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episode #139

Interview with Dr. Richard Johnson: Our Survival Switch, Fructose Role in Weight Gain, Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?

April 4, 2022 in Podcast


This week I interviewed Dr. Richard Johnson! Dr. Johnson is a practicing physician, clinical scientist, and a world expert on sugar, and its role in health. He has authored three books on sugar and its health effects. His most recent book, Nature Wants Us to Be Fat, details his group's discovery of a "switch" that controls obesity and how it can be turned on and off. In this episode, we discuss: - The reason for our biological survival switch - Fructose role in weight gain - What foods trigger fat storage - Is black coffee healthy? and should you be consuming artificial sweeteners? Enjoy the show!

0 (1s): Coming up on the, get lean, eat clean podcast, 1 (4s): This switch kind of a loose off how healthy your mitochondria are. If your mitochondria aren't so healthy, then the switch can, can be cause a lot more damage. So you can show this switch. For example, in people it's much easier. If you give it a slug of fruit dose to a person who's already overweight and insulin resistant, and you'll see a huge effect. Whereas if you give it to a 20 year old who's super athlete, you are going to, so like the sugar industry likes this. 0 (34s): They know who to target, 1 (37s): To do their studies in 18 to 20 year old college kids who are like really healthy. And that, that way they can argue that sugar doesn't do anything. 0 (48s): Hello and welcome to the get lean, eat clean podcast. I'm Brian grin. And I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was five, 10, even 15 years ago each week. I'll give you an in-depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long-term sustainable results. This week I interview Dr. Richard Johnson, Dr. Johnson is a practicing physician, clinical scientist, and a world expert on sugar and its role in health. He has authored three books on sugar and its health effects. His most recent book nature wants us to be fat details. His group's discovery of a switch that controls obesity and how it can be turned on and off. 0 (1m 30s): We discussed the reason for our biological survival switch fructose is role in weight gain. What foods trigger fat storage is black coffee healthy. And should you drink artificial sweeteners? I really enjoyed my interview with Dr. Richard Johnson. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All right. Welcome to the get lean eat clean podcast. My name is Brian grin and I have a Dr. Richard Johnson. Welcome to the show. 1 (2m 1s): Hey, thank you, Brian is a great to be on your show. 0 (2m 5s): Great to have you. 1 (2m 6s): Yeah, 0 (2m 7s): I feel like I know you, I've seen you on a bunch of different some of my friend's podcasts and got your book right here in nature wants us to be fat for people watching on YouTube. And we're going to do, we're going to dive into that. I know you're out in Colorado and your professor, maybe give the audience a little bit of a background of what you've been up to and obviously other than writing a book and just so they get a little background. 1 (2m 33s): So I'm a physician first and I have a pretty active practice. I work at the university, I'm a professor, but I've also been doing a lot of research. I mean, I am a research, a holic, I mean that I really have been studying and getting grants from the national Institute of health. And I've been working on the etiology or the cause of obesity and diabetes. I've been working on it for over 25 years and we've done a lot of the, the key work on how sugar works. And our group was one of the first ones to show that sugar works independently of calories, way back in 2005. 1 (3m 20s): We also, you know, have, you know, so I'm kind of an expert on sugar and especially the component proof dose. I've written a couple books before. This was this though is my great book that summarizes all the breakthroughs that we've been involved in and others, and trying to figure out the cause of obesity. And the exciting part of it was the discovery that there's an actual biological switch that can be activated by animals as well as by us. And it doesn't just make us gain fat. It also makes us insulin resistant hypertensive and all these things. 1 (3m 60s): So it was, it was originally meant to be a survival pathway that animals used when to protect them when there's no food around, we have activated this switch. And so that's why I say it's nature wants us to be fat because there's an actual biologic process in nature to help us gain fat when we need to be fat. Unfortunately we do not need to be fat today, you know? And so we've activated this switch unwittingly, but what's great is now that we know that there is a switch and that how it works, it actually can be a big insight into how to keep, keep yourself healthy. 1 (4m 41s): And if you're overweight, how to lose the weight. And one of the great things, Brian, is that the discovery of this switch suddenly explains also why all these different diets work, why intermittent fasting work, why low carb diets work, why low fat diets tend not to work? And we, you know, so it's, it's given a lot of insights into, you know, what's going on. And at the same time, it's provided new new breakthroughs in terms of things that we didn't know about that could cause obesity. So that's, that's it. 0 (5m 19s): Yeah, no, I love it. I love all your research you've done in the book is great. You know, one of the things that you mentioned is this survival switch. Why don't we touch on some of the main components that activate the survival switch and cause us to, you know, put on body fat as a mechanism of survival? 1 (5m 39s): Well, the first thing is to realize that there is a biological switch. So when people say to you, oh, you know, you're gaining weight because you know, you're just eating too much. You're, you're taking a second portion of food. You know, you're, you're not exercising enough. That's sort of true. You are eating more generally and you, you know, people are eating more and they're exercising less. So that part is true, but that's not what's causing the obesity what's causing the obesity is that we've activated hormones and a whole biology, a whole biology to actually gain weight. 1 (6m 20s): And, and what this switch is. So just to define what the switch is, it's, it's a biologic turning on where you want to gain you. You normally animals will regulate their weight. If they eat too much, one day, they'll eat less. The next, if they run too hard, one day they'll arrest. The next that kind of keep in balance. They, they maintain the weight in a very, very, very regulated way. If you take, if you go into the wild and you capture a score, 0 (6m 55s): Oh, don't tell me about that. My dog, 1 (6m 58s): The one that's fine when that's bothering you and you catch it and you say, okay, I'm going to make you fat. And you just force them to eat by, you know, putting a tube in its throat or whatever you, terrible thing you do. Anyway. If they gain weight, then you stop that and go right back to the normal way. If you, if you take away their food, put them in a cage, if you're really mean, and you'd take away their foot, I don't recommend doing that. But if you do and they lose the weight, you let them out. They're going to go right back to the weight and their normal weight. Not only will they go back to their normal weight, they'll go back to their normal weight for that time of year. So if you take them in July where they have really normal weight and you, and then you let them recover in September, they're going to go to the weight they want to be at in the fall. 1 (7m 48s): And a lot of animals will, will gain weight in the fall because they know winter's coming. 0 (7m 53s): Right. And humans are the same way, right? Like we, 1 (7m 58s): Oh gosh, 0 (7m 59s): Yes. Body set weight. Right? 1 (8m 1s): Absolutely. There's studies in humans showing that during the winter, we tend to pack up and eat more. Yes. And, and there, there are people studying this and it also kind of depends where you live. Like it's slightly different if you live in the Arctic versus if you live in the tropics, but in general, there's, there's this shit change weight related somewhat to the availability of foods and, and things like that. But anyway, so, so we regulate weight and actually there's studies that show that humans used to regulate weight very well before the days of Western diet. Right? 1 (8m 41s): And, and then what happens is when you activate the switch, you stay hungry. So if you eat food, you won't completely satisfy. So you'll keep eating more. And at the same time, you drop your energy metabolism. So you spend less energy, but you spend the last energy you spend is at rest. So if you're out foraging for food, you still can keep your energy to find the food. But as soon as you sit down and eat it, you'll actually drop your energy metabolism or you'll, you'll drop your, your metabolic rate. 1 (9m 23s): And that way you spend less energy. So that you'll tend to accumulate weight as well. So it's all to accumulate weight. And then the, it stimulates fat production of blacks, the burning of fat, it raises your blood pressure. This switch makes you stimulate forging in the brain. So you're, you're looking for food. You're thirsty. You know, it causes this thing called insulin resistance. That's actually part of the foraging response and what happened and this switch, and what happens is when you become insulin resistant, you can't your skeletal muscle. Your muscle doesn't take up as much glucose because it's becomes resistant to insulin. 1 (10m 4s): So the glucose builds up in the blood and you know, if it gets too high, it's terrible, it's called diabetes. But what happens is it goes up just a little bit. And then the brain doesn't really, a lot of the brain doesn't need insulin. So it takes up the glucose. So it helps provide the fuel for the brain so that you you're, you're preferentially saving the glucose for your brain is as opposed to your muscle. And that of course is, is good. If you don't have much food around, you'd like to make sure that your brain's working so that you can find food and do all the things you need to do. So the switch is, it's like a biologic process and all these things are going on at the same time, it starts storing fat in your liver and all these things. 1 (10m 50s): And that's all part of this biologic switch. And what, the reason for this, which is so that animals can accumulate fat so that they can survive a period of time when there's no food. And, and so animals will trigger this, like in the fall, before they hibernate or before they are birds will do this before they migrate both in the spring and fall migration, they will, they will do this beforehand to gain the fat so that they don't have to stop. When they're flying over the ocean. If you fly it over in ocean Travel, if you run out 0 (11m 32s): Of food, I know in your book, you mentioned the hummingbird, 1 (11m 35s): The hummingbird, the hummingbird will migrate to, you know, we don't think of how many birds is migraine, but some of them do. And even butterflies, the Monarch butterfly will actually store fat and try to get across the Gulf to its nasty homes in, in, and even, I mean, other things like locusts that fly across the Strait of Gibraltar do it. And basically it's a process. All animals use basically. It's 0 (12m 5s): Really, 1 (12m 7s): I mean, it's, it's central. And so it's, it's like part of evolution. It's like a natural instinct. You know, there's an instinct that if you, the animal senses that there's not going to be food. And so it will, it will activate this switch. And the question is, you know, so when we, the first thing we discovered was that there was a switch and what are they incredible things is there is this thing called metabolic syndrome. And people had already realized that if you're fat, you tend to have high triglycerides in your blood. You tend to have abdominal obesity, cause that's a great place to store fat and, and your blood pressure tends to be high. 1 (12m 53s): You tend to be insulin resistant and it we've got called the metabolic syndrome. And everyone says, well, there is this thing called metabolic syndrome, but it's not really important because what really, we should be looking at each individual characteristic. And if your triglycerides are high, you need this medicine. If your blood pressure's high, you need this. But no one was really thinking of it. Yeah. You know, this cluster of signs, that's exactly what an animal does too, in the wild that's what a bear does before it gets it hibernates. It becomes insulin resistant and hypertensive and all these kinds of things. Right. So what what's what's interesting is that this is a switch, it's a part of a whole mechanism. 1 (13m 34s): And that, that was what kind of started the whole thing. And then we started saying, you know, okay, what triggers the switch? How does it work? 0 (13m 43s): Well, based on, yeah, based on this survival switch that, like you mentioned, animals have humans have it as well. I know in your book, you talk about some of the main things that drive that one of them obviously being sugar and fructose and Purina and then alcohol, right. Are those, those the main culprits that you find that, that make this switch go on? 1 (14m 8s): Yeah. So it turns out that there are various foods that we eat that trigger it. And the first and foremost is sugar. Okay. If you want to know what triggers the switch, eat some sugar. I guarantee you're going to activate it. And you know, it's interesting when you're very young and, and if you're, if your energy factor, so it works through the energy factories and we all have, you know, what makes us tick is that we make energy and we make the energy in these things called mitochondria. The, these are little factories that are in each cell and they use oxygen and then churn out energy, which is called ATP. 1 (14m 57s): And that's what, how we do everything we do. So everything, our conversation day is being driven by energy that we're spending, even when you're thinking you're spending energy. And when we eat food, we're eating it together, energy and that energy, you can think of it as two forms. So there's a kind of an immediate energy, which is this ATP. And then there's stored energy. Stored energy is fat. So if you don't have enough ATP around, you can burn the fat to make ATP so that the fat becomes a way to store energy. Normally we get our energy from food, but if there's no food, you need that fat. 1 (15m 39s): Okay. So, so it turns out that sugar, you know, is a calorie, but it act it's more than a calorie. It activates the switch and most calories, many calories do not activate the switch. If you eat broccoli, you're not going to activate the switch. You know, if you eat a lot of, a lot of foods do not activate the switch, 0 (16m 7s): Give you a piece of fish. 1 (16m 8s): Yeah. Fish, A little fish activates this, which some kinds of fish too. One of the problems is it turns out to be good foods and bad foods. It isn't just carbs are all bad and proteins, all good, right? They're good proteins and bad proteins. There's good fats and bad fats. And then even the way, if you have a bad food, if you eat it the right way, it may not activate the switch. So it's really kind of a cool as we figured this out, but what so you, if possible to eat the cake without activating the switch, and I can tell you how to do that if you want, I don't recommend you doing this regularly, but, but anyway, yeah. 1 (16m 50s): So what happens is when you eat sugar, sugar is table sugar is actually two types of carbohydrate. There's glucose and fruit dose, and they they're bound together. And you should think of glucose has the main fuel for instant energy. And it is the main fuel for instant energy. It's the main carb fuel for sure. And then fruit dose is the main fuel for storing energy. That is, I mean, the animals use fruit dos to store energy that is to make fat and glucose is used to produce energy immediately. 1 (17m 30s): That's the way it works. Now, the two guys are together in sugar and fruit does as the sweeter of the two. And so it gets made really makes that sugar sweet, which we love, right? We actually crave a lot of people, crave sweets, not everyone, but a lot of people do. And that fruit dose is the key player that causes the activation, the switch. So when an animal wants to get fat, it'll eat a ton of fruit, not, not a little bit of fruit, a ton of fruit, right? And, and, and fruit turns out to be healthy for us because we're not eating a ton of fruit. I mean, Brian, if you, if you ate 10 apples in an hour, you're going to activate the switch. 1 (18m 16s): It's going to cause fat regard, you know, but one apple is all the, you know, six, seven grams of fructose. The first five grams gets inactivated in the gut. This is work done by a great scientist friend of mine, Josh Rabinowitz. And he found that there was a, that the intestine really helps remove small amounts of fructose. So if you're worried, you're worried about, I, you know, this broccoli has one gram of fruit. Just forget it. The gut is going to deactivate it. Same thing with like a, a fruit that has like four grams or five grams of fructose. 1 (18m 56s): It's not going to activate anything because it's going to get inactivated in the gut. 0 (19m 1s): Now apple 1 (19m 2s): Has eight to 10 grams of fruit dose. And you know, and so you can get up there. If you eat things fixer like 20, 30 grams of fructose now your activity. So it kind of makes a different what kind of fruit you eat. But in general, natural fruits don't have a lot of fructose compared to like a soft drink, soft drinks got like 30 grams. Okay, you're going to activate the switch with a soft drink. It's gonna cook ya. You're going to be, 0 (19m 31s): You know, all the 1 (19m 32s): Little cells going to say, I want to make that 0 (19m 35s): It's the drinking of the fruit juices and the high Yeah. 1 (19m 40s): Might as well drink sugar. Yeah. You know, 0 (19m 44s): Juice, 1 (19m 45s): Orange juice. Oh, I love orange juice. Isn't that good when you taste it? You know, I mean, maybe you've learned, 0 (19m 52s): I've learned. I used, 1 (19m 54s): I have to, I won't touch orange juice. I took, you know, I lived in Florida and you know, they would get you this fresh orange juice and it was so good. And I had to drink it really fast. So at breakfast, they would bring you a glass and it was gone in like one minute. And, and I was activating the switch and I thought I was healthy, but I wasn't. Cause you know, unfortunately we, we did studies with juice and we found that juice activates the switch. And it's interesting. We did a study with apple juice and we gave a, this was done in Turkey with a friend of mine name. 1 (20m 35s): It can be. And what he did was he gave a big, like a huge glass of apple juice. And he had people either sip it over like a couple hours or drink it in five minutes. And there was a huge difference. And the reason is when you drink it fast, the concentration, you you're getting a big slug of fruit dose right away. So it overcomes that intestine really easy. And you get this, the, the, the, the liver feels this kind of flooding of fruit dose. And especially if you drink it on an empty stomach, boom gets there. And then, then it's the concentration of fruit dose that activates the switch. 1 (21m 18s): So if you take a large amount in a short period of time, that's the best way to maximize the switch, right? So you take an apple juice is like, it's like a soft drink and the amount of fruit dose, and you drink it really fast. It's like a, you know, like guzzling a drink on a tennis court. You are activating the switch. Bingo. No, no question. But if you sip it over two hours, so it's just kind of dribbling in it's, you know, it's a, you, you just, you know, doing it very slowly, what happens is the concentration never really gets that high. 1 (21m 58s): So if you do activate the switch, it's just, just a tiny bit. So the switches I, a dimmer, you know, you can blast it, hit it with a hammer or, or light. So first dose is a and sugar. It's the number one way. Cause Frick dose is the way that the switch has primarily activated. 0 (22m 19s): When you talk about activating the switch, are you saying that like, you're almost going into, what's called like fat storage mode in the sense that like, if you guzzle a fruit juice and then after that you have a piece of broccoli, will, are you more prone to store that food as fat? 1 (22m 38s): Yeah, you are. So what happens is we all have glucose in our yes. So the fruit does itself activates the switch, but the Frick dose, when you activate the switch, another thing happens too. And you start finding ways to make fruit dose in your body as well. So, so the switch gets activated two major ways by eating sugar or fructose high fructose corn syrup or by your body making fruit dose. And actually when you activate this shirt, the switch with fruit dose, it also activates this process to make fruit dose. 1 (23m 28s): So when you're drinking, like if you drink a soft drink, there's crypto Senate and glucose in it. So the fruit dose has really the bad guy initially cause the glucose, if it's, if you just had small amounts of glucose, your body, it would, it would just be to make energy. But what happens is when you activate the switch, it actually wants to also make fruit dose. And the way there's only one way the body can make fruit dose. And that is from glucose. So the body can make fructose from glucose. So everybody has some glucose in their blood, but it particularly likes to make the fruit dose when your glucose levels go up a little bit. 1 (24m 16s): So if you eat high-glycemic foods like bread, rice, potatoes, chips 0 (24m 26s): That activates the switch. 1 (24m 29s): Yeah. That will also activate the switch and the glucose that go in the bagel, actually, some of it gets converted to fruit dose and how much it gets converted kind of depends on your overall health and so forth. So it turns out that if the glucose levels go up, it triggers the switch. So normally our blood glucose sits around 80 to a hundred and some people, you know, can get up to 110, 120 and after a meal. 0 (25m 5s): Okay. Yeah. We're back. We just lost you for a second. So we were talking about how high-glycemic carbs, activate the survival switch bread bagels. I'm sure you're upsetting a lot of people when you, when you say that, because is it because it's taking the glucose and turning it into fructose? Is that, is that part of the reason why? 1 (25m 24s): Yeah, so exactly. So normally if you eat foods that don't really spike your glucose levels, they will tend not to activate the switch, but if the glucose levels get high, the body kind of senses that as a alarm signal and starts to convert it to fruit dose, you know, so maybe it thinks that the body, you know, that there's something going on, like maybe you're coming insulin resistant. And so that's part of it. So when you become insulin resistant, the goal is to try to store fat. So whatever the mechanism, people who, when the blood glucose goes up, some of the glucose will get converted to fruit dose and interestingly, and then fructose activates the switch. 1 (26m 17s): Now, if your energy factories are really, really healthy and you're like, Brian, you're a pretty healthy guy. You exercise a lot. You. And so your, you know, your, your, your blood vessels are dilated and the endothelium, the lining is healthy and it takes more to activate your switch than it does a person who's overweight and forty-five years old and overweight and is trying to lose weight. Right? And because, you know, over time, the energy factories start to get injured. And one way they get injured is from recurrently activating the switch because when the, the way the switch works, it's pretty cool. 1 (27m 1s): The way the switch works is it, it works on the energy factories and these are the things making the ATP. And what it does is it causes oxidative stress to the energy factories. And that's kind of dampens them for a while. So they make a little bit less ATP. So the calories that are coming in get converted to fat as a alternative. So if they can't be used to make ATP, you're kind of shuttered over to stored fat or to start energy, which is fat. So it's kind of crimps the, the, the hose. So there's less ATP coming out of the mitochondria, but there's more, more of the calories that we've been going over to stores fat. 1 (27m 45s): But, but if you have really healthy mitochondria, you don't dampen it as much. So it's so little, like if you're a super athlete and you eat a lot of fruit dos, it's very hard to show much of an effect because your mitochondria just so healthy, they're just gonna, I mean, and maybe there are producing a little bit less ATP, but you're not gonna pick it up, you know? And then in a normal kind of day, you know, if you're doing it to the frauds, maybe, but anyway, the, but what happens is over time, you keep hitting the mitochondria was sugar, the mitochondria will weather those, and they start to get, they start to weaken. 1 (28m 32s): And, and so this is, you know, this is one reason why people who are at 20 years old, they can drink a soft drink and they're not going to gain weight and they can run up and down the beach and do anything they want because they have healthy mitochondria. But as we get older, this repeated heading, everybody kind of has their tipping point at a different time. You know? So some people actually start gaining weight when they're teenagers or even children. And they're probably flooding their system with like soft drinks and juice early on in life. But others, you know, you know, temperate. And so it happens at a later time point, but the, this switch kind of lives off how healthy your mitochondria are. 1 (29m 17s): If your mitochondria aren't so healthy, then the switch can, can be, cause a lot more damage. So you can show this switch. For example, in people it's much easier. If you give it a slug of fruit dose to a person who's already overweight and insulin resistant, you'll see a huge effect. Whereas if you give it to a 20 year old who's super athlete, you are going to, so like the sugar industry likes this, 0 (29m 43s): They know who to target, 1 (29m 46s): To do their studies in 18 to 20 year old college kids who are like really healthy. And that, that way they can argue that sugar doesn't do anything. 0 (29m 56s): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I know in your book, you show just the, how many pounds of sugar have the increased through the years in the U S in Europe, right? W w off the top of your head, do you know that increase over the last? 1 (30m 10s): Yeah. So based upon there's different measurements, so one is to measure how much sugar disappears from the market. And based on that, you can estimate how much sugar people are taking home. It doesn't mean exactly that you're eating that much, but in 1700, the average person would theoretically was eating about four pounds of sugar a year in 1800. It was 18 pounds a year in 1900. It was 90 pounds of sugar a year. And by 1980 or so, it was 150 pounds of sugar per year. It peaked around 2005 and there's been a slight slow reduction in sugar intake, the last, you know, and, and added sugars. 1 (31m 3s): Like high-fructose corn syrup. It's been drifting down the last 10 years or so, but not by much. 0 (31m 9s): And actually 1 (31m 11s): There's some studies that suggest we'll be seeing diabetes are not going up at the same rate. They're kind of like slowing down. And I think that thank God for advertisements and people recognizing that sugar isn't that healthy. So there, a lot of younger people are aware of this and you know, so I, this is really good news to me 0 (31m 34s): That actually leads to another question of mine, which is artificial sweeteners. And this is like a question I get. And it's like, what is, what is your thought on that? I know there's a lot of different ones out there, but that's been the theme with Steve Stevia. And obviously we know about like, ask for tell them that you have sugar alcohols as well. What's the role that they play. 1 (31m 56s): So I actually have studied this extensively. And so the very first thing is most artificial sugars do not activate the switch. Okay. Some do. So there's one called . It's like in syrups and you get sugar-free syrup, take a look at what's on in it, but it says Sabaton that actually gets converted to fruit dose in the body. So that's, that's so good. 0 (32m 25s): Yeah. 1 (32m 25s): There's another one called Taga toast. Not very common, but it, it completely activates the switch. So there are some artificial sugars right off the bat. If you do give artificial sugars to an animal, they will not activate the switch and they will regulate their weight and they will stay normal weight. So this is the good part. Okay. There is one saccharin which causes the mildness insulin resistance when you give it to an animal. And it was shown in a nature paper to be working on the microbiome, the bacteria in the gut, but it didn't make the animals fat. 1 (33m 11s): It didn't, you know, it doesn't really, it causes mild insulin resistance, but really this, the artificial sugars do not activate the switch. So that's the good part. Now there's a bad part. Yeah. Actually there's two bad parts. The first one is that some of these artificial sugars have other problems with them. So the biggest one is aspartame, which is like in diet Coke and diet Sprite, and aspartame. Th there's, you know, actually it has a lot of bad metabolites and, and there's some thought that it can affect memory and, and there's studies where, you know, animals fed had had trouble getting through a mace. 1 (33m 59s): So in general, I don't recommend aspartame. And then, you know, so that's one problem. And then the other problem is that they, they do activate this dopamine response associated with sweetness. So, you know, we have on our taste buds, we have these sweet receptors, but when you eat sugar, you're activating the sweet receptor. And there's the stimulation of pleasure in the brain that makes you like sugar. And so you like sweetness, sweets a lot because of this sweet receptor in the time. Now, if you take saccharin or Stevia or Splenda, you'll activate that sweet receptor and you get the dopamine response. 1 (34m 43s): And so you do get this pleasure response with sweetness. Now, if you knock out the sweet receptors, if you take an animal that has no sweet tastes than, or a tasteless animal, it will still like regular sugar. Cause it, it gets pleasure. Even if it can't taste it, but the artificial sugar won't cause any pleasure anymore. The animal really doesn't care about artificial sweeteners if they can't taste the sweet, but here's the problem. The problem is, is like if you switch over to diet drinks, you know, okay. So that is, that part is good. You're not drinking sugar, regular sugar, that's helping you for sure. 1 (35m 27s): But you still are, are training yourself to love sweet food. And, and the problem is, is it comes back at you, you know, you, you ordered the cappuccino without the whipped cream and sugar, but you still eat your cookie, you know? 0 (35m 46s): Right. So it could lead to other bad habits. 1 (35m 49s): So the problem is, is that it's still teaching. You are trying to teach you to like sweets. So my recommendation is, you know, try to avoid diet drinks, try to avoid artificial sugars. If you really are craving for artificial. I mean, for something sweet, I would recommend eating the natural fruit that is so much healthier. Okay. If you know, on a rare occasion, when you want to have a dessert yeah. Make a Splenda or, you know, one of these desserts, you know, like on a rare, you know, you want to have birthday cake, you know, there's my, my, my wife for example, makes these fantastic cakes with artificial sugars. 1 (36m 36s): And we try not to eat them too often obviously. But Yeah. 0 (36m 42s): What is she, I'm sorry, what is she using? Is she using like monk fruit or Stevia or, 1 (36m 47s): Well, she, she likes Stevia and she likes Splenda and, you know, Splenda has, you know, some people really don't like Splenda, but you know, and some of my friends who study things are kind of concerned about Splenda, but the, the literature, the actual scientific literature on Splenda is not really bad. There could be more done, but it's, it's, it's not so bad. And there's, there's artificial sugar called , it's a new one. And that one, that one may be the safest of all. The only problem is you have two huge, large amounts. 1 (37m 28s): So, you know, most artificial sugars you use like one 10th or one 20th, the amount of sugar that Al you lost, you have to use almost the same amount. So you're either taking a lot of this substance that we don't know that much about. So I'm a little, little nervous about Allie loss, but all the data to date suggests pretty healthy now. I mean, gravitationally, Tivoli, healthy compared to other, other worlds. 0 (37m 52s): Now, what about, I know in your book, you talk about coffee, 1 (37m 58s): You know, so I got a coffee right here. Brian, 0 (38m 1s): There you go. Is it black or do you got a bunch of shit? 1 (38m 4s): I put, I put the tiniest amount of cream. It, I mean, like 0 (38m 9s): It's 1 (38m 9s): Basically, it looks black, pretty black. 0 (38m 13s): Okay. And I know you actually talk positively a bit on coffee, so I'm sure a lot of people would like to hear that. Okay. 1 (38m 19s): Yeah. So it turns out that coffee is F you know, by epidemiology, it's social with less diabetes. So one of the most striking findings is that people who drink five cups of coffee a day have 50% of getting diabetes compared to the average person one half. So that's a big difference. So, but you have to drink five cups a day to fall into that category. Okay. So 0 (38m 46s): I'm assuming that that's, when you talk about coffee, let's just, they're not sweetening it with, or they're not going to Starbucks and getting this big concoction. That's like a milkshake. 1 (38m 55s): Yeah. Yeah. Dope. We're not talking about a Frappaccino. We're not talking about, you know, you know, Carl latte, we're talking about coffee. Okay. Coffee, I get Americano. And, and there's not much evidence that adding cream hurts or helps, but, but there is very good evidence that adding sugar hurts. So yeah. So unsweetened coffee. And interestingly, it also reduces the risk of a high uric acid. It reduces the risk of gout and coffee. Caffeine has a metabolite that inhibits uric acid production. 1 (39m 39s): And that, and I actually, I put in a grant once to Starbucks to try to, to, to do this, to see if they would be interested in, because I, you know, you would think that they would want to know, be able to say, well, you know, our coffee can reduce the risk of, of diabetes and here's the mechanism. Cause we don't, no one has published the mechanism, but it, it lowers your ACC acid in our data suggests that uric acid is part of this biologic switch that makes you insulin resistance. So, and actually we think that the strongest effect of uric acid is probably on insulin resistance and raising blood glucose. 1 (40m 20s): So I believe that the reason that coffee is healthy is because it's affecting our, the switch and, and, and interesting. We have a mouse that is protected from obesity and diabetes, and it will not, it does not like sugar, but it loves class. 0 (40m 42s): He loves coffee. I think my dog likes coffee too. One time it was spilled and he looked it up. But on the, on the topic of your uric acid, I would just want to touch on that because I know yourself and Dr. Perlmutter talk a lot about that. And in the book increasing uric acid is obviously shown to cause a lot of issues. I think above what'd you say like 5.5 is perhaps, maybe is that if someone's going to get the uric acid measured. Yeah. 1 (41m 10s): So I want to talk a little bit about this. So in a regular person, on a Western diet, if you have a uric acid of greater than five and a half, it starts to increase your risk significantly for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, fatty liver data, dah, dah, dah. Okay. So it really is a risk factor, but I do have to tell you that it's, it's main, the main problem with the switch is from fructose and, and also from the conversion of glucose to fruit dose. So if you're on a low carb diet, it's, you you're blocking your ability to activate the switch, largely act. 1 (41m 58s): You can still activate the switch with certain foods and we can talk about it, but, but basically when you're in a low carb diet, or when you're intermittent fasting, you're removing the availability of glucose and fructose. And, and those are your two main mechanisms driving obesity, right? So, so that's why a low carb diet works. That's another reason intermittent fasting works. And, and so what happens is in both of those situations, you can get this a rise in uric acid and the uric acid is going up in this case, it's going up to probably help keep your glucose levels up. 1 (42m 42s): So if you're, if you're on a low carb or keto diet, you're not really getting any carbs. And so you have to make glucose from protein and from fat. And so we can make glucose from proteins and fats. We can make it from amino acids and we're, you know, it's, it's called gluconeogenesis, but basically you can make glucose in a person who's on a keto diet. His glucose levels generally don't go down to 30 or 20. They usually they stay. Okay because you, you you've learned other ways to keep your glucose level at a certain level. 1 (43m 22s): So your glucose is not really being available as a, as a big fuel to make energy, but you, you have enough around for the critical things you need. So the one of the problems is, is that, you know, to stimulate that gluconeogenesis, to stimulate the production of glucose in a low carb state, it seems that it probably needs a little bit of uric acid around. So, you know, I haven't fully proven it, but we have a fairly fair amount of data supporting the fact that if you're on a keto diet and your, your uric acid, it commonly will go to like seven. 1 (44m 3s): And whereas that would increase your risk for hypertension and obesity and diabetes here. It's actually maybe helping you to keep your glucose levels normal. So I would not lower your uric acid. If you're on a keto diet from seven to four, without thinking that you're going to reduce your risk for diabetes, cause the low carb diets reducing your risk for diabetes. But what you, you may actually need a little bit of uric acid too, to help compensate for the fact that you don't have any carbs in your diet or very few carbs in your diet. So this is a important thing. 1 (44m 43s): So uric acid is almost always a bad guy, but it can be a good guy. It was a survival factor, right? So if you're on a, on a thing where you're eating no carbs at all, you know, it's great because it helps you burn fat and all these things, but it, you know, you do need some glucose and, and the uric acid is probably having a, a function in the low carb diets seeing to help with that. 0 (45m 14s): What about alcohol? 1 (45m 18s): Alcohol? I L I liked beer and I like wine. And I spent most of my life having a glass of wine every night. And I try not to drink too much, but I do like wine. And you know, so there's a big literature that says that, you know, drinking one glass of wine a day may actually be good for cardiovascular health. I mean, there's that new England journal paper that said one to two glasses of wine a day, and you actually live longer than the average person. And you know, if you get to a sort of like zero one is like definitely a benefit. And if you drink more than two, it's definitely not good for you. 1 (46m 2s): So I've always was thinking alcohol was probably not, you know, excessive alcohol is bad, but a little is not bad. However, not all alcohol is the same. So a lot of alcohols mixed with sugar. And of course that's the kiss of death in terms of sugar, You know, so you have a Manhattan or pina colada margarita. They, they taste great, but you are giving yourself a sugar load. And then there's a, unfortunately there's alcohol can also be used to make uric acid and especially beer. And it's not just the, the alcohol, but the, the beer contains a Brewer's yeast. 1 (46m 45s): And that is like, it's converted to uric acid in the body. And when that happens, you can kind of activate the switch and the absence of fruit dose. So foods that really are great at raising uric acids, really strong ones like beer is the number one. I mean, it causes a bear belly, which is visceral obesity, abdominal obesity. It makes the triglycerides go up and makes the blood pressure go up. I mean, it does it activates the switch and we can show that it activates the switch. So beer, you know, should kind of be viewed like a soft drink. The other problem, 0 (47m 23s): I was going to say beer and mixed drinks, 1 (47m 26s): Beer and mixed drinks are the two bad ones. Now wine, wine is safer. Now the bad, the worst news is, you know, there's been one paper published. We actually have a patent on it. We have some other papers on it that are coming, but some alcohol, when you drink alcohol, some of that alcohol is activating the enzyme that converts glucose to fruit dose. And so it's another way to activate the switch. It's not that the alcohol has turned into fruit dose. The alcohol activates an enzyme that converts glucose to fruit dose. So it's the pretzel you're eating with the beer or with the wine that now a little bit more of that pretzels being converted to fruit dose in your body. 1 (48m 17s): So, and, and here's, what's wild. Brian there's alcohol is known to cause liver disease. You probably aware of that, that people who drink a lot neurosis this terrible liver disease, where they die from it. And people who eat a lot of sugar can also get fatty liver disease. And over time that can cost a Rosis. And the two have always looked alike. And Rob Lustig, our friend has talked about how sugar is sorta like alcohol without the buzz, because they both cause a craving. They both cause CA can lead to this obesity a little bit and they both can cause fatty liver. 1 (49m 2s): Well, it turns out that the two are related more than even Rob was thinking. And what happens is the liver disease you get from alcohol, you can block that in a mouse by blocking fruit tails. So that what happens is the liver. When you drink booze, you're actually making sugar in your body. You're making fruit dose that is causing the liver disease. And, you know, people who are alcoholic often love sugar and vice versa. The two are linked. And if you, you know, when I go on rounds at the hospital, and if I have a patient with alcoholic liver disease, I'll go into the room. Almost inevitably, they'll have a soft drink on their table because when they can't drink alcohol, that is what they want. 1 (49m 50s): And unfortunately that both can cause liver trouble. So I always recommend them to stop drinking the soft drinks and to drink more water. And, but yeah, the alcohol, unfortunately, some of it can, can activate the switch. So I still drink a glass of wine at night often, but I'm aware that it, it, it does activate the switch a little bit. And so, you know, I, I try to drink it slowly and set that, you know, like it meant to be right. And I still believe that, you know, so what other things, when you learn is, you know, there are these things that activate the switch, but you know, if you eat it slowly drink a lot of water. 1 (50m 40s): You can, you can still, it isn't like you have to like quit drinking alcohol. And it isn't like, you can never eat a piece of cake. It's just that, you know, once you know, what is good for you, what's not the majority of the time you try to eat correctly and you do intermittent fasting and all these different things, and you can stay super healthy. And remember when those energy factories are really strong and you can make them stronger with exercise and stuff that, you know, when that's the case, you know, you can weather, you know, you know, foods that may not be so good. You can weather them easier. 0 (51m 20s): Yeah, no, this is all great advice. And we could probably talk for another hour, but I want to recommend your book because I think it's great. And it talks about at the end, you talk a little bit about like your, you know, your switched diet and, and, and some things that people can do, but nature wants us to be fat. Is there anything else you want to leave us? I always ask my guests, if they, and I'll ask you this, if there's one tip that you'd give someone middle-aged that wanted to get their body back to what it once was back made me when they're in their thirties or even forties. What, what, what one tip would you give that individual? 1 (51m 59s): Well, I can, I do two tips 0 (52m 1s): You can give to 1 (52m 2s): Here's. My, my first tip is drink a lot of water. It turns out that water is underrated. As, as being beneficial. We can actually exactly drink six to 10 glasses a day. You know, don't drink a lot of water if you're doing a marathon runner, because you can over drink water and you can get water intoxicated. So when you're, if you're doing things like marathons, just drink to thirst. But for the normal day, you drink six to 10 glasses of water. Eight, eight glasses is great that's and it will have a benefit. You'll, you'll be amazed. And my other recommendation is less than Brian, because you have a lot of really good advice. 1 (52m 47s): And the, you know, things like your intermittent fasting exercise, staying in shape, you know, this has such a positive effect and exercises is as important as the diet. And, you know, the diet is what activates switch, but it's exercise, which heals the mitochondria really good exercises. What keeps the, your energy factory strong. And so th that is so important. I can't emphasize it more and it's not the burning of calories. It's forget it. You know, exercise, forget about it as a way to lose weight by losing calorie, burning calories, use it as a system to keep your energy factories healthy, and that will help you lose weight. 1 (53m 39s): It's going to be from that, where you get the benefit. 0 (53m 44s): Well, I appreciate that. You're actually the first guest to say that, listen to Brian on, on, on his tip and, and drink and drink lots of water. Is there anything? And this was just as a side regarding water and not drinking it during meals and maybe drinking it away from meals. I've had some guests on talk about that as far as with digestion and things like that. 1 (54m 6s): No, no. So the first thing is it, particularly if you're eating anything salty, we didn't get it into this, but salt actually activates the switch to when you get thirsty from eating salt, you are activating the switch. And so what you want to do is you, if you're eating anything salty, you got to drink lots of water with it. And because you have to drink, like, because I recommend six to 10 glasses a day, I recommend you drink a glass of water with every meal, but also drink a glass between meals. And it there's benefits from both. You know, if you, if you force yourself to drink a glass before you start eating, you can ensure that you're really going to get to your, your, your goal over the day. 1 (54m 54s): And if you're eating salt and things like that, and you drop this serum sodium in your blood, you'll actually not activate the switch. So if you're going to have soup or, and we actually did studies where we did this, where we gave water with soup and so forth to, to show that you can black activation of the switch. If you drink water with a meal, but drink water between meals too. 0 (55m 16s): Did you do any studies with apple cider vinegar? 1 (55m 20s): You know, I want to, I really want to, I, I, maybe I will, because there, there is somethings seems like there's something special about that stuff. And I have some friends who believe in it. 0 (55m 36s): I 1 (55m 36s): Haven't seen a good science study to, to figure out how it's working, but maybe does it contain quercetin. Quercetin seems to be a very good nutraceutical. It comes from apple leaves and apple skin. And I just wonder if it's in the apple vinegar, but I don't know. 0 (55m 58s): I don't, I don't, I don't know. I don't think it has curse in, but I think it has to do with, I mean, I know that it's, well, I don't know if it's proven studies, but a lot of people talk about how it can blunt the blood sugar response. You know, you'd have it with a little bit of water before a meal. I thought that's where you're going to say to me when, how to protect yourself against turning the switch on when you have cake is, is a little bit of apple cider. I'm not promoting that, but I've heard apple cider vinegar can help with bunting the blood sugar responses. So, 1 (56m 29s): Well, I can learn a lot from a lot of people. And, but you know, what I tend to want to do is to do a scientific study, to both in animals and humans to, to really test it. 0 (56m 41s): But, 1 (56m 42s): But I am intrigued. All right, 0 (56m 45s): Well, thank you so much and look out for his bucket. Is that the best, what's the best place for people to find them? 1 (56m 52s): Well, they can find me at Dr. Richard johnson.com, Dr. Richard johnson.com. That's my website. It's a new website, but I got a lot of stuff on it. And then the books pretty much available from all the different regular book, you know, companies, Amazon books, a million Barnes and noble, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. 0 (57m 16s): Well, thank you so much, Richard. This is, this is, this is great. 1 (57m 20s): Thank you so pleasure. 0 (57m 23s): Thanks for listening to the get lean eat clean podcast. I understand there are millions of other podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine. And I appreciate that. Check out the show notes@briangrin.com for everything that was mentioned in this episode, feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member. That's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again, and have a great day.

Dr. Richard Johnson

This week I interviewed Dr. Richard Johnson! Dr. Johnson is a practicing physician, clinical scientist, and a world expert on sugar, and its role in health. He has authored three books on sugar and its health effects. His most recent book, Nature Wants Us to Be Fat, details his group's discovery of a "switch" that controls obesity and how it can be turned on and off. In this episode, we discuss: - The reason for our biological survival switch - Fructose role in weight gain - What foods trigger fat storage - Is black coffee healthy? and should you be consuming artificial sweeteners? Enjoy the show!

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