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Dr. Steven Masley has found that the most efficient path to greater overall health is to focus on the diet. His new book “The Mediterranean Method” is filled with tips and recipes for using the Mediterranean cuisine to dramatically change your body and brain. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Masley gives some of the highlights from his book.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like Brain SPECT Imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We are still here with our friend, Dr. Steven Masley. We're talking about his new book coming out, the Mediterranean method. You may have seen Dr. Masley on PBS and we're just so blessed to have him here with us today talking about fast strategies. So we want to know what we can leave our listeners and our followers with that will help them feel better. You know, not just like through like post-holiday blues people. We see them, you know, after sort of gorging from Halloween through new years. What can people do to feel better as they come out of the holidays and move into the new year?
Dr Steven Masley: I think maybe the biggest single choice we make is the food we eat. You know, what do we put on a fork and put in our mouth? And the key to me, you know what I've learned, I've just spent seven months sailing and traveling in the Mediterranean sea, looking at how people in Mediterranean countries eat.
Dr Daniel Amen: Now that is research.
Dr Steven Masley: It's simple.
Dr Daniel Amen: I love that research.
Dr Steven Masley: They're eating simple, fresh, local food without preservatives that they made themselves. Even though you know the restaurants, it's like a lot of ma and pa like restaurants where they just ... and they don't try to make 50 dishes.
Tana Amen: No.
Dr Steven Masley: They make a few things really well. They don't overdo it. They don't make it overly complicated-
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Steven Masley: Like you might see in a restaurant in the U.S. It's simple, wholesome food without chemicals, without preservatives, without sweeteners, ingredients and then you ... it tastes so good, you feel fantastic.
Tana Amen: And there's not 15 choices for salad dressings-
Dr Daniel Amen: But I'm confused because I've seen this Mediterranean thing for a long time. But when we go to Italy, which is one of our favorite places to go. Loaded with pasta that's gluten-based, loaded with pizza, which is gluten, dairy, and the fruit, tomatoes, people don't think of tomatoes as fruit, but they are because they have more sugar. So how do we-
Tana Amen: Yeah I want to push back on that though.
Dr Daniel Amen: How do we reconcile what you think of-
Tana Amen: But wait.
Dr Daniel Amen: As an Italian restaurant, a Mediterranean restaurant, and my experience in Italy, as this is somehow good for me.
Tana Amen: Wait, I want to push back on that for one second because one thing I noticed was, yes there is that, but a lot of the restaurants, it's homemade. It's actually made right there. But number two, this portion sizes were significantly smaller and like you said, Dr Masley, the farmer's markets, every morning when we stayed, what it was in Navona, was it Navona Square where we stayed. Every morning, the farmer's market was right there, the little fresh market you go through and people don't have big refrigerators. Where we stayed there was no ... like the refrigerator is tiny, you had to buy stuff every day. So it's the whole lifestyle is a little bit different-
Dr Daniel Amen: But what about the gluten, dairy, high levels of tomatoes?
Tana Amen: Well I wouldn't ... the last time we were there, there was a big shift. There were ... everywhere we went, you could get gluten-free stuff. That was the first time I'd ever been there where I saw that.
Dr Steven Masley: You can get gluten-free-
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Steven Masley: Almost everywhere. There, it's a frenzy, right?
Tana Amen: It is.
Dr Steven Masley: So gluten-free is more available-
Tana Amen: First time I saw that.
Dr Steven Masley: Now than I've ever seen before-
Tana Amen: And in Paris too.
Dr Steven Masley: And portion sizes are dramatically smaller.
Dr Daniel Amen: But William Davis would say gluten-free isn't-
Dr Steven Masley: Remember if you, when you think about a meal in Italy, you might usually have an appetizer which typically you could be olives or some vegetable, you know, different vegetables that were marinated with vinegar and you know, which helps gives you stomach acid for digestion. And then you might have a pasta dish but it's like, or it comes on a little salad plate-
Tana Amen: It's a lot smaller.
Dr Steven Masley: Not a massive cloud or like we would get here. And then you have your main course and the main course is a big portion of vegetables and a small portion of clean protein.
Tana Amen: Now, that's not to say though that in some of the cities, we've seen more westernization.
Dr Steven Masley: Yes.
Tana Amen: But when you get outside the cities, like you said, on the Mediterranean, they don't even speak English and there are a lot more traditional. That's what I know.
Dr Steven Masley: Right. So if you're in Rome and Florence and Venice, it's much more touristy and I don't see that as much. But I mean mostly I'm in small town, small ports, markets, restaurants, and you know, and then you know, so your biggest portion is vegetables and salad and the appetizer, which is olives.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Steven Masley: And then they give you dessert. Here, we charge for dessert. They give you dessert for free, which is fruit.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Steven Masley: It's like melon or frequently berries or you know, pear and apple. I mean-
Tana Amen: Yeah, in Greece they give you Greek yogurt-
Dr Daniel Amen: Now I'm thinking about Tiramisu and gelato and-
Tana Amen: Yeah in Greece, they give you Greek yogurt with walnuts. And they drizzle a tiny bit of honey on it. But it's so different from our desserts that we see here. It's so different.
Dr Daniel Amen: Okay, so if I'm a brain warrior, and we generally recommend, you know, gluten-free because gluten has been shown to increase leaky gut. If we generally, and that's what we do, generally recommend gluten free, dairy free. It's just this thing in my head, it's, you know, when we were in Naples and you could see the pizza, which looked amazing, but I know for me, when I eat pasta and pizza, I get fat and it happens quickly. So it's just better for me to ignore that and-
Tana Amen: And that's fine. [ [crosstalk 00:06:11] fish.
Dr Steven Masley: You're making a really good point, Doctor, and I want to point this out. So in the Mediterranean method, I'm looking at a low glycemic version.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Steven Masley: So I am pretty much, I am leaving those type of foods you described as an occasional treat-
Tana Amen: Right, when we went-
Dr Steven Masley: The Europeans rarely do not ban whole groups of food.
Tana Amen: No.
Dr Steven Masley: But they don't eat them every day. So every day is more like vegetable, fruit, beans, nuts, clean protein, spices and herbs and olive oil. That's the ... and lots of water. That's the essence of ... so I'm trying to focus, I agree with you that we should be using a low glycemic version of a Mediterranean diet.
Tana Amen: And that was the difference when we went to the cities versus when we were on the Mediterranean. It was more seafood and vegetables and a little bit of pasta, not nearly as much.
Dr Daniel Amen: So if you want to age backwards and really decrease the amount of plaque, then if you think of a plate, 70% of it should be plant-based foods, 30% high quality clean protein mixed in with a whole bunch of healthy fat. And I think that makes the most sense in a low glycaemic way because diabetes completely damages your body. You said that. You said that's like the number one cause of plaque is high blood sugar, which is an epidemic in the United States. According to a study in JAMA, 50%, that's five zero percent, of the population is either diabetic or prediabetic, which is just a fricking nightmare. When it comes to your body, and both you and I and Tana, because Tana's grandmother had diabetes, you see people ... they don't heal, so they end up losing their toes. They lose their feet, they lose their eyesight, they lose their-
Tana Amen: Their heart.
Dr Daniel Amen: Their heart function, they lose their mind. And really a weapon of mass destruction is our high-glycemic, low fiber fast food industry that is just destroying the health of America.
Dr Steven Masley: Well and I point out that, you know, maybe one of the best looks at the Mediterranean diet, was the EPICf trial out of Greece. And they went through and tried to analyze, Okay, which components have the most benefit, which have almost none. And whole grains had almost zero benefit for the Mediterranean lifestyle. So if all ... when you think about the pyramid, the classic pyramid of a Mediterranean lifestyle, the classic one has grains, like vegetable, fruit and grains at the bottom. I pretty much took the grains out and put it upright-
Tana Amen: Flipped it out.
Dr Steven Masley: With sweets and occasional ... you know, so I've turned it upside down.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Steven Masley: But I completely agree with you that we need a lower glycemic version, and if you do have them, they should be whole grain. And if you do have that, gluten-free is obviously an advantage. And the portion size should be little-
Tana Amen: So I always say eat them like a condiment.
Dr Steven Masley: Little, tiny bit.
Tana Amen: That's my ...
Dr Steven Masley: Exactly.
Tana Amen: My mantra's eat them like a condiment.
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah so-
Dr Steven Masley: I love that.
Dr Daniel Amen: Your process's just very similar to ours.
Tana Amen: Very.
Dr Daniel Amen: And before we end this one, what are some simple food takeaways that people can feel better fast?
Dr Steven Masley: Your predominant oil is ... the prominent fat you cook with is olive oil, that's easy. Extra Virgin olive oil. It's nutritious, it's ... tons of research says any inflammatory and it's got life-giving properties to it. I think an important thing is not to overcook it. You know, high heat ruins it, it'll actually damage the fat. So you only use it at medium heat, something like that.
Tana Amen: Yeah I agree.
Dr Steven Masley: And cut out the sugar and cut out the flour. We don't really need those. So if we really focus on, as you said what, 70% plant foods, I'd probably use 70% plant foods, 15% protein and another and 15% of our plate is fat, which you know, makes it 30% of our calories.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Steven Masley: I think, you know, we need the plain, simple local plant foods. Cut out the sugar and we, dramatic, we feel it'd be better dramatically. Very quickly.
Dr Daniel Amen: So what's for breakfast in your mind? And speaking of that, I do intermittent fasting most days.
Tana Amen: Yeah, me too.
Dr Daniel Amen: Is breakfast important?
Dr Steven Masley: I think it varies by the person. So like yesterday, I did intermittent fasting and I didn't eat from like 10 until noon and I tried to ... I think that's very common in the Mediterranean that you skip breakfast. You might have a cup of black coffee or a cup of black tea or you might just have water. So-
Tana Amen: I don't eat big breakfasts.
Dr Steven Masley: Doing that 2-3 days per week I think is what I've recommended for a long time. And that when you do have breakfast, I either usually ... like today I had an egg and an avocado that I, you know, whipped up together-
Tana Amen: That's my breakfast. Either that or a smoothie.
Dr Steven Masley: Or a smoothie. That's my other one. I, you know, a Berry-Cherry smoothie with almond milk.
Tana Amen: That's smart, yeah, and then I'll add ... I usually add a scoop of Acacia protein or fiber to it or something like that. But yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: And how about snacks? Last question. How about snacks? What are some snacks that ... because you know, I mean we're a snack society and I grew up with Oreos and a Coke-
Tana Amen: Well and some of us like to graze. Some of us don't like to ... like I don't like to sit down and have a big meal. Unfortunately, dinner is usually the one meal I sit down to and have a larger meal. But I'm busy. During the day, I'll forget to eat if I don't just have snacks to grab and go, so.
Dr Steven Masley: Well that's an interesting thing, because you know in the Mediterranean they don't really snack.
Tana Amen: I know.
Dr Steven Masley: It's socially almost forbidden-
Tana Amen: That's so interesting.
Dr Steven Masley: And you have a leisurely long meal and you eat until you're satisfied and then you don't eat again until the next meal. But for snacks, my favorites would be nuts, dark chocolate and fruit. And maybe if you're not dairy intolerant, plain organic yogurt with some fruit, nuts.
Tana Amen: But you can get lactose-free yogurt as well and stuff like that, so.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Mediterranean method, coming out soon, available everywhere. Dr Steven Masley, when we come back, we're going to talk about the bugs in your gut and how they influence your heart and your brain. We're going to talk about the infestation, making it positive rather than negative. Stay with us.
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