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Welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast. The weekly podcast where Dr. G. gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
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Welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast. One in every nine men develop prostate cancer during their lifetime. One in nine guys; listen up. And unfortunately, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men in the United States. So, whether you’re a man or a woman, pay attention. What we’re about to share could help save someone you love, maybe even you.
That’s right, my guest today says that there are plenty of ways for men to take charge of their prostate health now and greatly reduce their chance of facing serious health issues down the line. He’s Dr. Mark Stengler, a naturopathic medical doctor who was recently named doctor of the decade by the international association of top professionals. Dr. Stengler is also the author of many best selling books, including his latest release, Healing the Prostate: The Best Holistic Methods to Treat Prostate and Other Common Male Related Conditions.
Today Dr. Stengler and I are going to discuss some of the root causes behind some of the most common men’s health issues and share how you or the men in your life can use diet, supplements and lifestyle choices to support a healthy prostate.
Before we dive into all things prostate health, I want to make it clear that the natural methods of Dr. Stengler and I are going to share today are not to be used in place of other protocols recommended by your healthcare practitioner. It’s important to first communicate with your doctor regarding any of the information you wish to put into practice, especially for serious issues like cancer.
Okay, let’s get started. Mark, welcome to the show.
dr. mark stengler (05:50):
Hey, great to be on with you.
dr. gundry (05:52):
All right. You’ve studied many areas of health in your career, so why did you decide to write a book on prostate health?
dr. mark stengler (06:01):
Well, it’s one of those things where we see a lot of women in our clinic, but we also see the men and the men tend to come in, as you probably have seen, when they’ve had serious events occur; they’ve had a heart attack, they have had a certain cancer. But other than that, the men tend to come in usually over the age of 50 when they’re having urinary problems. So a lot of men have urinary problems related to enlarged prostate. And so I’ve found, over the years, integrated medicine’s very effective in helping these men, the millions of men who have prostate problems; prostate enlargement. Certainly get a lot of men who have prostate cancer who are receiving conventional care or being monitored and we work to help those men as well. So, just a lot of men coming into clinic through my 26 years of practice with male related problems, prostate problems.
And then, probably secondary to that, the things with the hormone imbalance, like the testosterone deficiency, adrenal dysfunction, things of that nature.
dr. gundry (06:58):
All right. So for our audience, who might not know, what is the function of the prostate gland anyhow?
dr. mark stengler (07:07):
Yeah, so the prostate gland which is located below the bladder in the pelvis. Its main function is to produce prostatic fluid which is involved in fertility. So, there’s different fluids that are released when a man ejaculates, having sexual relations and the prostatic fluid is one of the main fluids which basically enhances fertility. It provides an environment for the sperm to thrive, so to speak and be more efficient in its function.
dr. gundry (07:33):
So, that’s why a female doesn’t need a prostate. Is that right?
dr. mark stengler (07:39):
Correct. Correct. There’s a second function they think as well and that’s just a structural issue where, again, being below the bladder, it has somewhat of a supportive structural effect for the bladder as well.
dr. gundry (07:52):
Got you. So, it may sound obvious, but I think it’s worth spending a second or more talking about it; so why is prostate health so important? Okay, it’s just there to improve your fertility. So what, I’m now 50 and I don’t really care about that so much any more.
dr. mark stengler (08:13):
Right. Well I think the reason why it’s so important is because most men experience prostate issues at some point in their life. So, for example, benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is a fancy way of saying enlarged prostate, is just extremely common. If you’re 50 years old, you’ve got a 50% likelihood, you’re prostate’s enlarged. If you’re 90 years old, there’s an 85%. And so then these men experience symptoms. Urination problems. They’re getting up during the night to have to urinate, frequent urination during the day, dribbling, more prone to urinary tract infections. And of course, the more dreaded one is the prostate cancer, which you said is very common. One in nine men in America get prostate cancer. It’s the second most common type of cancer in men, behind skin cancer. And it’s the second most common reason of cancer death in men, behind lung cancer. So, these are just common issues men typically have to face.
dr. gundry (09:05):
All right. Well, let’s go back to BPH, prostatic enlargement. So many regular doctors, when a guy comes in at 50 and says, you know, I’m getting up at night. Well, that’s just your prostate; that’s normal; you’re now 50; that’s normal. Is that normal?
dr. mark stengler (09:29):
Well in America, it’d be normal. I wouldn’t say it’s normal necessarily in terms of health. Most in America aren’t healthy. It’s not normal in the fact that, look, you certainly have men in their 80s and 90s who don’t have major issues with prostate enlargement. So it’s not inevitable and there’s good research that I talk about in the book, that if you’re doing the right diet and lifestyle approaches, can really reduce the risk of prostate enlargement. So, no, I don’t think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s healthy.
Studies show that it’s a very small percent of men where the prostate enlargement were strongly genetically related. That’s a very small percent. So, I think what the research is showing is through your diet and your exercise, the chemicals you’re exposed to, the body weight that you have, making sure you don’t have other conditions, like diabetes, you can greatly reduce the risk of having prostate enlargement or if you have it, you can improve your symptoms, and to some degree, even reduce the size of the prostate.
dr. gundry (10:25):
Yeah, so let’s break that down. Most men I think would be flabbergasted when I tell them it’s your diet that’s causing your big prostate. Where does, in your opinion, diet fit in to making a prostate bigger?
dr. mark stengler (10:47):
dr. gundry (10:48):
dr. mark stengler (10:49):
Well, in my approach, I think so many years of being an integrative doctor, diet for most people is the foundation of their health and so I think it’s huge. You can either promote healthy tissue or you can promote unhealthy tissue, in large part, by how your diet is. Our body doesn’t work by magic, so it’s affected by the foods we eat. So I think it’s a huge factor and actually they have studied this in men where they follow an improved diet and lifestyle; they actually improve their prostate symptoms. So we know it can have an effect. So I think diet is the number one factor and of course diet ties into weight and we know men that are overweight, as with many conditions, that increases the risk of prostate enlargement, BPH, as well as prostate cancer. So, I think there’s a very direct correlation.
And as you know, unfortunately, most doctors in America don’t fundamentally focus on diet, whatever the health condition, and that includes prostate. Most men I talk to, they’ve been to their family doctor, maybe their urologist; and they have mild symptoms, maybe moderate symptoms of prostate enlargement with their urination. They may be offered some drugs. They may be told to just wait; if things get worse, then they’ll offer drugs or certain procedures to treat the prostate.
But most men, and this is I think the key point, we find, and this is what the studies show, we talked about in the book, men with mild to moderate prostate enlargement can be helped tremendously through diet, lifestyle changes and targeted nutritional supplements. So men can be and should be proactive, so they don’t end up having to use medications with side effects or need more invasive therapies like surgical procedures.
dr. gundry (12:29):
So, in my practice, I quite frankly have never seen a man with an enlarged prostate that doesn’t have an elevated fasting insulin level or what we call insulin resistance. Never. And as I tell my patients, insulin, among other things, is a growth hormone. And as you and I know, there is nothing in us that we want to grow once we get older. Do you see that in your practice as well that insulin resistance or an elevated insulin level is a big piece of this puzzle?
dr. mark stengler (13:11):
Absolutely. Because the men that come in with their prostate issues, 75 to 80% of them are overweight and majority of those men, they have the insulin resistance. So, I’d agree with that. Literature is very clear in terms of creating the growth of cells. They’re well studied in prostate cancer, but we do talk about in our book, how there have been studies showing that men, for example with insulin resistance with diabetes, are much more likely to have prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. So there is a direct correlation because this insulin resistance and the stimulation of the hormone insulin, high levels, prolonged period of time, creates an inflammatory response and also a direct growth response on those prostate cells. So I believe that’s very accurate.
dr. gundry (13:57):
Now, you’re in the San Diego area and I’ve always been impressed by the University of California’s San Diego work on Vitamin D and prostate health and health in general and prostate cancer. Can you, for those of our listeners who don’t know about Vitamin D and the prostate, can you tell us what you talk about in the book.
dr. mark stengler (14:25):
Yeah, well the interesting thing is they have identified Vitamin D receptors on the prostate cells, which, like most other cells in the body, Vitamin D has so many far ranging effects. So they have shown in studies that men that are Vitamin D deficient are more likely to have BPH or prostate enlargement. Now, we’ve known for a long time, as with other cancers, men who are Vitamin D deficient are more likely to get prostate cancer. There’s many reasons for this.
Vitamin D helps to control inflammation. Vitamin D is directly involved in cell division, cell replication. Vitamin D’s directly involved in how well your immune system’s functioning. Your good immune cells which are constantly gobbling up cancer cells circulating throughout the body and other mechanisms as well.
So Vitamin D ties directly into prostate health and, as I’m sure you do, it’s always shocking how many men and women we see in the clinic who have Vitamin D deficiency, even here in Southern California. It’s just very, very common. Of course, more common in other areas. And they have done studies and men who have enlarged prostate, it is more common in men in northern latitudes for example, where they’re not getting as much sunshine and Vitamin D. But it’s even common in areas like ours.
dr. gundry (15:39):
Yeah, in my clinics, 80% of my initial patients are Vitamin D deficient. And people are shocked. Well, wait a minute; you’re in Southern California and how can that be? But unfortunately, most of our patients are wearing sunscreen; people are not going out as much outside as people assume we all do. And yeah, it’s even in sun soaked Southern California, we have Vitamin D deficiency, severe.
dr. mark stengler (16:14):
Yeah, and that’s true. And there have been some good population studies with blood Vitamin D levels and a man’s risk of prostate cancer and depending on which study you look at, let’s just say most labs use a range of about 30 to 100 units. And these studies, the most protective level was generally above 41, some show about 44, around 50. So, I think it’s critical for preventing these serious conditions, like prostate cancer, other cancers, even prostate enlargement, know what your Vitamin D level is and get it optimized.
dr. gundry (16:46):
So, I guess one of the things that a guy who’s listening to this or the wife of the guy listening to this, or the husband of the guy listening to this, can you actually shrink a prostate by changing diet, by getting your Vitamin D level up, by getting insulin resistance taken care of and supplements. So that’s a big subject, but can it be reversed?
dr. mark stengler (17:16):
Well, that’s a good question. Certainly, we can definitively say that with all the integrative or natural protocols, the diet improvements, targeted nutritional supplements, losing weight, improving that insulin resistance, addressing nutritional deficiencies, certainly it’s been very well shown, you can improve your symptoms. So the most common issues are the urinary symptoms. So you can definitely improve those, especially if you’re in that mild to moderate category of prostate enlargement, which is most men.
So, that part we know for a fact, but recent research which I talk about in the book, they actually have done some studies, for example, with the common herb, saw palmetto, when used at the right concentration and dose, they did show a mild decrease in prostate size, based on ultrasound studies, before and after.
So, yes, you can, to some degree, now I wouldn’t exaggerate it. It’s not like your prostate is 50% larger than what it should, you’re going to shrink it by 50%, but yes, studies have shown, using ultrasound, you can mildly decrease the size of the prostate with these nutritional approaches.
dr. gundry (18:21):
Okay. So, let’s go, obviously it’s one thing to get up in the middle of the night to have to pee, but it’s another thing to get the diagnosis of prostate cancer, which certainly the diagnosis of prostate cancer seems to be going up and up. Is there a correlation between BPH, enlarged prostate and developing prostate cancer, first of all?
dr. mark stengler (18:53):
Yeah, it’s a very good question. And no, if you looked at medical literature, there is no connection between having BPH or prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. However, the tricky thing is, is when you look at the symptoms of both conditions, at least initially, they’re very similar. The number one symptom would be changes in urination for both conditions.
So, it kind of masks one another, so unfortunately a lot of men with the prostate cancer, until they have more serious symptoms, blood in the urine or semen, they’re getting pain in their spine, their back, their hips or pelvis and prostate cancer has spread. Or perhaps their doctor has been screening them, either with physical exams, the digital rectal exam or using blood work, getting a sense there might be something going on, where they do further testing. That’s the problem with prostate cancer. It’s kind of this quiet disease that rears its head usually, unfortunately in a lot of men, when it’s already spread and it’s more serious.
dr. gundry (19:48):
So, just because you’re getting up in the middle of the night doesn’t mean that you’re developing prostate cancer, but is that, in itself, an indication, hey this isn’t actually normal; this isn’t just what happens as you get older. Do we need to look under the hood a bit more?
dr. mark stengler (20:15):
I think so. Any time you’re getting symptoms, you’d want to know what the root causes are. So if you’re a man and you’re starting to get up one, two, three times a night or more, yeah, you should find out. Is this prostate enlargement? Do you have a low grade urinary tract infection? Is it prostate cancer, although less likely, of course still possible. So, we want to know what’s going on because, as doctors, we’re going to treat the condition and the root causes of the condition. So, you and I, we would treat patients differently obviously if they have prostate enlargement versus prostate cancer versus something like a prostatitis where they have an inflammation, an infection, possibly going on in the prostate gland. So better treatment’s knowing what’s going on with the patient.
dr. gundry (20:59):
Now, I know a lot of many friends who are urologists. And they are not so interested in the dietary treatment of prostate enlargement or even prostate cancer. But they’ll certainly agree that many times you can get a false elevation in PSA levels, prostatic specific antigen, if there is a prostate infection. And they like to give a round of antibiotics and then repeat a PSA. Have you found that useful in your practice or where do you go with, say, an elevated PSA?
dr. mark stengler (21:50):
Right, yeah. Well, first of all. If a man has an elevated PSA, I first would ask him some questions. I would ask had he been riding his bike before he had his blood test done? Did he have sexual relations within 48 hours; that can elevate the PSA. Those things can elevate it. What I do with patients typically is I would just re-run the PSA before everyone gets all stressed out, I re-run it. A lot of time, you re-run it and then the test is back to normal. So, there was nothing going on.
If it’s still an issue, then I’ll do a urinalysis. I’ll screen for urinary infection in their prostate or urinary tract. See if something’s going on there. I do not routinely just give antibiotics if the PSA is elevated. And the reason I say that is, most cases of an elevated PSA are not related to a bacterial infection of the prostate. When you look at the literature, it’s actually a small percent. Most cases of prostatitis or prostate inflammation or infection are not bacterial in origin. They’re either viral or fungal related is what the literature shows. So I don’t just give an antibiotic unless I’m somewhat convinced there is a bacterial infection going on.
But you’re right, that is kind of the standard that’s done in urology.
dr. gundry (23:04):
I was hoping you were going to say that. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of whatever walks through the door, giving them a dose of antibiotics as the first thing I try. I’m not a big fan of wiping out the gut microbiome.
dr. mark stengler (23:19):
dr. gundry (23:22):
In fact, don’t do that, people, okay.
dr. mark stengler (23:25):
And of course, Dr. Gundry, as you know, it goes beyond the gut microbiome, of course we have this healthy immune protective flora everywhere, including in the prostate and urinary tract as well.
dr. gundry (23:38):
dr. mark stengler (23:38):
So you start giving the antibiotics when you don’t need them, you’re making the patient more susceptible in those areas.
dr. gundry (23:43):
Yeah, absolutely. Okay.
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Since I have friends who are urologists, does every man who develops BPH or have prostate cancer need surgery or conventional treatment or radiation therapy, what say you?
dr. mark stengler (27:54):
Well, with the benign prostate hyperplasia, prostate enlargement, most men don’t. If you have mild or moderate symptoms and the prostate isn’t so large it’s stopping urination, most men don’t. Most of the men I treat, we can treat them nutritionally, holistically, no problem. There are some men, the prostate’s gotten so large, yeah, they need procedures. They need procedures like the UroLift where we put clips up there and take pressure off the urethra which is being compressed by the prostate gland, the tube that drains the bladder. There’s all sorts of different procedures with lasers and kind of rototiller type treatment like the TURP treatment.
So, there are a percent of men, a small percent of men, they need more advanced invasive treatments because they’re beyond the point where we can shrink the prostate enough. But the majority of men out there, the holistic treatment work just fine to control their symptoms, improve their urination.
I find, for example, let’s say a man comes in and he tells me he’s getting up three to five times a night. And it’s because of his prostate enlargement. Normally, I find, with the dietary changes, with nutritional supplements, we can at least cut that by 50%, if not more, up to 80% with the things I talk about in the book. So most men, we can manage it just fine without drugs or surgical procedures.
dr. gundry (29:15):
Now, you talk about supplementation in the book, and you’ve already mentioned one and that’s Vitamin D. What are your other go to choices in your practice?
dr. mark stengler (29:28):
Well, usually, in our practice, I use combination formulas. I have found if we just use like one herb or supplement, it can help, but we get much better if we use kind of a combination type approach, because they can have different effects. Most people are familiar with saw palmetto. Now it’s interesting to start doing a kind of a scan on Google, if you will, by law the conventional medical sites. And I won’t give their names, but they’re pretty well known brand names. A lot of them are very negative to supplements like saw palmetto. They just come out and basically say they don’t work. Which is quite interesting because I think people didn’t do their homework.
When you look at the actual published research, we know that studies show that saw palmetto works for 90% of men, and here’s the key, with mild to moderate symptoms. The other thing to know is, when you look at the studies, the ones that worked well used very specific standardized extracts, very specific doses. Those studies were very, very positive, very effective.
When you start using studies where they didn’t look at that information in the study, then yeah, sometimes they’re not effective. There’s a meta analysis of 27 studies published in 2018 and they found saw palmetto was just as effective as the common drug, Tamsulosin, which is used to relax the bladder and the prostate to help improve urinary symptoms. So that’s what the literature shows if you want to be scientific.
I also use nettle’s root which is very effective in reducing urinary symptoms. That’s been well studied, helps 81% of men. And it’s interesting, when you look at these herbs, Dr. Gundry, saw palmetto, nettle’s root, other common ones that we use. When you really look at them in detail, down to the cellular level, how do they work? Well, they mainly work by blocking hormonal stimulation of the prostate gland; hormones like dihydrotestosterone, a metabolite of testosterone, blocking estrogen.
And so, as men get older, what happens is out testosterone drops, our estrogen levels tend to go up, especially if we’re overweight or have insulin resistance. And the dihydrotestosterone, the DHT levels, tend to go up. And these hormone metabolites stimulate prostate growth. So, in the end, when we change diet, when we lose weight, when we improve insulin resistance, we address nutritional deficiencies, you’re actually creating better hormone balance for the men and less stimulation of the prostate gland and that’s working at a deeper level.
dr. gundry (31:52):
Where does exercise fit into this? Are there studies that show exercise can help?
dr. mark stengler (32:00):
Yes, I actually sight some studies showing that exercise helps men with BPH, helps their urinary symptoms. There’s been some really fascinating studies done on men with prostate cancer. And actually what they found was men that were involved in moderate to vigorous regular exercise, it significantly reduced mortality from prostate cancer by about 25%; very, very significant. So, exercise is very important. It’s [inaudible 00:32:31] many mechanisms, helps the immune system, also helps people with insulin resistance, helps people lose weight. If you lose weight you get less estrogen; better hormone balance. So many, many different factors involved with the exercise. So it’s got to be part of a program, in my opinion. Diet’s important. The supplements are important. But it should be well rounded with the exercise.
dr. gundry (32:53):
So, let’s suppose you have a patient who’s diagnosed with prostate cancer, biopsy proven or perhaps MRI specific. Take us through the steps of what your counseling is. Where do you go with that?
dr. mark stengler (33:15):
Sure. And I get a lot of men in that situation. There’s a couple of things I look at. So, they’ve had their biopsy done; we know they have prostate cancer. We know if it’s in the lymph nodes or it’s spread at all.
So, if a man has more serious cancer where there’s metastasis, it’s outside the capsule of the prostate, it’s spread, they need conventional care; I give supportive care. Our clinic, we would work with their diet. We would work with supplements to support them with the side effects during their treatments. We do a lot of intravenous Vitamin C therapy at our clinic to support men during these treatments.
Now, for the man where they have what’s called the Gleason score, which is the grading of their prostate cancer. If they’re 65 and older and they don’t have a bad score, a bad grading, it’s very normal now, even in oncology, to do the active surveillance. And that’s where basically, at least from the conventional viewpoint, they just monitor them. Because statistically, we know that most prostate cancers are slow growing. Men statistically are likely to die of something else as they age. However, if you have a more aggressive prostate cancer, it’s very, very serious. It can kill you quite rapidly. So these men need conventional care.
But, if they have good grading; they don’t have the more aggressive type of prostate cancer, we certainly can treat them and we do, with diet and nutritional supplements, and intravenous therapy. And what I do with patients, I have them continue their care with usually their oncologist monitoring them and we also monitor them as well, just looking at certain blood levels, PSA and things like that. And as long as the patient’s doing well, their lab parameters are looking good; they are getting occasional imaging done, making sure things aren’t getting worse, a lot of men are able to do that. And that’s kind of changed in the last five to 10 years in terms of prostate cancer.
dr. gundry (35:10):
So, let me put it another way. Should someone who has a diagnosis of prostate cancer, should they always investigate alternatives or should they always get a second opinion about their options?
dr. mark stengler (35:36):
Oh, absolutely. In my opinion, absolutely. And I would say that for all types of cancers. And then the reason is, is in the last 10 to 15 years, there’s really been an explosion in the scientific validation of a lot of the therapies that we do, in terms of being able to support people with cancer with proper nutrition. In terms of there’s been some studies, including with prostate cancer, where men have had conventional care or getting it and then they integrate dietary approaches, things like intravenous Vitamin C. Studies have shown they have better outcomes. They have better quality of life scores, better length of life scores compared to men who just do conventional care alone.
I talk a bit about that in the book and actually wrote a book called Outside the Box Cancer Therapies and we’ll get into that in more detail. But most of our surprise was actually one NIH funded study that actually looked at this question and included prostate cancer. So, in my opinion, yes. Every person that has cancer, including men with prostate cancer, should be working with integrative doctors with nutritional therapies. Number one, you can reduce side effects from chemotherapy and radiation with the right approach. Number two, you can enhance their immune function. And like I said, we now have the studies we’ve had for a few years now showing that you’re more likely to live longer as well.
dr. gundry (36:56):
Yeah, I see a number, and care for, a number of men who either have metastatic prostate cancer after a procedure or who are in this category that they, for whatever reason, don’t want conventional therapy, whether it’s radiation or a prostatectomy and want to manage this with, I call it, restorative medicine, but we’ll call it functional medicine, whichever term we want to use, integrative medicine. And we’ve had some very good results. But when they go to their practitioners, their oncologists and we follow them with their oncologists said, this is silly; food has nothing to do with this. And eat what you want. So, why don’t we talk about diet; where this plays in. Are there certain high risk foods and are there great foods that we should be adding to the diet?
dr. mark stengler (38:03):
Yeah, in terms of prostate cancer, there has been research suggesting that diets that are high in animal fat, especially dairy products, increase risk. I wouldn’t say it’s definitive. The problem with these studies, in my opinion, they have not teased out the types of meats, how they’re prepared. So I wouldn’t just come out and say, all animal products are bad. They haven’t teased that part out. But it’s a matter of balance. We know, oppositely, we know plant foods are very protective for the prostate. We know there’s been studies, for example, a Mediterranean diet, showing as protective and reducing your risk of prostate cancer. There’s been several studies demonstrating that.
Personally, myself, I use a diet called the modified Mediterranean diet, I’ve been kind of developing for years because, as you’ve been telling your listeners for a long time, grains in America just aren’t very healthy; they could create and add to insulin resistance; they’re inflammatory; they’re carcinogenic. So we use a modified Mediterranean diet. We’ve got the olive oil. You’ve got lots of fruits and vegetables. Maybe some nuts and seeds. Yeah, in traditional Mediterranean diet, also you have the cold water fish and lower amounts of poultry and red meat. So, that’s kind of a general diet we use with patients. If a patient comes in, they’re very obese, they’re more interested in just more of a straight plant-based diet, that’s something that could be used as well.
So, we know that that type of diet is protective against prostate cancer; it’s good for the insulin resistance as well. And those are the types of things we focus on. There is research showing that the prostate gland, the prostate tissue is very sensitive or very much aided by phenols, certain polyphenols that you get in a diet can be very effective in reducing inflammation of the prostate. And fatty acid balance is important. Having a good ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6, saturated fat. I do test blood levels of patients, their fatty acid levels as well as other nutrients and quite commonly, we just find their Omega-3s are low, relative to the more potentially inflammation promoting Omega-6 and saturated fats.
dr. gundry (40:16):
Yeah, there was a study a number of years ago looking at serum Omega-3s in men who were about to undergo prostate surgery and it got a lot of buzz that higher serum Omega-3s correlated with higher chance of prostate cancer. And I, rather than read abstracts, read papers and what was rather funny was they were measuring serum Omega-3 which really looks at whether you had a piece of fish the night before, not an Omega-3 index which I use which looks at two months.
dr. mark stengler (40:53):
dr. gundry (40:53):
And when you actually break down the breakdown of all these people, if you actually ate a lot of fish and had a glass of red wine and took a baby Aspirin, these people are actually immune from prostate cancer in this study group. And that, of course, didn’t make the news because that isn’t very exciting, but that was actually what should have been the conclusion of that study.
So, yeah, we have to be careful with what the news media thinks is interesting about a study.
dr. mark stengler (41:26):
Yeah, very good point. I use the Omega-3 index too, with our Quest Lab, so probably like you, it’s amazing. It’s kind of like Vitamin D, how many people come out low on the Omega-3 index.
dr. gundry (41:38):
Very true. One other thing that I think you ought to bring up, where do you think lignans fall into all of this?
dr. mark stengler (41:50):
Yes, thank you for asking. I’m a big fan of ground up flax seeds, the lignans you get in flax seeds. There’s some preliminary, not conclusive evidence, that they do have a protective effect against prostate cancer. Lignans are converted into certain compounds in the body by the gut, which help the body to detoxify bad estrogens and as I talked about, high estrogen or certain estrogen metabolites are more associated with prostate cancer and prostate enlargement. Of course, ground flax seeds have Omega-3s to some degree too.
So it is kind of an interesting thing in terms of just specific to prostate health. I do like the ground organic flax seeds.
dr. gundry (42:33):
We used to have our head of oncology in our hospital in the desert who trained at Wayne State in Detroit. And they had a big prostate cancer practice, particularly metastases. And they found that there were some men who didn’t have aggressive metastases compared to other men. And when they actually started looking, these men lived primarily in a community north of Detroit where the chickens were being fed ground up flax seeds. And they found that these guys’ chicken consumption and egg consumption correlated very strongly to less aggressive metastatic prostate cancer, compared to men from other districts in Michigan.
And I remember talking to him about this and he said, well, we just figured that that was just kind of silly. And I said, no, it was the flax seeds; it was the Omega-3 fats and the lignans that they were actually eating by eating these chickens. Fascinating observational study.
dr. mark stengler (43:45):
Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
dr. gundry (43:46):
Have some flax seed eggs, folks. All right. Testosterone. Give us an overview. Men are told, well, as you get older, your testosterone falls and the old joke was eventually, men, you’re going to be more female than your wife because your estrogen level is going to be higher than your wife’s and that’s normal; that’s part of getting old. What do you think?
dr. mark stengler (44:18):
Well, in general, it is true men’s testosterone level drops as men get older. I think there’s actually some protective mechanisms to that. I don’t think it’s all negative necessarily as men age. Our liver’s ability to metabolize hormones and so forth decreases as we age too, as do our kidneys. So, if you think about it from a protective mechanism, it’s not bad in and of itself, because you don’t want high levels or hormone metabolites.
Testosterone gets converted, like I said, into estrogens; it gets converted into dihydrotestosterone which are much more powerful in the stimulation of the prostate gland. But, that being said, testosterone deficiency is actually quite a big problem in American men. We know, depending what study you look at, anywhere from 25 to 45% of men, 45 years and older, have low testosterone.
And testosterone is important for many essential functions. We need it for proper brain and cognitive function. Most people know about it from muscle mass. It’s important for bone mass. As a cardiologist, there’s good studies showing it’s important for cardiovascular health because your heart is made of muscle too. It’s important for mental function health, such as it’s antidepressive. It helps with cognitive function and focus. And helps even with things like erectile function.
So it has many wide ranging activities in the body. So if you have testosterone deficiency, you’re more apt to have one or more of these problems. So, we do see it pretty commonly in men. I think there’s many reasons why a lot of men in America are deficient in testosterone. A lot of it goes back to diet, lifestyle, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to certain toxins they get in their food supply and from the environment. And use of certain medications can be a factor.
So we see it, I see it quite a bit in my practice. And for the men that are mildly low, we just work with diet and lifestyle, nutrients, sometimes supplements. Men that are between mild to moderate, depending what the patient wants to do, we could still use that approach, being more aggressive with supplements. And I do have a fair amount of men I have on bioidentical testosterone replacement as well.
dr. gundry (46:27):
Yeah, I certainly see a very strong correlation with free testosterone levels and men’s insulin levels with their triglycerides which indicate to me their sugar and starch consumption. And we actually see very impressive dramatic elevation in free testosterone when we reduce their simple sugar consumption; when we drop their insulin levels. It actually impresses a great number of men who are convinced that their low T is just because they’ve gotten older. And when we convince them by the numbers that a dietary change made their testosterone go up, they’re pretty impressed.
We make it a habit of measuring both total and free testosterone because so many men that I see have excessive levels of sex hormone binding globulin and I think a lot of practitioners are fooled by looking at just total testosterone, which may actually be normal or even high, but when we look at free testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin, many of these men actually have very low levels of active circulating testosterone, because it’s all bound up. And their local practitioner has no idea, despite the men complaining of low energy and low libido that, no, no, your testosterone’s great. Do you see that in your practice?
dr. mark stengler (48:09):
Oh, absolutely. Yes, I do. So that’s why I run panels. I always run panels on men. I don’t just run like a total testosterone. I run panels. Usually it would have the total and free testosterone, have the sex hormone binding globulin. It would have the estrogens as well. Sometimes or another, hormones too like progesterone and other hormones as well. Thyroid; thyroid can affect testosterone function as well. So usually I run panels, at least initially. But yes, if I’m doing follow-up testing, I will run the total and free testosterone for sure. And you make a good point because look, only about 1% to 2% of your testosterone is unbound or free, so to speak. Having activity in your cells…
And for your viewers and listeners, hormones are very interesting because really, how do they have their effects? Well, they have their effects on your DNA, inside your cell nucleus. So, it’s that free portion which is having the activity. So yes, I see men where the total looks kind of like mid-range or maybe even a little bit high. And then their free level’s low. But their symptoms, their signs and symptoms, correlate with having a low testosterone. So other doctors have not picked up on it.
Now, the nice thing about when just the free testosterone’s low, especially in those men when we work with the diet, the nutrients or the supplements. It responds very, very well. It’s more of a challenge when men have extremely deficient total testosterone levels, there could be more involved with that.
dr. gundry (49:37):
All right. I’m sure a lot of our listeners see ads on the internet or even on TV for testosterone boosters and you’re going to become the biggest manly man that ever existed by sending us $49 today. What do you think?
dr. mark stengler (49:59):
Yeah, seems to be a lot of baseball players, ex-baseball players promoting that. But my experience has been, throughout the years, most of these products are very disappointing. Just because patients have come on; they’ve been using them at the recommended doses; they’ve been on them for months. We’re checking their levels. They’re usually not very impressive.
That being said, what I do in practice and what I reviewed in the book, there are a couple which I think are credible. There’s a very specific type of ashwagand extract I talk about. It has two good studies on it done in men. Actually, one also included women. And it did show in the studies that it did increase testosterone levels significantly as they’re tracking blood levels over time, using a certain type of ashwagand extract.
There’s another one called eurycoma longifolia with the common name tongkat ali, which actually has been very well studied by the Malaysian government. They have quite an industry there with that herbal extract. It’s kind of a hot water extract they use. They’ve done a lot of published research at the universities with it. That also’s been shown to increase both the total and free testosterone in men and in women, as well as improve symptoms of low testosterone.
So I think there are some supplements in use, very specific ones at the right doses, they can be credible, but my experience, what I’ve seen on the market, 90% plus of them are just, I’d call them like semi-placebos. They’re not a whole lot better than placebos, I think.
dr. gundry (51:30):
Great advice, yeah, because we’re seeing that increasingly almost, like you say, a lot of ex-baseball players seem to be pitching these. All right. Well there’s a lot of great information and it’s been great having you on the show. So where can listeners find the book and if you’ll be kind enough to put it up so we can see it. Tell us where to get it; find out more about your work.
dr. mark stengler (51:59):
Yeah, thank you. So Healing the Prostate; you can see it there.
dr. gundry (52:03):
dr. mark stengler (52:04):
That’s the name of the book. Yep. And Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the typical places people can access it. I do cover more than prostate, like you said. I do cover the testosterone deficiency, common male problems like erectile dysfunction, low libido, things of that nature. So it goes beyond the prostate, but also a big focus on prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
dr. gundry (52:28):
And you also have a Series XM show that people can find you.
dr. mark stengler (52:33):
That’s right. Every Saturday we’re on. Saturday mornings for two hours and about 100 other stations around the country and people can learn more about it at my website, America’snaturaldoctor.com, america’snaturaldoctor.com. All the listings of the stations, the times, the place. We turn it into a podcast too and hope to have you on there soon as well.
dr. gundry (52:53):
We’d be thankful to come on your show. And again, we thank you for coming on our show today and good luck with this book. It’s important information that everybody needs to know.
dr. mark stengler (53:06):
Thank you so much.
dr. gundry (53:08):
All right. Take care.
Now it’s time for our audience question. This week’s question comes from CWakeley12 on YouTube who says does water interrupt the mitochondrial resting period? When I fast, I still drink a ton of water. Should I not do that? You may have already covered this in another podcast that I just haven’t gotten to yet.
Well, CWakeley12, thanks for that question. It’s a great question. I’ve never been asked that question, so that’s good.
No, water actually does not interrupt your fast. It does not [inaudible 00:53:43] against you. But since we’re recording this during the month of Ramadan, in my new book, The Energy Paradox, I do talk about the Ramadan life fast, which you may know and since you asked the question, in Ramadan, you eat your breakfast before sunrise and then you do not eat or drink, even water, until after sunset, when you again eat and drink.
And the Ramadan fast which lasts for 30 days has been extensively studied and I talk about it in The Energy Paradox and the fascinating thing is that for 30 days, you literally go out without any liquid for 12 hours every day without any difficulty whatsoever. In fact, athletes have participated on Ramadan fasting in professional competitions.
But the answer to your question in specific is, no, water does not break your fast. So, have all the water you want, but similarly, don’t be worried that you need to drink a lot of water during the time you’re going between meals. And that’s been proven in Ramadan. Great question.
Now it’s time for the review of the week.
Kimberley Snyder (55:18):
Welcome to the Feel Good podcast with Kimberley Snyder. My goal is to help you develop a holistic lifestyle, based on our four cornerstone philosophy. Food, body, emotional wellbeing and spiritual growth. This holistic approach will help you feel good, which I define as being connected to your most authentic higher self. And this is the place from which your energy, confidence, creativity, true power and true beauty will start to explode.
Every week, we provide you with interviews from top experts in their field or a solo cast from yours truly, to support you in living your most beautiful, healthy and joyful life. I’m your host, Kimberley Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times best selling author and holistic wellness, nutrition and meditation teacher. Let’s get started.
dr. gundry (56:11):
This week’s review comes from FastSavanna on YouTube, who watched my Energy Paradox sneak peak and wrote. What have you done to me Dr. Gundry? You’ve turned me into this high energy, high enthusiasm, long life, extremely productive, I can work even after lunch during otherwise siesta time and I feel great and manic individual. I’m always on a high. The day this ceases to be the case, I may crash big time. But wait, crashing is not even a possibility because this lifestyle stabilizes your mind too. Well, thank you Doc.
Well, thank you, FastSavanna and it looks like you’re in the fast lane for good health and glad this energized you and please tell your friends, please tell your friends to listen to that podcast and all the others and when they listen please have them drop us a review just like you did, write us on iTunes because this is how we’re going to reap a bigger audience and give them the chance to have the energy you’re now experiencing. Remember, we’re always doing this because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you. See you next time. And that’s Savanna, FastSavanna.
Disclaimer. On the Dr. Gundry podcast, we provide a venue for discussion and the views expressed by my guests do not necessarily reflect my own.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry podcasts, you could always find me on YouTube at YouTube.com/dr.gundry because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.