have a good Keto-Green shake, something like that. So you want to really work to optimize so that you run a urine pH 7 to higher. Now, if you’re going to bed acidic and waking up acidic, you’re probably not sleeping well. Your body’s probably not repairing itself well while you’re sleeping. So if we can shift to get alkaline before we get to sleep, and then ideally wake up alkaline.
Now it can take a lot of time for some people, especially if you have high blood sugar or other chronic inflammatory conditions, but don’t give up, be persistent, continue to see what works for you and what doesn’t. We can supplement with additional minerals like magnesium at bedtime and even hormones, certainly, like progesterone. During this time of stress, adding progesterone, if we’re over 40, at bedtime on a cyclical basis can be very beneficial for us too, because again, stress will produce cortisol, which we rob progesterone to make so to speak.
There may be some additional hormones that we can use or adrenal adaptogens like my Mighty Maca Plus. One of the reasons I created it with the combination of ingredients was to add those alkalinizers, so think chlorella, spirulina, and maca is an adaptogenic alkaline root. There’s turmeric in there so we can make a turmeric tonic, a turmeric tea. We can add some green tea during the day. That’s also an alkaline tea. Adding some of those, that’s like 30 superfoods in my Maca Plus, Ashley. It’s a good combination.
[01:50:52] Ashley James: I love it. I love your Mighty Maca Plus.
[01:50:55] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Thank you.
[01:50:56] Ashley James: I’m sorry. I totally interrupted you because I’m so excited. It tastes so good, and my body buzzes in a good way. If you eat a really great kale salad your body’s just buzzing. It’s like, woo, your body’s so excited. My body gets so excited when I drink your Mighty Maca Plus. It’s refreshing, it tastes delicious, and I don’t drink coffee anymore, but it would be a great replacement for coffee. It feels so good. Actually, I ran out, and I’m like, “Oh man. I could totally go for some right now,” because it is so delicious.
[01:51:31] Dr. Anna Cabeca: I’m going to send you some.
[01:51:33] Ashley James: I love some. I totally recommend listeners buy and try it. It’s delicious. Try replacing your coffee or your tea with it because the maca has natural caffeine, but it wasn’t overstimulating. I could totally fall asleep at night, and I’m very sensitive to caffeine. If I were to have chocolate, like a little bit of dark chocolate at 4:00 PM, I can’t sleep. That’s how sensitive I am to caffeine. Your drink, I could drink it during the morning. I even had some in the afternoon, and I totally was able to get into sleep, so I found it to be very gentle, but my body buzzed. I love it. It’s so delicious.
You talked all about your journey, and how you discovered the ingredients, and formulated it in episode 326, so listeners can go back and check that out. That is awesome.
[01:52:30] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That’s awesome. We’ll give your audience a free trial too. We have now four single pack, so a four-day trial of it. Just give it a try, taste it, because the biggest fear factor with greens is the taste, right?
[01:52:44] Ashley James: It tastes amazing.
[01:52:45] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It looks like fear factor, but it does taste.
[01:52:48] Ashley James: No, it has almost a little bit of a mint flavor to it. At least that’s what I perceive, but I thought it was delicious. It was very refreshing. It tastes very refreshing. I enjoy it tremendously. That’s fantastic. So we’ll get the link to that and put it in the show notes, so listeners can check out your four-day trial as well. That’s wonderful. Before we wrap up, I wanted to cover this last topic. You talk about cortisol, oxytocin, and how you can get to the point. So for those who don’t know what these two hormones are, cortisol—the stress hormone, oxytocin is the feel-good love hormone. If you hug someone for 30 seconds you get a boost of oxytocin.
I had a friend that would count as we hugged because she’s like, “We got to get the oxytocin. Let’s count to 30 together and hug each other,” so it always stuck in my mind. Cuddling your animal, your dog, or cat, or your children, or your husband, or wife, or whatever. You got to cuddle for more than a five-second hug. It’s got to be a long hug and then you get this oxytocin, but you were talking about how we can get disconnected. Women live in the state of cortisol to the point of burnout, but we can get disconnected where we don’t feel oxytocin, where we’re not feeling the joy in life, we’re not feeling the satisfaction. Even to the point where we’re not just feeling the love for our family or for ourselves.
Suicide is on the rise. It is very scary especially in the generation, I believe, ages 10 to 24 it went up over 50% in the last few years. It’s the number two cause of death in that generational cohort. So suicide is on the rise. I imagine if someone has a cortisol-oxytocin disconnect, especially for veterans who come back from the war. They have a tremendous amount of cortisol, and you’re talking about this disconnect. Can you explain how that works in the body that we have a disconnect, or where we can’t feel our oxytocin, and how can we correct it?
[01:55:05] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes, absolutely. Because I’ve lived it, and I am definitely worried about our society too with the social isolation add that into the hormonal, physiologic disconnect that we’ll be experiencing if we don’t take these practices to heart. That’s why I’m so passionate about getting this message out, Ashley. This cortisol-oxytocin disconnect is when cortisol goes high, oxytocin goes low. There’s that, okay, if cortisol is high and I’m fighting an enemy, you don’t need to love your enemy. Okay, God, I know what you said. Love your enemy. There’s a reason for that practice, right? There’s some philosophy behind that statement because I mean, hate it affects our liver, it affects our detoxification organ. I mean, it really does. Cortisol goes up, oxytocin goes down, and then when cortisol is up for a long enough period of time, it’s like frying out our nervous system.
So the constant hits of oxytocin, the news in the morning, and the afternoon at night, or daily, and just fear. Fearful thoughts, real or perceived fear, is going to affect our cortisol levels. So when cortisol is up for a long enough period of time, it’s basically frying our nervous system, but our brain is smart enough not to let that happen. So a command center in the brain called the paraventricular nucleus turns and shuts down that cortisol, so it’s like putting the brakes on cortisol. So all of a sudden, now cortisol is low and oxytocin is low at the same time. So you feel disconnected like, “I know I love my husband, I don’t feel love for him. I know I love my work, I don’t feel love for work. I know I love to paint, I just don’t ever pick up the paintbrush anymore.” Whatever it is. The activities I love to do I’ve stopped doing. Also, you stop going out, stop taking social engagements, stop interacting, more and more isolated, and that’s a physiologic disconnect.
Now what’s really interesting is there was a recent article published at the end of 2019 that looked at soybean oil because soybean oil has been used in so many food manufacturing businesses, and frying, and this [that 01:57:16] and the other. Well apparently, soybean oil can affect our oxytocin receptor site too. That’s pretty crazy, right? That’s just really crazy. So kind of getting a generation hit from both ways between we’re in a war against a virus right now and how we eat. By getting Keto-Green, getting the ketosis part creates insulin sensitivity. The green part manages cortisol and empowers oxytocin. That getting alkaline part is learning not just about how we need to nourish our body but the activities and lifestyles that temper cortisol and increase oxytocin. That’s where we really honor and empower our physiology. We have the mental clarity, the joy, and the passion to do it.
[01:58:08] Ashley James: I love it. We all could use less cortisol and more oxytocin.
[01:58:15] Dr. Anna Cabeca: More oxytocin, yes, yes, yes. Laughter increases oxytocin.
[01:58:21] Ashley James: Now, I’ve heard that during fasting we have a spike in cortisol. Have you seen this?
[01:58:27] Dr. Anna Cabeca: I haven’t measured it, but yes, I’ve heard that.
[01:58:31] Ashley James: We get all these great health benefits from fasting, and so the increase in cortisol is, I guess, part of that. It doesn’t create negative outcomes.
[01:58:47] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Not for short duration. I don’t believe so, no. I’m not 100% sure why physiologically we do have a spike of cortisol, unless that’s to get glucose like a spike in glucose as well. So increased cortisol, increase glucose to just squeeze any of that out through fasting, that kind of life-saving mechanism. But I agree, I don’t think it’s detrimental in the short term. It’s when it’s on persistently, that’s the issue.
[01:59:21] Ashley James: Right. We want cortisol to be there. If all of a sudden a boulder’s in our way when we’re driving or something, we have to react quickly. If we have to react quickly, we want the stress hormone to help us stay alive, and then we want it to turn off, and turn the feel-good oxytocin back on. Fasting, although has been around forever, it was taboo for so long in the United States. I feel just since 2012 we’re just starting to study it. All the studies are coming out. It’s starting to become more acceptable to study. It’s becoming more acceptable for doctors to prescribe it. The next 10 years is going to be very interesting to see all the results that come out from intermittent fasting, and from water-only fasting, and from one meal a day, all these different things. Of course, there have been studies here and there, but really, just in the last 10 years, we’re starting to see a spike in acceptability within the medical field. So it’s very exciting.
We’ll see more information come to light about cortisol’s role and how fasting affects the different hormones. Because we have to get over this idea, and I think we’ve just been marketed too that we need to eat three meals a day. It was really good marketing for the food industry to make lots of money. Look at what our ancestors did. Our ancestors went long periods of time without food, and our grandparents would eat breakfast, and then work in the fields, and not eat lunch, and come home, and then eat dinner, and that was normal. So it’s normal for us to not snack like you said. No snacking between meals.
[02:01:15] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right. Absolutely. No snacking between meals. Even for religions, over the centuries, fasting is part of it. We’re in the spirit of Lent right now. So there’s extended fasting, and the Orthodox Church, they fast over 200 days a year, the Christian Orthodox Church and Greek Orthodox. I mean, there’s so many different fasting like on Sunday, you don’t eat until after Communion. Little things like that have been built into cultures, and it just amazes me because I’m like, “Ah, they must have had a good reason for that.” I always think of this season of Lent. This is usually when harvest is low anyway and people are already seasonal affective disorder. So fasting is really powerful to clear up the mind, to elevate the spirit, to have that higher time of connection.
It’s interesting how things have adapted to these principles and put them in place in many different ways, in many different societies. I love it. I just want science to look at women and men differently. So we study and we publish women and men differently, and that’s the biggest thing that was part of my journey, part of understanding how some things can work in men but not women. Certainly, for men doing my plan, they get amazing results.
I had this one guy, we call him Big Bill. He met up with me in Gainesville when I was down leading, just kicking off this next group of clients, 30 people going through the group medical visit for Keto-Green 16. He said, “I’ve been struggling with this, that, and the other thing, but I’m all-in to do this. Anything I need to know because I’m 250-pound male versus many of the women that are in the group. I said, “Yeah, you got to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. You’re going to measure. I don’t want you to feel like you’re starving. I want you to eat.” And laid it out for him.
I just heard back from him yesterday. He’s like, “I have already lost seven pounds, and I’m just feeling so great.” I’m like, “Yeah, that sucks,” because men get better results quicker. It’s just not fair. They have more testosterone. That’s part of it. They’re also black and white. “Okay, she told me to do this. I’m doing it.” There’s no gray. I even have the grey zone. I’m like, “Oh well, we’re going to have that glass of wine tonight,” or whatever the reason is to have a glass of wine. I can probably find a lot of them. We’ll find the grey zones, and men are black and white. I think for this, this is where the self-discovery part for women comes in, then you really know, you know. “Okay, this is what this is doing for me, or this is what I have to do in order to feel this way and to get this result.” That helps us as women do what we need to do. At least for me anyway.
[02:04:16] Ashley James: I love it, I love it. Let us know about all the ways we can work with you. You mentioned that you have some online classes, and people can work with you online. Just walk us through all the different ways we can learn from you.
[02:04:30] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely join me at my website at drannacabeca.com. I’ve got tons of research there, but I have my online communities. I have a group called Magic Menopause, and I have my Keto-Green Community, a private community group on Facebook. I’m always showing up in Instagram, but really, it’s in my online groups, and through connecting with my office, and joining in one of my programs is probably the best way to work with me.
[02:04:58] Ashley James: Brilliant. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. Man, we could talk for hours and hours. This is wonderful. Definitely, I recommend listeners check out your book. All the links to everything that Dr. Anna Cabeca does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Keto-Green 16, get the book on pre-order now. The link will be in the show notes. The audible, I’m so excited, is going to be by Dr. Anna Cabeca, so you’ll hear her wonderful voice instead of a voice actor, I love it. I love it when doctors do that.
Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interviews? Is there anything you want to make sure that the listener is left with? Maybe some homework or something about mindset. I just want to make sure that we wrap this up in a pretty bow for the listener so they understand they can heal their body with food.
[02:05:52] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Oh, yes. Go back to that time where here I was, a board-certified gynecologist and obstetrician, trained at one of the best institutions in our country, and my doctor’s bag was empty. It was a pretty hopeless bleak situation, especially when you’re working with some of the best in the field. Honestly, it’s great if you’ve worked with the best of the best, but listen to your body, and don’t give up hope. You know you can be better tomorrow than you are today, I guarantee it. Finding the wisdom that’s inherent to our body, removing the clutter, it makes a difference. I will tell you, I stand behind it. Get Keto-Green and just feel the difference.
[02:06:34] Ashley James: Wonderful. Get alkaline, try some fasting, get Keto-Green. I like that you said remove the clutter because that’s exactly what I felt like when I started doing fasting. It really removed the clutter inside so that I could move the clutter outside. That’s exactly how I felt. That’s really cool. Awesome. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. Of course, you’re welcome back every time you come up with a book. Your track record is once a year, so let’s see how many books you can get out every year. You’re welcome back every year.
[02:07:07] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I look forward to talking with you again, Ashley. Thanks so much.
[02:07:14] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode with Dr. Anna Cabeca. Please, go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen. That’s learntruehealth.com/ketogreen to get all of the awesome bonuses, and downloads, and free recipes, and ebooks, and everything that Dr. Anna talked about today. Go to that link.
In the show notes of today’s podcast, there’ll be other links that you can go to. Dr. Anna has her Mighty Maca. She’s got a sample pack that you can get, and also you could put in your information and it will spit out your exact macros and a meal planner for you that’s personalized to your lifestyle. So check out those links as well in the show notes of today’s podcast, but for sure right now, go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen to access all the bonuses before they go away because I know it’s a limited time. I know that they’re only going to be up for a while while she’s launching her new book.
Awesome. I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day, and thank you so much for being an amazing listener of Learn True Health podcast.
Get Connected With Dr. Anna Cabeca!
Books by Dr. Anna Cabeca
What’s Happening To My Hormones (Free E-book)
Breeze Through Menopause Masterclass (Free class by Dr. Anna Cabeca)
Dr. David Perlmutter And Ashley James
- Amygdala vs prefrontal cortex
- Amygdala-based behavior opens the door for these chronic conditions: diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity
- Why eating grains lower people’s immune system
- Our immune system is represented in the liver, in the heart, in the brain, and in the lungs
- Feed-forward cycles can be used to our advantage or to our disadvantage
- Disconnection syndrome
The lifestyle choices we make and the food we eat have a big impact on our overall health. In this episode, Dr. David Perlmutter, author of best-selling book Grain Brain, joins us on the show. He talks about the difference between decision-making based on the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, and how our decisions relate to our health. He shares with us lifestyle changes we can do, the importance of sleep, the foods we need to eat, and the foods we need to avoid to improve our immune system.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love at today’s interview with Dr. Perlmutter. He’s giving away a copy of his latest book, and you can win a copy of his latest book by going to the Learn True Health Facebook group. There’ll be a post in the top, a pin to the top for the next few weeks. If you’re listening to this and it is April or May of 2020, jump in the Learn True Health Facebook group and win that book. If it’s past 2020, if its past April or May of 2020, no worries, still come join the Learn True Health Facebook group because we do great giveaways there all the time. Our guests love to give away their books and other goodies, so come join the Learn True Health Facebook group. We’d love to see you there. It’s a wonderful supportive holistic community.
Now is the perfect time to implement what you’re going to learn today from Dr. Perlmutter. He is going to teach you how to avoid disease, how to even support your body in the face of the coronavirus, and how to support yourself in living an even longer healthier life, so fantastic interview. I’m really excited to share it with you. One thing I will say, since we have extra time on our hands, and we all are at home, and a lot of us are doing home cooking, now is the perfect time to join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. I teach you how to use food as medicine, to make delicious food for yourself and your family that is also incredibly nutritious and healing for the body.
We have recipes that kids love, we have recipes that husbands love, we have recipes that the in-laws love, we have recipes that the whole family loves. Come join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. That’s learntruehealth.com/homekitchen, use coupon code LTH for the list of discount. I made it affordable for everyone, and when you join, you’re also supporting the Learn True Health podcast. We regularly upload videos to the membership. There are well over seven hours of content, of videos, of recipes in the membership right now. Great videos teaching you all kinds of wonderful recipes, and tips, and tricks in the kitchen to use using your kitchen as your pharmacy to heal your body and to also stay healthy.
Come join Learn True Health Home Kitchen. That is learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. I look forward to seeing you there. Awesome. Enjoy today’s interview. Please share it with as many people as possible so we can help our friends and family to learn true health.
[00:02:53] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 426. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have one of my heroes in the holistic health space, Dr. David Perlmutter, who wrote the book Grain Brain and also wrote his latest book Brain Wash. I am very, very excited. This is absolutely revolutionary—the information that you’re bringing. I love that you bring in so much science to back up everything that you’re showing. Today, you’re going to show us how to gain health on a whole new level using food as medicine. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:41] Dr. David Perlmutter: I am totally excited to be with you today, Ashley.
[00:03:46] Ashley James: Absolutely. A few years ago, maybe about three years ago, I heard a lecture you gave on a summit. For the life of me, I can’t remember which summit it was because I listened to so many of them. Your talk was the best talk in the entire summit, and there were some pretty awesome people there. It totally blew my mind, and I’ve been wanting to get you on the show ever since because of how much I learned from you. I’m very excited to have you here today.
Before we dive into talking about your latest book and what we can learn from you, can you tell us a bit about your background? Because you’re an MD. Most MDs don’t get into nutrition and healing the body with food, and I’d love to hear your story. What happened in your life that led you to helping people heal their body with food?
[00:04:36] Dr. David Perlmutter: Well, Ashley, don’t let me disappoint you but there was no epiphany. There was no moment of transition. I’ve been, obviously, asked that question many times, “What was it that turned you in favor of looking at the world through those eyes?” I can’t say there was a moment. I will say that I’ve always been a bit of a disrupter. Even as a kid, I was never satisfied with the status quo of explanations for anything. Obviously, that wasn’t necessarily a good way of behaving in high school, but as years went by, I became a neurologist, and entered a very mainstream neurology practice, and practiced according to the book for 10 years.
I became really very dissatisfied with what I was doing with my life. I was treating symptoms, I wasn’t treating disease. I was treating the smoke and ignoring the fire. Around that time, 10 years in, I began looking at was there any evidence that lifestyle choices had any role to play in the development of these challenging neurological problems that I was dealing with on a daily basis? Whether it was brain degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, or seizures, or headaches, or any of the common things that we as neurologists would see.
In fact, even back then, the literature was quite robust in terms of making, at least, the correlations between various modifiable lifestyle factors and risk for developing these situations. I felt that offered me a lot more tools for my toolbox, whereas it wasn’t necessarily going to focus on letting people get better right now, which is something I’d probably already mastered because it was in the book how to do it, but rather how to keep these things from happening in the first place—what an idea.
I began pursuing that and began realizing that there were a lot of people out there in the world who are like-minded. I began attending integrative conferences and functional medicine conferences and realize that there were a lot of people out there who recognize that we don’t need to be practicing reflexive medicine, but rather pre-emptive medicine. That we could really create lifestyle plans to keep people healthy. What a notion. Especially in our time right now. The notion of healthcare, which is something, with all due respect, not being practiced in America.
We talk about our healthcare system, but truly, much as my neurology practice was so very long ago in the early 1990s, we aren’t practicing healthcare, we are practicing response to diseases. We are responding to patients who develop a list of criteria that allows them to get a named disease, and then we respond to manage their symptoms. So very little going on in our so-called health care system that has anything to do with health, that has anything to do with care—in the most important sense of that word. I found that this is where I wanted to be and that I could be much more effective as a doctor—meaning a teacher—if I could focus on ways of keeping people healthy.
[00:08:20] Ashley James: I love that you identify as a teacher. The root of the word doctor is doceri, which means teacher. We should look to our doctor to teach us because we can’t take our doctor home with us. Our doctor isn’t going to cook for us, and tell us when we should go to bed, and tell us how much water we should drink, and follow us around. We have to go to our doctor, a doctor is going to teach us, then we have to take that—what we learn from them—and we have to apply it to our daily life.
[00:08:47] Dr. David Perlmutter: That is fundamental because we just realized, in writing Brain Wash, that that moment that you just described, for those of us who practice integrated functional type medicine, that’s where the system breaks down—three steps. First step, we as the healthcare provider do everything we possibly can to stay up to date, to learn the best information we possibly can. Step two, we impart that information, we act as the teacher, we give that information to our patients, and we depend on step three, that they then implement that they utilize the information that we’ve given them to change their lives for the better. What we’ve learned is that it’s step three—the utilization of the information—where the system breaks down the most. That between 50% and 80% of the information that we give to patients—that we impart—is not acted upon.
For many years, until quite recently, I like many, would accuse the patient who comes back week after week, continues to gain weight, continues to have blood sugar climbing, or whatever the metric is that we are following knowing full well that they are not engaging what we’ve recommended. They haven’t adopted the diet, they decided not to meet with the dietitian, they’re not exercising, you name it, and there was really a sense that we would blame them for that. What we’ve identified now is that the actual decision-making part of the brain has been hacked by our modern world.
It’s unfair for us to point fingers at patients as it’s unfair for them to point fingers at themselves, “Why can’t I do these things? I know it’s important that I do these things. I’ve went to the doctor. I got this information. I bought all these wonderful books. I attended these online symposia. I know what to do, but why in the heck can’t I do it?” The reason is that, again, our decision-making apparatus is under siege by so many aspects of our modern world. Therefore, it’s not necessarily appropriate anymore to blame patients for not following through, or for people to blame themselves for not being able to act on good information because they don’t have the brain connections anymore to make that happen.
That should certainly be one of the areas that you and I focus on moving forward with our time together today. What is it that has so hacked our decision-making ability, and perhaps most importantly then once we understand that, what can we do to regain connection to the better decision-making part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—so that we can act in a way, make choices that think about the future, that take into consideration how my decision today will impact me moving forward, but also impact my neighbor, my community, the planet upon, which I live moving forward. That is, bringing back our connection to this area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.
[00:12:20] Ashley James: Can you give us some examples of how our decision-making has been hijacked?
[00:12:26] Dr. David Perlmutter: Certainly. The decision-making parts of the brain are many, but for purposes of our discussion today, I’m going to simplify between two areas. One, as I mentioned earlier, the prefrontal cortex. That is an area of the brain that allows us to bring to bear on our decisions—on our choices—a lot of information from our past experiences, our understanding of the decision that we have to make especially as it relates to the future outcome. What will be the long-term consequences—good or bad—of whatever I decide to do right now? That’s the prefrontal cortex.
In contrast to making more impulsive decisions—choices—that come from the area of the brain called the amygdala—the impulsive amygdala I like to say. That is an area of the brain to which we are getting more and more attached by multiple mechanisms these days in our modern world. We know, for example, that even one night of not having enough restorative sleep tends to significantly lock us into making decisions that are short-term, that are impulsive, that are based upon narcissism, and us-versus-them mentality coming from the amygdala. Even one night of not enough restorative sleep is associated with as much as a 60% increased activity of the amygdala.
We depend upon a vital connection between the adult in the room—the prefrontal cortex—and the more childlike behavior that stems from the amygdala. The connection allows the adult in the room—the prefrontal cortex—to supervise, to make recommendations, to influence and exert control over more impulsive behavior as would otherwise have been brought about if the amygdala were in charge. So many factors in our day-to-day lives tend to sever that connection between the prefrontal cortex exerting its top-down control over the more impulsive decision-maker—the amygdala.
I’d like your listeners to be thinking about this model in the context of what we talked about earlier and that is that critical point whereby we give our patients great information and they don’t act upon it. They don’t make good decisions, they make decisions based upon impulsivity as opposed to thinking about the long-term consequences of an apple versus a jelly-filled doughnut.
I want the jelly-filled donut now I’m going to eat it, or in the long run, if I cut back on refined carbs and sugar my health will be better, my immune system will be more balanced, my inflammation markers will be reduced, my likelihood of having a sudden explosion of inflammation should I contract COVID-19 virus, for example, might be dampened. It’s interesting to think about our decision-making as it might pave the way for diseases like diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, and even how our long-term decision-making affects our immune responses, and how that might be certainly germane vis-a-vis at COVID-19 discussion.
Again, it’s all about, do we tap into our more adult part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—and let that exercise top-down control, or do we simply lock into the amygdala and live our lives without thinking about future consequences? Now, one of the most powerful influences on whether we’re going to lock into the amygdala and exclude the adult in the room is, as I just mentioned, the quality and quantity of our sleep. Who knew? Not some exotic expensive nutritional supplement, but simply getting a good night’s sleep.
Now, what can we add to that? We can add exercise, eating a diet that’s lower in likelihood to cause inflammation, exposure to nature, keeping a gratitude journal. All of these things are really very important ways that we can re-establish a connection to the prefrontal cortex. Perhaps one of the most important daily activities is a daily meditation. The research showing how powerfully meditation practice amplifies the activity of the prefrontal cortex goes back at least 15 years and is really quite profound because you’re able to demonstrate by functional types of brain imaging studies virtual lighting up of the prefrontal cortex—that really good decision maker by simply engaging in meditation.
[00:18:01] Ashley James: When they’ve hooked people up, their brains up to scans, and they have them meditate, and they see then even after meditation—if someone were to meditate every day, how long after meditation do they see the amplified usage of the prefrontal cortex over the amygdala?
[00:18:20] Dr. David Perlmutter: It’s an excellent question, and the answer is for people who are regular meditators that these pathways become more permanent. The more we amplify our connection to the prefrontal cortex through a process of neural plasticity, the more we strengthen that connection then between the prefrontal cortex and its ability to top-down, regulate, or calm down the amygdala activity moving forward. This is, as you well mentioned, this is a benefit that we get even while we’re not meditating. The more we do it, the more indelible, the more strengthening we observe of those pathways that connect the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala.
[00:19:12] Ashley James: One thing I learned about stress is that when we’re in the sympathetic nervous system response, the body shunts resources away from the prefrontal cortex so that we don’t overanalyze things—at least this is how it was explained to me. That we become more reactionary in the moment, like if our house was on fire, we’re in the second floor, we need to just react—jump out the window. If we weren’t in that state of fight-or-flight, we might start overanalyzing something. Is this true that when we’re in a state of stress—and we might not feel cause stress isn’t an emotion—if we’re in a state of stress, and we’re in the sympathetic nervous system response a fight-or-flight, do we really lose or dampen our prefrontal cortex—the adult in the room—that kind of decision-making, and have more of an amygdala response to our decision-making?
[00:20:08] Dr. David Perlmutter: In a word, yes, and there is a very powerful upside to being reactive versus being reflective. There are times when we want to react, we want to react very quickly. As an example, you’re in your car in your driveway, and you’re backing up, and suddenly a child on a tricycle appears in your backup camera. Your foot goes on the brake, and you stop, and a child’s life is spared. Now, that is not the time when you want to engage the prefrontal cortex, think about, “Well, if I step on the brake now, then I’ll slow my car down, and come to a stop, and then likely I won’t hit this kid, and that’s probably a good thing.” If you’re going through that, the kid’s already been hit.
What happens is a reflex basically happens that your amygdala kicks in, bang, foot on the brake, and then you catch yourself. You said, “Whoa. What just happened? I responded so quickly, luckily,” whatever. That’s good. So we need that sort of response. It’s life-saving. The problem becomes, however, when we constantly engage the amygdala, we enhance our moment-to-moment connection to the amygdala at the cost of our connection to the prefrontal cortex so that much more of our decision making becomes fight or flight, becomes fear-based, becomes tribal, becomes us versus them, becomes a response to a perceived or real threat. This tends to lock us out of being able to access the prefrontal cortex. That beyond simply having a role in our decision-making is the part of the brain that subserves empathy and compassion.
The more we lock into self-serving decision-making, narcissistic behavior, us-versus-them mentality—what we call tribalism—and impulsive behavior, the more we will act in that way. The more we will interact with the world around us from an amygdala-based perceptive point. How do we enhance our connection to the amygdala? Well, watch the evening news, don’t get a good night’s sleep, eat foods that increase inflammation, spend a lot of time on social media to lock you into one frame of reference, one perspective. The average American spends north of six hours a day in front of one screen or another, be it their tablet, phone, or computer, or television. That tends to fan the flames especially these days of fear, of doom.
It’s been said that when you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing something else. Spending that much of your waking hours in front of a screen means that you’re not then exercising, preparing your meals, interacting with other people, getting out in nature, doing all the things that tend to relinquish our connection to this fear-based amygdala and allow us to reconnect to the prefrontal cortex. These are the central tenets of our new book Brain Wash. We published this book on January 14, 2020, before there was a single case of COVID-19 in North America. How incredible it is that now we are experiencing a challenge that threatens our good decision-making, threatens our ability to look at long term consequences of the things we want to choose to do today.
When we understand that engaging things like social distancing, hand-washing, all the things that we are being to that can limit the spread of this virus, on the one hand, looking forward, as opposed to the ideas of simply, “You know what, screw it. I’m going to go back to work. I don’t care. I’m not going to wear a mask. Come what may. Because I want to do this today,” short-term decision-making. So it has really well characterized this disparity between short-term decision-making and long-term decision-making. It’s important, no doubt, for people to get back to work, and it’s also important for us to go through the behavioral modifications to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Having said that, these are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can do both, and the key here that allows us to get people back to work, and at the same time, reduce the spread of this virus is forward-thinking by implementing testing as aggressively as we can. Let people go back to work who have developed antibodies who are probably immune, and certainly isolate those individuals who test positive in the molecular testing that looks for the activity of the virus. We can satisfy both camps on this one if we are able to amplify the number of tests that are being performed, at least here in America, by at least three-fold.
[00:25:49] Ashley James: I love that you said that we can do both, it’s not black or white. We can get the amygdala thinking, and start reflecting, and having three-dimensional thinking to solve this problem. That takes the prefrontal cortex. That takes getting out of the stress response that we are triggered in when we watch the news or spend time on social media.
[00:26:10] Dr. David Perlmutter: Let me develop this theme just a little bit more because I’m just thinking about something. That is, what are the major risk factors that pave the way for bad outcome as it relates to COVID-19 infection? They are chronological age, biological age, chronic degenerative conditions like obesity, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes. Now, the only thing here that it’s not a variable that we can control to any degree is our chronological age. We can’t erase the number of birthdays that we’ve had and that we’re going to have, but our biological age is certainly something we can modify especially as it relates to the immune system.
The point is that amygdala-based behavior, “I want to smoke. I don’t want to exercise. I want to eat crappy food.” All of these things open the door for these chronic conditions: diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity, cigarette smoking, and all of these then are dramatically associated with worse outcome as it relates to this particular infection. So in a very real sense, what’s going on here is decision-making coming from the amygdala is paving the way for worse outcome as it relates to COVID-19.
Making better decisions—better choices—as it relates to lifestyle, as it relates to the food you eat, the sleep that you get, the fact that you decided not to smoke, getting some exercise are ways of reducing your risk or even reducing the worsening of these diseases should they have already been established. Therefore, reducing risk for a bad outcome as it relates to COVID-19. It was quite a surprise when this infection began affecting the United States because there was an interesting statistic that became obvious, and that was here in America, younger people were ending up in the hospital and having bad outcomes.
It was a great puzzle in the news because people were saying, “Why would our young and healthy individuals in America having such a bad outcome?” That is an interesting statement, isn’t it? Our young and healthy Americans. Understand that young, in America, doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.
[00:28:48] Ashley James: No kidding.
[00:28:49] Dr. David Perlmutter: That is very, very important because we have extremely high rates in North America of things like type 2 diabetes, certainly obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in younger individuals. These issues pave the way for a bad outcome. These are issues of immune dysregulation, and that is the cardinal point here. That’s where COVID-19 takes full advantage of an individual and paves the way for a bad outcome. That’s where COVID-19 insinuates itself into a dysregulated immune system and does its damage.
Understand that our immune system is represented in the liver, in the heart, in the brain, and in the lungs. This is why this in infection is having manifestations across the board through our various so-called systems. Yes, it affects the brain. Obviously, it affects the lungs, and yes, liver issues are becoming quite common in people who have bad outcomes, and certainly, the gastrointestinal system as well.
[00:30:01] Ashley James: Let’s talk about diet because the book that turned me on to your work, Grain Brain, focuses on the things that we can cut out and the things that we can implement into our diet that decrease inflammation, but that also, your diet prevents these diseases. The idea of going grain-free or gluten-free, for many people, is a shocking idea. Why is it that eating grains is lowering people’s immune system?
[00:30:37] Dr. David Perlmutter: What an excellent question. Why is it that eating grains is lowering people’s immune system? Think about that. In the context of where we are right now, eating grains, refined carbohydrates—that’s basically what most people end up eating when they’re so-called eating grains—the wheat products that people are assuming that make up 40% of the food that people consume in America. That this is generally in its refined ultra-processed form, and what does that do? It dysregulates our immune system through multiple mechanisms.
It disrupts our gut bacteria that influence our immune system through the permeability of the gut lining that then influences where 70% of our immune system is located—the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. That’s one extremely powerful mechanism, but in addition, perhaps through its effects on the gut and elsewhere, it dysregulates our ability to control our blood sugar. That has an effect on immune functionality as well.
One of the most powerful predictors of how a person is going to do once they’ve been hospitalized—good outcome or bad outcome—is their blood sugar when they come into the hospital. Higher blood sugars are dramatically associated with poor outcome. Another interesting report coming out of China several days ago calls our attention to one of their laboratory study that’s dramatically associated with a bad outcome, and that is a liver transaminase called ALT. ALT is a marker for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A metabolic issue that’s for sure, which is extremely prevalent now in younger Americans who are eating diets that are higher in fructose and ultra-processed carbs of other sorts.
This all then fits together that we see this dramatic dietary shift that has been going on now progressively for the past 12,000 to 14,000 years since the advent of agriculture. Now that seems like an awful long time, doesn’t it? The reality is that for 99.6% of the time that humans have walked this planet, we did not consume any significant amount of grains. Truthfully, the idea of these highly processed grains giving us sudden spikes in our blood sugar, for example, is something that’s only happened really pretty much in the past couple of centuries, if not even the last century, to the extent that they’ve entered our food supply as we see today.
In a very real sense, what we are seeing is the response to COVID-19 very much reflects the types of foods that are eaten in a given country. That is particularly alarming when we recognize that this so-called pro-inflammatory Western diet is very rapidly becoming the global diet just as COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, so has this westernization of our nutrition, which bodes, therefore as we’ve connected these dots, for a worse outcome as it relates to being infected with the COVID-19. So in a very real sense, when I wrote Grain Brain and called out to get back to your question, the dangers at multiple levels to having higher levels of refined carbs, eating a lot of grain-based product that this is a way of increasing inflammation—the cornerstone of our chronic degenerations—which now are those diseases which pave the way for the worst outcome with COVID-19.
That also the idea of persistent elevation of blood sugar by a higher carb diet in general leads to a higher risk for insulin resistance that vis a vis the name of the book Grain Brain focusing on brain health, insulin resistance is devastating for the brain. We recognize that Alzheimer’s is, for the most part, a manifestation of a fuel issue fueling the brain, being able to allow the brain to use glucose appropriately that is front and center in terms of being looked at as an etiology player as it relates to Alzheimer’s as recently as January 2020 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
That’s what underscored the importance of diet as it related to general health, as it related to obesity, and certainly, as it related to brain health that we talked about so many years ago now in Grain Brain. Thereafter, we began looking at diet as it related to our gut bacteria, as we began to recognize how important the gut bacteria is in regulating so many of the parameters that are important for our health, our ability to resist disease, and even our longevity. That’s when I wrote a book called Brain Maker. Again, the importance of diet on determining the health of our microbiome, if you will.
Why dietary fiber is so important? Why diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar threaten the diversity, health, and functionality of our gut bacteria, and as such, threaten both our immune systems and our ability to regulate inflammation. Now, we come to 2020 when our son Austin Perlmutter, an internal medicine MD, and I looked at this whole notion, as we talked about earlier, Ashley, of decision making, and realized that making the right decision in terms of lifestyle—like food choices, like going to bed on time—has a huge role to play in regulating immunity, regulating inflammation, and in even making good decisions.
That’s where we landed on this, and that is the idea that, again, our decision-making is a manifestation of our lifestyle choices, and that choosing a lifestyle that favors inflammation will cut us off from the prefrontal cortex. Inflammation, in and of itself, tends to allow us to make more impulsive decision, tends to amplify our connection to the amygdala, and therefore moving forward, our choices are poor, we make continued bad choices related to food and other lifestyle issues, fanning the flames of inflammation locking us more into an amygdala-based decision-making paradigm.
That’s what’s going on in America right now because we’ve eaten this standard American diet, fanning the flames of inflammation, locking us into poor decision making. We make poor decisions as it relates to our dietary choices, and thus, we continue to be in this feed-forward—what a term—feed-forward cycle where we really can’t get out of the idea of making poor decisions. What we are emphasizing now as we are beginning a training program using Brain Wash as really a course guide for physicians involved in functional medicine, and that is to first not give patients ideas in terms of what they should be doing for their particular ailment, but rather, at first encounter with our patients, give patients options that will enhance their decision-making ability.
Let me give you an example. A patient you are seeing with diabetes and obesity comes in, and at the first encounter with this patient, that patient is very surprised because at the first visit we didn’t even talk once about diet and exercise. Why? Knowing full well that these recommendations won’t be carried out, generally. What we do it the first visit is we work on the ability for that patient to regain the likelihood of making better decisions. We work on decision making at the first visit.
Here’s a patient, you’re seeing this patient. Clearly needs to be on a diet, clearly needs exercise, but at the first visit what do you talk about? Well, maybe it’s sleep. Maybe that patient sitting across from you in the office, what we’re talking about is, “Hey, let’s get you a better night’s sleep so that in two weeks, when you come back to see me, then you’ve regained better decision-making skills. Reconnection to the prefrontal cortex that then will allow you to make and stick to those decisions that have to do with diet, that has to do with exercise, etc.” Maybe our entrance ramp is sleep, or maybe it’s meditation.
Whatever we can do to reconnect to the prefrontal cortex, to offset what we described in Brain Wash as disconnection syndrome, will then pave the way through feed-forward activity to allow that patient then to move forward and engage the rest of the program. As opposed to say, “Here you go. Here’s a list of foods that are low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, high in good fat. Take it home. Hope for the best. That doesn’t work. We know that doesn’t work. Why do we know that doesn’t work? Because time and time again, that patient’s going to come back and have a higher blood sugar, their A1C is going to be worse, their insulin resistance markers are going to be deteriorating, and they’re going to be gaining weight. So that doesn’t work until we work on re-engaging better decision making by actually restructuring their brains.
[00:41:39] Ashley James: Absolutely. Sleep also has a huge impact on blood sugar. I was type 2 diabetic. I reversed it naturally with diet and lifestyle changes. I noticed that if I got poor sleep, for the next 24 hours, I was hungry, my blood sugar was out of control, and it was consistent. But if I got a really good night’s sleep, the next day I could be just smooth. My blood sugar could be stable.
[00:42:09] Dr. David Perlmutter: Ashley, I have to stop you there because what you just said is it’s worth the price of admission. I mean, that’s an e-ticket at Disney World. What did you say? You said you used to be a type 2 diabetic. First of all, just the notion that you are no longer a type 2 diabetic flies in the face of how mainstream medicine treats this problem. Mainstream medicine treats type 2 diabetes with drugs. What happens when you stop the drug? Blood sugar goes right back up. So you didn’t treat the problem. (A) You, on the other hand, treated your problem type 2 diabetes by dietary and lifestyle intervention. (B) You noticed a direct effect of your blood sugar of having a good night’s sleep or not, and that is absolutely profound.
When you don’t have a good night’s sleep that is a stress. What is your body’s response to stress? It turns on the production of blood sugar because you need it because you’re in a fight or flight scenario, or so your body thinks. Your cortisol level is higher, your amygdala is activated that very next day, and your food choices are less appropriate. It’s been demonstrated that people who chronically don’t engage in restorative sleep, night after night, consume at an average of 380 more calories per day without an increase in caloric burn in comparison to people who age match, individuals who do get a good night’s sleep. No wonder what you just said has such profound meaning. That’s take-home information. That’s great.
[00:44:04] Ashley James: You said the term restorative sleep. What is the difference between just getting sleep and getting restorative sleep?
[00:44:14] Dr. David Perlmutter: Another great question. I mean, there are plenty of people who will tell you I get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, and yet, their cortisols are high in the morning, their blood sugars are spiking, inflammatory markers are elevated, and their decision-making is poor. All of these markers that maybe that sleep was not as restorative as they thought. How would you know? Well you might not know—you will not know—unless you’re able to evaluate, not just sleep quantity, but sleep quality. How can you do that? You need to know that many people think they get a full night’s sleep but have constant interruptions of their sleep by periodic leg movements, by apnea—meaning that they stop breathing—by sleeping with a partner who may be bumping them, or kicking them, and causing their sleep to drop out of the deeper stages though they don’t fully awaken and recognize that their sleep is not restorative.
If you’re somewhat asleep, how do you know if you’re getting into the deeper stages of restorative sleep like a deep sleep, like for example, REM sleep? These are important parts of sleep that do good things for our bodies that are very, as we talked about, restorative. You won’t know unless you apply some technology. Now, this can be going into a sleep lab and having a formal what is called a polysomnogram that looks at your brainwaves, and looks at your EKG, that looks at your oxygen saturation with a little device connected to your finger, which I’ve done. That said, we know that there are some pretty darn good wearable devices that can also give you an indication as to the quality and the quantity of your sleep.
I use a device called an Oura Ring that downloads into my smartphone in the morning and gives me a very good sense as to how long it took me to fall asleep, how long did I remain asleep, how long was I in the various stages of sleep, and then it allows you to make certain lifestyle changes, to improve certain aspects of your sleep based on what you then know. I think in this day and age, there is technology available to us to not just determine how long we are asleep but what is the quality of that sleep. That is absolutely fundamentally important as it relates to things like our immune function, our blood sugar, our cortisol levels, how active our amygdala is in terms of decision making, etc.
[00:47:04] Ashley James: I just bought an Oura Ring. Actually, it was gifted to me, and I’m really excited to use it. I haven’t used it yet. I just got it in the mail. You mentioned that I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to start playing with it.” That’s really cool. You mentioned that when we don’t get restorative sleep, that we consume on average 350 more calories a day. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you add it up over a year that’s 36 pounds. If someone continued that behavior over five years, they’d have gained 180 pounds. What seems like, “What’s 350 calories a day?” It doesn’t seem like a lot, but this is where one bad behavior done over a course of five years can significantly impact the quality of your life, the longevity of your life can either contribute to basically being in an early grave and being in a disease state for the rest of your life.
Something as simple as going to bed an hour earlier, putting on blue-blocking glasses, not eating refined sugar, cutting back on the caffeine. These little tiny choices that we would not make if we were in the amygdala because we want the instant gratification. “I want to stay up later and watch more Netflix. Just one more episode,” or “Oh, I feel like a chocolate bar. It’s 11:00 at night. I feel like a whatever.” That’s when people start making really bad choices around snacking and staying up later and later and late because they’re in the amygdala, not in the prefrontal cortex. The more we lose sleep, the more we’re going to just make worse and worse choices, and we’re just spiraling downhill. It just keeps going and keeps going, and it just compounds on itself.
[00:48:48] Dr. David Perlmutter: Exactly. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to take five years. If you gain 15-20 pounds—you’re going to gain about a pound a week if you’re not sleeping well, as an average. When you gain body fat, a couple of things happen. Of course, you increase inflammation, you increase your connection to the amygdala, but body fat directly translates into less quality of sleep. What happens? You have less quality of sleep, you eat more. You eat more, you gain weight, and you have less quality of sleep. That is a gross example of what is called a feed-forward cycle. That the problem worsens itself over time, and that’s the bad news.
The good news is that while in Brain Wash, we outlined eight different on-ramps that you can engage. You don’t have to. You can pick one, and it might be, for example, sleep, and doing the Amber glasses—blue-blocking glasses—cutting your caffeine consumption in the afternoon, getting perhaps more exercise, not snacking after dinner. All the things that we all know are important parts of sleep hygiene that you could say, “I’m going to do this for a week.” If you do, then you’re going to improve your decision-making, then the rest of the plan is far more easy to engage. That becomes a feed-forward cycle that works to your advantage. That’s what we’re looking for.
[00:50:21] Ashley James: I love it. My husband, when we had our child, we lost a lot of sleep. He gained some weight. It wasn’t a lot of weight, but he gained some weight, and all of a sudden he started snoring like crazy. I mean just really loud snoring, and he blamed our new mattress. We got this amazing Intellibed mattress. It’s the best in the world. I can fall sleep in one position, wake up eight hours later in the same position. I just was like solid sleep in that position because you don’t have to roll around. I love the Intellibed. In fact. I interviewed the founder, the creator of Intellibed. It’s really neat how much science goes into it.
My husband was blaming the Intellibed. Then he got really serious and cracked down, and he lost about 15 pounds or so, and all of a sudden his snoring went away. He also did some stuff with his diet to decrease inflammation. He did some fasting. Immediately, almost overnight, the snoring went away. It’s not like he had fat around his neck, it wasn’t like anything was pushing, but it was something about decreasing inflammation, losing a few pounds, and all of a sudden his snoring stopped, and he started sleeping better. Of course, then I started sleeping better. It was really interesting to see how some little changes—it all affects each other. Everything affects each other.
[00:51:39] Dr. David Perlmutter: That’s right. We can take advantage of your statement that everything affects each other in a positive way. Everything affects each other also in a negative way. Eat crappy food, gain weight. Sleep poorly, make worse food choices. Again, don’t exercise, you won’t want to get outside, you’re going to binge-watch, and all these things, and spend more time on social media. We can use feed-forward cycles to our advantage or to our disadvantage. It just depends on really finding, as we’ve talked about, an on-ramp that works for each individual.
It might be sleep, it might be exercise, it might be keeping a gratitude journal, it might be nature exposure—powerfully effective in reducing cortisol, reducing inflammation. That’s what we need today. We need to offset our risks for chronic degenerative conditions, and that will help us in terms of our outcome if we should contract COVID-19. Look who’s involved with this in terms of bad outcome. I’m sorry to say but it’s people who have unfortunately made poor lifestyle choices that manifest as these chronic degenerative conditions, and that will also cause manifestation of a bad outcome as it relates to COVID-19 infection.
[00:53:06] Ashley James: In the grocery stores I like to go to, there’s a few of them. I like to go to one’s a local co-op here that has all organic, and then there’s another one at Whole Foods. There are different grocery stores I go to, and I kind of do my little circuit to get different things from different ones depending on what I’m out of. I noticed that at all the grocery stores in my area, everyone I’ve gone to, the baking section is empty. It’s completely emptied out. In my local Facebook groups, people are saying, “Who bought all the baker’s yeast? I’m trying to make this.”
I’m seeing on Facebook all my local friends are baking like crazy. They’re all of a sudden baking and eating muffins and cakes. It was just on and on and on and they’re also drinking a lot of alcohol. I don’t know if you noticed that, but on Facebook, everyone’s celebrating at home with their alcohol. I’m thinking to myself. “You are worried about getting an infection—getting the virus—and you’re consuming exactly what your body needs to have the worst outcome in case you did get it.” Alcohol, and sugar, and flour are the worst things we could be consuming right now.
[00:54:24] Dr. David Perlmutter: There are two reasons for this. First is obviously pragmatic thought that these are non-perishable, so that’s why people buy flour and non-perishables, and then end up baking and doing all the things with them. I think more to your point, these are so-called comfort foods. During times of stress, people tend to gravitate toward—it’s why they’re called comfort foods. Because you’re satisfying your amygdala-based behavior, you’re releasing dopamine, and you’re satisfying the craving in the short run.
This is the time where you need to double down on all the right recommendations as it relates to the foods that you’re consuming and your other lifestyle choices because you desperately need a good functioning immune system, a balanced immune system that can rein in inflammation, for example, that can be so devastating with this infection. Now is the time when all of those lifestyle issues that we’ve all been talking about for such a long time need to be implemented to the highest degree possible.
It’s not like we’re cashing in our chips right now. If you do, you’re going to gain weight, you’re not going to sleep as well, your immune system is going to become dysregulated, and as such, you’re going to increase your chances for a bad outcome should you be infected by this virus. That said, it’s been predicted that’s somewhere between 60%-80% of people globally are going to catch this virus at some point.
[00:56:08] Ashley James: Right now, right now, your book is so relevant. Brain Wash is so relevant. In fact, all your books are so relevant because you’re teaching us how to support the body’s ability to mount a healthy defense, and to also, if and when we do have the infection, we could be one of the people that are asymptomatic. That the body is so healthy it moves through the infection, fights it, and mounts a response, and we don’t have to be hospitalized. Those who weakened their body by not getting enough for sort of sleep, by eating a diet that causes inflammation, that tears down the body instead of builds it up, by not getting out in nature, not exercising gratitude, or not meditating, not taking the time to actively de-stress.
If we don’t do that and instead we stress ourselves out, don’t get enough sleep, inflame our body with a poor diet, and stay in the amygdala response, we are guaranteeing we will have poor outcomes. You’ve really painted this picture. As you’ve been talking about the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, as they relate to our decision-making, I’m reminded of the old cartoons that I used to watch. The Looney Tunes cartoons where there’d be a little flying devil with a pitchfork—a little red devil on one shoulder—and there would be a little angel with a harp and wings on the other shoulder all dressed in white.
They would each try to get the cartoon character to do something good, or do something about it. It’s almost like spiritual warfare at this point. We have to think about every decision we make we are either giving in to that devil on our shoulder, that amygdala that wants the instant gratification, that wants us to fail and be sick in the future, or we’re taking a step back, we’re reflecting, we’re taking sides with the angel on our shoulder, and we’re building a better stronger body for our future.
We can, even though we might not be getting the instant gratification of the instant dopamine by eating that doughnut and staying up late bingeing on Netflix right now, the dopamine we could achieve through meditation, and gratitude, and nature, and starting to enjoy nurturing our body with delicious nutritious whole foods and also having really restorative straight sleep, that gives us dopamine too. But it’s not this roller coaster of highs and lows. It’s this constant even keel joy that we could fill our life with if we followed the prefrontal cortex path instead of the amygdala path.
So I love this picture you’re painting. I would rather have this nice smooth ride down the river of joy of prefrontal cortex rather than the highs and lows of the very short-lived life of the amygdala because we will shorten our life if we do follow the amygdala. Your painting this picture very well, and that you’re giving us the tools that we can take home with us, and we can implement. We start with one thing so that we can build our strength.
Talking a bit more about diet because I’ve come up against this resistance with people when it comes to going gluten-free or grain-free when cutting out barley, wheat, rye, and oats for example. Many people I’ve talked to say, “Well, I was tested and I don’t need to avoid those grains because I am not allergic to them.” Other people say, “Well, I went gluten-free for a month and I didn’t notice anything, so I’m not allergic to it. I don’t have to do it.” What would you say to those people who don’t believe, or they think either those grains are healthy for them, or they don’t believe that they’re excluded. That only a certain percentage, only celiac people need to avoid it, they don’t, and you see that everyone needs to avoid it for better health.
[01:00:15] Dr. David Perlmutter: It’s a good point. The actual risk of so-called wheat allergy as an allergic reaction is pretty low. Certainly, celiac disease is extremely infrequent in our population, though there are some genetic determinants. Ultimately a small bowel biopsy is done to confirm that diagnosis, but it’s somewhere south of 3%-4% of the population, that’s for sure. Celiac disease is not what we are talking about. Wheat allergy is not what we were talking about. We’re talking about some fundamental events that occur when we consume alpha-gliadin—a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—it’s a component of gluten. How that leads to an increase in gut permeability or leakiness, and this may occur in all people.
Who has what is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Don’t know the answer to that in terms of percentages, but it’s perhaps 30%-50% of the population. Meaning that there are observable manifestations, symptoms that are generated when this group of individuals ends up consuming a product that contains gluten. That said, I think the best recommendation is that we go off of these products. There’s nothing wonderfully salubrious about the gluten-free aisle in the gluten in the grocery store. That is where you’ll find highly-processed, ultra-processed carbs, highly-refined grains of other sorts that will spike the blood sugar that will wreak havoc with the gut.
What we want to do is really start to re-emphasize what humans have eaten for almost our entire existence, and that is vegetables. If you choose to be someone who consumes animal products, untainted animal products if that is, again, your choice. It’s not just the gluten part of the story though, it’s the refinement of the carbohydrates, the effect that has on blood sugar, how that amplifies inflammation, how that degrades our effectiveness in terms of our immune response, how it leads to things like insulin resistance and other aspects of metabolic syndrome.
It’s a much bigger picture. As we go through that from Grain Brain to the microbiome in Brain Maker and now to Brain Wash, how then this affects the wiring of our brains, and our decision-making, and how that takes us to the current time of what will our response be to infection, which is likely going to happen to most of us—if not all of us—with this COVID-19 based upon the dietary choices that we thought were important over the years. It’s really very interesting that in a sense, this COVID-19 is selecting out individuals for the worst response based upon more amygdala-based decision making as it relates to lifestyle choices.
Our world is conspiring to lock us into our amygdala based upon the foods that we are eating, the fact that we think we need to stay up late at night to accomplish various things, the negative aggressive fear invoking nature of our social media experiences and news exposure. The world is a fearful place and this becomes a way of stoking the fires of our amygdala, which makes us make more choices that are not going to be in our favor.
Our mission this time around in writing Brain Wash is to give the tools to decouple this, to get us away from amygdala-based decision making and re-establish connection to the prefrontal cortex to offset what we described in the book as disconnection syndrome. It’s fascinating for Austin and me to observe that Brain Wash has now been picked up by 18 country, 18 languages around the world. It was just published here in America because I think people are getting this message that at the cornerstone of what’s going on here is our decision-making. Because it’s our decision-making that leads to these chronic degenerative conditions that leads to bad outcome.
That’s how we’re reading into why do 18 languages, why does Brain Wash coming out of 18 languages around the world? Because people finally get the fact that decision making is really important today more so probably than ever before in the history of humankind.
[01:05:26] Ashley James: That there’s a direct link between diet and how we function in life. Because I think a lot of people walk around, going through the drive-thru not seeing that there is a connection. There’s a big disconnect between what we put in our mouth and everything else in our life. That it could actually not only affect our health—our physical health—but it could affect how you do your taxes. It could affect how you treat your spouse. It can affect your behavior.
[01:05:53] Dr. David Perlmutter: Disconnection syndrome. We were very surprised early on in January this year, when Brain Wash came out, that it became such a big seller in England in the financial community. We did not predict that. We did not see that coming, but decision-making in terms of investments either is impulsive buy and sell because, “Oh, I feel this is going to be a good thing. I’m going to make money,” or take a deep breath, what’s going to work here by looking at data, and let’s be an investor for the long-term. That’s a prefrontal cortex. So we didn’t see that coming. It was really quite an interesting surprise.
[01:06:36] Ashley James: That’s so cool because you’re reaching people who’ve never really thought about enhancing their diet or their lifestyle, enhancing their health for their decision-making for their brain. So you’re reaching people who don’t normally look into the health space, which is really neat. Now, when you are researching to write this book, as you were writing it with your son, what changed in your life? How did this book change you?
[01:07:02] Dr. David Perlmutter: Yet another great question. I think it did a number of things to me in a very positive way. It certainly helped to reconnect me even at a deeper level to my co-author, who happens to be our son, so that was an interesting thing that happened. In fact, we just was with him this morning and his girlfriend. They’ve done everything right. They quarantined 14 days, and then came to visit, which was totally acceptable.
It also really transcended for me though the level of our messaging. Writing a book like Grain Brain saying, “Eat this, don’t eat that. It’ll be good for you.” Other books that I’ve written, other books that my colleagues have written about various diets and their lifestyle choices that we were working on something that was at a higher order. Whereby, “Yeah, it’s great to read all these terrific books, and watch these programs, and attend these summits, and learn all this information, but guess what, all the books are useless to you if you don’t implement what they’re talking about.”
We realized that we were dealing with a higher order overriding plan that could help people engage in whatever goal they wanted to achieve. Be it weight-loss, be it better health, be it being more financially sound, and having talked about that recently. It was a bit transcendent, and beyond that, it certainly helped me reaffirm why I do what I do in terms of day-to-day lifestyle choices, and really double down on so many of the things that I think are important. Double down on the value of meditation, of exercise, of eating low carb, of intermittent fasting. All the things that we think are very important. Now, with the recognition that this is affecting my brain wiring, not just helping me have a better insulin response. I think that was very enlightening.
[01:09:18] Ashley James: I love it. I love that you got even closer to your son who also chose to be an MD. Did he choose to become an MD because of you?
[01:09:27] Dr. David Perlmutter: Who knows? Did I choose to become an MD because of my father? I don’t know, but it’s given us so much common ground. We relate on so many other levels as well in the things we like to do together. We got to go fishing recently, which was quite wonderful. We’ve always enjoyed that. We looked at each other a couple years ago in a conversation and said, “You know, it’s the decision-making where our efforts are breaking down. It’s not that we don’t know a lot of stuff, and it’s not that we don’t teach a lot of stuff, it’s the patients and their decision making. That’s what we need to write a book about.” That began our research, and that was the manifestation of Brain Wash.
[01:10:10] Ashley James: I love it. I’m a trainer and Master Practitioner trainer of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP is all about how what in our brain is affecting our results in life, and decision-making is at the root of it. I love that you’re laying this out with all the science. It’s brilliant. Because our mood, even just your mood, if you’re sitting there and you’re feeling down, people think that they’re a victim of their mood. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, “Oh, well the whole day is ruined.”
You’re in a mood because our mood directly affects how we’re going to behave. Whether I’m going to go do the dishes, or whether I’m just going to sit in front of the TV. If I’m going to go for that walk and make something healthy to eat, or if I’m just going to order takeout. We become victims of our mood. If we’re in a mood, we’re probably in the amygdala. There’s a way, like in NLP, we learn how to immediately change our mood. You are laying out these steps. If you someone were to go meditate, do a gratitude journal, walk around the block, get some exercise out in nature. Make sure you’re resting, go take a nap, but there are so many things we can do, what we call in NLP, a break state, and we can choose to activate a different mood. We can get out of a bad mood. From a mood where we’re excited, and joy, and happiness, then we’re able to more easily connect with the prefrontal cortex, we’re able to more easily make adult-based decisions, and then our results in life come from that.
Catching ourselves when we’re in a bad mood and going, “Okay, I’m not a victim of this mood. I’m not going to let this mood control me. I’m not going to let the amygdala, which is like this four-year-old terrorist in my brain, try to control me. I am going to switch over, and I’m going to do something right now. One thing I can do, one thing. What can I do right now to switch over from this bad mood into the prefrontal cortex? Picking one thing from your book Brain Wash. I love it. What do you eat? You sort of alluded to eating a whole food plant-based diet, and then you said, “If you want to eat animal products, then make sure they’re clean.” Are you whole food plant-based? How do you eat? What’s on your plate every day?
[01:12:33] Dr. David Perlmutter: Let me go back to Brain Wash for just a moment. We wanted to be as inclusive as possible as it relates to food. What we called for in Brain Wash was OMD, One Meal a Day, being entirely plant-based. Fully recognizing that in and of itself, that was a lot to ask. But for environmental considerations and health considerations, just to get people more into the mindset of the idea of plant-based. I think it’s ultimately better for people to engage in a more plant-based diet. Understand I said more, I didn’t say complete. I know plenty of people engage a fully plant-based diet, but not everyone does that, and I want to be as inclusive as possible.
I am on a mostly plant-based diet. I do consume eggs, pretty much every day, and we eat a lot of wild fish. I allow those things. I think they’re good for us. I mean, for my family based upon how we respond and based upon our genetic profiles, as we’ve seen. We try to put out in Brain Wash the most inclusive but good recommendations that we could.
[01:13:57] Ashley James: Based on science, based on results. You’re seeing that more whole plants, more vegetables. What about legumes? Grains, you talk about not eating grains, but what about whole grains? What about legumes? What about potatoes or sweet potatoes?
[01:14:15] Dr. David Perlmutter: The grains that we objected to are the ones you had mentioned early on: wheat, oats, and barley, and rye as well, of course, but oats are on the on the list where they can go either way. It really depends on where they are milled. If they’re milled in a gluten containing factory, then I wouldn’t include them. But not processed oats I think can be eaten along with other grains, which by definition are seeds of grass, so that would include some wild rice. Other things like amaranth and quinoa. We’re not necessarily talking about by definition grain, but I think there’s a place for these as part of a whole food kind of diet.
Here you are talking to the Grain Brain author, and I’m saying that plates should be mostly colorful above ground vegetables. Frankly, I’ve been saying that since day one. When Grain Brain came out so many years ago, “So this is this Atkins all over again. Dr. Perlmutter wants to eat bacon, and short ribs, and that’s all we’re going to eat.” Anything but. I think a diet, my personal opinion, is that a diet that’s based on mostly meat—a so-called carnivorous diet—that’s getting some attention these days, my feeling is—and I’m entitled to that—that’s not necessarily going to be a healthful diet for most people. Might there be somebody, who based upon his or her genetic polymorphism, that might be a good diet for? I guess so, but I think having spent so much time involved in understanding the role of our gut bacteria in terms of our health and disease resistance, to create a diet that is most appropriate for our gut bacteria is important. That means a diet that’s high in dietary fiber, which nurtures our gut microbes, our gut bacteria.
There is no fiber in any animal product whatsoever—zero. So a diet that’s focused just on animal products isn’t going to give your gut bacteria what they need, and therefore, I think that one should be concerned about a purely carnivorous diet. I think for me, legumes are acceptable if they are cooked. I eat legumes. We do eat a lot of dal, which is lentils. We’ve been doing that for many, many years after I studied Ayurvedic medicine. I think it’s a very calming dietary approach. Coupled with a carbohydrate can be a good source of protein. I don’t necessarily spend a lot of time worrying about lectins per se, but that said, our legumes are cooked.
[01:17:26] Ashley James: Awesome. Very cool. You mentioned that some oats, like gluten-free oats, could be okay. What about gliadin in oats, which is a protein similar to gluten? I’ve heard that could be the reason why we should avoid oats.
[01:17:42] Dr. David Perlmutter: I don’t think that it’s a big issue to worry about in oats. We don’t really use much oats, but my wife does make oat milk and almond milk that we use in coffee. I just think from all that I’ve looked at in terms of oats that are certified gluten-free, I don’t see that as a problem.
[01:18:08] Ashley James: Very good. I love that you say, “Fill your plate with a variety of colorful vegetables that grow above ground,” and then you can have the other things too, but make sure the majority of that plate is filled with a variety of colorful fruit vegetables. What you talked about genetic testing with yourself with some others, polymorphisms was mentioned, how important is it for us as individuals to get genetically tested, to speak with a functional medicine doctor? Is that something we should do? Is it really important to know, or if we ate the way you’ve outlined in your book, we should be good?
[01:18:50] Dr. David Perlmutter: I think in an ideal world it would be very, very helpful for each of us to know what our genetics are, what are the polymorphisms that we carry. I think it’s exceedingly valuable to know this information that what we might be at risk for, and more importantly, how we can offset that risk based upon this knowledge by making certain more aggressive lifestyle changes and interventions, changes in our diets, our supplement regimen, etc. based upon our uniqueness. This is the cornerstone of personalized medicine. I think understanding our genome, and perhaps even our microbiome, are extremely valuable.
I have done several of these studies, and have had my genetics interpreted by several algorithms, and have learned quite a bit about myself that I would never have known about risk for certain things, and about changes that I can make, whether it’s using a methylated b-vitamin or higher levels of vitamin D because I have polymorphisms for vitamin D receptors. My risk for inflammation. A higher risk for melanoma, for example, therefore going to the dermatologist with more regularity. All kinds of things good to know because knowledge is power. As it relates to knowing your genetics and your risks, this is exceedingly empowering.
I know that it is a bit elitist, especially in these times, to be having this conversation because clearly, people are not going to go out and get these tests as readily. But for the most part, these are things that may be able to be sent in the mail from a practitioner to a patient, and then forward it on to a laboratory, and then allow a virtual interaction with the treating physician to go through what it means. Therefore give a patient an individual some very valuable information.
[01:20:51] Ashley James: Right. Also, there’s going to come a time where we’re all integrated back into society, and the virus isn’t an issue anymore. We can just keep this information in our pocket for when it is easier to get this testing. I like that you have thought of a way that we could do it now. There is a way we could mail it in. There is a way we could have a virtual conversation. How does your son Austin or yourself see clients or patients? How would we go about finding the right practitioner to have this genetic testing done?
I’d like to see a holistic approach, so the practitioner doesn’t go, “Oh, well you need to get extra mammograms because you might get breast cancer more because of your genetics.” Not that standpoint, but the, “Oh, because of your genetics, you definitely want to eat even more antioxidants. Or here’s the things you could do to prevent disease so that we cannot have the epigenetic changes occur by having a bad diet, for example.” So a holistic doctor that looks at the functional medicine to support the person and their lifestyle choices, which is what your book teaches us. Is there a website where we can search for a practitioner?
[01:22:22] Dr. David Perlmutter: Sure. I would say first, though, you do want to have a practitioner who might consider mainstream interventions be it CAT scans, MRI, or mammography for example. You want to have access to good technology at the same time that you have access to this good nutritional information, lifestyle modification, supplementation, etc. I think a great place to start would be ifm.org. That’s the Institute for Functional Medicine. You can search that by zip code, by area, and determine who’s practicing in your vicinity, and then interview or at least visit their website. Determine if they do in fact employ genetic testing, if that’s where your interest lies.
[01:23:16] Ashley James: Yes. To clarify, I didn’t mean never have the mainstream medical approach, that kind of prevention where they’re screening for things, but unfortunately, I know some people who got genetic testing and their doctor said, “Well, we need to do a double mastectomy and remove your uterus. Do a whole hysterectomy to prevent cancer.” She was in her early 30s and this is their approach. They see, “Oh, your genetics show that you may be more at risk, so we’re going to remove all these parts of your body.” Rather than, “We’re going to screen you more, we’re going to get you on a really healthy lifestyle to help you prevent it.” Unfortunately, some doctors are taking the approach of screening and going in not in a holistic direction where they’re helping their patient create a whole lifestyle of health.
Of course, if someone went to IFM, they’d be finding a functional medicine practitioner or functional medicine doctor that looks at the body as a whole, which is what we want.
[01:24:29] Dr. David Perlmutter: That’s right. I would say that it would be very unlikely that a mainstream doctor would really be in a position to even offer up this type of genetic testing much less for counseling. Certainly, as it might relate to I think what you were inferring there the BRCA2 gene, for example, that might lead to hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and mastectomy. That is something that might be prompted by that type of physician who took care of this individual sister, or mother, or who knows what, but I think by and large by its nature, that physicians who are using genetic widespread screening and interpretation are generally more integrative/functional.
[1:25:24] Ashley James: Excellent. I do have one final question about grains because I think that this is one you’ve been asked a lot, and you have such a great answer. There are grains in the Bible. We’ve been eating grains for thousands of years. Why now go grain-free? Haven’t we always eaten grains?
[01:25:41] Dr. David Perlmutter: Give us this day our daily bread. I would ask you, when was the Bible written? When was it written? I don’t know. I mean it was written about 2,000 years ago, right? That probably represents less than one-quarter of 1% of our time on this planet when we weren’t eating daily bread. Our genome undergoes changes that are significant. It takes about 70,000 years for a significant genomic change to impart itself, and our genome is refined by our environment by environmental pressures like the foods to which we have access over time.
This just happened. Let’s go even 14,000 years ago when agriculture was developed. This happened in the blink of an eye, just happened. We’ve not had time to genetically adapt. So, that’s the explanation. We haven’t always had bread. We haven’t always had grains. We have almost always had none of this.
[01:26:54] Ashley James: I love it. I love how you just simply put, our genetics are not designed to, our bodies not designed to eat this way because we’ve just started eating this way. When we look at the history of our genetics, we just started eating this new way. Especially when you look at what you eat when you go through the drive-thru. All these refined oils and, all the refined sugars, and everything our body just doesn’t even know what to do with. Then we end up with a huge amount of our population obese, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. All diseases of living in the amygdala.
[01:27:41] Dr. David Perlmutter: Living in the amygdala, and all diseases that set a person up for a bad outcome these days as it relates to this pervasive infection.
[01:27:51] Ashley James: Well, I think your book would be such a great gift now that most people are at home. We could jump on Amazon and gift your book. We could send it to our friends and our family members who could benefit from reading it. Right now, we have lots of time. We can turn off Netflix, and listen, or read. Your book’s an audio book, they could listen to it because I know my listeners like to listen to things, or they could get the Kindle edition and read it right now, or they could get the hardcover and get it shipped to them, or they could ship it, or gift it to their friends and family.
This is the perfect time when our routine has been disrupted. I think you mentioned that. This is the perfect time to read your book, and implement these changes, and create a new routine, so when we’re able to integrate back into society, and start living life again, we’re not going back to the old way. We are adapting, and we’re elevating, and we’re evolving, and we’re going to create an even better way to live. I’d love that your book would help us to do that. Of course, the links to everything that Dr. Perlmutter does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com.
You are so kindly gifting one of our listeners your book. We’re going to have a contest. It’s going to be in a Learn True Health Facebook group. All the listeners now can go in and comment under that post, and one lucky listener is going to be chosen to win your book. I’m very excited about that, but I think all of us should go and gift your book, start listening to it, or start reading it, and start implementing these changes. Whoever ends up winning it and if you’ve already bought the book, you could gift that physical copy to someone in your life. I’d love for you to leave us with some homework. Is there something that you’d like to tell us to go do today?
[01:29:52] Dr. David Perlmutter: Yes, I would. I’d like your listeners, if they feel so inclined, to over the next one week to everyday write down five things for which they are grateful, and just do it for one week.
[01:30:10] Ashley James: Beautiful. You know what, that’s going to be the part of the giveaway. That’s going to be in the Facebook group. Everyone’s going to write down what they’re grateful for, and then one person will be chosen at random. Sometimes I get my five-year-old son to come in and just point at someone in the comments and that person wins it.
[01:30:32] Dr. David Perlmutter: There you go. That’s pretty random.
[01:30:34] Ashley James: Yeah. He likes it. The last person that won something, because I like to do giveaways in the Learn True Health Facebook group, they were very happy that they were chosen by my son. So it’ll be a lot of fun. Awesome. It has been such a pleasure having you here today.
[01:30:50] Dr. David Perlmutter: Oh, it’s been a wonderful pleasure for me. Thank you so very much for having me today.
[01:30:54] Ashley James: Absolutely, please come back on the show anytime you want to come, and teach, and impart your information. We’d love to have you back.
[01:31:01] Dr. David Perlmutter: I’m delighted. Thanks again.
Get Connected with Dr. David Perlmutter!
Books by Dr. David Perlmutter
Daniel Louzonis and Ashley James
- Zoochosis and the school system
- Eat math for breakfast
- What to do with a defiant child
- Importance of cursive handwriting
- Importance of math, reading, and writing
- All education is self-education
- Einstein Blueprint
More parents are now turning to homeschooling because of the new vaccination policy in the US. Recently, parents have also been forced to do some form of homeschooling because of the coronavirus. There are many approaches to homeschooling, which one should we follow? Should we be letting our kids learn from computers and cellphones? Daniel Louzonis is back on the show with us, and he gives us some tips on how to homeschool successfully.
[00:00:00] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 425. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show, Daniel Louzonis. Daniel was in episode 258. That was a really impactful interview. After I did that interview, I went and listened to it three times because I listened to it with my husband, I listened to it with my mother-in-law, and then I can’t remember who else I listened to it with, but I listened to it with other people. We would pause it, and have a discussion about it, and then play it again. It’s one of those interviews that really sticks in my mind because I have a child, because I’ve thought about the impact of homeschooling versus having my child be in a school system, in a schoolhouse with 30 children and 1 teacher. I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. Interviewing you was really eye-opening. Then I heard from other listeners that it was also very eye-opening. When the COVID-19 thing started to happen, they shut down the schools in my state—in the state of Washington. Now, it’s basically summertime. They started summertime in March, and the children will not go back to school until September. Because I’m friends with a teacher that teaches public school, the teachers are worried that they’re not even going to be able to go back to school in September. That this is going to keep going.
There’s mass panic with parents because they’re sitting at home with their kids and doing distance learning. Crisis schooling is what I’ve heard this new term being thrown around. Many parents are now turning to homeschooling. All the homeschooling Facebook groups I’m in are flooded now with new parents wondering what curriculum should they follow, should they join an online school, should they just let their kids have a summer. So many questions are being thrown around. You are an expert in homeschooling. I definitely recommend listeners to check out episode 258 with Daniel to get his amazing, amazing story.
I want to jump right in. First of all, I definitely want to hear what you’ve been up to since I had you on the show because I know that you’ve been up to a lot. I also really want to speak to the parents that are going through this crisis right now. Many of these children, their school year ended abruptly, and they’re at home. The parents have to figure out how to do some form of education with their children because of COVID-19. There are other reasons why people are choosing to go to homeschooling. Some parents didn’t choose to, it was thrust upon them. Some parents have chosen to go to homeschooling in the last year because of vaccine laws, for example.
There has been a very large shift, a very large movement towards homeschooling especially in this digital age it becomes easier. Daniel, welcome back to the show. I can’t wait for this very enlightening discussion. I hope that we’re able to empower those parents who feel that they’re in a crisis right now.
[00:03:47] Daniel Louzonis: It’s great to be here. We’ve been talking, you and, I have been talking back and forth about when I was going to come on next. We have a crisis reappearance. The urgency came. Everybody is now a homeschooler. Everyone now is a remote learner, and a distance learner, and a homeschooling parent. You put that in the context of all the other things going on. Transitioning to homeschooling is difficult. Oftentimes, the kids are reluctant. The spouse may not be supportive, grandparents, in-laws do what in-laws do and they’re just always unsupportive. In peaceful times, it’s difficult for most people to transition, and now you have the economic, and financial stress, and the fear that people have of—at least where I live—basically everyone. Everyone that walks within 6, 7, 8, 10 feet of you. By the way, now you have to figure out how to educate your kids.
Yeah, crisis is the word they are using. Nobody wants to hear the positive spin on it, but I will say, right off the bat, that this is not homeschooling. Homeschooling, you can actually go to the park. You can actually go to the museum. You can actually travel. We were trying to go to Florida a few weeks ago, and we weren’t going to go because the beach was closed, and the hotel pool was closed. I hope your audience doesn’t do what some people are doing is conflating what’s going on now with actual homeschooling. I’ve heard people say, “Well, I could never homeschool because my kids are crazy at home,” this, and that, and all these other reasons, all these other complicated reasons. This is not homeschooling. This is not even living as far as I’m concerned.
[00:05:37] Ashley James: This is captivity. We’re getting a taste of what the animals at the zoo feel like.
[00:05:43] Daniel Louzonis: Zoochosis, is that what they call it? Are you familiar with that?
[00:05:49] Ashley James: No.
[00:05:51] Daniel Louzonis: Zoochosis is something that anybody listening should go google and just get the dictionary—standard dictionary definition of it—and maybe even click on a couple of links. All these animals in the zoo, it’s well known that they’re miserable. What do animals taken out of their natural habitat—any animals—do when they are miserable? They mutilate themselves. They get depressed. All these zoo animals, this is a well-established fact, these zoo animals are getting injected with Prozac and the like all over the world because they need to sedate them. They have trouble getting them to mate.
Zoochosis, when I first read about this I said, “OMG. This is school. These kids don’t want to sit still in school. They’re medicating them just to pound that square peg into a round hole. It’s an unnatural environment. It’s not natural to have kids wearing shoes all day when they’re five and six, and sitting all day, and being indoors. This is not natural. What you see in school is just a human form of zoochosis.” It’s definitely worth checking out looking into.
[00:07:03] Ashley James: Very interesting. I’m from Canada, we call it cabin fever. Cabin fever is serious. If you’re snowed in for a few weeks, man, you want to tear the paper off the walls. You need to get out. We’re meant to be out there, and children are definitely meant to be out. I can’t remember what country did this, but they were able to cut ADD rates and ADHD. They were able to cut it so significantly it would blow your mind. They increased recess to two hours a day and ADD went down significantly, that was one. Then there was another study where they increased sleep by—and this is my friend who is a first-grade teacher—increased sleep in children by 30 minutes. Just going to bed 30 minutes earlier, and 60% I believe is what he told me, they were able to cut down the ADD symptoms.
It’s like sleep and exercise people. We’re making children sit in a room all day. They’ve cut down recess in a lot of schools. They get to medicate the children because the children are going crazy because they’re stuck indoors, they get zoochosis.
[00:08:30] Daniel Louzonis: We’ve already got huge overlaps here with everything. The other study talks about—and there’s an actual movement afoot to get schools to have later start times. It’s a little bit of fool’s gold. They’re finding that if they have the high schoolers start later, because basically, in school districts, the high school kids are expected to go to school early because they can get earlier. Then the buses, they want to use the same buses for the middle school and the elementary school. They don’t all start at 9:00 AM. They don’t all start at 8:30 AM. It’s a staggered start. They’re finding that once they delayed the start of school, that not only in these schools has academic performance gone up, but school suspensions have gone down.
That’s just one study, and I don’t think it’s actually tenable because anyone who has teenagers know, they sleep in later they’ll stay up later. They’ll just spend more time, they’ll have more energy at midnight to be on social media. With ADHD, homeschoolers, I’ve known this for over a decade. I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve heard this say, “My kid needed the ADHD medicine when they were in school. Once I pulled them out, they didn’t need it.”
The other thing about fidgety kids in school outside of their natural environment, they’re finding standing desks are going a long way towards behavioral control, focus, and all that. You can google the guy in California, Kelly Starrett. He’s got a whole movement about trying to get schools to have more standup desks. They’re also finding that if you say a seven-year-old kid is anxious, if they let him lay on the floor in his stomach, that he’s totally fine. If they force him to sit in a chair, his behavior is off the wall. One of the reasons I’ve heard bandied about is it’s something about core strength. These kids, they can’t sit or whatever.
There’s a huge overlap between physical health and academic performance. Physical health and what goes on in the brain. It’s so underappreciated. If you asked Richard Branson, the billionaire, why he’s so successful, he says, “Because I workout.” He said, “Because I workout, I have an extra hour a day of energy, and leverage, and all that.” Every single one of these high-performance experts is hacking their body to almost an extreme extent. You touched on already, they have removed recesses from school.
When I was a kid, we had three recess in school. Before you know it, it was down to two, then it was down to one. Now, I hear some schools don’t have any recess whatsoever. Even beyond recess, kids used to walk to school. There is research that shows that kids who walk to school have better grades. Wow. Oxygen flowing to the brain. A little bit of movement. It doesn’t matter whether they’re rich or poor, walking to school is highly correlated with academic performance. Not to say that academic performance is going to set you up for life. I can tell you firsthand that having an Ivy League degree, it doesn’t guarantee you anything in this world. There’ll be so many cans of worms opened up here, so many Pandora’s boxes that we’re going to be on air for about 24 hours straight if we don’t focus ourselves.
[00:11:58] Ashley James: Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do a marathon, so a 24-hour marathon about homeschooling. I think we could do it. I’m just remembering all the grades where I walked to school or biked to school. I was about a half an hour for me to get to junior high, for me to get from grade 5 and up was about a half an hour I’m thinking. Then I was about a 15-minute walk for me to get to grades 1 and 2. Then high school was only about a seven-minute walk, but for me, those walks to school woke me up.
I remember the walks home helped me destress, especially the long ones. Even though I’m like, “Oh man, I wish I’d be home right now.” I would either ride my bike, or rollerblade, or walk, depending on the weather. It really helped me. It was just the solitude, it would help me to decompress from my day because I had a lot of social anxiety, and I was bullied, and it would help me just to work it out. By the time I got home, I felt refreshed, I felt emotionally recharged.
That time, to be able to just move your body really helped me. Then in college, I drove to college. I remember just feeling sleepy the whole morning because I just wake-up, get in my car, and go. I miss that. I miss that—moving my body in the morning, having to walk there. Yeah, that does make a lot of sense.
[00:13:35] Daniel Louzonis: Cars are killers. If you think about it, and I’ve heard people say this, television passive video consumption in the car. Those two innovations—if we can call them innovations—what they’ve done to the human body is pretty bad. You could almost get rid of all that stuff. If you turn off the TV, or throw it out, and don’t get in a car—I moved to London five years ago, six years ago and I was already pretty thin. I lost 26 pounds because I didn’t have a car. I wasn’t sitting at 90 degrees with my stomach disengaged for two to two-and-a-half hours a day. People used to be really thin. They used to walk everywhere. They used to walk to school uphill in the snow both ways. They used to walk. Nowadays, the kids are getting chauffeured to school—door-to-door.
The bus used to drop kids off at bus stops where kids would walk to a quarter of a mile whatever. The buses started picking up kids right on their doorstep, especially in wealthier areas like where I live in New York area. There are reasons for it. People think it’s safer, it’s less of a liability, but these kids are going from a bed, to a chair for breakfast, to 90 degrees sitting on a bus, to sitting in a desk all day long. They’re never ever getting that chance to decompress in nature, never getting a chance to exercise their body and be in nature at all. It could be for a month or two. It might be by accident.
[00:15:13] Ashley James: It’s such a shame. You, over the years, have become an expert in teaching parents how to homeschool in a way that best supports their child in their education. I don’t want to get too much into your bio because I want listeners to go back and listen to episode 258, but your experience with your two children’s wonderful. You’ve been coaching for a long time. Even parents who say, “I don’t know if I can do it. My child is too hyper. My child is this, or my child is that.” There’s a way to shape homeschooling for each individual child, but before we get into talking about this crisis and what we can do now, I’d like to just catch up. What has happened, what has transpired since we had you on the show in episode 258?
[00:16:12] Daniel Louzonis: I was trying to figure out what date that was, but I will say that—
[00:16:17] Ashley James: It was about two years ago.
[00:16:19] Daniel Louzonis: The last two and a half years, we’ve lived in Manhattan. Two and a half years ago or two and three-quarters years ago, we’re living in a 3500 square foot home in suburban Long Island. I knew there was something missing. It was suburban life, it was driving all day to homeschooling activities, and driving around to the community activities, the soccer, the dance, the karate, and I was going nuts. My kids were about 10 and 11, or 11 and 12 years old. They were at that stage where they needed some autonomy. I did this radical thing. There were other reasons too, health reasons.
My wife was commuting to Manhattan. She was getting up at 4:15 AM to go to CrossFit for 5:00 AM, to get on a train at 6:50 AM, to go into Manhattan—an hour commute there, just about. Then coming back late at night. I just knew that that wasn’t good for her body, it wasn’t good for our relationship, anything.
There were about five reasons that were all pointing towards me selling this big house. Another reason was I believe the stock market was going to crash. The real estate market was going to crash. It was an aggressive financial bet. I sold the house for an insane amount of money, and we moved three minutes away from my wife’s office, right next to the World Trade Center. Her commute went to three minutes—two elevators. If it rains, she just doesn’t even grab an umbrella. She’s a risk-taker. She thinks she can duck under and make it as she did this morning. My kids, like I said, they were like 10 and 11, 11 and 12. I wanted them to be able to walk places.
We moved into Manhattan next to the World Trade Center, a place that 10 years ago, I never would have thought I’d moved next to the World Trade Center especially seeing how my wife was downtown when the towers fell. Things change. Your mindset changes, and your approach toward certain types of risk changes, but my kids could walk to playgrounds. They could walk to Barnes & Noble. They could walk to the deli and buy something that they shouldn’t be eating. Soccer practice is 9/10th of a mile away right up the Hudson River. At 11 years old she was riding her scooter up the river with a bunch of her teammates, every single day, four days a week.
I said, “Try to put a value on me not having to drive my daughter to soccer.” I was literally talking about health. I was literally ready to blow my brains out at all the driving and the chauffeuring that I had to do. I killed so many birds. I killed a whole flock of birds with this one move, and it was the best thing that I did. Of course, we’re living in an expensive tiny apartment, it has its own challenges. But even in New York City, I wanted my kids to work. I could already see that there was more work in New York than there is in the suburbs.
There’s this expression, if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. I actually disagree with that. I actually think it’s easier to make it in New York. If you want to work nine days a week, 30 hours a day in New York, you can do it. A one-bedroom apartment, here in my building, a one-bedroom is $4000 a month. You could even pay $5000, but that’s a one-bedroom. The reality is, you could walk dogs just in this building and more than pay your rent. Even though the cost to be here is high, the opportunity is even bigger.
My kids, they’ve been working, let’s see, since we last spoke my son wrote a book titled Kid Trillionaire: How a Little Kid Can Make a Big Fortune. It’s just that. It’s about how kids can make money. What’s the template? What’s the process? What do they have to start doing, stop doing? Who they have to follow? All these things. Terrific, terrific book—Kid Trillionaire. We didn’t put it on Amazon. The only way he was selling it was he was standing on 6th Avenue with a table. I wanted him to stop heads, talk to people, figure out how to deal with whoever would talk to him. He spent many, many hours over the last couple years on the streets of Manhattan selling his book hand-to-hand, and he sold, I believe, over 1200 copies of his book now, not only that, he also got all sorts of media attention.
He was instantly on several TV stations, he had a full-page article about him in the New York Post. This is what is possible when you operate with extreme flexibility outside the system. You can literally move where you want to move. How many times have you heard somebody say, “I don’t want to move to disrupt my kids’ social life,” or “We moved into this house because of the school system.” We’ve never been beholden to any limiting beliefs like that. We moved to London for 15 months and our school goes with us. We go to Florida in the winter for a month or five weeks or so. Our school is totally uninterrupted, nothing changes.
They have libraries down there. We’ll bring the piano keyboard. We’ll do our math, and our chess, and our reading. We’ll go to the park at 2:000 PM, 3:00 PM when all the other kids are out of school. We go to the beach or whatever. Something I want to point out here, I might have pointed out in the last episode, is that I had two young kids. We go to Florida in the winter from Boston. It takes a massive bite out of the winner. For three years, with two little kids, they didn’t have a sniffle or a cold between them. I attribute that to a couple of things. One, being able to go down in Florida and get out of the stale indoor air of frigid New England. Also, they’re not going to school, which people are seeing more and more now that they—
[00:22:19] Ashley James: Petri dish.
[00:22:21] Daniel Louzonis: They’re a petri dish. They’re germ factories. Somehow, nobody knew that six weeks ago. That’s a little bit of what we’ve been doing. That’s John. Let me just say, Christine, she’s 13 years old now. She’s a little hustling entrepreneur herself. A year ago, she said that she wanted to go with her soccer team to France. There was a summer trip during the Women’s World Cup in the summer. Now, going to Europe in the summer is expensive, World Cup tickets, and they’re going to mark this thing up because that’s what they do. Nobody organizes trips for free. Four thousand dollars, we said, “Sure, if you go make the money you can go.” What do you know, in about a few months, she put ads up on the building forums. “I’ll babysit, I’ll mother’s help. I’ll teach your kids piano.” She made that money within, I would say, four or five months. That was just the start of it. Since then, even though I’m against all the smartphones and stuff, she bought her own for $800 with her own money.
My kids now, they are semi-fully launched entrepreneurs. I don’t have life insurance or more than, I don’t know, $50,000 worth. My life insurance, my wife’s life insurance, is that we’re arming our kids, we’re making them future proof, we’re making them socially intelligent, resourceful. At this stage of our homeschooling with teenagers, our focus is strictly on entrepreneurship. They’re not going to go to college. I’m not paying for it. They’d have to pay for it themselves, which I don’t think they would do.
What makes my homeschooling philosophy very unique is how aggressive we start out. We started out with up to three-hour math sessions when they’re four years old. That’s what I did with my kids at least. Very aggressive early on, very strict with the screens like no TV, no video games. Then at the end, an aggressive start and also an aggressive end. The end game is where a lot of homeschooling families lose it. They have 18-year-old kids who are well-rounded, and smart, and have hobbies, and this, and that, but they don’t really have any vocational skills.
They don’t really have any interest in the economy, and therefore, college becomes like a default choice. They just get sucked in. They’re more well-rounded, they’re more mature or whatever, but they’re still getting sucked into the college system. Look, I went to the University of Pennsylvania. I have an Ivy League education, and I didn’t major in impractical things. It was math and economics. I was trading derivatives and futures right out of college in 1995. I can tell you, they don’t really teach you anything about business even in the top schools.
I’m very pro-parent, very pro-education, I’m very anti-outsourcing it. There are certain things that you can’t outsource that you have to do yourself. Far too many people believe that they can outsource the raising in education of their kids. It would be great if I could punt my kids out the door and they came back mature, and well-rounded, and civilized, but unfortunately, what goes on in the schools has gotten so bad. We can talk about this, the last 10 years, it is escalating.
[00:25:40] Ashley James: It is so bad.
[00:25:41] Daniel Louzonis: It has gotten so much worse. With the iPhone, it has gotten so much worse. On the other hand, with the internet, with podcasts, with the bounty of the Information Age, with the ability to connect with anybody on the planet, with the ability to get chess lessons from a grandmaster in India for $10 an hour. The chasm between going in one direction and in another, going to college, going the traditional route versus going hard on entrepreneurship like Gary Vaynerchuk style. Mark Zuckerberg was a dropout, Michael Dell was a dropout, Steve Jobs was a dropout, Bill Gates was a dropout. People are missing it that the most successful people on this planet cannot attribute their success to education. There’s a whole new breed of people out there. The next Bill Gates, and Zuckerberg, and Michael Dell, they’re not going to be kids who went to college for a year and dropped out. They’re going to be kids who never even went to school in the first grade.
I have a good friend and she’s homeschooled her kids for years. Her son applied to MIT and Stanford, got into both, didn’t even think about going to them. The only reason he applied to those schools was because grandma, for years, was saying, “You’re not getting education,” nagging mom and dad. They should be in school. So MIT and Stanford actually applied to him. It wasn’t the other way around. They applied to him and he rejected them. I have stories. Because of what I do, I have stories and anecdotes like this one after another after another after another. Nobody’s really put them all together. It’s always between the cracks. People aren’t seeing it.
The kids who are educated outside the school system are dominating basically everything. In terms of chess, for example. Half of the top youth chess players in America are homeschooled—half. You literally can’t compete with the kids who were sitting home all day playing 11 hours a day and using chess engines. Spelling bees have been dominated by homeschooled kids for ages. Writing contests, you name it. The school system is proving to be an assembly-line from a bygone industrial era that is no longer compatible with the goals. It really never was compatible with the highest goals the parents have for their kids. It doesn’t have any chance or it precludes any chance of our kids discovering, no less reaching their full potential.
In the last 10 years, there’s a whole new reason to home-school. I’m not even going to get into corona. I won’t even put that one in there or the force vaccination schedule that’s going to come. You can’t control the technology in your kid’s lives when all their friends have smartphones. If you were to go back in time 20 years and say, “Hey, we’re going to give every kid, every 12-year-old boy, a device in their pocket. 24-hour television. 24-hour video game consoles.”
[00:29:00] Ashley James: No way. Absolutely not. We would say, “No way.”
[00:29:03] Daniel Louzonis: It also has a stack of porno magazines that goes to the moon. Go around and try to count how many parents, even if you don’t give your kid a phone, their peers all have it. It has become pretty much the dominant social force. There are 20 reasons to homeschool your kids, whether they’re getting bullied, or whether they’re going to be a tennis prodigy, or whatever. Any one of these 20 reasons to home-school is sufficient all by itself. The new one is now you can’t control the tech in their lives, and therefore, you can’t control a lot of other things. Go ahead.
[00:29:39] Ashley James: Their lives are at stake. When we look at ages, I believe it was, 10-24, this range that suicides went up by 60% in the last 10 years. It’s the second leading cause of death in that generation. Basically, in school-aged children, suicide is the second cause of death. I don’t know what the first one is. That’s ridiculous. Suicide is on the rise so much, and these are children who shocks the parents. They’re able to be constantly bullied. I was bullied as a child, but like I said, those walks home I could decompress. Then when I was home, I was away from the bullying, and I could call my best friend, and I could go escape into a book, or I could turn on the TV, or do my homework, or talk to my parents, and I could go bike riding with my neighbor. I could escape for hours until the next day. Whereas now, children are bullied 24 hours a day because they all have these devices, and it’s nonstop for them.
That’s just one reason why the environment of school is completely different than when you and I, because I went to school in the 80s, I’m 40. I’ve talked to some teachers. They said that in the last 10 years, the children are different. One of my friends who’s been a teacher for 20 years, and he has three kids of his own. I’ve talked to other teachers who have been teachers longer, and they said that the children are different. Maybe it’s because they have tablets. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the recess. They have the tablets. They watch way more TV. They’re way more sedentary. They have the ability to constantly chatter with each other through cell phones and through devices. It’s like the key latch kid of our generation.
I’d come home. I had a key to the house. I’d walk home, and I’d be 10-13 years old, somewhere there. No one was home until my parents got home later in the day. We had to learn how to make our own snacks, and do our own thing. We were independent at a very young age. These children are also independent because, in a way, the kids are going off and using these devices the parents aren’t part of it. There isn’t an adult looming over them monitoring the situation. We’re just seeing in the classroom there’s way more bullying. There’s way more backtalk. There’s way more defiance. The children are just rude. They’re becoming violent. It’s crazy.
[00:32:45] Daniel Louzonis: Let me jump in here for one second. You’re going to have people listen to this, listen to me. I’ve been me for a long time. They’re going to hear things like three-hour math sessions when they’re young, aggressive. You’re going to hear them, “Let them enjoy their childhood.” I’ve heard a lot without going into how I want them to enjoy their adulthood too or that whole argument. People say, “Kids aren’t developmentally ready to read until a certain age.” I completely disagree with almost everybody who says it. They have their mind made up.
[00:33:18] Ashley James: My son, when he was 18 months old—18 months old. This is when most children don’t form sentences. They can say words like car like, “Ca, ca.” “Oh, it’s a car.” My son, at 18 months old, knew the entire alphabet backward and forwards. We could pick random letters and he would pick it up, and he’d be able to say, “This is a C. This is a D. This is a Z.” He could say all of them, uppercase and lowercase. We weren’t doing three hour English sessions with him. We were just actively playing with him with letters. I was just blown away that an 18-month-old knew all the letters, and then was able to start recognizing more than letters—was able to start recognizing words.
By the time he was two-and-a-half, he was writing his name. He was holding a pen and writing his name. Then I met a four-year-old, a friend of mine has a four-year-old, who at age four did not know what an A was, did not know what a B was, wouldn’t recognize any part of the alphabet. She was just waiting to put him in public school. If every child has the potential to know the alphabet at 18 months old—he was having fun, it was play. He wasn’t suffering. If every child could know the alphabet at 18 months, could start to read and write by two and a half, and love it, and enjoy it, and it’s fun for them. Then by the time they’re three or four reading complete books and enjoying it and loving it, why not? What are we doing wrong that children are suffering? All of a sudden they start hating learning, and they start pushing back.
[00:35:10] Daniel Louzonis: Those are huge, huge great topics. First of all, the next time someone says the kid’s not developmentally ready for reading—to read now—why don’t you say, “Well, they’re not developmentally ready for the iPad or a television but that’s not stopping you either.” Those are dangerous, dangerous things. But about loving to read and loving your letters, my daughter, she had her letters and she’d carry them around with her all the time. I definitely fondly remember those years 10 years ago. If anybody hates exercise and nutrition, what does your body going to look like? This is just so obvious. People understand the health analogies, and I always go back to them.
If you hate healthy food and you hate to exercise, you’re going to hear people say, “I hate to run. I hate this. I hate vegetables.” Well, what’s your body going to look like? Well, what if you hate to learn? What if you hate to read, and write, and think, and focus? What is your whole entire life going to look like? Unfortunately, that’s the essence of education, right? You’re never going to achieve anything in life, you’re never going to even scratch the surface of your potential—your God-given potential—if you hate to think, and learn, and read, and write, and meet people, and experiment. You don’t even have a chance, but what school does is it makes kids hate to read. It makes them associate reading with coercion, with obligation, with sitting inside, with conformity, with all these stifling activities.
This isn’t proven, this is just like internet stuff. They say that 40% of college graduates will never read another book. When I first read that, I said, “Well, that’s true. After I graduated college, I didn’t read a book until I was about 29 or 30 years old.” Luckily, I actually discovered reading on my own, and I discovered that books were extremely fascinating. They could solve all my problems and open doorways to every path of abundance on this planet. Life’s treasure really is in books, but sadly, these kids are leaving the educational system with not just an unwillingness to read but active bibliophobia.
Stand next to my son on 6th Avenue, and when people say, “Hey, what’s going on? Hey. Who are you?” or whatever. He’ll say, “Oh, I have a book here.” You will see them actually take two steps back. The concept of a book is scary to people. In my world, Satan has won. What worse oppression can you will upon someone than making them think that they’re not intelligent, making them think that effort won’t be rewarded, and closing their mind? They don’t have to be in prison. They’re in a prison. They’ve got their hands cuffed. They’re in a straightjacket forevermore, unless something shocks them into a resurrection, or some type of reincarnation, or invigoration.
[00:38:16] Ashley James: Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all picked up a book? Most of us are isolated at home. We don’t have much to do. The parks are closed. The movie theaters are closed. The restaurants are closed. We shouldn’t go visit anyone. If we all picked up a book and reinvigorated the love of learning and love of reading. It might make it worth it. This whole—I don’t know. There’s a lot of bad going on, but let’s focus on the good because we can’t control. It’s out of our control, so instead of feeling helpless, let’s focus on what we can control. What we can control is the environment right now that our children are in and also our own mental environment, our internal environment. If we could all do things like pick up books and remember how much reading is fun.
I know that in the last year or so your business has really taken off because of the vaccine laws in your area, some states. It was because of the measles, right? That parents took their children out of school for multiple reasons. Some they’re not for vaccines, but some parents they had to because their children would be harmed from the vaccine because they were known to be susceptible. They had no choice other than to start homeschooling. Tell us about that journey.
[00:40:05] Daniel Louzonis: I believe it started in California where they—I think California got rid of the religious exemption for vaccines. In other words, kids go to school, they have to get punctured. I don’t know how many dozen times, how often. There was always a loophole that said if you have religious reasons to not get it you could still go to school. New York followed suit. I believe it was in August this year, so school in New York starts in September. In August, this law came out and there were all these families that under no circumstances we’re going to get their kids vaccinated and sent to school. It was public school and private school. There was a little bit of tyranny. There was nowhere to hide except in homeschooling. They are all reluctant homeschoolers much in the way that all COVID-19 parents have become reluctant homeschoolers.
The number of homeschoolers in Manhattan, or New York City, it doubled. We usually grow 5% a year, whatever. There’s a lot of organic growth every year in homeschooling, and it has been since the 1980, but it doubled. I mean a 100% increase in the number of people homeschooling in New York City.
[00:41:29] Ashley James: Because of the measles? Because of the removal of religious vaccination?
[00:41:35] Daniel Louzonis: Yes, it doubled. What you have was you have all these people who were reluctant homeschoolers. They didn’t actually want to homeschool, they just didn’t want to go to school. There are really two types of homeschoolers.
[00:41:47] Ashley James: They didn’t want to homeschool, but they had no choice because they didn’t want to have the vaccinations for their children, either because they’re against vaccinations, or because their children would have been harmed by them because they knew that they were susceptible.
[00:42:04] Daniel Louzonis: Yeah. Let me get into that. It was a culture clash to start out with. I even did a podcast, are they pro-homeschooling, or are they just anti-vaccine? Anytime you get an influx of people, a bunch of them move into the neighborhood, some people are welcoming, some people are not, some people are saying, “They don’t look like us. They don’t talk like us.”
[00:42:24] Ashley James: The culture changes, right?
[00:42:26] Daniel Louzonis: Right. There’s been an ongoing assimilation process in New York City for—the change is more for them than for us. Homeschoolers, they know how to self-quarantine. They know how to draw boundaries. No one’s forced to really do anything with anybody. I did get to meet some of these new people. Like I said, they were in nooks and crannies. You didn’t realize how many. I was astounded by how many people it was. It turns out, there were tons and tons of people and when you talk to them—I always ask people, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting at the bar, or sitting next to me in church, or I bump into you, I’m always going to ask you, “Where you’re from? What’s your story?” I’m just interested. I will always ask people why they’re homeschooling. Nowadays, you can just almost say, “Do you have vaccines?” And half the people, it’s yes.
When you hear their stories the reasons why they’re homeschooling, they’ll talk about their sister who was in a coma for three months after this, or their son who had eczema so bad, all these things from vaccines. You and your people probably know, you might even know more about this stuff than I do, but it’s the vaccine injury Club that’s not publicized. That if you talk about it on TV you’re going to get audited and thrown off the air. You’re going to get delisted by Google and all this stuff. There’s a huge community of people out there that were just trying to get by and send their kids to school normally without the vaccine, and all of a sudden they couldn’t do that.
The worst thing now that’s happening is that this virus is going to probably—and I’m sure you have a lot of strong thoughts on this too—it’s probably going to make the vaccine enforcement even more militant. They’re talking about medical martial law and how you can’t go anywhere without showing your papers that you’re fully vaccinated, that you’re up to date.
[00:44:19] Ashley James: Yeah. They’re saying it’ll have an RFID chip, you won’t be able to get your driver’s license, you won’t be able to pay your due taxes. There’s just talk. It’s just talk at this point, but it is infringing upon our freedom and our rights especially when you understand the complexities of vaccines. Even people who are pro-vaccine. Again, I try to stay neutral because I’m not here to—I don’t know—fear monger. I’m not here to tinfoil hat anyone. I’m just asking people to please question things.
[00:45:02] Daniel Louzonis: Do their own research.
[00:45:03] Ashley James: Please, do your own research. Please, just question. I had someone message me once after a really great interview about vaccines. She’s like, “I’ve been listening for a while. I really love your show, but I’m really confused. Why isn’t the flu shot great? I thought it was the best thing in the world.” It’s just people believe what they’ve been told by their doctor, or by some TV commercial, or by some news broadcast, or by what their mom said. I remember, the last time I got a flu shot I was 18 years old. This is back in the 90s. I remember my chiropractor was giving them. She thought it was the best thing in the world. My mom said, “This is a new thing out. We can get vaccines,” this is in Canada, “We can get a shot and we won’t get the flu.” The thing is, my mom and I saw Naturopaths. We ate non-processed foods. We ate, it was like a Paleo diet at the time. They didn’t call it Paleo, but we didn’t eat processed foods.
We got a lot of sunlight. We took our vitamins. We never got sick. I mean never. I have no idea why my mom was so excited about the flu shot, but she was told by her chiropractor that it was the best thing in the world and we’ll never get sick if we get this flu shot. We both got it, and we got so sick from it. We were sick for two weeks. We were so violently sick from this flu shot. My mom and I just turned to each other and we’re like, “What were we thinking? This is ridiculous.” I had no idea that there were heavy metals in it. That there was a fetal tissue in it. That there was DNA from other animals in it. Just the list, you go down the list of ingredients. I had no idea, but it definitely didn’t make me healthier. That had me just a little back in my mind like, “Oh, wow. Interesting that that could happen,” because it was sold to us. They only talked about how it’s healthy.
My thing is when someone tries to sell you a man-made drug or treatment, and they only tell you the good, and they don’t tell you the bad—because everything has a side effect—and they only tell you the good. If you just question. If you just go, “Hey, that sounds great. Can you tell me about the bad?” or “Hey, can you tell me about the ingredients?” or “Hey, can you tell me about the studies that prove that it’s safe?” All of a sudden, people come at you and attack you personally. “Oh, you’re an anti-vaxxer.” You start getting attacked personally just by asking questions. You weren’t attacking the drug or the treatment, you were just wanting more information. If someone is attacked for asking for information, then you know that there’s something up. There’s a culture that’s been created that it’s not safe to ask questions around vaccines.
[00:48:07] Daniel Louzonis: It’s the expert culture.
[00:48:09] Ashley James: What do you mean?
[00:48:11] Daniel Louzonis: You can’t get on TV unless you’re somehow seen as an expert. They have a degree from here, a Ph.D. from there. Just because someone’s on TV—I’ve been on TV, that doesn’t make me an expert. What makes someone an expert is the results that they get, and who needs experts? “Oh, people who can’t think for themselves,” or who can’t think for themselves? Well, people educated by a system. People who never even planned out their own day until they were 22 years old, if ever. The school system is an obedient system. It has lobotomized brains where people can’t think for themselves. We all have friends and family members, but if you ask them their opinion on something, every single word that they say you’ll know is straight from a certain publication. They literally can’t form their own opinions. It’s called received opinion. This is what experts need. This is what people in power need. They don’t need or want anybody who can think independently.
Going back to what type of kids are we going to raise? If we don’t teach our kids to be able to think critically and understand that people on TV, people in the media, politicians, that they have an agenda. If they don’t see that, then they will take a lot of things at face value. The flu shot you’re talking about. Do you know that they actually pay you to take to get the flu shot now? Did you know you get a $25 Amazon gift card?
[00:49:40] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
[00:49:42] Daniel Louzonis: They started out saying, “Oh, it’s only $60.” Then it was only $25 or $30. Then it was only $17 at CVS. They got it into the retail establishments. Now, if you get a flu shot, they will give you a $25 gift card. That started I believe this year. Your viewers can google that. Yeah, they’re literally paying you for this loyalty oath, and it is a loyalty oath. It’s a faith in science, faith in doctors. It’s its own pseudo-religion. Meanwhile, what they know about the body is still zero.
The body is a mysterious thing and nobody should ever speak with certainty about a treatment, about a medicine, or anything because they really don’t know. This is—my brother taught me this term years ago—a god complex. I had to look it up. This was before Google, but a god complex is a belief in infallibility. If you go to a doctor and say, “Hey, well what about this, this, and this?” Not only are they going to call you an anti-vaxxer, are they going to call you a Google mommy. There are a lot of complicated reasons.
First of all, that doctor has been giving that vaccine to thousands of people. In his own mind, he can’t one day think, “Maybe I’ve been hurting people.” When a person’s income, and their livelihood, and their ego depends on them doing a certain thing, they’re not going to be easily moved or easily encouraged to reevaluate that. It’s just human nature. We all kind of dig ourselves in, and so there’s that too.
A friend of mine in Florida, in Naples Florida, his son got a round of vaccinations when he was really young. His son came home and started staring at ceiling fans and just dazing out. He says, “Oh boy.” He didn’t know what it was. He’s googling. He became a Google Daddy. He found out that it looked like his son—he saw him, he’s craving carbs. I’m just telling you what he told me. His son got a diagnosis out on the edge at the autism spectrum, okay, whatever.
Daughter comes along next year-and-a-half, same doctor. He says to the doctor, “I want to pass on this round of vaccinations.” The doctor started dropping f-bombs on him, and told him to get the bleep out, and go find a new bleeping doctor. You talk about being called a Google mommy is one thing, but trying to find a doctor who will take you, that’s a whole other. The homeschoolers in New York have had a hard time finding doctors who will even take them on, finding pediatricians. Even before they started ramping up the forced vaccinations, they were going up to doctors and saying, “Well, we’re not going to give you insurance if you don’t have a 98% or 99% vaccination.
[00:52:33] Ashley James: Premera actually pays a bonus. In certain states, Premera pays a bonus if they have a certain percentage of vaccines. It is such a good bonus that it keeps the lights on. It’s the difference between profitability and loss for these pediatricians. I’ve had this covered in an interview, but it was covered a little bit in The Truth About Vaccines, which is a docuseries. I have had a few interviews worth that went into detail. I think Dr. Paul Thomas talked about it, off the top of my head.
Listeners can go to learntruehealth.com and type in Paul Thomas. He’s a great pediatrician in Portland who wrote a book called Safe Vaccines. He’s not anti or pro. He’s actually pro-informed consent. He wants to give you all the bad. You’re told all the good, here’s actually all the bad, and you should know. You should know both sides, and you should know what to do instead. Half of his practice chose not to vaccinate or actually maybe a bit more. During flu outbreaks, when I interviewed him, there was a massive flu outbreak. The hospitals in Portland had six-hour wait times. This was about two winters ago, I don’t know if you remember.
[00:54:00] Daniel Louzonis: 2018.
[00:54:01] Ashley James: There was a big flu scare, and all the hospitals in all the cities were just completely slammed with influenza. His clinic has four doctors and a few nurse practitioners. It was a big clinic. They have thousands and thousands of patients, over 10,000 patients. Friday afternoon, they’re expecting because they called around. They found out that every hospital in Portland was like a six-hour wait because of influenza. They said they went home early Friday. They got zero phone calls from the parents. None of their patients were sick with influenza.
They actually went home early because they were just like, “Okay, we can wrap it up. Everyone’s fine.” Whereas they were expecting to be slammed also, but he said he attributed that to the fact that the children take vitamin D, they get plenty of sunlight. He educates his patients on how to eat healthy, not junk food, but how to eat healthy, real food, and they choose not to vaccinate, and they choose to do alternative things other than vaccinations. He just saw, he sees it in his practice.
You say expert opinions, he sees it in his practice that the children who get to run outside, who are homeschooled, who get to eat real food, and who aren’t put on a ton of drugs, they’re the ones who have really healthy immune systems.
[00:55:36] Daniel Louzonis: What about stress too, right? How much does constant stress reduce the immune system? I’m not an expert on it, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a high correlation between vulnerability and the amount of stress that kids who are studying for math tests every week, and being woken up early, not getting enough sleep, who are on devices all the time, and who are just constantly being pushed, poked, and prodded.
Stress is a big deal. I tell my kids all the time, I could yell my head off at them all day long and they wouldn’t experience the natural organic stress of being in school, being under a microscope having kids. I’m 100% serious. Always worrying about, “Are my pants a little too purple? Or this, or my hair. Do I have big zit on my face? What’s this person going to say? Is this person going to…?”
The constant accumulate micro stresses of being in school. Look, every personal development expert knows the concept of a mastermind is that you go join a group of other entrepreneurs or other social circles where people are operating at a high level, and just by being in that group of fast-charging achievers you level yourself up. They level you up. What happens in school on so many different levels is that because it’s age-graded, the students all pull their ignorance.
[00:57:12] Ashley James: It’s the lowest common denominator. It’s the Homer Simpson model. You look at the Simpsons. I choose the Simpsons because I learned the idea of the lowest common denominator back when the Simpsons were really popular.
[00:57:31] Daniel Louzonis: Wait, not in math class?
[00:57:33] Ashley James: Its ideas that why is it that Fox, for example, or whatever, or CBS, why do they put out shows that are so dumb? They’re funny but they’re really dumb. It’s this idea that they need to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Let’s dumb down everyone down so that everyone can participate in the entertainment that’s dumb instead of trying to raise people up. This idea that’s like, “Let’s get everyone like Homer Simpson where we’re all dumbed down together instead of challenging people to and pulling them up.”
[00:58:24] Daniel Louzonis: What’re low expectations, right? I think it was Condoleezza Rice. I think she was working with Bush—the Bush two. She’s talked about an expression or she bandied about an expression, “The bigotry of low expectations.” If you have low expectations of people they will never break through that ceiling. You have to have high escalating—even if you’re a parent. If your kids were doing the dishes and making their bed this month, well, what can you add to that next month? You have to be pushing people. They have all this potential. They respond to it. They feel respected when you ask more of them. It’s not just the TV. The newspapers, I remember years ago them saying that, going back into the 80s at newspapers were now written at a fourth and fifth-grade level.
Online, they say, “Oh, keep your videos short. Use one-word sentences. Use one-sentence paragraphs because nobody has any attention span.”
[00:59:25] Ashley James: My shows are two hours long. I probably could get more listeners if it was like a five-minute show, but it would be, again, appealing to the lowest common denominator. I want to raise people up. I want to dive deep into these discussions, and pull information out of the brains of the guests, and enrich the listener as much as possible. We have to challenge ourselves so that we can rise up.
This brings up my question for the practical application. My five-year-old son, back when he was two and a half he loved doing this—picking up a pen, start writing, but now he’s fighting me. This idea and I’m watching my friends’ kids who don’t want to do chores. You’re saying, “What could you add to the list next month?”
What about the children who are defiant, or the children who don’t want to do that? They don’t want to sit down and do math work. They don’t want to do the dishes. They don’t want to do their bed. How do you get to the point where they’re excited to do it, and they want to do more, and they feel that the responsibility is you respecting them, and they’re excited about the responsibility? How do you flip it so that they go from defiance to excitement?
[1:00:45] Daniel Louzonis: Some children are actually that ODD, that oppositional defiant disorder. There are some children who feel so uncomfortable doing anything that they’re told, that if you say, “Up,” they’ll say, “Way down.” If you say, “Yes,” they’ll say, “No way.” Even to their own self, like destruction. This will be hard for you if you do it this way. They don’t care. They really have trouble. The good thing about those kids is that they will not just listen to the authorities. You probably heard the expression, “The strong-willed child.” I’m sure there are books about, “the strong-willed child.” One thing we say about my daughter because my daughter is in this category.
My kids are the opposite. My son will do anything that you ask him, but only what you ask him. My daughter will do nothing that you ask. I actually have two polar opposites. He needs to be a little more self-motivating, and she needs to be a little more receptive to people who are wiser than her and even people who pay the bills. Maybe you should do this one thing. What we say about her is that, euphemistically, “Well, she has leadership qualities. She’s not a follower.”
To answer your question specifically about Brave, some kids don’t like math because of the curriculum. Some kids don’t like math because they’re just testing whether or not it’s optional. You get tests, they get tests, you get tests. Sometimes, the kid may, this is like a 5% chance, they may have dyscalculia where they have trouble seeing three fingers is three really quickly. But in my experience, there’s a lot of things you can do especially if you have the ultimate leverage and flexibility that is homeschooling. There are a lot of things that you can do with him.
For example, if he’s five—I’ll even walk you through specifically what I would do with him. I would have him count by twos. He can count, I’m sure. The first thing when you start with young kids—count to 30, great. Count to 60 by 2s, great. Now, count by 3s to 90. Count by 5s to 150, 10s to 300, and we just skip count over and over and over and over again. This is a karate kid drill that can be done verbally in a car while you’re driving, when you’re walking, it can be done on paper, and we can add many, many layers of complexity to it. We would say, “Well, how do we add 10? 17 plus 10, well it’s 27. The kids can pick that up. Well, how do we add 9?” Well, we go up 10 and we come back 1, great.”
“I want you to count by 9s to 270.” We start with 9 and we say, “Well, it’s not 19, we come back 1 is 18. It’s not 28, we come back 1, 27,” and they learned to count by 9s up to 270. Then they learned to count by 8s, and then we learned to count by 7s, and 11s, and 12s, and then we count backward. We say, “Count from 270 to 0 by 9s. We do these same self-mastery drills over and over and over and over again. We time them. There’s a time component. To count by 9s, it took them 4 minutes you write it down. They can see. Now it took them three minutes. Next thing you know it’s a minute and a half.
They feel good about what they’re doing. They can see their progress. They know they couldn’t do it. They remember they couldn’t do it a week ago, and now they’re starting to own the numbers. This is all without word problems. It’s all without common core, and it just keeps it very simple. Math is very, very important. It’s become lost on the public with the common core mishandling of it that math is a foundational skill.
My whole life was built on math. I was captain of my math team in high school, and we won the New England championship, which at the time, one of the most competitive leagues in the country. I look back—my kids, everything I’ve been able to do with them: read thousands of books, win chess tournaments, play multiple instruments. All these things that we’ve been able to do build entrepreneurship. It’s all built on math. Like I said, school is ruining kids for reading, it’s also ruining everybody for math.
The homeschooling world does not do a good job with math because they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what’s different about school math. They tend to use a lot of manipulatives and stuff, but the rigor of school math is important. We have to infuse our homeschool math with some rigor. The number one tip I have for infusing rigor is to do it every day first thing. If you try to do math at 3:00 PM after he’s been running around all day, or 8:00 PM after you’ve been working all day at night, it’s not going to happen.
My top tip for, not just everyone else but myself included, is you get up and you do math right away. The first academic subject you do is the toughest one. Even if it’s 30 minutes, or 40 minutes, or 20 minutes, you just do it right away, and then the rest of the day will run downhill. I can definitely give you all these—what would we say? I can give you some videos to watch on this skip counting, and I can even give you a link so that your listeners can see exactly what I’m talking about. It might not come over the ear so expertly.
We do basic drills with paper and pencil, and this skip counting drill will teach your kid addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even factoring all in one swoop. It’s the most powerful drill that I have all my little four and five-year-old math genius students doing and really enjoying. That’s the building block that I have for math before we even go on to algebra and stuff. We have this one thing here. What else do you want to know? What else can I help you with? Is it the pen that he doesn’t want to touch, the pencil specifically?
[01:07:06] Ashley James: Oh, no, no. It’s the act of now sitting down and doing it. It’s like he would rather be doing something else. We’ll do one page of schoolwork and as we’re going through he goes, “Can we just do one page?” I’m like, “No, we’re going to do more.” He’s halfway through the next page, “Can this be the last page?” It’s just the constant, “When’s this going to be over? When’s this going to be over?” Any time I go, “Okay. It’s time to do schoolwork.” He’s like, “No,” and he runs away from me. It’s funny though because he started out really loving it, and then something shifted, and now he doesn’t like it.
I see it in other parents and other kids. I thought it’d be great in general, especially parents who are now stuck with their kids at home because of the COVID-19. They’re not used to getting their kids to sit down and do work. Then they’re finding that their kids are, “I’d rather watch TV. I’d rather go play my video game. I’d rather chat with my friend. I’ll do that later. No. I don’t want to do that right now.” Instead of punishing them, because the thing is I started saying like, “You’re going to get a timeout.” I started bringing out the stick instead of the carrot. Now it’s a punishable offence to not do school work so now school work is punishment. It’s like, “Geez, how do we get this to be fun again?”
What he loves doing is leave him on his own. He’s like, “I’m going to go do a science experiment.” All this morning he was playing with baking soda and vinegar. He really, really wants to make science experiments, and he wants to make things explode, and make elephant toothpaste, and stuff like that. We’ve got the ant farm. He’s all about finding bugs and worms. He helps me in the garden. He’s really about learning about insects. If it’s something that he’s really excited about, we could do that for hours, but when it comes to the things that he isn’t excited about. He’s just fighting me on it, which I think it’s kind of normal for some kids.
If other parents are struggling with that, how can we turn it around? How do we help the parents go from crisis schooling to homeschooling where it’s really getting the child excited and motivated about their education?
[01:09:39] Daniel Louzonis: Look, all that stuff he’s doing with science experiments, that’s awesome. You have a lot of currency to play with, and there are a lot of people who could never get their kids to show such enthusiasm, and such curiosity, and focus. That’s good, but I maintain that if you add in the rigor of the math, and I’ll give you a couple of tips on how you can get it in, that that stuff will go to the next level. This goes back to what I was saying, math is incredibly important.
All of our life we’re trying to figure out problems. We have to put them on paper, we have to deal with abstract issues, and try to identify variables, and solve for unknowns. Math is actually a powerful tool. Actually, doing algebra itself is not, but the mindset, the discipline that you need to have to do that, that’s transferable into everything. Again, in the morning, I call it math for breakfast, you do math right away. With some kids, they say, “Well, you’re not eating breakfast until it’s done or until half of it’s done.”
For some kids you only have to do that once, and they realize it’s a lot easier to do it. I understand your reluctance to use punishment, but the reality is that the world punishes our lack of discipline. We’re preparing our kids for the outside world. The real world is going to be way harsher on our kids than we could even ever—I mean, you’re 40 years old too. You know the real world will chew you up and spit you out a million different ways. Having your kid do 20, 30 minutes, an hour of math, that is not going to destroy their love or learning. What that’s going to do is that’s going to say, “Hey, in the real world, sometimes you guys do things you don’t want to do.” Again, you would use incentives.
With my son John, we have a Lego set on top of the refrigerator when he was young. I said, “When you finish these three workbooks you could get that Lego set with Star Wars or whatever,” so he had some little thing to work towards positively. Negatively, if my kids didn’t do like I say, “We’re going to do four pages,” we’re on sixteen, I turned the page, I circled the fourth page. Any lip whining, bad job, distracting the other kid, whatever, “Now we’re doing five pages.” You just do it like you would do all disciplining. The way that all these experts teach. Just do it dispassionately. You do an extra page, that’s it. If they complain, it’s another extra page.
You have to let them know that they can’t go out into the real world and complain about things that they don’t want to do. You’re raising your expectations every week, every month, or whatever. 20 minutes, 30 minutes of math, he can handle it. He sounds like he’s very bright. As a homeschooling parent, math is a major pain point because it involves a lot of stress. People feel like they’re failing their kids if they don’t do math. Math is the one subject that you have to generate momentum in because everything is built upon that which comes before it. You can’t take a month off from math.
In school, they take two months off in the summer from math, and every year, the kids slide back 2.4 months. This is why if you buy a Kumon book, or any of the math workbooks, if you buy a 3rd-grade math book, you’ll see the first 15%-20% of it is review. They assume you’re going to constantly slide back. Math is my only thing. If I would say there are two things you can’t do without, it’s math early on, it’s for the kid as a building block, it’s also for mom and dad to generate some self-confidence, and then they can do whatever they want the rest of the day. I’m sorry, math and then reading, and they can do whatever they want the rest of the day.
If they just sit an hour of math, and an hour of reading, and or writing — like writing, like freewriting, transcript of writing —from 8:00 AM-10:00 AM. If they just did that, they would probably be qualified to almost get into Harvard. Just those two habits, but you can’t take the summers off. You can’t take weeks off. We’re on spring break this week, “Well, look, mommy’s not on spring break. Mommy has to do dishes.” You don’t get breaks, just two hours a day, and it’ll be automatic. They wouldn’t even know that it was optional to not do it. A fish doesn’t know that it’s wet. It’s just normal to get up every day, and read, and whatever.
The reading thing, look, not enough people understand that reading is like the homeschooling parents’ secret weapon. I used to drive to Florida from Boston in New York with two little kids in my car and my wife wasn’t with me. We wouldn’t put a movie on or anything. They would read the whole way. The homeschooling families who have done the complete screen detox and have turned their kids into raging bibliophiles, they have so much leverage because they can take their kids anywhere. I used to take my kids on consulting gigs. I would sit and I would work with other families, and my kids would sit on the couch for 3 hours, 10 feet away, and not move. My client just couldn’t stop looking at my kid like, “How do you get your kid to sit like that?”
What parent doesn’t want their kid to be able to sedate themselves, to fire up their imagination, expand their vocabulary, and all those great things with a book? They’re sedating kids with devices and with over-scheduling.
[01:15:05] Ashley James: Dumbing them down.
[01:15:07] Daniel Louzonis: Over-scheduling too. Some sign them up for activities. It’s two days off from school. It’s one day off. “It’s Martin Luther King Day, I got to sign them up for something.” Really? One day?
[01:15:20] Ashley James: I love it. I love that idea that the children are jumping into books instead of jumping in the screens, and that’s enriching them. What do you think about learning from screens? Because I see in some homeschooling groups, “Oh, ABCmouse is so great. My son is doing a lot of tablet learning.” What do you think about that?
[01:15:45] Daniel Louzonis: It’s not good. It’s definitely not good.
[01:15:47] Ashley James: Can you cite studies or what’s your experience to show that it’s not good?
[01:15:53] Daniel Louzonis: It’s that books are so much better. It’s that moving their bodies is so much better. Anything that gets between a child and bibliophilia I want out because books are so, so important, right? I was just telling my wife this yesterday. Someone was saying, “Oh, my kid. I was showing him the flashcards, and they were identifying numbers 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, and when it came to the 11th number they said pause.” They thought 11 meant pause. They’re saying at kindergarten, they come in, they give them a real book, and they don’t know how to turn the page. They’re trying to swipe to turn the pages of a physical book.
Look at a child who’s on a tablet, look at their posture.
[01:16:40] Ashley James: Oh, it’s horrible.
[01:16:42] Daniel Louzonis: They’re not going to blink. They’re not going to be moving their bodies. We haven’t talked about it but this is a health podcast, and I should definitely bring it up. Fine motor skills. Fine motor skills is something that people don’t have any clue about. I honestly had no idea either. I thought that cursive handwriting was utterly useless, and then I saw some guru talk about how it’s been proven that nothing fires up the brain like cursive handwriting. They put the electrodes on the head, and they show that when you write the cursive handwriting—ideally cursive handwriting on a blank sheet of paper—is a very powerful intense brain exercise.
I saw this guy, and then I went down into this rabbit hole of hit the guru behind the guru. Not only did I start changing my homeschooling approach and incorporating more writing in cursive, but personally, what I do every day is a form of active meditation is I do cursive handwriting. What I’ll do is I’ll write out famous quotes by Einstein, or Lincoln, or Oprah Winfrey, or whatever. I’ll write it out with my best cursive— right-handed—and then I will take the pen and put it in my left hand. I will write it out going from the right side of the page back to the left in reverse mirror-image cursive.
What I’m doing when I do that is I’m using both sides of my brain, and I’m cultivating ambidexterity. The gurus behind the guru, they’ve basically proven that all these geniuses—like going back to Leonardo da Vinci—were ambidextrous. That the rest of us are using half of our brains when they’re using their whole brain. I think it was Michelangelo when he was painting the Sistine Chapel for hours and hours and hours, paintbrush overhead, hoisted up there, when he got tired with his right hand he would just switch to his left hand.
Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other one. Some people consider him to be smarter than Einstein, but he could write with one hand and draw with the other simultaneously. Lost in what’s going on with this shift to screens is that kids don’t get enough time wielding a pencil. You and I took it for granted. How many times did we get a piece of paper and write our name and our date and just go? Nowadays, with Khan Academy, and with all these online classes, and with millennial teachers who are giving kids forms, and multiple-choice stuff, bubble tests because it’s easier for them to grade, the kids are not using their hands. They’re not using their hands to knit and sew, and they’re not exercising their fine motor skills whittling things. They’re just not using their hands.
The net effect of that is that they’re not developing their brain with the most powerful tools they can. Like I said, it’s been proven that cursive handwriting is like the best thing, best exercise you can do. I started teaching math, I don’t know, 10 years ago—officially—to other kids, and I started noticing their pencil grips. They had these caveman grips. You couldn’t even understand how they could wield the pencil that way. This was my introduction to it, and I started to see. You don’t notice anyone’s a parent until you’re pregnant and have a kid yourself. You don’t notice anyone has a Toyota Camry until you start shopping for Toyota Camrys. I didn’t notice anybody’s pencil grip until I started doing this, and it’s gotten worse and worse over time.
One of the reasons is these kids aren’t getting enough time with paper and pencil. One reason is not getting enough reps. The other reason is that the hyperstimulation of video games, and Spongebob, and TV, actually fries the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills. The video games are making it so these kids, not only can’t use a pencil or a pen properly, but they hate it. You think they hate books? They hate writing like you would not believe.
Then they get to math, and there are a lot of kids, and I’ve had a lot—especially boys and girls who are good at math. They know that 8 times 7 is 56. They’re just good with it, they understand it, but then they get to pre-algebra. In algebra, they have to write out step-by-step. You have to use scrap paper. You have to do a lot of work—multi-step calculation and computation. Because they hate the pen and the pencil so much, they won’t write 3x + 7 = 85, 3x = 78. They won’t do it because, again, they have this weakness. It’s almost like somebody who has no wind, no stamina, they’re out of shape. They can’t play soccer if they don’t have the cardiovascular training to move to get to the ball.
These kids that can’t wield a pencil or a pen, they don’t have the fine motor skill cardio to be able to sit down with paper and pencil. There’s a reason why the top—I wonder if you know this or not—but the top-selling book categories on Amazon are adult coloring books. The reason is, it’s a form of active meditation. You’re forced to focus. It’s taking you out of that multitasking, a hyper-distracting state we are where we have inbound on social media, text messaging, and whatever. It’s really, really good for the brain.
I’m dead set against all this fake tablet education. I have yet to see a kid, and I’ve met a lot of kids who were super accelerating geniuses who were on the device a lot. I have never seen one. All my kids who were at super high levels four, or five, or six grade levels above normal, they’re not on screens at all. I know they’re not necessary, and I actually believe that they’re pretty bad on several fronts. Hopefully, in that long-winded answer, you could catch wind of a couple of those fronts where I see it’s risky, right? You’re opening a Pandora’s box.
You give a kid an iPad, and they tilt it away from you, and your friend shows them how to do this or that. Their ability to be sneaky on that is it’s like sending letters by rabbit. It’s not going to get there. If you’ve seen this at the airport where you’re going through airport security, and a kid has a device, and they have to put the device through the machine. I’ve seen it multiple, multiple times where they have to take the device from the kid, and the kid has an absolute meltdown because they don’t want to put the device through the metal detector for a minute. I’m a little bit of, I don’t know. Your viewers can put their own label on me, but I will go up to people in public where I have done it and I’m like, “Why are you giving that kid the iPad? They’re two years old. Why do you have a mounted iPad on the stroller?”
[01:23:36] Ashley James: It drives me crazy when I’m at the grocery store that parents give cell phones to their children and young—young children. I’ve never handed my cell phone to my son to sedate him at a grocery store. I don’t hand my cell phone to my son, but I’m just saying, it’s an opportunity for learning. The whole time I’m talking to him. He’s sitting in the cart. He could walk but it’s a lot easier to have him—he could walk now. Sometimes he helps push the cart, but I actually prefer him to be—him and I can look at each other, we can talk, he can see what’s going into the cart, and he can help pick things out because he can see all the produce because he’s above it all, sitting in the cart facing me.
We’re talking the whole time about what’s going in the cart, and about what we’re going to make for dinner, about what he wants, and we’re having a discussion. He says, “Oh, what’s that?” I said, “You want to try this? What kind of new vegetable do you want to try? Do you want to try a new fruit?” Sometimes he’ll just start eating the kale raw before we bought it because it’s not weighed, it’s by a bushel, like $2 a bunch or whatever, not a bushel. He’ll just start eating it, so he’s engaged.
I remember, this happened recently, him and I are talking, and I walk into the produce section with him, and there was a mom with a kid. Maybe about a year, year and a half younger than my son. That kid was just hunched over, neck totally hunched over, playing on a phone, and the mom was not talking to the kid at all. It just blows my mind because no matter how hyper your kid is, you can get through to them, and you can have this really meaningful conversation with them when you’re doing things like grocery shopping. It can be this incredible educational experience.
My son points out things that—he goes, “Oh, grab a turnip.” I’m like, “Which one’s the turnip?” He knows which one the turnip is. I always get them mixed up with the rutabaga. They all look the same to me, these root vegetables. He knew which one the turnip was, and so I grabbed it, and then I had to google it. I pulled out my phone and I’m like sure enough. My husband and my son and I, we all go grocery shopping together because it’s a fun family experience. We were guessing which one’s the rutabaga, which one’s the turnip, which one’s the parsnip—I know what a parsnip looks like. The rutabaga and the turnip I always get them mixed up and my son doesn’t. He knows. He learned it once and he figured it out. He was the one that got it right. The three of us were having a bet like, “Okay, who’s got it right? Let’s all guess which vegetables these are.” He wanted us to buy it. He goes, “Can we make pancakes out of these?” He comes up with these crazy recipes.
If your child is on a cell phone, they’re not making meaningful connections. They’re not learning about the world. They could be learning about food and how that nourishes the body. He’ll actually point to stuff and he’ll say, “Does that have sugar in it? What’s in that? Can I have this?” I’ll read the ingredients, and he’ll tell me, “Can you read the ingredients of this?” I’ll say, “Oh, no.” I’ll list off the ingredients and he goes, “No, I can’t have that.” Because he knows. He doesn’t feel good when he eats certain things, and he wants to feel good.
We don’t do foods that are high in sugar or any sugar. If it’s fruit, that’s one thing. There are natural fruit roll-ups and that’s a treat for him. There’s no sugar in it, it’s just fruit concentrate. He gets those kinds of treats, but he knows to ask to read the ingredients. I show him. I’m like, “Do you see the word sugar?” I’d show him the ingredients, and he looks through, and he tries to read it. He’s getting word recognition, and he’s also allergic to weird things like garlic. We have to really be careful, and I’ve shown him the ingredients. I say, “Do you see the word garlic here?”
Going to the grocery store is learning. Even now, this is the only place we can go is the grocery store, but we can use every time we go out the door. Even at restaurants. We look over and there’s an entire family on their cell phones, the kids included. I always look at them, I’m like, “How is it that every child in that family, plus the parents, all own a cell phone? These things are expensive.” Whereas you can be having a meaningful conversation.
We were given to it for Christmas by a friend. It’s all these magnets that you can put together to make a robot. Just a little stuff. You could bring these puzzles. You could bring word games. You could bring things to the restaurant, or to wherever you’re going, or you can have the kid read the menu with you, or you can just talk about what you want to eat, or talk about what you want to do next. Just want to engage with your child versus the children that are just glued to the screens. They’re not learning how to communicate and how to engage.
I don’t want to shame the parents who do that because I know that they’re doing it for a reason. Maybe they feel that it’s made it easy for them, or they’re stressed out, and it gives them a break. I get that, but I think what gives us a break in the short-term—kind of like drinking a glass of wine every night to calm down. What is helping us in the short-term is harming us in the long term. “Oh, I just need this alcohol to relax. Oh, I just need my son to hold a cell phone to relax, to have a break.” It’s the short-term gratification that actually creates a far greater long-term problem.
[01:29:54] Daniel Louzonis: Well, here’s a quote for you, “Talking to children is as important as feeding them.” When you think about that, we didn’t get into language skills and language acquisition. One of the huge predictors of kid’s success in life is what their vocabulary is when they’re four, or five, and six years old. You almost can’t change it. Here’s the data point. I might have given it to you way back when, I’ll give it again. I think it’s 1950, the average working vocabulary by this one study of a five or six-year-old kid was 4,000 words. Today, it’s not 4,000 words anymore, it’s closer to 1,000. There are only two things, two reasons.
One is actually preschool, daycare, and the other is the change since the 50s is television. The problem with preschool, daycare, and television is that they crowd out conversation. There are no adults talking to kids. There are no kids asking questions. Everyone’s on a device, or everyone’s being sedated by a device, or three-year-old kids are off at daycare amongst other three-year-old kids. You can’t learn any new vocab words from one of your peers. You learn vocab words from somebody speaking directly to you personally about something you can relate to or put in context and that has a bigger vocabulary than you.
We didn’t even talk about language acquisition. A lot of people meet homeschool kids, and they can’t believe how mature they look, and act, and sound. The maturity thing is because they’re not being raised amongst kids their own age. They’re spending a lot of time with adults, but the rest of it—the rounded out education—is books, and it’s the vocabulary that they are acquiring from being around complete sentence wielding people. People who don’t speak in emojis and illiterate YouTube comments.
Now that iPad, everybody has to understand that that iPad was designed to be addictive. The people who design it are Harvard psycho whatever neuropsychologists. They are watching, and trying to figure out, and trying to hack what makes an app addictive. They did this Sesame Street back in—
[01:32:27] Ashley James: Gamification.
1:32:28] Daniel Louzonis: Back in 1970, Sesame Street actually pioneered this. They would have three groups of kids, and they would have one in this room, and they’d be watching them like lab rats. They would have music, and sound effects, and a purple graphic versus a blue graphic. They would figure out what they had to put on the screen to keep the kids more glued to the screen. Spongebob is considered to be the worst. It was rated the worst cartoon for kids because of the number of rapid scene jumps and the overall anti-intellectual level of what goes on.
Spongebob was built on Sesame Street. It was built on an industry that has figured out that getting you addicted to watching it is money in their pocket. They don’t get you addicted, they actually don’t have a product. That’s what’s going on with this iPad. Even the marketing. Go look at the marketing for all these apps. They’ll tell you that it’s been proven to advance, teach kids reading, and this and that. It’s all baloney. It’s all hogwash. I don’t see any kids coming off apps doing anything great. If anything, you’re introducing massive, massive risks into their future. I consider that personally, and it’s a little bit harsh. I consider giving a child an iPad an act of child abuse. Just like when the doctor tells you if you don’t give your kid 900 shots that you’re abusing that child. I think giving a kid an iPad is also setting them up to struggle in school, in terms of their personal self-esteem, and all of that.
What you’re doing with Brave is awesome, but imagine if you had eight kids, right? If you have eight kids—and I know people who can handle eight kids with no screens, and no crutches, and whatever. I only have two kids, it’s a lot easier. Some people, they could be a single parent, they could be working a job and a half. It’s not so easy to resist the call of these screens. It gets very hard to fight with your kids and have them be the only one that’s not playing video games, the only one that’s not on the devices, the only one that doesn’t know what happened on Friends last night. Because I don’t know if you know, but apparently, Friends is a new show according to the 13-year-old kids who found it on Netflix. Did you know this? It’s been resurrected?
[01:34:51] Ashley James: That they what? Did they come up with a new Friends? I don’t know.
[01:34:56] Daniel Louzonis: Walk around New York City you’ll see all sorts of young kids wearing Friends t-shirts. There’s a location up here in lower Manhattan that has all these people standing out in front. I guess it’s where the Friend’s apartment was scened and these bus tours. Because in Netflix, Friends has been rejuvenated. The Office has been rejuvenated and so is Friends. All the young kids.
[01:35:24] Ashley James: Are into it. That’s funny.
[01:35:26] Daniel Louzonis: If they’re all talking about that, and look, I have a 13-year-old daughter. All her friends are talking about that stuff, and there’s no TV, there’s no Netflix here. She’s like, “Why can’t I watch it, this, that?” “You know, it’s not good for you. It’s inappropriate.” But it’s very hard. I’m a very tough person, but not everybody can fight and win that battle or has enough bandwidth to do that. Life is hard. Let’s go back to entrepreneurship and homeschooling education like our whole overall mission. What I’ve discovered is that life is really hard. It gets more complicated. Problems multiply and they compound.
The things that you don’t know—what you don’t know about your career, or your body, or relationships, these grow. They grow, they metastasize in our lives, and we end up with kids, and aging parents, and financial difficulties—possibly or not. We’re trying to figure out all these things for ourselves when the root of all of it is that we didn’t learn about these things. Brave probably knows what xanthan gum is. I still don’t know what it is. We didn’t learn about these things when we were young. There’s no reason why you can’t learn about personal development and nutrition when you’re young. There’s no age minimum. There’s no reason you need to go out into the corporate world and burn out in order to learn about entrepreneurship, no. There’s just a crooked path that everyone else is following basically to nowhere, and we’re all just like going along with it. I remember I was 10 like it was yesterday.
You wake up, you’re 40-45 years old, and you’re playing defense, you’re playing catch-up, you’re trying to read books, and learn things. It’s not good. I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to be playing offense from early on, like aggressive early offense. I want them to be future proof.
[01:37:24] Ashley James: When is it a good time to introduce a computer? I’m sure someone’s thinking, “Well, we’re only moving away from pens and paper, moving more online, moving more digital.” We just bought a car a few months ago. It was 100% digital. They had just transitioned. It was Volkswagen. I love our GTI, by the way. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned. I love this thing. If you’re looking for a cool car, man, it’s so great. It’s so great. I’m really happy with the purchase, but the entire experience was online, it was digital. We sat there at the dealership for a few hours signing papers on an iPad, and walking through everything on an iPad. They said, “Yeah, we just transitioned. All of Volkswagens transitioned to digital.” I said, “Well, what if there’s a power outage?” She said, “We can’t sell a car.” Maybe they’ll break out the old papers for that, but basically, the whole world’s going digital, so are we doing a child a disservice by not having them learn how to use a mouse. Having them learn at a young age how to type on a keyboard and use a mouse. At what age should they learn how to use a computer since their entire future is going to be on a computer?
[01:38:51] Daniel Louzonis: Did Jeff Bezos grow up on a computer?
[01:38:54] Ashley James: No.
[01:38:56] Daniel Louzonis: No, he didn’t, and he still figured it out when he needed to. He grew up with a very strong traditional academic background in a massive work ethic. The idea that they’re going to fall behind—this is a fallacy. These kids, they have these neuroplastic brains. You could be five years ahead of them on say Adobe Audition—I don’t know if you use that for your podcast. You’d be five years ahead of them, they could catch you in like three months. There’s no risk of them falling behind. In fact, they will get further ahead because they can sit down and they can operate with paper and pencil.
I have a great book recommendation for your audience. It’s called The Revenge of Analog. I can’t remember the author’s name, I’m not going to look it up right now, but The Revenge of Analog. You can put a link to it. Apparently, if you go to Google headquarters, everyone’s walking around with a Moleskine notebook. The idea that these people aren’t using paper and pencil is absolutely untrue. Jeff Bezos, if you work at Amazon and you want to call a meeting, I believe he demands you write a six-page paper to hand out to everybody before the meeting. You have to have writing skills to work for him. What do writing schools require?
Well, you need to have some clarity of thought. He doesn’t want you calling a meeting with some random agenda that might or might not be based on a good idea. The idea that these kids—they need to be on a device otherwise they’ll fall behind is absolutely misplaced, so don’t let that enter your mind. When should you put them on a computer? When should you give a child a gun, right? Say you’re on a frontier 200 years ago. Your child needs that gun to hunt, to protect the family. Even if they’re 11 years old, your 11-year-old needs to know how to use that gun in case pa is off a field doing something. When that 11-year-old learns to use a gun, pa is right behind him —like right over his shoulder. It’s a dangerous weapon. He’s really not developmentally ready for all it entails.
If you’re going to use computers, I strongly believe you should use PCs, desktops. That’s my first choice. If you saw my house, back when we had a house, we had three PCs in a row, and I sat right next to my kids. They couldn’t turn the monitor away from me. It wasn’t a laptop, they could disappear into the basement or anywhere, but I was right next to him the whole time. My son learned Adobe Audition. They played chess online. They did Khan Academy math and IXL math. My kids both have blogs. Now, my kids, they work online. Right now, Christine is running an online book club. A new business she started about two weeks ago where she has a bunch of kids read a book or first five chapters of a book, and she has a slide show, and she’s doing it over Zoom. You can’t keep them off the computer. It’s very hard, unless you want to go ultra-Amish or whatever. When they’re on it, they’re not on it with free-range. They’re not just googling randomly, they’re not watching cat videos, and you are in the room with them. It’s a must.
The best is a desktop PC next to mom or dad. The second best is a laptop, but I don’t like those either. Then the iPad and the iPhone, they get to where you’re just playing with absolute fire. They can learn coding on a PC. There’s nothing that they need an iPhone or a tablet for that they can’t do on the computer.
[01:42:48] Ashley James: Now we have online as the best way to—especially because of all the libraries—I mean, I don’t know about every state in every country, but where I live, every library is closed right now for the foreseeable future. It was like until May 4th but we might extend it longer. They’ve been closed for well over a month. In some places in the world, we can’t just go take our children and go do homeschooling in libraries and in public, so the best resource for a lot of people is online. What subjects work best online? You talked about interacting with math, but you also just mentioned Khan Academy. You’ve mentioned, in the past, people can take music lessons online or play chess online. Of course, the parent is looking over the child. What should we do offline, and what are some really good online resources?
[01:43:53] Daniel Louzonis: Let me just tell you, math is good online in the sense that if your child filled out a worksheet—just say addition or multiplication—they could get all the answers wrong, and they can be doing it incorrectly. Someone has to manually correct it, and then come in and say, “Hey, you did it all wrong. Redo it.” If you do math online, the major benefit is what I call instantaneous negative feedback. You get corrected right away, like ooh, the buzzer goes off. That is definitely good.
If you have multiple kids, you kind of have to use—if you have five or six kids, they’re all at different levels—you can’t have one math class. Some of my drills, you can use simultaneously at different starting points, but you have to use the computer when you have a lot of kids. Math lends itself well towards that. Khan Academy is—anything that’s got Bill Gates money in it is always a little bit messed up. There are sections to skip and best practices. If you use it incorrectly you can end up thinking it’s stupid, but guess what, it’s free and it’s not stupid. It’s not fatally flawed. It’s just imperfect like everything else on this earth. I have almost all my students, except for my super high-level math genius students on Khan Academy. There’s no risk to using it.
If you were a chess teacher, and you went and hired someone, and they met you, they would be constantly moving pieces and setting the board up back and forth. It’s very labor-intensive to create all sorts of positions to get the child to study or to think about what would happen here, or what’s the benefit, or the risk here. On a computer, they can preload all sorts of positions in. They can hit the forward button and the back button. Chess actually is way better. The teaching power of chess online is far superior to anything that could ever be done online.
One-on-one instruction, not necessarily apps because I don’t really like Duolingo that much, but you can hire somebody overseas to teach your kids a foreign language very, very cheaply. Ten dollars an hour you could do really, really well. My brother hired a Ukrainian professor to teach him Ukrainian for something like $3.50 cents an hour. You’re not using it like ABCmouse. You’re using it for one-on-one lessons. I would even encourage parents to use it for research. How often does a kid ask you something and you say, “Well, let’s google it.” Google image is the coolest thing in the world for kids. I had them make up flashcards. You can go to Google Slides, and you just drag a picture of a huge rock—a quartz rock— and the next slide it says quartz. You can create your own flashcards.
I actually had my kids blogging when they were 4 and 5 years old, and they were just sharing what they were learning. They had to Google one thing a day. You don’t need the apps. The library, we suffer from the closed libraries here too, but you probably have books in your house that they can read and that Brave can read. Everybody has books in their house or their neighbor has books in their house. You know what, not long ago, people used to have one or two books, and they used to read it over and over and over and over and over again. Real bibliophiles, which my kids are, they read the same books over and over and over and over again without any loss of enjoyment.
It’s like everything else, you got to make do with what you have. You’re camping for a little while. You can’t get to the libraries, and that does stink. Personally, I’m looking at my bookshelf right now. I have a lot of books on my bookshelf that I bought or someone gave me and I haven’t read yet. Just work through what you have. Resourcefulness, right? The confinement, there’s a virus, whatever you want to call it. This is a constraint. Even Jeff Bezos is a big believer in constraints. He’s like, “You got to have constraints around you so that you can invent your way out.”
[01:48:08] Ashley James: This. I love this. I love this because I read this amazing article about Dr. Seuss that he was challenged to write a book. I’m sorry. I don’t remember his actual name. His name isn’t actually Dr. Suess. He was challenged to write a book with I believe it was 50 words?
[01:48:32] Daniel Louzonis: Yes, you’re right.
[01:48:35] Ashley James: The 50 most common sight words for children and the constraints of that led him to write the number one bestseller kids book ever. He actually talked about how the constraint of being given 50 words, “Okay. Here’s the list of 50 words. Write a book.” And write a good book. That actually improved his creativity. That in constraint—so imagine if I were to only give you two colors. I said, “Okay, paint a masterpiece. Here are two colors.” If I give you a constraint, and I love these challenges when chefs are given a mystery box. There are only five ingredients. “Make a three-course meal with these five ingredients.” I love that. I do that all the time in the kitchen. It’s my favorite thing, I love opening the fridge, and grabbing some ingredients, and just making a totally new dish with mystery ingredients. “What’s about to go bad that I need to cook?”
Give someone constraints and it can improve their creativity. That’s the thing though that I find that parents—and maybe I’m experiencing also—is that we don’t have any constraint. As a homeschooling parent, we’re left with this endless possibility. I’m in this overwhelm—we have this huge miasma of just there are so many things we could choose from. We could choose all these apps, all these things online, all these things offline. You google homeschooling kit or whatever and you could buy hundreds of dollars-worth of different curriculums. There are just too many choices, which one’s the right one, which one’s right for my child, which one’s right for me as a parent? There isn’t a constraint necessarily.
With the COVID-19, we do have more of a constraint because I can’t go out and meet up with other homeschooling groups in person and also go to the library. I think we have too many choices and that leaves us feeling like the grass is always greener. No matter what I choose, there’s probably a better program out there. Am I doing this right? Could I be doing it better? I know that there’s sometimes this feeling that there’s too much. You have so much experience. You not only homeschooled your own children—who are doing phenomenally well—you’ve coached other families to homeschool and dial in their homeschooling. You’ve created a program to teach parents how to do it. You’ve created a package for the listeners. The link is going to be in the show notes of the podcast, einsteinblueprint.com/lth. That link is going to be in the show notes.
Can you address this, this idea that there are so many choices? How do we know as parents we’re on the right track, we’re making the right choice? Should we do this free schooling, or should we go buy a curriculum somewhere? Should we go buy an online curriculum, or a physical curriculum where there are 20 books and textbooks mailed to us? I’ve seen this. You join a few homeschooling Facebook groups and there’s always some of them trying to sell their curriculum like this giant box. I’ve seen this, oh my gosh, this one parent had a room full—a room full of textbooks. They homeschooled all their kids and now, they’re selling all of them. It’s overwhelming. That might be out of date. Is that the right program to use? Maybe common core, not common core. We just end up having these millions of questions, which one’s the right program for us? I’m sure you’ve been asked this before.
[01:53:08] Daniel Louzonis: Sure. First of all, the book is Green Eggs and Ham the Dr. Seuss book.
[01:53:14] Ashley James: That was the first book I ever read, by the way. I remember it clicking. Remember when you were riding a bicycle, and you’re falling off, and falling off, and falling off, and then you remember that moment you got balance? I remember because I was a late bloomer. I was about seven years old. My husband was riding a bike at age three so he thinks it’s crazy that I couldn’t ride a bike until I was seven, but I had my training wheels on until I was seven because every time we took them off I just fall over, fall over, fall over. Then one day, I got balance and it just clicked. I went, “Oh, that’s what you wanted me to do,” and I never fell off a bike again.
The same with reading. It’s like I didn’t get it, I didn’t get it, it didn’t click, didn’t click. I was holding that book and all of a sudden everything fell into place, and I could read full sentences. I went from not knowing how to read to just everything clicked. I remember that moment. I was sitting in the car, we were on a two-hour drive up to the cottage, and I was holding the book, and it was a sunny day. It was a sunny morning on a Saturday morning, and everything clicked. I read that book. I was like, “Oh my gosh. Sam I am. I got it. I was so excited.
I’ve been looking back on my childhood analyzing it—now that I’m a parent, obviously, we do this. I now realize I wish my parents had given me more books and less TV. I was put in front of the TV so much as a child, and I wish I was put in front of a book because I loved reading.
[01:54:54] Daniel Louzonis: Let’s talk about that because I had the same parents that were just a couple years ahead of you. The TV was the iPhone of its time. My kids don’t understand this. If you missed a movie at the theater, you could never see it again. They would actually come back three years later. You’d see Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back comes back at the theater, so you couldn’t see it. The movie theater was magical, and the TV was limited. Then there’s this new thing called cable TV, and it had a couple of movie channels. They had this thing called Home Box Office, and they had the movie channel. You could actually see movies that you couldn’t see before.
Our parents, your mom and dad, my mom and dad, they were fascinated by this thing. It’s the iPhone of its time. They didn’t have any manual. They didn’t know that that color TV that started out with 32 cable channels was going to go to 57, and then 200, and 1000. They didn’t know that it was going to lead to obesity, and it was going to lead to bibliophobia, and it was also going to create distortive narratives about men and women, and what to expect in life, and defer to [inaudible 01:56:06]. They didn’t know. Technology is always disrupting society at the frontier, and nobody knows what the effect is.
Let’s go into the curriculum question about what do you do in the face of all these options. When most people start homeschooling, they say, “I don’t know what to do. What do you do? What do you do?” That’s a little bit of a joke where it rapidly becomes a joke because pretty soon they get in there and they said, “There are all these great things I want to do, I don’t know what to cut out. I don’t know what to cut out.” The reality is that when we’re 12 years into our home school here, we have to cut out some really, really important good things—carefully chosen things—in order to do anything new. That’s just how it goes. It’s an embarrassment of riches on some levels, but it’s just also very hard. I said to my son at one point, “All right. No more hour a day on the piano. You’re down to a half an hour.” I’m like literally cutting him down on the piano, but that’s the type of real currency and leverage that you have to play with once you get going.
Pinterest is what I call fake homeschooling. You see all these pictures of these beautiful homes and no mess in the background. That is not a successful or a real homeschool. That is staged, and I understand why people do it, the same reason anybody stages anything on deep-seated insecurity, marketing, whatever, fear of what other people think of them, or some type of conformity, “This is what it’s supposed to look like.” No. You try to create this beautiful homeschooled that’s ripped from Pinterest, I guarantee you that it will stress you out. You will never feel like you’re doing it right, and it will be contrived. It won’t be real.
What you’re doing with Brave, and having a real conversation, and doing experiments, that’s homeschooling. That’s homeschooling at its absolute best. So no, stop thinking the grass is greener, the homeschool is better somewhere else. It’s easy for me to say, “Stop looking around,” but practically, what you want to do is you want to generate a lot of self-confidence and a lot of security in what you’re doing. There are a couple of ways to do that. So that when you look around there and you look at Pinterest— I look at Pinterest and it doesn’t move me because I know that it’s actually not true, and not real, and those kids aren’t on a steeper track than mine as if it’s a competition in the first place. How can you get that confidence?
This is why I strongly advise parents to get their kids accelerate with reading and math right away. Nothing gives a kid self-confidence, and nothing gives a parent self-confidence like seeing their kid go vertical very, very quickly. That is something that the parent—that’s confidence that the parents can build on. Then people are meeting your kids and they’re like, “Whoa, whoa. What am I doing wrong? What are you doing? Can you help me?” Be more aggressive with what you’re doing. That will help you worry less about what everyone else is doing in any field.
Look, in terms of buying a curriculum, everyone, when they start at homeschooling, says, “I need a curriculum. I need a curriculum. I need a curriculum.” The reality is you don’t. You need a library card, and a little bit of discipline, and you need a philosophy. You need an understanding of what education is, what it’s not, what your goals are, and then it’s very simple. When I meet with coaching clients I said, “Well, what are your goals? We’re not going to talk about math, or reading, or college, or anything without having some goals. What are your goals?” A lot of people just don’t have any goals.
My goal, when we started out, was raising academically accelerated kids. Now, they evolved. At some point, I said, “You know what, I want to raise extremely well-rounded kids.” Then they evolved again, and I said, “You know what, I want to raise kids who are entrepreneurs. This way that they have maximum time and money leverage in their life, and so that they can really do as much as they can possibly do.” Your goals will evolve, but you’ve got to have goals. You have to set your own agenda. You can’t look at what everyone else is doing. No matter what that boxed curriculum says, no matter what those testimonials say, they never work.
I call them curriculum hoppers. People would rather buy a curriculum than actually read a homeschooling book and learn about the principles of effective homeschooling. They would rather buy a curriculum than sit down with mom, and dad, and the kids, and say, “Well, what are our goals? What are we afraid of? What do we want to do? Where do we want to go?” They’d rather just buy something as almost like a placeholder, as almost like fake work—fake effort. People do the same thing with fitness, “Oh, I’m going to join a gym. I’m going to buy $100 Lululemon pants. I’m going to buy Peloton bike.” We’ve got a lot of Peloton bikes coming into my building here in the past couple of weeks.
At its root, all education is self-education. It’s all going to come down to reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s all going to come down to what Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Everyone wants to complicate things. Usually, when people complicate things, that’s the lazy way out—saying something is complicated. No, it’s not complicated, and you don’t have to make it complicated. Pinterest, you can pull that up and you can definitely feel inadequate, or you can feel like you’re going down the wrong path, but you have to judge people by their results. This is what I talked about earlier with these experts and these doctors.
Who do you want to take fitness advice from? From somebody who used to be hurt, and is now 50 years old, and ripped, and overcame all sorts of problems, or do you want to take exercise advice from some doctor who’s never run a quarter marathon? You have to look at the results. It’s very, very important to have models to see, “Hey, look at this family over here. Look at how well-behaved those kids are. Look at how,” if they’re religious, if they got God first, “I want a family like that. Look at these kids over here. Look at how helpful they are around the house. Look at how advanced this one is in math. Look at how advanced these people are with getting their kids selling lemonade on the street and hustling and grinding. I want that.”
Pick and choose, find people that have achieved what you want manifest, and then just plug into them. That’s the whole philosophy behind having mentors and role models. It’s way, way more effective than trying to purchase stuff, right? It’s hard to do. You could just go to my website. All these people have told me, “I wish I met you 10 years ago. I wish I met you 10 years ago.” I hear it all the time. “Had I known that you could be homeschooling that way I would have done it five years ago, but I didn’t meet you.”
Look, I had nobody at all to guide me. Google was very underdeveloped 12 years ago. A lot of homeschooling parents don’t put what they’re doing out on the web, they don’t share it, and so you don’t even know. You can’t even plug into them, but now, there are lots and lots of people out there homeschooling and sharing. Just find the ones who have teenage kids, who are college kids, and plug into them. Ask them for advice. Read their books. You’re better off as a homeschooling parent reading a book on the philosophy of homeschooling than you are at buying any ABCmouse, or math curriculum, or complete curriculum. That’s the ultimate magic pill. “I’m going to buy a complete curriculum for my kids with a day planner and this and that. We’re going to check all the boxes and all the subjects.”
It doesn’t work. Ideally, as a homeschooling parent, you will cobble together a curriculum. You will have a philosophy, you will have goals. You will have do’s and don’ts, you will have habits, you will have role models just the same way if you’re running a business. It’s the same success. The success principles are the same whether you’re talking about trying to run for a marathon, training for the Olympics, run a business, or run a family. You have to use eclectic resources.
The more work you do on it, the more work you do in terms of gathering research, in terms of reading books, in terms of experimenting, the more work you do on your own mind, and unpacking the mistakes you made, the mistakes our parents made, the regrets that we have. The more work you do on yourself—in research in general—that’s all leverage for what you can do with your kids. That’ll give you confidence and clarity on what you’re doing.
If you’re suffering from confidence, you’re suffering in confidence or a little low on that, it’s because you’re not getting the results that automatically give you confidence. Then, it comes down to like, “All right. Well, how can we improve our tactics?” Not what else can we buy. Is that a good enough answer or scratching the surface?
[02:05:19] Ashley James: Yeah. I like it. I really, really like it. I like it. You mentor people and you also developed a program. When listeners go to einsteinblueprint.com/lth, tell us a bit about the different programs that you offer so that they can understand the resources that you provide.
[02:05:39] Daniel Louzonis: Okay. Well, I have a homeschooling consultation, which if you consult with me for an hour and you buy that, I give you basically the skeleton—the overview—of I think I have about five or six hours-worth of videos and content. I just basically tell you everything that I’ve done. That’s at the lower level. I have that introduction to homeschooling, but it’s still powerful because more than half the people who buy it have been homeschooling already. They get stuck. They hit an obstacle. They hit a ceiling. Homeschooling is like marriage, it should get better every year, you should get closer to your spouse every year. If it’s not, you’ve got leakage. You’ve got dangerous, dangerous leakage.
I also have my overall—my flagship product—is called the Einstein Blueprint. It’s not the Dan blueprint, it’s the Einstein Blueprint. It’s what would the ideal education look like? Well, what did Oprah Winfrey say about what was key to her success? What does Abraham Lincoln, what wisdom has he bequeathed to us? Einstein, da Vinci, Michelangelo. The whole point of the Einstein Blueprint, it’s broken down into 116 modules, is reverse engineering extreme success. That’s it.
What does Jeff Bezos say about writing and about constraints? Things we touched on. How can you incorporate that into the education of your children? Literally, within the Einstein Blueprint, we have our kids brainwashed, inculcated in what did Tony Robbins say about momentum? “People who succeed have momentum.” If you say to your 11-year-old kid, “People who succeed, blank.” Brave knows what xanthan gum is and all this other stuff, you want him to know that he needs to have momentum in whatever he’s doing in life. You want his operating system, you want him to be pre-programmed with all the wisdom of all the most successful people so that he can accelerate, he is going to be totally hyper-accelerating on every front.
Again, it’s not the Dan blueprint, it’s not even what I did with my own kids because quite honestly, I didn’t know this stuff when I was flying by the seat of my pants with my own kids. I’ve learned this over the years, and through copious research, and extensive work with a lot of families. All sorts of economic and financial, I mean, I’ve had billionaires that I work with, and I’ve had single moms. Guess what, the single moms do a better job, you might suspect. It’s not money that people need. It’s grit. It’s really constraints. It’s focus. I’ve worked with a lot of people.
My Einstein Blueprint, it’s powerful stuff. I read it. Even though I’ve been doing this for years and years and years, I read my own blueprint. I go back constantly to my own blueprint, to my own like—I wouldn’t say ten commandments because there’s about 116 of them—but that’s what I use on an everyday basis. Someone asked me, “Why is there so much personal development for the parents in the Einstein Blueprint?” Well, parents are teaching their kids. More is caught than taught. Whether you’re homeschooling or not, you’re setting an example. You’re letting the technology in the house. You have the expectations. Honestly, we know a lot of parents who spend more time helping their kids with homework than some homeschooling parents spend with their kids overall.
Look, your moms and dads are responsible for their kids’ outcome no matter how bad the teacher is, how bad the school district is, or Common Core, or whatever. Principally and ultimately, we’ve been given these children, and we have a responsibility to give them more opportunities than we were given. I think it’s a very exciting thing. A lot of people meet me and they get depressed. I overwhelm them. Well, yeah. This is a big deal. At the intersection of the big three categories—the big three marketing categories: money, relationships, and health. They tell you, “Oh, pick a category, and then pick a niche within a niche. Don’t try to do it all.” Guess what, if it was a Venn diagram, at the intersection of money, relationships, and health, at the very intersection would be education. This is where the Einstein Blueprint resides. We cover everything.
Everything that we have and don’t have, everything we can do, can’t do, haven’t done it, we can all trace it back to something that we learned, or didn’t learn, or were misinformed about. Education is everything. Lost in all these complaints about common core, and in vaccines, in college, the price of college, and what everyone else is doing, lost in all that is the sheer power, the atomic, like nuclear, power of what education can do for kids. What’ll happen if they don’t learn? If they become lobotomized in any way, shape, or form.
[02:10:43] Ashley James: You had mentioned in our past interview—definitely recommend listeners check out if they’re interested in homeschooling or improving their homeschooling—episode 258. You said that you experience this and then everyone that you coach experiences this. Every year you do homeschooling it gets easier. You’re less and less hands-on. A four-year-old obviously needs your undivided attention, although you can leave them alone with a project. A two-year-old definitely needs your undivided attention when they’re learning math, and writing, and stuff like that.
A six-year-old who’s reading on their own, you can hand them something to do, teach them something new, hand them something to do, they can go, like you said, write a blog, they can make a slideshow, they can read a book, they can write a book, they can build a science project, whatever. They’re more independent. You obviously are monitoring them especially, like you said, if they’re on a computer and they have access to the internet, they should absolutely be monitored. You just find though that as they get older and every year that you do homeschooling—and you should do homeschooling even during the summer, even on weekends. It should be a 365-day thing that you don’t take breaks from, but you also don’t have to do it six or nine hours a day.
If you do it two hours a day every day until they move out of the house, until they’re at the point where they’re old enough to move out, they’ve actually gotten an accelerated education because you don’t have to spend those two and a half months, like you mentioned, before catching up from the summer. They accelerate much faster because it’s an immersion. Every year that you do homeschooling, it’s less and less hands-on as the parent because they can pick stuff up and go do it by themselves like go read that book over there, good do that project.
I think the fear for some parents is, “Well, I don’t have the time to do that because I work from home now. I can’t spend six hours a day with the children. I can’t spend six hours a day with each child.” Before someone even gets into homeschooling, they put up a brick wall. “I can’t do it because. I can’t do it because I don’t have money. I can’t because I don’t have enough time. I can’t do it because I don’t think it’s going to work for me.” They come up with these limitations, but now, we’re at the point where they have to do it, they literally have to do it. That’s why they’re calling it crisis schooling. People have to do the homeschooling either from mandatory vaccine laws, or from the COVID-19, or for other reasons.
They’re at this point where this restriction has been placed upon them will actually increase their creativity. They’re going to start problem-solving. The light at the end of the tunnel is that the first year is probably the hardest, and which is what you expressed in our last interview. The first year or two is the hardest, and if you buckle down and get disciplined, especially learning from the Einstein Blueprint, which I love your program. I love the personal growth in the program and the discipline.
If we as parents buckle down with the principles you have in your program, if we buckle down now—it’s the marshmallow test. It’s the emotional intelligence for the future because if we can really invest now for the first one or two years of homeschooling, then it actually gets easier, and easier, and easier because we’re handing off the education to the child. Because a child is able to take on more, and more, and more, and more by themselves.
Like you said, right now as we’re having this interview, your children are in their rooms doing their own entrepreneurial homeschooling programs. You don’t have to stand over your child for six hours a day per child to do your homeschooling. How much time would you say you actually are with your children instructing them on homeschooling in any given day?
[02:15:15] Daniel Louzonis: Right now, it’s 4:49 PM and I haven’t done anything with the kids. John taught a chess class this morning. He produced and edited a podcast for one of his clients. My daughter is actually not in the other room. She’s at my wife’s office, on the 42nd floor, across from my wife. While my wife is working, she is doing her work—her math, and she’s running her book club. I texted her and I said, “Don’t come home. I’ve got an interview here.” I haven’t spent a minute with them. Now, we have expectations. We say, “You’ve got to have four hours of math done this week for Christine, and John has books to read.” He has deadlines with his clients. He has clients that he actually has to answer to as well.
We have structure, but the structure is like say you had a business and you have the business, and systems, and a virtual assistant, and all sorts of processes in place. The goal is not for mom to go from teaching her 3-year-old phonics to teaching her 18-year-old whatever. The goal is to teach him to fish. Like I said, you want them reading because when you can throw books at them—big, ugly, nasty, books written in Old English, or written in science, or about things they don’t even want to read, if they can read, you can just throw a book to them.
Just to give you an example, we don’t teach history or science, we just throw books at the kids—book, after book, after book, after book. It’s a far superior education—science and history education—than anything you’d get with a common core textbook, and questions at the end, and quizzes, and the stress of quizzes and tests. You want to get it running on autopilot, and this is why these single moms and stuff—these people, they have constraints on them—they do a good job because they crack a whip and they say, “Look, you got to do it. I got to work, you got to work.” There’s nobody lounging around.
The goal is to unlock their full potential, but also, the sign that it gets—I wouldn’t say it’s easier every year because I think life, in general, gets more complicated every year. As we age, we thought it looks so simple back when we were 25 and doing one-and-a-half things. Homeschooling is not—going back to the limiting beliefs—people think it’s a lot of work upfront. It can be, and even if it was, it’s way worth it, right?
My kids are not going to college so that’s going to save me whatever college is. It’s almost $600,000. Between the two of them, we would have to earn $1 million in income to pay for them to go to college to learn stuff that’s irrelevant. We have the confidence to not send him. We have the option to not send them. I could have been earning more money when my son was four or five if I did something else, but I was investing just the same way you’re investing in Brave when you have long conversations with them even if you’re tired.
Homeschooling parents are investing in their kids early. You don’t want to buy Microsoft in the year 2020, you want to invest in Microsoft in 1992. You need to invest early. Starting early is one of the core components of the Einstein Blueprint. It’s a concept that doesn’t go away. I’m going to introduce logarithms to kids who are eight, nine years old. Why? Because when they learn when they’re 15 on Monday what a logarithm is and have a test on Friday on logarithms, it’s extremely stressful. They could have been introduced to that concept way back when.
Kids can learn about marketing, and the stock market, they can learn about social intelligence, and shaking hands, and making eye contact, and writing thank-you notes. They can learn all these like powerful tactics early. We’re just pulling everything forward. Like I said, instead of waiting until someone’s 45 years old and burnt out in the corporate world, I’m going to go find Tony Robbins. Go look at Tony Robbins. You’ll see all sorts of bald people in the audience, which is awesome that they’re still learning, but you should also see kids there because there’s no age minimum.
We’re just accelerating the learning curve. Get them to travel sooner, get them to learn about xanthan gum sooner, and all other things, and is there sugar in that, huge, huge things. I didn’t know how to read a food label until I was in my 20s. I didn’t even think they had food labels until my future wife pointed out to me. I still didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know what it was.
[2:20:05] Ashley James: My husband keeps asking me to make a course on how to read food labels, and I keep saying, “Everyone knows how to read this.” He’s like, “No, they really don’t.” You’re just affirming that I really should just sit down, and make a course, and teach people how to read labels because I guess I just assumed that everyone is a food detective like I am. It’s really important.
If you’re going to eat processed food, you need to know what’s in the processed food. Don’t put your head in the sand, man. That’s like every molecule that goes into your mouth is building healthy cells or cancer cells. As far as I’m concerned, reading a food label is detecting whether there’s cyanide in the food like. Seriously, it’s that important to me.
My husband jokes because I’ll go into the grocery store for one item, and I come out half an hour later. He’s like, “What took you so long?” If he’s in the car like our son would be taking a nap, and he’d have to stay in the car because we don’t trust to leave our son alone napping in the car while we go inside. He would just be like, “Oh, you read the labels.” It’s true. If I go to the grocery store, and I’m buying anything that’s just one ingredient like there’s broccoli, I’m going to read the labels. To me, it just makes so much sense, but to other people, it doesn’t even occur to them.
You have that same mindset around homeschooling. It’s just like it’s second nature. It’s like you just wake up and start breathing oxygen. It’s just like you said, the fish doesn’t even question water, but for other people, it’s very foreign. It’s very, very foreign this idea of homeschooling. I love your program because you get into the mindset because the first thing we got to do is handle the mindset. You keep hedging Tony Robbins.
I was surprised to find out some people don’t know who Tony Robbins is. He is a personal growth guru, a great guy. I do recommend following him. He has a podcast too and lots of YouTube videos and stuff out there. Some of his stuff though—he swears or brings up sexual references, so I wouldn’t say it’s PG. You’d have to watch it first before your children can watch it. He does that for shock effect to break up someone’s pattern.
If they’re stuck neurologically in a victim state, he’ll say something shocking to do a break state, which neurologically interrupts the synapses so that we can start to reprogram the person. They stop going to that old problem and start actually coming out of it neurologically into a new solution. It’s called the behavioral pattern interrupt, and it’s part of a neurolinguistic programming method. Unfortunately, a lot of times, he uses foul language, or sexual references or things that can really—it’s a shock-and-awe effect. Of course, there are lots of videos where he’s PG, but you have to monitor first before children can watch it.
This has been wonderful having you on the show. You mentioned that we could have a 24-hour marathon. I’m pretty sure we could easily go six hours without blinking. Einsteinblueprint.com/lth. You’re creating a special page for the listeners. I want you guys to go there and check it out. You have these wonderful resources. You’re very passionate. You’re, obviously, well-educated and well-versed in this subject.
For parents who want to improve their homeschooling and for parents who are now stuck homeschooling because of the world events—the current world events—you really are going to help cut through so much of the BS. I’m watching some of my friends sit back and wait for the public school system to come up with an online way to distance educate the children. It’s very tedious and slow.
They’re trying to do Zoom calls with the children. They’re trying to implement something. It’s up to each state to come up with a system. For the children who are like in Washington State had to leave school, the children are not going to get the last half of this school year. If we just sit back and wait for the public school system to come up with a way to handle it, it is like the Homer Simpson effect. It’s like the lowest common denominator. We’re just sitting and waiting to dumb ourselves down to the lowest common denominator.
We can’t leave our children and leave our children’s futures up to this broken system. That’s why I love the work you do because you’re going to make it so easy for us. We don’t have to get overwhelmed with the millions of homeschooling programs and curriculums out there. Like you said, we can get really distracted by all those online programs, or just throwing our children in front of a tablet. “Here, learn whatever Khan Academy on this.” We need to get really clear on our goals, on our philosophy, and create a schedule that we do every day with our children in a way that is motivating and encouraging, in a way that enriches them and strengthens our relationship with them. We encourage them as they grow, it will motivate the whole family.
The work that you do at einsteinblueprint.com allows us to cut through a lot of the chaos and dial in the right program for the individual family. You have this program that we can do as parents, and then you also do coaching with children, and you have, like you said, about five hours of educational videos as well. You’re going to compile all of that with a special for the Learn True Health listeners when they go to Einsteinblueprint.com/lth.
Daniel, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show. I know we touched on a lot of stuff, and I want listeners to follow you. Your kids do stuff too, which I love. I love following your kids. Your son produces podcasts for clients. Your daughter has a book club for children. How can listeners plug into what your children are doing as well?
[2:27:28] Daniel Louzonis: If they listen to my podcast the Einstein Blueprint podcast, I’m always talking about and sharing the links for those. John has a podcast right now. It’s the second podcast. It’s called the kids get rich podcast. It’s very good. We’re always letting people know what we can do to help them. We’ll put a link to it on your LTH page.
One thing I didn’t mention is I do have a dedicated math program, which is nearly 100 hours of me teaching math to my students—one-on-one instruction. It has all the drills I use, and it basically is an extremely low price. We’ll have a link to that. We call that 100x math program. We’ll have that because math is a pain point, and everybody needs it. I haven’t met anybody who doesn’t need my math program. We’ll have a link to that. It’s currently closed, but we’ll put a link for your listeners to get in on that. It’d be at a negligible cost too.
[02:28:27] Ashley James: They can’t buy it if they go to your website, but if they go to Einsteinblueprint.com/lth, they’ll be able to get it?
[02:28:34] Daniel Louzonis: Yes. I closed it. I launched it. I always launch things at a very low price, and then I build them up, and work intimately with the group that’s there, and then I add more value, and I raise the prices. But yeah, they can get in on that at the price that I launched today, which is very negligible. It’s like $80 a year or something like that. We’ll have a link to that.
The last thing that I want to say is—the reason this is such a big deal—parenting—when we were in high school or whatever, it was popularity, it was sports, it was all these things going on, boyfriends and girlfriends. But right now, at this stage of our life, our past—our entire past—our whole present, and also our incoming future, it’s all wrapped up in our kids. This is why it’s such a big deal. There’s an expression, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” I believe it was David O. McKay. He’s a Mormon who said it. I’ll say it again, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
We could do all these wonderful things, and have a great marriage, and whatever, but if our kids are going to struggle in this world, it’s going to haunt us to our last days. At the same time, being a parent and having kids, it sheds a light on so much of what went wrong, or let’s call it our imperfect past. All these things come to the fore. I hope that none of your listeners are getting stressed out by anything that we’re talking about here.
We’re talking about it with such passion and with such certainty because it’s so, so critical. It’s not, like Ashley said, to condemn or to shame anyone. If you saw me when I was in my—I call it—deformative years, I was very far off course. This is the wonderful thing about human potential and about life is that we can break bad habits, that we can tap into our inner genius. I never thought I was creative for a minute my whole life. Now I have more ideas, more creative self-confidence than I even know what to do with. I grew up in a box.
This is an exciting thing. Having kids and being in control, being able to listen to a podcast is something that our parents couldn’t do. Having the internet, being able to buy things on Amazon Prime, being able to work from home. We are so blessed in this day and age to do so many things. It’s only right that we channel all these assets into our kids today, this very minute.
[02:31:15] Ashley James: I love it. Thank you so much, Daniel. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. I know you’re also active in our Facebook group, Learn True Health Facebook group. If any listeners have any questions for Daniel about his programs, they could ask it in the Facebook group. I’m sure we could have a discussion about it there. Of course, we can go to einsteinblueprint.com/lth.
It’s been a pleasure having you on the show again. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, especially I love following your children. I love watching their success because it gives us hope that our younger children are going to be as awesome as your kids are because you gave them such a wonderful opportunity of homeschooling. Now, they’re able to grow in such a beautiful way, that they’re not constrained. I love what you do. I love what your children are doing. I’m really excited to see how it grows over the years. Please, please come back on the show every few years and continue to teach and share with us.
[02:32:21] Daniel Louzonis: I look forward to that. Thank you for having me.
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Recommended Reading by Daniel Louzonis
The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto