In this excerpt, David Wolfe shares the experiences that led him to be a health educator and tips on improving your metabolism. The Fountain of Youth World Summit with David Wolfe, nutrition authority and author of Sunfood Success System.
Kevin: I'm excited about this talk today and let's get right into it. Why don't you tell us a little bit about, ah, how you started in this and your own personal story
David: Well, I think I got oriented towards natural foods when I first came to California when I was seven years old. That was the first time I had ever eaten an orange or a tangerine off of a tree and that memory has continued to stay with me and it's probably what got me started. I ended up growing up as kind of a San Diego, Southern California, Los Angeles surfer and pretty much was oriented, I think, genetically towards natural healing and health because both my parents are medical doctors and they met in medical school. In fact, I was conceived in a medical school library!
David: So in some strange way this is something that was probably preordained. I got deeply involved in natural diets when I went to college because I started buying my own food. I realized I was allergic to quite a few different foods. I had no idea that food allergies even existed before that, particularly dairy products. So I stopped eating dairy products and upon doing so I thought I'd better study this subject and began to research nutrition and read books on nutrition and inevitably that led me to what was really easy and simple, which was just eating an orange, eating an apple, eating natural foods. It's the fastest food. Being a very busy person studying a lot in school at that time, going for three different degrees at once that just made the most sense to me, natural, original food, raw food. And eventually after a number of years I became a raw food eater, meaning that I would eat salads and I would eat fruit. I would eat nuts, and seeds, and eat seaweed and all kinds of things like this because it was - it took no preparation.
David: And that's - that's led me into transforming what was a hobby of nutrition into a career because people would always ask me, well what are you eating? We want to know what you're having. Can we have what you're having? And eventually it led to a book, and several books, and lecture tours and a whole of fun in between.
Kevin: Sure. And a lot of people come to you for nutrition advice. What do you think is their mindset when they're introduced to your philosophy on eating
David: I think the general mindset out there is open. People really want to believe, with all the choices we have, and all the knowledge that's available, people just want to know the simplest way to do the right thing. And that's my job to connect people with simple foods that are great for weight loss that are fun to eat, that taste good, that are natural, that have the minimum amount of processing so that they can arrive at the end of their day and go, you know what? I did something good for myself, for my family, for the planet.
Kevin: What are three or four things that you can identify that you basically can tell just about everyone about weight loss, a key to weight loss or success in nutrition
David: Well, I think the key to weight loss is you want to get more bang for your buck. You want more nutrition, less calories, more fiber. Well, what does that equate to? It just means eating more plants. It means eating more salad. It means eating more vegetables. It means eating more fruit. It means eating seaweed, and nuts, and seeds and things of this nature; and less of everything else. So my approach to eating really is really enticing because you get to eat things that taste good. It's not dogmatic. It's not a something where okay, you can't eat this anymore. You have to eat this. It's just simply eat replacing, because there's only so much we can eat in a day, some of the other choices, for snacks, for example, with healthier choices, replacing, say, a big dinner meal with half of it being a salad. So, again, we're getting more nutrition. We're getting less calories and we're getting more fiber and that provides us a satiated feeling but it begins to increase our metabolism so we start dropping that weight. I even go into specifics about foods that speed up metabolism, which is a very important thing for us right now. For example, kelp, powered kelp, it tastes like salt. You can sprinkle it on an avocado. You can sprinkle it on a salad. You can sprinkle it on a steak even. You can put it on anything.
Kevin: It comes from seaweed by the way just so...
David: Yeah, kelp is a seaweed and it's probably the most important seaweed for us today with all the chemicals and toxins in our environment because it helps protect our immune system. In fact, in the 1930s it was found out that iodine, which is prominent in kelp seaweed, was the most powerful mineral for your immune system and wow, what an incredibly powerful piece of information. It also helps the thyroid and it helps speed up metabolism. So it helps us to lose weight quickly.
Another thing that's really powerful in that is coconut and coconut products. So any kind of coconut products generally helps to speed metabolism, provides us with the right kinds of fat and oils and especially if those foods are raw. If that coconut is raw we get the right type of fat. Saturated fat is a critical part of being healthy. Even though we've heard so much propaganda to the contrary, most of the saturated fat we've heard about has come from, for example, animal products or something that's a steak or something that has unsaturated fat that has been cooked. Now, once that saturated fat's been cooked it then does become problematic but in it's raw natural state, as the Polynesians discovered over thousands of years, there is no connection between heart disease and coconut because the saturated fat in coconut is almost always consumed in its raw natural state.
Kevin: Okay. Then why do we hear that coconut oil is bad for you
David: Well, it fits into the issues of our day in terms of marketing of foods. And that is there's very major interest out there. There's the soy interest. There's the corn interest, which feed the cattle industry, which feeds the dairy industry. And the soybean industry has a cheap raw product they can create, which is hydrogenated oil. They can take a soy oil that's rancid and bubble hydrogen gas through it and turn it into something that looks like coconut oil and is extremely difficult for the body to deal with. It's a Trans fatty acid. It's a rancid fat. And they use propaganda against coconut and tropical oil products in order to drive them out of the U.S. market to be replaced by cheaper alternatives "soy products," hydrogenated oil products or hydrogenated corn oil products. And this is really something that in the last about ten years has finally reversed. People have finally realized oh, actually coconut is good for me and the Polynesians never had heart disease. In fact, it's the hydrogenated oil that has been most connected to the whole syndrome of heart disease.
Kevin: Sure. And the coconut oil speeds up metabolism
David: That's exactly right. It's an incredible weight loss food. In general, if we are able to eat on top of those two things, kelp and coconut oil, in general if we're able to eat more vegetables we're going to get more nutrition. We're going to get less calories. We're going to get more fiber. We can snack on that stuff all day, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, things like that; right at our desk or whatever we're doing and not have to worry about gaining weight. In fact, we'll probably lose weight if we snack all day because we keep our digestive system active. We increase our metabolism and we can get things moving quicker due to all that fiber.
Kevin: What about some of the diets out there like the South Beach Diet? A lot of people come to me and they say protein, protein, protein, protein. Tell me a little bit about protein and what you have experienced with it.
David: Well, the best sources of protein are from plants because they're A.) The cleanest sources. One of the problems we have today is the animal food industry cannot be trusted. If we want to do a little research on this we can even go back to Upton Sinclair's incredible book written in 1930s about the meat industry back in the 1930s, how toxic it was; all the way up to John Robbins "Diet for A New America" and even the exposes that we find in "Fast Food Nation" and more recent writings. What we discover is that the fast food industry is an industry. It has lost the love. It has lost the compassion. It has lost the care for detail. These are things that I am intimately concerned with when it comes to food because, you know, we're sensitive to subtle things in food. Everyone knows that mom's home cooking tastes better. That's just a fact. So if we have food that's treated with love we know it tastes better. But if we have food that's treated with unconsciousness, greed, the bottom line then that food cannot be nutritious. I don't care how much protein it has. Too much protein is a major toxic issue to the kidneys. It's very problematic for heart conditions and generally becomes over time sluggish. So we have to be very careful that we get our protein from plant sources so we get real protein. For example, hemp protein; it's a complete protein source. It contains the sulphur (sulfur) bearing amino acids, which create not just muscle but flexible muscle, which creates the neuro transmitters for proper brain chemistry. We can get our protein, for example, from spirulina, which is a superfood that has been eaten, in say, Mexico for thousands of years and maybe unknown to our listeners but it's something we want to explore if we really want to get the right kind of protein.
Kevin: Tell me a little bit more about spirulina.
David: Spirulina is a microscopic alga that grew in the biggest city of the world for thousands of years and even still today is Mexico City. Now, how in the world did they feed all those people in Mexico City? I mean when Cortez arrived in 1520 in Mexico City him and his men could not believe what they had seen. This was a city bigger than all the cities in Europe. It was a city that fed itself primarily on the protein source called pirulina, which is an algae. It's a spiral algae. They grew it in the volcanic lakes and the highland planes in the Mexico City region and they would just dry it on rocks and sell it in the market and it turned out to be, when western analytical science got a hold of it, the highest protein content food in the world.
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's The Fountain of Youth World Summit program.