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Speaker 1 (00:00):
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.

Dr. Gundry (00:15):
It seems like everyone these days is suffering from low energy and chronic fatigue. Well, I’ve got good news. There is something you can do about it. Why do I feel so tired all the time? Ever heard this one before? Well, I’ve got good news. There is something you can do about it. It’s a radicle new approach to diet and lifestyle that can transform your energy levels and your health forever.

Dr. Gundry (00:38):
My name is Dr. Steven Gundry, and I’m the bestselling author of the Plant Paradox series, and my brand new book, The Energy Paradox, you’re going to learn the simple changes you can make today to lose weight, increase your energy levels, and boost your health. You’re also going to learn why a clock may be the most important tool for improving health, why bananas may actually be draining you of your energy, and why passing gas is actually good for you. Yes, you heard that right. So, make sure to preorder your copy of The Energy Paradox right now. Just go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever books are sold.

Dr. Gundry (01:19):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast. By now, you’re heard me say it time and time again. Growing old does not have to mean your best days are behind you, and it doesn’t mean you’re destined to experience nagging health issues. Well, in my opinion, age really is just a number. It’s the choices we make and the way we live our lives that really impacts our health and longevity. Now in a moment I’ll talk with Marta Zaraska, a science journalist and author of the new book Growing Young. Wow, right up my alley. Who says the power of community and connection are some of the best tools we have for living long, happy, and healthy lives. We’ll talk about why loneliness may be even worse for your health than cigarettes, and share ways you can maximize your lifespan in easy, practical, and unexpected ways. Marta, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today.

Marta Zaraska (02:26):
Thank you so much for inviting me, Steven.

Dr. Gundry (02:30):
Before we dive into your research, I’d love to hear about what started you on this path. How did you go from writing novels to traveling the world to study the link between mind/body connections and longevity?

Marta Zaraska (02:44):
Novels were in my very early years, but I’ve been traveling the world for quite a while now. First, I was a foreign affairs journalist, and now also as a science journalist I often travel to meet researchers and to try things on myself sometimes. Also for writing Growing Young I’ve done quite a lot of traveling. I went to Japan to talk to centenarians there. I participated in some research in Oxford that involves catching wild mice in the forest. I went to a longevity camp in Portugal, so there was quite a lot of traveling involved and quite a lot of fun, I have to admit.

Dr. Gundry (03:24):
What were some of the most fascinating cultures you studied while researching this topic?

Marta Zaraska (03:31):
Definitely the Japanese culture is very, very interesting in regards with longevity. When people think about Japan and longevity, it’s the longest living nation on the planet, so obviously we want to learn from them. Usually we talk about the diet, the Okinawa diet especially, even though Okinawa is no longer the longest lived prefecture in Japan, it’s Nagano these days, but we really like to look what they are eating. How much fish they are eating, how much sushi, how much soy and vegetables, and so on, and yet when I was talking to researchers in Japan, one of the things that usually comes up very fast in our conversation is actually purpose in life. This is something they recognize as a very important part of how long and how healthy we will live. When I talked to researchers in the west, they talk about the diet, about exercise, sleep perhaps, and in Japan really purpose in life comes out at least maybe second or third sentence when we are talking about purpose in life. This is really something that’s seen as a health behavior in Japan, or a health measure.

Dr. Gundry (04:42):
Let’s go there. What the heck is purpose in life? Is that my purpose in life is getting up and having a cup of coffee and a donut, or what does that mean in Japan?

Marta Zaraska (04:56):
They call it ikigai, I’m probably pronouncing it all wrong.

Dr. Gundry (04:59):
No, I think that’s correct. I think that’s correct.

Marta Zaraska (05:00):
Okay. Anyway, so they call it ikigai, and usually when the Japanese people talk about their ikigai or this purpose in life or reason for living, they don’t talk about donuts or they don’t talk about golfing. They talk about the ways in which they can help others or contribute to the community, for example. One thing that really I found fascinating when I was traveling in Japan, I visited something called Gray Hair Retirement Agency. Sorry, actually Employment Agency. What they mean by that is these are employment agencies for people who have retired. Yes, you heard me right. The idea is that you retire from your regular job and then you go to the special retirement employment agency and you find yourself an easier, perhaps part-time job that will still make you involved in the society and make you useful basically. So people go from being bankers to being public space gardeners, or from working in marketing to helping kids cross the street on the way to school. It’s actually very, very popular in Japan. You see these elderly people everywhere doing their retirement silver-hair jobs. This is also very often their ikigai, this purpose in life, so being useful, helping others, doing something. It can be something very small. It can be helping your neighbors keep your street clean, for example, or taking care of your grandchildren, but there is usually some helping involved.

Dr. Gundry (06:34):
Yeah. I think in my book, The Longevity Paradox, one of the things I stressed is that when you look at many of the long-lived societies, their super elders really never retire from what they do. They’re still herding sheep, they’re still making cheese, or they’re still… They’re really an important resource for the community, if nothing else. Certainly in the west, sadly, we now try to retire early. I know in France they push to retire early. I tell my patients, “Don’t you ever retire. It’s really one of the stupidest things you can do,” because I literally see people’s health begin this downward spiral after they retire. You found that not only in Japan, but did you find other communities where that’s true?

Marta Zaraska (07:41):
There’s plenty of western research on that as well, exactly what you are saying, that when people retire very often their health actually does go downhill. People who retire early tend to live shorter than people who don’t retire, and it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to copy exactly what the Japanese are doing. Their cultures are different and we don’t have to all become public space gardeners let’s say, but it’s important to find something. You don’t have to have an actual employment contract until you’re 110, but you have to have this purpose in life. There is so much research on various societies, American, British, other European ones as well, that you have to have something to live for. As I said before, it can be really something small, just a reason to get up in the morning that also makes you contribute to the society, not just coffee and donuts.

Dr. Gundry (08:34):
Yeah, and actually I give some of my elderly patients prescriptions to get a dog, because purpose of taking care of the dog, it turns out the dog obviously gives them a wonderful purpose and they frame their little prescription for a dog after they get the dog. “Oh, no, I’m too old for a dog. What if I die?” I say, “Don’t worry. Somebody is going to take your dog.” You’re right. People have to have a purpose.

Marta Zaraska (09:07):
Another thing about a dog, actually, there is some fascinating research showing that if you look deeply into your dog’s eyes, you get a boost of oxytocin, so the social hormone that has lots of downhill also positive effects on your body. For example, it’s a natural painkiller and helps inflammation abate. So looking into your dog’s eyes can have direct physical effects, positive effects, on your body.

Dr. Gundry (09:32):
My wife looks into one of our dog’s eyes in particular all the time. It’s a very soulful look. We have three dogs now. One of them we would not look in her eyes, because we call her the devil dog for obvious reasons, and I’m not sure that would have the same effect.

Dr. Gundry (09:53):
Speaking of social and social behavior, in your book you mention that we are a social species that has actually self-domesticated over time. I want to hear your take on this, because actually my research as an undergraduate at Yale was in human evolution, biologic and social evolution. This has been one of my fascinations for a very long time, so go for it. What do you mean?

Marta Zaraska (10:25):
Self-domestication is, obviously, not my discovery. It’s something I’ve talked over a lot with Professor Richard Wrangham at Harvard. He wrote a very delightful book on this top, exactly how humans self-domesticated. Basically, he argues that just like other species, for example, dogs, as we mentioned before, are domesticated, humans also are a domesticated species because our temperaments have changed and also our body has changed in line with what happens to other species when they are domesticated. For example, we are much milder in our temperaments than our cousin, chimpanzees, and we also look slightly different. We, for example, have white eye sclera, we have pink lips, and these are things that happen. There are some very complicated biological processes involving something called neural crest. I won’t go deep into it. It’s fairly complicated, but basically it caused discoloration that’s connected to the way your hormones work in your body. These are the same hormones that make us milder, calmer.

Marta Zaraska (11:31):
Basically humans, Wrangham argues, self-selected for milder temperaments, for not being so hot tempered. The chimpanzees when they start fighting they will basically bite each other’s heads off, sometimes literally. We tend not to do it. Yes, sometimes we fight in bars and so on and so on, but this is really nothing compared to how we would have been if we hadn’t self-domesticated. Before you say that we are still a pretty mean species because we go to war, Wrangham argues this is a very different type of aggression. There is difference between pre-planned, cold-blooded aggression to hot-tempered, chimpanzee-style aggression, which we don’t really have much of.

Marta Zaraska (12:13):
We are a very domesticated species. Why is this important? It’s important because we have all these social hormones, oxytocin, serotonin, vasopressin, endorphins. These are hormones that are very important for our social life, for being this social ape, and also directly physically for the functioning of our body, because they are both having this emotional effect and very purely physiological effects on us.

Dr. Gundry (12:41):
Let’s go down that road for a little bit, because you and I off camera were talking about Covid-19, and I agree with you, and I think all of us agree, that we are a very social creature and we clearly are social animals and we need social interaction. What do you think about Covid-19? Can we handle this social isolation much longer?

Marta Zaraska (13:10):
Very difficult question. Unfortunately, the truth is that social isolation is not good for humans. It’s just not. We evolved to be among others, with our tribes, and this is where we function the best. For example, when we are socially isolated our antiviral response doesn’t function the same way. It actually functions worse, which is very worrying when you are thinking about what we are trying to avoid here. We are trying to avoid the virus and by being lonely or isolated our antiviral response functions worse. If we are not getting hugs, for example, studies show that when people are not hugged often, their antiviral response also is worse. They’re much more prone to get a cold, for example. People who are lonely, there were some fascinating experiments where scientists actually put the cold viruses into volunteers noses, at the same time measuring who was lonely and how lonely they were, and those who were the most lonely were also the most likely to actually develop the symptoms of the cold after having the virus put into their noses. Things are not good when you are socially isolated.

Marta Zaraska (14:19):
Of course, I’m absolutely not saying that we should stop socially distancing. I live in France. We’ve been really, really touched badly here with the virus, and we’ve been on a complete lockdown for 56 days when we couldn’t leave our house without special permission. Yes, we need to isolate, but also, yes, it has negative effects on us, so we have to do things to counteract it. You said even looking in your dog’s eyes can help, and if you have other people in your household that you can safely hug, then please do so, and do so often, because it’s really important for proper functioning of all the social systems in our body.

Dr. Gundry (14:57):
I’m going to go home and hug my dog and look in the eyes as well. As well as my wife. I’ll hug her and look her in the eyes, too. What is it about loneliness and social distancing that’s so damaging to our health? In the book you compare it to health dangers like cigarette smoking or bad nutrition. Is it that bad?

Marta Zaraska (15:21):
It’s that bad. We evolved as social apes. Think about exactly our closest cousin, chimpanzees, even though they are not so domesticated they are still the closest we have, and just like they are, we are very social. We evolved to live in a tribe, and when we are outside of the tribe all these negative processes start cascading down in our bodies, starting with the fight or flight response, this kind of stress response. When you’re alone on the Savannah, obviously a lot of bad things can happen to you when you’re outside alone without the help of the others, and all the stress systems start working, cascading, loads of hormones get released, including cortisol, adrenaline, all this stuff that generally has bad effects on your health, just to simplify it very much here.

Marta Zaraska (16:09):
As you’ve said, loneliness is so bad for us that when, for example, scientists put all these numbers together they show that a complex measure of social integration. For example, how many friends you have, whether you know your neighbors, whether you’re involved in your community, whether you have a romantic partner, all this taken together it can lower your mortality risk by about 65%, whereas cigarettes it’s only about… By cigarettes, I mean stopping smoking if you are a very heavy smoker, this can lower your mortality risk by about 50%, whereas diet and exercise it usually hovers between 20% and 30%. We have 65% versus 20-30%, so this is a really, really huge impact on our life if we had this really well built social network.

Dr. Gundry (17:00):
Are you saying that if I want to live a long time I better go get a romantic relationship if I don’t have one?

Marta Zaraska (17:09):
I mean it will be very good for you, yes, especially for men, actually. Bizarrely, studies done do show that men profit much more from a committed romantic relationship than do women, and even more bizarrely, whereas for women the romantic relationship does have to be definitely happy, for men even a so-so romantic relationship actually helps, too, so scientists are still quite surprised by this. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that women tend to organize the social life of the family, but definitely there is some kind of effect. In research, it’s been replicated over and over and over again that men can profit even from a mediocre romantic relationship.

Dr. Gundry (17:57):
Is there evidence that when a divorce happens or loss of a spouse for other reasons, that men will do worse from all that.

Marta Zaraska (18:10):
Yes, unfortunately, there is something called the widower effect, and there is also again plenty of research showing that especially within the first week after a spouse dies, the second spouse is much more likely to pass away as well. This effect has been known for centuries. It recently has been really thoroughly confirmed by proper modern studies, but it does exist. It’s really risky, especially the first seven days after the spouse passes.

Dr. Gundry (18:39):
Yeah, I’ve definitely seen that in my own practice where one of the spouses may actually be exceptionally healthy and the unhealthy one passes away and, you’re right, within a very short time period all of a sudden that spouse… I’ve even seen spouses admitted to the hospital within a couple days of each other. When one gets severely ill, the next one ends up in the bed nextdoor.

Marta Zaraska (19:09):

Dr. Gundry (19:10):
Okay. What about synchrony with others? The power of synchrony. Do I have to be synchronized with my tribe, or what does that mean?

Marta Zaraska (19:24):
You don’t have to be synchronized, but as I write in Growing Young, synchrony has a very powerful effect on us that tends to double the beneficial effects of some things that we do with others. For example, things like dancing or singing or sports. What happens when you do things in synchrony, and by synchrony I mean, for example, when we line dance or when we sing in a choir or we do this macarena-style dancing. What happens is that you get about a double boost of endorphins, the social hormones that are also natural pain killers. Scientists don’t completely understand why this can be happening. Some say mirror neurons, that’s very often what scientists say when they don’t know what’s happening. Other look at some different parts of the brain, like [inaudible 00:20:14] for example. But we still don’t completely understand what’s happening. Possibly there is some electrical synchronization between our brains as well.

Marta Zaraska (20:24):
Definitely humans love synchrony. You can see it, for example, when you are sitting in a rocking chair and there is a second person in a second rocking chair beside you. After a very short while you’ll synchronize and start rocking in the same speed. Even small babies love synchrony to the point that they prefer a person with whom they are engaged in doing something in synchrony. They will be much more willing to help somebody with whom they have been in synchrony. The same happens to adults as well. You are much more likely to like people with whom you’ve done synchrony. For example, if you sing in a choir, you are going to be very much more connected and trusting the people with whom you sing than if you engage in some other activity. Synchrony is very, very beneficial to us.

Dr. Gundry (21:15):
Can you also be in synchrony if you’re a fan of a sports team and you go to watch them? Is that okay or do you actually have to be active?

Marta Zaraska (21:26):
It depends what you do as a fan. If you do this wave or the shouting at the same time with others, yes, it works perfectly well. It doesn’t matter what kind of synchrony. There are even studies showing that you can be drumming fingers on a table together in synchrony with others, and it already works. As long as you do something synchronously. We just love… Our bodies love this kind of togetherness that is created this way.

Dr. Gundry (21:52):
In the United States, kids play a game, Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake Baker’s Man.

Marta Zaraska (21:57):

Dr. Gundry (21:58):
That’s synchrony. Is that why we do that?

Marta Zaraska (22:00):
It’s synchrony. Yes, yes. We just, as I said, even babies love synchrony. We evolved to love synchrony. You can see synchrony everywhere. On all the continents for our history humans were doing synchronous dancing and synchronous singing.

Dr. Gundry (22:14):

Marta Zaraska (22:14):
Prayer is synchrony. It really does give us something, and scientists now see that endorphins seem to be key here. The happy hormones that also… It’s the same thing that you get when you have the so-called runner’s high. You also get endorphins. And here you get double the runner’s high from doing things in synchrony. So if you jog, for example, it’s better to do it with another person, because you’ll have double the benefits.

Dr. Gundry (22:40):
All right. Very good. That means I’ve got to get faster, because my wife’s a better runner than me, but okay. Okay. I want to change directions for a minute.

Dr. Gundry (22:51):
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Dr. Gundry (23:33):
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Dr. Gundry (24:17):
In my new book The Energy Paradox, you’re going to learn why fiber is so critical for increasing your energy levels. There’s just one problem, though. Nine in 10 people are deficient in this critical nutrient. Nine in 10. Now I get it. We all live busy lives and many of us just don’t have the time to prepare home cooked meals rich in prebiotic fibers and resistant starches. Besides prebiotic supplements, I discovered a great on-the-go solution to make sure you get enough fiber in your diet every single day. It’s a keto bread by Uprising Foods with a whopping 9 grams of fiber in every slice. I like to slice it very thin and toast it up for a great way to break my fast. They also have fiber rich crackers, too. My wife, Penny, adores the savory rye crackers. They taste just like regular rye crackers, but instead of the lectin bomb rye ingredient, they’re packed with gut-boosting ingredients like psyllium husk and flaxseed.

Dr. Gundry (25:16):
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Dr. Gundry (25:54):
There’s a lot of people, including myself, that believe Edison is the cause of all modern disease. That’s because up until 120 years ago we all lived in sync with daylight. Today, though, blue light coming from our phones, TVs, computer screens, and most modern day light bulbs is making is hungry, sick, and tired. That’s why in all my Paradox books I recommend limiting your screen time a few hours before bed and wearing blue-blocking glasses like Blublox when you’re watching TV or working on your computer. Unlike other types of blue light glasses, Blublox are evidence-backed and made under optics laboratory conditions in Australia. Blublox offers high-quality lenses for daytime, nighttime, and for color therapy, exactly in line with the suggested peer-reviewed academic literature.

Dr. Gundry (26:41):
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Dr. Gundry (27:37):
If there’s one key to longevity my listeners hear me talk about all the time, it’s the importance of gut health. As I explain in my book, Longevity Paradox, we actually share very similar gut microbiomes to those that we hang around with most often. Can you explain the relationships between relationships and gut health. Is there something there?

Marta Zaraska (28:02):
Yes, totally. As I said before when I was researching Growing Young, I traveled to Oxford where I observed some researchers studying mice in the forest. What they were doing was exactly to study how relationships and gut health are connected. What they were doing, they were observing using infrared cameras mice in their burrows to see who was meeting whom and who was friends with whom and so on and so on, to check on their social life. At the same time, from time to time they would very humanely catch them and basically check their poop to see what kind of microbes they had, and also check on their temperament, whether they were anxious or happy and so on and so on. They could really see that the mice that were the most social and that had the most diverse networks of friends, you could say, had also the most diverse microbiomes in their guts. As we know in general, having the diverse microbiome in your gut is a good thing for your health. The same thing happens with us humans.

Marta Zaraska (29:10):
We actually tend to exchange our gut microbes with other people, also with family pets, so you’re also exchanging your gut microbes with your dogs. For example, when scientists study team sports, they can see that where two teams are meeting and playing some kind of contact sports, they also exchange microbes between each other. These are generally good things for us and also affecting our emotions and our temperaments, because we know from research [inaudible 00:29:42], if you transfer, for example, microbiomes from a gloomy mouse to another mouse, the second mouse will become gloomy as well. It really impacts. It’s all very much connected.

Dr. Gundry (29:55):
No, that’s absolutely true. We are beginning to realize how important the gut microbiome diversity and, you’re right, you can have a happy microbiome and you can have an aggressive microbiome and you can have a depressed microbiome, and, you’re right, this can be transferred. Long ago I wrote back in the 1930s they actually did an experiment which you’d never be able to do now, is they gave people who were depressed who were admitted to hospitals enemas, clean them out, and then gave them fecal enemas from happy people, and most of the depressed people got happy. What a good treatment, really.

Marta Zaraska (30:48):
Yeah. At least now these days you can try to hug more happy people, I guess. That’s a more 21st century approved way of doing things.

Dr. Gundry (30:58):
It’s true that if your friends are obese, you have a very high likelihood of becoming obese yourself, even if you were skinny when you joined that group of people. They transfer this obesogenic microbiome to you just hanging out with people. Does that mean that we shouldn’t hang out with obese people?

Marta Zaraska (31:26):
That sounds horrible.

Dr. Gundry (31:28):
I’m sorry. I don’t want to hang out with you. No, I don’t think we mean to imply that.

Marta Zaraska (31:33):
No, definitely no. It’s definitely better to have more friends than to be… I think that if you went into this kind of mindset it has to have some negative consequences. I cannot imagine that this can be good.

Dr. Gundry (31:44):
No. Yeah. We’re not implying that, those of you who are listening. What about probiotics, friendly bacteria? Is there any connection to brain activity and emotions with probiotics?

Marta Zaraska (31:58):
Yes, plenty. As you probably know there is also quite fascinating research showing that when people drink probiotics, for example, such as fermented milk products, it can affect their emotions and their moods generally for the better. They can become less anxious, for example, if they drink this kind of products.

Dr. Gundry (32:24):
We’re the highest of all species, ha ha ha, but so many people just don’t like the idea that single-cell organisms like bacteria could actually have some effect on our mood and happiness. What say you?

Marta Zaraska (32:47):
We are biological creatures. It’s all so fascinatingly connected. When I talk, for example, about those social hormones I mentioned before, they also play a role when we’re talking about gut microbiome, because actually when the microbes in your gut are talking with your brain, one of the pathways they are using are again those neurotransmitters, so, for example, serotonin. It’s all connected. Your stress axis, your social actions, your emotions, your gut, it’s just all so connected.

Dr. Gundry (33:25):
Have there been any research of social isolation changing the gut microbiome for the worse?

Marta Zaraska (33:36):
There is some research like that, unfortunately. It’s been done on mice. As you said, these days we don’t tend to do such fascinating but very ethically inappropriate research in the 20th century. These days it is done on mice, and, yes, there is research showing that when mice are socially isolated, the gut microbiome is much poorer, with obviously negative health effects.

Dr. Gundry (34:04):
I want to get back to volunteering for a minute. My father took early retirement at age 62 because his father had died at age 54, and my father was just absolutely convinced that he was going to die in that age and he was shocked that he was still alive at 62. It’s fascinating. Initially retirement was not for him, so he became a greeter at Walmart. I don’t know if you know Walmart. It’s one of our giant stores. He really loved it, but then he started volunteering at his local hospital and became head of the volunteers at the hospital. His only problem was he lived until he was 91. On his 90th birthday, he said, “You know, if I knew I was going to live until 90, I wouldn’t have retired at 62.” I think that volunteering was what had him make it to 91. Is volunteering that important after you retire, or can you volunteer even while you’re doing other jobs?

Marta Zaraska (35:21):
Definitely volunteering, or generally caring for other people, being kind, is extremely important. There is lots of research on volunteering showing that it can lower your mortality risk anywhere between 20% to 44%, so at least as much as healthy diet, so eating, let’s say, six portions of fruits and vegetables a day. This is a very, very powerful effect once again. There are studies showing that volunteers, for example, spend about 37% less time in hospitals than people who don’t volunteer, so there is really a lot of things going on here. But also kindness, just simple everyday kindness can work. You don’t have to formally volunteer, even though definitely it has very strong benefits, but generally caring for other people, just being helpful, even in formal settings, it activates what scientists call caregiving systems in our body that basically calm down our stress response, because you cannot care for other people if you are extremely anxious, so the body systems that are responsible for stress have to calm down when you are caring for others. It has very beneficial effects on our bodies.

Dr. Gundry (36:31):
Oftentimes when I bring this up with my patients, they say, “Well, I don’t have a clue in how I go about volunteering for something.” Did you ever run into that in your research? How do you volunteer?

Marta Zaraska (36:49):
That’s an interesting question. Again, it can be formal volunteering, but it can also be just being kind in everyday life. There is also research showing that just so-called random acts of kindness, opening doors for other people, letting others ahead in traffic, making coffee for your spouse, or buying cookies for other people at work. Such things also activate this caregiving system. Just basically thinking about others can really lower your levels of stress hormones in your body. Actually, when I was writing Growing Young I did some fascinating experiments because it was just a sample of one, so not that scientific, but I did it in collaboration with a scientist from King’s College, London, who actually checked my cortisol levels three times a day when I was engaging in acts of kindness on Sundays and on other days I was just living my life as usual.

Marta Zaraska (37:51):
What they discovered was that on the days when I was doing plentiful kindness, so I would basically wake up in the morning and think, okay, how can I be nice today. It was loads of fun, actually, doing that. I would do these very small things, just maybe buy a sandwich for a homeless person or just pick up some trash on the streets where I live, just very small things, but on those days my cortisol levels were much healthier than on all the other days, even though it was completely independent on how actually stressful these days were for me. It was very fascinating for me to see it on myself, even though there is lots of proper research on big samples showing exactly the same thing, that when you do kind things, when you help others, it calms down your stress response, you get better cortisol, healthier cortisol response as an effect.

Dr. Gundry (38:51):
Wait a minute. Suppose you wake up tomorrow and it’s the day you’re supposed to be kind and you go, “I don’t want to be kind today. This is not a good day to be kind,” and then you had to be kind. Would it drop your stress levels or did it make you stressed that you had to be kind?

Marta Zaraska (39:10):
Maybe for some people. I actually experienced it as a lot of… It was very pleasurable, just even planning the kindness. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dr. Gundry (39:21):
All right. We mentioned something about women and women in general are far better at socialization than men. One of, for instance, the reasons that Weight Watchers does very, very well with women is that women really want to get in a group and talk, and it does really horrible with men. It’s never worked for men, because the only reason men want to get in a group is to talk about football or drink. What is it about women? How come you guys are so good at empathizing with others?

Marta Zaraska (40:11):
It’s true that research does show that women volunteer more, they’re better at friendships. Probably a lot of it is cultural. There may be a little bit based on empathy. There are studies showing that testosterone has negative effects on empathy levels, although also it’s not like if you are born with little empathy you cannot do anything about it, because you can practice empathy as well, but it is true that testosterone has negative effects on empathy. There is something biological, probably, going on as well. Which also explains, for example, what we’ve talked before, this marriage effect that for men even a so-so marriage can be good, whereas for women it has to be a happy marriage. So definitely some of the difference why women tend to live longer than men may be due to their social skills and some engaging and volunteering or donating money and things like that.

Dr. Gundry (41:10):
Okay. Now another thing you bring up in the book is optimism, and I write about that as well. What does the effect of being optimistic have on longevity?

Marta Zaraska (41:24):
Optimism is amazing. When you think about it, it can add anywhere from 4 to 10 years to your life, so it’s really a lot. There were so many different studies done on very different populations showing the same effect, and very often this number 10 years tends to appear. For example, the very famous study on Catholic nuns where scientists studied diaries written by nuns, which are great for studying things like that because they tend to wake up at the same hour, they eat the same thing, they spend their days in very similar ways, so it’s a very controlled population, and yet those dones who in their diaries were using the most upbeat language, the most cheerful words to describe their lives outlived by about exactly 10 years the other nuns who were much more gloomy in the way they saw their life. They were using much more pessimistic and downbeat words. A very similar study was done also on famous psychologists as well. Scientists analyzed autobiographies and found that those who were the most upbeat also lived 10 years longer. There is something definitely going on, especially with 10 years, that people who are more optimistic, more cheerful, simply live longer.

Dr. Gundry (42:42):
Is there a way to make yourself more optimistic or more cheerful, or is that some innate quality?

Marta Zaraska (42:50):
A very small part of it is innate, but it’s a very small part. There’s plenty of books out there that tell you that you can learn optimism, and there is plenty of research confirming that, yes, indeed, you can practice it. I give some tips in Growing Young, but, again, there are a lots of book that have been written only about how to become more optimistic. It’s definitely something that can be worked on.

Dr. Gundry (43:14):
Well, I always ask for at least one tip, so give me one tip on how to practice optimism.

Marta Zaraska (43:22):
I think the most typical is the cognitive behavioral therapy, so just changing your thought patterns. Whenever something you are having negative thoughts, try to think where it came from and whether, for example, how likely is this thing is to happen. When you are saying, “I’m going to definitely lose my job,” is it likely to happen? Are you just maybe dramatizing things that are not really going to happen? As I said, there are lots and lots of books that have been written exactly on this topic how to be optimistic, so the readers can definitely find something for them.

Dr. Gundry (44:06):
All right. I’m going to have a lot of optimism that our listeners will find something. How did researching this book change your life? Are there things you do differently now after all this research?

Marta Zaraska (44:22):
I hope so. I definitely hope I’m kinder. I’m trying to be kinder. I’m trying to see a lot of things as health behavior, as I haven’t recognized as such before. Before I wrote Growing Young, I was always very health conscious. I ate very healthily, I exercise, I run, but before, for example, if I were to give up on my daily run to meet with friends I would feel as if I were losing something in terms of health, because I wasn’t doing my run. Now I recognize that maybe sometimes skipping on my runs to meet with friends is actually perhaps even better for me, because being with my friends is also a health behavior.

Marta Zaraska (45:10):
One very specific example, I was planning to run a half marathon this year. It was before the coronavirus happened, but obviously it required a lot of preparation. Normally I run 5-6K a day, and to run a half marathon you have to run much more, and it takes a lot of time. I realized that the time it would take, it would take the time away from me talking with my husband, basically, sitting on the couch and having daily chats with him, and I decided that it’s much better for me also from the perspective of my health, not just my mental health and happiness, but also my physical health to run maybe a little bit less and spend more time on the couch with my husband, maybe with a glass of wine chatting and just connecting, because this is also about health, not just about some kind of pleasure and happiness that has nothing to do with physiology. It actually also is about longevity.

Dr. Gundry (46:03):
All right, so maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t naturally initiate conversation or social interactions with others or maybe you don’t necessarily feel motivated to volunteer, how do you do this? How do you pull this off?

Marta Zaraska (46:22):
People often ask me if you are an introvert are you doomed, and what I answer is that absolutely not. It’s not about being the heart of the party. You don’t have to be surrounded by hundreds of people and going to nightclubs and things like that. It’s just about connecting. For example, introverts are very good at connecting one on one. You don’t have to have 50 people in the room and all the time around you, but do connect. Most people enjoy it, even those who are very much introverted still usually have at least one very good friend. As long as the number of your friends is not zero, whatever feels good for you, if your needs are satisfied, if you really feel that there are people who will help you if you’re in need, that there is someone you can always talk to. Whether it’s one person or five or seven, it really doesn’t matter, as long as you feel the number is right for you. This is what’s necessary.

Marta Zaraska (47:21):
But we have to think about friendships and relationships and community in terms of health as well. It’s not just something on top of your miracle foods and fad diets and so on and so on. It’s actually something that’s possibly even more important than some things that we do, the obsessive dieting and things like that. It may be more important for you, for your longevity, than that.

Dr. Gundry (47:48):
If somebody reads your book, can they use this as a great pickup line in a bar after Covid saying, “Can I buy you a drink because I want to live a lot longer?”

Marta Zaraska (47:57):
Sure. I haven’t thought of that, but why not?

Dr. Gundry (48:01):
Yeah. I think you could write a book just on that. Other than that as a pickup line, give me another example of what our listeners can do in their day-to-day life of improving this aspect.

Marta Zaraska (48:25):
Definitely make sure to basically schedule time for your friendships. We are so busy these days, but we spend so much time thinking about nutrition and exercise. We have apps, for examples, that remind us about our fasting or about drinking water, but we don’t really have apps that remind you call your friend or meet with your friends, and we should. We should have reminders also saying did you call your best friend today, have you talked to your husband or your wife today? These are at least as important for your health, so we should really think in these terms, to make time in our calendar for our friends. Research really does show that it’s important to meet your friends as often as possible, and once a month is not enough.

Marta Zaraska (49:10):
And also things like, for example, conscientiousness is another thing we haven’t actually discussed. Studies how that being conscientious, this kind of person who has a clean desk and pays bills on time. It may sound very boring, but actually it’s very good for your health, and not only because people like that take their pills on time and go to their doctors appointments as they should, there are actually physiological links as well that researchers find. This thing, this optimism like we talked before, conscientiousness, optimism, this kind of personality characteristics can be worked on. They can be changed, they can be practiced just like exercise. The same for empathy. It’s like a muscle. The more you use it, the more you try to be optimistic, try to be conscientious and empathetic, the more you become so. So basically fake it until you make it. Think of it as a muscle and something that can be very slowly improved.

Dr. Gundry (50:14):
We’ve talked about Covid. Is there any research that Zoom calls and Skype and Facetime can help this social interaction, or do we have to have physical presence?

Marta Zaraska (50:34):
Definitely physical presence is the most important and the best because we need, for example, touch, physical touch. Hugging, holding hands, touching, or looking directly into each other’s eyes, these are the best for getting this boost of social hormones like oxytocin, but definitely if we are isolating and we cannot be in person with the other people, it’s definitely better to all or video call than to text. There’s actual research exactly on that topic, showing that when you hear the voice of another person you get a bigger boost of oxytocin, so this love hormone that also is good for, for example, keeping your inflammation in check than if you text. It’s better to call than text, because texting just doesn’t bring the same oxytocin boost as actually hearing the voice of the other person.

Dr. Gundry (51:29):
That’s great advice. I have two grown daughters. It’s actually one of my daughter’s birthday today, and I’ve got to call her, but she hates phone calls. Hates them. Loves texts. She always says, “Text me. Don’t call me. I don’t have the time to call.” All right. I’m going to tell her that today.

Marta Zaraska (51:49):

Dr. Gundry (51:50):
All right.

Marta Zaraska (51:50):
She’s getting less oxytocin.

Dr. Gundry (51:52):
Yeah, you need more oxytocin. Well, Marta, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show today. Where can listeners find Growing Young and learn more about you and your research?

Marta Zaraska (52:06):
There is the book’s website I think is the best place to go. It’s www.GrowingYoungTheBook.com, and you can find me on Twitter. That is the best place, I guess. It’s mzaraska, and you can connect there with me.

Dr. Gundry (52:24):
Very good. What’s next for you now that you’re going to live forever?

Marta Zaraska (52:32):
Yeah, we’ll see about that. I’m trying my best. Hopefully, I will live long enough to write many more books. I’m working on my third right now. I actually started writing yesterday, so that’s… Yeah.

Dr. Gundry (52:45):
Very good.

Marta Zaraska (52:46):
I already have 1,000 words, so 74,000 to go more or less.

Dr. Gundry (52:51):
I know what you mean, I know what you mean. All right, well, take care of yourself, and I hope Covid doesn’t reactive over there, but it sounds like it’s coming.

Marta Zaraska (53:01):

Dr. Gundry (53:02):
All right. Bye.

Marta Zaraska (53:04):
Thank you.

Dr. Gundry (53:05):
All right, it’s time for our audience question.

Kimberly Snyder (53:13):
Welcome to the Feel Good podcast with Kimberly 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, highest 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, Kimberly Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times Bestselling Author, and holistic wellness, nutrition, and meditation teacher. Let’s get started.

Speaker 5 (54:06):
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Dr. Gundry (54:33):
This week, Klimba-Roo on Instagram asks, “Is sugar withdrawal a real thing? During my first attempt to cut out sugar, I started to feel really nauseous around day three. Now on another attempt, I’m starting to feel sick around day six.” That’s actually a really good question, and I’m going to use it as a teaser for the upcoming book The Energy Paradox. Quite frankly, about 80% of us are not necessarily addicted to sugar, but have what’s called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome or metabolic inflexibility, where you cannot right away make the change for your mitochondria, the little energy organelles in all your cells which can burn glucose, which is half sugar, or free fatty acids, fat, as fuels. About 80% of us can’t make a switch because we’re basically stuck on burning glucose as a fuel. But don’t worry. Help is coming. I’m going to teach you how to get out of that trap that about 80% of Americans are in. Please stay tuned. That’s a great question. You’re right. You’re probably metabolically inflexible and we’re going to teach you how to get flexible.

Dr. Gundry (56:08):
Time for review of the week. This week’s review comes from Elite Dragon on YouTube who watched the episode on the end of Alzheimer’s disease and wrote, “Thank you so much, Dr. Gundry and Dr. Bredesen for this fantastic session and for all of your hard work. My whole family listened. This is the first time I’ve watched you on YouTube, and since then your podcast has been running all day long.” Boy, you have nothing better to do, Elite Dragon, but thanks so much for sharing. It’s great to hear that you and your family are dedicated to learning and improving your health together. Each time you rate and review us on iTunes, it helps us reach a wider audience so that we can continue our mission of transforming everyone’s health, and I do mean everyone all across the globe because, as you know, I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you. We’ll see you next week.

Dr. Gundry (57:08):
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.

Dr. Gundry (57:20):
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 podcast, you can always find me on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrGundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.